Wrapped in red, it fell through the letterbox and nestled on the door mat. Wrapped in such a way that its contents were ‘discrete’ in the same way as a lingerie catalogue, or other ‘adult’ products (Runners World comes like this) such postal surprises bring intrigue and excitement. Much as anyone curses Royal Mail, the pleasure of receiving an unexpected parcel is great, particularly one that’s discretely wrapped.

Opened, excitement rises again as realisation dawns, and confirmation of my 2015 London Marathon race number is found (1,710 since you ask).

Pants of joy, not pants to wear.

Now much less discrete, the simple piece of paper and accompanying magazine of new running ‘porn’ makes the 26th April 2015 all the more real. Now confirmed and requiring just a visit to the Excel Centre to collect aforementioned race number after brandishing my photo id, signing my life away in line with the unread small print, and making a ridiculous Expo kit purchase.

What the discrete packaging also hid was the free, accompanying slab of doubt. An unexpected insert whose proportions far outweigh the size of the package it came in. Yet doubt was already there, poking its nose in through all the training you undertake. Indeed it is something you carry around in all physical endeavours, it can prevent you even getting out on a training run, and may block your efforts at any physical activity.

The fantastic #ThisGirlCan campaign aims to tackle such doubt, seeking to empower women to just get out there and get moving. Although a targeted message, it actually applies to all and watching the full length film is something everyone should try.
It tackles the doubt – can I really do this? – with an emphatic, of course.

Despite my previous experience, I still get doubt deliveries. Redirection services not being what they once were. Some discretely packaged, others more obvious…

Have I done enough training? Can I get round? Am I going to get injured? Have I shifted that injury? Will this run hurt? Why does it have to hurt? Why do I not find this enjoyable like I used to? It’s fun, but is it really as much fun as it used to be? Is it my refuelling, hydration, stretching, rolling, shoes, kit, the fact I put my left sock on first rather than the usual right?

If the doubt is strong when you’re lying in bed, or reading the entry magazine. What’s it going to be like at the start line, or during the marathon?

Accept that quite possibly at various points during your ‘race’ it will appear to be apparently insurmountable.

That’s the point, because until you unwrap it, strip away the discrete packaging, and accept that it really is something you were actually expecting, only then can you start dealing with it and continue your training journey.

The key here is to focus on what the doubt is, what it is about, what it stems from, where it reaches you from, why you even have doubt. Identify where you can control things to address it, to train yourself through worries about fuelling, hydration, pacing, finishing, or getting through the inevitable difficult bits. Accept those things you have no control over: the weather, other runners, the fact that putting on one sock before the other really doesn’t make any difference.

To anything…

These won’t get rid of doubt, you’re fighting a losing battle there.

By thinking it through on a run, in the shower, on the train/tube will make you realise what you have achieved before, that you have license to go for it, and that whatever training you’ve done before does give you a foundation to accept that doubt will always be there and that however it’s wrapped you can run right through it, flick its’ elastic, and keep going.

Doubt can’t stop you, #ThisRunnerCan


About Simon Tanner

Eight time marathon runner, having run Brighton x6 and London x2, finally got a London ballot place after 7 consecutive attempts. I try to write about things I'm going through / have gone through in training to help others attain their running goals, whatever the distance.
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