This morning I heard one of the best comments I could ever hear as a running coach from three of my half-marathon runners just before the start of their race. - "I'm not even nervous. I'm excited, but not nervous." - As a coach, it's great to hear that because you know the runners feel ready physically and mentally for the race. They're confident in their athletic abilities.
These runners have worked hard the past 12 weeks. For two of the runners, it was their very first half-marathon and the third was shooting to break a previous time and PR. During the training, they'd every once in a while express a little doubt about achieving their goals, but I kept reminding them to trust in their training. And they did. The two half-marathon newbies both blew away their projected finish times and the PR-hopeful, did in fact break his previous half-marathon time and not by just a few seconds, but by several minutes!
It's normal to have some doubts during your training. One bad run, and that little pesky voice of doubt can slip in and begin it's taunting—"Am I going to be able to do this?" "If I can't even do this short run, how in the world am I going to make 13.1 or 26.2 miles?"
Training for an endurance event is kind of like the stock market. If you're looking for a big return in the short-run, then you'll probably be disappointed. You may even lose some money. But, if you hang in there and let some time pass, your stocks will probably begin to give you some good returns. The same thing applies to running. In-the short-term, you may not see a lot of growth. You may even experience what seems like a set-back as your body acclimates to new training intensities and/or mileage. But give it some time. Trust and Believe. Your reward will be at the end of your training on race day.
I'm not sure who said it first, but "running is about 90% mental and 10% physical." Whether that's scientific or not, I don't know, but there's a lot of truth in that statement. Trusting your training and believing in yourself as an athlete will help ensure that all the hard work you've put in over the past several months will shine through.
"Trust and Believe" actually makes a great mantra. When you're running and you're climbing a tough hill or you're beginning to fatigue, say to yourself over and over, "Trust and Believe." If that pesky little voice of doubt begins to creep in, kick it to the curb! Even say it out loud. "Go Away!" Of course the runner beside you may think you're a crazy nutcase, but hey, whatever works, right?!
There are always factors out of your control that may affect race day (crazy weather, extreme temperatures [hot or cold], illness, injury, etc.). When that happens, it's frustrating, but you just have to roll with the punches. Don't let it discourage you though. As soon as you can, set a new training/racing goal.