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Fantasy World is No Place for Runners

trail runner in the woods

Imagine you want to learn to play guitar. You visualize yourself playing a beautiful, soothing melody on an acoustic guitar and you think “I want to be able to do that!”, so you sign up for lessons and show up. An hour in, you’ve learned a few chords and the teacher allows you to try plucking away at “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. You feel defeated and think, surely the great guitarists of the world were never as sucky as me!

The fear of not being perfect is real and I've seen it stop so many runners from making any sort of progress. ⁠Or - maybe it isn’t so much about perfection as it is knowing there’s a loooong journey ahead, and whether or not you have what it takes to make it. You see the fantasy without seeing the work it takes to get there.

It’s so easy to see runners on Instagram who are at the top of their game and forget that they also started with “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” level running. (It took me 3 months to run ONE MILE without stopping when I first got started!) Not to mention that the top of their game is going to look very different than the top of your game.

Here are my tips for you if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by possibility.

  1. Sit down and evaluate what you really want. Don’t go into fantasy world - if you want to run a 50K, don’t imagine yourself crossing the finish line with a big smile on your face without also imagining your legs burning as you run up a hill, tripping on a root on the trail, or that middle-of-the-race, “can I really finish this??” panic that sometimes hits. Do you want to take on that challenge?

  2. When you’ve decided what you want to do, start seeking out the right help. Get your friends and family on board. Find a running coach. Work with a dietitian to get your fueling dialed in (hey-o!). There’s no bonus points for doing it on your own - so why would you?

  3. Give yourself some grace. You're a human who is juggling a lot of different things right now. I know it's hard when you see an influencer or a pro athlete who seems to have it all together, but remember that you’re seeing that person’s highlight reel. Someone who is likely to reach their goals is someone who can give themselves grace and flexibility and show kindness and curiosity. They understand that life is ever changing and that what seemed totally possible one day becomes unrealistic the next, and vice versa.

If you’ve got the vision, you’ve got it in you. So take a deep breath and take the first step - I believe in you!

Kayla Fitzgerald is a Registered Dietitian & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and founder of Endurance Nutrition located in Charleston, South Carolina. She works with clients from all over through 1:1 nutrition coaching, small group coaching, and online courses. Her goal is to help you fuel your body for whatever the day has in store whether it's a 100 mile race or getting through the work day.

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