As the creator of the blog Run, Selfie, Repeat, it’s no secret that I love a running selfie. But as much as I love a smiling, effortless running selfie, there is one moment that we often fail to share. Those are our moments of doubt. Recently, I was giving an interview on a runner podcast Pace Per Mile when the host, Chris Nicholas, asked me what type of selfies runners should take before, during and after their race. I told him the usual suspects—a selfie with your bib, the selfie at the start line and the selfie with your finisher medal. But I also told him that the one selfie runners should actually take is when they’re doubting themselves or questioning whether they are going to make it to the finish line. We are quick to capture and share our successes, but the moments I find most empowering are when we overcome our doubts.
One of my least favorite parts about social media is its one-sidedness. We see only the “best of” moments of our lives but the moments I find most compelling, inspiring and interesting are when we are at our most vulnerable, raw and imperfect. When I was running my first half marathon, there was a moment around mile 11 when I almost walked off the course because making it to the finish line felt impossible. Then, by some miracle, another runner asked if we could run together. It’s because of her that I didn’t quit my first half marathon. That’s the moment I wish I would have captured because it was the first time that I didn’t quit something that I didn’t believe I could do.
When I think of my proudest running memories, they are all the moments when I pushed through doubt. I think of the meltdown I had at mile 13 of my first marathon (and every painful mile that followed). I think of the struggle I had not to pull back during the final 6 miles of the 2015 NYC Marathon when I broke 4 hours. I think of how frustrated I feel every time I get onto a track and have to fight myself not to walk off when running hard becomes uncomfortable. It’s in those moments when I push through uncertainty or doubt that I feel the most empowered.
Running, for me, is so much more than just a way to stay healthy or in shape. It has helped me overcome my own personal doubts or insecurities, giving me a way to feel empowered by what I’ve accomplished. There’s nothing pretty or glamorous about running, but yet we rarely show ourselves getting ugly. One of the biggest lessons I have learned from running is that giving up is always an option but so is going forward. Struggle, doubts and setbacks are all inevitable. Success doesn’t come without a fight. So I challenge you to share your uglier moments, because there is so much power and beauty in them. Those are the battles that we should be celebrating.
Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.