Usually at the end of the season, or after a big race, I spend time reflecting on the year. It’s an important process – I try to tease out areas where I can improve, notice things I’d do differently or do more of for the years to come. After reflecting on my most recent race at Madeira Island Ultra Trail, something really stood out to me. It wasn’t my grueling training cycle or even the key workouts I did building up to the race that led to my success. It wasn’t a magical day for me out there on the course (in fact it was quite the opposite), or an effortless performance that allowed me to break that tape. Instead, it was all the work behind the scenes that contributed to my success. You might be thinking it was the work in the gym, or PT or mobility work that led to my success – but, in my opinion that’s not the most important work that I put in. For me, it was years of telling myself to keep believing in myself and that my best athletic days are ahead of me. This might seem cliche, and it’s something you’ve certainly heard from me before, but I’m here to tell you that no matter how many miles or hours you put into training, none of it matters if you don’t have belief.

Photo Credit: Byron Powell from @irunfar

(If you want a full recap of my race, check out the latest Trail Society episode here).

It starts with a simple question – What if? What if I believed it was possible to overcome all of my injuries and run the longest and toughest races of my career after being told I would never run again? What if? What if I believed in the process, so much so, that every obstacle and time spent learning to walk and run again would strengthen my belief that this too, will make me stronger, better? What if, instead of coming up with excuses or reasons to doubt myself, I decided to lean into the pain, the challenge, and learn that I am stronger than I ever thought possible? What if?

Here-in lies the power of belief, that every obstacle and challenge we face can contribute to a bigger body of work, one that is fueled not by numbers or metrics, but an unfaltering belief in ourselves that we can do anything we set our minds to?

This is what I carried with me for years: a belief that I wasn’t done yet. A belief that I could keep going and chase big dreams that seemed impossible, even improbable. My journey with self-belief started over four years ago, with my accident in Norway, and it hasn’t been straight forward. I’ve had setbacks and a recovery far from linear. In fact, after breaking my foot this spring, requiring foot surgery, I questioned if I could build myself back up yet again. But, years ago, I planted that seed of belief, and I couldn’t give up on myself when a new challenge was thrown my way.

As I look back on my season, and especially my last race, I see the power of belief and self-belief – something I plan to do more of. So as you reflect on the year and are looking for things to improve upon or do more of in the years to come – start with belief. Ask yourself – What if I believed in myself? – I think you’ll be surprised at the momentum it creates in your life.

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