Fake It Until You Make It

fakeitTogether, we’ve taken a big leap: we’ve resolved to dream big and to stop being embarrassed about it. Yeah! But that is just a first step to realizing our big goals. Ladies (and you 2 gentlemen readers), we have more work to do to become the runners we dream of becoming.

Today I’m going to put on my self-help guru hat and discuss how the power of positive thinking can change your life in JUST. SEVEN. DAYS! Ok, maybe it’s not that amazing, but positive thinking, particularly learning to believe you are now who you want to be can go along way with helping you achieve your crazy big dream goals.

So come along with me and let’s fake it until we make it!

[pullquote]You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend. -Paulo Coelho[/pullquote]

When it comes to your running goals, do you feel like you’re on the outside looking in? Do you feel like you’re not the runner you want to be?  When you think of your pie in the sky goals, can you actually picture you, the you today, achieving them? I’m going to have to break it to you: you are not going to be abducted by aliens and returned back to earth as Kara Goucher. It’s the you of today who will achieve those goals.

What if I told you one of the keys to becoming that runner of your dreams is as simple as believing that you are her. Of course, believing alone will not get us to our goals, no matter what that Oprah-blessed book The Secret might tell you. We have to make a plan, work hard, be patient and train our minds in other ways too. But, believing in ourselves is one necessary step in getting there. The you of today, with a little more mental and physical training and maybe a few years older, but the same person you look at in the mirror right now is the one who will be doing all that awesome stuff. But you must believe.

And to learn to do that we have to fake being that amazing runner until we are that amazing runner. Believing in ourself, like anything else, takes practice. And most of us need it when it comes to this. It sounds so easy – just believe in yourself! But it’s not. Most of us, at some level, struggle with feeling good about ourselves. We often don’t believe the person we now are is capable of doing the amazing things we want to and we wait for some magical day in the future to become her, but that will never happen. No, now while we’re looking up the mountain at our big goals is the time to be the person who will achieve them.

If only it were this easy.
If only it were this easy.

So how do we go about doing this. As anyone who’s struggled with mental training knows, changing the way we think or our beliefs about ourselves is not as easy as flipping a switch (or using photoshop – or in my case, asking my sister to use photoshop). Here are some tips for faking it – being the runner you want to be – until you make it – are the runner you want to be.

1. Dress the Part – It might seem silly, but I’m sure you have some picture in your head of how the runner you want to be dresses. Dress like that. A couple of summers ago, I was afraid to wear boy shorts, or bunz as I like to call them. My faster training partners wore them all the time, but I didn’t think I was fast enough to get away with them. This was silly. With a little convincing, I broke down and got a pair and then another and another. Wearing those shorts made me feel so much faster and much more serious about my workouts and races. And I looked fast. Maybe faster than I actually was, but that’s the point here! By dressing the part, I was starting to believe I fit the part. It doesn’t have to be bunz or any garment in particular. Just picture someone doing what you want to do and dress like that.

2. Talk the Talk – Speak with confidence about yourself and in a way you imagine someone achieving your goals would talk about herself and her running. Also, adopt labels about yourself that match up with your goal. For instance, if you’re goal is to win a race, quit calling yourself a mid-packer and start calling yourself a competitive runner or something along those lines.

3. Find Friends – We people are social and we tend to adopt the traits of our peer group for ourselves. If we only hang out with runners of a certain devotion to the sport or who have adopted a particular start-line status, then it will be very difficult for us to break out of that ourselves. This is a great time to scrap the speedism and make friends with runners doing what you hope to do. Obviously, don’t only make friends with faster runners, abandon your other friends or only make friends with people to help you achieve your goals. But having some friends doing what you hope to do can help you see that it really is possible for you to do it too and can clue you in on new ways to get there, to boot.  And believing in a little osmosis can’t hurt!

Anyone seen my pal the hare?
Anyone seen my pal, the hare?

4. Visualize – In your own head, you can be even more overt about faking it, since you don’t have to worry about anyone thinking you’re nuts. Picture yourself doing the victory lap or getting paid to show up at a race or whatever you want to picture that’s in line with your goals. Use a little photoshop. Make a little collage of you achieving your goals and whatever will help you picture yourself as that person.


How do you feel about faking it until you make it? Have you ever done it and found success?  

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. Great tips! I used all of them leading up to my breakthrough featured earlier today. In and out of practice, I used a lot of visualization. At the same meet a year ago, I lined up scared and thinking I was out of my element. This time around, I lined up in not only what I wanted to wear (sports bra and boy shorts) but also with the attitude that I belonged there and could compete. Lastly, it has helped a ton to be able to work out around those significantly faster than me. Not only to be able to see what goes into hard work but realizing that at the end of the day, we are all human, with the same fears and aspirations no matter what the pace! Thanks for this!

  2. Hi Salty,
    Love the post! I was introduced to your website through the LetsRun interview, and I think it’s great. I have really been enjoying reading the posts by you and all of the amazing running women who write here. As a fellow obsessed runner trying to fit a career and three kids around my all-encompassing running habit, I definitely appreciate knowing there are like-minded women out there who feel just like I do about our sport.
    Thanks so much!

  3. I’d add to #2 to state your goals out loud. Your REAL goals. I can’t stand it when women state a goal, but really have a different, secret goal they are shooting for. They are afraid they’ll look like they failed if they don’t reach their real goal, so they tell everyone a goal they think they can reach. This is no good and gives us an excuse during our race to slow down / give up. The same is true when women won’t spill their goals at all. Why not? Come on ladies – put yourself out there and go get it! We tend to push ourselves harder and farther when we know people are watching us try to do something really hard. Usually those watching us aren’t hoping we’ll fail, they are hoping we’ll crush it. We should harness all that. Own your stretch goal, yell it from the roof-tops and then go get it. And don’t worry if it takes several failed attempts before you get there. Heck, I declared I wanted to run a sub 3:25 marathon for more than 6 years (and 11 marathons) before I actually did it. But I did it and now I am setting new stretch goals.