Hoka Highland Fling training blog week 9: Overcoming imposter syndrome

Originally posted on Runner’s World

In the ninth week of her training our Online News Ed Rhalou struggles with imposter syndrome.


After nine weeks of training like a bat out of hell, I am now well over the halfway mark for the The Hoka Highland Fling. In many ways the past two and a bit months have gone by in a flash. Despite putting the miles in and starting to feel like an ultra robot, the concept of effectively running a double marathon in the mountains in seven weeks’ time is still overwhelming. No matter how many miles I run, I often struggle to shake the feeling that I’m winging it and not really supposed to be here, otherwise known as imposter syndrome

I’m at the stage where a 60-minute run feels like a sprint compared to all the long runs I’ve been doing and my speed has definitely picked up from regular interval sessions. But last week I was still haunted by the fear of rocking up to the start line in Scotland and being laughed at by bona fide ultra runners. ‘Who do you think you are?’ The demons in my head whisper. ‘You’re just a flaky city chick, you’re not supposed to be here.’

Training run

Last week my training plan stipulated a 45-minute easy run, a speed session, some strength and conditioning work, a 40-minute easy run and then a half marathon at race pace on the weekend. But being a reckless soul as I said in last week’s blog, I ignored my training plan (and the demons in my head) and flew to Palma to run the 261 Women’s Marathon. I deliberately didn’t taper as I was taking it as a training run, so I enjoyed a couple of glorious sea front runs and then even let myself have a few drinks the night before race day. In my head it was important to treat the event as just a normal long run rather than a race, as I didn’t want to injure or over extend myself only seven weeks before the big day.

A real runner

I am delighted to say that my laissez faire approach to training paid off and the 261 Women’s Marathon was a dream come true. I won’t go into too much detail as a race report is coming soon, but I didn’t look at the clock once, skipped round in the sunshine feeling like a real runner and somehow managed to bag a 12-minute PB in 04:29. The race not only cemented my passion for running, but reignited my confidence in myself and my ability to run the Fling. I have no doubt in my mind now that although I won’t be breaking any course records, I am a legitimate runner and I will finish that race if it kills me.

When faced with a challenge, you have to believe in yourself. No one out there really gives a toss whether I finish this race or not and the demons don’t exist; the rest of the world are too busy thinking about their own lives. The only person imposing an imposter syndrome upon myself is me. Thanks to the 261 Women’s Marathon and nine weeks of solid training I have new found confidence and can’t wait to prove (to myself) what I am capable of. Bring on the Fling, I am ready for you!

Follow me on Twitter  @Rhalou for training updates, silly jokes and conversations about the weather.



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