Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Confidence: The Best Benefit of Running

We all know a ton about the health benefits that go along with running, but that's not what I want to talk about today. I'm thinking about those intangibles, the dividends that you can't measure with a Garmin or a scale. Stress relief, a sense of well-being, and that runner's high are some of the off road benefits that come to mind. And then there's self-confidence. Out of all the rewards running has given me, and there have been many, the boost to my confidence is probably the biggest and best.

Confidence: The Best Benefit of Running

I don't know why, but I grew up with very low self-esteem. As a young child, I was a leader and had no issues with confidence, but once I hit adolescence, my self-esteem went into the toilet. There is no single incident that comes to mind that triggered my loss of confidence. But it was like someone flipped a switch. Instead of being popular, I didn't fit in anymore. I was a late bloomer, awkward, and clueless about social skills. I wrote about this last year on the blog, so there's no need to recap it here. Just to show you how much better I feel about myself now, on that post, there's a picture of me at age 13 in all my awkward geekiness. You'll have to click on the link to see it, though. Posting it once was enough!

Moving on....

How does running help with self-confidence? 

I can do hard things. Pushing out of your comfort zone does not feel good. But knowing that you can push yourself hard--maybe even run a marathon--makes you feel mentally tough. Raising teenagers, seeing 27 patients in a day--those activities for me can be as mentally challenging as running a marathon. My ability to push myself on the road through those tough miles makes me confident that I can handle anything life throws my way.

Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment--Thomas Carlyle. Every run you complete, every finish line you cross gives you a sense of accomplishment. You don't quit on your training or a race, and that helps you persevere through a tough day, a stressful job, a life challenge. Even though you might want to quit. There's no glory in a DNF or a DNS. That applies off the road as well. You know the old saying...winners never quit and quitters never win....

Average people have wishes and hopes. Confident people have goals and plans. I read once somewhere that runners make good employees. We set goals, we follow a plan, and we meet those goals. As a long distance runner, you are most likely goal oriented and have the confidence that you have the ability to follow through on a plan. 

I can and I will. The sports medicine doctor that I work with says runners make the worst patients to treat because we are used to pushing through the pain, be it pathologic pain due to injury or the discomfort of running a tough race. While it's never wise to push through injury, that can-do attitude translates off the road to never taking no for an answer. Can't isn't a word in a runner's vocabulary. It's not in mine because my coach makes me do burpees when I use it.

Self-confidence is the best outfit. Rock it and own it. When you feel good about yourself, it shows. Confident people are attractive people. Would you rather talk to someone who holds their head high with their shoulders back or someone slumped over who won't make eye contact with you? I'm always amazed by the differences in the teenagers I see in the clinic. Some are quite charismatic. They look me in the eye when I talk to them and freely share their goals and dreams. Others won't look at me and mumble responses to my questions. These are the kids that break my heart. I want to take out them to the road and introduce them to the magic of running.


Yeah, running is hard. But can you think of any other activity that gives you so much more than physical benefits? I'm so grateful for what running has done for me. I'm a better person because I'm a runner.

On and off the road.

Has running helped your self-confidence? What intangible benefits have you gained from being a runner?

I'm linking up today with DebRuns. She hosts Wednesday Word and today's prompt was confident. Be sure to see what all the other bloggers have to say about this word.


109 comments :

  1. For me working out in general has entirely shifted the way I carry myself. I get more compliments on my posture than anything else.

    Weird? FOR SURE :-)

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    1. Not at all! I get compliments on my posture too! And I have parents of patients tell me they like my "confidence". To me, that's a huge compliment, since confidence is something I've always struggled with!

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  2. Great post! And I went back and read your old one as well. I had a similar experience as a teen...the transition from middle school to high school was especially rough, socially and emotionally. Yuck. Definitely a tough thing to overcome.
    But as for running and confidence: I often tell people that I don't think it is a coincidence that I got more into running when I started staying home with my boys. I love being a SAHM, but as you know, parenting does not really have solid, quantifiable goals. Raising kids is awesome, but if you're someone who craves benchmarks and goal setting, it's tough! Running is the thing in my life that allows for that type of confidence. I can set a goal and do very specific things to work for it. All successes and failures are my own. And there is great confidence gleaned from that!

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    1. Absolutely. I always say that running made me a better mom. It also gave me patience, which wasn't our word prompt but yep, it's there...

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  3. Absolutely!!! Running has increased my self confidence immensely. I know I can do hard stuff and preserve.

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    1. Some days, when I have a full slate of patients, I count them off like miles in a marathon. Funny how we think, isn't it?

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  4. You know me: I always say that running has helped me to Believe. And that is more than just confidence.

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  5. although already self confident, running has helped me even more. Agree with your post & ideas 100% !

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    1. Lucky you! I'm glad I developed confidence, even if it took me a while to get there!

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  6. Running has not only taught me yet saved me in many ways. I have learned so much about myself and have become a stronger person for it. It is now a part of my life that I am blessed with and hope to continue to become better with every run! Great post!

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    1. I agree with your statement that running has saved you...that is another thing that running did for me. Who knows where I'd be if it weren't for running?

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  7. YES YES YES! I can absolutely attest to this. I used to be very shy and very self conscious. Now I'm the exact opposite, loud mouth and incredibly comfortable in my own body! I'm sure some of it has to do with age as well (I started running nearly 10 years ago) but I KNOW running has made me a happier person!

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    1. Oh, I don't doubt that age makes us more confident, but I'm sure running has pushed a lot of us along!

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  8. Not only does running give me confidence in non physical activities, but it also gives me body confidence, as well as just confidence in what I know I can do physically. I know whether I can carry all the bags of groceries into the house at once. I know whether I can take the heavy box of Christmas decorations downstairs, etc.

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    1. That's true--at the grocery stores, the clerks always look at me and ask if I need help with the heavy bags. Nope. I can lift all the things...

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  9. I can't tell you how many times I've faced something hard and I've said to myself... "I ran a marathon... I CAN do this." It's a powerful thing!

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  10. You ooze with confidence and that is one of the many reasons why I love to read your blog! Yes I agree that running and fitness has given me so much more self confidence. I think when you feel strong it just resonates throughout your life

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    1. Haha, it's all a front! No, I've had more and more people telling they like my confidence, be it at work or on the road. It's been a work in progress, and I'm glad to be here.

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  11. I think what's so key for everyone, kids especially, is finding our strengths, knowing where we shine and using those "super powers" to succeed in other areas. I've noticed it in kids too. Some are so shy and shrink away while others take the world by the horns. Amazing.

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    1. I have that in my own house...I wish I could get my oldest son more engaged in sports. I know it would have made a world of difference for him.

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  12. I did not know you last year so I went back and read your initial piece. How heartfelt it is, and one so many of us relate to. The photo of you at thirteen it astoundingly beautiful, so serious you were, your determination and strength evident even during these difficult years.

    Keep on running, because when you can't that confidence starts to slip away....
    I am so so so anxious to put on my running shoes and going out again. Even starting from scratch, from yes, day 1, running for one minute, I know I will slowly, surely, regain that lost confidence. And this time I won't be panting for breath after sixty-seconds.

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    1. I sure hope that if I had to stop running, I'd still have my confidence. And I can't wait for you to hit the road again.

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  13. I completely agree. DOING and ACCOMPLISHING are empowering and confidence-building.

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    1. It really is the truth. People who are afraid to try, to stretch beyond their limits, will never know this feeling.

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  14. I love this, Wendy. One of the reasons that I run is to prove to myself that I can put my mind to something that I didn't think I could do, and actually do it. The endorphins from the runner's high I get from my running accomplishments is something that I'll never take for granted.

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    1. That feeling of accomplishment can only be matched by giving birth. At least, that's how I feel...

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  15. Running has helped me build confidence especially since it something i can measure. I feel better when in I am motion for sure, and I am usually pretty confident in my ability to keep myself moving forward. Now other areas of life....not so much.

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    1. I hope it starts to spill over to the rest of your life. Because that is the best benefit of all!

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  16. At church last week there was a discussion about why is adversity necessary. There were a lot of horror stories about how in hard times people fall away from God. All I could think about was mile twenty in a marathon. Not that this compares to the horror stories that were being told but how during hard times we find out what we are made of. If it was all easy would you have a sense of accomplishment? Tough times build confidence. I agree as runners we learn how to suffer through the hard times but remember the great time! My first marathon was a "one and done that race". but I signed up for marathon number two the day after my first.

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    1. It took me a little longer than one day to sign up for #2; in fact #1 didn't go well at all and really messed with my confidence. I'm so glad I tried again, because now I know nothing is impossible!

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  17. SO TRUE!!...Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment

    I LOVE THIS....Confident people have goals and plans.

    Funny enough...I am not a confident runner.....I am working on that but it is surely a work in progress for sure.

    -Tamieka@fitballingrunningmom

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    1. I would never have pictured you as anything but confident!

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  18. This is so true! Running has also helped me work through problems - there's just nothing like a good run to blow out the lungs and clear the mind.

    I blogged about dropping out of Brownies once Not because it was hard, but I was bored out of my mind. I received an anonymous comment that said, "And you think you're going to run a marathon?" Dropping out of Brownies had nothing to do with finishing something. And yes, I did run a marathon. I've run 4 now and still don't regret dropping out of Brownies :) Although I do love Girl Scout cookies!

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    1. Oh my. Who would say that to you? There's a difference between Brownies and a marathon! Yikes!

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    2. And even if I was a Brownie dropout, that was about 40 years earlier! You know, haters gonna hate, anonymous commenters gonna comment ;)

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    3. I think there's a certain pride you should take in admitting to being a brownie dropout. Not everyone is meant to follow the crowd...

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  19. I've never really been confident to be honest, other than knowing I was "good at being an Airman" I've always been very average at everything else. Growing up I had the confidence of an ant. And I used to think that made me less of a person. But I've learned to accept we all can't be 'the best' but we CAN be the best version of ourselves.

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  20. I love this. I am working to use running to build even more confident. Everytime I make it through a run I feel like I stand a little bit taller :)

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    1. I believe that running makes us push our chest forward and our shoulders back. After doing that enough on the road, we do it off the road too!

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  21. "Self confidence is the best outfit. Rock it. Own it." YES!!! I love this - what a great theme for the day!

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    1. I love that one too. Because it is the truth! Look good, feel good.

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  22. "Nothing builds self-esteem and confidence more than accomplishment". I could not agree more Wendy! This is one of the reasons that I started running. It was a time in my life where I really needed the feeling off accomplishment. It has definitely come back to me ten-fold! Now I'm off to read your last year's post..lol

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    1. No matter how my day goes at work, I always have the reminder that I ran, did yoga, lifted weights...whatever. It really helps to know I got something done!

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  23. Until I started running, I was not very confident. I did play tennis but I wasn't always one of the better player so it didn't help my confidence.

    But running has been different. You can set your own individual goals. I can met them and that makes me confident. And in a race since there are age groups, I am being compared to those my age. Definitely a confidence builder.

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    1. Even people who don't race can benefit from running. Because you always set a goal before you head out the door, right? Even it it's to get to the end of the block..

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  24. I definitely felt like running helped with my self-confidence! I used to be one of those people who would only do things I knew I was good at. Which is crazy because how do you become good at things without doing it? So deliberately choosing to make a goal of doing something I knew I wasn't going to be good at was a good challenge for me and I think allows me to keep branching out and try new things.

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    1. But I think a lot of people are afraid to try new things--for fear of failing. Oh but what if you succeed, right? There's no better feeling.

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  25. What a fantastic post...and the pic of you as a kid is priceless! That commercial you posted, just WOW! What a powerful reminder to keep telling kids in our life that they are awesome always!
    Being an athlete most of my life has given me an extra boost of confidence. Lately weight lifting and attempting new yoga moves have been my confidence boosters as I work through a hip injury!

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    1. I love that you keep pushing forward even if you can't run. I hope your hip heals quickly!

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  26. I completely agree with this Wendy. It's a benefit of running that I never expected but it changed my life the most.

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    1. All the best benefits of running are the ones that were the least expected!

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  27. I really did love this post!
    You know it's so true too! I have been a runner pretty much since the 2nd grade. But I was so shy in my younger years. When I started running longer distances I do remember my shyness fading. Especially when I started traveling to run them. It's so true though runners do have goals, we don't just wish and hope. I've completely lost all my shyness and I really do believe running had a lot to do with that.

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    1. I just love the confidence that has come with running. It feels good to feel good about myself!

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  28. Like you, I had low self esteem as a kid, and like you, I'm not sure why. And it also mostly started around adolescence, although I was always shy & introverted. And yes, nothing happened to cause it.

    Running has definitely helped. Nothing like a good run or race to boost your confidence!

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    1. That sense of accomplishment is such a good thing!

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  29. It is amazing how much confidence you can gain through the simple act of running. I love this post Wendy

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  30. Running makes me feel awesome and kickass! There is nothing like the feeling of setting a goal and meeting it!

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    1. I've become so goal oriented as I grow older. It's been really amazing to see some really big goals achieved over the last decade.

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  31. love this post! i too feel like a better person thanks to running ;)

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  32. Great post! Something that helps me is doing an "easy" training run to give myself the boost I need

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    1. Sometimes those "easy" runs feel the best!

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  33. I've never thought of running giving me confidence, but it makes so much sense! I definitely want to work more on my self confidence, maybe I have more than I realize.

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    1. Who can't use more confidence? Except maybe Kanye...

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  34. I adore this:
    Average people have wishes and hopes. Confident people have goals and plans.
    It's so true - especially about runners :)

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  35. A-Men! Since I took up running, I am amazed at the things I find myself willing to try and able to do! And self-confidence is absolutely the best outfit.

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    1. I love the image that quote brings to mind!

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  36. I think it's just the mindset of if I can do THAT (long run, tough run, hard race, whatever), I can do anything. Just watch me.

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  37. Love this Wendy!! I couldn't agree more...having more self-confidence....and also just the meditative time to self on my run...have been the best benefits... Self-confidence is the best outfit one can ever wear!! And yes, seeing 27 patients is a mental and physical marathon as well!

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  38. Again...another Wendy post that I could have written (but probably not as eloquent). I think most people go through an awkward stage, some people are just better at masking it. Oh those dreadful teen years! As awkward as they were, they did teach me perseverance ;-)

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    1. I don't know what I learned from my teen years except that I'd never want to go back!

      We are sole sisters!

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  39. Love this - "Average people have wishes and hopes. Confident people have goals and plans" I struggle with having confidence but running has made it less of a struggle (on good days!)

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    1. For me, sticking to a running plan and having goals has translated to my off road life as well!

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  40. Love this post! I was also not very confident until I started running, and even then it took a bit of time for that confidence to shine through. I love that runners make the best employees - this is good to know! :)

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    1. I don't know where I read that, but someone told me that I should put my marathon finishes on my resume! It shows that I am goal oriented and can complete a task to finish...

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  41. Yes! I think this is why Girls On The Run programs are so important. Although when I had to run cross-country in HS that did nothing for my self-confidence since I hated it all back then.

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    1. I think the way we run as adults is so different than running how we did as kids--it just means so much more!

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  42. Running is so mental that confidence is HUGE. There's something to be said for feigning confidence, too, even if we don't have it. A lot of folks don't realize that our outside actions don't always match what's going on inside! There was a fantastic Ted Talk about power poses giving us confidence, both mentally and physically, and about the idea of "faking it until you become it." Truly words to live by!

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    1. What's that saying? Fake it until you make it? What a great point, and yes, even if you don't have confidence, act like you do, and it will come!

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  43. I absolutely agree with you! Running has given me so much confidence and has helped me deal with a stressful job and other life issues. I feel like I'm accomplishing something again- after college I lost that feeling for a while. It's great to cross finish lines and push boundaries!!

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    1. And that whole getting used to feeling uncomfortable thing? Really changes your perception of what's difficult.

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  44. For me, working out is a big confidence booster for me! I think I have always been a mentally tough person but I def second guess my abilities and overthink things to a fault sometimes!

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    1. Maybe the running and perfectionist qualities go hand in hand?

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  45. Wow what a great post. I totally agree, through running I have gained so much confidence in myself. So many things I thought I could not accomplished I have.

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  46. This post is so inspiring! Running definitely helps me build confidence, especially as it gives me short-term goals to work towards when other things in life like work require so much patience to see growth. Plus you've got to love immediate that endorphin/endocannobinoid (sp.) boost!

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    1. Got love those endocannabinoids! LOL. When we were in Seattle, we were dying at the brochure for the Cannibus tour! LOL

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  47. This post hits home for me, too, Wendy. I never had confidence until I became a runner. I still remember my very first 11 mile run. There was no turning back after this. For the first time I was confident in my life, even though I was already in my early 30s. You brought up so many good points and memories only runners understand I think. Love it.

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    1. So funny that you remember your first long run--I remember the first time I ran 7 miles! My longest run was 6, and I decided to push it. I was scared and elated at the same time!

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  48. Yes, running has really helped my self confidence and that way I look at what my body can do.

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  49. 110% Agree. Not sure if I've already commented and said this but- I am a better version of myself because I run. I keep my race medals at my desk to remind myself that I am capable of doing hard things.

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    1. I don't keep my medals at work, but I do have pictures from my races to remind me that I can do hard things!

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  50. You have such an amazing ability to translate a word such as confidence to a perspective full of inspiration. Yes running has transformed in many ways to include a boost in confidence. It always brings a sense of accomplishment from racing to simply getting a breath of fresh-air outdoors.

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    1. I love these word prompts--they make me stretch my writing muscle!

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  51. Yes to that! Running has taught me, more than anything else, that I can do way more than I thought I could. It has also taught me that even when I feel like I have reached my limits, I still have more in me.

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    1. Who would have thought that one activity could make us feel so good about ourselves?

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  52. Wendy, this is fabulous! I love your quote, "Out of all the rewards running has given me, and there have been many, the boost to my confidence is probably the biggest and best." If only we could bag this and give it away to those who could benefit most from it - like the teenagers you mention.

    Thanks for linking up!

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    1. No matter what else happens, I'll always have that self confidence now!

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  53. Seriously, I think we are twins. I had the same experience as a kid. Total late bloomer, never really fit in anywhere and had a ton of friends, but never a solid group to be part of. When I joined the military my confidence soared. After I had kids and didn't go back to work full time my confidence totally tanked. It still isn't great, but running has definitely increased it given me confidence in new ways!

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    1. My confidence waxes and wanes but I hope never to go back to that low I felt as a teenager!

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