Ideal Self || Runners’ Ideal

Imagine you are 7 years old, and as your dad goes out for a run, you join him occasionally. For a mile or two, like kids do. You enjoy running and join a running club at age 12. Even though you have asthma and anemia, you don’t give up. You carry on running. Not only do you carry on, you become so good at it that the first time you enter a major marathon you win it.

Do you want to run, faster, longer, feel better after a run, hey even look better whilst running then this blog is for you, because not only do I want to inspire you, we will make our way through these topics and help you dig deep and gain more insight so you can make & take better decisions. 

The show is for runners’ run coaches, triathlon coaches, athletes that manage a household shout out to all mom’s or whoever has a full time job, and invests spare time in advancing his or her sports performance.

The runner I was speaking about before the  . Any idea who it might be. I will give you another hint. She actually not only won her first marathon in her first year of running such distances, it was also her home country marathon, an enormous prestigious event. Still no idea? You give up?

I promise you once I tell you who it is you will kick yourself as you have surely heard of Paula Jane Radcliffe. And I am talking about the London marathon which she then followed with wins in Chicago and New York.

She is the most amazing runner and I remember her mostly by her unique running style. Her head from side to side, and sets out at a blistering pace, right from the start.

2003 was an excellent year for her, and the British press, and public had a new hero and so she was a lot more than just a favorite to compete in the 2004 Athens Olympic games. She was naturally expected to win.

Now before we continue, remember this is part three of the blog relating to three elements that are key to any runners’ self-image. 

  1. The way a person perceives or thinks of him/herself.
  2. The way a person interprets others’ perceptions (or what he thinks others think) of him/herself.
  3. The way a person would like to be (his ideal self).

And you can already guess why I have chosen Paula to dive into the last point: the way you or any person would like to be. If you had a choice. I mean isn’t it odd that when with friends socializing sometimes the question came up, if you could be anyone who would you want to be? When we were young hardly anyone said “I want to be the best of me” or something similar. We usually ended up wanting to be Rocky, MacGyver, or the six million dollar man. I think that’s what it was called. The bionic man? 

Having lived 4 years in the UK I can attest to the fact that the British press is a mean lean fighting machine. Browsing the headlines causes you to get immediately immersed in possible intrigues and speculations as to why a royal, an athlete, might not have performed as expected. And so was the case for Paula. Just before the Athens Olympics, I believe she was struggling with some injury, and was not so 100% prepared. But, seeing that it’s the Olympics, I am sure that she decided to give it her best. She entered the marathon, but had to withdraw at 36 km. She attempted the 10,000 meters a few days later, but again had to withdraw in the race. As one of Britain’s highest profile medal contenders, this made national headlines. And not just any headlines. They must have been really tough to absorb. Feelings of hurt and patriotism mixing and creating more uncertainty.

And now it comes down to you, or in this case Paula. 

What decision she was going to make and take. 

Perhaps to get some insight into her state of mind, I looked up and found some quotes which do give us an understanding of a top athlete’s self-image.

  • I’m confident of what I have to achieve in the buildup to London 2012. Paula Radcliffe
    The biggest danger is trying to put too much pressure on yourself, trying to get in too good shape.
  • You can’t magic yourself back 10 years.
  • I would be happy with an Olympic bronze. What I don’t have is an Olympic medal.
  • I am not going to let Athens affect the rest of my life.
  • Every time I go out and race it’s a goal to go out and run faster than I’ve done before.

Interestingly the second place British runner according to the data from the official marathon organizer was Larissa Zousko, who finished in a time of 2:28. What a big difference those 13 minutes make. Yes, of course, Larissa was in a much higher age group at the time. But if you think about it, both UK runners had both the same mindset and training facilities especially in early youth available to them. But somewhere there was a change. 

STATISTICS about Runners’ self-image but if all the statistics don’t convince you to work on your self-image. Just pay attention to how you feel when someone comments on your distance. Might even be the colleague at work who never runs, and cannot even relate to your sport. But if that person says to you: hey, I saw you running yesterday. How you looked real fast, and you were over at 5th street. I can’t believe you run that far.

Don’t brush it off. Use it. Before you go on your next run, recall those words, and see how your posture will change, feel more willing to go at it with more determination. After all, 5th street is just 2 miles from your home.

“The ‘self-image’ is the key to human personality and human behavior. Change the self-image and you change the personality and the behavior.”

Maxwell Maltz

Maxwell Maltz was an American cosmetic surgeon and author of Psycho-Cybernetics, which was a system of ideas that he claimed could improve one’s self-image leading to a more successful and fulfilling life.

Here is a suggestion, a thought especially if you have kids, or you are an aunt or uncle to someone’s kids. This weekend, or whenever you plan your next run, invite the kids along. Don’t worry they will not mess up your time. After a few miles they will rather pursue something else less strenuous, more exciting. 

But it is during those first couple of steps you take together where you can help build and lay a foundation to help those kids get a powerful self-image. And who knows, one of them might turn out to develop the love of running.

Look forward to hearing from you. My name is Heiko, and thanks for reading.

Take it easy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

newsletter signup

Get notified about updates and be the first to get early access to new episodes.

Recent Posts

Follow Us

More Posts


Down Time || No Running

Are you currently injured? You can’t run? It’s not only your Doctor or your Physio who said that. You actually feel it. You know you can’t run. Even walking causes you pain. Listen first off, get well soon. This, today’s

Read More »

Call to Action

Enrich your WordPress site more interactive by adding a gorgeous looking call to action widget.

Beautiful Landing Page with Elements

A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia.
It is a paradisematic country, in which