It’s not what others think about you, it’s what you think about yourself


Throughout the course of our SBF Challenge, we send welfare emails to our members to make sure everything is ok.

Some people respond with their weight loss so far, some people tell us of their fitness achievements or obstacles they may be facing, some people tell us they’re enjoying the food or their renewed motivation.

Then every so often you get a story like this one. Sit back and enjoy:

When I was 6 I ran in my first athletics carnival. I remember running as hard as I could in my Dunlop volleys on a hard African track. I remember my cheeks bouncing up and down even though I tried to stop them. I came dead last. At the end of the race my Mum, who came to watch, asked me if I was ‘trying’. I told her I was and I vividly remember her glancing at her best friend (whose son was in my class) and the look on her face. The shame and embarrassment I felt that day was the first of many incidents over the following years.

It was the start of a life long avoidance of team sports and athletics. It was the start of being picked last for teams and no one ever passing to me.  

Fast forward to when I was 25 and I was doing the shuttle run as a Police recruit at the Academy. It is a short sharp sprint of no more than 20 seconds. Depending on how fast you run you get awarded points. Fast people get 20 points, average fit people get a 10 and if you show up and complete the course you get 1.

I got a 1.

The instructor, in front of all other recruits, told me that if I got a 1 again he would ‘kick me up the arse’. I had to redo it. Out of sheer fear of him and humiliation (and probably helped by a false start) I got a 3….lol.  If I think about it long enough I can still dredge up those feelings of inadequacy, awkwardness and shame.

Over the years I have run for fitness. I do it in secret and never run in groups. I don’t tell anyone my times. I don’t talk about it. I have signed up for a few fun runs over the years and do them alone. Although on one occasion when someone did find out my time they told me they ‘walk faster than that’.

Three years ago I secretly decided I was going to sign up for the Gold Coast Half and I trained and completed it. I was stoked with my 2 hours 15min. I know that I was at my limit and for once I was not embarrassed by my time. Although most people who beat me were disappointed with their times…go figure.

I then signed up for SBF and started to do the Mind Fit stuff. Simple things like ‘talking to yourself in a tone that you would never talk to another person in’ made a huge impact on me. Being in an environment where people didn’t cut each other down for fun. A supportive and accepting environment of people just trying to do better, to be better.

Before joining SBF there is no way I would have even considered running a marathon but I really wanted to challenge myself this year and grow, and so in Feb I decided that I was going to enter into one. I love trekking and I picked the Tarawerra Trail in NZ because the course starts at a puffing geyser and ends at a hot water beach on a lake. It goes through beautiful forest and has 1560m up and 1560m down. I did not tell anyone except the safe SBF Facebook group. Not that they know the history of me being a bad runner but I knew that they would not think less of me if I failed (which in hindsight I truly thought I would).

I joined an online running group and started training. I built up my k’s to long runs and then whilst running on a treadmill I tore my Glute Med and wrecked my TFL. 3 months off! It derailed me.

I just kept thinking that I am just not a runner. Why did I even try to do this? It’s just more evidence that I suck at it! I should never run again! What a failure! Give up!  

It was tougher on me mentally more so than physically. Anyway after some soul searching, affirmations, mind set letters and getting inspiration from the SBF page, I decided to keep going. I got back in to training in late September. Not an ideal preparation as the longest run was for 70 minutes three weeks before the race!

Last weekend I went to NZ with my amazingly supportive partner (who is a really good runner) and we did the marathon. It was fantastic! I started at 6:30am in the tortoise wave (those scared they would not make it to the 30km mark by 2:30 and would be unable to continue for safety reasons in the remote forest) instead of 7:30am. I had to pull over a lot to let a lot of others pass by on the single trail but I felt great. It was wet, muddy and very slippery. But my mindset was different. It was my race. Me vs Me. My injury played up at the 30 km mark and I thought about pulling out but I didn’t. If I can survive freezing cold showers in winter (one of our previous mental toughness challenges). I can do this. I used walking poles down the steep sections and ran when I could.

I finished the race in 8 :00:49!  The winning female won in 4hrs 40 minutes.

Something changed in me on Saturday. Something deep inside shifted. Something changed in the way I think of myself and even though my fingers are shaking whilst I type, telling a total stranger stories I have never told anyone, I see myself differently….. I am a runner.

What you guys are doing makes a difference, a tangible, palpable difference!


Written by: An anonymous, courageous, inspiring and all round beautiful person 🙂


Author: Sally Brouwer

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