BE YOUR BEST
ADVENTURER AND ULTRARUNNER SOPHIE RADCLIFFE TAKES US ON A POSITIVE JOURNEY TO A WORLD OF BETTER, FASTER RUNNING
O ne of the most common questions people ask me is, “How do you keep going when you want to stop?” Everyone has their own motivation that keeps us moving forward while we are deep in the pain cave. For me it’s always been the pursuit of inner strength, and the confidence and self-belief that comes with that.
I want to be someone who keeps going when it gets tough; I want to know I can rise above and find a way through any challenge. I’m on a mission to learn how to master my mind, so that it doesn’t get in my way and stop me from finding out who I am and uncovering my true, limitless potential. Above all of that, I want the same for you, which is why I’m such a big believer that if you want something in life, you have to go out there and work for it every day. Confidence, just like our fitness, strength, running agility or speed, is not something we are born with, it’s something we have to nurture and develop. As someone once said: “Confidence is like a muscle, the more you train it, the stronger it gets.”
Why is confidence important? The internal strength, mental resilience and determination I strive for isn’t something that’s useful just for running races. It filters into every aspect of our lives. Yes, I want to be someone who can keep going and run 100km knowing I gave it my all, but I also want to be a person who can dust myself off when life knocks me down, rise up from where I might have fallen and keep moving forward.
No one in this world can hide from life’s curve balls. When they come and we are burdened with stress, sadness, fear or anxiety, we have two choices; either let life take the best of you, or you make the most of the cards you have been dealt.
My belief is that generally we decide we want to make the most of tough situations, so my goal is to have the confidence and skills to get to this point as quickly as possible. I hate having the wind knocked out of my sails!
Pushing through barrier after barrier on every single challenge I have ever set myself – from running three miles to 100km ultramarathons – teaches me how to keep going when it feels like I’m at rock bottom and have nothing left to give. I have always loved this moment. This moment of being at rock bottom and not knowing how I can take another step forward. Somehow, in the depth
of your pain cave the suffering seems worthwhile. The moment you make the decision that you will not quit and you commit to your goal, your challenge, you commit to being the person you want to be. The person who has the strength and confidence to take life’s knocks and find a way to rise. I love this moment because it feels like a magical transformation. I leave behind the person who I was and make a significant step towards the person I believe I can become.
For the rest of my life, I am that person. You are that person. You challenged yourself and overcame the hardest thing you’ve ever done. This does not stop at the finish line. It becomes part of who you are and you’ll never forget that. You take this confidence and self-belief with you in life; in every decision you make, in every door that’s slammed in your face, every new job you go for, every time you do something that scares you, in every relationship that tests you, in every trial and trauma you experience and in every new start you have in life. You will now have a conversation with yourself where you will go, “I’ve got this,” and know that you can do it. This is what confidence means to me. It’s not about having a high opinion of yourself, or about ego, it’s about courage, the willingness to endure being able to back yourself.
4 Follow your fear
Actively pursue the things that scare you. I never in a million years imagined I could run 100km or do an Ironman. Fitness and running have never come naturally for me and I hated sport at school. So I had to change my mind-set. Everything can change when you find a passion and that passion lights up your life.
5 Be true to yourself
Give yourself permission to be yourself. I discovered what it truly feels like to feel free and limitless through trail running. There is nothing that beats running out of your door with a backpack, some food and water and just exploring to see how far you can go.
6 Develop self-reliance
In so many areas of life we wait for other people’s permission to create opportunities for us, to say yes to our dreams. Through the challenges I do, I learnt that no one will stand in the way of you achieving something you really want, but no one will do it for you either. Knowing that each of us has the power within us to change our lives and go for our dreams is incredibly empowering.
7 You’ve got this
When life throws you a curve ball, you want to be able to have the “you’ve got this” chat with yourself and know that you can do it.
8 Keep your fire stoked
I remember the moment I completed my first challenge like it was yesterday. It was a seven-day adventure race through the jungle of Borneo. I’d gone from being a recent graduate living in London spending most of my free time in the pub, to our team coming second in the adventure race and feeling fit for the first time in my life. It felt like someone lit a fire inside of me. It felt like that fire had been waiting for that spark my entire life.
9 Get the right people on your bus
Having people in your life who bring positive energy into your life is incredibly important. Don’t be afraid to cut yourself loose from naysayers, mood-hoovers or people who bring you down. You don’t need that! Don’t expect everyone to appreciate and understand why you love what you do, but work at making sure you have the right people in your support group.
10 Nothing beats hard work
In the end success is largely a numbers game. I am definitely not the fittest or fastest person in the world, but I have achieved things that no one else has. Working hard every damn day towards your goals, whether they are running, personal or professional goals; this will leave you feeling proud of yourself and help you achieve more which will boost your confidence.
11 The Daily Grind
Never underestimate the value of your dedication in the Daily Grind. Huge leaps in progress can be made through epic challenges, races, achieving PBs and adventures. However, nothing beats the personal dedication and sacrifice you make in the daily grind.
12 Confidence training
Progress is made when we feel strong, happy and confident. My strategy is all about doing what makes me feel strong, confident and positive so I feel stronger each day and ready for progress to flow, rather than feel disheartened because I didn’t reach a target.