Your confidence, or lack thereof, determines how you act in the world, including your running plan. You can easily get in your own way if your mental game is not up to the challenge.
Take it from someone who knows. I grew up as a painfully timid and secluded kid, often believing I wasn’t as deserving or as good as everyone else. This lack of confidence was a major obstacle when I took up running.
Just as had happened a thousand times before, I felt inadequate and unworthy. I wanted to give up and quit many times. My lack of confidence held me back from pursuing my running goals. It sucks when you don’t believe in yourself!
As time passed I picked up a few strategies that helped me build the confidence I needed to make my fitness vision a reality. Here are four of my favorites.
1. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
One of the worst traps you can get into while running is comparing yourself to everyone else. This is actually one of the reasons I avoided pairing up with other runners for a very long time. I always felt inferior when the other runner was faster. What a fool I was. Instead of looking at it as an opportunity to challenge myself and improve, I ran in the opposite direction.
Here’s the truth. Trying to catch up with the Joneses is not a good idea. Sure, we all do it from time to time, but doing so might prove detrimental to your efforts.
Let me explain in more detail. You’re not supposed to be anyone but yourself. Your way is uniquely yours. If you want someone to compare yourself to, think of the kind of a runner (and person) you were a year ago versus who you are today.
Running should be a self-absorbed activity, where your own performance and results are your only concern. You compete against yourself, not against everyone else.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with aspiring to become a better runner or being competitive. But if it’s making you feel inferior, you’re downplaying your own abilities—and that’s a terrible place to be.
The simple solution is to shift your attention inward. Pay attention to yourself and your own goals and you’ll immediately see (and experience) a boost in self-confidence.
Take a sheet of paper and jot down everything that comes to mind, then use it a reminder or when things get tough. It’s your journey. You get to choose.
2. Set the Right Goals
When setting goals, what most runners do is shoot for the stars. Sooner or later most fail, then get discouraged and defeated.
Here’s the truth. Setting unrealistic goals is the recipe for failure. You’ll only run your body (and fitness vision) into the ground when trying to chew on more than you can swallow. Don’t do that.
Instead, set realistic goals, then lay out the steps you need to take to achieve them.
In other words, set a goal you know you can achieve and then achieve it. One goal at a time. You’ll feel good once you get it, then set another small goal and achieve that one too.
Setting achievable goals that you can check off a list can help increase your confidence in your ability. That, in turn, puts you on a path of small victories that can give you the self-assurance to go after any running goal or any life goal for that matter.
Falling short of achieving a certain goal? Don’t lose hope. Simply set an easier goal—lower the bar, so it’s almost impossible for you not to succeed.
3. Use Positive Self-Talk
Self-talk. It’s something we do all the time, but for most people, its impact remains elusive.
When you talk to yourself in an uplifting manner you feel unstoppable, but when your self-talk is destructive, it leaves you upset and depressed.
You’re the person who is going to be in your own head all the time, in every situation and setting for the rest of your life. You’d better encourage, support and push yourself. Otherwise, who will?
Here’s the good news. Positive self-talk is within your grasp. It’s a skill you can learn. It may be more easily said than done, but with practice, you can do it.
One simple measure you can take right now is to monitor your inner thoughts. When you catch yourself saying something negative, reframe the message to be positive and encouraging. Be your own cheerleader. No one else can do it as well as you can.
By doing this, you can gradually build up your self-confidence.
By using this little skill, I was able to not only take my training to the next level, but also overcame a slew of self-sabotaging habits. It sounds so simple, but my goodness it works. Seriously, give this a shot if you haven’t.
4. Visualize Your Goal
Perhaps the most powerful tool I learned over the last few years is to visualize and see my goals as already accomplished.
Visualization, also known as guided imagery or mental rehearsal, is simple. It involves seeing an image of yourself in your own mind’s eye as the type of a runner (and person) you aspire to be.
For this one, having a specific goal in mind helps, and to get the most out of visualization make your goals as detailed as possible.
Picture yourself achieving your running goals as if it’s already happened. Go through everything: what you’ll see, hear, and how you’ll feel. Replay this picture over and over in your mind.
Doing this will not only make you feel more confident, but also help you to act more confidently.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have a favorite confidence-building tactic, or are you just a naturally confident runner?
Please leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section below.
Thank you for stopping by.
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