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Let’s talk confidence.  I’m not talking about strutting it in your party dress with style, I’m talking runner’s confidence.

You pick out a race to run in, you pick out a training program, do your training runs, long runs, you eat well, get your healthy carbs in and drink plenty of water throughout your months of training.  You stretch, you taper the week of the race, you pick out your race outfit, pin your bib on your clothes and lay everything out the night before, carb load the few days before your race and get to bed early…then it’s race morning!  There is nothing more exciting for runners than race morning!  It’s time to do it; time to get out there and do what you’ve been training for all these long hard months!

If you’re anything like me, you doubt yourself every single time you get to that start line.  Did I train hard enough?  Did I pick the right program?  Should I have run more or less the week of this race?  Maybe I should have stretched more?  Maybe I ate too many carbs the night before because I feel heavy and full?  Will I meet my goal?  Will I PR?  The questions and doubts are endless!  Then that horn goes off and I’m off – no turning back.  It’s me, the open road and the hundreds or thousands of other runners who are all running the same race.  I love and hate that feeling at the same time.  I do feel that the “doubt” I put in myself helps me to run stronger and harder however I finish every single race picking out what went wrong, what I did wrong and what I could have done better.  I do this if I didn’t do as well as I expected or even if I PR’d.  It all has to do with the confidence I have in myself as a runner.

I’ve always been told, if I did the training, put in the miles and taper properly I will do just fine.  Just fine isn’t good enough for me; I’m an athlete, I’m a competitor, I am a runner.  As a runner I should be confident in myself – I train very hard and I have talent.  I only started running in 2009 (with an almost 1 year break while I was pregnant) but I finish in the top 3% in my age group, top 3% in the overall female group and I generally finish in the top 8-9% overall.  Why don’t I have more confidence in myself as a runner?  I can’t answer that question right now but it’s more than likely my competitive spirit but sometimes that can take the fun out of running.

It is very important for those of us who struggle with this runner’s confidence issue to overcome it because the races we run that we enjoy so much will become a chore and no longer enjoyable.  Runners have a unique train of thought; who else loves something so much that hurts like hell, that you might hate (more of a love to hate feeling) every single second of and not be able to walk when you’re done yet can’t wait until the next race?  Most of us who run are doing it for fun, it’s generally not our job to run and you’re not going to get fired if you don’t PR so why stress so much over racing?  I’m not saying to go in to it not caring about how you do and to not train hard; I’m saying to realize that if you don’t PR this time there is always the next race to PR in.  Go in to it confident in your training and your abilities, push it and do your best but don’t dwell on it if you didn’t perform your best on that particular day.

There are many factors that go in to not doing as well as you expected to.  If it’s hot and humid out, you can’t expect to PR and you’re really not supposed to push it to your limits when it’s hot and humid out anyways.  Also, you can’t compare all courses – you cannot always expect to PR when you PR’d on a flat course and you’re running a hilly course at your next race.  It’s different and the hilly course is obviously going to be much more challenging.  If you’re getting over an injury or you’re not feeling well on race day you can’t expect to finish with a killer time as well.  When you have these factors working against you, do as best as you possibly can in those conditions but don’t let a less than impressive time ruin your day.

If you feel as if conditions are perfect, you trained as hard as you could and prepped well and you still didn’t do as well as expected, learn from what went wrong.  You will be able to figure out why you didn’t do as well as you wanted to, learn from it and work towards making sure it doesn’t happen again in your next race.  It’s all you can do plus it keeps you working hard.  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and makes us better runners.  If you PR’d ever single time there would be nothing to work towards.

I can say I have major confidence issues in full marathons.  I am a great at running 5Ks to half marathons but there is something about 26.2 that scares the hell out of me.  I have ran in 2 full marathons (Disney World Marathon 2010 and the Minneapolis Marathon 2010) and I didn’t do well at either one.  My times for both are actually quite embarrassing comparing it to my half marathon times.  My knee/IT band gave me major issues during Disney 2010 and I was forced to walk the last 6 miles – I was going so strong and enjoying myself until the 20th mile then it all went downhill once my knee started to hurt.  I was humiliated and incredibly disappointed but I gave the full another try a few months later.  I ran with a great pace group in the Minneapolis Marathon, I was going strong and getting “in the zone” until “nature called” around the 18th mile.  I ended up losing the group I was running with and lost my momentum – again, I was devastated.  I told myself I would never run a full marathon again but I decided to sign up for the next Disney Marathon (January 2013).  I will complete 8-9 half marathons this year so I need to challenge myself a bit more.  I am training harder this time around and working with people who know how to dominate the full marathon.  I need the moral support and I need to take advice from other runners who know what they are doing.  I am going in to the big one with confidence and I know I will do as well as I can.  Disney will be a test and I will go for a big PR and goal at the 2013 Chicago Marathon – I can’t wait!  I might not be a long distance runner and I might need to stick to medium to short distance races but that isn’t going to stop me from trying.

Trust your training, trust yourself as a runner and trust that you will do as well as you are able to that particular day.  Make a goal for every race and strive to meet that goal but if you don’t there is always next time.  Trust that you are great, you will run great and enjoy yourself out there!

I am going to read my own post before I walk out the door for my 5 mile race on Sunday and I am going to trust that I will do well and that I am a strong and confident runner!

XOXO The Glam Runner

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In September I ran 3 races:  The Chicago Half Marathon (Chicago, IL), The Autumn Rock n’ Run 5K (Orlando, FL) and the Miracle Miles 15K (Orlando, FL).  Today, I want to discuss my experience in each race, my goals, what I learned from each race and what I’m doing to meet my goals.

The Chicago Half Marathon September 9, 2012:  Finished 1:41:35/44 out of 1,295 in age group/193 out of 6,815 females/1003 out of 12,105 overall

My goal for running the Chicago Half Marathon was to finish around my PR of 1:39:41 (May, 2012).  I was pleased with finishing a little over 2 minutes over my PR – I had some IT Band pain that ran in to my knee throughout miles 5 and 6 and I know I slowed down during those 2 miles.  I am confident I would have PR’d if it weren’t for that pain.  After 2 disappointing half marathon times before this one (North Shore Half Marathon: 1:49:40 and the Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon: 1:53:07) I was so happy that I finally made it back to that range.  I prepped for the Chicago Half marathon by eating perfect for a runner, stretching more and keeping up with my training runs the week of the race.  The weather was also perfect which also helps.

The Autumn Rock n’ Run 5K September 15, 2012:  Finished 22:36/5 out of 151 in my age group/34 out of 996 females/152 out of 1,705 overall

My goal for this 5K was to PR – my PR is 21:23 (April, 2012).  It was very disappointing because I thought I had done much better.  I was pushing it but I felt fairly well through the whole race.  I finished 22:09 in my previous 5K and I was tight, sore and the entire race was uncomfortable.  I was very surprised that I finished slower at this one.  5Ks seem to be a little more tough for me.  You don’t have time to warm up so you have to get a good mile in beforehand, which I did not do.  If you start slow, there is little to no time to make it up.  You have to start strong and finish strong in a 5K.  I started incorporating speed training twice per week to improve my time.  I do a Tempo run on Tuesdays and repeat sprints on Thursday.

The 14th Annual Miracle Miles 15K September 22, 2012:  Finished 1:10:58/7 out of 188 in my age group/31 out of 920 females/134 out of 1,678 overall

My goal for this race was to finish between 1:08:00-1:10:00; I had only run 1 other 15K in my life and that was my first race after having my son and taking a full year off of racing so I really had nothing to compare my time to.  I was pleased but not thrilled with my time.  My shoe came untied and I had to stop to tie it just as I was getting my comfortably fast pace and getting “in the zone”.  That definitely slowed me down along with my IT band pain coming back at mile 8 and making the last 1.3 miles pretty difficult.  It was hot and humid as well – I don’t run to my full potential when it’s hot and humid.  I am hoping my speed training will help me with my next 15K (Chicago Hot Chocolate 15k November 4, 2012).  I know the temperature will be ideal for running.  I also switched to a slightly more supportive shoe to help with my IT Band as well as working on my flexibility.

I ran 3 races in September 2012 and for the conditions, I feel I had fairly successful races.  On average, I finish in the top 3% in my age group and in my overall gender group and in the top 8% in the overall group.  I am working and training harder, the temperature should be improving in Orlando and hopefully working on my flexibility and getting a more supportive shoe will all help me improve my time and ultimately get me a 1st place win in my age group again.

Next Race:  U Can Finish 5 Miler October 14, 2012

Set goals for yourself, work towards them, keep improving and keep running!

XOXO The Glam Runner