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