This is a guest article from Greg Strosaker. Greg is the 3:03 marathoner behind Predawn Runner, a blog that provides tips on fitting running into the already-busy life, with tips on squeezing more training time in, making the most of the time you do have, and finding ways to boost your performance come race-day. You can follow Greg on Twitter as @GAStroz, as well as friend him up on Dailymile.
In running, as in life, you sometimes find yourself in a rut, where you lack motivation, feel like progress is slow or nonexistent, or just generally loses enthusiasm for reaching your goals. While there are several reasons this can occur, one potential cause, as well as an outcome, is a general loss of confidence in your abilities. Therefore, coming up with ways to boost your confidence quickly can often give you the extra push needed to get your training back on track.
When it comes to running, there are several ways you can boost your confidence quickly. Some potential ideas are as follows:
Design and execute a workout with easily achievable goals: Many training programs include workouts that incorporate target paces or times, be it through intervals, tempo runs, pace runs, or even full-out time trials. If you find yourself missing your goals in such workouts, take the next few instances and set an easier goal – shorten your distance, reduce your pace goal, or both. If you set a target you can actually exceed, you can start to build a path of small wins that can give you the confidence to build your goals back to the original levels.
Start finishing your workouts strong: It is possible to finish nearly any type of workout with a confidence-boosting burst of strength to leave you feeling positive and excited for your next training endeavor. From intervals to long runs, there are a range of “finish strong” techniques, generally involving progressive splits (whereby you increase your speed as the workout progresses) that not only improve your physical conditioning, but make you mentally tougher and help keep you focused on successfully executing the workout.
Mix up your training routines: If you are like many runners, you are following a training plan that puts your tempo run on Tuesday, your long run on Saturday, or something similarly consistent. While there are many good reasons for the design of these plans (such as alternating hard and easy days, putting long runs on the weekend when you have more time), they can get a bit stultifying if followed to the tee. If you occasionally shuffle things around, or mix in a new type of cross-training, you may be able to break the monotony of your training and start regaining confidence. Even running at a different time of day can provide new incentive, and you may find you are faster in the afternoon than, say, in the predawn.
Sign up for a race at which you can excel: There are several ways you can use a race to rebuild confidence, and if you can find one soon enough, this can be the trigger to motivate your performance. First, if your goal race is some time off, pick a nearer-term race to help focus you mind and training. Second, if you pick a race at a distance you have never run before, you are guaranteed of achieving a personal record (PR); even though it is a bit “artificial,” the success of reaching a new goal will help you regain some mojo. Finally, find a smaller race where you have a good opportunity to place highly in your age group. With so many races to choose from, you can almost always find one that fits your fitness level at a given time but gets less attention (and attendance).
When it comes to running, confidence breeds more confidence, and momentum tends to build on itself, so if you can start that ball rolling through some of the ideas listed above, you can get back on track to achieving your running goals.
How do you build your self confidence in your training? Do you use workouts, races, or other achievable goals?