The resilience of every runner is tested by mental and physical challenges, and scientists agree it’s confidence that will carry you through. Follow these top 10 tips to become a confident runner and put a spring in your step.
1 KEEP A DIARY
Keeping track of your thoughts and feelings can be a good way to keep a clear perspective on your progress and follow your feelings. If you keep a training diary, instead of only recording your daily distance and pace, start to write down emotive details too, such as how you felt before/after each run (mood); your level of fatigue; focus; you could even have a column for ‘level of confidence.’
Keeping track of your thoughts and feelings means they tend to stick rather than going around in your head – and spend a couple of minutes reading over your training plan or journal at the end of each week so you become familiar with how you felt each day and how your thoughts and performance changed. This is evidence–based learning and it will help you form the habit of self-reflection.
It’s a good exercise to write down 10 things you like about yourself and read the list to yourself every day. Remind yourself that beauty is only skin deep, and that true beauty is a state of mind, not the state of your body. See yourself holistically and don’t observe just specific body parts – keep in mind that you are so much more.
When you see yourself as whole individual, you’ll be more compassionate towards yourself which results in loving yourself more and immediately feeling more beautiful.
2 DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
Making comparisons robs us of joy, and joy is what makes us beautiful. These are wise words, yet we’re all guilty of comparing ourselves to others and our running performance to theirs. It’s hard not to do it with a sport like running, where progress is often measured by mileage and pace.
Keep in mind that comparing yourself to others takes your energy away from you. Instead, concentrate on yourself and turn your energy inwards by sharing the experience – go for a relaxed road run or trail run with a friend and talk about how nice it is to be out in the elements, spending time together and getting fit at the same time. While you are running, think about appreciating your health and your body – the simple act of thinking positive thoughts will help you build confidence.
3 BE CONSISTENT
When it comes to building confidence, consistency is far more important than mileage. It’s better to run shorter distances more often every week than doing longer runs fewer times a week, for two reasons. First, physically your body will find it easier to adapt to smaller increments, in combination with overnight rest. This means you can begin to increase the distances you run sooner, due to your incremental recovery. And second, psychologically, more regular short runs help with building a routine so you can easier stick to it, increasing self-efficacy (faith in your running ability and thereby, confidence). After all, if you begin to believe you can run better and better over time, you actually will.
4 FIND POSITIVE AND SUPPORTIVE PEOPLE
Social groups can have a strong impact on your motivation to exercise and confidence; studies suggest that the more social support you get from your family, partner, friends, colleagues, clubs, or other social groups, the more motivated you’ll be and importantly, likely to stick with it.
Surround yourself with positive people and messages that make you feel good about yourself. Begin by determining which of your social groups have the most influence on you. Your partner, for instance, could be a great running buddy – so make sure you arrange a few runs each week that fit in with both your schedules. If your partner doesn’t like running, they might be the perfect person to encourage you and give you pep talks, which all feed your confidence. Your running club could be your social group that most supports your running and helps build your confidence, so be sure to join as many club runs as you can each week, and chat/have coffee after a run, maybe on a weekend. You might also have a close friend or even work colleague – someone outside of your family environment – who can help increase your confidence. Be in regular contact with such a friend, whether it be a phone call, walk or run.
5 EXPAND YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Expanding comfort zones and creating new ones can be daunting and a bit uncomfortable, but the benefits can be enormous, not only in terms of running, but in terms of developing your ‘self.’ Achieving something you haven’t done before does miracles for your confidence and will help you reach your potential. And keep in mind, you can progress with both small steps and great strides, so start small, be patient with yourself and you’ll soon be enjoying new levels of confidence.
Simple acts like purchasing a training diary, entering a 5k race, purchasing nice kit, researching running groups in your area, scheduling in regular runs with a friend, or attending a running workshop are all ideas to stretching your comfort zone. If you are a seasoned runner with impressive PBs and plenty of races under your belt, you may ask yourself:”Where to from here? How can I expand my comfort zones when I feel comfortable racing and have reached my maximum pace?” Breaking comfort zones isn’t always about going faster or further – it’s about doing something different, to stretch yourself. This type of runner could break his/her comfort zones, for instance, by slowing it down a little, signing up for an ultra event, and/or training for a different terrain.
6 BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND
Positive self-talk is crucial when it comes to building confidence. For some people this is completely natural, while for others, positive self-talk doesn’t come easy. If you find it hard to encourage yourself, try imagining you are talking to your best friend – what would you say to them in response to: “I’m not going anywhere, there’s no hope for me, I’m so slow, I’ll never be able to run in that race.” If you responded with negativity – as you might do if you were talking to yourself – you wouldn’t be helping build their confidence.
It’s important to speak well of yourself and let your body know how much you appreciate it. Optimistic affirmations and gratitude lift you up, build your confidence and make you feel immediately better. Be your own best friend, be nice to yourself, and spend just five minutes a day (when you are running is the ideal time) filtering positive ideas about life, yourself, your running.
7 MASTER POWER POSING
Your body language is an important type of non-verbal communication and has an effect on how others see us, but importantly, did you know that research reveals it can also change the way we see ourselves? Social psychologists discovered that only two minutes of ‘power posing,’ or standing in a posture of confidence, increases testosterone (dominance hormone) and lowers cortisol (stress hormone) – in other words, it can make you feel more confident.
So practise standing tall, head up, breathing deeply, muscles relaxed. When out running, think “power posing” – start to think about feeling strong, supple, and looking confident. Even smiling can help increase your level of confidence, not to mention your mood.
8 LOOK GOOD, LIVE HEALTHY
There’s nothing better for your confidence than wearing something nice and feeling comfortable in your own skin. Wear your favourite shorts and top, purchase some new trainers, find a reliable watch/gadget, and experiment a little since you’re more likely to stay motivated and build your confidence if you are wearing nice, practical kit and feel comfortable.
To build your confidence, you should also feed your mind. Eating nutritious and healthy foods will help manage both your emotions and level of energy, so you will feel positive, think clearer and be more motivated. On our site you can find many delicious and healthy ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Making sure you try to keep as much of a balance as possible around sleep, diet, work, training, diet, will help you feel on top of things.
9 HELP OTHERS
Helping others is an effective way to shift your perspective and can help you build confidence and self-esteem. Use the energy and time that you often spend worrying about your lack of confidence to do something nice for others. Spend some of your time for a charity, do something creative that impacts or inspires others, visit a nursing home or a children’s ward at the hospital. These sorts of things will make you feel good on the inside. When you feel good within yourself, you naturally radiate beauty on the outside.
10 HAVE A RUNNING IDOL
You can never have enough mentors in life – people you are inspired by, admire and learn from – and everybody should have at least one running idol. This doesn’t mean you compare yourself to your idol, you simply learn from them in terms of their level of commitment, attitude, what they’ve learnt from their experiences, both good and bad.
Running idols can help you build your confidence as you progress with your running and expand your comfort zones, and even when you are injured. Have your idol in your thoughts when out running; think about how motivated and inspiring they are, how dedicated they are to their goal, and you will keep building both your confidence and motivation.