It took me a long time to learn to run with confidence. Convinced I was the slowest runner on the planet, and that my gait resembled a newborn goat, I’d run incognito with dark sunglasses and a ball cap pulled low. I eventually adopted better form and embraced my 11 minute mile pace which helped my confidence level until I experienced the fears of my first 5K. Each time, I found that a lack of confidence can lead to big mistakes.
My solution? Keep running!
For every run that poses a threat to my self confidence, an opportunity for growth emerges. I still have much to learn about the sport and about myself, but I’m far more confident than I was in the beginning. What’s even more amazing to me is how the assurance I’ve gained as a runner has spilled over into other aspects of my life. Particularly parenting. For more on that, please check out Becoming a More Confident Mom.
Back to running: With hopes that you’ll be able to learn from some of my mistakes, here are three lessons I learned in my not-so-sure-footed days:
During my first race, I tried to conceal looking like an awkward rookie by starting out fast and powerful. (Need I mention that this is one of the biggest mistakes most rookies make?) Of course, after just about two hundred meters, I was gasping for air, grinding to a crawl and watching my earlier road kills fly past me with ease.
I later learned that there’s nothing wrong with being a rookie – runner, jogger, walker…everyone starts somewhere! The secret to running a great race is to run it at your personal pace. A spectator sign at the beginning of the 2015 Austin Aramco Half Marathon confirmed this for me. It simply read Find Your Happy Pace. It’s in my happy pace that I find my smile and all the confidence I need to run My Race.
I’m a pro at doubting my abilities as an athlete. And that does not bode well for the old adage “Running is 90 percent mental and the rest is physical.” While that percentage may not be completely accurate, it does take huge mental strength to overcome the fear and apprehension that can lead to quitting.
When I run, my whiny, inner child sometimes tries to cling to my ankles and drag me down. Luckily, my firm but loving, inner drill sergeant knows how to loosen the grip.
Their struggle in my mind sounds something like this:
Inner child: “Can I just slow down and walk now?” (whined to the tune of “Are we there yet?”)
Drill Sergeant: “No.” (simply stated and with authority)
Inner Child: “Why not? I’m gonna die!!”
Drill Sergeant: “You are not going to die. You did twice this distance last week…with hills! You CAN do this! Stop sniveling. Think of how great you’ll feel after the race!”
Running has given me the confidence to not only overcome the wimpy voices that tell me, “I can’t,” it’s helped me better defend against the real life complaints of my kids. Armed with logical, objective proof of my abilities, I can now leave doubt in the dust without ever looking back.
In my early days of running, (and even today, if I’m not careful), I’d halfheartedly commit to running three or four miles and then head out. By the end of the first mile, if I was in any kind of discomfort, I’d find a fabulous excuse to end by mile two. My lack of accountability ultimately resulted in weaker training days and gobs of regret.
Today, I commit wholeheartedly to a distance goal ahead of time and tenaciously go after it. If it turns out to be a particularly bad running day, I may slow my pace, but I’m much more likely to follow through with the distance no matter the discomfort. Not only has this taught me to finish what I begin, it’s also helped me hold my kids accountable for their choices. I’m better at empathizing with their discomfort, but more than ever, I understand the importance of seeing things through to completion.
I’m still learning to overcome the mental and physical obstacles in running. But with each new challenge, I grow stronger and more sure of myself both as a runner and as a mom
Question: How does running boost your confidence? Come on, I dare you to share! 🙂 You can leave a comment by clicking here.