A Runner’s Guide To Tackling Self Doubt
Don’t let negative emotion stop you training for your race. You can do this – now tell yourself that!
You’ve entered your first half-marathon! You won’t get anything but positive encouragement here – we’re all in this together.
But what about in your non-running life? If you’re getting criticism, negativity, or annoying questions from friends, family, and colleagues, have a read of today’s blog post. It will help keep your self-confidence high as you head towards the race.
Boost Your Brain.
The RAS (reticular activating system) is a part of your brain that develops strong beliefs about what you can – and can’t do. It can store information, comments, and opinions that support or challenge your view of yourself. Whether you feel super confident, or crippled by self-doubt, those feelings will stem from your RAS. The good news is that you can control the balance by paying attention to what makes it into your RAS. Feed your brain positive feelings, happy thoughts, supportive feedback, and strong ideas about running. Try not to feed it criticism or doubt (from yourself or other people).
What Are Your Red Flags?
We all have warning signs that signal the start of worry, self-doubt, or low confidence. What are yours? Get to know them, and you have a better chance of stopping self-doubt in its tracks. This isn’t the same as the nervous excitement you feel about the start of a race, or the gut feeling of worry you have about an injury. But if you can identify what triggers off an unhelpful attack of self-doubt, you can be a stronger runner. Don’t dwell on negative feelings. Don’t let unfounded fear stop you from taking the next step. Keep doing what you need to do.
Affirmations & Visualisation.
Both visualisation and affirmations can give you mental strength that will support your running goals. Think in positive affirmations – whatever works for you. Use positive language: “I love running, running gives me energy, every run is enjoyable”, rather than, “running does not make me tired”, or “I don’t hate running”. Repeat your affirmation before training, during your runs, or even when you just think about running. What you think becomes true!
Just Get Started.
The hardest bit of a run can be putting your shoes on and just getting out there. Next time you are having an attack of self-doubt, just do one small action that moves you forward. Get up off the sofa. Prepare your drinks bottle. Lace up your shoes. Get out the door. Run to the next lamppost. Small actions and tiny decisions are often more important than huge goals.
Set Yourself Up For Success.
The best way to beat self doubt is to be successful. So set yourself goals that you can achieve. Rather than a sub-2 hour half marathon, say you will finish it. Or run the whole way. Rather than a PB, give yourself an A, B, and C goal (A is to finish, B is to go under 2 hours, C is to get a PB). See what we mean? By all means set yourself big goals – they are exciting and challenging. But always make sure you will achieve some level of success, whatever happens on the day.