Runners, Get Your Confidence On: Workouts to build the confidence you need to race your best

I’ve talked a lot about how important confidence is for runners. When you step to the line of a race, and any workout too for that matter, it is confidence that helps quell those nerves. You tell yourself that you’ve battled through excruciating pain before and you’ll do it again to get to the finish line certain you left it all out there.
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Confidence is often a tricky because in order to build it up you have to have accomplished certain distances, workouts, and runs. Though, in order to conquer those workouts you’ve got to have enough confidence guts to get out there attempt them, and then kick their butts. So it’s a bit of a revolving door, chicken and egg thing. Thankfully running gives us ample opportunities to cycle through those revolving doors (ie: umm, every day! Hehe) so if you do have a weaker workout, get through it and look forward to the next workout which you can demolish. The key here is, in order to escape bad workouts with your confidence intact; you have to LEARN from them but then push them out of your mind.

The confidence you get when you step to the line of a race should come from the workouts that you nailed. The mile repeats that you came in under goal-pace, the tempo run where that last mile you definitely hit through to a new level of pain tolerance, the 800′s where you surprised even yourself.

Over time a runner comes to have those ‘key workouts’ that stand out in their minds; the ones they’ve done time and time again and over the years it’s become a bit of a benchmarker. It’s often fun (and motivating) to see the progression over the years; at the same time these types of workouts can do much in the way of indicating you are set for a stand-out race.
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My latest article up on Competitor: “Confidence-Building Workouts From the Pros” shares four of these confidence building workouts from some of the professionals. Josh Cox and Tera Moody talk about their staple marathon workouts, Sara Vaughn shares about her speedster 800′s and Renee Metivier Baillie did 500′s up at altitude to predict what kind of 5k shape she was in.

I had a lot of fun doing this particular article because I know that we ALL have workouts that we particularly enjoy doing because they make us feel ‘on’ and then when we step to the line of a race we know it’s ‘go time.’

Check out the article over there, but I’d also like to hear what kinds of workouts you use as benchmarkers, race predictors, or workouts you’ve done for years and you use the progress as motivation to keep on kicking butt out there! :)

1) What is one of your ‘key’ workouts that give you confidence or help build your confidence before a race?

2) When you step to the line of a race, what kinds of things do you do to bolster your confidence?

3) Have you done, or do you want to try, one of the workouts talked about by the elites I profiled in the article?
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22 thoughts on “Runners, Get Your Confidence On: Workouts to build the confidence you need to race your best

  1. Confidence is key for sure! I used to think about how much shorter my races were than training runs but u will need a new confidence booster before I step to the marathon start line, haha! A workout that makes me feel confident is hill repeats.

    • GREAT one, jade! i’d do that too; workouts tend to be much longer (and honestly sometime more grueling) than races, so i’d remember if i survived training i was more than able to handle a race. :)

  2. Going faster always increases confidence for me, as well as extending my long run distances. I can do intervals and hill runs (might be tough but I can do them!) so it’s those extensions in speed / distance that do wonders. At the same time, it can be hard to come back after having a workout where I wanted to go faster / longer but didn’t! Putting it out of my mind is a good stance to take.

  3. The progressively faster long run is my staple. Where I start slow, and run the last few miles, up to as much as 8, at my goal marathon pace or below. Problem is, I tend to run these too much since I’m always looking to gauge myself, and thus I spend a lot of recovery time.

    By the way, I used you as an example of a blogger who writes with their strengths: http://markmatthewsauthor.blogspot.com/2012/12/262-tips-to-run-running-blog.html This posts just confirms your guru status.

    • sounds like those runs are how i feel with tempo runs…lol. :P thanks so much for adding me in ur post, b’gosh, i’m glad my ramblings sometimes make sense. ;)

  4. Such a fab article on confidence! It is easy to get your confidence shattered but you’re right, in running or other sports we always have the opportunity to get out there and try again. Do our best. And really build our confidence back up.

  5. I don’t have one single confidence building run that I use to test my fitness, although after reading your article, I want one! Confidence for me is cumulative. I get a lot of confidence out of nailing my key workouts week after week. Especially the really hard ones at the end of the training cycle. :) Kristen

  6. Great article! I like the sound of Vaughn’s 3×800, but I still feel intimidated by it! My go to is 1 min on, 1 min slow, 30 secs off on the treadmill. I love my intervals, and even though I get nervous every time, finishing feels pretty damn good.

    • fartleks are an AWESOME way to do intervals without the stress of specific distances…eventually u’ll be getting less nervous and then u can step back to the track…but no rush, only when u’re ready cuz u can get crazy fit with fartleks girl! :)

  7. Thank you for this post and article – great Xmas pressie on Xmas day! Am coming back from an injury and really need confidence boost. Have a wonderful Xmas Cait.

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