Whether you’re an elite runner trying to break a record or a weekend warrior gunning for a new PB, at some point in your training you inevitably have those moments when you doubt your ability to achieve your goal. If left unchecked, self-doubt can derail your progress and prevent you from reaching your full potential in workouts and on race day. The next time negative thoughts come creeping in, use some of these tricks to banish them from your head before they affect your performance.
Acknowledge your fear
Most self-doubt stems from fear — fear that you’re not good enough, fear that you’ll fail, fear that you’ll embarrass yourself — the list goes on. Many runners’ first instinct is to try and ignore those scary thoughts, but in order to overcome fears, you have to first acknowledge them. The next time you’re on a run and your head starts to say things like “I suck, I can’t do this, I’ll never be a good runner, I’ll never accomplish my goal”, try saying “OK fear, I hear you.” It may sound a bit crazy, but actually naming your fears can take away their power and help you put everything in perspective. In most cases, you’ll find that some external factor (for example, having a stressful week at work) is responsible for your negative self-talk.
Turn your negative thoughts into mantras
Now that you’ve acknowledged your fears, flip those negative thoughts on their heads by turning them into motivational mantras. For example, turn “I’ll never be a good runner” into “every day that I train, I’m becoming better.”
Be kind to yourself
With running, as with everything in life, some days are better than others. If a run or workout doesn’t go well, remind yourself that it’s OK to have off days, and one less-than-stellar performance doesn’t define you. Take whatever lessons you can from the day, then leave it in the past and move on.
Be a little cocky
It doesn’t matter how much others believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. When you’re standing on the start line of a race or about to begin a workout, go ahead and tell yourself that you’re going to crush it. Confidence, even if you have to force it a little, will go a long way in helping you reach your goals.