Running is a huge part of my daily life. If I’m not running, I’m talking about running or watching it on TV. I used to be a sprinter, then I became a long distance runner and recently life has taken a 360 degree turn and I have rediscovered a love for sprinting, 800m to be precise.
I run to maintain good cardiovascular fitness. I run because it allows me to escape from life and I run because I love to run. But there have been times where I have wished that I had more confidence to run.
I wish I had the confidence to run faster, further or to join a running group. There have been times where I held back because I didn’t have enough faith in my legs to carry me over the finish line at full speed and it took me years to pluck up the courage to join a track group. Fortunately, I have come to understand that sometimes I will have to slow down before I finish a run and you know what? That’s ok. It’s better to try and fail than to not try at all.
I started running when I was 17 and I’ve clocked thousands of miles since then, but sometimes I still lack the confidence to run. Whether it be the White Vans beeping or trying to keep up with the faster athletes on the track, running can sometimes knock your confidence. And let’s not forget the feeling of frustration when you hit a wall and want to stop running but you’re still a few miles from home.
I am passionate about running and if I can inspire just one person to get up and run, I feel like all of the time and effort that I put into my blog has been worth while. Here are a few tips on how to become more confident at running.
Find Your Distance
“You can’t choose your distance, your distance will choose you” is what my younger brother told me when I was having a running crisis (yes, they actually happen) as I no longer wanted to run the 5km race.
I wanted to swap my runs for sprints and the 400m caught my eye. We all want to be sprinters, it’s the main event. Sprinting is glamorous, it’s sexy. But somewhere between increasing my sprint speed and reducing my distance, I discovered that I had the ingredients needed to become an 800m runner. At first I felt a little bit disheartened because I wanted to be a 400m runner but my body and the muscles that I have are more suited to 800m.
It doesn’t matter if you’re not good at sprinting or running long distances and it may take a while before you discover what kind of runner you are. Try mixing up your runs by changing your speed and distance, and soon you will realise if you are more of a Usain Bolt, Dibaba or Paula Radcliffe.
Run and Repeat
The more you run, the better you will become at running and your confidence will begin to spring off the road with every step you take. You may find it hard to begin with and progress may be slow, but I promise, you will get there. Not every run is going to be a personal best. Sometimes you’ll run fast, sometimes you’ll run slow and there will be days where you don’t run at all. Just get up, go and see what happens.
Run Your Own Race
I think one of the main reasons why people lack confidence when they are running is because they compare themselves to the Olympic athletes that grace our TV screens every four years. And when they step on the track, they become disheartened because they are so used to hearing fast and impressive times that it becomes the norm. Running 100m in less than 10 seconds is not the norm!
I initially put off joining a track session but the thought of a teenager cruising past me as I edged towards the finish line was enough to make me cry! The reality is, there are going to be people who are faster and have more stamina than you. But, every great coach will tell you to always run your own race and not the race of someone else.
Stop comparing yourself to the friend who has just ran their 3rd Marathon or the Olympic athlete who has just set a new record. This is your race, run it your way. Everyone has to start somewhere. I bet there was a time when Usain Bolt wasn’t a great runner. He was probably two years old and had just learned to walk…but that’s not the point!
Running becomes a lot easier when you have someone beside you. Although your goals may be different and your speeds may vary, running partners are a great way to boost your confidence. Their sweaty face matches yours, they roll their eyes with you when a car beeps their horn and they congratulate you when you cross the finish line.
If you currently don’t have any friends to run with, join a running group and make new running friends. And don’t be nervous! The first time I went to a running club I felt really nervous and I am not entirely sure why. Runners have a habit of being supportive and oozing with positivity. It must be those endorphins.
Let me know if you use any of these tips or share your running experiences below.