Confidence… a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities. Something we all desire to have but many of us find it hard to gain and even harder to keep. Becoming and staying self-assured and appreciating our own abilities shouldn’t be such a challenging task, yet here I am (and maybe here you are) struggling.
It’s been one year since I last raced. I went from never racing, to racing once a year, to racing a few times a year, to living to race and not being able to. Like most other Spartan athletes (or really anyone deprived of their ability to do the thing they love) I felt robbed. I felt like all the hard work I put in was a waste, I wasn’t able to showcase my work or prove myself… to myself.
I was so wrong. As the months of no racing went by, I continued to do my workouts. I continued to run and cross train and strength train. Some days I couldn’t help but to wonder why I was doing it but at the same time I knew that without it I would begin to feel like I lost myself. Maybe I would fall back into old habits, gain weight back, forget that I loved being competitive and that racing was where my heart was. When I started to enjoy other things that weren’t related to racing, I worried that I was letting it slip away. I struggled. I began to lose confidence in myself, I began to worry that it was getting too easy to not race and that it would be too easy to let it go and that maybe I wasn’t cut out for the sport long-term.
Again. I was so wrong. As races begin to be placed back on the calendar and I see comment after comment of people telling other people to not get excited because races will be cancelled. Everything is cancelled forever; life will not go on, that’s what I feel like I have been hearing. I personally refuse to believe it and I have decided to let myself get excited about racing. Worst case scenario, I train hard and get faster and stronger and don’t race. Best case scenario, I train hard and get faster and stronger and do race. That sounds like a win win situation to me. It will be impossible to not be let down if my next race gets cancelled but at the end of the day, I would have kept training anyway and seeing a race on the calendar gives me an extra push through the extra hard workouts and I don’t see that as a loss. I’ve learned to deal with let downs and the gains from the work put in far exceed the losses.
Like I said before. Confidence. It truly is everything. Less than three weeks out from my first race in a year and I am terrified. The anxiety is creeping in and with that the self-doubt is making an appearance. So much time has went by without having to see where I stand next to others, I have learned to look closely only at what I have been doing and what I am capable of and I have not had to see how my abilities stack up the abilities of others. Are these nerves or have I lost confidence in myself? I have worked hard month after month. One year ago, I only had 4 months of organized run programming under my belt, now I have 16 months. I have learned so much about my sport and so much about my abilities. Perhaps I now expect a lot more of myself. Who wouldn’t? To put all those months of training in and have high hopes for yourself and then potentially not show up for yourself when it matters… that is terrifying. My coach has told me again and again that I cannot control what anyone else does. I can only control what I do and all I can do is show up and put it all out there. I try to remember that but right now… less than three weeks out from my first race in a year, I worry that all that I put out there won’t be enough. But you know what? IT IS ENOUGH. Because putting it all out there is literally all you can do. You can’t do more than what you’re capable of doing at any given moment. What you’re capable of is a combination of both your mind and body and your mind can convince your body to do things that you never knew possible.
Research shows that confidence absolutely has an impact on performance, it can be viewed as a “mental modifier”. An athlete’s level of confidence is capable of changing the way that they feel about and respond to the things that happen to them. Confidence is capable of positively predicting the effort and persistence an athlete puts forth. Confident athletes also are more likely to cope better, set goals that are more challenging (which clearly helps to step up your game), and are more motivated than athletes that lack confidence. Being confident also helps to have better concentration and more effective decision making.
I don’t know about you but knowing that simply being confident can increase my performance in various ways makes me want to work towards becoming and remaining confident just as much as I want to work towards becoming faster and stronger. Mentality is everything.
So yeah. I am terrified of toeing the line in a couple of weeks. But I have worked hard. I can do hard things. I am strong and capable and fast. I am going to take these next couple of weeks to truly focus on what I am capable of and what I know I can do. I am going to set aside time for positive affirmations and patting myself on the back. I am going to be sure that I reflect after each workout and recognize what I did well and place more focus on the good and less on the “bad”. I am capable and I am ready to show up for myself. I AM CONFIDENT!