3 Ways To Restore Racing Confidence

It’s no secret I’ve struggled with confidence this past month. Running is the love of my life, but sometimes it doesn’t treat me so great. It builds me up one day and tears me down the next.

race-day-confidence

I’ll be honest, it’s all mental.

I know it’s all in my head and that’s why I haven’t had a great training season. I still work hard, but if my head isn’t in it the majority of the time, I won’t perform. From bonking to my sore foot to getting misdirected on a half marathon course, I just lost any mojo I had.

Ragnar was amazing because of the people, but lackluster in terms of my performance. I know what I can do and I know what type of runner I am. I was frustrated that I couldn’t help my team out as much as I usually do. I spent the hours before my legs in the internal struggle of emotion; wanting to run, but afraid. Not wanting to run, but knowing I had a job to do. Talk about exhausting!

On Saturday I have my last race of the season, after which I will take a step back, and fully learn to enjoy my sport again. I’ve already started doing so, taking the pressure off myself, running with people and just being in the moment, but I do have one race left.

Instead of getting upset or fearful again before this one, I have decided to be proactive and start to enjoy the process of racing well in advance. I usually go into races blind and hope for the best. Usually this works, but I am not taking any chances this weekend. I will be ready for whatever happens.

The following are the three ways I am making this race enjoyable and stress-free. When I don’t feel stressed and am excited to get out there and run, I feel more confident in my ability to finish races. I empower you to use these tips the next time you feel under-prepared or are scared to attempt a new challenge. They won’t make it easy, but you might as well enjoy the hard work and finish with a smile.

1.) Visualization

I’ve actually never done this before, but I have analyzed the course map, took note of the aid stations and looked at the weather. Normally, I don’t do this and just accept what is. I have done this because I don’t want to stress about the race or over think it. However, in ultrarunning, there is a certain need to be overly cautious. I need to know what I am in for and how it will most likely feel at each point in the race.

How I approach visualization is imagining myself crossing the finish line. I think about how that will feel and then my worries go away. I think about what I will do and what I will tell myself when things get sore and tough. I’m sure there is a science to this or a specific way to do it, but this has been working for me. Instead of not knowing what will be out there, I am excited to face it and see what happens!

2.) Accept Fitness Level

I am not at my fittest and that is ok. Part of being a runner is accepting where you are at and racing appropriately. I am not fast right now. I have not done any speed work nor do I feel like my body is handling aerobic workouts very well at this point. This is why I chose to end my season with this race rather than a half marathon or a 10K. That would be silly both mentally and physically for me. I appreciate what my body can do and is trained for at this point. I picked a race that will hopefully get the best out of what I can do now.

3.) Eat Well

I try to eat smart during the taper week. I don’t try anything new. I stick with what I know both tastes good and gives me good energy. I try to balance things out appropriately, however, I refuse to stress over it. It’s not worth it. I am not running this race to win, I am doing it for the experience and the camaraderie I see in ultrarunning. By eating my tried and true tested foods, I feel confident that I am setting myself up for digestive success on race day.

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I feel so much more confident this week and both excited and relaxed about this race. That’s all I can ask for to end my season.

8 thoughts on “3 Ways To Restore Racing Confidence”

  1. Great post, thanks! So true on foods, stick to what works and for me that’s simple carbs. I’ve struggled with my fitness level for an upcoming marathon, but have to remind myself it’s fine since I’m juggling training with working full time.

  2. This is so good Ellie, because you’re talking to yourself about it instead of letting the mental distress overcome you. I think you are a really great runner, and the way you’ve taken on races from 5ks to 50ks this year has been really invigorating to me, because I haven’t run far for so long. Thank you for being honest and continually sharing your struggles; they really remind me of just how mental and tough running can be and just how amazing it can be too.

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