Earning the Confidence you Deserve

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone comment on a athlete’s skill-set, thinking its something they were born with.

These successful athletes are consistently staying on the radar, producing one flawless performance after another.  As a runner with issues of confidence and mentality in the sport, I used to envy those people and wonder why wasn’t I blessed with their gift of confidence.  It wasn’t until I started reading Kara Goucher’s book, Strong, that I realized all of those theories of “being born with confidence” were a load of crap. The book highlights the journey of Kara blooming into the confident runner she is and provides so much insight on how to build confidence within yourself.  

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I never realized confidence was something that I have to continue to work towards, because I put myself in an environment where I didn’t allow myself to be firm in my abilities as an athlete or person. A few key points stood out to me, and I wanted to share some of the main points that I personally took away from exploring Kara’s book. Everyone’s experience and interpretation of the book should be different, so I highly recommend reading for yourself and exploring your own conclusions about building confidence.

1.     Positive Self Talk:

This should be a no brainer right? Not for me.  I found this tactic super helpful when I start struggling in workouts and races.  So far this season has been one for breaking barriers.

Leading up to the Virginia 4-mile race, I hit my highest mileage ever. I was tired, sore, and discouraged.  Workouts aren’t easy when you’re running on flat legs and wanting so badly to wimp out. That’s where the mind kicks in.  I use mantras or words that get me through the hardest of times. It could be anything as simple as “strong” (Kara’s book title!)

I like to use the word “scrappy” because its been something that has made my heart skip a beat every time I hear it, and speaks to me on so many levels.  Just repeating the word over in my head has allowed me to finish the last couple sets in a workout.

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2.     Reframing negative thoughts

We all have this. The chatter in our brain is so loud, it tends to take over our day.  Having a hard time staying consistent in training brought up a lot of negative thoughts for me.  I noticed I would constantly have the thought that, “I was a choke, and couldn’t perform at big events”. Continuing to have that thought led me to believe it was actually true even though that statement was not indicative of who I am. Taking these negative thoughts and twisting them into something that could benefit versus break you is key.  This could look like, “I wasn’t mentally there today, but I learned a lot so I could be stronger the next race”. So simple, but very effective.

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3.     Visualization techniques

I will be the first to admit, I think being mindful is one of the hardest things ever.  My ADHD kicks in to the max when I am sitting there trying to keep my thoughts from running wild. At most I can go a few seconds without all the noisy chatter.  This is SUPER discouraging. I think things like, “Why do I put myself through this? I am super bored! I could be watching Netflix right now!”

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I like to think of my mind as a muscle. The more you train it, the stronger it becomes. Imagine if you tune into all of your senses consistently to imagine yourself kicking some ass on whatever it is you set out to do. The second the real deal comes, you have that “been there done that” mentality to push through.

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I understand that this isn’t some magic formula that makes you have all of the confidence in the world! Reality check, no one does! Just like after a rep of pull ups, you’re not going to be able to reach your ultimate goal of being the pull up master. Practice, Patience, and perseverance, the three Ps to building on something everyone has the potential to have.  We are unique, beautiful, badass humans who share the same potential to gain the confidence to take life head on. Keep working at it!

Sammy GeorgeComment