The Subtle Power of Confidence

Photo Credit: Ben Groenhout
Something happened to me while I was putting on the finishing touches to my preparation for a 50k. I was just days out from the race and everything had been going really well in training. I had put in a good amount of time on the trails, I was getting in some solid workouts and keeping up with recovery, and doing all the little things to get to the starting line healthy and ready to run well.
Then something unexpected happened (as it always seems to happen just a week before a goal race). Someone I had been dating decided that ours wasn’t the right relationship for them. Okay, so maybe this doesn’t always happen a week before a race (otherwise I would probably stop racing!) but I was pretty crushed. My confidence was completely shaken. Not just in my personal life but also in my ability to perform well in the race. After going through months of good training and build up, I had been feeling pretty confident in what I was going to be able to do. But, after this unexpected news, I began contemplating not doing the race because I didn’t think I could do well. So why was it that after something in my personal life didn’t go as I wanted it to, I was doubting whether or not I could run a race? In one word, confidence. And I had lost it.
Confidence is an incredibly powerful thing. If we have it, we can achieve things we never thought we might be capable of. It helps us take on challenges that at one point seemed impossible. It helps us to nail a job interview, ask someone on a date, or crush a workout or race. At the same time, a lack of confidence can bring us to a halt. A lack of confidence is the instigator of “I can’t.” I can’t run that fast, I can’t run that far, I can’t get through this.”
Often we want to think that our running is separate from our personal lives, but the fact of the matter is that they are closely linked. We are just one person. One mind. One body. Always working in unison. This was never more evident to me than before that 50k race. It doesn’t matter where the breakdown in our confidence may be because it will begin to seep into all areas of our lives.
So what is confidence? Where does it come from? How do we get it? The answers to these questions are not simple. Confidence is built over time. It’s developed through experience and effort, and not just physical effort. There’s a mental effort that’s required as well. Far too often we base our development of confidence in our physical performance or by outside measures of success, i.e. job performance, how much money we make, or getting accepted into a prestigious college. Which is all well and good until we hit that plateau in training or things don’t seem to be going right in our lives. Then what?
If you were to ask Ted Lasso, he might suggest that belief is the instigator of confidence (insert BELIEVE sign here). I apologize to those of you that have never seen Ted Lasso (mostly because you haven’t seen it!). Confidence is a belief in oneself, not a belief in a performance. It’s the belief that we can take on challenges and achieve goals that we set for ourselves. So if confidence is a belief–a creation of our mind–why don’t we rely on our minds to develop confidence? Why don’t we work more on our ability to develop a mental confidence no matter what the outcome?
I realize that I haven’t provided a step by step process for how to develop confidence. That’s simply because there is no step by step process. However the process can start with asking yourself a question: “Where does MY confidence come from?” Because with the right approach and understanding of our self confidence, we can all become more confident in ourselves. We can all achieve what it is that we are striving for!
About the Author:
Josh is a runner, coach, and mental health counselor in the Bellingham area. With over 25 years of running experience, and 15 years working in mental health counseling, Josh has developed a niche approach to coaching which allows runners to achieve their goals while creating a greater foundation for mental wellness. Click here for more information on Approach Coaching. (Editors note: We are super lucky to have Josh at the store for over 12 years! 🙂

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