Technique: Banish pre-race doubts forever

Increase your mental strength for the start line

Have you ever experienced moments, maybe before a big race, where you had doubts and fears? Did you ever wonder whether you would finish the race and complete the distance? Or, did you doubt your training and wonder if you had done enough?

If you answered yes, you’re in good company with many great athletes. But you can banish those doubts and fears and stand there calmly and full of quiet confidence by strengthening what we call your ‘confidence muscle’. Here we explore confidence and how to boost yours mid-race.

What’s confidence?

Confidence is based on past experiences and your perception of how you measure up against your own measures of success. This is how you yourself define success, rather than how other people do.

People with confidence have a ‘can do’ attitude and focus on the positives. They look for something positive, even when there does not seem to be anything. A confident person will admit when they make mistakes and will learn from them.

People who lack confidence focus on the negatives, and struggle to acknowledge when things do go well. They may point their finger at everything and everyone else for their results.

Flex that muscle

The key to strengthening your confidence is focusing on the positives. You flex that confidence muscle by looking at all the things you did well and that went right, even when the end result wasn't what you wanted.

If you're in the habit of focusing on the negatives, this will take a conscious and consistent effort to shift. Become aware of your thoughts and what you focus on. Every time you notice you are thinking negative, shift your thoughts to something more positive.

Build it up

You can work the confidence muscle just like you’d go to the gym to strengthen your physical muscles. Start by writing a confidence CV. This is a list of all your past achievements and successes – in all areas of your life.

This CV helps you to see what you have accomplished. Look for occasions where you can you give yourself a pat on the back, big or small, and write them down. This confidence CV is an acknowledgement of all the great things you have done in your life and will help you to shift your focus on to the positives.

Another way to boost confidence is through visualisation exercises. Imagine you’re watching a movie where you are the lead character and where you are your most confident and amazing self. Imagine, for example, you at your next event.

See what you'll see, hear what you'll hear and even get a sense of the feelings you’ll feel when you're confident and everything is going perfectly. Also, see yourself handling anything that comes your way that might not be perfect, like a flat tyre. Then, imagine you're actually in that movie now.

If that is challenging, imagine what it might be like if you had all that confidence. Or, imagine someone who has lots of confidence and pretend you're like them. Repeatedly watch that movie in your head before your big event. Then, when you come to the real thing, you'll have a sense of confidence because you've done it before, even if it was just in your mind!

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