Confidence allows you to take risks. Risks allow you to be confident and will give you breakthrough performances. Without risks and challenges you may not believe you can press forward. Confidence gives you the belief you can. - Victor Plata
When you attend your first triathlon, no matter how prepared you are you arrive at transition and all you can see is hot bodies who look 100% more confident than you. I remember my first transition like it was yesterday, everyone "seemed" so good, just oozing confidence.
Developing confidence is a very important part of both your mental and physical training. How you carry yourself, move, and walk effects what you think and how you feel. If you look and feel uncertain, or defeated, you are. When we walk into a race site and we set up transition we want to exude a positive body language. That means head high, chin up, eyes forward, shoulders back, arms swinging, and a bounce in your step. We want to retain this confidence throughout the entirety of our races, because our thoughts during races lead to our actions.
So do you have prime confidence? It's easier when you are well rested, healthy, and the race conditions are pristine. But the real test in confidence comes when things aren't going your way. Confidence is tested when you line up on the start line and the water is choppy, you look around to see many stellar competitors, and you just got through a cold last week. Success is when you are able to maintain confidence when things get difficult.
So how do we strengthen confidence when we start sweating just from reading the above paragraph?
- Honesty: Make sure you have an honest apraisel of your abilities. Your expectations needs to be honest, your head needs to be screwed on straight. If you have a tendency to be over-confident, you don't need to be reading this post.
- Practice: Expose yourself to difficult conditions or demanding situations and PRACTICE positive responses. Practice makes perfect, and you can practice positive attitude amongst adversity. You should be doing this on long runs and rides, not only gaining fitness, but also strengthening your mind.
- Attitude: Develope an attitude that demanding situations are challenges to be sought after rather than threats to avoid. See adversity as both an opportunity, and a necessary part of becoming the best you can be. Turning adversity around from hindrance to requirement is an important mental shift.
- Through It: Focus on what you need to do to overcome a challenge rather than focusing on how tough the challenge is. Every race will dish out to you a certain level of adversity, don't create it; it will come. But when it does come, eat it up with a vengeance.
Homework this week is to pick several workouts to practice your confidence. If you are running at Phidippides Track Club on Tuesday (first workout of the year, call me if you need information) this would be a great time to practice. Journal about what works and what is challenging.
I never dealt with a negative place. I didn't think about things that could go wrong; if something went wrong I would handle it. I kept my mind always on the positive, only on the positive. - Mike Pigg
Footnote: Quotes and theories taken from The Triathletes Guide to Mental Training, by Jim Taylor and Terri Schneider. If you haven't read this book, you need to, it's great.