6 Ways to Regain Your Running Confidence

Run­ners are mere humans. They work hard, play hard, and are gen­er­al­ly pret­ty damn good at set­ting and accom­plish­ing goals. But it’s not always smooth sail­ing; some­times they trip and fall; some­times they miss the bush and pee on a shoe; some­time they get injured; and some­times they have a ter­ri­ble race. For a wide vari­ety of rea­sons, most run­ners expe­ri­ence a loss of con­fi­dence at some point, and with­out con­fi­dence, even the easy days become dreaded. 

If some­thing has hap­pened recent­ly that made you lose your run­ning con­fi­dence, take a deep breath and read on. There are ways to get the spring back in your step and a con­fi­dent smile back on your sweaty face.

Vol­un­teer At a Race
You may be feel­ing too timid to try rac­ing right now, but that doesn’t mean you must shut your­self out of the com­mu­ni­ty entire­ly. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a race direc­tor who will send you away if you offer a help­ing hand, and you just may be sur­prised by how much fun a race can still be from the side­lines. See­ing the look of relief on runner’s faces as you hand them a gel or paper cup of water, the smile that breaks out on a runner’s face when you offer a high-five, an encour­ag­ing shout, or place the finisher’s medal around their neck, or even wit­ness­ing some­one clear­ly hit­ting a wall and keep going, will arouse a few smiles of your own. You’ll feel more inspired to get back out there and try again and hey — it beats sit­ting at home feel­ing sor­ry for yourself.

Join a Run­ning Group
The diver­si­ty of tal­ent with­in most run­ning groups is won­der­ful thing. In addi­tion to meet­ing fel­low run­ners and pass­ing the miles away chat­ting with new friends, it will put things back into per­spec­tive for you: sure, you had a bad race and feel like the worst run­ner ever…but, clear­ly, you’re not. Odds are, you’ll be faster than some and slow­er than others.

Hills, Hills, Hills
Few things train you bet­ter than hills. If you want to ensure that you don’t have anoth­er race where you hit the wall and give up, or you want to avoid many future injuries, start adding hills to your week­ly runs. Whether you ded­i­cate an entire work­out to hill repeats, or just start tak­ing the hard­er route that includes more hills over­all, you’ll increase strength and your body will thank you in the end. Plus, your butt will look bet­ter than ever. Just saying…

Get Stub­born
We’ve all been there. You’re mad because you had a ter­ri­ble race. You’re mad at your­self, and a lit­tle bit mad at the entire world. Okay, go ahead and wal­low in it for a few more min­utes, and then get the hell over it. You’re wast­ing so much ener­gy sim­ply being mad and pout­ing in the cor­ner. Trans­form the neg­a­tive ener­gy into stub­born­ness, ded­i­cat­ing your­self com­plete­ly to work­ing hard­er and smarter than ever to get back to your goal and ensure that this time you get it.

Cross Train
Give your­self per­mis­sion to take a week or two off from run­ning to give your­self some space to recov­er and men­tal­ly regroup, but main­tain your fit­ness and have fun exer­cis­ing through cross-train­ing. Some of the best cross train­ing activ­i­ties for run­ners include swim­ming, cycling, pilates, and yoga, but don’t be afraid to be cre­ative and try some­thing dif­fer­ent like indoor boul­der­ing, cross coun­try ski­ing, or hik­ing. Find a way to make exer­cise fun again, and then redi­rect that new pos­i­tive ener­gy back toward run­ning when you return.

For­give Your­self
So you had a bad race. You’re injured. Yes, you real­ly did pee on your shoe. What­ev­er. Of course it all sucks, but it hap­pens to all run­ners at some point. Remind your­self that it’s part of the sport, and its you’re abil­i­ty to work through it and come back even stronger (or with bet­ter aim) that real­ly defines you as a runner.

By Audra Run­dle