It is pretty clear that as runners or walkers there are benefits that we get from our activity. Most obviously we get the positive affects that movement has on our body. Not just weight loss, but heart and lung health as well. These are important things and there are actually numerous ways that running and walking help your body, but today I am thinking more about the benefits it can have for your mind.
One major part of taking on a training routine and sticking to it is the setting and achieving goals. When you start hitting your goals and setting the bar higher you start to build confidence. I don’t believe there is anything more important to a person that is trying to make tough changes to improve their life than to gain confidence. Confidence that you can do better. Confidence could be defined as the belief in your ability to succeed.
That makes sense and I think we can all agree that we do better with a little bit of confidence. Now the hard part is figuring out how to get healthy amounts of confidence. Some people seem to have an abundance of confidence and come off as cocky or arrogant. If you are over confident I can see two ways that it can play out.
First option is that you think you can do anything and you set crazy goals that are way out of reach for your current level. Imaging something like deciding on Tuesday that your are going to run a marathon with your buddy on Saturday. The only problem is that the longest you have ever run is a 5K you did last summer and that was the second 5K you had ever run. That is showing some confidence in yourself. If you believe you can pull that off you are most likely going to hurt yourself. I can almost guarantee that you will not become a lifelong runner. That experience will be so terrible that you will never want to run again. Your confidence ruined running for you forever.
Second option is that your confidence is actually false confidence. The only reason you feel so confident is because you never set a goal that would actually push you to work hard. I know for a fact that I can do a 5K in under 30 minutes. My 5K times are actually below 25 minutes. If I consistently set goals to have a 30 minute 5k I would continually beat that time and feel pretty happy with myself. Is this confidence doing me any good? Am I making myself better somehow?
Gains come from struggle. Without an opposing force you will never get stronger. I need to set goals that will push me so that I will better myself. If not, then over time I could get happy with the 30 minute 5K and my time would probably slow down to that. Setting real goals to push yourself, but goals that are possible will give you the opportunity to gain real confidence that will fuel you to become a better version of yourself than you are right now.
There is a flip side to this and that is a person that has zero confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself then it is going to be really hard to do the difficult stuff. I know there are millions of books and articles written on how to gain confidence. This is a subject that people have struggled with forever and probably always will. My suggestion is that if this is your struggle make an effort to surround yourself with people doing the things you want to do. Set goals that you can achieve in weeks as opposed to months or years. Share your goals with those around you so they can celebrate the accomplishment with you. Even if your confidence is low, when others are celebrating your ability to succeed you eventually will trust that you can do it again. The next goal can be just a little bit farther out there. Before you know it you are doing things you never dreamed of and you will have found a self confidence that you never thought possible.
I know this is possible because this is my life. I never dreamed I could run a half marathon. I didn’t trust that I had the will power to step away from the foods that made me gain weight. I didn’t trust that I had the will power to get up early and do all the training runs needed. I most certainly didn’t think I had the endurance to run for 2 hours straight. I gathered a group of friends and started dieting and running early 2015 and by the end of 2015 I had ran 2 half marathons in under 2 hours. I had new confidence in my ability to push myself to meet goals. I set a new goal of a full marathon and I ran that this spring.
When I set the goal of a half marathon the full marathon still seemed impossible. At that point it was. It was too big a jump for me to make. Set goals that push you, but don’t break you. Surround yourself with people that know where you want to be and give them the right to call you out when you get weak. Your confidence is worth the work. Becoming who you want to be is worth the effort.