Working out how to improve our physical running performance is relatively simple. The mental side of running is harder to work out. Mindset plays a huge part in sports performance so Run Mummy Run have teamed up with Ali Mahoney, the owner of ithinksport, to bring you some guest blogs about the psychology of running. The first is about the importance of confidence.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It’s an age-old question that’s pretty difficult to answer, but surprisingly it can help to give us an insight into why confidence in sport can often be elusive.
Sport science research tells us that the biggest source of self-confidence in sport is a successful performance, which is great to know and also makes a lot of sense. If you’ve achieved a new personal best, run a new distance or completed a different type of running challenge, then you’ll be familiar with how it positively affects your confidence levels.
But, how can you achieve a successful performance if you don’t have the belief in your ability in the first place? This presents us with the chicken and egg dilemma and can sometimes prevent us from achieving our full athletic potential.
Have a quick think about what you could achieve in your running if you believed more in your ability. Greater confidence opens up so many new opportunities, and the good news is that confidence is more in our control than we might think.
Apart from successful performances, there are five other sources of self-confidence that we can use to our advantage.
1. Verbal Persuasion
Surrounding yourself with supportive people who provide positive verbal encouragement is another boost; this is why the Run Mummy Run community is so great! In addition to this, managing our self-talk (inner dialogue) is essential. Avoid self-defeating and critical talk and become your best coach instead.
Visualising success, the course you’re about to run or smashing a PB can all have positive effects on confidence and performance. The more vivid and realistic the images are, the better.
3. Social Modelling
“If she can do it, I can do it” – the power of modelling ourselves on others can have huge benefits for our confidence levels. Within a community like Run Mummy Run there are lots of other runners who can provide the evidence and confidence that your own goals are possible.
4. Emotional States
How we interpret our emotions can have a big impact on our confidence. Managing anxiety and nerves is essential so that we don’t begin to doubt our ability and potentially not enter, or pull out of something that we’re physically capable of doing.
5. Physiological States
Similarly, how we interpret our physiological reactions (e.g. increased heart rate, breathing, perspiration, muscle fatigue) impacts our confidence. Interpret these reactions as our body’s normal response to exercise rather than difficulties that we can’t overcome.
6. Successful Performance
With this knowledge in hand, can you put these strategies into practice before and during your next run? Sharing successful performances are a big part of the Run Mummy Run community so keep it up!
Interested to know more? Connect with ithinksport and get 20% off the ithinksport Confidence Coaching course with voucher code ‘confidence20’.
About the author: Ali Mahoney is the owner of ithinksport, a Sport Psychology company based in South Wales. Ali has an MSc in Applied Sport and Exercise Science, an MSc in Applied Sport Psychology and works with sports teams and individuals from grassroots to elite level. She is passionate about sport and about supporting people to achieve their sporting goals.
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