The Problem With Confidence
|July 25, 2011||Posted by Lauren under Marathon Training, Running|
Confidence is normally a good thing, right? I mean, without it, you don’t get very far. Because it’s only when you have confidence in your ability to be a good runner/student/employee/writer/cook/etc that you actually start succeeding in it.
And it can be interesting to watch your confidence grow as you improve in something, which in turn, feeds your confidence. It’s a never-ending, awesome cycle that builds you up and never lets you down.
Or does it?
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence. About how the amount of confidence that you have in yourself can really affect your outlook, as well as your abilities. Too little, and you sell yourself short and don’t live up to your potential. But what about when you have too much?
Over-confidence can lead to just as many pitfalls as not having enough. And I’m not just talking about the braggy-type of over-confidence in your own self worth. I also mean having an over-confidence in your own abilities. In some fields, I’d imagine having too much confidence could be a little dangerous. With running – it just leads to some stupid, painful runs.
My problem with confidence came after a great winter/spring of running. I watched my times improve, and got used to running a certain pace. I became confident in my ability to run fast. The only problem was – I stopped racing as much and training as hard. Yet, for whatever reason, in the back of my mind I still expected my pace to stay the same. Obviously not a logical conclusion, but what can I say. Sometimes I think confidence can drown out logical thought.
And then I started marathon training again. I started logging more miles and longer runs than I had in months. In weather that was hotter and more humid than ever. All-the-while expecting my pace to stay the same. I bet you can all guess where this story is going…
A couple of weeks ago, I had a really tough long run followed by an even tougher race. And all that confidence I had once been feeling drained right away. Although I have to admit that this felt pretty crappy at first, it only took a little bit of reflection to realize this was a blessing in disguise.
Losing my confidence in my endurance/speed made me take a step back and start thinking about things logically. Running is tough, we all know that. Maintaining a certain high level of fitness is tougher. Combine that with crazy heat and humidity, and it’s easy to start feeling even more out of shape than you really are.
So what’s a girl to do in that situation? Since I can’t go back and change the past to make myself do a better job at maintaining my base, I can only change my approach to training.
Even if I had been a really dedicated runner and kept up a good speed and endurance base over the past couple of months, chances are my pace would have dropped once the heat index started rising. High temperatures and high levels of humidity aren’t exactly a runner’s best friend. In fact, according to Jeff Galloway, your pace starts dropping once the temperature rises above 55 degrees.
The following chart is meant to show how heat impacts your pace. Even though it’s developed for race paces, it gives you a general idea (source):
55-60 degrees – 1% – 8:05
60-65 degrees – 3% – 8:15
65-70 degrees – 5% – 8:25
70-75 degrees – 7% – 8:35
75-80 degrees – 12% – 8:58
80-85 degrees – 20% – 9:35
Above 85 degrees – Forget it… run for fun
Lately temperatures in New England have been 85 – 90 degrees ON TOP OF high humidity. Which means trying to run fast in these conditions is not only extremely difficult, but it’s also kind of dumb.
So yesterday during my long run, I did something a little different. Something smart. Something I should’ve been doing all along.
I started out slow. I stopped caring about my pace and just eased into my run.
And you know what? It wasn’t awful. Surprisingly, even though I was dripping wet within a couple of miles, I actually found myself enjoying the run. The first run I’ve really enjoyed in a long time. As the miles went on, I found my mood getting better. By the time I reached double digits I was smiling with excitement just to be out there running. And the best part of it all – I found myself speeding up, without even meaning to.
Was it my fastest run ever? Nope. But I got those miles in. And afterward I gained a little bit of that old confidence in running back (but not too much!).
Sometimes training smart means checking that over-confidence at the door and slowing down. Of course I hope that I’ll be able to speed up once the temperatures cool down (and my endurance gets better), but if slowing down means I’ll be able to get in my long runs and enjoy them, then so be it.