Proven Ways to Boost Confidence in Your Own Ability to Perform
When we first start off on our running journeys, new PBs tend to roll in thick and fast. And, as a result, motivation levels often skyrocket as we clock faster times while getting fitter, stronger and more comfortable with tackling new distances. Sadly, this trend inevitably comes to an end. Sooner or later we reach a plateau where even a second or two improvement on a PB is hard-earned and (very) infrequent.
And while hard-earned PBs are all the more sweeter to celebrate, an extended period in between performance achievements can lead to dwindling motivation levels. So how do we keep the faith when the results (or lack thereof) aren’t exactly inspirational? How do we keep on believing that it’s possible to reach greater heights when the numbers state quite the opposite? Are there proven ways to boost confidence in our own ability to perform, especially when motivation levels are low? There sure are. Pull up a chair and prepare to learn some nifty (if not sneaky) tricks to keep those confidence levels high.
Dress for success
Did you know that your choice of race-day outfit can actually impact on your performance? And no, we’re not (just) talking about the perceived power of superstition. The colors red and black, as well as darker colors in general, have all been scientifically linked to improved athletic performance. Here’s a quick summary of the findings:
- Black gear tend to make athletes more aggressive – a quality that is often linked to better performance.
- Red gear has been proven to lead to quicker and stronger reactions, although this effect is believed to be short-lived. In addition, athletes performing against other athletes wearing red gear have been proven to be more likely to lose.
- Darker colors in general have been proven to be closely associated with an ideal state of performance.
So next time you aim for a new PB, give your confidence a boost by gearing up in one of these colors. Just remember not to skimp on your training!
It’s been said time and time again that you can’t outrun a bad diet. And while many runners who are serious about performance already fuel their bodies optimally, there’s always a little room for improvement.
Products from the humble peppermint plant have been the focus of many performance-related studies in the past. And while the jury is still out on the effect of peppermint aroma on athletic performance, the ingestion of peppermint oil is a different story. A study conducted in 2013 concluded that peppermint oil supplementation allowed test subjects to run significantly faster for significantly longer. Talk about exciting! But don’t go gulping down gallons of peppermint oil just yet. Overdosing can lead to a whole range of adverse conditions, while no studies have yet been done on optimal, safe doses for increased athletic performance.
The bottom line? Add a sprig or two of fresh peppermint to that pre-race smoothie. While it certainly won’t turn you into an Olympic contender, it might just give you the boost you need.
Turn on some tunes
Described by world-leading expert on music and performance, Dr. Costas Karageorghis, as “a type of legal performance-enhancing drug”, music may be much more than just a way to make long runs fly by. Tunes work their magic on performance in a number of different ways, including the following:
- By distracting the mind from feelings of fatigue and pain. Feel like giving up after 15 minutes of a lung-busting tempo run? Don’t worry – there’s a song for that.
- Through promoting a state of flow, also known as “being in the zone”. Nothing like The eye of the tiger to put you in super-beast mode, right?
- By balancing and adjusting movement, thereby prolonging performance. Has your all-time favorite song ever popped up on your playlist during that final mile of a 20-mile long run? Enough said.
- Though triggering positive emotions, thereby aiding in gaining greater pleasure from running. Nothing like an upbeat, belt-along-at-the-top-of-your-lungs song to kick off a tough workout.
Just remember that safety is a concern when running with music, and that many races ban the use of headphones altogether. So be safe and responsible and only turn on those tunes when allowed (and safe) to do so.
Train smartly (and consistently too!)
It goes without saying that no amount of tricks or tips can ever replace smart, consistent training. The single most important confidence boost that you can ever give yourself before a goal race, is toeing the starting line prepared and ready. So put in the training. Get up on those cold and dark winter’s mornings. Head out on those wet and windy long-run days. And sneak in a few early-morning holiday miles while the family is still asleep. Come race day, you’ll be so glad you did.
Scientific research has revealed a number of fascinating ways in which runners can not only boost their athletic performance, but also (indirectly) boost their confidence in their ability to perform. So why not experiment and have a bit of fun with these concepts and see what works for you? Who knows, you might just come up with the perfect, multipronged approach to nailing that elusive PB… And no-one ever needs to know that it involves a red shirt and peppermint leaves!
Four remarkable ways music can enhance athletic performance. Alejandra Ruani, Undated.