The Everyman: Confidence Is Everything

If you have confidence and the physical aspect of running mastered, autopilot will do the rest. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

It took a few steps into a local 5K race for Jason Devaney to beef up his confidence.

“I’m not going to do well in this race at all.”

“My time is going to be so slow.”

“I really don’t want to run this race.”

All of these phrases were passing through my head last week. My fiancee and I signed up for a race at the last minute and it was scheduled for Saturday of Memorial Day weekend—a local 5K with less than 200 people.

A 5K, people. Three-point-one measly miles. We’re not talking about a 26.2-mile adventure here.

So why the heck was I so anxious and convinced I would fail?

It all comes down to confidence.

I’m still not putting in a ton of miles on the road, for one. And I began suffering from IT Band syndrome over the winter, which has lingered and still affects me if I run more than five miles at a time. A hectic work schedule has not been friendly to my training, either.

Yes, these are excuses, but they’ve done some damage to my confidence. Of course I knew I could finish the race, but could I match my PR of 22:22 that I set at last year’s edition? No way.

RELATED: Confidence Is One Part Mental, One Part Physical

Would my knee hurt?

When I lined up at the start, the usual pre-race jitters kicked in. But this time it was worse. I had no desire to run whatsoever. Why hadn’t I “mistakenly” slept in and missed the start?

The gun went off. I started running. Instantly I felt better.

I glanced down at my Garmin watch after a minute or so to check my pace. OK, this is good. I’m moving now.

That first section was also slightly downhill, so that helped.

I passed the first mile marker. Sweet. I was on a good pace—actually faster than I should have been going, so I backed off a bit and kept running. The second mile was a bit slower, but steadier and in control.

I was still running faster than I’ve run all year, and since it was a 5K I decided to step it up a bit in the closing mile. I hit the final stretch with the finish line in sight. Uphill? Who cares.

Don’t let those kids pass you. They’re right behind you.

RELATED: Consistency Leads To Confidence

I sprinted down the finishing chute and crossed the line exhausted, breathing heavily. I stopped briefly for a photo and then kept walking, the water cooler in my sights.

I looked down at my watch—doh! I forgot to hit stop. I figured it was on for 20 or so seconds too long.

Then the long wait for the results came—being a hometown race, everything was done by hand. So it took a good 20 minutes to tabulate the results. And we had to wait until everyone had finished, including the walkers.

Finally I saw my time: 22:40. Not a personal best, but a good showing. I was happy.

And here I was, thinking the exact opposite before the race.

Confidence is everything. One of my favorite sports quotes came from Leslie Nielsen in one of his golf videos. They were spoofs on golf instructional videos and gave my dad and I plenty of laughs when I was younger.

“Golf is 90 percent mental and 10 percent mental,” Nielsen said.

RELATED: Confidence-Building Workouts From The Pros

That rings true in many things, including running. Once you become a runner, you’ll always be a runner. You know how to run and how to push yourself in a race. You know the pre-race routine and what works for you. So you’ve got the physical part covered. The rest is between the ears.

Once we get that part, which I did in the opening few steps of my race over the weekend, the physical part takes over and we go on autopilot.

Confidence is everything. Believe in yourself.

Got a mental tip? Tweet me @jason_devaney1.

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