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A Plan for Building Confidence

Often when we’re taking on something new or have a big goal, we may struggle with being confident. Here are three strategies to build your confidence as you prepare for race day!

1. Build evidence.

Feeling confident isn’t helpful without the evidence to back it up. You create that evidence every day of training but you also want to be intentional in recording that evidence.

Your training log is a great source of evidence to review leading up to the marathon. Review those miles and all of the work you’ve put in!

A confidence journal can also help record evidence and boost race day confidence. In this journal, reflect on your success training. These successes might be a great run, but could also be finishing a hard run or taking a rest day when you need it. Review it before your race and absorb all of the work you’ve put in in your training. Kara Goucher’s book Strong is a great resource to learn more about confidence journals and other confidence building strategies.

2. Get familiar with the unfamiliar.

Getting familiar with the race will increase your confidence and lower race day anxiety.

Take time to study the race: Where is it the most hilly? Where do you anticipate you might struggle? How far apart are the water and fuel stations? Look at the race map, elevation maps, instructions of where to be when and how to get there. Then try to mimic some of the course on your long runs. You’ll be able to tell yourself “Hey, I’ve done something like this before.”

3. Control the controllables (and let the other stuff go)

Focus on what you CAN control (like having everything you need on race morning) and not on things you can't (like weather).

Practice now for the morning of the race. Pretend it’s race day during each of your long runs. Control what you can control: What are you going to eat? What are you going to wear? How early are you going to get up? Having a clear pre-race routine can help you feel more confident at the start line practice letting go of the thing you can’t control. For example, runners often obsess about the weather before a race. Practice running in all weather (as long as it’s safe) so you’ll be ready for whatever race day throws at you!

Whatever strategies you want to try, remember that building confidence requires intentionality and practice. So start now!

This article originally appeared in the The Connection, TCM's weekly e-newsletter. Subscribe here.

Photo by Ben Garvin.


Hayley Russell, PhD, is a Certified Mental Performance Consultant, runner, and professor of health and exercise psychology at Gustavus Adolphus College. She is one of the team of Motion Experts TCM has gathered to help its subscribers and participants get the most out of their running. Have a question for Hayley: [email protected] or visit


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