CONfidence – Peeling Back Race Fear

Have you ever arrived at a race thinking: “I got this”.

Have you ever immediately (in your own head) said: “No I don’t”?

Any sport that challenges the body for more than 2 hours of consecutive performance, will challenge the mind on a very deep level. You simply cannot race triathlon with a cloud of doubt hanging over your fitness, your ability to execute, or anything else related to your performance, unless you are prepared to make concessions.

That’s what makes endurance sports so beautifully brutal. There is no reprieve, it is a full body, full mind experience, that lasts all day. 

I love that.

And because of this poetic brutality, endurance sports attracts a lot of people who have developed a high level of confidence in the sport. They exude it when they walk through transition before the race – you know who they are before you have even caught their eye. And when you do, that confidence almost burns through anyone who dares lock eyes with them.

But is it really confidence? Or is it CON-fidence. 

I have been around racing a while now, and I have seen plenty of stares, heard plenty of chest-beating stories in the bunch rides, listened to an insurmountable number of highly CON-fident athletes tell me how good they are, and how this is the one.

99% of the time, this is bullshit. It is CON-fidence. 

They tell these stories because they don’t really believe they can. They think they want to believe, they know they should believe, but deep down – where it counts – they don’t. And they are scared shitless about that fact. 

Because, just as you cannot hide from being under-done in a race, you also cannot hide from that deep, dark yet honest acknowledgement that you know you don’t believe in yourself. 

I will be blunt: most endurance athletes love to mask that inner-truth with shiny gadgets, overly expensive bikes, the latest diet-trends, the coolest kits, and the stories simply because they do not believe in their ability. It’s not they “suck” – everyone is on their own journey to bettering themselves. It’s that they know that they don’t believe in themselves, so they make concessions for it in other areas.

Real confidence is written in the faces of those who simply know. They know that they have done the work. That they have followed the plan. They have listened to their body. They have allowed for recovery. They have worked on their weaknesses while sharpening their strengths. Their minds are strong.

And from a training perspective, that confidence is forged through daily consistency. 

If you are continually ignoring your daily mobility work, but continue to smash yourself in training, then you will know on race day that you aren’t moving as well as you should be. You cannot hide those truths in multi-hour events. You will be exposed at some point. 

Likewise, if you have ignored the swim, or failed to put in the bike hours, or ignored your nutritional needs. Racing will show it.

It’s the consistency in your training and daily practices that remove any doubt as to how you will race on the day. That consistency is your confidence.