Boost Running Performance With Confidence-Building Workouts


Confidence-Building Workout


5 x 1000 meters @ race pace with 90-second jogs between repetitions


6 x 1 mile @ race pace with 2-minute jogs between repetitions

Half Marathon

13.1 kilometers (8.1 miles) @ race pace.


26.2 kilometers (16.2 miles) @ race pace

Each of these workouts should be done toward the end of the training process, or 2 to 3 weeks before race day, when you are near peak fitness. You should be able to sustain your exact goal race pace throughout the workout without exhausting yourself.

This last point is critical. Feeling good is as important as hitting the numbers in a confidence-building workout. If you make these workouts so hard that they leave you exhausted, they will sabotage your confidence instead of building it. You'll be much better off if you complete a confidence-building workout feeling you could have gone faster or done more, and knowing you will be able to do just that on race day.

More: A Lesson in Feel-Good Training

It's important also to limit the number of workouts you use as confidence builders. For example, if you're training for a marathon, most of your long runs should be done at a comfortable pace that's significantly slower than your goal pace for the event, unless you're a beginner just aiming to go the distance. I've coached runners who try to run within 20 seconds per mile of their marathon goal pace in every long run, hoping to make their goal seem more and more feasible. It's actually a fundamental lack of confidence that motivates such grasping efforts to build confidence. And they're counterproductive because they lead to overtraining, which worsens performance.

As helpful as certain individual workouts can be in building confidence, the majority of your confidence should come from the training process as a whole. When you reach the starting line, you want to look back at the many weeks of solid work you've done and know you are prepared. This is something that Deena Kastor, the American record-holder for the marathon, understood throughout her career. "I really gain the greatest confidence from putting together weeks upon weeks of solid training," she told me in an interview. "It's not really a matter of walking away from a session of mile repeats and saying, 'Wow, I'm ready.' It's running a session of mile repeats two days after a 24-mile long run and following that up with a tempo run just under race pace—it's putting in the work week in and week out that's really what I thrive on."

Let it be what you thrive on too.

More: How to Train for a PR

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