Confidence. Belief. Self Efficacy.

You can’t control the uncontrollable, so don’t waste tears trying.

That was probably the most valuable piece of information I walked away with following the running symposium I attended this weekend at Burnaby’s Fortius Sport and Health Centre.

Sports psychologist David Cox (who works with the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Canadian Olympic snowboarding team) had just 20 minutes to share his expertise in getting the mind ready for race day. He didn’t waste any time. Talking a mile a minute and frantically chicken scratching notes on the whiteboard he spewed out key words: Confidence. Belief. Self Efficacy. He threw his hands up at negative pressure, he slapped outcome goals in the face, he weighed the cancer of extrinsic values to the reward of intrinsic.

As runners, we are so hung up on times, on the “brutal” win-or-lose mentality. But why not invest more on our performance goals, those things that are under our control – the technical, tactical preparations, he said. We can’t control the weather. We can’t control illness. We can’t control the preparation of the other runners around us. But we can control our preparation, our health, our rest.

At the end of the day, Cox said, the question to ask is not how did you do, but what did you learn?

Oh man, how much did I need to hear that? There’s been countless times where I’ve berated myself mid race when I fall short of a pace, or when I see a personal best slipping out of my grasp, or when I see a runner I perceive should be slower than me leave me in his or her dust. There’s also been times where I’ve neglected a strength training session because I’m too tired, or only half-assed a speed interval session because it’s too hard, or even forgone a run because there’s snow on the ground or some other silly excuse. But what determines your level of performance?


If you want to improve, you have to push out of your comfort zone, you have to challenge yourself, you have to make it an attitude. I control that!

Interesting to note: “Elite” comes from the Latin word elire, meaning to choose. Elite athletes CHOOSE to be great.

I choose to be great. I choose to work hard. I choose to believe.



  • 2:30 p.m. BG before: 5.6
  • Temp. basal: -50 per cent, 1 hour
  • Carbs: 2 gummies, no bolus
  • Time: 20 minutes, 5 minutes warmup, 15 minutes tempo at 5:00 min/km pace
  • Distance: 3.88 km
  • Average pace: 5:15 min/km
  • 3:30 p.m. BG after: 6.3
  • Temp. basal: +50 per cent, 1 hour

The running symposium had several other speakers, including Dr. Jack Taunton, chief medical officer for the Vancouver Olympics; Lynn Kanuka, former Olympic running medalist; dietitian Ashley Charlebois; and more.

For a first time event it was pretty good, but I think they overbooked speakers for the way it was set up. Initially they had registrants select two speakers for the morning and two for the afternoon plus the keynote speaker, which meant you wouldn’t be able to see all the speakers listed, but that you’d maybe get more time with speakers you were actually interested in listening to. I liked that model.

However, at the last minute, they changed it and made it so everyone would have an opportunity to hear from every speaker. I was NOT keen on that model. It meant, I had just 20 minutes with the sports psychologist and the same with the dietitian – the two speakers I was really interested in hearing from. It also meant that some of the speakers, who I’m guessing had designed their presentations based on more time, had to seriously crunch it down to a Cole’s Notes version.

In closing:


1 thought on “Confidence. Belief. Self Efficacy.”

Leave a Reply