Dr. Amber Shipherd on Building Confidence, Self-Efficacy, and Positive Self-Talk
Are you yours best cheerleader? Or do you constantly doubt yourself and your race? The answer can dictate your success as a runner. Self-efficacy is one of the most important concepts in the world...

Are you yours best cheerleader? Or do you constantly doubt yourself and your race? The answer can dictate your success as a runner.


Self-efficacy is one of the most important concepts in the world performance psychology. Most of us understand this idea as "confidence", but it is actually more specific than that.

the American Psychological Association The definition of self-efficacy is:

Self-efficacy refers to an individual's belief in their ability to perform the behaviors necessary to produce specific performance.

Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exercise control over one's own motivation, behavior and social environment.

These cognitive self-assessments influence all kinds of human experience, including the goals people strive for, the amount of energy expended to achieve goals, and the likelihood of achieving particular levels of behavioral performance.

In other words, this mental skill focuses on your ability to believe that you can do something.

Maybe it's a 15 mile long run, the training needed to run a 3:29 marathon, or even set appropriate goals.

Runners with a high level of self-efficacy often say, “I can do this” because they believe they have the physical fitness, skills, experience and knowledge to perform a specific task.

But many runners fall prey to doubts and negative thoughts. A lack of positive self-talk leads to a spiral of negativity and a drop in levels of Strong minded.

There are many options that can help, including the use of mantras:

This leaves us with so many questions:

  • How can we better prioritize our mental health in order to believe in our abilities?
  • What are the sources of self-efficacy to be able to draw from during training?
  • How can we use mantras for running to our advantage?
  • Are there any strategies to incorporate confidence training (or self-efficacy training) into our run?

To help us answer these critical questions, I invited Dr. Amber Shipherd to the podcast.

Self-efficacy expert Amber Shipherd on confidence

Dr Amber Shipherd

Dr Amber Shipherd is Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of Performance Psychology at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. She is also a certified mental performance consultant and owner of Next Level Mind Consulting.

She is a member of the Sports Psychology Registry of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee and a member of the Executive Committee of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.

And luckily for us, she's an expert in self-efficacy!

She joins us on the Strength Running podcast to discuss the intricacies of confidence:

  • Why trust is not as valuable as self-efficacy
  • Strategies to boost self-efficacy while running
  • Mindset traps that undermine confidence and make you doubt yourself
  • Best practices for embedding images and personal affirmations in your race

Subscribe to the podcast in itunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, or google play.

Listen to the entire episode:

Show links and resources:

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If you’ve never run before or you’ve had a long break from course, it can feel intimidating to get out there and hit the pavement. But if you get familiar with some basic information about running and follow a beginner’s schedule, you’ll be well on your way to starting a new running habit.

At your visit, share your running plan and goals with your doctor and have him/her assess your plan and any potential health issues. If you have had any previous injuries or issues, make sure your doctor is aware of them, and ask if he or she has any suggestions on how to prevent a recurrence.

Visit a specialty running store to get expert advice on buying the right running shoes. An expert at the store will look at your feet, watch you run, and make recommendations based on your foot type and course style. If you already have running shoes that you like, but you’ve had them for a while, you may still need to get new ones. Running in worn-out running shoes can also lead to injury. You should replace them every 300 to 400 miles.

Beyond running shoes, you don’t need much more than some comfortable exercise clothes to get started. If you’re course outdoors, make sure you follow some basic tips for how to dress for hot weather course and cold weather running, so you stay safe and comfortable.

As your résistance improves and you start course longer, you may want to invest in some technical fabric course clothes and other basic running gear, such as a running belt, good course socks, and a course hat. Some runners also like to have a course watch to track their times and kilomètres.

Before you get started with course, get familiar with how to do the run/walk method. Most beginner runners start out using a run/walk technique because they don’t have the résistance or sport to run for extended periods of time. The run/walk method involves course for a bermuda territoire and then taking a walk break. As you continue with a run/walk program, the goal is to extend the amount of time you’re course and reduce your walking time. Of course, some runners find walk breaks to be so beneficial that they continue taking them even as their endurance and sport improves.

Before you start any running workout, though, you need to make sure you warm up properly. A good warm-up signals to your body that it will have to start working soon. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart when you start your run. Start your runs with a brisk walk, followed by very easy jogging for a few minutes. You can also do some warm-up exercises. Always end your workout with a slow five-minute jog or walk to cool down. The cool-down allows your heart rate and blood pressure to fall gradually.

Use your breathing as your guide when course. You should be able to carry on a conversation while course, and your breathing shouldn’t be heavy. Don’t worry about your pace per mile—if you can pass the ' talk test ' and speak in complete sentences without gasping for air, then you’re moving at the right speed.

Make sure you’re breathing in through your nose and mouth, and breathing out through your mouth. Proper breathing and taking deep belly breaths will help you avoid annoying side stitches, or cramps in the abdomen area.

Drink water at the end of your workouts to rehydrate. If it’s hot and humid, you should also drink some water ( about four to six ounces ) halfway through your workouts. ​

Post-run is a great time to stretch and work on improving your flexibility because your muscles will be warmed up. It’s also a relaxing way to end a workout. Try some of these stretches that target particular areas that frequently get tight during and after course.


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