With the end of lockdown and things slowly returning back to normal, I managed to have a quick chat with current British Senior Triathle champion and ambassador for 361 Degrees Suzie Cave regarding how people lacking confidence to return to outdoor workouts can slowly reintroduce themselves back into their old regimes.
1. Why do you think self-esteem is an issue, particularly for young women, when exercising outside?
When exercising outdoors, we have no control over who might see us or judge us, whether it is on our performance or how we look while doing it.
For some, this is enough to stop them exercising at all. It is true these feelings can happen to anyone regardless of age or gender, but it appears to be more of a barrier to exercise for young women.
This may be because, according to the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation “Girls, on average, have less self-confidence than boys and rate their performance or ability more negatively than do boys.”
Body image is another driver of low self-esteem amongst young women, and for some, the more self-conscious they feel about their body, the less likely they are to exercise publically.
This is not helped by the body-obsessed culture created by social media images of women training in revealing and tight clothing.
Many use these unrealistic images to compare themselves to, feeding their insecurities.
2. What tips would you give runners to combat self-esteem issues and feel comfortable exercising outside.
1) Don’t focus on what others are doing around you; the race is with yourself.
Focus on the benefits of what you are trying to achieve and how good achieving them will feel. Take one day at a time and progress at your own rate.
2) Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in.
I prefer to train in looser fitting clothing. It is more breathable and easier for layering on those colder days.
3) Try running with like-minded people of similar fitness levels.
This may be with a friend or a local running group. Many groups cater for all levels of runners.
Seeing others in a similar position as you can help with self-confidence – you are not the only one feeling the way you do!
4) However, you may feel more comfortable to run on your own to build up fitness before joining a group.
Couch to 5k programmes have been very popular for people to follow and do in their own time and at their own pace.
These are easy to download as an app on your phone.
5) If you are a keen social media follower, try to follow real life, realistic role models.
These do not have to be the best runners/athletes in the world.
Choose those you can relate to, who are there to encourage and inspire people of any ability to run, workout or exercise.
As an example, 361 Degrees has a great network of real life ambassadors who encourage every one of all levels, backgrounds and abilities to get out and run more.
If you surround yourself with an encouraging network, this will help to motivate you and give you confidence to set and achieve your own goals.