Controlling Pre-Race Nerves
Heeeeey! It’s the weekend and I am so ready to get outside! We have been hit by a wave of lovely weather and the last thing I want to do is let it go to waste.
I wanted to talk about something that I know a lot of runners deal with before a race, especially a big race..nervousness.
It is almost unavoidable as your body prepares itself for competition and your fight or flight mechanisms have kicked in. I used to deal with quite a bit of pre-race nervousness, but I thought I would share some of my top tips that will have you relaxed and chatting to the runner beside you at the start line.
1. Give yourself enough time. (But not too much time). Wake up early. Eat a good breakfast and arrive in plenty of time to get in a warm up and go through a normal, pre-race routine. The less rushed you feel, the more relaxed you will be.
2. Have an established routine, and follow it. Do you eat the same thing every race day? Go for your warm up at the same amount of time before each race? Good. Going through the motions makes it automatic, which allows you to get your nerves in check.
3. Process the race before you are there. Think about how you will feel at the start line. In the first half hour. As you approach the finish line. By practicing what you will experience in your head, you are much more likely to successfully execute it on race day.
4. Be positive. Don’t project a self fulfilling prophesy. The more negatively you think about the race, the more uncomfortable it will be.
5. Breathe. Take some time and take some deep breaths. The more oxygen you have, the more clearly and rationally you will think.
6. Don’t go to the start line until you have to. Standing in front of the start line creates unnecessary anxiety as you wait for the race to start. Find other things to occupy yourself with until the race begins.
7. Listen to music. If you are not a fan of talking to people before a race, bring your iPod, find a quiet corner and think through your race.
8. Talk to people. I always find the best way to shake off race nerves is to strike up conversations with people, which helps me refocus my energy and not dwell on the race beginning.
9. Use the porta-potty. Ok. I know this one sounds ridiculous, but focusing on what you CAN control is a lot easier than being afraid of things outside of your control. I am a big fan of what I like to call the “safety pee”. Get in line and MAKE SURE. (Trust me on this one…)
10. Remember your training. I often think “you have done everything you could have done” or “be gentle with yourself, you are doing the best you can.” Thinking positive thoughts and focusing on all your hard work that you have done to prepare yourself for this race will help you accept that you are ready to race!
My friend Angela wrote a great post on pre-race nerves as well this year, check it out here.
What do you do to calm pre-race nerves?