Whether you are a seasoned runner or preparing for your vey first race, fear, anxiety, and pre-race jitters can find a way to creep in. The good news is that it’s a normal part of training and can affect even the experienced runners. Sometimes these feelings arise because of worry about tackling a new distance, the fear of the unknown, or even a lack of confidence. If you have had any of these feelings, here are a few tips to help you get back on track.
The best way to take a real look at what’s causing your fear or anxiety is to acknowledge it. Make a list from most pressing concerns to least. Next think of one to two solutions that may work for you. This may include talking to an experienced runner or doing additional research on your own. This will help you feel in control and also gain confidence.
If there are elements revealed by your brainstorming session that you can practice ahead of time, do them. This may be as simple as running or driving parts of the race course ahead of time or practicing on some of the challenging terrain. Also remember to double check the race organizer’s FAQs. They can be really helpful.
One of my recommendations for tackling fear and anxiety is to simulate race day using your training runs as practice. Use a few of your difficult or challenging workouts as a simulation to help identify the cause of your fears. It can also help you build confidence.
Make a list. Check it twice.
Much of the fear and anxiety that surrounds race day is the actual preparation for before, during, and after the event. Use our Race Day Checklist to ease your mind and stay organized so you don’t arrive at the start of the race missing anything.
We all have inner dialog, and it can either really help or really hurt. To be successful, focus on all the positive thoughts that make you feel better about yourself and race day. I recommend trying to visualize the overall experience rather than fears you may be having. Try to think about your deepest motivators and focus on being positive.
Focus on what you can control.
There are plenty of things you can’t control the day of the race — weather, other runners, or even course conditions. So don’t focus on those things. Pay attention to every part that you can control as you prepare, such as pre-race nutrition, sleep, and hydration. This will help you show up confident.
Follow the plan.
The best way to tackle race fears and anxiety is to have a solid race plan. This includes a breakdown of each section of the race into small and manageable chunks. For example, if you have a time goal, break that down to an average pace and then an alternate pace if necessary. Remember to keep this realistic and within reach.
Focus on the FUN.
Make this journey you are about to take about doing something challenging and fun. The best part of the process is setting an amazing goal and then chasing it down. At the end of the day it’s not about the medals, finish lines, or personal bests that you set. It’s what you can learn about yourself in the process. It’s about learning to challenge yourself and the experiences you will share with those around you because of it.
Remember that it’s normal to have some bit of pre-race anxiety, but it definitely should not overpower the experience for you. What tips do you have that help you calm down before a big race or event? Share in the comments below for other runners too.