July 22, 2014

Race day anxiety

Have you ever dressed for race day and then panicked?  Are you always excited no matter how you have trained, eaten or prepared for a race?  It never occurred to me that race day anxiety even existed until I got to Asheville, NC last month for the inaugural half marathon.  Then it hit me like a truck. Yup, I freely admit that I had a huge amount of anxiety that morning. The reason why?  I do not eat hills for breakfast like some runners.  The place where I live is extremely flat.  Since I do not train on hills, a race that incorporates a huge amount of elevation change made me freak out race morning.  In fact, I nearly turned the car around and drove back to my friend's house.  However, I did get through the race and now have some thoughts on how to avoid this situation.



1. Know your race course This is sort of a given, but this seasoned runner did not do her homework.  You can avoid nerves about the race course itself if you go to the race website and study the course map and understand what you will face on race morning.  Better yet, take a practice run on parts or all of the course in advance of your race.

2. Go with a friend  If you have a buddy, it is much easier to stay calm the morning of a race.  If you are running solo, make friends on the bus to the race start, chat with someone in your corral or do whatever you can to stay calm.

3. Be prepared  Visualization is a great technique that can be utilized on race morning.  Think about what you plan to do, how you have trained to reach that goal and how much fun you will have running the course. Also, alleviate any things that could cause more anxiety by double checking all your gear the night before so it will be easy to get ready on race morning.  You don't want to be fumbling around at 5:00am looking for safety pins.

4. Understand the nerves  If you don't have any nervous feelings on race morning you must be super human.  Take them in stride and don't focus on anything negative. Most important, the more times you race, the better you will be able to control those feelings.

5. Believe and trust your training  If you are racing for a PR, it is highly possibly that you can psych yourself out from the moment you wake up on race morning.  Make sure you focus on something other than your time goal.  Self confidence and strong training will get you to your goal.  Believe, believe, believe.

Any other tips on how to diminish race day anxiety?
(Pam)


24 comments:

  1. Just thinking about a race can make me SO nervous if i am going for a PR. It's good jitters, but oh that feeling lol! Great tips!

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    1. Thanks Heather. Lots of runners that I talk with seem to feel the same way.

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  2. Great list! I've been known to have race day anxiety for a 5k! I think I'm just a jittery person :-) I always pray before races and ask for strength, courage, and an injury free event for myself and all the participants. It helps calm me down tremendously. If you're not the praying kind, a few minutes of meditation or relaxing deep breaths should do the trick. Great article!

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  3. The "go with a friend" part always works for me! I may still be nervous, but having someone there to laugh about that very thing keeps it from overtaking me, especially when I'm traveling to races! Great post.

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    1. Thanks Jen. I'm always happiest at races when I have either Christine or my sister at the race start with me.

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  4. Good tips. My jitters get caused by weather - I hate running in the rain! When I ran the Asheville Half on the Biltmore Estate, it was so cold and drizzling the whole time. I had to psych myself out of hating it! It turned out great, thanks to some good gear and it was one of my most memorable runs!

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    1. Amy, I have learned that by training in inclement weather, race day is no big deal when it rains or is unpleasant. It's not fun, but it is necessary!

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  5. I think running more races really helps, even smaller races. If you have a big one coming up, maybe do a few smaller races to get used to the atmosphere, practice (like if you're running a marathon you can do a half as a long run, etc). I still get anxious sometimes, though!

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    1. Good point Amy. Experience can make all the difference and local races make it seem easy and fun!

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  6. Awesome tips Pam! I get nervous almost every race! I'm not sure what it is but those pre race jitters are always there lol!

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    1. Thanks Mindy. I think everyone has a little bit, but it's when you feel sick etc. that it can ruin your race experience!

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  7. Great tips! I think the more you over think a run the more you psych yourself out.

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    1. I agree Jen. And my coach had us focus on a race goal other than time when we all ran the big local race in March. It seemed to work, because that was my best race ever!

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  8. Yes to #5!!!! I always psych myself out and it's the worst!

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    1. Oh that makes me sad Kristen. Hopefully you can learn to focus on something other than the race itself.

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  9. I'm already a little nervous about the Marine Corps Marathon - it's my first full!

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    1. Good luck with training Jenn. Christine absolutely loved that race last year.

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  10. All great tips. I do not train on hills either nor do I like running on them. I admit I do not look at the course prior to the race. I think I would have more anxiety if I knew what was about to come. -L

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    1. Lacey, I definitely made a mistake not knowing the course ahead of time. I am a control freak and that was a huge mistake for me.

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  11. Great tips!! Most of the time I get excited for races unless I have a hefty goal. If I am looking to PR or get below a certain time, then the nerves kick in like crazy!

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    1. Lauren, It is easy to get nervous if you have alot on the line, meaning hard training and a big goal in mind. For me, having someone to talk to before the race start is very helpful. Buddies are the best!

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  12. These are awesome tips! I get nervous before a race even when I'm not gunning for a PR! I think the anxiety gives me a little bit of a boost, though. Having someone to run with makes a huge difference, and I know that being sure I am completely and 100 percent prepared in terms of having everything I need, knowing where to park, leaving myself plenty of time to get there, and all of the other race-day logistics also makes a big difference in my anxiety levels.

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  13. Great tips. I'm quite prone to anxiety/nervousness on race days, even when I'm just running for fun! I usually just tell myself to go out there, give it my all, and have a good time. I've done the training, and now there's nothing else I can do but to try my best. Also, some deep breathing helps to keep me relaxed :)

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