You’ve put the training in, you feel as ready as you will ever be, and you’re excited for your up coming race but you just can’t seem to shake the pre-race jitters. Anxiety before a big race is totally normal and part of the process. Even the most season runners have butterflies while getting ready the night before or toeing the start line. I have done handfuls of races and no matter how prepared I feel, I always feel anxious before a race. Did a train enough, did I go to the bathroom, did I eat enough the night before, was my taper too short? I am sure questions like these are flown through your head as you pick lace up your shoes, adjust your hydration pack and pop your head phones in. Here are our top tips to help reduce those pre-race nerves.
1. Turn anxiety into excitement:
Know that your anxiety will turn into excitement once your adrenaline kicks in once you’re over the start line. Embrace the emotions, it is all part of the race. Energy is different a race than training runs. Feed off the energy that surrounds the start line and know you are not alone in your nerves. Have fun with it. Remember, you signed up for this and this is what you love doing! Maybe try connecting with other runners, form new friends, take pre-race photos. Bask in the glory of the start line, you have worked so hard to get here!
2. Don’t focus on the competition:
The only person you are running for is yourself and the only person you are running against is yourself. A race is just a bunch of individuals who just happen to be running together. Focus on your own race and don’t compare yourself to any one else out there. Run hard and strong, the way you’ve always ran. Run because you want to and because you love it. Don’t let the competition of the race or between other runners get you down. If someone passes you, don’t focus on it, stay at the pace where you feel comfortable. Don’t feel intimidated by others to speed up, listen to your own body and go the speed you want.
3. Listen to music:
The start line of a race can be very chaotic with people talking loudly, warming up, announcements, ect. Pop your head-phones in and put on your favourite song to focus your energy inwards. Pick a song that boosts your mood or pumps you up.
4. Visualize success:
Trust in your training and in yourself. You know how much time and effort you have put into getting to this start line. Visualize the finish line as something that WILL happen, not something that you hope to reach. Visualize how you want the race to unfold, maybe you want to smile the whole way, or maybe you have a time goal. Keep your attitude positive and say encouraging things to yourself when you feel your hitting a low.
5. Lay everything out the night before:
This will calm all nerves about forgetting something race day. Lay out exactly what you’re going to wear and pack your hydration pack or belt as well. Plan your outfit and decide what you think you’re going to eat during the race. Go over everything a few times to make sure you have it all. I love the idea of putting my bladder in the fridge the night before, but too many times I have forgotten it so I always recommend filling it up before you leave in the morning. The absolute most stressful thing on race day is showing up and realizing you’ve forgotten something very important.
6. Leave early:
Give yourself extra time the morning of the race. Get up earlier so you can have breakfast and give yourself time to digest. This will also get your bowls moving so that you can hopefully have a poop before the race starts. (Seriously this is a game changer for me!) If the start of the race is somewhere you’ve never been before, give yourself plenty of time to find the race start, get parking and check in. You do NOT want to show up late for a race!
As cheesy as this might sound, a positive attitude seriously changes everything. Remember, that this is supposed to be fun. Keep the mood light, this can help release anxiety and decrease your stress. Make it your goal to smile at your fellow runners or thank the volunteers at the aid stations. Keeping a positive attitude through out the race can improve the outcome of a race an incredible amount, plus any race day photos are definitely going to be keepers!
8. Trust in your training:
A major cause of race-day stress is the unknown. How fast will you run? Will you finish? Will you be the last person across the line? Will you qualify or break that personal record? What will your finish-line photo look like? Put those thoughts on the back burner. Don’t focus on the what ifs, just run your best and accept whatever the race throws at you. When you let go of running for an exact time, you also let go of the expectations that come along with it. You’ve put the time in, you’ve logged the miles, you’ve tapered. You know what your realistic goals based on your preparation and the elements, so let go and enjoy the race.
9. Celebrate finish lines not finish times:
It doesn’t matter when you cross that finish line, what matters is that you do cross it. Finish strong and be happy with however you finish, because a finish is an accomplishment no matter what! Don’t sabotage your finish line because you didn’t meet your time goal, you still completed an amazing achievement. Focus on the positives and celebrate crossing the finish line you fought so hard to reach.
What are your top tips for decreasing stress on race day? Share with us!