Ah! The pre-race jitters or the feeling we get on the morning of the race day.
Anyone who runs can relate to this feeling irrespective of whether you are a professional athlete or someone who has just started running.
Hence, it is not something we can escape but the key is to learn to manage this feeling and ensure it doesn’t effect our performance during the race.
I asked some of my athlete friends to share how they manage pre race anxiety and here is what they shared,
- My proven pre race routine is waking up three hours before the race, having breakfast then just telling myself repeatedly, ” You have trained for this.” This process helps me reduce my anxiety levels.
- It is important for me to make a list of the things I need to take or do in the morning. I paste the list on the mirror and this prevents me from going in to any sort of panic in the morning. A race flat lay is a good antidote to panic mornings.
- I distract myself with things like listening to music and that really settles my mind.
As you can see not one size fits all and everyone has a unique way to deal with pre race anxiety but there are two things that guarantee reduced anxiety levels on the morning of the race day.
- Adopting a good training program. For example, if you are planning to run Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 2018, Running Department has a great training you can follow. You can find details; https://www.runningdept.com/scsm-2018-training-programme/
- Learning the race course. Familiarity plays a big role in feeling prepared. It is a known fact that people don’t deal well with uncertainties. So, you can build that certainty by studying the race course for potential bottle neck areas, inclines, mud tracks or even areas where you may loose GPS signal because there are way too many tall buildings. Such familiarisation really helps you mentally prepare and avoid any surprises. Knowing what and where hydration is available is also a good idea. Now a days a lot of races serve water and isotonic drinks but if you are someone who needs carbo gel or a banana carrying it with you is a good idea.
Here is what Shalane Flanagan, winner of the Women’s 2017 New York City Marathon shared when asked
Do you get nervous for your races? What do you do to quell the nerves?
I used to get a lot more nervous, to the point of almost being debilitated, in high school. I definitely wasn’t able to control my nerves. But as I’ve become fitter, and the more training I’ve done, I have more belief in my training, myself and being able to execute on the day. I still get nervous, but not nearly as much as I used to. I look at my running log a lot before a really big race. When I get nervous, I look back at all of the work that I did. It’s a confirmation that I belong. And the week of a race, I always try not to think about it too much. I catch up with friends and family to distract myself, and remind myself that I have a really great support system.
If you are prepared, it boosts your confidence whilst you are waiting for the gun start. One of the main cause of anxiety prior to race is the fear of unknown.
We must trust the process of our training that it will help us achieve our goal on race day especially if you are aiming for a personal best or even if you just want to finish the race safe and strong. I remember receiving a note from a seasoned runner just before my first pacing assignment.
Trust your training, it will not vanish.
Whatever happens on race day if it’s beyond our control you can’t do anything. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Here are some words of wisdom from a running buddy,
These are reasons and logical inferences that can imply a heightened probability of a successful completion of the run. However the “variable factor” is ultimately the greatest equalizer in any marathon, past or future, that you have taken/would take part in. And unfortunately, you sometimes can’t control those variable factors.
And always remember, you can reduce anxiety not eradicate it.
So be prepared, trust the training and you are ready for the race .