How do you Deal with Pre-Race Nerves?

Do you always get nervous whenever a race approaches?

Do you always get nervous whenever a race approaches?

It happens very often to runners regardless of whether you are an elite runner or a recreational one taking part in your first 5 Km run. And the more experienced you get and become better at running, the more likely you may be to get these nerves. You may, for example, be feeling nervous because you want to beat your personal best timing.

However those butterflies that are gradually building up in your stomach about the impending race, can be managed. Here are some tips to prevent those dreaded feelings of anxiety, cold sweat and nervousness before a race.

Prepare yourself

No matter how much training you have done for a race, feelings of anxiety and nervousness will definitely come. But you can try and prepare yourself in other ways, such as by studying the course map so that you will know exactly where the hydration points and the toilets are located during the course. This is so that you won’t be worried about whether you will get enough fluids during the race, or what happens when you need to use the washroom in the middle of the race.

For overseas races, you should do your packing early and make a checklist, so that you won’t forget anything important. Doing the packing last minute will only increase those feeling of anxiety that you may have forgotten something important – only to realise, too late, that you really have!

Do not set lofty goals for yourself

Trying to set lofty goals for yourself, will only increase the pre-race anxiety, regardless of whether it is breaking the two-hour barrier for your half-marathon or beating your personal best timing in the marathon.

So instead of setting goals, you should just go out there and enjoy yourself – and you may end up running much better than you would otherwise have done.

Use Visualisation

You may be feeling nervous because of your fear of the unknown – that is, you don’t know what to expect during the race.

So if you are feeling worried about the upcoming race, try to imagine yourself crossing the finishing line and visualising your friends and family cheering you on as you are running past them. Try doing this about a week or two before the actual race, or else when the feelings of anxiety are starting to kick in. By imagining that you are actually doing and finishing the race, you may reduce or eliminate your fears – and this will positively help with your worried feelings.

Develop race rituals

You may have noticed elite athletes doing certain rituals before and during a race. For example, Bill Rodgers, the four-time winner of the prestigious Boston Marathon, wore his Snoopy hat during his running career – and this helped him to break records at the time.

Such rituals help, because they get you to relax when you are facing uncertainty and will calm you down. So try and develop your own race rituals to calm yourself down. These can range from playing a specific song on your iPod or wearing only a certain singlet when you are running.

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