How to Cope with Running Race Fear and Anxiety


Do not be nervous about taking up running.

New runners tend to have some fears and anxiety about racing, but these will definitely go away with more experience. However, some runners may still prefer not to sign up for a race because of these fears.

Here are some of the more common anxieties about running – and how they can be alleviated.

What if I come last?

Of course, nobody likes to come last. But you should not have this fear. Unless you walk slowly for the entire distance, you will not come last. Just running for a couple of kilometres and walking the rest of the way will not put you in last position, as there are always bound to be walkers at every race.

But if this is really a big problem to you, try and look for fun races that don’t have a time limit, and not the competitive timed ones, because the number of walkers taking part will definitely be greater – thus reducing your fears even more, of coming last in the race

More experienced runners don’t really care about where they come in relation to others. They just want to compete against themselves and better their own personal timings. So Just focus on running your race to the best of your own abilities.

Will I be able to run for the entire distance?

This is another common fear that runners may have, when they are just starting out. But it is quite an irrational fear – sure, the elite athletes run the whole way, but if you take part in races, there are always bound to be people who get tired and exhausted and so they will start walking for part of the way, even in the competitive categories. So you should not be worried about this.

There is no need to fear that you will be the only person who is walking, because you won’t. Most recreational runners who challenge themselves in races are definitely not as fit as the elite runners, and if they find it perfectly okay to slow down your pace tremendously every now and then, you should not be worried either.

But if this really worries you, you can consider taking part in “fun runs” which are not timed and not competitive, so that you can be guaranteed that there will be more walkers than runners in the race. 

What will await me at the race?

If you have never actually ran a race before, there are other fears that you may have. For example, getting lost along the race route or getting trapped in a bottleneck.

These fears are pretty common and if they are really plaguing you, then you could speak to a friend or relative who has run races before. They will help you to have some peace of mind and give you an idea of what to expect at the race, as well as to calm your fears and worries.

Am I too young or old to take part?

If this is the reason that is keeping you from taking part in a race, I have this to say – nobody is ever too young or old to run. In fact, running is something that everyone is capable of doing. Runners participating in races usually range from their teens to the 70s or even 80s.

The oldest marathon runner ever recorded was 101 years old when he retired from distance running. So if he is not afraid to put his name down for races, then you should not be either. Do not use your age as an excuse to not participate in a race.

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