Whether this is your first race, or you have years of experience in taking part in running events, it is highly probable that you may experience some mild to quite severe pre-race anxiety. It is perfectly natural to feel nervous about your performance just like you would before a test or a job interview, but in some cases, the anxiety can be overwhelming and can actually hinder your performance at the race and can even cause you to miss out on it altogether. Things which runners are often worried about pre-race include: having a bad run, encountering bad weather and running conditions, suffering from unexpected pain or injury, not being able to get to the finish line and more potential fears. This type of anxiety can lead to sleepless nights and bad thoughts which in the end can affect your overall performance at the race.
We have several tips which can help you overcome this anxiety and allow you to feel more confident and better about your performance pre-race.
7 ways to overcome the unwanted pre-race anxiety:
- Train properly
This may sound logical, but training properly and preparing for a race is crucial for your confidence and for the reduction of pre-race anxiety. Learn how to avoid injuries, create a good training plan and stick to it. Even though something unexpected happens and you need to miss a daily run or workout don’t worry. As long as you don’t take too long a break from your running and training program – you should be OK at the race. The best way to be well prepared for the race without fear of dropping out and not being able to complete it or reach the result you are expecting is to combine running with cross training during your pre-race preparation. Adding some strength training to your schedule will improve your running balance, endurance and your running technique. Once you have successfully completed your training program, there will be no reason to feel overly anxious about your performance at the actual race!
- Plan the morning before the race
Save yourself from the stress of running around the house to find your running gear, to prepare your running snacks, drinks, finding your mp3 player or anything else you will need for your race. Take the time in the evening before the race to lay out your running clothing, footwear and all the running gear, lip balm, bibs and other things you will need. Pack you snacks, water bottles or other electrolyte drinks and gels beforehand. Get your mp3 player ready with your preferred music player list set up. Make sure you prepare your phone, keys and wallet or change too. You should plan and if possible prepare your pre-race breakfast before you go to bed too. If you have other chores to do, such as making breakfast for your family or others – do not leave them for the morning! Once you know that everything is set up and ready, you are sure to have a better night sleep before the race, and without the anxiety which can crawl up at night and can prevent you from sleeping and resting properly for the race.
- Check the forecast and be prepared for any kind of weather
Anticipating bad and unexpected weather conditions is one of the main sources of pre-race stress and anxiety. This is why, you should check the weather forecast for the time and place of the race, and be prepared for the expected weather conditions. Also, it is a good idea to plan for unexpected rain or other unfavorable conditions by packing some suitable running gear to meet these conditions just in case. This will help you feel relaxed and ready to meet all challenges on the day of the race!
- Make sure to practice with the running clothes, shoes and gear you are planning to wear
Always do some running and practice with the running gear you will be wearing at the race and make sure it fits well. This goes especially for any new running footwear you buy. This will make you feel better prepared for what to expect and will ensure that you can run the distance with it without a problem. Once again, being sure in your gear will help reduce pre-race anxiety and will help you feel more self-assured when you approach the start line.
- Stay away from trying new stuff at the race
Follow your routine, wear your usual gear and shoes, and don’t try to add any new elements to your running at the race. Once you feel confident in your personal running routine, gear and tactics, you should stick to that instead of trying something completely new and very likely messing things up. The same goes for following your usual dietary regimen and daily pre-run habits. Don’t try a brand new cuisine or even a brand new type of coffee on the morning prior to the race!
- Go for a run if possible
Help take out the pre-race stress by going for a run before your race. Depending on the distance you are running you may want to limit your pre-race run to one or a few miles only, but this will help you boost your self-confidence, reduce the anxiety and will make you better prepared once you get to that start line.
- Don’t worry
This sound like a simple piece of advice but it is actually very true and can help reduce your anxiety before your race. Worrying about your performance can only make things worse and harder for you. So, take the time to relax yourself on the night before the race. At the start of the race, make sure you are breathing properly, pay attention to your steps, pace and posture and follow your plan.
Being properly prepared and trusting yourself are crucial for the reduction and elimination of pre-race anxiety. Follow these simple rules and make sure that next time you don’t have to face and fight off all those negative feelings, nervousness and self-doubts!