If you've decided to run a 5K, 10K, or marathon for the first time, it's only natural that you'd have some trepidation about placing or even finishing the race. Even if you're an old hand at running races, you may still get pre-race jitters while thinking about how you'll perform or what could go wrong once you're past the starting line.
Pre-race nerves are far from rare. Many runners suffer from anxiety prior to running a race. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to prepare for your race both physically and mentally, as well as calm your nerves before you run.
Whether you find yourself dealing with a few butterflies in the stomach before a race or you're suffering from a full-blown anxiety attack, there are a few strategies you can employ to overcome your state of nervousness. Here are some tips and tricks that may help to calm you before a race.
Training is the best way to approach a race with a calm and confident attitude. When you spend the weeks or months leading up to a race following a set training schedule, you can do more than just work your way up to running a set distance.
You can also begin to work on improving endurance, strength, and timing. Through trial and error, you can see how your body responds to running so that you know how to hydrate and nourish yourself appropriately for the distance and demands of your run.
In addition, you can figure out how to get to a Zen state and alleviate the boredom or doubt that may set in on a long run (with music, mantras, meditation, or other techniques). In other words, your training regimen can help you to reach race day with the confidence that comes from knowing you're prepared in every way possible.
Proper nutrition is essential if you want to deliver the best possible performance on race day. For a 5K or 10K you may not need to alter your regular diet significantly, but if you're doing a marathon or other longer races, nutrition becomes much more important.
Some runners like to carb load the night before and then eat a small mean the morning of the race to ensure plenty of energy without a bunch of bathroom breaks. If you've trained properly, you'll already have an idea of the routine that works best for your body.
Don't forget to hydrate before, during, and after the race as well. Dehydration can not only derail your race thanks to the headache, nausea, and fatigue that are common symptoms, but it could pose a serious hazard to your health if you're not careful.
Get Your Zees
Your training will ensure that you're ready for your race, but it can also take its toll on your body. You should therefor plan for 1-2 rest days before your race so that your body has time to heal before a demanding race. Make sure to hit the hay early the night before your race so you can get a full night of rest and awaken refreshed and ready to run.
Talk to Friends
Any time you're nervous about an upcoming event, you'll find that talking through your fears with loved ones can help you to work through your issues and reach a calmer mental state. If you make a point to speak with other runners, you'll also have the opportunity to gain support and perspective born of experience, as well as get advice about how to overcome nerves and perform at your peak.
Plan for Success
When you know what's coming you're almost certain to feel more confident, so take the time to check out the planned route before your race. You can start by learning the layout of the course so you know exactly what to expect in terms of terrain. This will also help you to anticipate water stations and rest stops in case you need to hydrate or hit the head during your race.
The other part of planning for success is adopting a winning attitude. Even if you have trained for your race you may still doubt your ability. In order to combat this you need to stop allowing negative thoughts and instead remind yourself of how far you've come and how much you've improved.
Remember, running is supposed to be fun. If you allow your pre-race nerves to get the best of you, there's no way you'll deliver your best performance. So take a deep breath, smile, and remind yourself that you're ready and you're going to enjoy yourself no matter what.
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