By the time the day of a race arrives, there's a good chance you've already spent weeks (or more likely, months) in preparation, going farther and pushing yourself to run faster little by little. In other words, you probably know you're ready.
Unfortunately, this might not be enough to put a damper on the race day nerves that afflict so many otherwise confident runners. When you're waiting at the starting line, it's all too easy to psych yourself out and end up making mistakes that ultimately mess up your race time.
What can you do to overcome nerves and run a successful race? Here are a few effective tips to help you stay calm and confident so that you can perform at your peak.
You're going to run a lot in preparation for any race, whether it's your first 5K or your 5th marathon. This practice is important since it helps you to condition your body for the big event.
However, practicing also helps you to learn a lot about how to prep for a race. For example, while you practice you'll no doubt discover that certain workout garments offer greater comfort, better support, or more effective moisture wicking properties.
Some garments may chafe and get soggy - these aren't the ones you want to wear on race day. The same goes for shoes and other jogging gear. You'll learn which sunblock stings your eyes when the sweat starts pouring down your face.
You'll also learn how and when to eat and drink in preparation for a race. Many runners like to carb load the night before and eat very little the morning of a race so that they have ample energy without feeling sick to their stomachs or having to make emergency rest stops while running.
You may want to drink a certain amount before, during, and after the race to remain hydrated, as well. Practice will help you to discover the right portions. Practicing for your race can give you a competitive edge, as well as the sense of calm that comes from knowing you are well-prepared.
In truth, you don't want to show up too early for any race, since it's easy to start thinking about everything that could go wrong when you're just sitting around waiting for the race to begin. Instead, look over available information before you arrive, including the route and terrain of the course, along with rest stops and water stations. This will help you to plan and feel prepared when race day arrives.
If you can't seem to stop your mind from descending into a tailspin of self-doubt on race day, drown out your inner voice with a carefully curated playlist of favorite tunes that will have you humming along. If you focus on tempo, you can put together the perfect running playlist for any length of race. This will help you schedule speeding up and slowing down in order to push yourself, take needed breaks, and achieve the race time you're hoping for.
There are a couple of great reasons to run with a friend while you're training. For one thing, it's nice to have a running partner to socialize with since jogging can get pretty boring when you're going several miles.
In addition, you and your partner can get competitive, pushing each other to do better even as you both improve your performance. As for race day, a running partner can also be a welcome distraction from nervous thoughts that could derail you and ruin your race. If you're going to practice with a partner, why not see if the same person will join you in a race?
Practices like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can not only help you to overcome nerves on race day, but also to get through the rough patches when you run. Your body will get tired and your mind could suffer boredom or self-defeating thoughts. This can really drag you down.
When you focus on your breathing, clear your mind, and calm your nerves. You can actually enjoy yourself a lot more before and during the race, and you might surprise yourself with a truly stellar performance thanks to your calm and focus.