Does An Upcoming Race Make You Worry?
Do you get nervous before an upcoming race? A little, a lot, for weeks before, or right before the gun goes off? A lot of energy gets wasted due to anxiety that could affect your performance.
For me, from my many years of experience running races, I try to go about my normal daily routines, and don’t dwell for hours on the upcoming race. Yes I plan for logistics (that takes away anxiety on race day or weekend), but I don’t worry about the race itself. I know that I put in my workouts and what I should expect to be able to run pace-wise based on how well I did my workouts. I might avoid a chore that uses muscles that I don’t normally use in the week or so leading up to the race, but I don’t dwell day in and day out on the race.
So how about race day? I think there are two types of people here. One needs to get pumped up to mentally get into the race. Then there’s the type like me. The morning of a race I like to get to the race site early to avoid any traffic or bathroom issues. I know several people who were late, got out of their car or port-o-john and ran to the starting line only to be the last person crossing the line as the race started already. Everyone of them said that affected their performance. An example of my pre race routine is what I did for the Erie Marathon last September, a race where I qualified for the Boston Marathon and ran a personal best for the marathon.
The day before the race I had driven the course so I knew every inch of it. I even knew where I was going to park. I got to the site at about 5AM for a 7AM race. The sun rose that morning right at 7AM so it was pitch black out. No street lights in this state park on Lake Erie. I parked where I was right across from the beach and could see lights on boats far out on the water. I turned on a playlist of music I prepared for the trip. Nope, not dance music or heart pumping beats. I had soft quiet songs where you can hear the echo of the singer’s voice. Each song had maybe one or two instruments and you could hear every note very clear. The melodies were soothing. I pictured running the course at my pace as I relaxed. I had about 5 songs lined up and after the 5th I got out of the car and using my phone as a flashlight, made my way up a path for 1/2 mile to the starting area. By then the running club that I belong to had set up a meeting area for the 30+ runners from the club. I ran into quite a few friends and started chatting, not thinking at all about the race at this point. About 30 minutes before the race I wandered off and found a quiet spot to do my warm up routine. After finishing the warm up, I made my way to baggage check and gave them the warm up clothes I was wearing. I made my way to the starting area, and in 5 minutes we were off.
For me keeping my heart rate as low as I can conserves fuel. I remember one race a long time ago where I was into the excitement and pre race music blasting on the PA. People were dancing in place and getting all fired up. I remember struggling to finish that day as I ran out of gas. From then on I found that quiet time is the better way to go for me. Quiet and alone time recharges me. You may need that pump up music and that’s fine. Do your thing, not someone else’s. Finding a successful routine will help ease any pre race anxiety. Find it and stick to it every time.
Don’t worry so much about the race and psyche yourself out, draining energy for days and weeks prior. You did the work. Expect to do well! And you will! Relax, enjoy the surroundings and fellow runners, go find your happy place before the race and you will have a great race!