Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pre-Race Jitters

I've made all my work deadlines! So this is exactly how I'm feeling.

Actually because it's been a tiring couple of weeks, I can't quite summon up the energy to be that excited so it's probably more like this.

Now that my work is at a much more manageable level I can start to focus on some things that I've been trying to ignore for the past month. Things like races. And the fact that they're starting to get really close.

I have a love-hate relationship with races. I love entering them, I love the idea of being a runner who races and I love finishing them. But I hate anticipating them. And sometimes I hate doing them - especially about three quarters of the way through pretty much any race I've ever entered. 

A couple of weeks before a race I start to get a bit anxious. The thought that a race is looming makes my stomach clench and my legs go weak. And I can't even tell you why. 

I'm not scared of the running part. I know that how I perform doesn't matter to anyone but me so if my time's not great it's really no big deal. I know I can finish the race. I've never not finished. And even if I get injured or sick and have to pull out, the world won't stop turning.


So why do I get nervous? 

And, more importantly, how do I stop it?

I've been trying to work on some techniques that the psychologist gave me last year when I was having anxiety issues. I've been practising punctuating the day with deep breathing exercises that help me stay in the moment. I've been doing my yoga and that really helps.

I like to pretend that I'm really this flexible 

But really I look a lot more like this 

And I've been visualising every part of race day - from the getting up part to the finishing. The thing that I've realised is that it's the getting there and toileting things that worry me the most so I'm working on visualising short toilet queues and trouble free trips to the start line.

I've found out I'm not alone with my worries and this makes me feel better. It's nice to know that other people are just as crazy. Even the best runner in our squad worries about exactly the same things. But because she's an amazing runner there's the added pressure of performing. At least I don't have that.

So when are my races? I have one on the 12th of May - just a 4.5k that I'm doing with my youngest and his girlfriend. And the next weekend I'll be travelling to Sydney to run the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon with my eldest son. Did I ever mention that I'm not a big fan of planes?

My goals for these races are simple. I want to make it to the start line with my nerves under control (and without use of any drugs). I want to enjoy the event and the atmosphere. I'd like to try to run under 5 min pace for the 4.5k but have no expectations for the half. I entered a little late and could only get into the slowest start group so I know there's going to be a lot of traffic to get through. I'd like to go under two hours but that'll depend on how much dodging and weaving I have to do.

But if, by some strange miracle, I find myself in the lead coming up the home straight and some Kenyan dude tries to pass me I'm so going to do this ... 

Does anyone have any great nerve-calming techniques that they're happy to share?


  1. No nerve-calming techniques here.... I pretty much feel the same way days or weeks before big races. It's weird when you find out that other runners you think are great runners feel the same way.

    I usually calm down by start of race... when I mean start, I mean as soon as the gun goes off.

  2. i have no nerve calming techniques, I always get a teeny bit nervous too. I always look at it as a good kinda nervous though, because it just means that the race means something.

    and omg, that's a funny clip! I wonder if the guy got disqualified for that, lol!!

  3. LOL - funny videos! I know you'll do great, but I understand those jitters. I guess it's normal, right?

    And I'd love to see you smack someone who tries to beat you to the finish line - ha ha!

  4. It's always interesting to see how American movies translate internationally - Kip from "Napoleon Dynamite" is one of the best movie characters ever ... "Yessss!"

    I kept reading hoping you give ME some pre-race calming tips. Ditto to everything you said. I know I'll never set any records or be a great runner, I just want to run my best and get every second out of my body. Things like the bathroom and have to hold pee the whole race stress me out, probably more than anything. I've learned that if I build the race up too big in my mind, I tense up and don't run my best. So this race I'm really trying to relax and just run freely. Good luck at your events.

  5. I honestly don't get that nervous before races, I think maybe it's because I don't really have any expectations. I just show up, do my best and go home. I have had nerves around "firsts" my first tri, my first half Ironman, etc, but I don't seem to get that nervous if I just show up for a 5K or a half marathon now....I don't know why....maybe you just need to be like me and have no expectations for yourself...it's easy to accomplish that goal, so no pressure!

  6. Wow, that last video is outrageous! No matter how stressed you are, I'm sure you would never behave like that...

    I get stressed by long toilet queues and think I'm going to miss the start, but in fact no matter how long the queue, I've never not made it in time.

  7. Congrats on wrapping up all that work! That really is a great feeling. I totally know what you mean about nerves...I find the only thing that helps is having a good race to give me confidence and then taking that confidence with me into the next race. Good luck wrangling them in.

  8. Yay for your busy season winding down! That has to feel great. I have a half Saturday I really haven't even thought about. But when I wake at 3am to head to the start line, I'll wonder why the heck I do this and say never again. Then I'll sign up again.

  9. I run a lot of races and most of them are really just training runs, so it's like driving down the road to meet 1000 friends for a run... But then (like last week) I have to do things right... So I get to the race early so I can make the 100 port-a-poty stops I need and the I warm up, not so much to help the run, but to carm the nerves...

    The Day before? Well since I run so many races it's an every weekend thing so it's easy to get to the start!

    Good Luck

  10. How can you get nervous before races? How did this come about? Only kidding, Char: you'll enjoy the pre-race atmoshere, the event and the running poeple around the starting line. In addition, the warm up before the race is really useful.

  11. I know when I do my next 1/2 I will be nervous. Like you, I put a lot of time into training, so how I do is important, and the nerves follow. I even get nervous on track work out days - but I'm not alone, Coach told me lots of peeps tell him the same thing! Crazy, right? I hope I can make it to Australia and run a 1/2 w/ you one day! Maybe together, we won't be so nervous!

  12. I have those pre-race jitters, too. The more important the race, or the more "unknown" a race is (like my upcoming 50k this weekend...never done that distance), the worse it is. But best I can tell, I always finish in one piece :) so I just take that thought into the race with me and try to relax as best I can early on. Usually after the gone goes off, I just get into race mode and forget about all the other stuff earlier!

    4.5k is a funny distance. It'd be an instant PR for me! :)

  13. I have the pre-race jitters too but mine are about failing. No matter how good my training has been, on race day I am convinced I can't do it. Two times DNF because of the heat (that I can't handle well) don't help with this.
    I have no actual tips, what helped me at my last 5K where I started to get nervous again was keep saying to myself: you can do this, it's only 30 minutes then it's over. But that doesn't help you much I'm afraid.

  14. I like the race atmosphere and like you I am always nervous, without a reason, before the start.
    No techniques no solutions, it always happens to disappear after the first steps: mysterious!
    Good luck on your 4.5 km.

  15. Yes, the nerves thing is one of the worst part of racing (oh, and that yucky racing part). No matter how long I've been racing, it is always stressful. For someone reason, that alone makes me feel better. It just is what it is, and then it will be over. Sigh. Maybe we should take up competitive knitting? :)

    You are going to rock your events! You've been putting in the work, and the fact that you are nervous shows your body is responding! Cool!

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  17. I used to get really bad diahhreia when I played basketball. Before big matches, but even just before local fixtures. I think once I was on the court I was fine, but I wasn't great with nerves.

    I don't compete in stuff now so am not sure how I'd be.

    Although I just entered my first ever writing comp. Sadly I did my essays on the last day before discovering we could have an extension... but still... I'm not expecting a prize (although it would be nice) but am proud of myself for just trying - when I was inclined not to!



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