How to Beat Race Day Nerves

It’s not a secret that I like to race a lot.  Beating race day nerves can be tough! In fact, I’ve written posts about how to “race well,” or even “racing my way to fitness.”  It works well for me as I typically train very easy throughout the week.

How to beat race day nerves

I used to get race day nerves, but racing doesn’t make me as nervous anymore since I race so frequently. I get more nervous before a workout than I do before a race.  I suppose that has come with both times and just racing a lot.

A few weeks ago, someone asked how I beat race nerves and race anxiety. They also asked I would be open to writing a post about it. Of course!

Big races and goal races can cause more pre-race anxiety and nerves than tune-up races. I’ve learned that training your mind and mental game is just as important as following your mileage training plan.

How to Beat Race Day Nerves (The Short Answer):

Race until you’re not as nervous 

I’m sure you wanted the long answer, though.


Here are a few strategies I use to Beat Race Day Nerves:

Before the Race:

Visualize:

Visualization is something to do before the actual race.  The day leading up to the race, visualize goals and success. Beating race day nerves means believing in yourself. It’s actually something I picked up in collegiate swimming. Running is 90% mental, and if you believe you’ll do well, you’ve already won most of the battle. You have to be ready to race.

Look Back at Your Training Logs:

The night before a race, look at those workouts you didn’t think you would crush, but you did.  This is motivational for bigger races when you are tapering or bored.  There is always “that run” during a training cycle that you didn’t think you’d make it through, but you did.  Remember that one, versus those you didn’t feel great during.

How Beat Race Day Nerves At the Race:

Stay Distracted:

To minimize prerace jitters and race day nerves, stay distracted for some people listening to music. For others (like me), talking nonstop until the race starts.  If we meet at a race, know that I am 100% cool chatting until the gun goes off.  Stay distracted and relaxed on race morning. It helps to beat race day nerves, alleviate pre-race anxiety, and pre-race jitters.

Get Away from the Start Line:

Standing at the start line for an hour before the race day doesn’t favor any favors. During shorter races such as a 5k, go warm up. Getting away from the start line allows you to stay relaxed, beat race day nerves, and not think about running the race as much.

Remember This:

Races are typically only the morning of your day.  It’s not more than a few hours of your morning, and when you cross the finish line, you move on.

You are still the same person whether you PR or PW (personal worst).  Your family, friends, and everyone else still loves you.  Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the sport that we don’t think about the big picture.  Before every race, I think: good or bad, whatever happens…happens, and there is no need to stress about it. This was one of my biggest ways to beat race day nerves…I remembered I am still the same person when I cross the finish line.

You are still the same person whether you PR or PW (personal worst).  Your family, friends, and everyone else still loves you and don’t care about your finish time.  Sometimes we get too wrapped up in the sport that we don’t think about the big picture.  Before every race, Ithink: good or bad, whatever happens…happens, and there is no need to stress about it.

Racing is supposed to be exciting and fun.  You should look forward to it, not dread it.  If you dread it, there is no point in doing it, right? Nerves are a good thing, but you want to beat the negative race day nerves that bring you down.

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Questions for you:

Do you get race day anxiety? 

How do you beat race day nerves?