How to Beat Race Day Nerves

It’s not a secret that I like to race a lot.  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.

Since I race so frequently, racing doesn’t make me as nervous anymore.  I get more nervous before a workout than I do before a race.  Thinking out loud, I suppose that has come with both time and just racing a lot.

A few weeks ago, a reader asked me how I beat race nerves and if I would be open to writing a post about it.

The short answer is: race until you’re not as nervous anymore. 

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:

This is more something to do before the actual race.  The day before I plan to race (if I plan too), I like to visualize goals and success.  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.

Look Back at Your Training Logs:

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 the ones that you didn’t feel great during.

At the Race:

Stay Distracted:

For some people that are listening to music, for others (like me), that is talking nonstop until the race starts.  If we meet at a race, know that I am 100% cool with chatting up until the gun goes off.  Stay distracted and relaxed.

Get Away from the Start Line:

During shorter races such as a 5k, this is easy because I need to warm up.  I don’t warm up before half marathons (my top 5 half marathons have had zero warmup…maybe some walking).  Getting away from the start line allows you to stay relaxed and not think about it as much.

 

Remember This:

Races are typically the morning of your day.  It’s not more than a few hours of your morning, and when it’s done, 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 just think: good or bad, whatever happens…happens and there is no need to stress about it.

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 just think: 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?

Related Posts:

Who Cares Where You Run?

Care Free Training

How to Bounce Back from a Bad Race

Questions for you:

Do you race a lot?

How do you beat race day (or any day) nerves?

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Who Cares Where You Run?

Like anything in the world, many people including myself, are guilty of the comparison trap.  Now that social media is everywhere, it has become much easier to compare.

The constant changes in weather and hurricane season caused me to think of justifying where or when you’re running.

My personal mentality for running is simple:

Run When and Where You’re Most Happy

If you like running in the morning, night, inside, or outside, do what makes you the happiest.  As long as you’re happy, you’re a “real runner” but alas a post for another day.

The weather got me thinking out loud about justifying yourself.  Before social media, we felt as though we had no one to report back too.

If we wanted to run on the treadmill…fine…if we wanted to run outside…fine.  

There wasn’t a “which one is better” or “you aren’t a real runner if you run inside” type of mentality.

We didn’t go for a run and immediately upload it to whatever social media website preference.  I am as guilty as anyone for doing this.  I post my training logs weekly, I post photos on Instagram, and I love a good race recap.

With social media, it is much easier to fall into the comparison trap.  You can compare running where, why, how, when, how much…the list is endless.  Anything you want to compare, you can.

For instance, it’s easy to tell someone to get outside. It’s easy to say there is never an excuse to run inside.  Critiquing someone else is easy…but you know what?

 Who Cares?

Who cares if you run inside or outside?  At least you are getting out there doing your thing. Personally, I hate running outside in pouring, freezing rain.  It’s miserable, I look a mess and honestly it’s just not fun.  Sometimes I would instead zone out on the treadmill and catch on TV inside.  Maybe I want to use the treadmill for pacing.  Whatever the reason, I just want to run inside. I don’t ever plan to justify my decision of where I run…I just do what makes me happy.

Sometimes I would instead zone out on the treadmill and catch on TV inside.  Maybe I want to use the treadmill for pacing.  Whatever the reason, I just want to run inside. I don’t ever plan to justify my decision of where I run…I just do what makes me happy.

To those who think the only running is outside…that is false.

To those who think the only race out there is the marathon…also false.

To those who think there is no reason to ever run inside…

LOLZ, sorry running in the 35-degree rain is not fun.  I spent the better part of 2015 and 2016 racing in those conditions, and it was not pleasant.

I love shamrock…but the weather no

Running in hail is not fun.

Running in 120-degree weather is not fun.

Or what if you are short on time and want to catch up on your favorite TV show and fit a run in?  I think that’s better than sitting on your couch catching up TV?

Some people are not comfortable running outside, and it’s essential (for others) to realize that people do what they are comfortable.  Safety should always be a runners number 1 priority.

Finally, the majority of us are never going to be elite athletes, and we don’t need to have a rigid plan.  Even elites athletes use all sorts of methods.  Some elites love the treadmill, high mileage or low mileage.  We do what makes us happy and what is best for our personal needs.

Life is too short to do something that makes you miserable.  Running outside in the rain is miserable, and I feel no need to justify that to anyone.

I guess I’m thinking about the ways social media has affected our running.  Before social media, we ran how we felt like it.  If we felt like running outside, we did.  If we felt like running inside, we did.  If we felt like training for a 5k, we did…a marathon…we did.

Social media will always cause us to compare.  It’s something tough to avoid in our modern day world.  My point is that not to put others down because where and how they choose to run.

We are all one giant community of runners and human beings.  We do what makes us happy and move on with it.

Relevant Posts: 

Care Free Running
Why a Running Streak Does Not Work for Me
Running on an AntiGravity Treadmill

Questions for you:
Where is your favorite place to run?
What are you thinking about today?

Training: Traveling and Hot Half Marathon

Last week was quite the interesting week.  Yay for some sort of excitement of training right?

As most people know from Instagram, I ran the Crawlin Crab half marathon.  I’ll go into more detail, but it wasn’t on my radar this year until last week.  I’ve always wanted to do it.

Monday: Easy 60 minutes
Tuesday: Easy 60 minutes
Wednesday: Easy 60 minutes
Thursday: Easy 60 minutes
Friday: Rest
Saturday: East 45 minutes
Sunday: Crawlin’ Crab 13.1 (1:32.30)+2 miles

Total: 50-53 miles

My weekday runs were just that, easy, and uneventful.  If I had known that I would be running a half that Sunday, I would have probably run less each day or had an extra rest day because the half added a lot more mileage to my week.

Crawlin’ Crab 13.1: 1:32.30

On paper, this looks like a personal worst.  It’s over 5 minutes slower than what I ran just three weeks ago at the Air Force Half on an easier course.  However, at the start, the weather was 75 degrees and 95% humidity.  I felt as though I was swimming.

As I mentioned, I didn’t plan to run the Crawlin’ Crab, but when my husband’s plans changed, I was left with a weekend with nothing to do so I drove back to hometown to see my parents.  I had always wanted to do Crawlin’ Crab, so I toed the line of the half.  Having the hardest week, thus far in my training, plus the weather, made it easy to determine it wouldn’t be a fast race for me.  Everyone suffered from the weather, and even though I was swimming, I placed 4th female and 9th overall.

In all, I’m happy with the week of training.  It’s not what I expected, but the Crawlin Crab felt more like a workout versus a hard race.   I was more happy to meet my goal of having fun and seeing several friends.

Progression (I’ve decided to just keep the last 5 weeks to keep it less cluttered):
Week 6: 45 miles (1 workout)
Week 7: 40 miles (13.1 miles workout)
Week 8: 43-45 miles (2 workouts: 1 race/1 tempo)
Week 9: 41-43 miles (2 races)
Week 10: 50- 53 miles (13.1 miles workout)

Posts of the Week:
September Training
Why I Don’t Post Paces Online

Questions for you:
Did you race this weekend?  There were a lot of good ones!
What was your best workout?

September Workouts: I am Actually Training

September was the first month in a long time I felt like “running me”.  Not me in peak shape, or me ready to conquer a goal race, but just LOLZ that actually runs.

The other day, I had a conversation with someone on base and they said: “wow Hollie I’ve never seen you in running clothes before”.  But, the blogging world says the complete opposite or: “wow, Hollie do you ever comb your hair”.

It’s a funny thing, priorities change and running is always there.  With that, here is my log for the month:

Miles Run: 150-160
Paces: 5:55-10:30-mostly untimed
Shortest Run: 2 mile cooldown
Longest Run: Air Force Half Marathon
Rest Days: 4
Workouts: 1 (45-minute tempo run)

Races:
Flying Fish 5k (19:17)
Air Force Half Marathon (1:27.28)
Cherry Hill Book It 5k (18:59.8)
Dragon Run (19:06)
Favorite Race:
Air Force Half Marathon

Thoughts:

I’m slowly building up my mileage.  Most older readers know me as someone as who typically runs anywhere from 60-80 miles when I’m in peak shape and primed for a PR.  I’ve been working my way up there but have stayed in the 40s for the last month.  It’s been a good spot for me right now to balance everything between life and running.  If everything progresses as it has, I do plan to continue increasing my mileage into the 50s next month.

Air force half marathon dayton ohio me running

Other than that, I’m feeling good about my mileage.  Knock on wood, I’m healthy and injury free.  My plan for October is simple: to continue building my mileage and frequently racing as workouts.

dragon run kingsway swedesboro nj me cupcake

Running Posts from the Month:
Why a Running Streak Does Not Work for Me
Techniques to Help Recover Faster
Staying Fit During the Off Season
How to Build a Running Base and Stay Healthy
Altra Escalante Shoe Review

Questions for you:
How was your month of September?

Why a Running Streak Does Not Work for Me

As the fall rolls in (if you’re on the east coast, not so much fall weather), more people take to running outside.  As much as I do enjoy the summer for “real life,” it’s more enjoyable to run in the fall.

Many magazines, including Runners World, host a “running streak” between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I know plenty of people who have run months or even years of streaking.  I, however, am far too injury prone for that. However, if a streak is what helps motivate people and get people out the door, I’m all for it.  Thinking out loud, I’m all for doing what works for you, keeps you happy and is healthy.

But What is a Running Streak?

A run streak is simply running every single day.  Some people say a mile every day is sufficient.  Some people say more than that.

What are Benefits of “Streaking”?

More Motivation to Run:

It’s hard to stop once you get past 1…2…3…days…then somehow you find yourself at 100 and who wants to break that? 

You Build a Base:

By streaking, you’ll probably run more miles, and your general fitness will improve. Like any training and fitness plan, you’ll have high points of feeling on top of the world, and low points and plateaus.

So there are many different clear positives of streaking! You build more mileage and endurance and possibly get stronger and faster.  What type of runner doesn’t want to get stronger and faster? 

So Why isn’t a Streak Something I’m Interested In?

I’m injury prone.   I’ve come to a point with my running that I need to take a rest day fairly often. I run higher mileage and race a lot. Personally, this causes me to not only need but WANT more rest days. I take anywhere from 4-8 rest days a month.  I like those rest days.

But to honest, even when I’m running lower mileage, a rest day is something I want.  You don’t lose fitness from a rest day or even a rest week.

Sometimes sipping coffee during my typical run time is all I want to do.

For instance, a couple of Thursdays ago I woke up and felt unexpectedly sore. I didn’t plan to rest, but I knew it was the best option. I couldn’t even imagine running a quarter of a mile, let alone 1. So I rested.  I drank coffee, read blogs, and went about my day.

If I were attempting a streak, I would have still gone for a run.  That one mile would have done nothing for me fitness wise, but, I probably would have been sorer the following days.

Keep in mind, there is a perfect training plan for everyone. There is no single plan great for everyone.

Some people thrive on running streaks!

Other people like myself, don’t!

The beauty of running is there are so many paths to fitness once you cross your own personal start line.

In summary, running streaks have their positives and negatives. They are beneficial for some and not for others. Similar to running shoes, it depends on the person, the lifestyle, and the goals to whether a running streak will work for you. Either way, it’s important to have some sort of activity throughout the year.

Related Posts:

How to Race Well in Unfavorable Conditions
Importance of Deep Tissue Massages
How Social Media Skewed My Thoughts of Running Fast
Sometimes Running Sucks
Steps to Increase Your Mileage and Stay Injury Free
Why Building a Base is So Important for Running
How Easy is it to Get Out of Running Shape?
Running on an AntiGravity Treadmill

Questions for you: 
Have you ever done a running streak?
How many rest days do you like weekly?

Air Force Half Marathon (1:27.28)

A half marathon takes longer mentally to process than a 5k race recap.  So here we are almost a week after my first half marathon since April.  In case you don’t feel like reading, I had a good experience with the Air Force Half Marathon.

It was probably one of my best half marathons in the last year, despite not being my fastest, not that I was expecting a PR or anything close.  This particular recap has a lot more reflection, and a short recap too.

In the last year I’ve run several half marathons:

Rnr Philadelphia (1:27.37)
Runners World Half (1:24.17) probably my best race performance albeit not my fastest
Beat 539 Half (1:25:28)
Philadelphia Half (1:27.44)
Dallas Half (1:23.44)

Mercedes half (1:27.01)
Shamrock Half (1:26.49)
April Fools Half (1:26.17)

Half marathons are my bread and butter.  Unfortunately, the last year never showed the hard work I put into running. Last winter, I was in 1:21-1:22 shape, but I never raced like I was.  As I got slower throughout the spring, it ultimately led to my hiatus (which I needed both mentally and physically).

When my husband was selected to run the Air Force Marathon for his command (Air Mobility Command) several months ago, it was in the back of my mind that maybe I would run the half.  The summer flew by, and I found myself having done little running. Finally, in August, I had more time and decided I would start easing into running. In order to make it to the start of the Air Force half healthy, I forwent running one of my favorite halves: RnR Va Beach a few weeks prior (2 half marathons in doable when I’m training appropriately…but that fitness is not there right now).

We left the Thursday before. We stopped at my inlaws house in central PA and headed to Dayton, Ohio that Friday.  Looking back, we should have left earlier and been in Dayton that Friday.  As we got to Wright Patterson, there was traffic, and we nearly missed picking up packets and my husband’s uniform.  When I say we were one of the last people to pick things up, it was close. We also ended up walking about 2 miles between 7-8:30pm.

Nothing about that is ideal for a morning race, but my only goal was to support my husband and enjoy 13.1 miles.  Whatever happened to me, happened to me.

The morning was uneventful, and we made it to the start by 6:30 (for his 7:30…my 8:30 start). He went to the special Air Force tent, did whatever he does to warm up, and my mother in law and myself headed to the start to spectate.

Not without running over to the start and taking a selfie with him.  (There were no corrals, and everything for this massive race is self-seeded, so I didn’t impact anyone’s race).

The marathoners went off, I relaxed for an hour, and per usual randomly chatted with people.  I felt no need to warm up considering it was my longest run by 3 miles since April.

Before I knew it, it was my turn to head to the start!  I went to the start, and we were off.  I had no goal but to finish, and let my body do what it wanted to do.  Typically I’ve run my first half back from a break or injury between 1:30-1:33 so that’s what I expected.

The first mile was packed and a blur.  I saw several females in front and plenty of males.  I hit in a 6:44 and was both surprised and pumped.

Then next few miles, I grabbed Gatorade, and it felt hot.  I started running with several men who were also competing in the MAJCOM challenge.  One thing I can count on with the Air Force, is they are usually as chatty as I am.  We were all just talking for 3 miles about everything from life, to work, to moving.  Our miles ranged in pace from 6:29-6:40 and clicked off quickly.  We passed 2 women and several other men too.  I was feeling strong and confident, but I also knew this wasn’t a 5k and I had a long way to go.  I was unpredictable after mile 10.

We hit the halfway point in exactly 43 minutes.  The course had zero (and I mean zero) shade, and it was already above 70 degrees and humid.  I was glad I wore a hat and sunglasses.  My legs weren’t feeling bad or fatigued, but the heat was starting to affect me.Air force half marathon dayton ohio me running

Around mile 9, we climbed an overpass, and I wasn’t expecting any climbs or any hills at all.  I hadn’t done research but mentally had assumed all Air Force races must take place on flat runways and flat bases.  That thought process didn’t really have any basis and was in fact, foolish.

The last four miles of the Air Force half is harder part of the course.  I looked ahead at the hill and saw one female, and just tunnel focused on passing her and staring at the top.  I did both, caught my breath, and continued.  That was my slowest mile, in 6:46.

At the 10 mile point, I told myself: the half marathons are your bread and butter.  All that’s left is the 5k butter.  The 5k I haven’t run in the months.  The 5k I’m known in my best fitness to hammer and pass people.  I wasn’t going to let it break me, and I felt too good.  I hit the 10 mile in 1:07 and told myself a 1:27 is in your wheelhouse today.

Despite not researching the next three miles were hilly, I was determination to get there.  You enter back onto to Wright Patterson Base around mile 12.  They begin the finishers shoot at mile 12.  Mile 12. I told myself I wouldn’t even care if the course was short.  I knew it wouldn’t be, but my legs would be cool with less running. Air force half marathon dayton ohio me running

Being in a mile long finishers shoot is soul crushing.  You are alone, spectators around, and you’re struggling. Maybe you aren’t struggling so you look strong, but I was as I should be.  One woman outkicked me in the last half mile.  Too bad, she won our age group and was the fourth female.  I didn’t have the kick to catch her.

I crossed the finish in 1:27.28 and fifth female overall.  It far exceeded the expectation I had for the race. Not my fastest half but not my slowest either, but definitely one of my most fun.  The heat affected the half marathons but definitely affected the full marathoners much more.  My husband ran a 3:15 and my father in law squeezed into BQ in a 3:58.

Apparently, I decided to nap and close my eyes right there…

I would love to run the Air Force Half again when I’m in better fitness because I do believe it’s a course I would excel at.  I have a feeling we will probably be back, but T might be competing for a different MAJCOM command.

I’ve recovered moderately well from the half, and for the next five weeks, I’ll focus on 5ks, followed by the Runners World Half.

Questions for you:
Do you typically talk during races?
I’m a talker during halves and fulls…not 5ks

Techniques to Help Recover Faster:

Last week was my longest half marathon in a while and I’ve been spending a lot more time on recovery.  Plus, as I continue to build mileage, I’ve been focusing more on recovery too.  Most people know but I’m injury prone, so I can’t get away with not focusing on recovery.  At this point, I don’t even try too.

Someone once told me that days off save seasons and I think it’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.  Thinking out loud, now I apply them every time I have an injury scare.  Believe me, I’ve gone to my PT convinced I have a stress fracture, only for him to say…no your leg is just tight.

Here are a Few Techniques to Help Recover Faster:

Stretching:

We all know you should but how many people actually stretch after runs or night.  Probably not many of us.

Graston/ART:

I’m a big fan of ART.  It flushes out acid from your legs and muscles quicker and you recover faster.  I’ve always recovered faster when I opted to get a deep tissue massage or ART.  If you are local, I highly recommend Dr. Kemenosh and his staff (and no they aren’t paying me to tell you that).  They have helped me in multiple situations from fixing my hip/piriformis after my last marathon to loosening up my calves, and even feet.

Upping my Protein:

I’m not saying I have steak every meal but adding extra protein: including more eggs, greek yogurt, and lean meat has helped muscles recover faster.  I’m not a nutritionist or dietician and don’t claim to be, I’ve just found it’s been working.

Sleep:

This is an obvious one, but more sleep allows the muscles to repair. We know sleep is important, but there are so many distractions that make it difficult to get to bed. I try and log off the internet around 9 pm.  Sometimes I read, sometimes I go straight to bed.

Rest and Easy Runs:

This week most of my easy runs have been in the 9-10 minute pace which is fine.  There is no point in racing training runs, that is when injuries are caused.  If you struggle with not being able to run slower, I highly recommend leaving the watch at home.

Recovery from anything, whether it’s a race or hard training cycle takes time.  Just like training, there is no secret that does it all at once.

Related Posts:

Quick Core Ideas for Runners

Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury

Question for you: How do you recover from hard workouts? Any tips?