Four Strategies For Overcoming Pre-Race Nerves

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Jan. 29, 2014
Before your race, whether it takes place on the track or on the road, take some time to relax and shake the pre-race nerves. Photo:

1. Control What You Can Control

Focus on the things you can control and don’t worry about the things you can’t. You can’t control how others will react to your performance. You can’t control the weather on race day, or if the plane getting you into town the day before the race gets delayed. You can’t control if your top competitor has a great race or totally bombs. Also, to an extent, you can’t even control the actual outcome of your race. You can, however, control your own physical and mental preparation and race-day execution.

This process starts with a concrete race plan supported by your workouts and training. Your race plan should explicitly break down each section of the race into small, executable parts that are based on predictable actions. For example, rather than thinking, “I want to run the last mile in eight minutes,” you can reframe your thought process so your plan is to “run the last mile as hard as I can.” In the latter scenario, you have complete control over your ability to execute.

Likewise, to take your mind off the various unpredictable elements in the final hours before the race, focus on a specific, actionable warmup plan. Repeat the same steps in your warmup that you’ve done countless times during training. As you work through the warmup process, think back to your great workouts and take comfort in the familiarity of the warmup process.

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Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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