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2. Simulate race conditions in training.
The second strategy for overcoming racing demons is similar to the tactic of using races as training runs; rather than use races as training, you treat a few of your most difficult workouts as race simulations.
This approach will also help you identify the root cause of your racing fears. By comparing what gives you trouble in your race simulation with what gives you trouble during an actual race, you can take steps to work harder on correcting your weaknesses.
For example, if you approach the workout worried that you won’t hit the prescribed paces, it’s evident that your race fears are caused by pressure to perform and lack of confidence. If this is the case, you can also implement the fourth strategy in this article — focus on competing, not times (more on that in a bit).
Likewise, if it’s the general atmosphere or logistics of your race simulation that has you dreading your upcoming run, you should focus on constructing a repeatable and comfortable pre-race routine, as described in the next section.
How to execute:
Executing the race simulation tactic is fairly easy. Simply recreate as much of the race environment as you can on your own (n.b. this is a good strategy for any big race, even if you’re not hesitant about racing).
This means having your usual pre-race dinner, waking up early and eating a healthy breakfast, and wearing the same outfit you plan to race in. You can also try to simulate the course or join a local group run to simulate social pressure, if that’s an issue for you. Basically, you’re looking to recreate the entire race experience in an effort to work out the nerves.
Pick one key workout every two weeks as a race simulation session. Choosing to do a race simulation more than this often takes some of the edge off the strategy, which reduces its effectiveness.