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4. Ditch the watch and stop over-thinking.
The final way to get over your fear of racing is also the easiest to implement: get back to basics and stop over-thinking your race.
The most common reason runners struggle mentally with racing is that they get too caught up in the minute details of the race, especially the ones they can’t control. Typically, the mistake of over-thinking is centered around pace — hitting specific splits or running a certain goal time — but it can also be triggered by weather, course terrain, shoe decisions, or concerns about running with perfect form. Interestingly, the more a runner struggles in a series of races, the more heavily they tend to focus on these details, which usually snowballs and psyches them right out of the race.
The main objective at any race should be to give 100% effort — at the end of the day, that’s all you can control and it’s all you should focus on. The solution almost seems too simple to be true, but it’s by far the most effective strategy if you find yourself consistently underperforming in races.
How to execute:
As the saying goes, “simple ain’t easy”. The same principle applies to not over-thinking your race and getting back to basics. At your next race (preferably a tune-up race as suggested earlier) throw away the watch, heart-rate monitor, concerns about weather or running with the perfect form, and just run by effort.
Focus on finding the right effort for you on that day and then maintain it from start to finish. When you finally turn off the obsession with pace, weather, and other elements you can’t control, you learn to listen to your body and focus 100% on giving your best effort, which is all that matters when you cross the finish line.
If you’re dreading your next race or find yourself consistently underperforming because of a lack of confidence, try implementing one, some, or all four of these tactics over the next few weeks and you’ll quickly get over your mental racing hurdle.