15 Ways to Say Goodbye to Pre-Race Nerves!

The morning switch-off.  I get home from a run, he goes out for work… but those 5.3 seconds of talking is sure fun;)

My day started off with 10 miles @ 8:28 average.  This week will be back up to about 55-60 miles and then there will be a big drop down next week leading up to the race.   I’m excited to see how my coach’s training plan plays out on race day because it is a lot different than anything I’ve done before.  So far it has resulted in a few PRs which means a PR in the marathon is bound to happen;).

These two wanted to get in a little run to school too.

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3 post-run endorphinated humans:

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Skye and I went to the park together later on in the morning.

Brooke never wanted to try any of the big slides until she was 5ish… Skye isn’t even 2 yet and the entire time we are at a park I am focused on making sure she doesn’t go too fast down the slides or jump off the sides of the big toy onto the ground like she see’s the big kids do and tries herself.

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We did the normal after-school routine.

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Recovery Quinoa Salad is a staple this week for me.  Squeezing in every single nutrient possible.

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Along with some overcooked rolls… they were still delicious but I prefer all baked goods/bread barely cooked;)

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Skye joined me in resting up on the couch for one more big workout this week!

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I’ve put a lot of work into my upcoming marathon and have set very large goals for myself (I mean a 6:35 average pace!!!)… I keep waiting to feel nervous about this upcoming race but the only thing I am feeling is excitement.  I’m sure I will feel nerves the day before and morning of but other than that, my nerves have calmed down a lot over the years!  A few years ago my nerves overtook me… I wouldn’t sleep, my IBS would kick in and it was all I could think about.

Here are a few of the things I do now to help avoid feeling the way that I used to for weeks leading up to a big race:

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*Some pre-race nerves are GREAT FOR US.  They help our body to prepare for the race and they get our heart beating and the adrenaline pumping.   If you feel some nerves, don’t you worry… that is NORMAL!

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*I see races/workouts as GROWTH now rather than something that measures my worth.  My friends and family are all going to love me the same no matter what time I cross the finish line and my worth doesn’t change if I run a 20 minute pr or if I don’t make it to the finish line.  Races are just chances for growth.  I’m going to learn a lot on the course about myself, I’m going to be challenged and stretched, I’m going to have to make decisions and get out of my comfort zone = no matter what time I cross the finish line = I’ll grow as a person.  When I see a race as a chance to grow, the nerves aren’t there but if I see a race as a way to prove myself/measure my success as a human = ALL OF THE NERVES.

*Ask for some help.  When the nerves set in, a good pep talk from someone positive in my life is just what I need to calm those nerves down.

*The race is the celebration.  The hard work is done.  The crazy early alarm clock wake-ups, the workouts when you are already sore, the mornings you don’t want to go out… those are done.  I like to view the race as a party with 4,000 of your closest friends ha (or however many people are running your race).  Now you get to go celebrate your work with people out there cheering for you, people handing you food and giving you a medal as you cross the finish line.

*Andrew always laughs at me but I start packing for a race days (ehh sometimes weeks) in advance.  Having everything I need ready and packed takes away the nerves because I feel prepared for the race.

*Leading up to a big race you will have a bit more time to read because your mileage is dropping so grab a book that will help you train your brain and it will make all of the difference!  This book is what I am reading (Kim recommended it) and I also love this book, this book and this book to help on this topic!

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*This is from the above book but it is something you can do RIGHT AWAY when you feel nerves creep in…

“Do this exercise when you observe that you are getting tense, feeling down or stuck in a repetitive negative thinking cycle.  Breathing in this manner will help you to slow your heart rate, calm your thoughts, and find inner stillness in the moment….  Your mind becomes more powerful as it becomes quieter and clearer.  So breathe deeply and mindfully throughout your day.  Also, when you are not thinking about the future, it’s difficult to fear it.  Fear is the enemy of effective action!”

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*Let go of the uncontrollable things.  The weather, the course, what other runners are doing etc… we have no control.  If the uncontrollable things are bringing you more nerves, it’s time to let go of them because there isn’t a thing you can do about them.

*To go along with the one above, hold onto the controllable things.  Come up with a race plan for the day, plan out your nutrition, make sure that you have a mantra for each mile, create the perfect playlist etc etc etc.  Having those things solidified calms my nerves.

*Race more often if you can:).  I can’t even remember how many races I have done in the last 7 months (but I think I have done 9 races) and it helps so much to race often with your pre-race nerves.  If you race often you lock down a good routine for your nutrition and gear, you are more used to the environment and you prove to yourself that you can do hard things over and over again.  Your brain and your body just get used to it all and you relax a lot more!

*Smile every time you think about your race leading up to it.  My mom taught me this trick and it really works.  It will trick your brain into being excited for the race rather than nervous and the smile will trigger positive thoughts about yourself and your race whenever you do it.

*Put some trust in your training and put a lot of trust in yourself.  Think back over your training and think back over all of the times you have done something hard… I’m sure that number is pretty high.  You’ll be able to do something hard again, there is no doubt about that so don’t worry about it!

*I’ve learned over the years to embrace pain.  I expect it to come during each race and sometimes for the majority of each race.  It’s a lot easier to just know it’s going to be there and that it is part of the stepping stones to get to a pr rather than fearing it or getting nervous about the pain leading up to a race.  I just know the pain will be there and I’ll reach into my mental toolbox to get out the tools I need to get through the pain when it comes.

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*I tell myself, ‘if this isn’t fun… why are you doing it?’   There have been times when the nerves have started to kick in (ie the 5k and 10k distance brings out more nerves for me than a marathon does?!) over the last 2 years but something that stops them is thinking about the fact that I DO THIS FOR FUN!  I’m not shooting for a gold at the olympics, I’m doing this for fun and if it stops being fun (or wrecking my days because I’m so nervous) then I need to stop doing it!  That puts it all back into perspective for me that I do this because I love it and not to be a stress case about it all.

*If your nerves are coming from the fear of failing… I love this quote from Des Linden here:

“We fail all the time, and we learn from it and we get better.  I think that’s amazing.  You fail your way to success.  That’s how it happens, and I’m super comfortable with that.  I have no problem pointing out a bunch of failures in my career.  But I don’t define myself or my career as a failure.”

And this one from Michael Jordan (source):

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I’ve lost almost 300 games.  Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”

Don’t fear failure… fear not trying!

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How do you deal with pre-race nerves?  Any tips to help or things you’ve learned?  Do you deal with pre-race nerves more or less for different race distances?

Currently reading a good book?  What is it?

Tell me about a big running failure you have experienced and what it taught you!

Baked goods/breads… undercooked, cooked properly or well-done?

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25 comments

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I think it’s so important to remember, the race is a celebration. You’ve done all of the hard work to get there.

I wouldn’t necessarily call it a failure but my last running blunder was somehow tweaking my hamstring about 10 days before my marathon and not being able to race. I always try and keep in mind, there are more races in the running sea. ;)

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Ug. Sometimes life just stinks and I am so sorry about your hamstring. You are so so right… so many fishes… ehh races in the running sea;) . Your next marathon will be that much cooler because of what you have been through to get there. You are amazing Hollie and you constantly inspire me! Hope you are having a fabulous Tuesday so far!

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Undercooked baked goods as well!! Especially brownies my favorite dessert.

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I hope you get some undercooked brownies asap… with some vanilla ice cream (and now I am drooling:). Have the best day Mary!

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I am currently suffering from anxiety and my race is still WEEKS away. This is the first time I have worked with a coach towards a time goal – and I am scared of failure! I have loved the training / workouts and I know that I am a better runner/person for it….but I also know that if I don’t hit my goal then I will have to hear about the “wasted money” from my spouse. Thank you for the suggestions above to help with anxiety.

I just finished reading “Meet me at the Museum” by Anne Youngson. I so loved this book.

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I definitely do not think a race is wasted money if you don’t hit your goal! There is so much growth, so many lessons, so many proud moments and so many hard things overcome! No matter what happens on race day, your worth doesn’t change! And either way it’s a win–> you will hit your goals or you will just keep trying until you do (it took me 8 years of trying but I never gave up)! SO exciting that you are working with your coach and I hope that he/she gives you a fabulous race plan! Oh I will have to check that book out… thanks LC and please keep me updated with how you are doing!

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LC,

You are working with a coach towards a goal? That means you are already a superstar – no matter what the outcome.

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One of the biggest helps for pre-race nerves for me was learning that your brain can’t tell the difference between nervous and excitement. So every time i start feeling nervous i tell myself I’m so excited and it completely shifts things for me.

Also I think the things you said have helped me before, specifically racing more, knowing one race time doesn’t define me, and expecting the pain but knowing i can tolerate it.

A running failure for me was that I had a season of racing where I would just give up in the middle of the race and end up walking and then try to run again andnit was so much harder to restart. That season taught me it felt so much worse to give up on my goal than the pain itself to keep going:) i would much rather deal with the race pain than the regret pain for giving up!

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OH I LOVE THAT ELEANOR… I am totally going to steal that tip too. So much truth… it’s excitement! That season needed to happen and I LOVE what you learned from that and the growth that occurred. You. Are. Amazing. Eleanor.

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Did you write this post for me? 😊 I’m going to be reading and rereading this for the next 11 days!! StG is going to be a party!

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Oh I really hope it helps! You are going to do AMAZING and I can’t wait to hear all about it!!

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OK so brownies need to be undercooked. Unless they’re super fudgy and SUPER dense, they’re just cake without the frosting, the second layer, and more frosting and HEY WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY FROSTING?!?!?!? That’d be unfair. Cake needs to be *properly* baked, but it also needs to be a recipe that’s just barely mixed–overly-mixed cake batter brings in so much air that instead of “nicely light and fluffy” the finished product becomes dry. ANd dry cake–NOPE, NOT TODAY SATAN.

(Obviously I have very strong opinions on my brownies and cake)

That quinoa salad looks amazing and I am making it for myself with one change–chicken breast instead of black beans, simply because I am allergic to beans. I might need to seriously make that this evening for my meal prep for lunches for the rest of the week. It looks so dang good.

I love your strategies for race day nerves! One of the things that I think is hard is that we live in a culture that promotes *always* being as comfortable and cozy as possible. I think your last strategy–knowing that it will be painful–is very much like what I tell people in my RPM class that it’s TOTALLY OK for things to get uncomfortable. Knowing discomfort and that we can get through it–that the pain will end even if it doesn’t feel like it–makes us so much stronger. Makes us so much better.

Oh, a book a read this summer is still the one book I keep on recommending to everyone because it was so beautifully written–INHERITANCE by Dani Shapiro. It’s her story of ancestry.com DNA results betraying her entire life-long knowledge of what, on a biological level, made up her ethnic identity and coming to terms in some way about it for herself but, more than anything else, trying to reconstruct her parents’ story of her conception in the day and age when she was born and in their very insular Orthodox Jewish community. Shapiro’s just a very beautiful wordsmith–her sentences and paragraphs are really nicely written. There’s a good mix of beautiful poetic gems and straight-forward, direct writing. Really lovely read.

<3

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I LOVE YOUR BROWNIE OPINIONS and couldn’t agree more… and nothing is worse than dry cake! Hahaha I was laughing so hard during your first paragraph… thank you for that! I didn’t know you were allergic to black beans. We always add chicken too! Love love love what you said about our culture… the discomfort is what we need! Can’t wait to check out that book, it sounds incredible. Thank you so much Stephanie and I hope you are having the best day!

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Currently reading where the crawdads sing. Such a good book!

Pre race nerves..before my 55km trail race this past Sunday I was a bit worried about the climbing and the forecast for non stop rain. It did rain non stop but I just dealt with it. And there was a fire pit at the first aid station which was awesome because the alpine was cold haha. I reminded myself I was running for fun and to go with the flow. The climbing was brutal..we climbed up to whistler in the first 14kmish and I still feel my legs aching 2 days later. But I still had fun! And some races are just character building.

Definitely perfectly done baked goods.

So excited for your upvoming race ..you have worked so hard! And I love Sykes fearlessness! Have a great day Janae!

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Running for fun and to go with the flow… I love that so much. I seriously do not know how you do that much climbing. You are my hero and look at all of that growth that happened. Thank you so much Kristine and I hope your legs are feeling better asap. You worked so HARD!

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This is crazy fate! I literally had two tabs open on my computer: one for a Google search that said “nervous before running” and one for your site that I hadn’t looked at yet.
I’ve been super nervous for basically every run during training for my first marathon in November. Your post today was clearly what I needed! I’m making a list to find these books at the library right now.

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NO WAY!! It was meant to be! I hope that it helps and you are going to rock your FIRST MARATHON (I am so excited for you and I better get to hear all about it). Keep me updated on everything and I hope you are having a great day!

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Great post, Janae! Thanks so much for sharing!

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Thank you so much and I really hope that it helps!!!

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Weird question but do you ever take a nap during the day? You have so much energy. I was up at 4:30 this morning with my baby (definitely took an afternoon nap with her BTW) and thought to myself how you are up sometimes that early and go run!! PS. Your quinoa salad looks great!

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OH THAT IS HARD… and I’m sure you didn’t go to bed early like I do. I’m definitely in a stage I can go to bed super early. Every now and then I will take a nap if andrew is around but I usually go to bed so early I’m good to go:) . Try the salad asap! Hope you get a good night of sleep tonight Ashely!

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The race is the celebration. I love that – thanks for this post. I haven’t raced much so I’m still in that stage of placing too much importance on the outcome… I’m going to use that phrase to shift my thinking.

Best of luck with your upcoming celebration at St George!

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I think Skye’s park bravery might be the Andrew in her? ;)

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Oh this was just perfect! I got a sweet text from Emilee today asking how I was doing. She follows me on Strava and has been a huge cheerleader for me leading up to St. George. I had a weird growth on the top of my foot for a few months and it started to get pretty painful the last week. Long story short, I had to have it drained(it was a ganglion cyst TMI). And the podiatrist suggested no running until next Monday. My training has been pretty perfect up until last week. Anyway, after her sweet text and this uplifting post, I’m pretty sure you are both running angels. Thank you so much for being so wonderful to the community and I am a CHEERING you both on because I know how hard she has been working alongside you. Dream team right there. Thanks for the reminder that the race is a celebration. I’m hopeful that I will feel great when I get to the start line in St. George. It will be a great day won’t it? Good luck to you both!😊💕🏃‍♀️

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AHHH HELLO RONNA!! I better get to meet you! Seriously… runners are just the best people. I am SO sorry about what has been going on. The extra rest is going to be the absolute best thing for you and you will feel so fresh and ready to crush it next Saturday! I hope you are having a great night and tapering well:)

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