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Race Preparation
How to Deal With Pre-Race Jitters
Carmen Alder

How to Deal With Pre-Race Jitters


Every runner has felt nervous before a race. It’s a perfectly normal and an understandable occurrence and believe it or not it, it can actually help you. If you are nervous before a race you can take comfort in knowing that it’s your body’s way of getting ready to race. You’ve got adrenaline coursing through your veins!

However, we all know that nerves can also be very detrimental if you let them overwhelm you.Too much can leave you frozen with fear rather than feeling ready to run fast.

Nerves can also be different for everyone. I had a teammate who threw up before every race.

I was a little shocked, when I first saw her puking into a trash can moments before we stepped onto the track. “Are you okay?” I asked, as she smiled weakly and explained it was just something that she did before she ran. In fact, she got more nervous if she didn’t throw up. This is of course is a little more on the extreme end. Ideally we don’t want to be throwing up because of our nerves. For me, I know that I’m nervous if my hands are tingling. Really, I’m not kidding. I stand on the starting line clenching and unclenching my hands.

I’ve asked and to my knowledge I’m the only one who does this, but I digress…

One really good thing you can do to help keep your nerves under control is to have a pre-race routine or ritual. We all know the chaos that happens shortly before race time, the last-minute snacks and sips of water, checking your spikes, getting your stickers and number pinned on and the constant bathroom runs because you’re not sure if it’s a nervous pee or not. Amidst all this chaos and the worrying about how your race is going to go having a set continue can help us feel calm and in control. Your routine doesn’t have to be overly complex either, what’s important is finding one that works for you. It can be as a simple as repeating a phrase or mantra you whisper to yourself at the line or a certain stretch or jump you always do. Some people like to have a more elaborate routine (shoutout to my girl Lauren) one of the things my sister Vanessa and I like to do before a race is to go and watch Lauren do what we have dubbed “the bracelet ceremony” In which Lauren methodically and carefully removes all her bracelet’s one by one and then ceremoniously clips then one by one around her mother’s wrist. It may seem a bit odd but it’s something that helps add a bit of lightness and levity at times when we all desperately need it. Humor is a great way to help you feel less jittery, a small smile or corny joke can really help ease some of the tension. Team pep talks or cheers are also great ways to help.

Try some of these techniques before your next race and see how they can help you deal with your pre-race jitters...

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