Five Steps to Calm Your Pre-Race Jitters

Another half marathon is taking place for me on Sunday. This has to be close to my hundredth race overall. I should keep track but I haven’t. You would think with each race I’ve become accustomed to the process of training, race day prep, running the race, and celebratory beer after 😉. But to no avail, I still experience pre-race jitters. What if I don’t finish? What if I get hurt? What if I get GI issues? What if I get blisters? What if it’s too hot out? What if? What if? I think you get the picture.

I realize it’s irrational to fear the unknown and I’ve been through this process a bazillion times, but I can’t seem to break my pattern.

I’ve created a to-do list to help me get rid of my pre-race jitters.

1. Visualize the race day

I’m envisioning the start line, me getting my playlist set and my Garmin ready to hit start. I see myself excited and thinking, “Hey, these first few miles are going by easily”!

Then I see myself drinking water every 5k or mile if needed. I have my goo usually at 8 miles and then I push through those last 5, with the expectation that I may feel hot or somewhat sore, but knowing my endurance is there. Then I see the finish, I perform a little jig, hug my medal giver and grab as much of the free snacks I can before I find the beer tent!

2. Do some yoga, meditate, and/or rest

My taper week includes 3 easy 3 mile runs. In the interim, I plan to do some light lifting with a focus on core, yoga, and foam rolling. I really enjoy at-home yoga. No pressure, no judgment; just me, my body and my mind. I really think of yoga as a time to focus on myself and calm my anxious mind rather than exercising.

3. Layout what you’ll wear

I like to watch the weather forecast 15 days out. Even though the weather prediction is typically inaccurate, I can at least start to mentally prepare my outfit. September is a tricky month because of late summer and early fall. For those early morning runs, layering is essential. Knowing if you might chuck an old top or decide to wear a trash bag should be included in part of your plan. Prepare your laundry a few days in advance to make sure you have the capris that help you avoid thigh chaffing, the right fitting sports bra, and the good socks without the holes. Your watch should be charged, your belt or armband has your Goos and then it’s time put some BodyGlide om.

4. Enjoy your favorite pre-race meal 

I’m sure you’re aware people like to traditionally “carb-up” for their pre-race dinner. I’m a pasta fan too but if you’re a fish fan or a beef fan or a salad fan, my advice is to eat what you enjoy. Have your favorite meal, within reason, but it’s best to avoid high saturated fats, acidic, and spicy foods.

5. Hydrate

You should be drinking at least half your weight in ounces daily. I try to have 130 ounces daily the week leading up to the race. I hate the idea of feeling parched in the morning! So I especially try to control this feeling before my race. But if I want to have a glass of red wine with dinner this week, I’m not going to deprive myself.

Taking time to focus on your goal, treating your body respectfully and mentally relaxing your mind are all steps I plan to take to help me calm down before race day. What steps do you take to prepare yourself?

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