Stop stomach knots and optimise your running results with our expert tips to beat race day nerves
Do you suffer from butterflies before a race? Sometimes the anticipation of crossing the start line is worse than the run itself. Harness your nerves and learn to conquer your pre-race anxieties with these tips from marathon veteran Kevin Betts (who ran 52 sub 4-hour marathons in one year. Gulp!).
Kevin also recently hosted a superb Expert Forum on Zest.co.uk about ways to improve your running. Here he shares his tips on how to beat unnecessary nerves and clock in on your target time.
1. Limit problems
Have all your kit packed and ready to go the night before. If your alarm fails, you can grab your bag and go. If not, you’ve got time to relax, so breathe deep and use the time to visualise your goals.
Plan your journey: check for road works or traffic problems, plan your parking and leave time for public transport issues.
2. Plan what you CAN control.
The weather and other runners are beyond your control. Don’t worry about them. Make YOUR plan and stick to it! Don’t fly out of the blocks and get swept away with the occasion - your training has prepared you well and you should have an idea of your race pace.
3. Know the course
Where are the water stations? Where can you expect your supporters to be? Where are the hills? If you’re familiar with the course you can prepare yourself for the nasty parts of the race as well as having sections to look forward to en route.
Runners can be in incredible physical shape, but mentally all over the place! Discomfort and self-doubt are all part and parcel of running. In the lead-up to the event, sit down and imagine how you might feel at certain points in the race. You can then arm yourself for battle. You will then be better equipped to push through the barriers, towards a strong finish and enjoy crossing the finish line.
Start a pinterest board to visualise your victory. Check out the Zest pins for inspiration
5. Don’t experiment
Stick to what you know on the day of the race. There should be no surprises. Eat and drink as you always would before your run. Wear what you always wear; you want to be comfortable.
6. Don’t chug your drink
Sip an energy drink. Your dry mouth isn’t due to dehydration or thirst, but anxiety and adrenaline. You don’t want any unnecessary toilet stops during the race.
7. Stay dry eyed
Your emotions can take over your mind, so take some time away from the crowds and breathe deeply. Collect your thoughts somewhere quiet – away from the hustle and bustle. Relax! You are about to come to the end of a very long journey. Remind yourself that you’ve worked hard and your body and mind are ready.
8. Remember why you’re running
The run you’re about to do will probably push you to the limit and you might want to stop, slow down or give in. When your mind starts to challenge your desire to continue, have something powerful at the back of your mind to remind you why you’re running and why you shouldn’t give in. Have a ‘power song’ on your MP3 player to play during these times. It might be that you’re running for a charity close to your heart or in memory of a loved one.
Get the Zest ultimate running playlist, on Spotify now
The hard work is the training. The race is the celebration! When you cross that finish line, you’ve achieved something incredible and you’ve earned the right to feel proud. Run hard but enjoy it - you’ve done something incredible!
Find your first challenge with Zest's pick of the best beginner runs
Kevin Betts is a personal trainer and expert in motivation and goal setting. He organises and undertakes ultra-endurance events to encourage people to take charge of their lives and push beyond their limits to achieve their potential. To contact Kevin, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him @52marathonman.
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