4 Mental Tips to Overcome Pre-Race Jitters

Set Yourself Up for a Life Experience

Create a positive mental attitude about your personal expectations on race day. Focus on the overall experience rather than putting judgments on yourself and time limits. You'll be participating amongst hundreds or thousands of people that decided to get themselves out of bed early to put their bodies into action. That is a group of people you can learn from; embrace the event for all that it can bring to your life.

Open your mind and heart; be on alert to absorbing the special moments that will present themselves on event day. There may be a sign held by an onlooker that emotionally touches you, and motivates you to stay strong. You may overhear a comment from the runner next to you saying they've lost seventy pounds this year, or a fellow racer that is running in honor of a beloved family member.

Absorb the environment around you, and you will have an opportunity to take home inspiration. The memories of race day will be like a gift for your spirit that whispers, "You can do it" the next time you hit the road for training.

Strategic Plan

Creating phases or segments to your overall race strategy can provide you an optimal mental edge. Your mind has already established neurological pathways that align with the physical effort you have put in during your training.

For instance, the blue house on the corner, tells you that you are one quarter of the way. The big oak tree at the turn signifies halfway, and the gas station at the corner means almost home. Your mind has collected visual and mental data based on your training experience. It knows that you can do one mile, three miles or five miles.

Whatever you have trained your body to accomplish, your mind has also created a mental expectation. It's automatic. On race day, you will have an advantage by mentally drawing upon those past experiences.

At the start, flood your mind with positive thoughts. Let the runners with nervous energy zip around you, and stick to your plan.  

  • 5K: Segment into three 1 mile phases with a .1 glory run
  • 10K: Segment into three  2 mile phases with a .2 glory run
  • Half Marathon: Segment three 4 mile phases with a 1.1 glory mile run
  • Marathon: Segment five 5 mile phases with a 1.2 glory mile run

Focus only on the segment you are in, keeping track of your phases, rather than overall mileage. You will be relying on your mental associations, knowing your mind-body connection has an understanding of how to successfully run the miles required for that phase.

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