How To Handle Pre-Race Stress
Whether it's your first race or your 100th, pre-race nerves can get the better of all of us. Follow our tips to help you calm your nerves and relieve any pre-race stress so that you can enjoy yourself and perform at your best.
Be well prepared
This surely is advice for a lot of things in life, but being well prepared will help to ease any anxiety or nerves you may be feeling. Of course, you can't control everything (which we will touch on in the next point), but being as prepared as possible will help keep your mind at ease.
When it comes to racing, make sure you read all of the information that the organiser sends out as well as checking the race website. There may be some important information that you need and this will also hopefully answer any questions you may have before the big day.
Additionally, recce the course beforehand if you can to suss out any tricky parts and if you can't do it in person, check to see if there is a comprehensive route map online.
Finally, reading race reports from people that have done the race before will give a realistic and personal account of what you can expect from the race.
If there are no nasty surprises on the day and you are confident you have everything you need, any excess stress and worry should be reduced.
As mentioned above, you can't control everything and no matter how prepared you are, there may be things that don't go your way and this could cause you extra stress on race day. Bad weather is a perfect example of this.
In these instances, it's best to be as flexible as possible. Unexpected rain shower? Make sure you've got a water resistant running jacket in your bag. Race is delayed? Make sure you have extra water and nutrition as well as extra layers to keep you warm while you wait if necessary.
Sometimes accidents happen, like dropping nutrition on a bike course. In this instance you can instantly fix the situation by making sure you have extra with you. Don't have a hard-and-fast plan in place and make sure you're flexible so that you can adapt to the situation without stress.
There's nothing worse than turning up late to a race and having to skip your warm up so that you can make it to the start on time in a fluster. Leave yourself more than enough time to arrive to the venue, check traffic and travel conditions the night before, and remember that it's better to be too early than too late.
Of course, if you arrive really early then this could give you time to overthink the situation and cause even more pre-race stress. If you're someone who is prone to doing this, try to find the right balance when deciding what time to arrive at the race venue.
Do your usual warm up
Not only will doing your usual warm-up help to put you in the right mood for the race, it could allow you to physically shake out any nerves and stabilise your heart rate and help you concentrate. If you're feeling stressed despite taking all the steps above, doing a steady warm-up will help you find your rhythm and focus your mind on the race ahead and help you forget about whatever it is that is stressing you.