Race season is upon us and all over the world people are gearing up for every race distance imaginable. From the 5th Avenue Mile to the many, many marathons and ultra marathons happening in the next few weeks, millions of runners will toe the line this Fall, all with the same thought, “Please let me finish.”
I’ve quoted him before, but I will do it again because I love this quote; Alberto Salazar says, “We are all cowards at the start line.” So true. I don’t know one person who gets to the start line of any race and isn’t a-flutter with nerves and itching to start. It’s normal. You’ve trained for weeks, months, sometimes years, and it’s all going to come down to how you do after that gun/air horn goes off. That’s terrifying.
Relax. Here are 5 ways to keep your cool as you make your way to the start line:
#1. Breathe. Deeply. Don’t underestimate the power of your breath to calm you down. If you find that your pulse is racing take a moment, sit down, close your eyes and take deep, even breaths until your heart rate comes down. No sense in wasting energy being nervous, right?
#2. Remain calm. Even if you’re freaking out in the inside, keep your physical self calm by walking around. Consciously relax your face, hands and shoulders. Tense muscles make for tense runners so do your best to chill out.
#3. Jog (slowly!) around your corral. I don’t mean for you to add on 3 more miles before your race, but warming up can help ease the jitters that come along with having too much adrenaline coursing through your veins while standing at a start line.
#4. Visualize your training runs. Remind yourself that you’ve done this distance (or close to this distance) on your training runs. Take a moment to sit down, close your eyes and visualize what one of the good training runs felt like. Easy, controlled, relaxed. Transfer that feeling into the present moment and take it with you to the start line.
#5. Trust your training. If all else fails and you’re still a ball of nerves at the start line, talk to yourself. Maybe not out loud, but tell yourself that your training is done and you’re going to go out and do your best. There’s nothing you can do once you get to the start line, it’s all in the training. Let go and trust yourself.
Have fun out there, everyone. Best of luck in your upcoming races. Stay cool, stay calm and try to enjoy the moment.
Now go out and run!