Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pre-Race Jitters

Before a race many people suffer with pre-race jitters. Maybe it's your first race ever, or you're going for a personal record (PR) or trying to qualify for Boston. The bigger the race, the greater the jitters.  The more expectations the greater the anxiety.  
Before a race little aches spring up that never existed before. Or maybe that old IT band injury enters your memory when you bend your knee and feel that horribly familiar sensation. Every sensation requires analyzing.

What was that twinge in my shin? 
Is that a calf cramp?  
Why does my hammy feel like that?  
Is that plantar fasciitis? 
Are my work shoes too flat causing that discomfort in my ankle? 

Yesterday you’re ok and today all you can focus on is that little twinge that sprung up out of no where. If you’re fortunate, you distract yourself from it and miraculously the "pain" disappears.  

Perhaps the anxiety creates an insatiable hunger only satisfied with a release of serotonin by  reaching for yet another snack.  Or is the act of eating keeping the mind occupied by deciding what to eat and then the act of eating?

Maybe you can't sit still.  You worry if you'll be able to poop in the morning. What you'll wear.  What the weather will be like.  If you'll sleep through the 5 alarms set to wake up, as if you actually can fall asleep. If you can't sleep and will you be too tired to run. Do you check the website to see if any new information has shown up? Double check and triple check the start time?

Your mind goes warp speed creating the "what if's" faster than you can even complete the first "what if"  in your mind. The "what if's" party in your brain hooting and hollering having a great time and you never knowingly invited them.

Like a merry-go-round, you calculate the paces over and over in your head. And then the merry-go-round music gets stuck in your head. You jolt awake in the middle of the night wondering if you calculated the pace right. Did you run enough goal pace runs? Long runs? Speed work? Taper long enough?  Taper too short?

On your runs leading up to the race maybe your legs ache more and the negative self talk increases. If you have trouble running this pace for 4 miles how are you supposed to run it for 10? For 13? 

Maybe you've lost all enthusiasm and desire to even run. You think you can never run again and you wouldn't care.  It wouldn’t matter. Like sand sifting into cracks between rocks, thoughts seep into your being.  Thoughts like 'do you even know how to run' or 'what if you've have zero energy to try running' or 'what if this funk your in doesn't release you from it's grasp' start of minuscule and grow larger.

The list is endless if you allow it. YOU are in control of that list. How long or short do you want it to be?

Anything goes with pre-race jitters. 
It's all normal. We all have them.
The thing to remember is BELIEVE in yourself. 
Turn the volume knob down on the negative self talk.
When you toe the starting line everything will come together.
You are a runner and you can do it.

What are your pre-race jitters?


Teamarcia said...

I think mine are just for the prospect of putting all the training to work and finally getting the party started!

Johann said...

If it's one of my main goal races I just hope that everything goes well on the day. Since I don't push times anymore I have little or no jitters but still hope for a good, incident free run. With ultras I might worry if my stomach is not feeling 100% before the race.

The Sean said...

Believe in your training and anticipate performing your best. Which occurs not when anxious, but eager and joyful!

Croughwell said...

I am always worried that I won't finish the race!

Abby said...

It's funny, the only time I'm really struck with pre-race jitters is when - whether consciously or subconsciously - I know that something's off about the day. Usually when I show up to a start line sick.

May mean that I should do a better job of listening to the jitters!

Adrienne said...

I started reading this post THE DAY BEFORE MY RACE and quickly cancelled it out. You're putting ideas in my head girl! Ha ha. So funny!