Here is comes! Race day is almost here -- and I can already feel that pit in my stomach.
Pre-race anxiety can be overwhelming and perhaps crippling. The pre-race jitters get to me. It happens to me sometimes days before races I have already run. My anxiety tends to be even higher if it's a course I've never run or a town I don't know well.
Being nervous before a race is totally normal -- it signifies that you're excited about the event; but don't let it get the best of you. Here are some tips that I use to get through those pre-race nerves and have a good run.
1. Check out the course. Knowing what to expect out of the course can help reduce nervous energy. It's great to get out and run part of the course ahead of race day. If you can't do that, you can try to drive it, bike it or walk part of it. If all else fails, study the course map on the Marine Corps Marathon website.
2. Trust your training. You put in the miles. You got up early. You earned the blisters. You nursed the sore muscles. You trained like a beast -- now trust the plan and know that your body is ready. Conversely, if you didn't train the way you should have, trust that you need to temper your expectations.
3. Give yourself time to get to the starting line. I'm most stressed out when I feel rushed. I'm more likely to be frazzled on mornings that I slept in too late or didn't give myself enough time to get through my pre-race routine. Know how long it's going to take to get to the starting line and add extra time you may need for things like wardrobe changes, gear check, stops at the bathroom, security and stretching.
4. Have a plan. Visualize what you're going to do on race day and know what your goals are and the best way to achieve them. Do you need to start at a certain time or with a certain group? Do you need to be at a certain pace at the beginning of the race, or are you trying to hold back for the first few miles? Coming up with a race-day plan can help you map out the strategy and be less anxious leading up to the race.
5. Study. Know where gear check is before the race, know where food and water stops are along the course, figure out what to wear based on the weather. Doing some research and study the details before the big day can help you know what to expect and can reduce stress and pre-race nerves. (FYI -- get information about where food, water and aid stations are along the course here. Find information about gear check and other frequently asked questions here.)
6. Breathe deep. Getting in a few deep breaths and focusing on the mission can help you relax and ease some tension.
Now knock down those nerves and run your race! You can do this!