Day 47: Pre-Race Jitters


It is normal for runners to be nervous before a race. For one thing, if this is your first race, then you may question the outcome. Although I have spent months preparing for the event, I have never run this far before. I don’t think I have have ever trained this hard. For months, I have been training, struggling, succeeding and even failing in some things in preparation for this marathon. It has been on my mind for months. Let’s put it this way, I have planned my outfit, bought the amount of Gu needed to complete 26.2 and even have finished packing….since the beginning of the week!

I feel confident stating that the majority of runners, if first race or twentieth, think about their upcoming race many times during race week. It’s always on your mind. 1950s British Olympian Gordon Pirie said that, “Any runner who denies having fears, nerves, or some other kind of disposition is a bad athlete, or a liar.”

I was reading an article in Running Times Magazine titled “10 Signs of Race Jitters.” I discovered I have at least two out of the ten. That’s encouraging right? They included “Spontaneous Injury Generation,” in which you are overwhelmed with aches and pains as race day approaches. The truth is, I always have had these aches and pains, but just didn’t realize I had them because I ran through them. I am now resting and allowing my aches and pains to feel the healing.  The next on the list was “Overthinking the Race,” which I think we would all agree that every runner shares. We can all become blinded by pace calculations, the amount of GUs per hour, and weather reports, but the best plan is to accept that our 100 percent effort will be good enough. After reading this article, I found that every athlete experiences anxiety and it is a natural part of the race experience. It is how we manage our anxiety that it important.

Pre-race anxiety is known as a symptom of mental preparation you experience in preparing for the race. The fact that you are anxious and nervous, means that your mind understands the importance of the event and preparing your body. It also shows that you are focused. Instead of feeling anxious and worrying about things that are out of your control, try focusing on all the training you have done to prepare for the event. Think about the things that you can control such as your pace, hydration and fueling up. Have a plan for the race instead of worrying about problems that could arise. Most importantly, calm down, relax and have fun. Remember the reasons why you decided to run this race. If we understand it, manage it, prepare for it and accept it, we can transform the nervous energy into the fuel we need to succeed.

While we can never be completely free from worry, the Bible shows us how to minimize worry and anxiety in our lives. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not worry about anything, but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God and then the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This type of prayer can remind us of the many blessings God has provided us in our time of need. It also should remind us of God’s love for us and He knows the outcome. All we need to do is trust Him and keep pressing forward towards the prize.

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