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5 ways to deal with your pre-race nerves

Here are a few tricks to help you calm down on race day

Photo by: Toronto Women's Run Series

Racing can be stressful. You get up early, force yourself to eat something and head off to the course. You get there and see hundreds or even thousands of people, and your mind begins to race. You know you’re ready to run, but worries begin to creep in all the same. Unfortunately, you’re probably always going to have to endure pre-race jitters (everyone gets them), but there are a few ways that you can deal with them and perhaps alleviate some of your stress. Here are five tips to get you through race morning and onto the start line without experiencing too much anxiety. 

Envision the start 

Throughout your training block, envision your race day and take yourself through the lead-up to the run. Picture yourself getting up early, eating breakfast and arriving at the venue. Imagine getting your bib, doing your warmup and finding your wave ahead of the start. This won’t eliminate all of your stress, but going through these steps from time to time could help reduce your jitters when race day arrives for real. 

STWM 2019 race start. Photo: Maxine Gravina

Focus on yourself 

Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s so easy to look around at all of the other runners on race day, but do yourself a favour and try to pay them as little attention as possible. You can’t control how well they run, so why worry about them before the start of the race? You can only control your own effort, so don’t stress about how everyone else might perform. 

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Do a proper warmup 

Doing a warmup before your race is super important physically, but it can also help your mental game. As you go for a light jog or run through some drills, you’ll focus on the task at hand rather than the fact that you’re about to start a big race. A warmup will distract you and help calm you down before you make your way to the start line. 

Remember your training

The night before or morning of your race, look through your training history, whether that’s in a training journal or on an app like Strava. Revisiting workouts from your most recent training block will help remind you that you’ve put in the work and that you’re ready to race. Knowing that you’re ready might not free you of all nerves, but it should reassure you that you’re going to have a great day. 

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Accept and embrace the jitters  

Ultimately, you can’t get rid of your jitters completely, so it’s best to simply accept that they’re here to stay and embrace them. You’re filled with nervous energy before a race, but once that starting gun fires, you’ll be able to use that energy and adrenaline to your advantage. When you feel those nerves creeping in, welcome them and use them during your run.