Race day is exciting, nerve racking, anxiety provoking and hopefully fun. As they get ready to toe-the-line, a runner’s actions are fairly predictable. Below are the eight emotional stages of an indoor track meet. 

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Stage 1 – Fatigue 

Chances are you didn’t sleep that well. No one sleeps well the night before a race–your roommate snores and your hotel room is next to the elevator. The alarm goes off and you feel a little rough, but remember, sleep is cumulative. If you’ve slept well in the nights leading up, one bad night won’t make much of a difference. 

Stage 2 – Genuine dread

This is the moment directly after you wake up tired, when you realize you’re actually racing. Today is the day. Don’t stress about it, you’re probably pretty ready or your coach wouldn’t have put you on a bus for seven hours and dragged you to a strange indoor facility, right? Make some breakfast, drink some coffee and handle it. 

Stage 3 – Arrive at the track

You’ve got your freshest kit on, you’ve had way too much coffee, and who knows, maybe you even put some product in your hair. It’s race day, after all, and look good, feel good, run good is a thing. You strut onto the track with your crew in matching uniforms, plop your stuff down and lie on the ground together.

Stage 4 – Now you wait

As races are run, you become increasingly more anxious about your own event. This is the point where you’d like to just get it over with. The liminal time between track arrival and warm up is, quite literally, the worst. 

Stage 5 – Go time

You’ve warmed up, and beyond the the fact that you had to warm up outside and it’s minus one billion, it felt alright. You’ve got your number on your chest, you can handle this. It’s just you and approximately 13 other people running in loops on a very small track. 

Stage 6 – Does your coach look you in the eye?

You know how you think your race went, but you don’t know how your coach thinks your race went. The telltale sign is all in the eyes. If your coach finds you with a smile post-race, well done, you passed. If your coach finds you but doesn’t really look at you, you had a rough one. If your coach doesn’t talk to you at all, well, he probably figures you need some alone time. 

Stage 7 – 4x400m 

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This is the cruel time of day where everyone is exhausted and mildly malnourished, and your coach comes around asking who’s game for the 4x400m. Answer: no one. But if you haven’t run away at the appropriate time, no matter your discipline of choice, you can be scooped up and forced to run the relay. 

Stage 8 – The bus ride home

The bus ride home can be the best or worst part of an indoor track meet. If you’ve had a good day at the track, you’re on cloud nine. You’ve probably eaten some junk food with your friends and you’re riding the high of killing it on the track. If you had a rough day, you want off that bus more than anything imaginable. It also smells bad for obvious reasons, which you’re more willing to overlook if you killed it at the meet. 

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