Nervous Before Running

by Beth
(Marlborough, MA, USA)

Nervous Before Running

Nervous Before Running

I'm Always Nervous Before Running Races

Question: I started doing 5k races after college, and even though I always get nervous before running any sort of race, doesn't matter the distance, I keep signing up for them. Once the race starts, I'm fine. But, the day of the race, and even most of the week before, I get very antsy about the whole thing. I'm not sure what to do, so I wanted to see if you had any tips for mindset, or routine, or anything I can do so these nerves don't impact me so much.

Editor's Comments About Getting Nervous Before Running

Hi Beth! Thanks so much for your question. As you can tell already from the comments from our readers, there are a lot of people passionate about giving advice. We hope you find it to be helpful.

We've definitely worked with clients, some recreational and some competitive, who would get nervous before running in races. It can make a difference which category you do find yourself in. However, no matter the category, there are things that you can do that will begin to help.

Here are a few of those:
  • Trust Your Training - Nerves can sometimes arise when you know that you haven't done the training necessary to be prepared. That's usually the case with runners who have skipped lots of workouts, nutritious eating, and attention to comprehensive programming (including rest and recovery). It'd be like taking a final exam without having opened the textbook during the semester. If you have been consistent in your running workouts believe that you've done what you can, and that whatever happens in the race, that you'll be able to learn from it, and apply that new knowledge to your next race.

  • Follow Routine - Sticking to programming is a long-term strategy. Something that we've found to help in much shorter-term is sticking to a race day routine. That includes everything from when you wake up (how many hours before the race), how you'll hydrate, what you'll have for breakfast, what you'll wear, how you warm-up, and what sort of positive mindset tactics you're using. When that becomes routine, your focus is on those things, rather than on any nerves you might have.

  • Focus on Others - This is not a suggestion to compare yourself to other runners, but to focus on wishing other runners well before the race. Dishing out plenty of "Have an awesome run!" , "Have fun out there!" , and "Save me one of those free bananas at the finish line!" words of encouragement just makes everyone feel good, including the person delivering the good cheer!

These initial suggestions should help, and we expect great things to come from the comment section. You may also want to take a look at the running mind section of our site for more on positive mindset.

Have fun running!

Hi everyone, let's help Beth with a few of the best tips that have helped us when nervous before running in a race. Most (if not all of us) have been in her shoes at some point in our running adventures. Leave your best tips in a comment below!

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Sep 21, 2019
Nervousness is normal
by: Mike T

This question is awesome because you can relate it to anything in life. I play devils advocate here and say many times what you, me, or others are feeling is not necessarily nervousness but rather butterflies that may even be excitement. I guess you can call it nerves but to me nervous means afraid. I don’t think there is fear. If there was every time you did something you love then you probably wouldn’t love I’d. Instead of calling it being nervous I refer to it more as just a burning desire to begin. The wait is the mind saying "let’s go already!" Let me give you a great example. One I can relate to a T. I played football from 8 years old right up until college. Without fail before every game I had that feeling you are describing. The butterflies, the heart racing, etc. Thing is in reality I learned it wasn’t being nervous, it was that normal feeling of being competitive knowing you’re gonna get the job done but you need that first hit! It’s that one first hit, whether it’s by you or from an opponent, be it hard or a crappy bump. Once that occurs it’s like bam! That feeling is over and never comes back. To answer your question there is good news and bad news. The bad news is as long as you are competitive you will always feel this way and there is really nothing that can automatically make it not happen. The good news is it won’t have any negative impact on your performance. What I recommend for these "pre game jitters" is know that it happens every time, know how easy it goes away once you begin, and know that you’re about to do something that you always do. It’s no different than taking a shower other then your against others. I find listening to music with headphones helps block out the mind wandering since you get so caught up in the music. I even listened to the same song multiple times in a row. Whatever you decide it’s best to do something to distract the mind and seem to make the time go by faster. Also tell yourself that this happens every time and every time it’s fine. Tell yourself this. Visualize the gun or whistle going off and how much better you’ll feel. Bottom line is the mind is just trying to psyche you out by the time it takes to begin the race or competition. Take deep breaths, think of something funny, and know you’ll be just fine!

Sep 20, 2019
I Used to Be Nervous, Too!
by: Maria

Hi Beth,

I used to get nervous before running in races, too.

I had two things that helped me a lot. The first was to have a lot of running buddies. I joined a running group close to me, so we all go to the races together, and it isn't super competitive (unless you want it to be).

And, second was that I learned a good routine for warming up before races, so going through that always takes my mind off of being nervous.

Hope that helps! Good luck!

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