How to prepare (Mentally) for the big race

So you have a race coming up.  You did the training, maybe you missed a day or two, but for the most part you followed the plan and now your a week away from the race.  You started tapering back the miles.  Now your starting to wonder, starting to doubt if your ready for this.  Does this sound familiar?

So what do you do?  Well first of all don’t panic.  It is normal to start to get the jitters before a race and doubt if you can run the race you have trained for.  Everyone, and trust me I mean everyone does this.

First of all look back at your training.  Remind yourself that you put the miles in.  Every training run did not have to feel good, the important thing is that you finished them.  It is important to stay positive.  Do not let that little voice in your head tell you your not ready.  Tell yourself you trained, your ready for this.

Review the course, study the turns, hills, possible wind direction.  Come up with a plan for each.  Do not let the race surprise you.  I am always amazed when I talk to other runners after a race and they say “wow, that had a lot of hills in it”.  As if they grew as they were running.  The elevation is posted for the race as is the course.  Look it up, study it.  Everyone has to run the same course.  If there are two big hills, know what miles they are at, expect to slow down a bit going up them.  Have a target in mind and remember what ever goes up, will come back down.  So after the hill and your on the downward slop, pick up your pace a little and it will all balance out.

Review everything for your run.  What are you going to wear, what gels are you going to take.  How much water are you going to carry, or what water stops are you going to use.  An old saying works very well, “prior proper planning prevents poor performance”  Go over how your getting to the race, if your driving and parking and you can, drive the route the day before. Know if the parking has a fee.  I like to use the race shuttles if they have them, that way there is no thought involved.  Just be there and put on the head set and get in the zone.

Ok, now figure out what is your goal for this race?  Better yet, have three goals.  Goal #1 this is a perfect race, I feel great, wind is at my back and weather is a perfect 55.  Goal #2 This is my main goal, not unrealistic.  If I run my plan and have an good run, I should get this goal no problem.  Goal #3  I call this my catastrophic goal.  You fall and tweak your ankle.  You can still run, but in order to make sure you can walk tomorrow, your going to slow down and be smart.  Or lets say your running a marathon, at the start the temperature is 75.  Or any number of other things that can go wrong that you have no control over.  Maybe goal #3 is I just want to finish.

I wish every race was perfect, but trust me they are not.  And if you expect them to be, you will be disappointed more times then not.  One of my favorite races I ran (and yes it was a PR), the race was 42^ at the start and rained the entire race.  I was numb in my toes and hands.  I did not plan for a cold race, and only had shorts and a tee shirt.  Ended up buying a poncho and running it it the whole way.  And knowing it was not going to be a great race I was ok not getting my goal #2, I was just going to enjoy the race and finish.  Have fun and run in the rain.  With no pressure and only expecting to have fun, I PR’d and even though it was cold I would put it right up there in the top 5 races that I had a blast.

Last but not least, keep in mind that with one week to go, there is nothing you can do that will change your race but make it worse.  If you think you did not train enough and decide to run a long run and increase your miles the week before the race to make up for it.  Well your not helping.  Set your goals and be realistic.  Run your best race for that day, that race, and remember no matter what happens, there will always be another race.  Live, Learn and run…..repeat 😉

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About Coach Bill

I am a 48 year old runner. Three years ago I ran my first half marathon and have not looked back since. I am married, have two grown son's. I work at Toyota motor manufacturing Texas building Tundra's and Tacoma's as a skilled team leader in the press department.
This entry was posted in Advanced Runner, Beginner Runner, Half Marathon Training, Injury, Marathon Training, Nutrition, Running Coach and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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