How To Conquer First-Race Nerves

by | Aug 19, 2022 | Technical Articles

The Windsor Half Marathon is nearly here and we’re excited! Is this going to be your first half marathon? Stay one step ahead of race-day nerves with these tips.

Race-day nerves can affect the most seasoned running competitor. The jitters, butterflies, and churning stomach are all a sign that your body knows something unusual is about to happen.

The trick is to harness the energy of that nervous feeling so you have a positive experience. Here’s how to turn race-day nerves into running performance.

Why do race day nerves happen?

Getting nervous before a race might seem silly, but there’s a very good reason for it. That nervous energy – the physical symptoms and the preoccupation with thinking about the race – happens because your body is producing brain chemicals like adrenalin to help you run faster. The problem is, this often starts happening long before you’re lined up at the start of the race! 

5 ways to calm your nerves before the race

If you find yourself getting overwhelmed by race day nerves before the day of the race has arrived, try these mindset techniques to slow the process.

  • Look back at your training log to remind yourself that you have trained sufficiently
  • Check back over your progress to see how far you’ve come since you started training
  • Remove the pressure by remembering that you are doing this for yourself and you don’t need to get a PB
  • Get everything ready for race day (kit, shoes, directions, race pack, nutrition)
  • Distract your brain by doing something completely unrelated to running

Master first-race nerves on race day

It’s impossible not to feel nervous on the day of the race, but the key lies in turning those feelings into positive excitement (rather than crippling anxiety).

Anticipate the nerves

Even by reading this article, you will know to anticipate race-day nerves and accept them as part of the running experience. Remember, nervous excitement can be a positive emotion if you channel it and don’t let it overwhelm you.

Reframe the feelings

Now you know to expect nerves, reframe them when they arrive. See the feelings for what they are: readiness, energy, and excitement for a challenge that you’ve trained for!

No comparisons allowed

It’s easy to compare yourself to other runners from the moment you arrive at the event. She looks fast, look at her physique. She looks like she knows what she’s doing. Look how confident she is. Don’t do it. It serves no purpose at all. Bring the focus back to yourself, your training, and the progress you’ve made. This is your race.

Boost positive emotions

Arm yourself with a few techniques that can turn race day nerves into a positive motivator. Bring to mind a happy, uplifting, or powerful moment in your life (it doesn’t have to be related to running) and visualise this with images, sounds, and feelings. Do this on the start line and it will have a powerfully positive effect on your run.

We can’t wait to see you at the Windsor Half Marathon next month!