As my first 10K – my longest race to date – approaches (this Sunday!!!), I’d be lying if I said I weren’t getting nervous. It certainly doesn’t help that my splinty shins have been making training difficult; I like to think that if I had been sticking with my training schedule I’d only have slight butterflies right now. As it is, my palms are getting a bit sweaty every time I remember this race is this weekend.
I’ve even started having stress dreams about the race (thanks brain!). Last night I dreamed that Colin, who’s running the race with me, didn’t make it to the 10K on time because he was running another race elsewhere, so I had to run it alone. After handling the first quarter-mile or so without a problem, I found myself getting stopped by race officials after running down a steep hill, and corralled into a giant cluster with all the other runners and told that the rest of the race would consist of hill repeats. As I groaned, I caught sight of Shammie Steve shaking his head disapprovingly that I was running at all after he told me to rest my shins.
Clearly, my subconscious is worried about a) getting left in the dust by Colin, who’s been running way more than I have lately, conquering 10-milers and everything; b) a challenging course and a distance I haven’t faced yet; and c) my stupid shins. All valid, I suppose. I’ve been trying to calm my nerves by thinking back to my very first race and trying to remember how I felt before running that 5K:
The problem is, I don’t remember feeling nervous before the Ras! Surely I must have been at least a little nervous… as I’ve said about a million times on this blog, I had never run more than 1 mile at a time before tackling my first 5K, and I managed to run the whole 3.1 miles without stopping. If I think really hard I can vaguely recall butterflies as I ate my pre-race pb&j bagel, and again as Drew dropped us off near the starting line, and again as we stood in our pace corral before the starting gun. But there were certainly no stress dreams days beforehand.
Why is my brain freaking out now? Is it because a 10K seems so much longer than a 5K? Is it because I only managed to hit 5 miles in training and not the 6+ I was hoping for? Is it because I haven’t run at all in the past week? Is it because I built up this race and put pressure on myself to run it strong?
Whatever the reason(s) I need to channel my calm(er) self from before the Ras. I didn’t really train for that first 5K; I had dropped out of Couch to 5K a few times and had run a bit in my 5K for Beginners class, but certainly nothing close to legit training. I thought of it as a fun experience with Colin and Gina, and I set the bar really low for myself (finish the race in an hour) so that I wouldn’t feel pressure. I didn’t race, I just ran, chatted with my friends, and soaked up the race atmosphere. I collected my medal and my post-race snacks and rode that runner’s high for the rest of the day.
This 10K on Sunday… it’s a new experience, a new distance, a new milestone. It’ll be the first time I ever hit 6 miles, and that will be pretty cool. I’ll get to check another state off my list, and explore a cool, historic town. I’ll get to run for a cause I support, in the memory of my cousin (who wouldn’t have cared one bit how many times I stopped to walk or how slow I ran). These are the things I need to keep telling myself. Once I run this 10K, all future 10Ks will seem easier because I’ll know I can do it, even if I have to crawl across the finish line on Sunday. And if my shins act up? I have a while before my next race so I can ice them and rest them and hopefully they’ll behave themselves.
^This paragraph will be my mantra now whenever the nerves pop back up! Hopefully it will work 🙂
How do you settle pre-race nerves?