Throwback Thursday: Race Nerves

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:

What, me worry?

What, me worry?

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.

Proudly rocking my race t-shirt after the Ras (with my proud Mum!)

Proudly rocking my race t-shirt after the Ras (with my proud Mum!)

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?



16 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Race Nerves

  1. I wish I had a suggestion for nerves but I still get nervous before every race. You will rock your 10K on Sunday. An added bonus of a new distance is an instant PR. 🙂 Just run what you feel comfortable with, no matter what the speed may be. It’s the finishing that matters and you can do it! Good luck!

  2. All of the races I’ve ever been truly nervous for have turned out okay, but I can think of several that I was not nervous for when I definitely should have been. I know you’re not as prepared as you’d like to be, but having gone 5 miles, I think you’ll be fine. My only suggestion to calm the nerves is to come up with a race plan (do you have set walk breaks? Are you stopping at water stops? Eating anything during?) and focus on preparing everything you have control over (clothes, hydration, music, etc.). You’ve got this!

    • Thanks for the tips! Focusing on what I can actually control sounds like a great idea. Assigning my brain to that should hopefully keep it from stressing out too much! 🙂

  3. You’ve totally got this! Thankfully, I don’t really get big nerves before a race. I always try to focus on the fun I’m “supposed” to have, which helps a lot. Just take your time, take it easy, and it will be done before you know it. And then next time, it will be no big deal because you’ve done it before 🙂

  4. I always have pre-race nerves! Unfortunately mine have never gotten better. I’ve just learned to embrace it because it’s a sign that something significant is about to happen.

    • That’s a good way to look at it… maybe I can embrace the nerves and harness them into energy, or just think of them as the adrenaline that will carry me through!

  5. Oh no, I wish I had some advice besides breathing, having a good race plan, and listening to pumped-up music (because none of these help me much lol). I definitely get the pre-race jitters, but even though they kind of suck to have, I know they’re what get me through and try to use them to my advantage!
    And, BTW, even with the angry shins, I think you’re going to rock the 10K! Just run YOUR race :0D

    • I think I’m going to try the pumped-up music for this race… I’ll need all the help I can get! 😉 And thanks for the reminder to run my race, I need to remember that!!

  6. No worries…you are fine! Nerves are normal, and so is not sleeping well the night before, which won’t hurt you either. Since you are a relatively inexperienced racer, you may not realize just how much the adrenaline and excitement carries you through a race. That last mile-and-change is no problem. Good luck to you…enjoy every minute and pace yourself!

    • Thanks! You were so right… the last mile-and-change was no biggie at all. I love how that happens! 🙂 Even a crap night’s sleep wasn’t too detrimental, and turns out I wasn’t too nervous once I got to the starting line. All that worry for nothing!

  7. You will do great! I was extremely nervous before my first 10k until one of the guest speakers at my Running Room clinic gave some great advice. he said, It’s your first race, you have nothing to compare to, nothing to try to beat, go out and do your best and have fun! It’s your first time so you will get a Personal Best!!! It was so true, Enjoy it, take it all in, run in the moment! Good Luck!

    • Thanks Erica! I read your comment before I ran and took that guest speaker’s advice to heart – I definitely think it helped! Knowing there was nothing at all to compare the race to was a help, and I was able to relax and just enjoy the experience. 🙂

    • Thanks Courtney! 🙂 I’ll be posting a recap soon… let’s just say I survived! 😉 The race itself was great, but the post-race soreness… ouch!

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