No matter what your preparation leading to a race, most likely leading up to the race you will experience some kind of race related nerves.  For some, it doesn’t start until they get to the event.  For me, it usually goes like this:

  • I get race day nightmares about 5-7 days leading to the race:  I forgot my shoes; I am running late; transition area closes before I set up my bike; I show up to the wrong course.  Almost always, they are related to me being unprepared for the race.
  • Then as race day approaches, I start getting very anxious.  I can’t focus on one thing because I have many things running through my mind.
  • On race day, usually once I get to the race start, I am calm.  I’m there, I’m checked in and I am ready to go.

Over the course of 14 years of racing, I have come up with some suggestions on how to combat these race day jitters.

Photo by Matt Gialdo Photography

  1. Follow your training plan: If you are physically prepared for your race, you will likely have one less thing to worry about.
  2. Know your race course: If you live locally, drive or train on your race course. Knowing the course will alleviate questions about what’s to come in your race.  If you don’t live locally, review your athlete’s guide which will include maps and descriptions of the course.
  3. Know race day details: When does the race start?  Is there gear drop off?  When does the transition area close?  Where will you meet your loved ones when it is over?
  4. Plan your outfit: No, I’m not kidding!  Plan what you will wear – every aspect.  Watch the weather and made sure it is appropriate and practice, practice, practice in your gear.
  5. Plan your nutrition: Just like your outfit, you should have practiced nutrition during your training.  What will you eat? What will you drink?  Do you have your favorite flavors on hand?  Be sure to plan and pack exactly what you need.
  6. Make a mental plan for your race: Review the course in your mind leading up to race day.  Where will you need to remind yourself to relax, breath or push harder?  Visualize yourself in your race over and over.
  7. Make lists: I have found this most helpful as race day approaches.  Once I get the concern/question/task down on paper, I can get it out of my head making it one less worry.
  8. Don’t rush: Leave yourself plenty of time on race day.  Feeling rushed or possibly running late could make for a very upset stomach.
  9. Take time before the race starts to center yourself: Remember that mental plan?  Review it one more time.  Close out the surrounding chaos of the race start. Close your eyes, see the course and focus only on the task at hand.
  10. Smile: Remember why you race.  Think of all your training that has gone into this day.  Be grateful for the experience, no matter how scared, anxious, excited you might be. Feel proud that you got yourself to the starting line and let the race begin!