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Get Rid of Those Pre-Race Jitters

By Bill Hanks, 02/06/17, 12:30PM EST

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Smart mental health tips to keep you level-headed.

You have trained hard for weeks and prepared for your race. The big day has finally arrived. As the clock ticks down to the start, you find yourself getting more and more nervous. How can you avoid being too pumped up? Everyone handles pre-race jitters their own way.

The following tips will provide you with some ideas on how to handle your jitters before the race:

Don’t arrive too early for your race. The last thing that you want to do is spend a lot of time pacing around and letting those jitters grow.

Avoid negative thoughts. They might sound like, “What if I get leg cramps?”

Use supportive, positive mental thoughts. Begin this process a day or two before race day.

Place your focus on the entire race event. Pay close attention to what is going on around you. This is especially important if you are running this race for the first time.

Do your pre-race warm-up with a partner. This will help keep those jitters under control.

Break your race down into strategic segments. For example, if it is a 5K race, use a house or tree as a mile marker. You can visually see this so that you know the distance you have covered or how much further you need to go. This keeps your mind off of negative thoughts. During your race, focus on the segment you are currently in.

Enjoy your glory run. The glory run is the last half mile of your race. Heap mental praises on yourself. Phrases like “I got this” or “Looking good” can help you stay positive and keep negative thoughts away.

Finally, use this strategy to avoid any disappointments:

If your time wasn’t as fast as you expected, or you didn’t reach a goal, try to look for the positive things that happened, instead of focusing on these things. Maybe you destroyed a hill on the course or handled the traffic at the start of the race well. If somebody asks, “What was your time?” Just tell them that you finished, and it was a great race. The above experiences will serve you well when pre-race jitters arise at your next race.

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