Do you suffer from performance anxiety? If you are like most runners, you probably do. Instead of looking forward to the race you trained so hard for, you are dreading the thought of it!!
When you experience significant performance anxiety, you don't feel well. You just want the race to be over. You begin to tell yourself negative, self-defeating thoughts. The problem is not the race or any other external factor. It's your own internal dialogue that is creating the anxiety.
Do you experience any of the following symptoms prior to racing:
Fear and lack of confidence in your abilities can cause you to begin thinking in a downward spiral. You mind becomes out of control and you imagine the worse possible scenario.
You doubt your ability to do this race and question your sanity in registering for it. Maybe you didn't train as well as you should have. Your mind goes on and on until you feel stressed and anxious. Recognizing how you are feeling and what you are thinking is the first step in dealing with the anxiety.
Performance anxiety in the right dose can help your performance in training and on race day. It helps you focus on your goal so you prepare well. It motivates you and helps you feel energized.
It prepares you both mentally and physically to do your best. You need to feel a little anxious to have a good race.
On the other hand if you feel like you would rather die than race, you are overdosing on the pre-race anxiety. You need to get it under control. You created it, so you can change it.
Focus on the fact that you are well-trained and prepared to do this race. If you are not, you should not be doing it as a race.
Use positive affirmations before and during the race to remove fear and doubt.
Have a reasonable and flexible goal in mind for the race. Conditions may not be ideal on race day and this will be reflected in your race time. A rigid goal will only add extra pressure and stress.
Prepare all your race items the night before. Use a checklist. Reduce the number of things to worry about.
Develop a ritual to help you relax before a race. Listen to relaxing music or meditation. Use deep breathing exercises or try yoga for runners. Try the breathing exercise in the video below. It can help you relax before you go to sleep or before a race.
Use visualization techniques to increase your confidence. Actually see and feel yourself running the distance and finishing the race. Believe in yourself and your abilities.
Talk to your body before the race. Tell your body how it will feel and how you will deal with those feelings. You will begin to believe in yourself. You know you can do it. See it, feel it and believe it!
Remember your visualization images during the race. See yourself finishing the race strong and confident. Relax and enjoy the race. It's your reward for all the time and effort you spent training. Make the event a pleasant memory.
The right amount of performance anxiety can work to your advantage. Don't fight it. Accept it and use it to have your best race yet.
Try this Race Visualization Exercise to ensure that your race day experience is a great one!
Also, check out these race day tips to ensure you are well prepared on race day.
You may also be interested in:
Back to top of Performance Anxiety
Return to Running Psychology