How To Calm Your Pre-Race Jitters

One runner shares her tips for staying calm, cool and collected before race day.


My goal race for the fall is coming up this weekend (the Marine Corps Marathon) and as such, I’ve been freaking out preparing for awhile now. I thought I’d share the five things that I’m doing to help control my nerves as we move deeper into fall racing season. If you are preparing for a goal race, give these a try. If not, pass them on to a friend who is (and who might be driving you crazy).

  1. Review your hard work. I’ve been reading back my training recaps and reading my running journal to remember all the hard work I’ve put in to get to this point. Reading my recent race recaps has helped as well—I have set PRs in three race distances this fall and remembering those successes helps to pump me up for this weekend’s race. Remember how far you’ve come!
  2. Positive vibes only. Anytime the doubts creep in (and they do creep in), I’ve been pushing them out by reminding myself that I’m only allowing positive thoughts. It is a constant battle of the mind but it becomes a bit easier if you are truly intentional about it.
  3. Speak what you want. I have also been saying my goals OUT LOUD. It’s one thing to think it—it’s another to declare what you want to happen out loud. It just feels more powerful—try it. Say your goal out loud. Don’t you feel better already?
  4. Visualize it. I’ve also been visualizing race day. I am visualizing waking up feeling fresh and ready to run, getting to the race start with plenty of time, meeting up with my running friends and starting the race with a comfortable pace. I am visualizing the first half of the race running through my city and smiling at spectators and taking it all in. I am visualizing making it to mile 17, where I’ll have member of my training group cheering and high-fiving me on course. I’m visualizing crossing the mile-long bridge at mile 20 feeling strong and relaxed. And I’m visualizing seeing a 4:30 on the clock as I cross the finish line. It seems a bit silly, I know, but this is how I keep my nerves in check. I see what I want to happen.
  5. Relax. Easier said then done, I know. I’ve been connecting with friends, reading, getting plenty of sleep and just trying to generally do things that will not stress me out.

How do you manage your nerves before a big race? Tweet @EatPrayRunDC and share!

How To Prevent A Pre-Race Panic Attack
15 Motivating Phrases To Repeat During A Race