It’s finally here, the day you are a few hours away from that finish line. The day you’ve been training for, for how long now …six, seven, nine months? Well, the time has come, and yesterday you felt pretty ready, but today it seems that you’ve done something wrong, you should have trained more. Unfortunately, from your first 5k to your forever collections of marathons, the anxiety pre race will always be there…and it is totally okay and normal. However, imagine if you could use this prerace anxiety in your favor? To know how, we first need to understand what is happening in our brain (yes, it is always in our mind). Read on for a guide on how to mentally prepare for race day!
The Science Behind
According to Ian Robertson’s book, The Stress Test: How Pressure Can Make You Stronger and Sharper, as overstress can be a problem, the lack of stress may also. The book is based onThe Stress Test, a study to measure why we react to pressure and stress levels the way we do and how we can use stress to our advantage. This concept can be applied to that pre-race stress, but how to make stress an ally? When we’re about to experience these challenging situations, like the expected race, according to Robertson, a neurotransmitter called Norepinephrine is at play. You have probably heard about the “fight or flight,” aka the response of our brain for threatening situations…well, also caused by Norepinephrine. Classic physical effects can be a blood pressure and heart rate increase, and you definitely do not want that before undergoing a race. However, you do not want too little either. You want the right amount, but how can you control this? Follow these tips below!
Guide on How to Mentally Prepare Before a Race
The first step is simple, just believe your training. Of course you can do it, you’ve been training for this, for this long. Remember those tough days of training. Believe you deserve to be there.
Stick to Routine
Remember that long run day? Stick to the same routine! Don’t try new things, it is not the day for that. Wake up with time, eat what you’re used to, and do not try new products. Go with the comfortable. Wear comfort (aka Zensah), while seeking discomfort.
A great part of this stress and anxiety before a race is the fear of not knowing how the race will be and expecting the worst. However, you have control of your mind and can try to “see” yourself after the race. Also called visualization. This means, not only expecting the best, but also preparing yourself for possible scenarios. So, for instance, “what if on mile 20 you’re short in energy?” Well, prepare yourself for this scenario, take an extraGu Gel!The point is, visualizing will activate the RAS (Reticular Activating System) which are neurons that help filter what really is important, meaning eliminating that excessive overthinking.
Have a go-to mantra
We spoke with a few ambassadors regarding the Chicago Marathon, and the upcoming marathons, nothing better than having their examples of quotes and go-to mantras for extra motivation.
Carolyn Simpson:“Never give up – never surrender.” – Commander Taggert, Galaxy Quest
Kathleen Davis: “I like to tell myself that I can do hard things and I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself.”