You’ve done the training, put in the many, many miles toward getting race ready—and the big day is almost here. But it doesn't matter if your race is a first-time challenge or you're a seasoned pro—almost everyone gets nervous before race day. Pre-race tension is a normal part of taking on any challenge—fortunately, you can use these six simple tips to keep you in the zone and to show up at the start line in calmer waters.
Create a Race Day Ritual
Create and practice your race day ritual. It’s comforting to be able to execute your routine without thinking (and panicking about where your favorite running shirt is!). This might include laying out your clothes the night before, reviewing the race course, journaling, meditating, going for a warm-up jog, and waking early enough in the morning to arrive at least an hour before the race.
Clear Your Calendar 2-3 Days Beforehand
The last thing you need before race day is a hectic schedule. Clear your calendar 2-3 days beforehand as much as possible and plan some zen-like activities each day like reading, meeting a (calming) friend for coffee, or getting a massage in the hours before your regular bedtime (which will have the added bonus of enhancing your sleep quality).
Inhale Some Zen, AKA Calming Essential Oils
Calm your limbic system (the area that controls emotions) by taking a relaxing bath with a few drops of essential oils and pack your race day bag with an on-the-go essential oil like Lavender and Chamomile for calm or Bergamot to help uplift you out of your nervous energy.
Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation also called a ‘body scan’ is especially helpful to relax tense muscles and lower your heart rate when you’re feeling restless or finding it difficult to focus. Simply close your eyes and, in your mind, scan down your body from head to toe taking a moment to focus on each area and relaxing the muscles.
Create a Race Day Mantra
When you’re feeling nervous and tense before race day, negative self-talk can really ramp up. Calm your internal chatter with an empowering, confidence-boosting mantra that is short (3-5 words), easy to remember, and that will interrupt negative, nerve-inducing dialogue. Here are some examples: “You’ve trained for this” or “Your race, your pace” or “You will make it”.
Practice a 60-Second Start Line Meditation
The place where nerves are likely at an all-time high is at the start line. Before the starter’s gun goes off—try some quick alternate nostril breathing to block out distractions and re-energize your body. Simply close off one nostril and inhale through the open side, then close off that nostril and open the opposite side and exhale. Repeat several times to recalibrate your mind and body.