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Race Anxiety

Yesterday I read a post from my blogger friend Tania over at iRuniBreathe about race anxiety. Race anxiety? Well that is something I know too much about. I’m a chronic sufferer of this condition and if there were meds offered, I’d be the first one to sign up. (BTW, I only take medicine if I think I’m about to die. I hate pills. But a starting line makes me feel like I’m about to die.)

For me, race anxiety starts the week before. Even just typing this, I get that nervous feeling. It’s that feeling of did I train enough? What if I don’t PR? What if I start cramping and have to drop out? (Oh wait, I’ve already done that one.) And what makes my anxiety even worse, is the fact that I have to get to the start line hours before the race starts. You see, I’m an obsessively early person. Therefore, for fear of traffic and no parking, I like to be one of the first people at the start line. Then I’m just sitting there, a runner who is a ball of nerves, practically alone, staring at the start line. Honestly, I think it might be unhealthy.

The first race my husband, who was at the time just a friend, and I did together, I puked before I even walked out the door. I have a love/hate relationship with racing. I love that feeling a few miles into the race when I’m in my zone doing my thing. But I dread the hours before I get to that point. Perhaps that’s why I only race once or twice a year. I’m not sure my emotions could handle much more.

I came across this article that had four strategies for overcoming racing anxiety. I do absolutely none of these, but maybe I should start. The four strategies are use races as training runs, simulate race conditions in training, develop a routine in training, and ditch the watch and stop over thinking.Β The first and the last would be the hardest for me. I am such a competitive person, I don’t know if I could resist the urge to race if I were only doing it for a training run. And ditch the watch? Maybe one day but not until I hit my racing goals. And I’d like to add one more strategy to this list. I think to overcome the anxiety, one should just race more. Eventually you’ll get over it, right?

Looking back at 2012, I realize that I actually raced 5 times, which is way above norm for me. One half marathon, one failed attempt at Boston, one 5K, one 5 miler, and one marathon. My best races were the ones where I had the least expectations. Maybe I should just stop psyching myself out.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Running Update: Well good news. First, I’m feeling 80% better and my cough is practically gone. (The bad news is now my husband is sick.) My other good news is I got to run!!! I’ve been doing some Tara Stiles hip opening yoga videos and they are really helping. I ran an easy 5 miles this afternoon and other than my lungs still feeling bad from being sick, I felt good. Leg/hip are about 85% better. Stats are here.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. If I could keep clicking your “like” button I would!
    I think the ‘race more’ strategy as well as using races as training runs are good advice. My coach is running a few ultras this year and is using a marathon as his training run! It sounds so foreign to me, but he also just did a 50k trail race as a ‘training’ run and had a blast. (Plus he placed really well).
    I’ve also been told to run without the Garmin. I don’t, but I don’t look at it as often, both for fear of running *too* fast as well as not running fast enough– either in a race or in training. A lot of my angst and fear about races is not placing well enough or of not meeting my goals. Each day and race is different so you can only compare yourself to yourself, and even then you never know what you may be battling against (injuries, anyone?)
    I also puked at one of my races: I had trained and trained and overtrained and thought I would do so well. I was so worried about doing well that I overdid my nerves. I also ran my slowest race ever. Go figure.
    Glad to hear the hip is starting to cooperate.

    February 12, 2013
    • Your comment made me smile πŸ™‚

      In thinking back over my childhood, I realize one of the reasons I like running is because it is an individual sport. As a child, I never liked to do something I didn’t think I was going to win. I’m a sore loser. With running, it’s always been a me against me thing, which is good for me. However, when I set it up to be me against the clock, it’s that same anxiety. Maybe in an effort for self improvement, I’ll make myself race more. Perhaps that will help.
      Glad to know I’m not alone in the puking and racing club. I guess it happens to the best of us πŸ˜‰

      February 13, 2013
  2. I have been so disconnected from the blog world recently- I’m sorry to hear you have been dealing with an injury! I hope you have a good race on Saturday and all goes well. I also have race anxiety and it almost always affects my performance in a negative way. I seem to do better when I go into a race without any expectations In fact my 5K, 10K, and half marathon PR were all set in races that I went into with a relaxed attitude. Interesting!

    February 13, 2013
  3. Wow, I didn’t know race anxiety could be so serious! Sometimes, I might get an upset stomach, but I think that’s mainly nerves. I find that if I think thoughts like, “I’m doing this race just for fun,” and not worry about pace/time, then I’m less anxious.

    February 13, 2013
    • Oh yes, I have a problem πŸ™‚ I completely agree that thinking of the race as something fun, can be very beneficial. And I think I need to start doing more races for fun to help with my anxiety. I just get so focused on time and a PR. I’m going to work on that this year. πŸ˜‰

      February 13, 2013

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