Race Anxiety

4 Jun

When I first started running back in 7th grade I really enjoyed it.  I wasn’t very good at any other sports but I was a pretty decent runner so I made that my sport.  I never remember being overly nervous or anxious before a race.  I am sure I had plenty of nerves but all the other girls on my team tended to be basket cases and cry at the starting line so I was always more focused on them.

After High School track season ended I took a hiatus from running/racing. I was burnt out and wanted to try other forms of exercise.  I stairmastered and ellipticaled, and learned all about weight lifting as I became a personal trainer.  After college and moving to Chicago I decided I wanted to try to train for a race again. Enter the Hot Chocolate 5k.  I trained for 6 weeks with a goal of running a 21 min 5k.  I told this goal to all of my clients and friends.  The week before the race I ran a practice 5k in 22:30.

The night before the race came and I was a  hot mess. I was at home by myself and I just started crying. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t be able to run the race in my goal time and I would disappoint everyone I had told about it. Come race day I never saw the first mile marker. I mentally was so thrown off I thought there was no way I was on pace, I got discouraged and I even walked.  I ended up finishing in 24:55.

After that I decided to try a longer distance: The Champaign Half Marathon.  I trained for over 12 weeks. I got my dad and sister involved. I loved my long runs and watching my times drop while I got in better shape. I knew my goal for the race should be just to finish since it was my first half but I wanted to finish in a good time. I mentally set my goal at 1:55.

Once again the day before the race I was a hot mess. I cried off and on all day.  This time I felt more pressure because all my clients AND all my blog readers knew about my goals.  Plus my dad and sister, who did not train as hard as I did, were there so I had to do well and at least stay with them.

The race started and for the first 4 miles I felt great.  My hip started hurting around then and mentally I lost it. I knew I was going to have to stop and that would slow me down. As soon as I stopped for the first time it was all down hill. I can’t really be sure how much of that race was my hip hurting and how much of it was my mental games.

I have NO idea why I have all this anxiety with racing.  I know that no one really cares about my times besides me. I also know that I worked really hard in my training and I hate when my times don’t match that because I feel that everyone thinks I was lying about my training times.  So tomorrow I am running a 5k-for fun.  I am going to try my best but I am setting NO goals.  I have only been running for the past 2 weeks and I am not in the same good shape I was pre-half.  I am hoping the more races I do the easier it gets so come August when I do my next half marathon it will be smooth sailing.

How do you deal with Race Anxiety?

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4 Responses to “Race Anxiety”

  1. movesnmunchies June 4, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    I GET ANXIETY TOO! even on long training runs! it used 2 be worse but i just remind myself how ill feel afterwards and just to enjoy running- becuz when u release the pressure.. its fun!

  2. Sarah S @RunningOnWords June 5, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Wow, how did the 5K go? I don’t know that I really have any advice, but I made sure to run a bunch of smaller races before my half so I would be less nervous (it helped some, but I still couldn’t sleep the night before). I will admit I try really hard to not set time goals when I do a distance for the first time. Maybe you could try meditation or yoga the day before?

  3. ShannonH June 8, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    I totally get race anxiety – and I have no idea why! I’m 41 and never going to be more than a “finisher” in the events that I do. But the night before – and the morning of my stomach is in knots. I’m not as worried about a finish time, but doing my best and improving. It’s getting much easier for me. I ran the Springfield GOTR5k a few weeks ago and had my best 5k time ever and had a BALL! And I’m going to focus on the second half. You’ll get there – you simply ROCK!!!

  4. jeri June 9, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

    I suffer from race anxiety like mad too. Oftentimes I’ll talk myself out of my goal time DURING a race so I don’t have to find out if I’ll “fail” or not. It’s MADDENING. The only way I’ve gotten better with it is racing a lot. And the weirdest thing is, the races I HAVEN’T had a goal for, have been my best performances. Still not quite sure how to trick my brain in to thinking that I’m not racing so that I can perform well…. I’ll get back to you on that. 😉

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