Do you find all your best laid race plans go to pot because you panic on race day? Here’s our guide about how to stay calm from the night before the race right the way to the finish line…
- Go out
You may feel like you want to be alone the day before your race, but socialising could work as a distraction, helping you relax and disengage from the pre-race nerves. An early dinner or film with friends or family could be the perfect solution.
- Write your own confidence story, recommends sports psychologist, Josephine Perry, Performance in Mind. Split a piece of paper into two columns, write your goal for the race on the top left, and your mantra on the right. At the bottom left, write your strengths, which you can take from all the training runs that went really well, while on the righthand side, write down three sessions that you did in training where you felt you could nail your goal. ‘It works to remind you of all the training that you’ve done where you have achieved your goals and will help to calm your anxiety by boosting your confidence,’ she explains.
- Get prepared the night before It sounds obvious, and it is. But how many times have your found yourself running around the morning of a race looking for your socks or your safety pins? ‘Lay out your kit, pin on your race number, fasten your chip, prepare your breakfast, plan your journey,’ advises GRTW running coach, Tara Shanahan. ‘Then try and relax, listen to some soothing music, read a book, anything to distract you from thinking about the race.’
- Take a deep breath – Anxiety tenses your muscles and shortens your breathing, limiting the amount of oxygen available for your brain to think clearly. ‘Find a quiet place and focus on your plan, your mantras, all the stuff that has got you through to this day,’ advises GRTW running coach, Tara Shanahan. ‘Remember, it’s just running, something that you’re doing because you love it; think of the race as the ultimate opportunity, time to do all the things that you’ve done so well in the lead up.’
- Have a mantra – smile with the miles ‘In every Ironman I’ve ever done, I’ve wanted to quit,’ says Ironman champion, Chrissie Wellington. ‘That little voice in one ear that says, ‘pull to the side, it’s not going to be your day,’ but I’ve pushed through repeating my mantra, Never Ever Give Up and smile. You’re only as powerful as your mind.’