Pre-race mentality is an extremely important factor when it comes to racing. If I go into a race with a negative mindset (as I frequently used to), I would not do myself justice. Starting off with a negative thought process did not do any favours for me when it came to races, as I had already psyched myself out before the race had begun.
Why was this? At the time I was going through lots of issues with my iron levels and finding running extremely difficult. I was running over 6 minutes slower over 10k before my levels had been rectified compared to my more recent PB. Therefore, due to my performance not being where it used to be I grew scared of racing. I knew my race wouldn’t go well, but at the time I didn’t know why, therefore I went into a race already telling myself I was going to struggle before it had even happened. This is not the way to be. I race because I choose to, and I love it, I should never have feared it! Even if a race doesn’t go well, it shouldn’t be feared thereafter, you can learn from every race you do.
I have finally learnt the most important things to me that help ensure I have the best race I am capable of having.
Firstly, I find it important to look forward to every race I do, and there is no reason why I shouldn’t. I was always one to be nervous the entire week leading up to a race. I basically had to write the week off from doing any constructive work as my mind was preoccupied with race nerves. I awaited race day with a slight sense of fear. Fear for how badly it may go. A completely destructive outlook to have. Now I always look forward to racing, and so should you! Racing is a celebration of all the training you have done. It is a chance for you to put all that hard work into action and see how you are progressing. Being excited to race can only be constructive and benefit your performance, not hinder it. Not every race may go well, and I will not always PB, but I am always excited by the lessons I can take away from every race.
Why are you so nervous? You’ll be fine! I get told this a lot on race day. People assume nerves are purely because you are worried about how you will do. This is not the case. I find nerves a positive influence. It is all the spent-up energy I have been storing in the build-up to the race waiting to be released. I get nervous before a race because I care about how I do, and I always hope the hard work will be shown for. Nerves are no such bad thing, they give you that extra boost of adrenaline you need to remind yourself you are going into a race and it’s time to give it everything. If it came to race day and I wasn’t nervous I would be worried! I don’t want to be too nervous as this can be channelled into negativity, but a little bit of nerves is always good for me.
Another important thing that helps me get into race mode is my trainers. I bet you’re thinking, how? When it comes to racing whether its cross country or track and I’m putting on my spikes, or a road race and I’m changing into my Mizuno Hitogami racing flats, this signals the start of a race. As soon as I change my shoes, I know I am about to race, and something feels different. I never race in the shoes I train in, therefore when my racing shoes come on I feel ready to race and immediately go into my pre-race mindset. It’s a feeling different to any other time I put my trainers on.
In essence, as I have stated throughout this post, positivity is the most important factor surrounding pre-race mentality. I have always found I race best when I believe in myself and trust my body and the training I have done. I never go into a race telling myself it is going to go badly, because if I did this, I know the race would go badly. I try and focus on all the positives and see how lucky I am to be injury free and lining up on the start line again. We won’t be able to do this forever, so we should cherish every race and approach it in a positive way. A positive pre-race mentality is something that you will gain through experience of racing, so the more you get out there and race the easier it will be going in to races. Always be positive, you can do it, don’t ever think you can’t.
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I love to run and I love to write, so I write about running!