5 Tips to Manage Pre-Race Stress

That moment you stop everything look at your calendar only to notice that there are only a few days remaining until your big race. Your heart races, panic strikes, and you become full of anxiety. You ask yourself, how did the time fly by that fast…I could have swore I had a month left?! The next thing is to do is to stop panicking. Everything is going to be O.K. Here are a few tips I have for keeping the pressure and anxiety down before your big race.

Tip 1. Believe in yourself.

You must believe in yourself, your training, and the journey you have taken to get where you are. You’ve done the work and prepared for YOUR day. Now it’s the time to let all that hard work soak in. What I like to do is to reflect on my training and remember the times where I felt like I had nailed a workout, climbed a hill feeling strong, and finished an intimidating run thinking “I did it!” Keep those good thoughts in your mind.

Tip 2. Make 3 goals for your race.

I am a very goal oriented person and I like to have personal goals to achieve. I set myself up with multiple goals for race day instead of just one. Goal A, which is when everything goes seemingly perfect on race day. Goal B is my middle goal, which is typically the goal that I would be shooting for knowing there will be ups/downs during race day. And the Goal C, which is about completing in a way that makes me feel happy at the end of the day. It usually comes after having adversity during the race, so completing this goal can be very rewarding.

Here is an example of 3 goals I have set for a race.

Goal A – Set a PR for the distance.

Goal B – Place in the top 3 (this can be for age divisions, gender, etc.).

Goal C – Finish the race without injury.

Your goals are your own, so make them meaningful to you. Also, you don’t have to share your goals. They are yours.

Tip 3. Prepare for the race early.

The best thing to do in the last couple weeks leading up to your race is to finalize everything. I love making a list and going through it, marking off what I have done and what I have left to do. It is better to get everything done early so the final week you can focus on tapering, sleeping, and getting in proper nutrition/hydration. The last thing you want to do is be running around trying to tie up loose ends. You need to keep stress down as minimal as possible. It’ll do the mind and body good.

Tip 4. Remember we do this because we LOVE it!

When we sign up for a key race, it is because we have a passion for it. Remember that moment you clicked the submit button at the bottom of the race website and your stomach had the feeling of a million little butterflies in it…? Rekindle that feeling! This is the time to embrace the journey you are about to embark on. It is time to get out there and enjoy the long hard work you put into training. You should be feeling excited and happy. Your race is your day…live it up!

Tip 5. Smile.

Smiling is infectious. It makes the brain release neuro-chemicals that impact our mood and body. Running is fun! Keep it that way and you’ll have the best race regardless of what goal you meet. Just get out there and do what you love to do! And smiling uses less muscles than frowning, so really you are conserving energy too!

I hope my tips can help you relax and also get you excited for your next big race. Hopefully, I will get to see you out there whether on the trails or roads. Until then just keep running and having fun!

Kaci Lickteig

Kaci Lickteig

I’m a physical therapist and dog mom of 2 from Omaha, Ne. I’m an ultra, trail, and road runner. 5x100M, 3x100K, 8x50M, 9x50K, too many marathons to count. Personal bests: 2nd at Western States 100M 2015, Olympic Trials Qualifier, 100M: 15:40:55, 100K: 8:40:45, 50M: 6:41:39, 50K: 3:37:33, Marathon: 2:44:14.

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0 thoughts on “5 Tips to Manage Pre-Race Stress”

  1. Hi Kacigreat reading, however not much of that works for me being in Restaurant business. We all have to work out our different schedules for whatever we do.My last weekend and you talking about keeping stress level low, hmmmmFriday work all day 9am to 11:30 pm go home, shower get my running crab together go to bed at 0.15 am get up at 2:30 am leave at 2:45 am for Des Moines Dam to Dam half Marathon, get there at 5 am take a bus up to starting line. start at 7 am heading down town to DM.Won my age group by almost 2 min 1:34.30, Drive back to Omaha going to work till 12 Midnight!! Now for me that was a Dam good weekend!!Next day went riding for 3 plus hours. And I will be 65 in 5 month, Life is good!!

  2. Paul, you have such an impressive resume, both with running and your life. I have to say not many can do what you do. However, you seem to have it dialed in. It is very good to point out that everyone has to find their way to get pre-race ready! Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing!! See you out there. 🙂

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