For many runners, pre-race nerves suffice to derail a run before it’s even begun. Here are some tips how to embrace your fear and calm nerves and use them as the precursor to success.
Fear can be both good and bad. Fear motivates you to properly prepare for a challenge, but fear can also paralyse you with anxiety. What you need to do is to use this fear to your advantage. But how can you do that?
Try using a technique called “forward projection.” The concept is really quite simple.
In your mind’s eye, vividly imagine yourself standing at the start line of the upcoming race you’re fearful about. Try to make this visualisation as realistic as possible, adding in as much detail as you can, like the feel of the cool morning’s damp air upon your skin, the buzz of adrenaline flowing through your system and the accompanying elevation in your heart rate, and the tension of the other participants all around you. By reconstructing the upcoming fearful situation beforehand, you can relieve some of the nervousness before the event even takes place.
Another crucial factor in overcoming fear is to properly prepare for the conquest during the weeks and months leading up to the event. Let’s be honest, fear often comes as a result of feeling under-prepared for the challenge you’re taking upon. When you’re standing at that start line you will certainly look inward and ask yourself whether you’ve paid your dues in your training and preparation, or whether you’ve skimped and taken shortcuts. You can’t hide the truth from yourself. So being properly trained and prepared can go a long way toward squelching fear. Think about this in the weeks and months before your next challenge.
Last but not least, on the morning of the event when you’re toeing the line, try to concentrate on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, using your diaphragm to draw air deep into your lungs. This method has been shown to activate the vagus nerve, which slows the pulse and reduces blood pressure, and helps to create a state of relaxation and calm.