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Coaches Blog

Is Pre-Race Craziness OK?

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

I have experienced all sorts of pre-race rituals, feelings, anxiousness and excitement over the years but have seen a hundred times more in athletes I’ve coached. So what’s the deal? Are there things you should or shouldn’t be doing before a race?

Here are some examples of what I’ve seen within 12 hours of the start of a race:

  • Massive Panic Attacks

  • Massive Bowel Attacks! :)

  • Emotional Breakdowns

  • Emotional Highs

  • Anxiety and Fear

  • Massive mood swings

  • Desire to be with others or desire to be alone

  • Hunger cravings or lack of an appetite

The above list all come from Professional or Elite Age-Groupers who time and time again performed and executed everything within their control pretty darn close to perfect. Wait - am I saying that the above pre-race reactions are NORMAL? Yes, often they are. So how are they consistently so successful?

They’re successful because they ALSO DO the following:

  • Commit to routine

  • Focus carefully on details

  • Prepare both physically and mentally for every race

  • Have a “Team” around them supporting them that often includes a coach, a sports psychologist, a massage therapist, and friends and loved ones, etc.

  • Tenacious in their desire to succeed

…and here’s the BIG ONE. They:

  • TRUST that when the start gun goes off, they will RACE.

So what can the rest of us learn from the above?

Focus on what you can control and be consistent with how you prepare for a race. It’s OK to feel nervous, nauseous and even scared before the start! But believe in yourself that once the gun goes off, you’ll do the very best that you can with the things you can control and will experience the wonderful highs and lows of racing.


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