You’ve done it. You’ve signed up for a race you haven’t done before. This might be a new distance, a location that’s different such as higher altitude, or you’re changing it up with a Spartan race or a mini-tri.
Whatever the new opportunity is, it’s new. And with that can come feelings of excitement, but also nervousness.
Along with your physical training, there are a few ways you can mentally prepare for a new race. By taking the time to proactively prepare, you can likely decrease your nerves and increase your confidence.
Check out these 3 Tips to Mentally Prepare for a New Race
Do some research. Though you likely know a bit about the race you’re doing, take the time to get online (or call a friend) and find out more about what to expect. Read about the race on their website, look at photos of the course, and search on social media to hear about other runners’ experiences.
Leaning about things like rocky terrain that you wouldn’t have expected, or reading that past runners talk about more hills than the website describes are important pieces of information for your physical and mental preparation.
Use imagery to prepare. Take the time to imagine parts of the new race in your mind. For example, if you’re used to running on flat gravel, take the information you learned about the dirt hills to imagine yourself running up them. Yes, you should be physically training for this as well, but you can imagine yourself on the course you’re racing at. This way of preparing is especially helpful when you’re traveling out of town for your race and can’t train on or visit the course before race day.
Take the time to do imagery of race day situations that make you a little nervous or you haven’t had much experience with so that when race day comes, you’re more prepared. For example, if you’re doing a distance that has more competitors, you might want to imagine the start of the race to experience what it’s like to run with that many people around you. Or, imagine the final mile of your first marathon if you’re worried about being able to finish.
Create affirmations. Positive thinking is important, and affirmations are strong, positive thoughts about yourself. Though the word “affirmation” may suggest a cheesy image of talking to yourself in a mirror, that’s not too far off. Affirmations should be repeated, with conviction to yourself. Sometimes we don’t believe them at first – the repetition is important in the power of positive thinking.
By creating positive phrases that you can say to yourself both before and during the race (though affirmations are great for training too), you can give yourself a boost of confidence as well as help to block out worries and distractions. Create your own affirmations, in the present tense, for example: “I am strong,” “My stride is smooth,” or “I rock the bike.” Affirmations can be especially helpful for the parts of the race you have nerves about.
When it comes to competing, nerves (and excitement) are normal. A new venue, distance, or sport can bring additional elements that you need to consider when preparing. By adjusting your mental preparation to accommodate for all of this, you give yourself the best chance possible of performing the way you want to on race day.