Conquer Self-Doubt Before Your Next Race
It happens to many of you, and It happens to me just about every time I am nearing race day. I have trained for months. A big workout or race is approaching quickly. For the entire build up to the race day I have felt confident and on top of things, but right before the race, and especially race morning I have big doubts. My body doesn’t feel like racing, I wish the race was tomorrow (or yesterday), and suddenly I wish I had never even decided to run the race.
What is going on here? I have let negative self-talk take over and the fun and enjoyment is all blanketed with doubt. I am not saying you shouldn’t be a little nervous or anxious before a race, but what you tell yourself is important. So what do you do? As I am going through this journey with you all too, I have seen just how you can defeat yourself mentally before you even start running. Half of the battle is mental! So, leading into this next race or big workout, here is what I recommend you try practicing for your mental training:
1.Remember to be gentle with self-judgment. Love yourself. I consistently build up a race emotionally thinking that it attaches to my identity. I end up spending lots of energy stressing out about what the outcome will be. Deep down, I feel I will be less, or a waste if I don’t win or run the time I had predicted. I want others to be impressed and I want my family and friends to be excited. Something simple one of my old coaches would say, “After this race, you are going to go to bed, and tomorrow you will wake up and life will go on. You will still be Erik.” This is all true! I believe we have to enjoy the challenges we create, yet have the ability to reduce some of the pressure we put on ourselves. All there is to do is put one foot in front of the other.
2. Remember that it is common to feel like shit before a workout/race. Your body is a afraid because you know you are about to push yourself, and it will likely be uncomfortable. No matter how bad or sluggish you feel, none of that matters. Once the race starts it will all go away and you will run.
3. Reverse some of the self-talk. Instead of saying something to yourself like, “I can’t hit this pace” or “this just isn’t going to be my day” focus on what is true in that exact moment. It is simple. Try saying something like “the sun is shining, and I am standing here waiting for the race to start.” Or I’ve put in lots of training, and today and I am going to run hard and smart.” Keep away from subjective self-doubt.
4. Don’t try new things right before an event. No new diet, or workout, or watch is going to make your race dreams come true the week leading up to it. Keep to what has been working for you. Focus on the training that has gone well. We typically like to focus on the one or two things that aren’t working than the 5-10 things that are.