It’s Race Morning …What Do I Do?

Today’s guest post comes from Jacqueline Lewis-Lyons, Psy.D., clinical and sport psychologist and member of the Columbus Marathon Psych Team.

Photo Oct 13, 5 19 35 PMIt’s here. Race morning. All of your training for the past several months has brought you to this moment. And, you may be a little …well, nervous. It’s okay. Nerves are perfectly normal, especially when you are going to be spending the next few hours doing something that others consider rather crazy. You’ll be fine, Just remember your training and this important rule – NOTHING new on race day.

You have practiced your hydration and fueling on long runs. You have the most comfortable outfit already planned and broken in. Preparing for race morning has been part of what you’ve been doing now for weeks. To make it easier, make a list of all the things you do to prepare for long runs. The night before your race, pull out that list to check off all the items, no matter how minor it may seem. If you have written “pick out socks,” then do that. The weather may be a big deciding factor in which ones you wear so make sure that you have run in all the gear several times and know how everything feels. This takes away the pressure to remember every little thing. Check off that list and congratulate yourself for being so well organized.

Next, set the alarm. Figure out how much time you need to wake up and eat something and plan for it. Eat whatever has worked for you on the long run mornings. Maybe text your friends while you eat as a reminder to be out on the course, cheering you on.

If this is your first marathon or 1/2 marathon, you likely will not have slept much at all. It’s okay, you’ll be fine. Hopefully, you have been practicing some relaxation techniques throughout your training and during the taper. It does help to take the edge off those nerves. Deep breathing and imagining yourself passing each mile marker will bolster your self-confidence. Practice your finish line smile and wave in the mirror, telling yourself that it’s going to be a great day, no matter what.

The best advice I can give anyone on race morning is to maintain a positive attitude. Don’t let concerns about the weather put a damper on your excitement about completing your race. Having some positive affirmations written on index cards can be a great way to keep morale up and calm nerves, especially if there are specific things you worry about. For example, maybe you’re afraid you will be last. Odds are you won’t be, but try telling yourself “The finish line and medal will be there waiting for me.” If there is a hill that saps your strength, tell yourself  “With each step, I am conquering this hill.” Find some phrases that will have special meaning for you and write them down. You may even commit a few to memory if you’ve practiced them on long runs. Hold on to that positive attitude, and remember that we are cheering you on.

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