Maranoia madness! How to cope with pre-race nerves

Originally published on The Running Bug

Convinced you have the flu or your leg is falling off the week before a big race? Sounds like a bad case of maranoia! Pre-race anxiety is a normal part of the process. Follow our tips to beat the paranoid demons and cruise your way to the start line.

I haven’t trained enough!

About to embark on a 26.2 mile race? Resist the urge to cram last minute miles in! Now is the time to taper. If you have followed a training plan to some degree and did at least one long run, you’ll be OK.

You might not break any world records, but you’ll get round alive. Cramming the miles in at the last minute will knacker you out and do more harm than good come race day, so put your feet up and stop stressing.

I have the flu!

Convinced every sniffle is a serious bout of the flu? We have all been there. In the two weeks before race day arm yourself with hand sanitiser, First Defence spray and a bag of oranges and you can’t lose. If you are genuinely ill, ask your GP for advice. But don’t let the maranoia demons convince you of the worst.

Negative thinking can put you in the wrong headspace, so try and get lots of sleep, look after yourself and focus on the positives. It’s perfectly normal after a heavy training period to feel a little bit under the weather, so use your taper time to get refreshed and ready for race day.

What if I hit the wall?

If you follow a nutrition plan, eat plenty of sweeties, drink enough water and stay positive, you will be fine. It is perfectly normal to have wall wobbles before a race, and indeed even mid race. Have faith in your training, trust in your legs and rely on the crowd support to see you through.

We’ve never heard of a race that includes an actual brick wall, and would encourage you to ask for your money back if you encounter one! The only walls that exist are in your mind, and as everyone knows, imaginary walls are easy to run though because they don’t really exist. Pull your socks up, stop worrying and embrace imaginary flamingos that fly you across the finish line instead.

I’m not going to get a PB!

Setting a goal is a fantastic motivator, but it can add extra pressure. If you did the training, worked hard and feel fit as a fiddle, there’s a strong chance you will achieve your PB dreams. However, marathon running is much like falling in love; the reason it’s exciting is because you just don’t know what’s going to happen.

Focus on the positives, try and envisage yourself crossing the finish line in the time you hoped for and have faith in the universe. If we all gave up for fear of failure, we’d never achieve any of our dreams. Now is the time to enjoy race day and fall hopelessly in love with the open road.

I hate running!

Suddenly wondering why you entered that stupid race in the first place? It is perfectly normal to decide you hate running at the last minute and want to give up just before your big day. You’ve just dedicated months of your life to this, so now is not the time to give up. Suck it up, get yourself to the start line and run that race. You’ll thank us later.

I can’t concentrate; let’s get drunk!

Resist the urge to use alcohol to dull the maranoia demons, your body needs to be in tip top shape for race day. As tempting as it is to get blind drunk before a race to quieten your overactive mind, now is the time to practice some meditative thinking.

Book yourself a massage, experiment with cooking new recipes, visit old friends or go for a gentle swim. Do something, anything, to take your mind off the task at hand (as long as it doesn’t involve too much gin) and try to relax. If we still haven’t convinced you, read this

I have a broken leg!

In the two weeks before race day it is common to convince yourself that every little twinge is a stress fracture and your limbs are all about to fall off. Unless you’re in genuine pain or your legs actually are dangling off (in which case, get down to your local GP pronto) put the demons in a box on a shelf and ignore them.

Maranoia can be all-consuming, but you have just trained for a marathon and you’re in peak physical condition, so you’re strong enough to deal with a few mental setbacks. Now is the time to be resilient and soldier on. You are a runner and you can get through this! Good luck.