Saturday, 15 October 2011

Pre-race nerves

Following a quiet summer and a tough few weeks of training, tomorrow I will be racing in the Tamworth 10k. This will the first time I have been in a race in around 6 months because of a knee injury that has kept me from pounding the pavements all summer. This will still only be my 7th race and my first at this distance; I’m still pretty much a beginner.
Going into tomorrow though, I have to admit, I’m nervous. Nervous about a few things; about not finishing if my knee starts to play up, not getting the time I want, I’m even nervous about getting to the race because this is first time I’ll be travelling alone. The more I’m thinking about it, the more I’m getting nervous. To make things worse, I’m playing in a football match today (stupid I know and a problem easily fixed, don’t play, but I have to), so I’m definitely nervous about getting injured.
Have I been here before?
In the races I have done before, there were nerves, but different nerves then what I feel now. In my first race, a marathon, the nerves were definitely concerned with not making the distance, a problem I’m not envisaging for tomorrow. Then I’ve done 2 half marathons where my biggest concern shifted from finishing, to time; the runner’s biggest enemy. So far, my battles with time have always seen me triumph, beating the times that I have set for races. Tomorrow? Well, I think that could be a different story.
Stepping up
Over the last 6 weeks or so, things have gone a little quicker than they were going before. My legs have been turning over a little quicker and all of my runs have a little faster. I’ve thrown in a lot more sprint work and I think it is doing wonders. All this has done though, is raise my expectations. The time in my mind that I have set is at a quicker pace than my previous race times would predict. Am I setting myself up for a giant, thumping fall then, or am I preparing for one of my biggest personal highs of running so far?
One of the best ways to get over nerves is to plan. As the old saying goes;
Failed to prepare? Then prepare to fail”
Obviously the most important preparation is training; there is no point expecting to break records if you haven’t took the time to train, and train well. For me, I can’t change what training I’ve done now. All I can do is look over my training plan and see whether training has gone well (which it has) or not. One day before the race though, the things that need to be planned and prepared are the little things that make race day run smoother than Barry White on ice.
What am I having for breakfast in the morning? What time is the race? How long does it take to get there? What facilities are there? What’s the weather going to be like? What food or drink will I want before, during and after the race? These are just some of the questions that have to be answered beforehand. Once these are answered, you can relax a little and concentrate on running the race.
When all’s said and done
Tomorrow, like many other runners every weekend, I will emerge in one of two states. I can crash and end in defeat, beaten by father time. Or, I will rise and triumph. Whatever happens, I’m sure I will be back at the start line again. Ready take on time, other runners and those ever-present nerves.
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