Performance Anxiety: How To Overcome Pre-Race Jitters

I can’t believe that the half marathon is in 5 days. It seems like just yesterday when I announced I was going to give it a go.

Now it’s 20 weeks (or so) later and the race is right around the corner. I know it’s silly, it’s just a run, and it’s a distance I’ve already achieved during training… but I am already getting jitters.

You would think that I would have had more anxiety of the dangerous mud run that I did this past weekend. But you would be wrong.

I was calm and collected for that. In fact, it may have been the first time ever that I wasn’t anxious at all for a race.

But this is different. I have never done a 1/2 marathon. It’s completely new to me and I am feeling the stress and nerves starting to build up (the sugar cravings are coming, the stomach is jumpy, and my brain is all over the place).

This was the motivating message at the 2012 London Marathon (source)

And let’s not forget how competitive I am and this is a race where I am competing against no one but myself. I want to rock this thing and prove to myself that I can be a runner.

I know it’s funny, but I am the girl that gets worked up for 5Ks… even after doing more than a dozen of them (if not 2 dozen), I still get anxious, wanting to do better than before.

2011 5K Reindeer Run

With no half under my belt, I have no idea what to expect. I have no idea how I’ll do, if I’ll start too fast or too slow, or if my goal is really realistic (though I am thinking it is).

So before the anxiety builds up too much, here is how I am dealing with it… starting today!

I don’t want to get too worked up now and have it affect my performance, after all, a little pressure the day of will help! But too much and I’ll be stuck with an upset stomach on the side of the road.

Dealing With Race Performance Anxiety

Clean it up! 

I know I run and perform best when I have the best fuel in my body. So I am aiming to drink 3 liters of water every day, cut out all sweets (I have some chocolate in the freezer I am going to avoid) and I am saying no to all alcohol until after race day. Giving my body the best foods will help me feel the best and know I have properly prepped.

Don’t Dwell. 

I am not going to focus on my goal time. If I sit here and think over and over how I want my time to be under 2 hours, I am going to work my stomach up and my mind. Instead, I know how hard I have trained and I am reminding myself that no matter what, I’ll do the best I can. That’s all I can do. It sucks that the race is on Sunday morning so I have to go all weekend with it on my brain, but luckily I’ll be with friends and we can keep each other busy and minds of the race!



Image source

My life revolves so much around fitness that it can be hard to allow myself to relax. But that’s what I tend to do this week. My workouts and runs will be slow and will be my therapy. I am also trying to get a massage in there somewhere. If my muscles are relaxed, my mind will relax and vice versa.

Remember why I’m doing it. 

I signed up for the 1/2 as a way fun way to challenge myself to new levels. Plus, my friend Sarah was moving to DC and we decided it would be an awesome way for us to reconnect. Train apart and run together. I am not trying to be the top female, I am running for myself and for fun. I forget that A LOT because of my competitive nature. As Dan tells me, sometimes I just need to chill.

Nothing new. 

I won’t be trying new foods, drinks or workouts between now and then. The last thing I want is an upset stomach or sore muscles from trying an new intense workout. In fact, I will be packing breakfast for our trip this weekend, I don’t want surprises. And I don’t want to be forced to eat non-vegan if vegan food isn’t available. Routine is going to be key for the rest of the weekend!

Positive reinforcements.

Image source

I keep telling myself: I am in the best shape of my life, I have trained, I have felt great, and I can do this. Reminding myself these things every day helps me feel more confident and ready. Because dang it, I am ready!

And with that, all I have to say is: BRING IT!

  • Do you get performance anxiety? 
  • Any tricks to cope?
  • Advice for me? 


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