There was another great pre-marathon workshop for RISE charity runners last Thursday, 16th January 2014. The main focus of the mind session was on overcoming race nerves and boosting confidence. The combination of lowering those nerves and raising confidence levels helps you to be at your best!
We talked about how routines can help calm those nerves because routines are something that are familiar to us. Much like when we get up and go to work each morning or go about our daily routine, because we are familiar with what we have to do, it does not cause any unease or stress. Yet, when our routine is disrupted like having to get up early and go somewhere different, we may feel somewhat uneasy, not sleep to well beforehand or even feel stressed on the morning. Therefore, developing a routine prior to a event such as your upcoming half marathon race, will help keep those nerves at bay.
In the first instance, write out all the things you need and want to do before the gun goes off. Things to include in your routine might include: when to pack your kit bag and what to bring for before, during and after the race, how much sleep you want to get to be at your best (this may shift depending on when race is and how far you need to travel), what you eat for breakfast and drink before and during the race, when you do your warm up and what sorts of things to do. You might also need to think about when you look into the logistics of where you are going, where you are going to park and how to get there in the first place.
Once you have written down all those pre-event things to do, I encourage you to put then into a time sequence ‘timeline’. What do you need to do and when, prior to the race start. By having a written list of actions to take and things to consider, you can ‘switch the brain off’, not have to think and help calm any nerves because you know that you will not forget to do anything … as long as you do what is written on that routine. You can start practicing this routine for long runs, make any adjustments that you think will make a positive difference so that when you get to race day, your routine is familiar to you.
Another area we touched upon to help calm the nerves was about relaxation such as progressive muscle relaxation, ‘one conscious breath’ and meditation to take the edge off those pre-race nerves. By doing some sort of relaxation exercise before your event, not only are you helping your body to relax (and therefore perform better), you are helping your mind to think more clearly (and rationally!). Practicing taking a deep breath and imagining that the stresses and strains are leaving the body, you actually help to release any muscle tension. You can then turn this into ‘one conscious breath’ to simple release all tension from the body and help your to run even better by taking only one deep breath.
We also talked about strategies to boost confidence. Writing out a ‘confidence resume’ which is much like your work resume listing all your jobs and achievements, the confidence resume lists all the things you have done that make you feel good about you. By reviewing this list on a regular basis, you are giving yourself a boost of confidence which you then carry into other activities, such as running a race! By reminding yourself of those feel good feelings of all those achievements actually lifts you up emotionally and that helps you to feel more able and more confident to do what you are about to do – that is, run a distance you may never have done before!
Another confidence boosting strategy is acting ‘as if’ you were confident. This is all about thinking about the traits, behaviors and characteristics a confident person might have and pretend that you have all the same! By acting ‘as if’ for long enough, your body and mind will soon follow suit for real and you will have that genuine confidence!
All these strategies work well in life where you want to be at your best, do something perhaps a big scary and maybe even stretch your comfort zones. So have a play with them not just for your running, elsewhere in your life and see what a difference it makes to calming those nerves and boosting your confidence!
As I am always happy to offer my professional support to the RISE charity runners, I invited them to contact me for individual coaching leading up to their half-marathon and marathon goals.