Nerves of Steel or Pre-Race Jitters

Runners before the 33rd January Thaw in Belgrade, Maine

Some Twitter conversations can be pretty enlightening.

We were tweeting about being nervous before starting a race. Some of the others were surprised that we all said we were nervous before a race.

This got me to thinking – yep dangerous place to go.

Always have been nervous

In any athletic event I have ever participated in, I have always been very nervous before an event started. Even when I was road racing every weekend, (a long time ago) until we stepped up to the line and the gun went off, I always had bad pre-race jitters while waiting for the race to begin.

One time just before the start of a race, my nerves took over so bad that I had to find a rest room and heard the gun go off in the middle of something and had to wait until I was finished to start the race. I hurried out of the bathroom and ran to the starting line about 2:00 minutes after the race started. Everyone was laughing at me and pointing in the direction I needed to go.  After the race, I just told everyone that I didn’t want to embarrass them and gave them a good head start :-).  I didn’t live that one down for a little while.

Needless to say I didn’t set a PR in that race and ever since, I am very careful about ensuring my “business” is done well before the start of the race.

First race in forever

On Saturday when I went ahead and ran my first race in at least 6 years and only the second one since 1986 – I was nervous as hell.  In a way it was good that I found out the race was Saturday not Sunday. As it was I tossed, turned and thought about how I would do in the race a lot that night before falling asleep.

I woke up earlier than usual and my first thought was how would I do today? I left early, getting there more than an hour before the start to ensure that I got through registration, had plenty of opportunity to find a Port-a-potty, bathroom, tree or whatever was available to use, and get warmed up.

All these nerves were for a race less than 15 minutes from the house, that had a total of 32 people run.  Yes it was the first time in a long time since I had run a race, but I had already set my goals and they were very low bar goals, just because I didn’t want to stress out over them.  Hell I was still nervous.

I wonder how much these pre-race jitters played in my decision to not race over the years? I think they did play a role and now that I know this I can get beyond those feelings and just enjoy the racing, instead working so hard to avoid the “jitters”.

Everyone gets the “jitters”

I have a feeling that all the competitors felt nervous at the start of the race. We are all thinking about how our training has been, can I keep my target pace, what are my competitors going to do, that person over there – I don’t know them are they faster than I am?  All those things and more are going through runner’s minds before they get to the starting line.

I believe that it is the uncertainty of what will happen during a race that makes us nervous before.

Sharing experiences

That is one of the beauties of Twitter and other social media, we learn that we are not the only ones feeling these things or having those thoughts. In reality feeling nervous or having pre-race jitters, are pretty common place and nothing to worry about.

Through social media we are finding out many of the things we think and worry about are the same as a lot of other people and that we are fairly normal – for runners. 🙂

Nope – I don’t have nerves of steel and neither do a lot of other runners.

What about you?

Do you have a story about how nervous you have gotten before a race or something you did that was funny as a result of being so nervous before a race started?

Do you have any good strategies about how do you combat or lower your nerves until the gun goes off.

It will be interesting to hear your thoughts about the pre-race jitters

Even write a blog post with your pre-race jitters story and link back to here :-). Let’s have some fun with this one.

2 thoughts on “Nerves of Steel or Pre-Race Jitters

  1. I get excited for short races (10k and less) but every time I stand at a starting line for a hlaf I always question what I have gotten myself into and wondering if I will even finish. But then again, I get anxious before the first whistle of any sporting event I'm involved with.

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  2. Pingback: AVR Week In Review – 1/22/12 « A Veteran Runnah

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