How To Prevent Race Day Pressure

How To Prevent Race Day Pressure 

Getting the body into shape and mind prepared for a race is something that most athletes can’t stop thinking about. Some athletes are usually under pressure right from training to race day. This natural phenomenon also applies to a student who is preparing to write an exam or test in school. How to prevent race day pressure.

No matter how long or short the distance, it is never an easy task. Lots of physical training, eating routines, focus training, psychological preparedness, etc, go into the preparation process for a race. One would expect that with all those boxes checked, an athlete should not find any excuses in getting on the track (or road) and have a good race. But sometimes, not just as athletes, but as human beings in general, our minds try to play tricks on us by telling us things that, almost always, aren’t true. These tricks manifest as fear; The fear of the unknown is haunting a lot of people in everyday life. Below is a breakdown of common fears runners encounter and how they can be defeated.

I might start too slow (self-identity)

It is important to understand that different runners run at different paces at different points of a race. Regarding that, what matters most is that you know your own self, usually by monitoring how long it takes you to ‘get in the groove’ and how much speed you can produce at the start of a race. ‘know yourself’ is the keyword here, meaning, do not get compelled into starting with the same speed as others, or intimidated by the speed with which they start. Remember, it’s how you finish that matters. That is your identity (self-identity). How well do you know what you are capable of doing with or without any support?

I’m not sure what to expect (unknown expectations)

Know this: what happens just before and during a race is not determined by a raffle draw whereby a ball is selected at random and no one knows what to expect. It is simply the same series of events as every other race you have witnessed in the past, and even if there would be any
changes, they’d be slight and ineffective to your racing performance, so just chill, focus on your training, and go out there and smash your personal best (PB)
On the flip side, not knowing what to expect can also serve as something that makes a race more fun and interesting, depending on the runner’s point of view. From the writer’s personal experience, as they prepare for a race, they prepare for uncertainties too, knowing well that, as stated earlier, there won’t be any of real significance. You need to have confidence and know that you can make it no matter the circumstances.

I could fall apart mid-race and not finish (believe in yourself)

There is a common saying that what someone believes in, works for them. The fact about that is, there’s a lot of psychology associated with it. As one of the racing fears runners experience before a race, the thought of falling apart mid-race and not finishing presents itself and seems like it is becoming reality as the runner draws farther away from the starting point of the race, and that is when mental discipline plays a role. To make life easier, train your mind to understand the fact that you will not fall apart mid-race and that you will finish the race, so far as you run at your own pace and subscribe to positive self-talk while you run. Sometimes, we can become what we think about and what we think we are. Yes, everything is possible when you have faith and believe in yourself.

I haven’t done enough training (have a positive mindset)

The amount of training a runner does before a race means nothing without the right frame of mind to go with. The writer has personally had an experience whereby they completed a training plan in preparation for a race, but due to doubts and fears, their time was below par. A few months later, the writer participated in another race of the same distance as the previous one, having followed the training plan, but not as strictly as they did in preparation for the previous race, they recorded a
relatively impressive time, all because they were in good spirits before and during the race. Mind you, we are not trying to downplay the importance of training, we are just trying to highlight the role of psychology and mind control in running, for all you know, the writer could have recorded a much better time if they had treated that training plan with a little more discipline, coupled with their great mental preparedness at the time.

I don’t know what/when to eat before a race (have a stable mindset)

Thinking much about this topic can interfere with a runner’s mental preparedness for a race. As a rule, based on research, runners are often advised to eat a heavy meal 24 hours before a race and follow up with snacks until about 2 hours before the race. As soon as the race starts, what you have eaten doesn’t matter anymore, as the battle between your body and your mind begins.

There’s nothing wrong with fear, what’s not right is allowing oneself to drown in it, as it could create unrealistic scenarios, thereby creating problems where problems didn’t exist. At some point in our lives, we all have been victims of decisions made out of fear, or unfulfilled results after hard work, due to fear of some sort. It’s important to note that we are not defined by our fears. How to prevent race day pressure as an athlete.

Note these four rules as an athlete:

1. Do not compare yourself to other runners

2. Eat a heavy nutritional meal 24 hours before a race

3. Be consistent

4. After all your training, the rest is in your head

By Prince Allotey Addo


By Athleticshour

Sekyere Richard has had a 10-year involvement in the sport of athletics. He holds a Diploma in Physical Fitness. Sekyere has experienced the sport as a middle/distance athlete, coach, and now journalist and blogger. Sekyere has published several articles on athletics from Ghanaian Athletics to World Athletics. He currently owns and manages the content and marketing development of Athletics Hour. "I am passionate about sports, love writing and interviewing, traveling, and meeting new athletes and coaches. I like to expose the hidden talents in the youth and I am always in search of talents across Ghana". I have volunteered in one of the biggest ultra-marathons in the world "The Elton Ultra Marathon in Russia. Covered many races in Ghana including ECOWAS CAA Region II Championship and multiple roads and track races in Ghana. In 2021, he launched the "Better Ghana Athletics Agenda", which will help support organisers, athletes and coaches in all directions.

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