If you’ve ever been called a ‘Control Freak’ or ‘Worry Wart’ you are not alone. Lots of runners have ‘Type A’ personalities and some achieve great success as a result. Type A’ers are organized, dedicated, hardworking and rarely leave a stone unturned. All these qualities translate well to the sport of running; an endeavor that requires extraordinary discipline and commitment. On the other hand, when type A’ers find themselves in situations where they don’t have absolute control, they often experience much frustration and extreme anxiety. This is true at work, at home, and on race day.
Interestingly, I think it is this ‘absence of control’ that draws executives, celebrities, and politicians to the sport of running.
There are always going to be aspects of your race you cannot control—your finishing place, your overall time, how your body feels, how many water stations are on the course, etc. You never know when a busload of Kenyans is going to storm the local 5K where you planned a top five finish, or when your child is going to get the flu the night before your goal race. Worrying about what you cannot control is futile and frankly a waste of your time. There are some things that one can control and should take every measure to do so. Here are some examples:
How you plan to attack parts of the course
If you are running a course with lots of hills perhaps you make a deal with yourself to take 25 hard strides upon cresting the hill. If your goal race is loaded with turns, choose a few of the turns and focus on making a surges at these specific spots. Much of this can be decided when looking at a course map or better yet doing a course tour.
The mind is so strong and only you can control the messages your body receives. Be prepared to replace any negative thought with two positive thoughts. Several runners now use mantras to keep them thinking positively. A mantra is a short phrase or group of words repeated to promote a focused mind, and relaxed body. Learn more about The Mental Side of Running!
If you are someone who struggles with hydration, make a plan to stop at every aid station. Furthermore, planning which mile maker or part of the course you plan to take your gel or gummies can often help you break up the race or at least give you something to look forward to.
How you react to various situations
If you are someone that gets discouraged when you get passed in a race, promise yourself that if you do get passed you will make an honest effort to hang with the ‘passer’ for at least 15 seconds—often times you realize you can run with this person or at least draft off them. Likewise, if you find yourself further back in the pack than you anticipated, be prepared to throw in 3 x 20 second surges at various pre-determined points on the course.
How you deal with mid-race stress
It is very common for runners to feel very anxious even after the gun goes off. If you fall into this group you may want to develop a strategy for managing this stress. Nobody is going to stop you from slowing down slightly and taking three really deep breaths. Repeat several times if necessary.
Remember! Many of your pre-race stresses can be eliminated by preparing properly in your training and taking every measure possible in the days leading up to your race to stay healthy and focused.
About the Author: Chantelle Wilder is the Senior Editor and Co-Founder of Runners Feed. She also competes for the New Balance Silicon Valley club in the Bay Area of California. When she isn’t running, or editing she can be found enjoying the fruitful wines of nearby Napa Valley while challenging her husband to a game of Bananagrams®.