I both love and loathe races.
I LOVE the community, the volunteers, the comraderie of the other runners and the medals. And it is VERY convenient to have portaloos and drinks stations on the course.
But when I’m actually racing, wow that is nerve wracking. Knowing that it is going to hurt, that you’re going to have to push, often from the startline, to get your very best effort. It’s not easy, but nothing worth having ever is.
I sat in our hire car* not really wanting to get out, not wanting to start the race. Or wanting to change to a 5K or take it easy…anything but a hard 10K!
However I read something recently from Molly Huddle that really helped…
‘This is what I like’.
We do this for fun, it’s our hobby. Of course, we put so much time and energy into running that of course we feel pressure and nerves on race day. We want to perform to our best ability, to meet our potential. But every race is a chance to learn, to see what went right, what could be improved on. Whether it’s a starting point for future training, an indicator of fitness or our goal race that we’ve been building up to for months.
‘In the grand scheme of things, sports are a safe space to fail; those few hard losses are uncomfortable but they help remove the fear of imperfection. In this way, it’s actually making you more brave and more resilient for real-life adversity, and it’s fun in the meantime.’ – Molly Huddle
There are so many things in our control on race day, and so many things that we have absolutely no control over whatsoever that its important to focus on the controllables and just do our best to react appropriately to those that we can’t.
My race goal was to try to run sub 46 minutes in yesterday’s 10K, with the plan to start ‘slow’ and run a negative split. Of course standing in the queue for the loo at 7.14 (with a 7.15 race start) wasn’t an ideal start, neither was running my fastest mile as my first….
A great tip I was given to help with pacing (although apparently I didn’t pay enough attention at all), is to change your watch to half mile splits to give you more information on your actual pace so that you can adjust it before its too late. Often the current pace swings wildly and doesn’t give accurate feedback.
So my first half mile was 3.30 (the plan was 3.49), and my second was 3.38. I felt great. As you always do in those first few miles before everything starts to hurt.
And it did.
Mile 3, 4 and 5 were mentally challenging, and by the final mile I was counting down in 10ths of a mile. I had thought in the middle of the race that my sub 46 goal was totally gone, that I’d blown it. I was overtaken by two women at this point and I felt like I was going backwards. But it is during these tough points in races and workouts that you have two choices; give up or push as hard as you can and be proud of yourself regardless of the finish time, knowing you gave your all.
I switched my watch to average pace and overall time with distance and started doing some mental maths and realised that if I didn’t give up and kept clocking sub 3.50 half miles, that it was still possible.
My Mum was amazing and came out to cheer, catching me in three spots. That final mile I genuinely couldn’t even muster up a smile/wave, I just wanted to be done.
I found a tiny kick in that finishing straight, watching my Garmin seconds tick over and hoping I was going to make it.
45.50 – I achieved the goal but completely messed up the plan. I went out hard, and crashed and burned. But at least I know what I need to work on, and it was a confidence that the fitness is there…somewhere!
I also don’t think I was hydrated enough which is another thing I need to practice over the next 12 weeks.
I took advantage of all the amazing freebies at the race finish line, including the massages, food stalls and the step & repeat board with Kim where we shared our running resolutions for 2020.
Anyone else deal with race day anxiety? how do you tackle it?
*We were gifted our Hertz hire car in exchange for coverage. We rented a 7 seater KIA that was more than big enough for us plus luggage and ferrying around my cousins and grandparents during the week – more info on our trip later this week. Find rentals at hertz.co.uk, pre-pay online for best price!