02 Mar Event Day Panic… Grab a coffee, get comfortable and have a good read of this one.
I’m sure you’ve been there too.
It’s the morning of your event
Your alarm goes off and it takes a little while for you to remember why you set it.
And then it dawns on you…. “I’m racing in X hours”
Cue panic…! Well maybe not panic, but some form of anxiety, worry or maybe even dread depending on how training has been going.
Questions start arising…
“Should I have my usual breakfast”
“Is that more porridge than I usually have”
“Better have a bit less… Don’t want it to weight me down”
“Have I packed everything?”
“Where’s the race info”
“I’ve lost all my safety pins again!”
We start to picture everything that COULD go wrong. Very rarely do we imagine a scenario where everything goes right.
Even once you are at the event, it’s totally normal to see everyone jogging, warming up, swinging their legs.
Some might even be having a quick stretch before their event (one of my minor gripes but I’ll explain that another time).
“I’m not ready”
“I’ve had a rubbish few months of training, I’m going to have to start slow”
So not only are we imagining a negative consequence, but we are also knocking our confidence too.
And this happens a lot. I’ve spoken to loads of runners at events, asked them how they are feeling and the emotions are usually similar.
Very rarely do I hear a response along the lines of:
“My trainings been going so well, I think I’m going to get a new pb today”
Some might say it to themselves but rarely aloud.
So what could we do to change our preparation?
It’s not as simple as telling yourself off for not being confident.
You have to truly believe it.
And this stems from the right training.
Set your training up well, be consistent and this will boost your confidence as stage one.
Beyond this, especially on the day of the event – it’s one big mind game.
So I’ll assume your running has been going relatively well recently. There might have been a few hiccups along the way – it’ll happen to everyone… Don’t worry. There is no such thing as the perfect plan – trust me we ALL have to adapt and change (which is why RunCamp write bespoke plans for our runners).
On the day of the event, either before or after breakfast, spend 10 minutes sat quietly. I tend to do this after eating – the house is generally quiet and I can think without thinking solely about food..!
In this 10 minutes, I’d start with thinking about some of the training sessions I had that went particularly well. Not necessarily a pb, but ones where I finished feeling strong.
I’d go through in my head the things that went well on those particular runs, how I paced them, what I ate (before and during) and other significant things like how I felt during the run.
Starting by thinking about the good runs sets you up well mentally. I’ll try to think about the potential pit falls too, things like cramp or a shoe lace coming undone, but I won’t dwell on them – I’ll simply use these thoughts to have a mini plan in place to overcome them should they arise.
Beyond this, I think about the event ahead. What I need to pack (hopefully the packing was done last night… If you don’t do this already then I highly recommend it). What my nutrition strategy is. Possibly a gel before the start? And energy drink on the drive to the start?
I’ll go through what my plans for the event are. Mile or Kilometre split targets (hopefully you have a good idea of what you’d like to achieve).
If I know the course, I’ll think about where I might lose some time (i.e. up a hill) and where I’ll gain some (downhill!)
By using this 10 minutes to think about what is going to happen, hopefully you’ll not have any surprises at the start. You’ll have packed everything. You’ll have the strategy in your head for the event itself and you’ll feel less anxious as generally we’ll feel these emotions when we are out of control or not knowing whats coming.
I have no doubt at all you’ll still want to visit the toilet 10 times at the event venue(!) They’ll still be times when you think “I’ve not drunk enough” but the major things (packing the right kit, knowing your run strategy, nutrition…) are covered.
Once at the race venue, it’s important not to get swept up in everyone else’s business. Some will want to chat, others will hide away. Some will crack out some fancy looking drills.
Personally the more important the event is to me – the more likely I am to avoid everyone else and spend time in “The Ant Zone”. Trust me… I’m not being rude if I blank you before the start of an event – I’m just deep in thought!
Stick to what you do on your regular runs.
If you normally just head out for a couple of miles and use that as a warm up – do this.
If you warm up with a handful of drills – do this.
If you don’t warm up at all… Do that (but I’d honestly recommend looking into bringing in some form of warming up into your regular routine!)
For all events and distances you need to be warm on the start line. Personally this means a minimum of 10-15 minutes light jogging. The shorter the distance you are doing, the longer this needs to be. I’ve warmed up for a 5k with a 45 minute jog before now in preparation for a personal best.
^^ That strategy isn’t for everyone, but you know your own body, but warming up if you don’t already will almost guarantee a new pb at your next event (provided the conditions and terrain suits of course!) 😉
During the warm up is the time to think about whats ahead. You’ll probably start coming up with some false injuries at this point… My ankle feels stiff, hamstring is tight etc. But the important thing is to keep you mind on what you WANT to achieve – Your GOALS.
Keep your mind on the positive things.
As the event starts, it’s important to stay relaxed and again, refer to your goals.
If you start too fast and think “I can hold this pace…” you probably won’t…
You can’t bank time in running, sadly it’ll bite you back on the butt later on. You need to stick with your targets and if you feel good towards the end – then push on. If you don’t have targets, make some the day before (based on your recent runs – nothing silly ambitious!)
Okay… Thats some of my race thoughts out of my head… Some other things to this about however…
With talks of time goals and distances, we can often lose touch with why we run. And its a real shame.
Being out with a huge number of other people, all doing the same activity for such a wide variety of reasons is such an amazing sight, but we often over look this with our own priorities.
If it doesn’t end up going well, don’t scrap it and feel bad about what is happening.
Take a look around you. Chat to the person next to you and why not take in some of the atmosphere and think back to why you started. You probably started this journey to get healthier, inspire your children/friends, make a positive change to your life.
Chances are by making it to the start line you have done just that. So never forget it 🙂
P.S. Apologies for such a long one, but well done for getting this far! I’ve nothing more to add other than best of luck for any events you might be doing, and by all means pop up what your plans are in the Run365 group – its a place for awesome runners to chat running and ask questions.
Ant is the creator of RunCamp. Everyday his goals are to educate, motivate and inspire runners and triathletes to make themselves better than they were yesterday.
Running in his eyes is a journey, and through his coaching he aims to make everyone’s journeys more enjoyable.
As well as running, you’ll find Ant regularly taking part in triathlons, from sprint distance up to full Ironmans.
He also has a big weakness in the forms of Papa John’s pizza and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, so if you ever want to get an easier session, thats one way to get one!