How to calm the pre-race day jitters…

So the time has arrived!  Time for me to run the Hamilton Around the Bay 30km race for the 3rd time!  I don’t know what it is about this race but I keep signing up for it!  Maybe it’s the challenging distance, the location (close to my hometown of Ancaster!), the fact that I get to see my family and friends, the time of year, the awesome Dri-fit shirts we get or my love of running but I never seem to get tired of this race!  For those of you who have done Around the Bay you know what I mean I am sure.  If you haven’t done this race yet I highly recommend it (even if it is held in “Steel City” Hamilton!)

Pre Race JittersIt doesn’t matter how many times I have been in a race I still get nervous the last few days leading up to the race.  I think the best but also the most challenging part about preparing for a race is the week before the race.  I can remember back to my very first half marathon in September 2008.  I was training with the Orleans Running Room and had so much support from them and my personal trainer but I was so worried about what to eat/not to eat, how much I should be exercising, what clothes to wear, how much sleep to get, etc, etc and this is totally normal!  I feel like a pro now as I have done quite a few races since then to test out what works and what doesn’t.  Today I will share with you some tried and true tips for new runners leading up to your race…

Top 5 Tips:

1. RELAX-You have done all the training (hopefully!) that needs to be done so give your body a rest and enjoy tapering!   This is the most important part of your training as it gives your body a chance to recover and prepare.  Depending on the length of your race, your mileage should drop substantially at least the week before.  This is the hardest thing for many of us to do (taking a week off from running) but if you must, go for a couple short and easy runs.  I usually do my last run 4-5 days before the race and do a spin class the Thursday before.  On the other hand don’t become a couch potato the last week, do some yoga, biking, walking or body weight exercises to keep your muscles and your mind fresh.  Another thing to remember is the importance of getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night so your body will perform at it’s best.

2. EAT CLEAN– I am sure most of you are already doing this consistently but it is even more crucial to have a proper diet leading up to the race.  “Carb loading” is recommended for long distance races (half marathon distance or more) but this does not mean you can load up on simple carbs (white bread, pasta, rice, juice, etc).  Instead increase the percentage of calories you are getting from healthy complex carbs (brown/wild rice, rice/whole grain pasta, fruits and vegetables).  The meals you have the day before the race and for breakfast the day of the race are the most important ones so plan these in advance!  I have a story about a half marathon race I did in Toronto after having dinner at Jack Astor’s the night before…not pleasant…but I learned my lesson-DO NOT EAT OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE A RACE!

3. CATCH UP ON CHORES– With all the extra time you’ll be having while tapering instead of sitting around being antsy about the race how about tackling the pile of laundry you’ve been ignoring, or tidy up your place a bit.  Sounds like a great idea to me!  If chores aren’t your thing maybe catch up with some friends who are feeling neglected!

4. PREPARE YOUR RACE PLAN- Make sure you know where and when to pick up your race kit/packet. If you will be traveling to the race, finalize all of the arrangements.  Figure out exactly what you need to eat, drink wear, and bring with you on race day and get everything ready to go

5. VISUALIZE SUCCESS-Picture yourself at various points along the course feeling strong and confident.  Set a goal and visualize crossing the finish line at that exact time.  Mentally prepare for any “what ifs” that could occur during the race but most importantly KNOW THAT YOU WILL HAVE FUN and ENJOY YOURSELF!

It is perfectly normal for everyone to be a little nervous the night before and the day of the race but just use that energy to help you stay excited and strong. Even though you might not be bringing home the cash prize or breaking a world record you should welcome these pre-race jitters as a sign that you are excited to be running!  Regardless of your time or how you finish think of all the people who never even started training!  You are a winner before you even start the race because you are the one that set a goal, worked hard to prepare for it and showed up to do it!  The race is the easy and fun part, so enjoy it!

For any experienced runners reading this I would love if you had any other tips to add to this list!  So feel free to comment!

And finally keeping with the running theme today I thought I’d share a few quotes about running with you…

“Compete against yourself not others” Jeff Galloway

“Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another” John Dewey

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it” Oprah Winfrey

“If you don’t think you can you won’t!” Yardley Jones (ran a 100 km ultramarathon one year after a stroke)

“If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now.  Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it.”  Priscialla Welch, Olympian and NYC marathon winner

Have a great weekend!

Les 🙂


4 thoughts on “How to calm the pre-race day jitters…

  1. Jackie says:

    Great points Les! Although I am not doing the full 30k and competing in the 2x15km relay I still get the pre-race jitters also! Hopefully I will see you there on Sunday! All the best, Jackie xo

  2. Chris says:


    Great read on the Pre – Race Jitters, mine start about a week out and you can just feel all that excess energy that you aren’t using to run building up in you.

    Amazing Run by the way, I saw your time on the results page! Can’t wait to get back in the gym with your motivation!


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