Sign Up for the Active Life DC Newsletter ...

(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.
(If you're a human, don't change the following field)
Your first name.

Ask the Elites: How Do You Mentally Prepare for a Big Race?

Ask the Elites: How Do You Mentally Prepare for a Big Race?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - 5:31pm
Katilin Sheedy shown winning the Nike Women's Half earlier this year.

Katilin Sheedy shown winning the Nike Women's Half earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Kaitlin Sheedy. 

About Community Posts

In order to promote community participation, open debate, and facilitate the sharing of fitness-related news, Active Life DC allows members of the local fitness community to contribute posts. We do not vet these posts, and the opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Active Life DC. More information can be found in our Terms of Service. For information on how you can submit a post, visit this page.

Running Club Spot Light: D.C. Front Runners
Running Club Spotlight: Capitol Hill Running Club
Ask the Elites: What is Your Recovery Routine After a Tough Race or Workout?
Ask the Elites: How Do You Cross Train?
Ask the Elites: What is the Worst Running-Related Injury You Have Encountered?
Ask the Elites: What Does a Normal Week of Training Look Like for You?
Running Club Spotlight: District Running Collective
Frank M. Ewing/Robinson Neck Preserve
Pool Running: Getting Started
Running Club Spotlight: DC Capital Striders

Pages

Lisa Chilcote of Montgomery County Road Runners Club (MCCRC): Try not to think about it.

Dionis Gauvin of MCRRC: I try to remind myself, over and over again, that I should start conservatively in order to finish strong.  Unfortunately, I don't always follow my own advice/mental preparation.

David Magida of Reebok Spartan Race Pro Team: I like to do visualization each night before bed for about 5 minutes. Diaphragmatic breathing while you do so is a great way to get your mind in the right place. I envision strong form, calm breathing and of course, victory. On the day of the race, I try to just be as relaxed as possible. Have fun. Smile. Remember you’re racing because you love competing.

Kristi Markowicz of Pacers New Balance: Admittedly, I used to be better at race preparation, so this is the toughest question for me.  I generally like to look over the course ahead of time (but am not always as prepared anymore--life has gotten too busy!).  I used to visualize all of the time as well, before falling asleep but don't always do that anymore either.  I do always stretch well before bed the night before a race.  I also have my pre-race day workout out, which is always a short run (25 min or so) and 6 strides with plenty of stretching.  I make sure to do that in the morning the day before a race.

Lauren Klumpp of Potomac River Running: Mental preparation is so important for me.  I have found that I do much better when I start visualizing at the beginning of the week.  On weeks where I let work consume too much of my time and thoughts, I don't perform as well because I did not get mentally psyched.  Several things that help me are to visualize that great feeling that I will have at the finish line.  But I also visualize the moments of pain which really helps me.  I mentally prepare myself to deal with the pain on certain parts of the race that I know I want to push myself and that helps me stay mentally strong through the tough zones.

Christina Papoulias of MCRRC: A lot of visualization.  On runs the week leading up to the race, I like to zone out and imagine it is race day and picture myself running strong. 

Kaitlin Sheedy of Capital Area Runners (CAR):  I mentally prepare for a race throughout my training, but especially in track workouts, tempos and long runs. During those workouts there are times when things get both physically and mentally challenging, so it’s important for me to push through those points to build my confidence for when I experience those ups and downs during a race. I also try to do a few “tune up” races before my big goal race, so I can practice being in a scenario where my adrenaline and nerves are pumping. For the last several big races I’ve run, I’ve tried to stay relaxed but fearless by pretending it’s just another long run or workout, which I’ve found helpful.

Ryan Witters of Georgetown Running Club (GRC): I like to check out the past results of each race I run.  It helps me gauge the level of competition and get a feel for what pace(s) to expect.  Also music, must have music!

Editor's note: this post was originally published October 2014. 

About the Author

Jamie Corey is a RRCA certified coach and author of RunsterInc.com. Jamie has completed eight marathons, several triathlons and is currently training for her first Ironman. When she isn't trying to find the best bagel in town, she is usually tweeting at @TheRunster.