After all of the races I have run there are two things I know.
1) I will always feel sick with nerves at the start line.
2) I’ve never seen a finish line I didn’t want to kiss.
There are a few things I’ve learnt along the way too that might help you with the mental preparation for a great race.
1) If you want to, set a goal
There is no reason why you have to set a goal. You can just head out there, run your heart out and have a great time. But if you are aiming for something, definitely set a goal. But have it be a realistic goal. Achieving something you have worked for will give you a great sense of pride and achievement but you don’t want to be disappointed if you aim for something that is just not realistic.
2) It’s still a fun run
It doesn’t matter what you are aiming for, it’s a sad day when you can’t have a nice chat to other people on the course. Some of my best racing experiences have not been from my finishing times but from the people I’ve talked to on the way.
3) Nothing ever goes exactly to plan
There’s always something that happens that you aren’t planning for – whether it’s the weather, the course, hitting the wall early. Something always goes a bit awry on the day. Be flexible.
4) Never do anything new on race day and never deviate from your preparation
Do not wear a new cute top, do not change the fuel you are using. Do not eat something different than you normally would the night before. Trust me, it’s just bad.
5) If you have a goal, have a secondary goal
Sometimes stuff happens and for whatever reason that goal that you were aiming for on the day just isn’t going to happen. Having a secondary or back-up goal will keep you motivated on the day and also give you a great sense of achievement when you achieve it.
6) The race is the victory lap for your training
Enjoy it. Have fun with it. You’ve done all the hard work. Now all you have to do is show up.