Race Nerves – Do they ever get any easier?

From club runner to International athlete, I think we have all, at some point in our lives, experienced race nerves. Whether its down to the competition you face or trying to better your PB. I’m not sure if I have ever met someone that hasn’t experienced some type of nervousness before competition.

For me race nerves have always been there, my whole life. They are not something I like and at times I wish they were not there at all, but in a way we do need them to some extent.

The nasty side to race nerves is that struggle to eat, the nausea, the running to the toilet all day, the worry, the panic, and that feeling that something is trying to psych you out of that one thing you really love to do, Race/compete.

No matter what form our nerves take only we can control these and we must learn to do so to get the best out of our performances. Taking the positives out of nervousness is one way, without nerves we would get less of that adrenaline rush that helps us perform, they also help us focus on the task at hand as long as we don’t overthink the situation. Controlling and channeling theses nerves is key to getting the best out of yourself.

In the past I have let nerves get the better of me, this has mainly been at times when I have been chasing qualifying standards, when this happens the fun and enjoyment of the race can be lost. Although nerves are good we mustn’t let them take control of us nor let them take away our love and enjoyment of the sport.

There are many ways to help control nerves such as breathing techniques, visualisation of the hard work you’ve put in, the last best performance you had and using self talk to reassure yourself that you have worked hard to be here and you are ready for the major task ahead. Coaches, friends, family and even sports psychologists can help us with these techniques, but it’s only truly ourselves that can really put these into practice and channel the bad nerves out of the way and use the good nerves to boost performance.

As I write this I am on race day of my debut European Indoor Championships over 1500m, how are my nerves?…… Pretty awful before I started writing this blog, but better now that I have taken the time to reflect on the whole subject and channel it by writing it all down. Sometimes we should listen to the advice we give others and “practice what we preach” So today I will try my best to channel my nerves in a positive way and to use them to my benefit. The hard work has all been done, we cant control the uncontrollable but we can take control of our emotions and how we execute our performances.