A blog by runners. For runners.

Overcome race doubt, run without fear


I’m running my fourth marathon in a few weeks — even though I swore after my last one I’d never do it again.

Yet, here I am — a month away from running another 26.2 miles.

This time around, training has been great, or more accurately, it was great until this past week when I got sick.  And now is when doubt begins to set in, and that ugly voice in my head — the one that says “You can’t do it” and “You will fail again” — starts to sound really loud.

However, I’ve learned doubt doesn’t have to bring you down. Here’s how to regain your running confidence:

  1. Look back at your training log. Whenever I feel nervous before a big race, I review all the hard work I’ve done in training. It reminds me of the difficult runs I survived and makes me realize I am capable of reaching my goal.
  2. Envision success. Mentally training yourself to cross the finish line of your next big race with a smile on your face does wonders for eliminating doubt. Visualizing success is proven to lead to better results.
  3. Repeat positive encouragement. A negative attitude during training will lead to negative thoughts during the race. By looking positively at your performance and reciting affirmations, you will be more likely to succeed. Here are a few mantras you can repeat.
  4. Make time to relax. I often get a massage 2 weeks before a big race. I use this time to relax and focus on the hard work my muscles did throughout the training cycle. I pick a massage based on relaxation and, again, repeat a few mantras in my head.
  5. Let go of fear. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t meet your goal? There are always more races. It’s not the end of the world — just the end of the training cycle. If you miss your goal, you have a good starting point for your next training cycle. Give it your all and remember — at the core — running is play.

Don’t let doubt and fear derail your race goals. Look at how far you’ve come in your training cycle, embrace that, and enjoy your race. By choosing to stay positive, rehearsing success, and releasing expectations, you’ll cross that finish line smiling.

Written by Danielle Bressoud.

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