A week away form today is the Boston Marathon and I am getting nervous!
I know it’s normal to get nervous before a big race. How can you not? After all, when I think about all the miles I’ve run, dodging cars, hurdling snow banks, splashing through slushy puddles and shivering in freezing winds during the hard winter we had here in Boston, as the big day approach, I can’t help but get the jitters. However, I really want to try to get calmer and focus on the positive this last week, so when race day come I will fully enjoy and savor each moment of the journey, and I will run my best!
My pre-race jitters seem to start at least a week before. Punctual today, I caught myself getting nervous when I was focusing on the outcome of the race. I was worrying over what gear to bring, what the weather will be like, what pace I will be able to maintain etc. Usually, the night before the race and the morning of the race are the worst. Right at that moment I stopped my thoughts and rationalized. I realized that these are outcomes that are out of my control. So, why stress about it? I truly believe that what’s meant to be is meant to be, so I will go with the flow and dance in the moment and instead focus on the things in the race that I can control. I will practice positive self-talk and focus on preparation, visualization and organization! After all, as my husband says; “The marathon is just another one of your long runs with the exception that they close traffic especially for you and of all the people cheering for you!”
I should keep in mind that:
- Anxiety and nervousness are actually positive sign that I am preparing mentally and physically for the marathon. Instead of fearing them I should embrace them.
- Focus on all that I’ve done to prepare, all the training rather than focus on the unknown or things that can go wrong.
- Think about things that I can control – my pace, my hydration, my fuel input – rather than things that are out of my control.
- Take deep breath. Relax and have fun!
And focus on the things I can control like making a race plan that outlines what I want to accomplish at each mile. You can make your own pace bands online. Input your target time, the distance you are running and ecco qua’! It’s ready to print, cut and wear. So, during the race I can see if I am going to make my time, if I am going too fast, or how many minutes I need to make up in the last 10 miles to hit my goal. Here are few great pace bracelets out there:
- Marathonguide: I like this band because you can create different distances.
- Taper madness: Pretty basic. Simple, clear, and easy to read.
- Katy fit: An Excel spreadsheet that lets you play with your times; you can choose to negative split and the band will adjust miles accordingly; your pace per mile will be shown to the right.
- My marathon pace: For an important race, download the pace band created specifically for your marathon! These bands take into account the terrain and course of several big name races. The full version you have to pay for. Just the band is free to download.
Let me explain what are these splits everyone talks about.
- Positive Splits is where you run the first half faster than the second half. Positive splits mean the runners didn’t have enough energy left to keep a constant pace, much less a faster pace, during the last half of the run. One of the results for positive splits is going out too fast at the beginning. Most runners consider positive splits a poor strategy.
- Even Splits is when the same time is taken to run the first half as time taken for the second half. This implies running the same pace throughout the race. A small percentage of runners achieve this split and it’s consider a good strategy because it means the runners avoid going out too fast.
- Negative Splits: A negative split is when you run the second half faster than the first half. A very small percentage of the field achieve this split. In order to do negative splits, runners must conserve enough energy to allow them to run faster during the second half. Most runners consider this the best strategy. Last year winner of the Boston marathon run a negative split.
Another thing I want to do is to make a pre-race checklist of everything I need. I can set out all my clothes and gears and go through the list before packing them and putting them in my carry-on bag. By having a plan in place early, I will eliminate any last minute surprises, which can be a major cause of nervousness.
And next time I will start to get nervous, I’ll think back to my specific race plan, the warm-up, and all the little things I know I can control. I know I will still be nervous, but that is part of the experience too, therefore I will try to welcome these pre-race jitters as a sign that I am excited to be running the Boston Marathon!