February 17

Race anxiety, how to beat it


I wanted to share some pre-race advice I gave today my charge, Dan, who’s taking on the Hong Kong Half Marathon tomorrow (Sunday). He said, “I don’t think the training’s been as solid as it was for New York Marathon (last year), but I’ll just go with it and see what happens.” Part A of this statement is really common for all athletes and how you frame Part B is crucial to your success. 

Years ago I cited John Harbaugh (Coach of the Baltimore Ravens) who after their Superbowl victory in 2013 said, “It’s never pretty, it’s never perfect.” The same goes when you’re training for the marathon or half marathon, over the course of a preparation things are going to go awry, like the “best laid plans of mice and men.” The judge of the athlete is, whether they can deal with the incoming disruptions and still put the show on the road come D-Day?

Don’t get overwhelmed if your preparation hasn’t been A1, because what are you going to do about it now anyway? You simply have to race with what you’ve prepared. You can only make the cake with the ingredients you bought, which constitutes Part B of Dan’s statement. Accepting that you’re here now and you just have to roll out with the best you’ve got, is the positive way to approach a race. 

The confident coach, (the guy who is powerless now anyway), Me, reiterated those words of John Harbaugh this morning via phone, “It’s never pretty, it’s never perfect.” I supported his plan to “just go with it,” and it’s only a half, so you can “guts and muscle” a few of the final kilometres. No biggy. 

After this chat I thought back, searched back, to the days when I first started this online coaching business. My first ever group of charges competed in the Sunshine Coast Marathon in 2015. I knew my advice was valuable today like it had been in the past, and voila, there it was, Tom from Campaign Number 1…

Moreover, you don’t want anxiety about a lacklustre preparation to ruin your race before you get to the start line. My Dad once said, it’s better one underdone than overdone. You can’t cram training, this isn’t university. Though people who get behind on their training will always give it some thought. Think about it, would you rather show up unprepared and fresh or unprepared and tired? 

I don’t know if you read, the remainder of Tom’s email above? Well, read below, for my soothing advice race anxiety and the idea of cramming. 

All’s well if it ends ok, and this is us at the finish line in Sunshine Coast. Job done!

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