5 weeks to go! I received a great question this week about how to deal with nerves for a first time (or 100th time) half marathoner. First of all, a few nerves are a great thing! It means that we care about the upcoming event. Nerves drive us to do the work and get in the training time. Feeling the butterflies is not at all a bad thing, however we don’t want them to take over our thoughts. Embrace the nerves, acknowledge what they mean, and move on to the next thought. There are many ways of dealing with nerves/jitters/butterflies but I thought I’d share a few that I have found helpful.
Visualize Your Success
We have been training our bodies to run further and further each week since early January. We are getting stronger and starting to say things like “I am ONLY running 5 miles this weekend” when we couldn’t fathom 5 miles in December. What we practice we become. That is true for the mind as well. We have 4 long runs remaining. During the last couple miles of your weekly runs and definitely at the end of your long runs, visualize the end of your race. Think of how you will feel: the tired but still moving legs, the smells coming from the Commons, the fans cheering you home, and the way it will feel to give David a high five right before you cross that finish line. Will you be overcome with emotion and get teary? Will you scream with delight as you near that finish line? Will you quietly celebrate as you step across the line? Let yourself go through those emotions now. Allow them to swell over you as you run. It sounds crazy but your body and your mind will actually remember that you have been in this place before and come race day, you will breeze right through those feelings and keep moving forward.
Plan Your Day
Failing to plan is planning to fail. This may be a worn out cliche but it is really true for big events like Cap City. We have planned an amazing day for you. All the details are worked out throughout the year. David’s team does a fantastic job taking care of the logistics. However, we need you to plan your day as well. Really start your plan for the expo and all the way through to the celebration. When will you pick up your packet? Give yourself enough time to park and enjoy the vendors at the expo. For race day, take a look at the parking options in the Event Guide. Figure out where you will park before you leave your house. Get there early enough so that you can park, get settled, use the porta john, and get into your corral. Try to be there 90 minutes before the race start. It seems like a long time, but honestly you will be much less stressed if you aren’t rushing around before the race. Bring a change of clothes, have at least a dry shirt, socks, and bottoms so you will be comfortable after the race at the celebration.
One of the best ways to calm race nerves is to run in a shorter event BEFORE your goal race. You do NOT want to race as fast as you can in the earlier event. Simply run it as a training run, at your normal training pace. Use it to go through everything you will do on May 3. Wear the same outfit and shoes as you will for Cap City. Bring the nutrition that you plan on using for Cap City (and actually eat it during the race). Practice how you will go through aid stations. You can slow to a walk and get in the Gatorade without losing too much time. If you decide to run through an aid station, practice drinking on the run. Seriously, it is an art form (think point at volunteer, yell out “Gatorade,” make eye contact, grab cup, squish cup into a slit, then drink from the slit, toss cup at/near trash can). You’ll want to try this before the big day, because getting Gatorade up your nose is something you’d rather do during a short race believe me! The Scioto Miles training series is set up specifically as a training series for Cap City. This coming Sunday is the second race this Spring. There is a 5k, 10k, 15k. You pick the distance and practice!
Get There Early and Take it All In
It bears repeating. Get to Cap City EARLY. Be there in time to park, use the porta john, get into the corral, and enjoy the scenery. Cap City is a big race, but we work hard to give everyone a personalized feel. Each wave gets their own start. Someone posted this on Facebook “And don’t forget to enjoy the atmosphere and the event itself before during and after.” Couldn’t say it any better. You’ve done the work, trust in that, and just enjoy every bit of the race experience.
I cannot wait to welcome you to the finish line on May 3!