But for veterans and beginners alike, those last few minutes before the half or marathon finally begins can be tremendously agonizing. You will undoubtedly be a bundle of nerves on the starting lines for 3M or Austin.
That’s perfectly natural considering that you’ve spent months preparing for this very moment and the anxiousness you will experience is felt by every single runner in the field.
Any race of this length is certain to produce tension and nervousness.
The key is learning to deal with that pre-race anxiety, rather than allowing it to overwhelm you.
There’s no getting around it: These two races are major events for just about everybody in the fields. Both are the most important races in Austin and most racers are primed and ready.
But you need to use your emotions in a positive way and not let them get out of control. If you are too emotionally charged up at the start, chances are you will go out too fast in the first few miles (because of heightened arousal) which can only sabotage all the training you put into getting ready for these races.
Running isn’t like football in which you get psyched to go all out and pound your opponent. Instead, the best runners are able to channel into their pre-race excitement, while still remaining calm. You want to be confident and have positive body language at the start without sounding or acting cocky. Alert and anxious, but not scared and apprehensive.
The best way to do this is to get familiar with this state of heightened arousal so you recognize it when it comes and not get too carried away with it. The only way to simulate those feelings is to run shorter, tune-up races before the half or marathon. Certainly, the pre-race anxiety you experience in a 5-K won’t be the same as when you toe the line at 3M or Austin, but this experience can only help.
If you’re a newbie, here are some hints to conquer your nervousness in the final 30 minutes right before the 3M Half Marathon or Austin Marathon:
1. Develop a pre-race ritual. Use short, tune-up races to practice a pre-race routine–and stick with it for the marathon.
2. Practice mental visualization and think about the successes you’ve had in training and other races. This will be a self-fulfilling prophecy for the marathon.
3. Think positive thoughts. Surround yourself at the start with like-thinking friends who are supportive. Avoid running friends who are basket cases before a race and full of doom and gloom.
4. Socialize before the race. Talk to race volunteers or start officials. But remain calm and exude confidence.
5. Get away by yourself for a few moments and mentally rehearse your game plan. Stick with it.
6. Warm up. Even in a race as long as a half marathon or marathon, jogging easily for 5-10 minutes may be just what you need to calm down and focus on the task at hand.
7. Recognize the adrenaline rush that will come when the goes off—and control it. Starting the race too fast will unhinge you mentally and physically.
8. Make sure you go one last time before you line up in the starting grid. A case of nerves often manifests itself in the need to urinate more often than normal. Get in line and go one final time. You don’t want to worry about starting the race with a full bladder.
9. Perform a last-minute check list in the starting grid. Shoes tied properly? Check. Socks smooth and wrinkle free? Check. Number pinned on? Check. Timing chip or strip attached properly? Check.
10. Take one final deep breath and picture yourself running strong and confidently all the way to the finish.
You’re ready to roll.