Why does racing make us nervous with butterflies or worse? Why does tapering for that big race leave us a little irrational?

I mean, I’m not even training for a specific race now and writing about it makes my stomach feel a bit queasy.

We’re just running. The same we’ve done for months, years, decades. What makes it so different?

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Why Racing Makes Us Nervous


Most of the year I’m plowing through the miles, through a plan, through the days and weeks. I know what I’m doing. My coach knows what I’m doing. But not really anyone else. They know I’m running a lot of miles, but it’s all a bit hazy to them.

But when I toe the line of a race. It all becomes clear.

I’ve been working toward this. And now you’re watching.

And I’m watching.

To see how I do.

I hope I do good.

Limiting Beliefs

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Nervous 3rd Marathon Face

I’m too slow.

I never complete things.

I won’t have the courage to fight at the end.

I won’t have the strength to fight at the end.

This is just too hard.

These are words we fight not just in races, but in other parts of our lives.

At least, in mine.

When I tackle these limiting beliefs in my racing, I can’t help but acknowledge their presence elsewhere. Can I fight them here? There?

When they rear their head during my stress, I remind myself that confronting limits is why I started running in the first place. And this is an opportunity to fight them once more.


Will you have what it takes or will you fall short?

Racing has an objective measurement to it. Time. Age-groups. Awards. Previous records. Distance. Elevation.

Having some objective measurements to end your months of training helps you go forward with new training, but it also concludes what you’ve done so far.

Was it enough?

Race Day

As you race more and more, you’ll realize that it’s a lot about what you can do that day. What you can do in that day.

Some days have excellent conditions – perfect skies, perfect GI tracts, perfect stress levels. Other days, it’s not perfect. It’s hot. You’re tired. That breakfast doesn’t sit well.

And that’s OK.

Racing is a test, but it’s not the only test.

There are other ways to fight, to roll with the punches, to win. There are other races. There are other days.

Keep running. Keep fighting. And, let racing always make you a little nervous.

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Further reading

Runners: Do you get nervous?