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Being nervous is normal - advice from Run Coach Chris White

Natalie Moore

How do you deal with the final nervous days before your big run??!

As your big event approaches, no matter what the distance or type of event, all sorts of weird and wonderful things can go through your head. Here are some common examples from the runners that I coach:

" I don’t think I’ve done enough training, maybe I should squeeze in another run this week..."

"What am I supposed to be doing in the last few days before my run?” 

"Do I need to carb-load?”

“I’m not sure I can actually make the distance..."

With this article I want to be here to help you work through and answer some of these questions in the days before your event.  Feel free to read this, then re-read it again closer to race day if you are getting those questions coming back to bug you.  

So, lets get started…. 

If you are thinking any of these things, don’t stress!  I have certainly thought all of these before and it is perfectly normal.  Everyone is thinking the same stuff as you.  In my opinion it is great that you are nervous.  To me it shows that you care and that you have picked a goal which is going to stretch you. However, don't less those nerves get the better of you and lead you down the path of self sabotage in your last few days.  Trust me, I see it all the time, it happens.  Keep calm and keep reading....

You don’t need to do extra training now.  You remember those days at school, just before your exams when you would frantically read everything that you had ever written or seen on that subject, buy all the cheat books and try to just absorb as much information as possible before sitting down to regurgitate it all in the exam.  Well…..that approach doesn’t really apply to running.  The temptation is very strong to cram in exercise in the week of your event because you are feeling fresh, nervous and you are probably worried that you haven’t done enough training.  My recommendation is simply to recognise those thoughts and what is going on, then promptly dismiss them and stick to your plan.  At this stage, more can go wrong than right, so rest up, do some light exercise and eat / drink well in the days leading up to your race.

Speaking of food and drink…..Don't over-load!  It is tempting to think that you are going to need all of this extra fuel to get you through your event.  Whilst it might be true that you need a little extra, it isn’t true that you need to over indulge.  Trust me, I have done this in the days leading up to an event and I felt horrible and heavy on race day.  I think too often, we take the words 'carb-loading' to extreme and actually negatively impact our running on race day.  Don’t over do it.  Make sure you are hydrated and eat good, nutritious foods so that you feel energetic and ready on race morning, rather than stuffed and bloated.  Try to stick to your tried and tested foods that you know don’t make your stomach feel funny.  There’s nothing worse on race day than a bad stomach.  You have my permission to go nuts on the ice cream afterwards though….

You can make the distance.  Trust me.  In my short career as a coach, I have already seen some incredible things.  People over 120kgs completing a marathon, people with only one arm swimming 2 kilometres, and even an 83 year old Japanese man finishing an Ironman triathlon in New Zealand.  YOU CAN DO IT!  If you have done the training and been consistent, this event should hold no fear.  In fact you have done the hardest bit.  Now its time to get out there to feel the fear and do it anyway!  Trust and believe in yourself.   

One thing I would definitely encourage you to do is to visualise yourself finishing your event.  Grab a piece of paper and describe that feeling in real, written words.  If you do that…you are putting in place such an awesome, powerful image.... one that gives you goosebumps (currently have goosebumps as Im writing this!) and make you smile.  You have put in a lot of time, effort and energy to this, so imagine what it will feel like to achieve your goal, cross that finish line and celebrate with friends and family.  Do this in the days leading up to your event, and then in the parts when the going gets tough on race day, these images will come back to help you get through them.  

Have an awesome last few days and I will see you at 'Run into Summer' on 1st December! Let's do this!

Thanks to Chris White from Go Run Australia for these tips on handling nerves before race day. Go Run Australia is a Melbourne based run coaching service specifically for beginner and intermediate recreational runners. Go Run is all about helping you enjoy your running, feel awesome and achieve your running goals. Go Run Australia is online at and on Instagram and Facebook @gorunaustralia


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