How Pre-race Anxiety Affects Sleep
It's the night before race day, one of the hardest periods of running that you are forced to deal with time and time again. You get a bit of anxiety before each race as you mentally prepare and psych yourself out, which ruins your sleeping schedule and makes it impossible to get your full eight hours of sleep. This is a big problem because it will affect your performance in the race tomorrow, so what can you do about it?
That Sinking Feeling
Every competitive runner knows that "sinking" feeling that they get before each race, and some even get it as early as the night before. It feels like your whole stomach has dropped into your lower abdomen and you get that tingly butterfly feeling in your gut. Runners will typically experience feelings like these before the race, and may even feel a bit weak and wobbly once they are at the starting line. It's both an exciting and gut-wrenching feeling.
Sleeping With Anxiety
While racing anxiety is exciting, it has it's drawbacks as well. Many runners find themselves unable to sleep due to their pre-race anxiety, which is quite troublesome. Many people have to deal with the problem of it messing up their sleeping schedules, while the immediate problem is presented the next day when you are pumped up to race because you feel drained at the same time. Some people may even go all night without sleeping, completely messing up their race the next day.
While trying to sleep, people will typically visualise the race in their head over and over again. Will I be able to place how I want? Will I be able to beat my personal record? Do I know where all my racing equipment are? Will my current lack of sleep affect my race tomorrow? All of these questions race through a person's mind making it impossible to get a good night’s rest.
Dealing With Pre-race Anxiety
Getting straight to the solution is vital so that it will have very little influence over the outcomes of your races. You shouldn't penalise yourself just because you worry about how well you will do in the race tomorrow. There are some techniques that you can use to deal with the anxiety, as according to the LiveStrong Foundation, which will hopefully lead to better rest the night before your race.
You need to start out by identifying your anxiety problem. If you're reading this, you're probably already at this stage. From here, you can start with some basic physical techniques that have been proven to reduce anxiety. Take deep breaths, as this relaxes the body and makes your muscles less tense.
Anxiety is all mental, so it's obvious that you will have to use some self mental manipulation to overcome this challenge. Take a little bit of time to think about the race. You've run dozens of times in the past, and this race is going to be just like the rest. There are no hard feelings if you don't do as well as you hope; take it as an opportunity to improve. When you release this pressure, your anxiety should diminish.
It can also help to talk your feelings over with a friend, possibly even a fellow runner if you have the chance. Talking often relieves pressure on a lot of people and makes them feel better about the upcoming race.
Getting More Rest
Once you've tackled your anxiety problem, now you need to ensure that you get enough rest for the race. You are most likely still going to feel a bit of anxiety no matter how hard you try because it is caused by the importance of the race for you, and if it wasn't important you wouldn't be going in the first place. These strategies should help you out.
Some people find it helpful to do a small workout before bed. This tires their body out a bit more so that they can fall asleep faster, and it can't hurt to get in a little more exercise before the race tomorrow. Don't overdo it; just keep it light.
You should also try going to sleep at least an hour earlier than you think you need in order to give you some time to deal with your anxiety. Even though you miss out on a small bit of your day, it will make the next day that much better.
If you have a severe sleeping problem, there is medication that is available that will help you sleep for a long period of time. Only take these medications if you'll have at least eight hours before you need to wake up.
These anxiety running tips should help you prepare for your next race. Don't let anxiety cost you the race before it even begins. Take off the pressure and get a good night's rest!