The Run Of All Fears
We have all heard about the Runner’ High. That point in a run when the body hits the wall and the mind takes over to keep those legs moving. What follows next is a beautiful synchronisation of mind-body connect, a moment of self-discovery that makes us unstoppable. While not many runners can claim to have experienced this but almost all of us have experienced what I would call, the Runner’s Low- the nerves that invariably take over us before our big race day.
Our anxieties could be related to physiological breakdowns, performance or just plain simple butterflies in the stomach that dissipates when we cross the start line.
The good news is that we are not alone and almost all runners, even the elite ones, experience one or more of these fears. Some of the common fears are:
Fear#1: Missing the Morning Ragas (Wake Up Call and Nature Call)
Fix- Keep multiple alarms or request your buddies to help you with the wake-up call. Sleep early, eat early and don’t make last minute experiments with your diet. Keep buffer time for attending to nature calls at least twice before leaving for the race venue.
Fear#2: Pre-race anxieties
Fix: A prepared mind is a less worried mind. Make your race checklist a week prior to give you time to organise for what is missing. Arrange your race kit sufficiently ahead – tee, shorts, inner wear, bib pinned to your tee, socks, shoes, watch fully charged, HRM, cap or bandana, pouch to carry nutrition and other essentials, ID card. Plan your pre- race day diet and hydration at the start of the week. Time your arrival at the venue factoring traffic restrictions, parking arrangement, holdall area management and warm up time that you will need. All this will help you maximise on your sleep even if it is compromised by a long day at work.
Fear#3: Not sure about the course
Fix: Read up and connect with those who have ran the route before and prepare accordingly. Collecting your bib in person on expo day gives you a window for interaction with organisers and co-runners. Nothing like getting a first-hand feel, so plan your travel for outstation runs to pack in enough time for a short run and a good sleep.
Fear#4: GPS not working
Fix: Go with your feel. It has what made you enjoy your run and deliver your best. If meeting your time target still worries you, then look out for pacers and pace your run accordingly.
Fear#5: During Race Worries (Nutrition, Hydration, Portaloo Hygiene, Footwear Malfunction)
Fix- Stick to what has worked for you during your training days. This applies to shoes, nutrition right from what you eat and at what intervals you consume. While we cannot control public loo hygiene, it helps to carry some tissues or wet wipes to overcome hygiene concerns. A small pouch is always a handy accessory for these essentials.
Fear#6: Chafing, cramping and fear of old injuries haunting you
Fix: Hydrate well to avoid cramps, apply some good sports gel on problem muscles. Reach ahead of reporting time to do your dynamic warm-up and get those muscles activated. Avoid wearing new clothes to prevent chafing or wash and wear them for couple of runs before race day. Apply Vaseline, Coconut Oil or a good anti- chafing cream. Your training days are not just about running but what you do to strengthen and activate the muscles that help you run. This will give you the confidence to not be pulled down by thoughts of injuries during the run.
Fear#7: Not meeting your time target
Fix: Set a pacing plan factoring the course. Feed it in your Garmin or write it on your palm/ arm. A good plan is one which also has a room for Plan B. So, work out your pacing plan accordingly. If you want to run with a pacer, interact with them before-hand. Some races have multiple pacers for same time target, choose your pacer based on whose strategy works well for you given your training.
Fear#8: Running in times of COVID
Fix: Sadly, this is the new norm that we need to embrace and with caution. Consult a medical practitioner if you intend to wear a mask and run your race. The rules of social distance and mask cannot be compromised especially for that post run “Groupfie”. Eat well, sleep well, stay active and fit. It’s okay to not have a time target for virtual runs as route, traffic, hydration cannot be controlled. Set realistic goals and know the race is a purpose to help you sustain your motivation. And if you are lost on how to train, then stay connected to DRHM digital platforms for training schedules, virtual workouts and useful other training tips.
A lot of what we fear on race day is an outcome of the process we invest behind it. If we are true to the training process, then most of our worries cease to exist. Having said that, running is a mind-body connect sport. A great many runs have not been finished as desired despite all the training and care because the mind gives up even before the body does. If the body doesn’t co-operate then use some self-talk to get through it and fight on. Sometimes we may surprise ourselves and accomplish our goals by doing so. At other times we may just carry on to somehow cross the finish line. And then there will be times when the mind and body just say, Stop! It’s okay, find a transport to go back home, have a nice shower and move on. A run can never define who we are, but we can certainly define what our run can be. After all the joy of running is just about running.
#LetUsRunSoTheyCanWalk #RunClean #RunResponsible #SheShouldRun