The Pressure Cooker
By Nicola Gildersleeve
Recently a friend
of mine, who had an upcoming 100km race, and is a newly sponsored athlete, was
fretting aboutthe pressure she was feeling about placing in the event. Never
before had she ever felt intimidated by the competition and was worried about letting
her sponsors down if she performed poorly.
I have been a
sponsored athlete for over 5 years and have raced in dozens of races. I
completely understand what she’s feeling and the nervousness and anxiety that
surrounds performance. In fact, it’s the one aspect about racing that I enjoy
the least. However, I love to run and I enjoy doing races, and so I have worked
hard over the years to ensure that these experiences stay fun and not become a
source of stress. Luckily, I have never felt any pressure from my sponsors to
are a few tips to help ease some of that pre-race pressure:
- Remind yourself why you run. I
think a small population truly run to win and if you do great, you probably
don’t suffer from racing anxiety as others do. For me, I run because I love it
and it makes me feel confident, healthy, and powerful. No matter what, I know I
am always going to get out there and put my best foot forward. If that means I
win, then awesome, but if I don’t, I know I will be happy as long as I ran my
best on the day 2.
- Try not to stress about who you
are competing against. I’ll admit it, before any race, important or not, I
always look at who is racing. Sometimes this fires me up and sometimes it flat
out just makes me nervous and adds to the pressure I feel before an event. Imagine
that you are going out to run with friends and how they will push you to run
better instead of worrying that they are better or faster than you.
- The fear of not wanting
disappoint your sponsors is all in your head. Most often than not it’s you
putting pressureon yourself to perform, notyour sponsors. They sponsor you
because they believe in you as an athlete and the positive way you represent
the brand, not just what podium spot you come in. This point can also apply to
anyone who races, not just sponsored athletes. Perhaps you don’t want to let
down but a loved one, family member, training partner or yourself. Remember
that all these people will be proud of you no matter what your result.
- I often feel the most stressed
a few weeks out from a big race when I am tired from a peak week of training. Iforget how fresh I am going to feel on race day and wonder how I am ever going
to run hard when my body is so tired. Remind yourself how good it feels to race
on fresh/tapered legs.
I hope this helps you
relieve some of that pre-race pressure/anxiety. See you in the trails!
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