Why Nerves Are Good

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“Do not fear risk. All exploration, all growth is calculated. Without challenge people cannot reach their higher selves. Only if we are willing to walk over the edge can we become winners.”

Being an ultra runner and having run long races, we get asked this question a lot: “Are you even nervous for races anymore?” People assume that since you’ve run a distance before, running comes easily and you shouldn’t be nervous for any races anymore. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I consistently still am nervous for races and I think that’s a good thing!

  • Nerves show that you care. Everyone is different, but I’ve found that if I’m nervous, it shows that I truly care about the race. I have different types of nerves for different races, but they are always there. For a shorter race, it’s usually nerves about hitting a goal time and with a longer race, it’s nerves about finishing. 
  • Nerves occur when risk, fear, or challenge is afoot. Many of us started this ultrarunning hobby to test ourselves, challenge what is our norm, and dabble with fear. Nerves are a great way to sense that what I’m about to attempt is a challenge.
  • Nerves show that we are feeling. Maybe this is cheesy, but if we aren’t experiencing emotion, we’re no better than a robot. As cool as robots are, I’d rather be an emotion-feeling human!

Now with that all said, nerves can negatively get the best of you before a race. It can make all of your thoughts prior to the race negative or questioning, but honoring those thoughts so much won’t do you much good.

Know that the nerves mean you care and feel, and it can be the best time to go over your training, reassure yourself of your abilities, and know that no matter what happens, this is a chance to learn and grow as a runner and racer.

Do you feel nerves before a race? Do you find they help or hinder you? What helps you keep focused before a race? 

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Author: Rebecca Schaefer

For more, find her over at her blog, runnerwithanappetite.com

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1 Comment

  1. I also throw in new course jitters. If I haven’t run the trail will I get lost, will (how often) will I trip, where will I pee, normal stuff.

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