Competition is stressful. And anxiety can hurt your performance if you don’t use it well. However, stress is also a great tool if you know how to manage it. Here are some interesting facts about this “big bad wolf” and key ways to make it your ally.
Why do we get stressed?
Our brains process our emotions when taking a particular situation into account. If we are afraid of something, it is because our brain considers it a danger. Also, an emotion consists of several levels of intensity: people will react differently when faced with the same worrying situation: some will simply act with caution, while others will be petrified by their current situation.
Being stressed when on the starting line is not unusual. Especially if the race you are going to take part in is one of your main objectives this season ! Competition is stressful because uncertainty is stressful. Fear – of injury, of giving up, of not meeting your goal – is something you have to deal with as a runner. This is part of your life. This is why some runners are ready to take risks.
The positive side of stress
Throughout a race, you have to deal with a wide range of emotions – anger, frustration, sadness, joy – and they are all positively or negatively impacting you. Of course, if you are not successful in managing you anxiety, it will lead you to a below-average performance. On the other side of the coin, stress can help you to stay focused and also reinforce your motivation. At some point, anxiety is something that helps runners to outdo themselves.
How to manage anxiety
You have to accept that stress is something you have to live with. From there, you will be able to manage it. Talking to your friends or family about your anxiety could help you to understand why you are getting stressed in the first place, or at least help to reassure you. Don’t hold back from expressing yourself!
Music or video games could help you not to think about a deadline, but you have to keep in mind these are temporary solutions. They won’t help you manage your stress in the long term. Meditation, sophrology, and yoga are good allies for you to overcome your anxiety. You just have to find the method that suits you best (and the only way to do that is to try!).
What should I eat when stressed?
Nutrition is an important factor when it comes to your performance. Of course, eating whatever you want won’t make your anxiety magically disappear and this is not the smartest move you can make preparing yourself for competition! Paying attention to your diet is essential for completing your objective. If nutrition is something you are interested in (and you should be!), we invite you to read this carefully.
Nevertheless, it can be difficult to eat when stressed. If it is not possible for you to eat solid foods during competition, at least go for an isotonic sport drink or for water with some sugar in it. This will give you energy and maintain your effort!