How to Overcome Anxiety While Running

Squash running anxiety and enjoy peaceful, rejuvenating runs.
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Running anxiety is fairly common. It happens to a lot of runners, whether they're prepping for a long run or standing at the starting line of a race. A bit of the pre-run jitters is okay -- even motivating -- but when it spirals out of control and causes you to feel nervous and miserable, anxiety can take the joy out of running. Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can do to keep your nerves from getting the best of you.

Step 1

Identify your fears and face them. You must pinpoint exactly what is causing your anxiety. Maybe you're worried about your pace and that you won't be able to make it through a grueling speed workout or don't know if you have the strength to get through a long run.

Step 2

Take steps to alleviate fear and anxiety over things within your control. For example, if you're worried that a new pair of shoes are going to hurt your feet, break them in slowly. If you're anxious about weather, check forecasts ahead of time and dress accordingly.

Step 3

Visualize success. Self-doubt is often the cause of increased anxiety. If you give into fears of failure or injury, for example, you're going to have a hard time performing your best. Go into each run knowing that you will accomplish your goal.

Step 4

Repeat a positive mantra. Mantras are words, phrases or sounds that you can use for motivation and inspiration. Use mantras that directly combat whatever the cause of your anxiety is. If you're afraid you aren't strong enough to finish a long run, try repeating "I am strong" to yourself. If you are worried that you will do poorly in a race, repeat "I am fast" over and over. Replace fear-based thoughts with positive, inspiring ones. This will shift your focus and greatly alleviate feelings of anxiety.

Step 5

Keep it in perspective. Nervousness and anxiety can start out as a tiny seed of doubt that quickly grows into a monster when you empower it with your thoughts. Usually, the fears that cause pre-run anxiety are over things you cannot control, such as course terrain or digestive discomfort. If you think about it, there's no point in worrying about things that are absolutely outside of your control. Force yourself to stop over-thinking by focusing on putting forth your best effort, thinking about how far you've come in your training or by giving yourself permission to simply enjoy the run. Running should be fun, but runners sometimes get so wrapped up in the details that they forget the joy they experienced when they first started.

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