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Pre-race Neurosis

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Aug 7, 2007

This ailment is common among endurance athletes. It typically manifests itself in the few days prior to race day, beginning with day seven and counting down to the millisecond before the start gun is sounded.



As defined in Freudian psychology, this is a psychological disorder or dysfunction resulting from an imbalance of the forces of the id, ego, and superego relating to a race situation. It is one of the major categories of emotional maladjustments, classified according to the predominant symptom of a defense mechanism. Anxiety is the chief sign, although it is worth exploring other telltale signs:



  1. Displacement of anxiety to fellow racers: "Oh, you're racing on those tires? Hmmm...certainly not my choice. Let me know how that works out for you."

  2. The imaginary research crutch combined with displacement to others: "Research has shown that it is best to ride 50 miles the day before the race. Certainly you know that? You have to check out the course and keep your legs loose, everybody knows that."

  3. Retail therapy: Said racer can be seen making multiple purchases online or at local stores. In the worst cases, racers ordering online will pay exorbitant amounts for next day delivery.

  4. Meltdowns over small issues: This symptom can be seen in family, work or training situations. Something as small as spilled sports drink can send the racer into a panicked frenzy.

  5. Indecision: The athlete finds each decision situation as an impossible puzzle. Trying to decide which restaurant to dine at requires four hours of contemplation, at minimum.

  6. Obsessive list making: This one is easy to spot as dozens of "to do" lists are found everywhere the athlete has been.

  7. Everything but the kitchen sink: The athlete takes every item possibly needed for the event, including back-ups for each item. He or she includes items that couldn't possibly be needed for the event-plus back-ups for those as well. All weather possibilities are included. The athlete packs his or her own food and water, not trusting any outside sources. Travel to the race venue includes renting an extra trailer to transport all of the equipment and supplies.


I'm heading to Leadville tomorrow for the mountain bike race. I'll let you know if I come in contact with any neurotic racers.



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