It seems the better I get, as a runner, the more difficulty I have on race day. I just feel more sluggish, less desire to run, I experience more perceived fatigue, and often stop.
The thing is, I run *so* much better/faster when I'm training. Some days, when I'm feeling great, I just fly, and don't really feel that tired afterwards. So, I use those fast days as benchmarks for how fast I should run on race day. I get psyched up thinking about it advance. It actually preoccupies a lot of my thought-time.
Then, come race day, I tend to feel -- I don't know -- more lethargic, or uninspired. Expecially when there's lots of people around me. I don't particularly *feel* anxiety -- kinda the opposite. Like, the fact that I *have to* to give it my all makes me feel like I don't want to more -- or something like that. I mean, I still start off the race at my target pace; I just feel fatigue about 1/4 of the way through, and either slow down, stop-n-start, or just drop out.
WTF is wrong with me? This has been happening more and more recently the last few months, and it's beginning to seriously bug me. I don't have performance anxiety elsewhere in my life, I train fairly confidently, I'm not scared of pushing myself or enjoying the burn, but that spark seems to be slipping from my races.
Anyone else experience this?
Here are a couple of thoughts:
How much are you racing, maybe to much?
Are you running for fun and racing for PR's everytime?
Do you have someone at the races (girlfriend, boyfriend, ect) that you want to impress?
Are you doing a proper warnup, if not your heart rate can get high and never get under control.
It is an unusual reaction, but not unheard of. Another person on the forums here talks about how she never performs as well in a race as she does on her training runs. I have always found that hard to comprehend, but apparantly you're not alone!
The consensus among *most* runners seems to be that we feel exactly the opposite come race day - pumped and raring to go - and we perform better than our training. Why some of you are different, I don't know. I can only wonder a couple of things: are you doing your taper before the race? Don't give into the urge to cram in just a little more training before the race. The taper IS part of the training - a necessary part especially for longer races. That brings you to the start line fresh, rested and ready to perform. Also, it could be psychological because you are so obsessed with training as hard as you can for a certain goal that once you get there it is "anticlimactic" and you just lose your drive.
I wish I could offer words of wisdom, but all I can say is I hope you come around and get your racing mojo back!
Thanks for the feedback, everyone. It helps. Random thoughts in response:
Another thought I was having: Lowering my expectations. I always try to be better than myself, or run faster than last time, but I should really just go with how I'm feeling that day and chill out. If it's way humid out, or I'm just having an off day, then I should just run with it (so to speak), and slow down a little until I feel more comfortable. I don't need to always shatter a record, so I just have to keep repeating this to myself until it sticks
Also: I need remind myself not to miss the forest for the trees. Granted, I didn't run the last race as well as I could have, but I still came in 6th place for my team (of 120), and in the top 10%, overall. I mean, it's not like I'm failing miserably . . .
I can be a wee bit hard on myself -- this stuff should be fun! Fun fun fun!
Thanks, again, everyone. This internet thing's gonna be big one day.
I was just re-reading your original post.
One thing to keep in mind is that each training run should have a purpose: today is an easy day, go easy, ignore the temptation to go hard(er). Today is a tempo day, stick to your tempo pace. Intervals: make each repeat in the same time, not faster and faster. Make sure you have recovery days between your hard days. Having a purpose for each run may help put it all in perspective and give you the feeling that you're working toward a goal: your race. And not get you to the race feeling like you left it all on your training runs.
Last but not least, many runners prefer a fast, relatively short tuneup a day or two before their race, rather than tapering.
10% overall is great, no great runner keeps PRing race after race it is impossible. WX palys a hugh role, fall and winter races are always faster for me. Your body has to work so hard to cool you during the summer heat. I don't like a little slower time(no one does) but it's part of the game. Len is right on point.
You may be over your training peak. I've found that different training elements can add up to give me a 1-week to 1-month high of good runs, then things fall off, no matter what I do. I just have to let the cycle go, and I can come back in 1-2 months for more personal bests.
Also, are you a type-A, competitive thriving individual? Or are you more laid back, type-B, easy going, just do your own best? I'm more the latter, and race days make me more nervous than excited. I have to calm myself down (if you race junkies can believe that), and convince myself that this is just another day, just another run. Today is just like training, there are just a lot of people here. Once my nerves settle out, then I can let the excitement come in, but if I don't, I totally pysch myself out.
2009 Pascack Valley Sprint Triathlon - 1:20:17
2010 Pacers Half Marathon - 2:09:37
2010 NJ State Triathlon (Olympic) - 3:33:19
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Perhaps, and this is just a thought, your anxiety is due to your desire NOT to fail in some way. When you train, no one is watching, only you care how you do, so you do well. But in a race, maybe you feel that everyone is watching, what if I don't do well, what if I do something stupid, so instead you quit. Remember the fun you used to have when you first started running? Try to recapture that feeling. Go out on race day, not to "run your best" or run a new PR, but to have fun running. Don't take it so seriously. Chat up the folks around you, wear something silly, remember, it is not the finish, but the journey that is important. Races should invigorate you and inspire you, not bring you down. I wish you all the best. Be Happy, Have Fun!!
I have exactly the same problem as you and I might actually be the person Mary is refering to (Hey Mary...long time no talk to )
I love to train and I train hard and I totally suck at races. I've tried this year to run at least on race a month and in June one every weekend, to desensitize myself to the whole concept of the race. Honestly the only race I didn't suck at and actually enjoyed was my last HM. I really ran it mentally as just another training run. I think for me that is the new key to my thought process and it seems to be helping. I run because I love it, I train because I love to train hard and push my body, I race to keep me accountable. That's it. So for me races really are training runs and if I do well, good for me, if I don't oh well.
I've found for me that racing truly is not a measure of my performance, my daily runs are. I'm just way to inconsistent with my race times and have been since I started. But it does keep me training so like the dentist, I keep going even though I'm not loving the experience!
TRUST THE TRAINING!