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Kicking Pre-Marathon Nerves In The Face!

Tips & Tricks To Stay Calm And Not Let Your Nerves Restrict Your Marathon Potential!

Posted by Curt - January 23rd, 2015

Running a marathon can be one of the most daunting experiences anyone has to face. There’ll be people everywhere. People watching you run. People running alongside you. You’ll feel overwhelmed by everything. But that shouldn’t get in the way of your race. It’s not uncommon – same with public speaking. For the first time in particular, you’ll be petrified.

It’s okay though. I’ve made a list, with my own experiences, how nerves can be tamed. How they can be exterminated, giving you the ability to run at your best.

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Understand most people feel the same

Firstly: be understanding. Everyone’s in the same boat. Everyone – and I mean everyone, is nervous. Some more nervous than others. But you’re not in this by yourself.

Now, once you can appreciate you’re not alone, you’ll feel warmth.

You’ll almost feel good knowing other people are in the same boat. No, this does not make you a heartless. It makes you human. Empathy, my friend.

If necessary, start off small. Run 5k races. Then move to half marathons. Then start off by running in small, regional marathons. Work your way up to the big, intimidating marathons. The NYC marathon is not a good starting point. You’ll find that, by doing this, you’ll meet people far easier, and then maybe you can all face prestigious marathons together.

You’ve gotta start somewhere.

Trust in yourself and your training

The hard part is done. You’ve trained, and prepared for the marathon.

Now it’s time to kick some butt. Whether that means beating your personal best, or just finishing the race. It doesn’t matter. But what does matter is that you trust in yourself.

Understand that once you get running, the nerves will wear off. You’ll begin to think straight, and all the training you’ve done will be worth it. You’ll then want to run another marathon. And then another. To the point you’ll wonder why you were overwhelmingly nervous to begin with.

Providing you’re prepared, and have some confidence in your running, you’ll be fine. Who knows: maybe you’ll kill it! Maybe you’ll keep up with the Kenyans!

Research, research, and more research

Preparation is crucial. Research is vital. It is essential in order to overcome nerves. Or, at least, ease them. There’s nothing worse than running a race without knowing anything about it. Its history, the type of people you’ll be running with, etc.  If you don't, you might encounter surprises. Not good surprises, either. Hills, and mysterious areas, just to name a few.

That’s just one aspect of the research. What will the weather be like on the day? Maybe you’re traveling to a warm place. You won’t need winter clothes if that’s the case. You’ll need clothes to make you comfortable.  Clothes you can get through from start to finish without needing to change.

Spend days, if you need, to analyze the marathon. The location. The route. The weather. The people. Anything and everything that’ll make you confident when beginning to run. Nobody likes to be unprepared for a race.

Get there early

Don’t be late. Not even 30 seconds. In fact: be at least 30 minutes early. Collect your stuff. Release your bowels. Have a drink. Meet some people. Do whatever you can before you begin running. It’ll increase your confidence. You’ll be familiar with the area. You’ll be excited to begin running and most importantly: you’ll do better than if you showed up late.

This is why research is important. It can make sure you won’t get there late. If you have backup plans, then nothing can get in your way. Unless you get stuck in traffic. Then you’re stuffed.

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Embrace the nerves!

So far I’ve just focused on removing nerves. But nerves aren’t always bad. There’s a difference between being healthily nervous, and having intense anxiety attacks.

Nerves mean you care. If someone runs a marathon and they claim they’re not nervous… not even the slightest, then they probably don’t care.

Avoid these people. They’ll make you feel worse than you already do. But most of the time they’re lying to you. Most of the time they’re just as nervous as you, if not more nervous. These people believe they can trick their minds. They think if they say they’re not nervous, then they won’t be nervous.

If only it were that simple.


It sounds simple, right? Something we’re so naturally programmed to do.  But it’s not. In fact, the night before a marathon can truly suck. It can be a sleepless night. Maybe squeezing in 2 - 3 hours if you’re lucky.

But not getting enough sleep can be dangerous. Dangerous to your health, and dangerous to your race. You’re stacking the odds against yourself if you don’t sleep much. The marathon will kill you. You’ll be exhausted mentally. Sleep is essential. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

And when you wake up, treat yourself to a good breakfast. You’ll thank me later!

Enjoy it

Stop thinking about the nerves. This is supposed to be an experience of a lifetime. Your hard work is coming together, and you’re ready to smash your goals. Stop stressing. Okay, maybe it’s not that simple. But it can be. Distract your mind with music. Make some friends. Get to know the area and most importantly, when you run, embrace the community. It’s a long road ahead, you might as well make the most of it, right?

Just think of the Kenyans who are too far ahead to appreciate the community; the crowd and the runners together. It’s a team effort – nobody’s got time for nerves. Then you can collect your medal, and question what you were worrying about from the start.


Overcoming nerves is hard. But as long as you know the difference between healthy-nervous, and unhealthy-nervous, it should be the time of your life. Providing you don’t have a panic attack, stop focusing on the nerves too much. It helps nobody, and it’s just restricting your potential.

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Curt Davies is a marathon enthusiast who found the mental edge you need to finish a marathon. He's compiled some of his best tips into a free download you can get at his website at