You know the feeling all too well. You’re standing at the start line when the nerves start to trickle in. You begin second guessing whether you trained enough, stretched enough or ate too much for breakfast that morning. We’ve all been there, and to be honest, a lot of those pre-race jitters and the ensuing rush of adrenaline are often what many of us love most about race day. But if those jitters lead you to feel more anxious than excited, it can be difficult to find your footing, or more importantly, the joy in running.
So, how do you conquer your nerves? Try spending a few minutes meditating before you cross the start line. Meditation provides a powerful means to truly check in with your mind and body, focus on your breathing and prepare yourself for the race ahead. Keep reading for some simple breathing meditations you can squeeze in first thing in the morning. They could make all the difference in how you experience race day going forward.
Soft Belly Breathing
Soft belly breathing can reduce tension in your neck and shoulders, providing a sense of ease on an admittedly stressful day. Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair with your spine straight. Place your hands on your belly and allow it to expand under your fingertips as you take a deep inhale through your nose and contract as you exhale completely through your mouth.
Repeat this sequence for about five minutes, focusing on inhaling and exhaling for the same length of time, expanding and contracting your belly with each breath.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is ideal for settling the mind, relieving tension and reducing stress. Just like with soft belly breathing, begin by sitting in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair with your spine straight. Take your right hand and close your pointer and middle fingers, placing your thumb and ring finger on the sides of your nostrils.
Gently close your right nostril with your right thumb, inhaling slowly through the left nostril. Then, close your left nostril with your ring finger, and open the night nostril, exhaling slowly through it.
Repeat the process, inhaling slowly through the right nostril before gently closing it with your thumb. Then open the left nostril and exhale slowly through it. Continue to alternate sides for about five minutes.