Don’t Let Race Day Jitters Spoil Your Biathlon Fun

Jill Heffernan imagines her bike tire going flat or a shoe coming untied mid-race. Half marathoner Julie Barth is a “bit nervous” about adding a 12-mile bike ride to her race-day routine. And Margarita Martin? She’s more excited than jittery—she’s come a long way in four years. All three women are patients of the Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center, and prove that race day jitters can strike whether you’re a beginner or a veteran athlete.

Fortunately, there are mental strategies that help alleviate anxiety. Jill works to keep her mind focused on the finish line and not the “what if” questions that pop up occasionally.

“In order to prepare myself mentally and push those jitters aside, my thoughts will be focused on moving forward,” Jill said. “I plan to just keep moving until the end of the race. My goal is to reach the finish line!”

Wendi Spitzig, clinical manager and medical weight loss coordinator for Memorial’s Weight Loss & Wellness Center, understands the worry that accompanies participating in an official event.

“Fear of the unknown is especially common for those first race participants,” Spitzig said. “There is the fear you will trip on your shoe or that people will notice you aren’t an ‘athlete.’ Perhaps the most common fear is that you won’t be able to finish the race.”

Spitzig recommends the following strategies to squelch those race day jitters:

  • Make sure you enjoy a good night’s sleep the evening before the race.
  • Practice ahead of time, including scoping out the event route in advance.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that you have worn before. Do not break in that snazzy new pair of running shoes on the day of the event.
  • Have fun! Remind yourself that you can do it! It is not just about crossing the finish line; it’s about stepping up and having the courage to participate.

Wendi Spitzig, LCSW

Wendi Spitzig, LCSW, is the clinical manager and medical weight loss coordinator for Memorial’s Weight Loss & Wellness Center. She works with a multi-disciplinary team in the evaluation and treatment of obesity and related conditions. She began her career at MWLWC seven years ago completing psychosocial assessments for patients interested in pursuing bariatric surgery. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in Communication and Psychology from Millikin University. She furthered her education by pursuing her master’s at Loyola University.