No matter how good a runner you are or how many records you have broken, competition brings anxiety to us all. And this anxiety has been the downfall of many hardworking athletes. If you are participating in an event you must acclimatize your mind to the pressure it is going to exert on you.

The simplest way is to formulate a routine that increases in intensity and trains your mind for the upcoming event. You can train your body with the physical exercises but you have to make strategies for the event: how will you tackle the difficulties you usually face, how will maintain and utilize your stamina and other such things.

Let’s take a look at what your routine should be like:

Six Months Beforehand

Six months before any competition I would make plans for both physical and mental training. You have to plan out how you are going to gain more strength and speed, and for the mental part how you are going to concentrate on the set task. Writing goals down has helped me win many a time. Practice mindfulness, diaphragmatic breathing, and visualization four times a week each till there is only one month left in the competition.

Two Months Beforehand

Add a psychological tool to the triggers you face during the practice. This process helps to maintain proper concentration and keeps you focused on your target. Pair out breathing rhythm or an exercise to any cue word or a song. Try various such pairings and don’t let yourself get fixed in a particular loop.

One Month Beforehand

“Good lord, just one month!” This is what happens to almost everyone. We all start to freak out and think we’re probably underprepared. But, that is not the case. Believe in yourself, that's the place to start, and in all the hard work you’ve put yourself through in the past few months. This is the time when you are at your psychological worst. Change the scenery. Go for a dress rehearsal to get your mind off the stress and then go for a run without your training aids, just to remind yourself why you actually chose this sport and why you started competing.

The Week Before

Start tackling your growing anxiety with positive feelings like encouragement. When negative thoughts bother you and start shaking your confidence, gather together all of the medals that you’ve won in the previous competitions to remind yourself of your calibre. It will instantly pump you up.

Get rid of self-doubt and start planning meticulously. Plan your race route and divide it into parts. Plan each part so you know exactly when and what you are going to do.

The Day Before

Spending the day alone and getting mentally prepared for the competition sounds appealing but I have experienced that the company of friends and family helps in soothing and disengaging the pre-race nerves. Invite your family and friends to a feast. This way you get to store a lot of energy while washing out your anxiety. Create a checklist of everything you might need for the race. Set your alarm, pack your bags with the stuff you will need post-race, and prepare for your pre-race snack.

On The Day

Keep your mind from straying by taking deep breaths. There are many things people do just before the race like cracking jokes, singing their favourite songs or humming their favourite tunes. Do anything that calms your mind, because anxiety leads to a chaotic start, and without a perfect start you may end up wasting a lot of your stamina.