Professor of Kinesiology Kim Dawson on Managing Pre-Race Anxiety

When it comes to pre-race anxiety, you may think the elites have it all figured out. But they face the same struggles and worries as anyone else. Building your mental skillset can help you manage stress and improve performance at any level.

Although mental training and sports psychology have become more prevalent in recent years, many runners still wonder if it’s an essential part of training. After all, is it really true that running is 90% mental?

While we can debate exact percentages, it’s undeniable that running and racing well require an enormous amount of mental toughness, in addition to physical fitness. Mental training is not just for elites – every runner at every level can benefit from improving their mental strength and tenacity.

But just like running, it’s a skillset that requires practice well before race day.

Kim Dawson on Pre Race Anxiety

This week’s guest on the podcast is Kim Dawson, a sports psychologist who is a professor in Kinesiology and Physical Education, as well as a mental performance consultant. Kim received her Masters in Exercise Science at the University of Illinois, and her Doctorate in Psychomotor Behavior at the University of Waterloo. She is a member of the Canadian Sport Psychology Association, and a mental skills provider with the Canadian Sport Institute.

As you’ll learn from our discussion, sports psychology can benefit every runner, whether you have pre race anxiety or not. Mental training is a fascinating topic that has so many practical applications.

Kim and I focused our discussion on alleviating pre race anxiety, including

  • The difference between a normal stress response and reacting out of fear and anxiety
  • How to practice controlling the controllables on race day, including your reactions 
  • Why runners should be more open to mental training plans, not just physical ones
  • The importance of process over outcome, and using tiered goals for races
  • What it means to “stretch psychologically”

Enjoy our conversation – you’re bound to find something useful to apply to your next race!

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Links & Resources from the Show:

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