Need Motivation to Deal with the Pre-Race Day Jitters? Give these Podcast Episodes a Listen.

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You’ve made it through the peak of your training cycle. You’ve logged more miles than you thought possible when setting out on this training journey. You’ve conquered the intimidating speed workouts, long runs, and strength / cross-training circuits, and you’ve mastered your fueling, hydration, and overall race plan. With taper week on the horizon, you reflect on all that you’ve accomplished over the past 12, 16, 18, 20 weeks, feeling a sense of pride, accomplishment, and well-deserved confidence.  

Amid the warm fuzzies, however, another feeling starts to stir at the pit of your stomach. Many of us know this feeling as the pre-race jitters. Thoughts like “What if I get my hydration wrong?” “What if I have stomach issues?” “What if I don’t get to the start on time?” “What if I CAN’T ACTUALLY DO IT?” can creep and strike even the most seasoned runners.

Here I am with LOADS of race-day jitters at the start of my half marathon this past November.

Here I am with LOADS of race-day jitters at the start of my half marathon this past November.

So, what’s a runner to do as your mind swirls with these thoughts and your system is bombarded with this nervous energy? There are lots of calming techniques that you can turn to during this time, and, of course, as running coaches and experienced runners say over and over again: “Trust your training.” I’d also like to offer another resource for regaining confidence, motivation, and a sense of excitement as you approach the big day. Below you will find a list of podcast episodes that I turn to when I start to feel the jitters set in – or even when I find myself in a bit of a training rut. These conversations with well-known figures in the running community, elite runners, and running coaches offer me sports motivation / excitement akin to watching Rudy deliver the Knute Rockne speech in the ND locker room.

Another Mother Runner

AMR, co-founded by Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell is a resource that I happily stumbled upon at the moment when I was getting interested in distance running again. I know that many of you have read Sarah’s and Dimity’s books, followed their training plans, listened to their podcast, and participated in their community. The AMR podcast covers SO MANY topics and boasts NUMEROUS awesome episodes, but below are the ones that I turn to for encouragement. Since I suggest SO many AMR episodes, I’m don’t provide descriptions for each, but you can click on the link to the episode for photos and useful descriptions.

Episode 154: “Summer Sanders: Olympic Medalist Swimmer Turned Mother Runner”

Episode 239: “Running Podcast: Bart Yasso is the Man!”

Episode 256: “Conversation with Running Icon Kathrine Switzer”

Episode 198: “Becca Pizzi: 7 Marathons, 7 Continents, 7 Days (YOWZA!)”

Episode 261: “Behind the Scenes with Two Race Directors”

Episode 224: “The Mental Side of Running”


The Runners World Show

Episode 21: “Run Your Best Marathon” This conversation among David Willey, former Editor-in-Chief of RW, Bud Coates, Bart Yasso, and Tish Hamilton is a MUST for anyone who is about to run a marathon. It is also applicable for anyone taking on a distance for the first time. Bud Coates’s reminder to take a moment at the start line to enjoy all that you have accomplished and to consider the race a celebration is the piece of advice that I return to time and again as I visualize race day.

Episode 13: “The Legend of Pre” Early in this episode, you can listen to an excerpt from Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog in which Knight describes the incredible experience of watching Steve Prefontaine race. It is pure running motivation, believe me!

Episode 2: Pioneers, Innovators, and Performers This show was one of the first podcast episodes I listened to on a long run. Hearing Roberta Gibb recount her experience of being the first woman to run the Boston Marathon (of course Kathrine Switzer was the first to run with a bib number, but Gibb was the first to complete the race) was such an inspiration!


30 for 30 Podcasts

Season 4, Episode 3: “Six Who Sat” I have linked to an episode with Kathrine Switzer from AMR, and there are other AMAZING interviews with her on The Runner’s World Show as well. This episode also features Switzer, BUT it brings in other women’s voices who were involved in the fight to allow women to enter/run distance races. If you need to feel inspired to lace up your shoes and get to that start, all you need to do is listen to these women’s stories. It still blows my mind that women’s FINALLY being allowed to participate in races is such a recent history. 

The episodes above rank in my “BEST OF,” but, if you’d like to explore some other podcasts, here are some excellent ones:

C Tolle Run

I’ll Have Another with Lindsay Hein

Human Race

Running For Real with Tina Muir

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 So, now I’m dying to know: what are your go-to episodes to beat the pre-race jitters and get you confidently to the start line? Please share suggestions in the comments below!

Jennifer is a wife, mom of three, runner, and PhD. She and her family recently moved back to the Carolinas after a five-year grad school stint in the Midwest. Jennifer is a cradle Catholic, and she began running almost thirty years ago, participating in her first road races as an elementary-school kid at the annual Knights of Columbus Turkey Day Run. She frequently turns to both the rosary and distance running (oftentimes simultaneously) for assistance in embracing the joys and the demands of family life and academic life. You can connect with Jennifer on Instagram.