Control a Panic Attack During a Race

Many talented runners never realize their potential in races even through they can run the most difficult workouts with ease. Although the runners’ bodies are in perfect shape, their minds hold them back. These runners suffer from “choking” or “panicking” during races. Learning how to control a panic attack during a race is an often-overlooked skill for runners. But what does it mean to “choke” or “panic”? Is there a difference? What are the steps to prevent the mind from ruining a race?

The terms choking and panicking are often used interchangeably; however, they do refer to different things. As described in the article, The Effects of Mental Preparation for Distance Runners, panicking occurs when a runner’s mind is overwhelmed and he or she essentially locks up. As described in the article, panicking often occurs at the beginning of races, when runners become overly anxious full of emotions. Oftentimes, runners are unable to focus on staying relaxed because they are simply overwhelmed.

Choking, on the other hand, refers to the common phenomenon of thinking too much. Instead of turning the mind off and letting the body run, runners try to think their way through a race, which usually has disastrous results.

So what are good ways to lessen the changes of panicking or choking during a race? Probably the best method is positive self talk. If you feel negative thoughts, emotions, or anxieties creep into your head before or during a race, immediately counteract them with a positive statement.

For example, if you hear yourself say, “I feel so tired today.” Immediately think to a good run or workout you have had in the past say, “I’m ready for this race.” By shutting out negative feelings and emotions about running, you will help prevent a panic attack during a race, quiet the mind and reduce the chance of panicking by stopping overwhelming negative emotions.


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