Do you sleep the night before a big race?

Any race?

No matter the distance – from the 5K to the marathon, I rarely sleep well the night before a race.

My mind is a-twitter.  The day before running a marathon especially, at any time anyone mentions the word “marathon” I feel as if my heart drops to the pit of my stomach, pops back up to my chest and then catapults itself out of my chest to sit in my hand.  I calmly think, “I should probably put that back in there….”  I take a deep breath and shake it off.

It’s as if I stuck my hand in an electrical outlet.  I am literally buzzing with excitement and anxiety.

I am nervous, but not afraid.

I have missed a race after getting stuck right behind a car accident for 2 hours.  I have missed my corral numerous times trying to find parking or stuck in port-a-potty lines and have had to start at the back, weaving through walkers at the start.  My shoe laces have come untied in races, and in some cases, have stayed untied til the end of the race.

I could add more to this list of “head in hand” moments, but the short of it is – this is where a BIG portion of my anxiety lie.

Let’s not leave out:  Will it hurt?  Bad?  Will tomorrow be one of those “dragging bricks” racing days?  Throw in some of that to the nerves pile.

The short of it is this: I have never overslept!  I do not sleep the night before a race.  Here is how I cope.

No Sleep Before a Race Solutions:

I do not sleep the night before a race.  I know this.  And you know what?  I still seem to do okay (for me).  I have learned I am a non-sleeper the night before a big race.  So here is what I do to compensate.

1.  SLEEP – The Day Before

So, I don’t sleep the night before a race.  I have tried to not take naps the day before to be sure I would be tired that night to sleep.  But, I still didn’t sleep.  So now I nap any chance I get the day before!  I take the day easy.  I take the day slow.  And be sure I get lots of sleep 2 nights before.  Sleep overload!

2.  Set Up a Nice Peaceful Environment

My nerves are a wreck.  But I don’t sleep.  I hydrate like crazy.  I spend a lot of time deep breathing.  Visualizing success, thinking of all the hard work I have put in.  I think of how grateful I am for the opportunity to participate.

I set my room up to be quiet.  To have low lights on.  To be cool.  Then I get my book out and read, read, read.  Sometimes I doze between passages.  If I am to sleep, it is in the wee hours before it is time to get up.  I’ll take it!  It’s something!

3. Come Race Day – I Think Positive!

It is so easy to be self-defeating when you are tired before a race.  I have even cried from early morning fatigue, thinking of how I had already failed at the race ahead.  I do my morning routine.  I get to the race.  I stand in line.  I have felt tired during that entire time – yet somehow, I still do okay!  Sometimes, I do great for me!  What?!

This is a science one, but this article from Runners Connect boils it down to this: brain and nervous system need sleep.  Heart, lungs, legs are ready to go even if they are sleep deprived.

Knowing the nitty gritty, I try to pump up the positivity come race day.  I know I feel awful.  I know I feel tired.  I KNOW IT DOESN’T MATTER.


Just don’t be late (again).

Do you sleep the night before a race?  How to you cope if you don’t?  Let me know!