5 Ways to Take off Pressure


My running friends know that when I train, I train hard. I rarely cut runs short. It’s even rarer for me to skip a long run. I’ll choose to run by myself when my schedule and my friends’ schedules don’t match up.

Just because I train hard, though, doesn’t mean that I am certain of a positive outcome. Anything can happen in any race.

I am joining the Friday Five 2.0 from Fairytales & Fitness and Rachel @ Running on Happy to share how I train hard yet take the pressure off myself during a race.


This PR was the result of literally years of training hard

Don’t expect training to pay off in one season
I think this is one of the biggest “secrets” about training — 2 or 3 months don’t necessarily give you immediate results. They might, but it’s unlikely. Especially if you don’t have someone guiding you.

You have to keep showing up and doing the work and trust that it will pay off somewhere down the road — because it will. I’m living proof.

Don’t know your PRs
Ask me what my 10k PR is in a couple of weeks and I’ll probably have no clue. Ok, I do know my 5k PR (probably because I’ve been chasing a new one for a long time) and my half PR. I don’t know those in between distances — the 4 mile, the 3.5 mile, the 5 mile, the 15k.

You can’t obsess about what you don’t know.

Don’t look at last year’s race
Looking at the previous year’s race can certainly be helpful — knowing what pace you started out at and how that worked for you, where the hills are, that sort of thing. If you don’t know what your finish time was in the previous year you won’t obsess about beating it.

Don’t have your watch show elapsed time
I have my watch set so that it doesn’t show me elapsed time. Ever. Not in training or during a race. I generally have no clue whether or not I’ve PR’d or am on my way to a PR as I’m racing. I have a race plan, it has paces, and I try to hit my paces.

I don’t run naked, but you should probably try it!

Run naked
This is a do as I say, not as I do, because so far, I’ve never had to run naked (aka no watch or not looking at your watch) in a race. Or wanted to. Running Buddy J just did that for our 10k last week and she did awesome. I know Darlene @ Myfirst5k has done it on more than one occasion and claims it was really freeing.

Running fast rarely comes naturally to me. My running will often slow down towards the end of a race — sometimes even at the beginning — if I don’t “watch” it. I get why running by feel can be important, but what can I say? I’m not feeling it. But you might find it helpful to ease the pressure on yourself.

Do you race “naked”?

Do you even care about your finish time?

What was the race that surprised you the most — in a good way?

23 thoughts on “5 Ways to Take off Pressure

  1. Congrats again on the 10k PR. I agree with you. I don’t have a Garmin, just a cheap sports watch I got at Kmart, but I never look at the time during a race. Never. I want to run by feel, not according to what time I think I should be achieving. It takes all the fun out of the race, and we all do them for fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually I do have a Garmin & always run with it. 🙂

      We are all different. and I know many runners that feel as you do. I like the challenge of meeting a pace, so for me that is “fun”. I also think racing is — and should be — hard! Otherwise it’s just running. I know not every runner agrees with that.


  2. Running and not having a plan is the most freeing for me. I can run with others if I choose.

    Yes, my half PR was without a watch.

    Mine shows elapsed time not pace because I find that less stressful.

    I too have to look at my blog to see if I had a PR.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have never run a race without my Garmin. I don’t even like going for runs without it. Some races I do not even have a time goal in mind. However, in the back of my head there is always a number I would like to hit. Sometimes it even changes during the race depending on how it is going. But I run because I love it and not to hit a certain finish time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well, you have probably seen that my recent marathon surprised me in a very good way (tough course, but a great “tough-chick-building endeavor). I seldom run with a watch, but I always have it for races…and I do have it set on elapsed time LOL I check it at the mile marks, and that’s it. If I had the constant pace there, I would be focused on THAT and not the experience of the race itself. Avoidance works for me 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have done races like that — only checking elapsed time at each mile. Everyone is different — I find that for me that felt like pressure.

      I do think you can definitely focus on pace and still soak in the race — but again, everyone is different.


  5. One of the joys of being past my PR prime is that I don’t feel the pressure like I used to. Yes, I still want to do well, but I also realize that at any point my exercise induced asthma may kick in and blow all my training to pieces. And yes, I do remember my PR times (even though they were about 15 years ago!). I use my watch during a race, but usually only pay attention at mile markers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Having started later in life, I still have some chances at PRs, obviously. 🙂 At some point it will inevitably go away, too, because I really do hope to run the rest of my life, but until then, I’ll keep trying. 🙂 And even then, I’ll keep racing, hopefully.


  6. I do care about my finish times a little bit. I know what I can do in training, and it is frustrating to have a slow time for a race. Some races though I don’t care about. I’ll be doing Disney Princess for fun, and while I will be training with a coach, my main goal that entire weekend is to have fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are, believe it or not, races where I don’t care as much about my pace. 🙂

      But not usually with my halfs, since I put in a lot of training for them! I also realize, though, that it doesn’t necessarily pay off right away. I learned it the hard way!


  7. Can I add one? Run trail. If you enjoy it, of course. I often feel pressure too but trail is one place where it is impossible too. Even if it’s the same trail, whether conditions (mud, wetness, slickness, puddles) can change anything. You really can’t compare any two trail runs, hence, no pressure!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. haha run naked! Its so funny, I make those I coach do this and yet I don’t do it much myself. So I totally can relate to do as I say, not as I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t put pressure on myself because I found out in my first marathon (where I actually missed the cut-off by 1 minute but still got a time and medal because it was Iceland and they’re relaxed about such things) that I put more emphasis on self-preservation than competing. However my trick is to never sign up for a race with a cut-off I know I might struggle to manage. That’s why my ultra is one where there are walkers!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha – it wasn’t cool, actually, it was boiling hot, unseasonably so! It was just a normal road marathon (I find people think lava fields when I mention it, but no!) and I got very hot and cross and a bit sunburnt, having carefully arranged my life all that summer to train very early to miss the heat as I “Didn’t need to do heat training”! Still enjoyed it, though!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow, I would never have guessed that! You hear Iceland you just assume it’s going to be cold. I wouldn’t have thought about lava fields, though. I hear Iceland is beautiful and it’s definitely one of the places I’d like to visit!

        Yeah, weather has a way of ruining races sometimes. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

  10. One of the reasons I’m super excited about my Garmin is I can do laps and have an idea on how I’m doing with respect to a pace band. I know my rough PRs but not exact down to minute/second beyond 5K which I’m currently chasing.

    Liked by 1 person

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