Inside the mind of a runner at racetime


This post previously appeared on Happy by Design

Yesterday, I ran the Lucky Leprechaun 7k. For those of you wondering how long that is in miles, I can tell you it’s not four miles as I had assumed, it’s actually 4.35 miles. This is important later on.

Also, it’s the first race I’ve run this year, and even the first race I’ve run since last year’s Ragnar Relay in June. So, I was a bit nervous.

Okay, really nervous.

But I did something I’ve never done before. Before the race, I sat in my car and frantically typed out all my pre-race thoughts as I waited to go line up with the others. And after the race I quickly jotted down a lot of the things I remembered thinking throughout the race. I’ll recap some of my post-race reflections at the end, but I thought it’s about time you see the mental mind f***ery that happens to me before and during races.

Spoiler alert: I am not cool and collected. I am a big baby.



[Before the race]

It’s 9:28. I just got my packet, went to the bathroom (the lovely porta potty option), and then I walked back to my car to keep warm until the start of the race.

Nerves are really getting to me. It’s just four miles. I’ve done this distance a million times.

But it’s a race. And races have timers. And it’s not MY running path. And it’s one more marker of how much I’ve progressed since I last ran a race. Spoiler…probably not much. My last race was ragnar relay last June. Almost a year ago.


These pants are ridiculous. But at least Jake can find me in the sea of green and black runners.

Stop being nervous.

Is my stomach going to cramp from that yogurt I had an hour ago? It was Jake’s yogurt. I wish I had my yogurt. I should have saved one for today instead of bringing it for lunch on Thursday.

Don’t let it be windy.

It’s just four miles. I will be FINE!

Oh my god. It’s only 9:34! Why is time crawling like a snail? It’s cold. Those people already lining up are crazy. Go be warm for a bit.

I wish I could have that beer now.

I’m parked on a hill. Does this call for using my emergency brake?

Those guys have shorts and a t-shirt on. I’ll be fine. If I run hard I’ll warm up in no time.

These race t-shirts are sweet! Not running sweet. They’re cotton. But the material is that thin cotton material. Perfect for wearing later today.

I’ll be like, “Yeah I did that. (Pounds chest) you wanna go?”

What is this, west side story? I’m not going to fight anyone. Also no one is going to notice my shirt.

OMG. First banana costume sighting. Yes!! It’s not a race until you see the guy in the banana costume.

I should get my stuff pinned on.

[And then I raced out of my car back to the registration booth because I completely forgot that I had no pins to put on my race bib with tracker]


[During the race – mile 1]

Adrenaline. Yes! You are my friend. I am totally conquering this hill. Bring it!

Whew. Okay. That’s fine. Catching my breath.

Oh. Another hill. Come on adrenaline! Okay it’s gone already? F*** this hill. I can’t believe I’m walking up half of it. Whatever! It’s steep and I was running really hard.

Okay. Gotttttt this.

[During the race – mile 2]

Ha! I didn’t even see the mile marker. I was that “in the zone.”

Another hill? Okay. I can do this. It’s not as steep. Holy sh** it goes forever! F*** this hill.

I’m good. It’s fine. I’ve only walked twice. It was totally necessary.

Water stop! Halfway point? Oh there’s the two mile marker. Nice. Two more miles is nothing.

[During the race – mile 3]

Just focus on the next three songs. Just get through mile 3.

What is this song? No. I need GOOD songs. Skip! Skip! Skip! Okay. I can deal with that. Ugh. Should have made a playlist.

I feel like I’m hitting 10-min miles. I mean those first two were fast. I bet it averages out to 10 min miles.

3 mile marker! Almost there!

[During the race – mile 4 to finish]

Quick walk before I finish up the last mile.

1 mile is so easy. It’s like going from the park back to the house. Easy peezy!

Downhills? It’s about god damn time!

Second song. Okay two more songs. Ugh, getting tired. But it’s just two songs! You’re so close.

Third song come on  be good! Masterpiece by Jesse J? This is perfect.

Omg I’m tired. I seriously can’t breathe.

Sing. Sing to the lyrics! The finish is  just around these trees.

Oh sh**! It’s not there! Oh no the song is done. What? That was three songs? Where is the finish.

F***, it’s so far away. Omg I just want to walk. What loser walks a third of the mile before the finish? Just do it!

15 seconds. Walk fast. Okay go!

Everything hurts. Oh god, I hope nobody saw me walk.

I’m almost there! Push it!

I can not push it.

[Looked up to see the time on the clock: 10:47:55]

…okay. That’s okay. No ten-minute mile but it’s on the range I predicted.

Omg. I need to catch my breath.

Walk. Go to Lefs. Find Jake. Chug that beer!


[Recap of the race]

I did better than I expected. The weather was nice. It was only four miles. I met up with Jake, had my green beer and then we continued on with the day.

I was able to pull up the post-race results on my phone when I stopped for gas, and it was at this point that I saw I was under an 11-minute mile, not closer to a 12-minute mile like I originally thought.


So that was my feel-good for the day. My calves were killing me. My back was (and still is) seriously messed up. But it was a good check in on how well I’ve kept up my running and fitness goals over the long winter.

The next time  you’re thinking about running a race, don’t ever be intimidated by the other runners you see. Because most likely, they have their own thing going on in their head. For me, the race is about checking off a box and being able to say, “I did it!” And my hope is that the next time I race, those negative thoughts will start to turn into positive thoughts. Something along the lines of, “I’m killing it!”

So now you know what it’s like inside the mind of a runner. Go sign up for a race and don’t forget to wear fun pants!

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