runners_world_bodyQ. I get so nervous before races that I regret signing up. But I’m always glad when I’m done. How can I get over this?

A. Your jitters show you’re invested in the outcome. A few simple strategies can turn your nervousness into helpful energy to create a positive experience.

Take slow, quiet, and deep breaths. Clear your head of anxiety-producing expectations such as, “I should run a personal record or all my training will be a waster.” Instead think, “I’ve done my training, so we’ll see what happens.” Using past race experiences, close your eyes and “see” yourself before, during, and after your race. See yourself weathering difficult moments and finishing strong. The day before your race, dream up worst-case scenarios that include the ridiculous. For example, “If I don’t run well tomorrow, I’ll be the biggest loser ever.” This creates a paradoxical effect-it gives you perspective on how foolish those feelings are.

Lastly, remember: PRs aren’t everything. The camaraderie of your running friends and the pride you’ll feel after your effort are benefits worth racing for.