I know I talk about marathons a lot on here, but ’tis the season! Going into this last marathon, I realized that I did not experience the dread and fear that I used to get. I remember thinking a couple of weeks ago how strange it felt to be confident and ready for marathon #4. Even though 26.2 miles is a REALLY long way, the distance just doesn’t seem as intimidating as it once did. Over the past year, I have trained my mind to accept that running 20 plus miles is just something I do. It’s no longer a big deal!
Looking back, I wish I had known that this feeling of confidence was possible. If I could go back, I would tell my 2017 self that it would all be ok and one day 26.2 would be NO BIG DEAL. After reflecting on the past 6 years and the countless races, I thought I should put together five things that used to scare the heck out of me and what I did to overcome them. I hope it inspires you to take a step back and think about your fears from a different perspective, one in which possibilities are not limited by the boundaries you naturally set for yourself, and to take steps to shut out those little voices in your head telling you “you can’t do this” or ”you’re not ready.”
Fear: Running solo.
Solution: Choose a well-populated and well-lit course, like a popular trail or your own neighborhood. Carry pepper spray for added protection.
Fear: Running in the dark.
Solution: Run with a partner, and wear a headlamp. Bring extra batteries just in case. I also realized that getting comfortable running after dark or early in the morning is just something I have to practice, especially if I am out there alone. Choosing to face my fears and run outside as opposed to just hopping on a treadmill at the gym is better for me in the long run anyways.
Fear: Running a longer distance.
Solution: Work your way up to longer distances by increasing long runs each week by no more than 10% and stepping back every couple of weeks to recover properly. Knowing that I will feel a sense of accomplishment motivates me to continue pushing past the boundaries that I have set for myself. It is exciting to see what I am actually capable of, and, as I got comfortable with being uncomfortable, I started to look forward to those double-digit runs on the training plan.
Fear: Race day jitters.
Solution: Having the jitters on race morning is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be overwhelming, crazy scary, and exciting all at once! I still get excited, but it is a little less scary now that I have done quite a few races. I set myself up to succeed by preparing the night before, and that includes picking out my race outfit, looking over an event guide if one is provided, and coming up with a game plan for the best place to park in relation to the start and finish. I also like going into races knowing to some degree what pace I want to aim for. It’s all in the preparation. Doing those few things ahead of time allows me to enjoy the race day experience.