OK so when we last left off I was fresh off a great 6 mile run and feeling good and pain free. Hooray!
However. You know how they say that running is like 30% physical and 70% mental (or something, I don’t math good)? Well, I started psyching myself out basically as soon as I got out of the shower that night. Even though I had a great 6 miles, the end was rough. How was I going to build up to 26.2 – with confidence – in a little more than a month, with time for a taper too? I wasn’t. Or maybe I could. I don’t know. Where’s my xanax?
Friday I rested and aimed for 12 miles over the weekend. Saturday morning I woke up and got prepped for the long run; fueled up, strapped on my hydration vest, and stood at the door stretching out, but I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t mentally in the game. In fact, I was paralyzed with fear, indecision, anxiety, and frustration. I couldn’t fail at another long run, it’d break me. After my failed 10 miler the week before, I had built up “the long run” so much in my broken, anxiety-riddled mind.. so much that I worked myself up into a full-on panic attack there with my hand on the doorknob, unable to open the door and run. My husband found me there and talked me down. “Head out there with no expectations. Just run. If you go for 1 mile or 10, call it a win.” It helped – so I walked out the door and into the soupiest, hottest, most humid day New Jersey has experienced since last summer.
It was about 97 degrees with 98% humidity, and there was no relief to be found out on the pavement. I struggled physically for a mile or so, then walked, and realized it was time to face the fear that’s been on the edges of my brain for a while now: I may have to drop down to the half marathon this October.
I had thought it before but was too scared to really explore it. “Failure” was not an option. But “Compromise” had to be considered. What would the real cons be? Honestly, it was the fear of having to become “The Girl Who Cried Marathon.”
My best friend up in Cape Cod said she was going to come all the way down to cheer me on. My local friends always ask how training is going, and say they can’t wait to celebrate. So many of my internet friends here and on Instagram have all said how excited they are to follow my journey to the finish line… What a let down it would be to tell them that I wasn’t going to run it. What a fool I’d look like.
That’s when it finally dawned on me: I was more concerned with what my friends and family (and internet friends!) would think of me than I was with my own health and sanity. I was prepared to just push through and barely make it – and possibly injure myself – just because I didn’t want to look like a fool.
That was my wake-up call: if I’m only running the marathon for other people, I am truly doing it for the wrong reasons. When I signed up, I wanted to prove to myself I could finish happy and healthy, but a slew of injuries this summer (runner’s knee in both knees, calf strains, etc) have seriously derailed my training and turned running into a painful chore. And to be honest? Before that 6 miler, I hadn’t really enjoyed a run in a LONG while.
So maybe dropping down is the right thing to do. The last thing I need to do is go out there unprepared (mentally or physically) and DNF, or worse, injure myself again. In the end, it comes down to what’s right for me. Not for anyone else. Because honestly? No one else really truly cares if I have to drop down to the half. Why in the hell would it matter to them? In classic overthinker fashion, I convinced myself that everyone else would view me as a failure, when in fact it was ALL ME doing the “you’re a failure” finger pointing, at myself.
(If you haven’t already noticed, I’m a classic overthinker. Whether I’m choosing chicken or fish at a wedding or buying a car: I will obsess over every little detail of a decision until I can’t keep my eyes open, and then I’ll keep obsessing until 3 am in bed, and eventually I’ll worry myself into a state of paralysis. It’s really the one thing I’m actually good at.)
Yay for succeeding at something!
So as I walked back home, I pulled the trigger and messaged the handful of friends that said they were coming down to cheer me on, and their responses were so unbelievably sweet and supportive that I wondered why I had waited this long to say anything in the first place. When I got home I told my husband and it was like a weight had lifted. I cried in relief – even though I hadn’t officially changed my registration, I found such comfort in getting to the bottom of the issues that have been plaguing me for the past month. It really is true: Running is cheaper than therapy!
As of right now, I’m not sure if I’m officially dropping. I’ve got until 10 days before the race to decide, and I’m going to really focus on my training now that I’ve gotten my gait right and my knees are healing. I’ve done a few really good hour + runs, and banged out a great 10 miler today, so we’ll see what the future holds. I could possibly still pull the full out of thin air, but I’m not going to be disappointed if I have to drop when the time comes.
What matters is that I keep running happy – which I plan on doing for a VERY long time 🙂 And PS – We’ll be back to our usual running/training related posts tomorrow. In the meantime, how is your training going? Does anyone else out there struggle with doubt? How about my fellow overthinkers out there? Share your story!