Renewing my faith in running…and maybe even racing.

This weekend, I watched one of my fabulous bloggy friends Samantha  run a half marathon (Hampton Half Marathon) and despite freezing my bum off, I walked away from the day with a few a-ha moments tucked into the back of my brain.

I fully expected the familiar ‘anxiety’ feelings to arise as I saw runners whizz past me, emulating the feelings that I usually get when it’s me in that flurry of runners. But instead?  I started to feel a bit of renewed sense of faith in running (as evidenced also by my guest post on running for me) and even, just maybe, the racing aspect that I tend to hate dislike so much. Because what I saw was the camaraderie of those cheering their family and friends on, and the glimmers of happiness in the eyes of those runners as they saw their family and friends rooting them on. I was glad to give Samantha a little moral boost, when I finally saw her, and know from personal experience that it really does help to see friendly faces in the crowd.

But beyond that, it was some words of advice I got on Sunday that really resonated with me. I met up with Meaghan – finally – who I’m pretty convinced will become a fast friend (she’s awesome!) – and talking to her about my past struggles with racing (read her recent post here too, that partially recaps the day). On how I pretty much choke on race day (anxiety, breathing trouble, the whole 9 yards), and I asked her how she’s been able to put that pressure out of her mind (given her 10 marathons(!) she’s run!), and she simply said, ” ‘you just do.’ It’s you and 5,000 other runners out there, you can’t let that affect you.”

Simply stated, but so very true.

The only pressure is the pressure I put on myself and 99% of that pressure is completely unnecessary! I know I am not the fastest runner out there, and I am not running to win, I am running to accomplish my personal goal, no matter what time I cross that finish line. This is something that was so hard for me to see when I ran those two half marathons in years past, and I just feel as though I’m gaining so much clarity in what is compelling me to run and bringing me back to the question of…what is my plan? Do I want to attempt another half? Does it even matter? Do I care? And the answer…I think…is yes, I do. Because I clearly keep going back to that question for a reason.

So when Meaghan asked me what my plan was, coincidentally, when it comes to any planned races, I actually had an answer (sort of). While I’m still working out the specifics in my head, and what I want, or don’t want to do, I do know this: I am determined to do a half marathon to see how I actually finish, since the last two that I’ve run, I let the race get to me, and I choked. I finished, but I choked. I have never ran a half marathon (or any race whatsoever, whether that be a 5K, or a 5 miler or whatever) and run it with success. Yet, I have run many a run with success. And I know I can translate that into an actual race day performance. I just need to separate in my head that it’s a race and that it’s a performance. Because for me, it’s neither of those things. For me, it’s just another run (with oh, anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand other runners…). Right?

So my faith in running is certainly back….and maybe, just maybe, so is my faith in conquering a race, and more importantly, conquering my fear of what that means. It’s only a race against myself and nobody else.

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22 thoughts on “Renewing my faith in running…and maybe even racing.

  1. Races are absolutely a mind thing. You wouldn’t believe how many times i have choked during marathons. I have finished at least 5 marathons crying and swearing I would never run a marathon again. I have finally learned to focus and shut all negative thoughts out of my head while racing. And it works. But it is so hard. You can absolutely shut those feelings out. I find running shorter races helps in relaxing you and getting you used to racing…..Though I still get incredibly nervous for 5k’s. :) I can’t wait to hear about your next half marathon!

    1. Thank you so much Robin!! I really appreciate your feedback, especially given how many races you have done!! That is huge for me, because if you can conquer it, I can conquer it, right??

  2. :-) This is great Jo! I’m so glad you’re thinking about racing again. I think you’re at a point with your running that you will definitely be able to wrap your head around a race, and calmly approach it, and finish with success.

    You have improved so much lately – embracing intervals, hills, and distance! You’ll be great no matter what you do!

    1. Thanks friend! I think that I am in a much better mindset now than I was before, and my intention for a race now is completely different, and that speaks volumes. XOXO!

  3. Its a long run w/ 5,000 of your closest friends. You take care of YOU, and don’t worry about the rest. I look forward to your race plans, and being right by your side as you conquer those fears. xoxoxo

    1. ((hug)) thank you Meaghan! You are so right, I really appreciate your support too, and I need to look at ME and that’s it. Totally agree and can’t wait to run with you!

  4. Glad to see you’ve re-found your faith in running! The best piece of advice I can give is to get out there and do more races, that is the only way you will be comfortable at the starting line! I know that because I’ve been there…years ago, but I still distinctly remember those feelings you describe at the start and during races. Though, the majority of feelings I get now are excitement and pride before a race, those nerves sneak in there too.

    It doesn’t matter about the people around you, or the goal you have at hand; the more times you get out there and start/finish races, the better you will feel with each subsequent race. I can promise you that much. Maybe even do try some 5k-10k’s etc just to work on those nerves under a little less pressure. It could help.

    Good luck!

    1. Thank you Greg! You are right, I need to do more of them so I am more comfortable with it, than just to wait and do one ‘big’ race. Good idea. The wheels are turning :)

  5. that makes me so happy to hear! It would be great to perhaps maybe do another half…in say southern california?? :P

    I wouldn’t make you run with me though! I have to get into the zone and try really hard to forget that I am running, haha!

  6. Love hearing this – maybe that’s what you need, just watch a few races and remember the excitement, the camaraderie, and know that you can get out there too. Just have to figure out how to turn the pressure off. I know it’s not easy, but like you said, unnecessary.

  7. YES!!!!! *ahem* this is what I’ve been trying to tell you all along – run for you, race for you, never for any other reason. Maybe it took hearing it from someone else for you to believe it finally, or maybe it took you going on this run challenge of yours and rediscovering your love of running for you that did it. Whatever the thing that “did” it doesn’t matter – all I know is this: I am SO PROUD OF YOU, that you’re finally pushing past that race fear thing and are getting closer to feeling ready to run a race for YOU. That’s always what it should be about. Always, always. I can’t wait to run, and maybe even race, by your side sometime soon. xoxo

    1. Thanks sis. I know…it definitely took ME wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch, to be honest. Because whether it is you or anyone else who says it, I have to believe it. Of course I can hear it over and over and want to believe it, but it is easier said than done sometimes. So I am glad to be in the mental place I am right now, I know it’ll help when I get to a point where I want to run a race again. XOXO

  8. I ran competitively in college, and for several years after that, I didn’t really want to run races because I knew I was no longer in the *best shape of my life*, and that bugged me. Then I came across a health insurance-related promotion at work where you could earn points for doing various fitness activities and get great prizes. So, I decided to do pretty much every race I could find in my local area one Fall. Suddenly, I was doing races of various distances almost every weekend, and I had SO MUCH FUN! Some weekends I was more successful than others, but by doing it on a regular basis again, it became less of a big deal, and that was great for me mentally. Anyway…just a thought. Maybe instead of training for one race, you should create a little “season” for yourself.

    1. Thank you Emma! I love this story! It’s so true, too, the more I do it, the more I will adjust to it and it’ll be fun, not scary or something to give me anxiety. That is definite food for thought!

  9. I’m happy to hear about your renewed faith! Isn’t it amazing it just takes some time stepping back and looking from a new view point. I’m one of those people that puts the pressure on myself too. For some reason if I can’t be the best in the room then what is the point? That isn’t really fair to ourselves is it? Sounds like a good fresh start!

    1. It is amazing! I look at this so differently, already, than I did previously. So it makes me excited to see what the next few months have in store, if the first 3 months of my run challenge have yielded such good results, the next three could prove even more interesting and fruitful :-)

  10. When I started running races I think I went through similar feelings and still continue to do so from time to time. I think this is what fuels my desire to keep doing races – the desire to grow and see how much I can improve – not just in time, but in whatever goal I set for myself for a particular race. It has been so great to follow the evolution of your relationship with running and I’m so excited to see what you plan next!

    1. Oh thank you Naomi! I have enjoyed writing about progress!! And I am actually glad to hear you say that you still get some similar feelings. I guess it’s more normal than I thought!

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