This baby elephant (aka Freeing Sisyphus, aka Melody) is a little afraid. Full-on half marathon training starts for me this week. Although I’ve been running all summer, my average distance has only been 3 miles, max distance about 4.
Why afraid you ask?
I woke up the morning of the Monumental race fearful, like I had started so many mornings of my long runs – afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it. To admit this is hard, because I really believe and say all the time that people can do anything they set their mind too, but I didn’t even realize I was afraid. Standing there in the cold, dark, November morning waiting for the start of the race, tears welling in my eyes, my heart beating so fast, I couldn’t deny it anymore, I was scared. Why? Maybe I was scared of disappointing myself or my sister who was so proud of me. I suddenly realized that the 12-year old chunky girl (not really chunky – just body-dysmorphically chunky) with childhood asthma who thought that she’d never be able to run and the mid-20s woman who always seemed to break something had set up camp in my head 13 weeks before that moment and had been wreaking havoc ever since. When the horn blew, I told those two to bite it. I don’t know what happened, but it was like the moment I realized I was afraid, I was able to let it go. The first step I took I knew I was finishing that race and making my goal. The miles were easy.
Training for that race had not been easy. In case most of you haven’t guessed, I work very hard and very long hours. I often would have to get up for long runs after 6 days of work and school with little sleep to try and pound out a long run. There were times I just couldn’t make the mileage. Work was crazy as usual and October (my heavy training month) is what we in Finance call quarter-end which is another word for hell – 12-14 hr days, weekends, non-stop requests and non-stop phone calls. Keeping centered in the middle of that is/was hard. Add on early onset of cold weather in Minnesota and the darkness in the mornings (when I have to run to make sure to get it in), and you get less than ideal circumstances.
But, I did it, so why now the anxiety? Is it that ever since the summer solstice in late June I can feel the minutes of light in the morning are being taken away from me and that being new to the area I’m afraid I won’t find anyone to run with me so that I can get in my daily morning runs? Is it that because work has become crazy again? Is it that I really didn’t feel like I had a summer – MN had snow and ice on the ground in May (or at least it felt that way) -and, then we just got rain and chilly days until it turned to unbearable heat and humidity? Is it because Labor Day is around the corner and my non-summer is almost over?
This is just plain fear. My little sister turned me on to a concept coined by Joyce Meyer that fear is just False Evidence Appearing Real. As humans, most of us live the majority of our lives in fear without even knowing it – fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of death, fear of losing our jobs, fear of being alone, fear of disappointing others, fear of not living up to expectations, fear of being fat, fear of being rejected, fear of being abandoned, fear of monsters (not really J, but you get my drift). The interesting part is that we create our own self-fulfilling narratives of fear without even knowing it. When small events happen, we give them exaggerated meaning in the story of ourselves. You know what I mean, times when you say things like, “I knew it was going to be a crappy day today because I spilled my coffee”. Or after a hard run saying to yourself, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do this race, or when you make one small mistake, I knew I was going to screw that up. Or, have you ever taken an event like someone passing you without saying hi to convince yourself that the person hated you or was mad at you for doing or saying something to only find out later, they were just distracted. Have you ever gone on a bad date and come home saying I knew I’d always be alone? Have you ever stood on a scale and said I knew I wouldn’t be able to lose this weight?
We create realities and narratives by taking events and circumstances and giving them false meaning – we use them as evidence to convince us of a certain reality, or belief in ourselves or about others. Why do we do this? I think because we are human. What do we do about it? We acknowledge it….and sometimes, like the morning of my half marathon, acknowledging it is all it takes.
So, this morning, I’m facing it head on. I am a little afraid of the next 9 weeks, but I’m not going to let that stop me from starting my journey and conquering my fear day by day, run by run. Today as I set out on my distance run I’m not going to think of the obstacles that lie ahead. Instead I’m going to think about that moment of joy I felt crossing the finish line, and I’m going to think about how thankful I am that I have this day and this run.
Do you ever get a little afraid before a long run or even before a workout?
Gotta get going – Irene is bearing down upon us and there are some miles to put behind me before it’s time to batten down the hatches. Good luck to all that are setting out today on their long runs or rides. Rock on sweaters I know you really can do anything.
Adventuresses in healthy living.