Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Things I'm Realizing

When I posted about my running anxiety, a few friends brought up that it may be in relation to my less-than-stellar 5ks this summer and my fear of a repeat performance this fall. Now that I've run my fall 5ks with much better results, my anxiety (in this regard) has definitely lessened.

I've been mulling this over and coming to terms with some things. Here are my thoughts.

My performance at the SUP n Run and Run for Equality 5ks had a bigger mental impact on me than I realized. Logically, I knew the heat was a big factor in both those races being slower than my typical 5k, but the results still altered my perception of my abilities. I was struggling with more self-doubt than I realized, and I felt like anyone watching me go for a run would see that I was a fraud.
May 25 - SUP n Run splits
June 1 - Run for Equality splits
Looking back, these races weren't as bad as I felt they were, but they were significantly outside my usual times.

Because my summer training runs tend to be done at a slower pace, every time I went for a run I faced a fear of seeing slower times on my watch.

Those two 5ks compared to my most recent ones (Phillippi Shores and Game Day) also solidified for me something I've been kind of denying for years: eating "better" impacts how I run, and losing weight has made a difference, too. Most likely the impact here is both mental and physical.

I feel better and more athletic in my mind and it feels easier to get my body moving. When I ran my 5k PR in 2016, I weighed a little more than I do now, but not by much. I weighed less than I did during those two recent 5ks where I struggled so much. I've never come close to that PR again, and I wonder how much the weight gain factors in there.
October 5 - Phillippi Shores "5k"
October 12 - Game Day 5k
As far as that goes, I am maintaining the weight I successfully reached over the summer and am very happy.

Another thing I've had to come to terms with is that I have to let go of the lackadaisical mindset I've been in  - I can't do very little running and expect to stay at the top of my game. That mindset came about after surgery, when I was just so happy to be running at all that I wasn't too bothered by paces or distances. A large part of me still finds the idea of training unattractive, but I also know that if I want to be able to be happy with my race performance at any distance, I have to find a better balance between doing basically nothing/very very little and training hardcore.

I forgot that a 5k isn't "just" a 5k, and performing well takes work.

My pre-run anxiety has subsided. I think I connected it to feeling exposed/judged/like people could see I was a fake because I'd had some bad runs and I was getting nervous about losing my edge forever.

I think I can avoid a recurrence of this anxiety if I keep to a basic running schedule, whether I'm actively training for a race or not. I may not be planning races far in advance these days, but if I want to be able to just pick up a 5k on a random weekend, I need to be in fair shape, especially if I want to avoid the emotional fallout, and consistent running will do that.

I'll continue using the calendar I've started planning for this fall after the season has passed, and it will hopefully help to keep me on track.

It's funny that even after a decade of running, I'm still learning new things about my body and mind. I guess that's one reason running never gets stale!



  1. "The more I practice the luckier I get."

    "We aren't good enough to get so mad."

    Two golf truisms that carry over into other sports, I think. If you don't practice, how are you going to get better? And you're not a professional athlete, so give yourself a break.

  2. Oh Ali, I hear you. I had two bad races earlier this year and it MESSED with me. I've also come to realize that summer means 2-3 months of not being at my best since I'm not good with heat. Now that the weather is cooler I feel like I have the weight of the world off my shoulders and finally get to enjoy running again.

    1. It's kind of amazing that every year, I forget how much the heat takes out of me! You'd think I'd learn...