I’ve had a lot of response to my previous post, where I admitted to panicking about the distance I was facing. It turns out, the readers love candor. GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT. In that vein, I’m going to bare my soul and tell you about the worst thing ever- The week before my first marathon.
The week before the marathon you’re supposed to take it easy, so we probably only ran 3 miles that morning, which freed up my day to do some shopping. It’s no surprise that I’m the world’s biggest cheap skate, so of course I chose to go shopping at the outlet malls.
I spent almost an hour driving out to the suburbs to go outlet shopping. I hate being in the car for more than 20 or 30 minutes, so this felt like a big deal to me, and I started to get a little teary eyed and frustrated at the idea that I might never get out of this 4 wheeled death contraption. Finally, I arrived at the mall and parked in the lot. I looked at the GPS to see how far this odyssey had taken me. And there it was….25 miles. One mile shorter than the marathon.
This is not the first time in my life I’ve ever had a panic attack, nor will it be the last, but let me tell you- it was by far the worst. I was 100%, full blown, no-doubt-about-it having a panic attack. I wept. I had chest pains. I emailed Coach T. What was I thinking? I can’t do this. I’m not a runner. This was a terrible idea. Not too late to back out.
In grad school we learned a technique for anxiety called thought stopping. For people who have trouble with the concept or execution, we start by putting a rubber band around the person’s wrist. In the safety of your own home or therapist’s office, you’re supposed to think about a negative thought, then command yourself to stop. Snap the rubber band. SNAP IT NOW. You are no longer allowed to think about this thought. STOP.
For more cognitively advanced patients, the rubber bands can be figurative. Just imagine a rubber band. Imagine snapping it and telling yourself you are NOT allowed to think about this thought once the band is snapped.
Go ahead. Practice right now. Do it.
I’ll allow you 30 seconds of unadulterated freak out, and then I’m going to need you to snap (figuratively or literally) out of it.
Feel better? If not, keep practicing. Also take comfort in knowing that it happens to everyone. It doesn’t mean you didn’t train hard enough, or you aren’t a good enough athlete, or you are unprepared. It just means that 26.2 miles is a really big deal, and you are taking it seriously. Believe me when I tell you this: YOU CAN DO THIS. Say it with me. I got this. I got this. I got this. Keep saying it until you believe it. You’ve got this.