When does running become more stressful than stress-relieving?
This is a question I’ve been thinking about lately because I’m debating whether or not to run a 5k this weekend. Last week I spent hours on Pinterest reading articles and tips on 5k’s. I learned a lot, but it also psyched me out- especially when I read that someone can walk a 5k in 45 minutes. Guess what my best time is right now? That’s right, 38 minutes (average 39). Talk about discouraging! It seems like now that I have this specific goal I’m more and more stressed while running. I get the same “high” after I complete the run, but the magic of simply running for running’s sake isn’t there anymore.
During my run on Friday all I could think about was beating my time and how I probably am not ready for a 5k. Those nasty thoughts MIGHT have affected (read: definitely did affect) the way I ran. I must have looked at my iPhone to check my distance/time a hundred times during those 3.1 miles. I couldn’t even do my regular 1/2 mile intervals during the last 1.5 miles- I had to just run/walk tiny distances. It was frustrating to say the least! My run yesterday was the complete opposite: I didn’t put any pressure on myself and enjoyed it much more, although I did 2.85 miles in 40 minutes.
I wish I could say that I’m more positive about it now, but I’m still doubting my readiness for the race. On Saturday I’ll have only been running for a month- is that really enough training time to do this? I’m still debating whether or not run it, but thought it would be good to remind myself why I run:
I started running again because…
I want to live a healthier lifestyle.
I want to be able to say “I’m a runner.”
I want to keep up with my dog, and someday my kids.
I want to spend more time outside.
Most of all, I want to show myself that I can accomplish something if I put my mind to it.
I didn’t start running to get an “acceptable” time in a race.
I didn’t start running to impress other people.
I started running to impress myself.
Choosing to run the 5k served the purpose of giving me a short-term goal to look forward to. If I do it, my goal is simply to finish the race- whether I’m under 40 minutes or not. If I don’t do it, my goal will have been completed anyways because I showed myself that I am capable of running 3.1 miles.
As I train this week I need to keep this in mind, step after exhausting step. When I reached the 3.1 mile mark on Friday, I took a picture of a plaque depicting Chief Kokomo, the native American that my city was named after. It talks about the “spirit of Kokomo” and I was reminded of my own spirit, or inner voice. During my entire run it was a huge hindrance: “DeeDee, just stop! You can’t do this. You aren’t a runner.” But step by arduous step, I defeated that voice. I conquered my doubt and finished my run that day.
This weekend, whether or not I run the race, I know that voice will still be there. “DeeDee, don’t even try this. You are going to fail. Just walk the whole way.” But I hope I can defeat that doubt and turn that inner voice into an advantage instead of a hindrance. I’m still shaking in my boots when it comes to this race. But at the end of the day, whether or not I do the race isn’t important. What really matters is that I keep going toward the goal of living a healthy lifestyle, and that I enjoy myself in the process.
Runners (or other athletes who take part in competitions) how do you not psych yourself out before competing? How do you focus on what is really important, versus the short-term event coming up? When/why did you decide to participate in your first competition?
Have a blessed day!