On Sunday I completed a half-marathon. This was a significant milestone because in my mind I was half way there. All I had to do was two of those back-to-back in April and I was home and dry! If only it were that easy
On the Saturday I found that I didn’t feel as anxious about the run as I had done in previous weeks. This was progress and I put this down to a couple of things. Firstly, I made sure that I had something enjoyable planned with friends on the Saturday evening. That way I had something to look forward to and something else to focus on other than the run. Secondly, I had already participated in some organised runs during the previous two weeks and therefore faced some of my fears already.
However, I hadn’t expected the anxiety to hit me the next morning once I’d arrived at the run. That was completely new. I can only put this down to a combination of different factors. Firstly, it was a freezing cold morning which really didn’t help. I’d much rather have been in my bed enjoying a Sunday morning lie-in like most other people! Secondly, I turned up to the registration tent to discover that there were lots more people running than I realised and it was a much bigger event than those I had done in the previous weeks. I wasn’t used to this and my OCD mind started working overtime. Thirdly, no matter how hard I tried I could not get my timing chip tied to my running shoe and I could feel the frustration and tears building. In the end a lovely man saw me struggling and tied it for me – my hero! And finally everyone seemed to be with someone they knew – whether it was a fellow runner, friends or family who had come to cheer them on. Amongst such a large crowd I was feeling very lonely and sorry for myself on my own. I could feel the tears coming and I wanted to go home. Just at this point, they announced the start of the race so everyone made their way to the starting line and I decided in that instant that I was going to follow, no matter how difficult it felt.
And I’m so glad I did. I tried a new tactic which involved breaking down the run into individual miles and seeing each mile as a ‘mini-run’. I told myself that I only had to complete the next mile. Before I knew it I had done all 13.1 miles. This was clearly a tactic that worked for me and one that I will continue using. It was also the first run I had done without my mp3 player and I wondered how I would cope with no music to listen to. What I discovered was that I took more notice of my surroundings. We ran down quiet country lanes and through farms and I enjoyed looking around at the scenery. And everyone was so friendly and supportive – this included the runners, the marshals and the supporters. I have never heard so much encouragement as I did on that day, and that was loveliest part of the run.
Completing the run helped me change my perspective in so many ways within the space of a couple of hours! To me, that is the power running can have.