Pre-race anxieties

I’m having a very hard time focusing today on anything other than snacks and the fact that in two days, I’ll be nearing the finish line in the Dexter – Ann Arbor half marathon.  It’s my first half, so I suppose it’s reasonable to be obsessed – especially considering that rain and illness got in the way of much of my planned training.  Regardless, I need to get my head back in the game or the next two days are going to be a wash.

After the 10 miler in April, a friend asked what you think about while running ten miles.  A few weeks ago, my aunt asked a similar question – “what exactly is fun about running for that long?”.  The answer to both questions is: nothing.  There’s nothing fun about it, and you think about nothing – because the minute you start thinking, you start getting distracted.  And when you start getting distracted, you’re no longer in the moment, and everything – especially that whole running for two hours part – becomes much more difficult.  And while the physical effort required to run for two hours is no joke, the mental stuff is just as hard.

Which brings me back to my first paragraph, and my current mental state.  Time to focus.  But maybe I need a snack first.


0 thoughts on “Pre-race anxieties

  1. Further to Molly’s comment: that story was also told on Radiolab back in April: Really, really interesting!

    The longest I’ve ever run is 11 or 12 miles, I think. Running in general, even if it is a short distance like a 5K, is not a good place for thinking, and I think that’s the best part of it. When I listen to music when I run I get really sucked into it and the wrong song makes everything go awry. So while clearing your head is hard, it is ultimately really great.

    Good luck on the half! =D


  2. Wow, that is an amazing story.

    I’m sorry you couldn’t train the way you had planned, but you have a solid training base from your 10-miler and I’m confident you’ll get through the half.

    I like to go back and forth between being distracted and really focusing on what I’m doing. Sometimes it helps me to think about friends/family/food/whatever and reflect on why I’m out there running in the first place; other times, usually when it gets hard, I need to focus on very specific things like form, breathing, placement in the pack, fuel, etc.

    I think I’ve mentioned it before: counting while running helps me get into a semi-meditative state. Count whatever, number of breaths, number of strides (every other or every 3rd because counting every single step in my experience can make the whole thing seem *longer*), number of street lights or stop signs you pass, anything regular can help. And there are all sorts of visualizations that can help with the mental: imagine you have little fluffy clouds under your feet; or several balloons tethered to your shoulders or the base of your head that are helping to lift you along; bungee cords attached to the runners in front of you so that they can pull you for a bit; it can be anything you can imagine that makes you feel good.

    Have a good race!


  3. Just saw this and it made me think of your post for some tangential reason.

    I have a lot of trouble getting to that zen space of focusing on the now. I’m always running a to-do list in my mind. It kinda makes me crazy… I’d like to shut it off now and then. But I can’t seem to find the off switch and so I console myself by believing it makes me really good at my job and running a house. I just have to hope the kids don’t notice the crazy in my eyes when I look at them and think “You! I need to figure out the date of your last tetanus booster to get you registered for the summer camp that’s 5 weeks from now.”


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