I am a worrier – I am the type of person that will have anxiety over having children, 10 years before it is supposed to happen. I will plan, calculate, deduct every inch of every moment of my day and future, until I am swirling around with so much anxiety and so many thoughts, that I just sit there and do nothing. I think this is pretty common, maybe more-so among women, but nonetheless, I think everyone can relate to this on some level.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone in your head, prior to meeting with them in person, and ended up escalating your heart rate to over 200 over the confrontation that never comes? Or planned and plotted finances to the point of obsession, only to have none of the numbers add up when “real-life” comes into the mix? I have! I am in the middle of my over-thinking at the moment.
Getting married and thinking of my future (homes, jobs, kids, racing, life, relationships, finances, vacations, oye!) makes me want to curl up into a hole with a spreadsheet and my email, giving my 2 solid days to get things done and plan my life to the minute. It never really works like that, does it?
But then I think of running (you thought you would get away with reading this, running-metaphor free, didn’t you? Fool).
This weekend I had a 5k in Naperville and I did pretty well for me! But time regardless, it was more how I handled it that I am proud of, and I think I need to take a lesson from myself and apply these strategies to life. Here are the things I did/thought of and how I need to use it now when I worry, over-plan, and generally freak out.
Positive Self Talk:
In running (and life) we can’t get through without positive self talk. Before, during, and after the race I was OBSESSED with being kind to myself and only saying good things. When a bad thought popped up, I thought about why it was there and why it was illogical.
Maybe now, when I think about how life won’t work out for me because I don’t deserve it, or something like that, I can think of all the ways it CAN work out and how the previous thought is really dumb. (and figure out where that bad thought came from)
Focus on one mile (or step) at a time:
My middle miles are usually my slowest (and this weekend was no exception). However, when I usually slow down, it is because I get too ahead of myself and just give up in the race. This weekend, I was just plain tired. To help myself through those miles, I would do 12 quick steps, every time I felt tired or felt a bad thought coming on. Though it didn’t change my fitness, it did change my attitude and that means everything.
Maybe now, when I feel a swirling fear come over me when I think of all the stuff I have to do in life, I can instead focus on the mile I am in and try my best in the moment. Maybe I won’t have all the adult-life answers right now, but I can take steps to use the knowledge I have now, to do my best today. It may not be my “fastest” mile, but my fitness will come. So, a work, relationship, finance, home, dog, character mistake now is okay, because when I feel myself sink back, I take 12 strong steps forward to improvement. It may not change the fact that I am 24 and still learning, but is sure as hell changes my attitude (and the grace I give myself, changes the grace I give others).
Set yourself up for success
Sometimes, I can set myself up for failure in order to protect myself from getting a heartbreak. I think we have all been there: whether it is a physical manifestation (like, eating a burrito immediately before a race) or psychological one (blaming the weather before the race even started), that is no way to race or live! Instead, I continued to train hard that week (I don’t taper for races unless it is a marathon) because that works for me, ate what I knew would sit well, and thought of all the ways the weather/my outfit/the course/fellow runners could HELP me.
Maybe now, when I feel overwhelmed by the planning I feel the need to do with my life, instead of avoiding it or setting myself up for failure (or pushing myself too hard for the sake of “success”) I can think of all the ways things can go RIGHT, right now. I don’t need to worry about kids now, but I can focus on developing good habits for myself as a 24 year old, so I am healthy and happy if the time comes. Or maybe with finances, I need to chillax and worry about saving what I can, pay off the important stuff, and give to those in need. The rest works itself out. Maybe if I do the little things now, with gratitude and grit, I can set myself up to be happy and proud of who I am (both right now, and future me!)
Forget past races
Shame! It is a motherf*er. I think we have all had races where we mentally gave up, had a bad day, or just a race that when we think back to it we go “oh heck”. But shame about a past race or attitude doesn’t help, because all it does is attack our character. Instead, I focused on doing what I know brought me a positive race experience in the past, and said that the races I was ashamed of, we just learning experiences and mistakes that EVERYONE makes! No need to feel shame for being a human and trying!
Maybe now, when I think of things I did wrong or ways I think/thought about myself (whether I came up with them on my own or they were told to me) I can think of all the things, experiences, and words I did/heard that are RIGHT. The wrong things are all learning experiences that at the end of the day, remind us of why we need God. But the right things are who we truly are, who God intended us to be. Focusing on the blemishes only causes us to miss all the awesome reasons why we are amazing.
Mitch was there cheering me on (and I had family support from far away) makes all the difference. Focusing on the good people in your life only makes racing fun, as the good people are the ones that don’t care about the outcome. They only care about you – and you are not the outcome.
Maybe in life, I can continue to focus on all the amazing influences in my life, and be VERY choosy about who I let in my safe space. Support means everything!
Running and life can go hand in hand, only if my heart is in the right place when I consider the connection. When we think of running in terms of time or place (which are still valuable!), it becomes one dimensional. But when we think of running as a teacher to learn and be the best we can be in life, it can be more than just a peaceful hobby. It becomes a friend that says the tough stuff we need to hear, builds us up, breaks our hearts, and makes life exciting and colorful. It becomes the best teacher and friend a person can have, bad times and good.