Today, I finished my last long run before my marathon. By long, I mean it was 9 miles not extremely long, but the last one before the race. Which means that the hardest ever is next week. I’m not very good at tapering. My mind and my legs are restless and they’ll look for something to do all next week. 3 miles on Wednesday will want to be 4 or 5. Packing clothes and supplies will be a nervous affair as my mind will throw out “What if…?” thoughts all week. I’ve done three marathons and the week before, even though I’m running fewer miles than I have in months, is always the hardest one.
I believe many times anticipation leads to anxiety. Anxiety itself isn’t always bad. We can be anxious to see family members after a long time apart. We can be anxious to tell someone a story. However, anxiety can also lead to fear. Regardless of the perceived positive or negative nature, though, this mental (and sometimes physical) pacing back and forth is exhausting. We don’t sleep well, eat well, or be in community very well when that happens.
So, what do we do? How can we call in or harness this anxious energy? How do I cope with this race and all of its uncertainties? I guess I don’t have a good answer to that. I don’t see an easy, clear-cut answer to easing anxiety. Regardless of what is causing anxiety, it always reacts differently. Not all anxieties are equal because not all situations produce the same anxiety. Whether it’s a race, a test, a relationship struggle or any other situation, learning to deal with this stress is a must.
So this next week, I’ll be looking to give myself the gift of stillness. Just going to have to trust that my training, and myself, is enough to do this.
How do you cope with pre-race anxiety?