Have Anxiety? Run a Marathon
Running My First Marathon Race
Running a marathon race was always something I wanted to accomplish. This is one of those bucket list items that I would be proud to achieve. However, my anxiety always prevented me from attempting to do a race. That fear of putting myself out there and doing something like a race was always out of my reach.
The chaos of around 9000 runners and 1500 volunteers preparing and running the race is overwhelming to think about. Many thoughts go through my head such as, how to get to the race in the first place, where do I go to get ready for the race, where do I wait, how do I know when it’s time for the race to start and so on. All these thoughts have prevented me from doing a race in the past.
Now that I have my anxiety under control; I am not letting it dictate my life and I was able to register for the marathon race! I am very excited for the race and being able to overcome my anxiety. This race will be a big challenge as I have never run as far or as long previously.
Why Run a Marathon?
The main reason I wanted to run a marathon race was because it was always a goal, as a person who enjoys running, who runs very regularly, and is competitive. This drive has given me a desire to complete a marathon race which is probably most runners desire as well.
Running is one of the few things that helps manage my anxiety. Those familiar with the Window of Tolerance, will understand that doing things that help keep me within my window of tolerance is important for managing my anxiety. If you’re not familiar with the Window of Tolerance find out more how it affects your ability to function normally and what happens when you go outside of it.
Running helps clear my mind, lets me focus on the running and music, and keeps me calm. For me running is freedom. The problem with always running is that it can get repetitive which is why there needs to be more purpose to the activity. Therefore, having a goal of working towards completing a marathon is a significant boost in my ability to manage my anxiety.
Having that challenge of working towards something I always wanted to do is really helpful if you have anxiety. It helps me stay focused on that goal and to keep pushing myself everyday to achieve it. A marathon is no easy feat to complete. Before I started training for a marathon, the longest distance I ran was only 18km.
The fitness aspect of this goal is very important as well. Having a goal is great but it’s even better when it’s a physical activity. The reason is because physical activity really helps with the anxiety and stress. It helps relieve all that built up stress by exerting yourself physically. It helps clear you mind and lets you focus on the activity on hand. The release of all that energy helps your body rest when it needs. If possible, get outside to do your physical activity. Being outdoors just give you that sense of joy and positivity.
I encourage anyone else struggling with anxiety or stress to turn a physical activity as a means of managing that. It doesn’t have to be running, it can be as simple as going for a walk, doing yoga, stretching, or whatever you feel good while doing. But if you do like running or cycling where it’s possible to participate in a race that is great too. Having that goal to work towards gives you a great self-accomplishment. It doesn’t have to be a marathon race, you should do what is a challenge but is doable for your fitness level. Whether that’s a 5K, 10K half, or full marathon.
I would like to make a point that everyone’s anxiety is unique, people react differently to different activities. From speaking with many people who struggle from mental illnesses, doing a physical activity is great but it may not be for everyone. Find what works for you and work towards that!
I will be running in the 55th Annual Calgary Marathon. The race is on May 26 starting at 7:00am in the morning. The marathon is 42.2km in distance and I will be attempting a sub 4 hour time. As this is my first marathon, I do not want to attempt a very fast time. My goal is just to complete the marathon in a reasonable time.
When I decided to race in the marathon, I had 7 weeks remaining. This is a very short time frame to complete a marathon race as typical marathon training plans consist of 12-20 weeks of training. This will be a really big challenge for me as my longest run was 18km. I didn’t want to do the half marathon because I knew it was something I could achieve without much difficulty. The full marathon was definitely the right goal as it’s not something I can take lightly. I know it will be difficult and require a lot of hard training during those 7 weeks.
I developed a 7 week training plan based on the existing marathon training plans out there. I need to start at a reasonable level and increase my distance each week so I could build my endurance for a marathon distance. My training plan consists of 4 runs, 1 cross-training, and 2 rest days each week. For the cross-training, I will be cycling. I won’t exert myself to much on the rides keeping it casual and relaxed so I can rest my muscles while keeping my legs moving.
I want to keep the training plan simple and easy to follow since it is my first marathon, therefore no intervals, hills, etc. I will be doing runs at race pace, tempo runs, and long slow distance runs.
My training schedule as I mentioned will be 7 weeks long. I will be doing the long slow distance runs on Sunday which is the day of the race. It is important to do the long runs on the day of your race to adjust your body. See below for a copy of my marathon training schedule:
Marathon Training - Week 6
Currently I am on week 6 of marathon training. This was a difficult long run at a distance of 35km. 35km is the furthest and longest I have ever run. It will be my last distance increase as next week will be at a reduced distance.. I will run 20km next week for the long run and rest my legs.