The nightmare was vivid. I was running the Santa Rosa Marathon. Finally. After months of hard work, I was going after my number-one goal of the year: run 3:35 or less and qualify for Boston. I had trained. I could do this. I was doing it!
Then I ran into the first obstacle, a series of monkey-bar rings I had to go through, American Ninja Warrior style, before continuing my run. It took forever and I had to really push the pace afterwards to catch up on time. Then another obstacle showed up: pull-ups. Miraculously, I managed a single one and carried on, crossing the half marathon mark at 1:52 and knowing full well that my goal was now out of reach.
I woke up in cold sweat.
And so fear of failure has reared its ugly head.
I’m no stranger to pre-race anxiety and doubt — I think few people are. When you set a goal, the doubts are inevitable: can I do it? Will I do it?
Part of this is fear of the unknown. If you’re training for your first marathon, you’re scared of the distance. If you’re training for a specific time, you’re questioning your ability to maintain the pace.
And a small, but strong part of it is simply being human. We have doubts and insecurities. We overanalyze every little detail of a run that failed to meet a goal time. We shrug off the runs that we nail — because, oh well, I did it now, but can I do it again?
Or maybe it’s just me.
Two weeks until the Santa Rosa Marathon, and I am tired and a little bit scared. We just came back from a three-week overseas trip, so add to that jet lag, too. (Today, I woke up at 2:30 a.m. I will probably take a five-hour nap in the early afternoon, then attempt another normal bedtime… before waking up at 3:30 tomorrow. It takes a day for each hour of time difference to adapt, so hopefully by the middle of race week I’ll be fine!)
Our trip was fabulous. The beach was perfect, and so was the mountain. But the weather was hot and humid, and I suffered through several miserable runs, failing to make goal pace by a long stretch.
But you know what? I have been running my butt off. I have a coach who has trained me through PRs at every single distance I’ve attempted this year: 1:42 in the half marathon (seven minutes off my time last year!), a 44-minute 10K and a 5K PR (and first-place female) at a local run just two weeks ago.
I trust my training. I trust the process.
I’ve run 50-mile weeks consistently for the past several weeks and today, despite jet lag and the fatigue buildup in my legs, I nailed the goal pace on my 12-miler. (Of course, I wonder now whether Coach D prescribed a slower pace to reflect all those sluggish runs of the past few weeks… See? Human. Doubt.)
All I have to do now, is trust myself. And so, if you’re human like me, look the ugly face of self doubt in the eye and repeat:
I am strong. I got this. I have trained.