An open letter to me: do not fear 26.2

Hey you,

Yeah, I’m talking to *you* over there. The girl who’s been talking the talk about this little thing called “your first marathon,” but hasn’t been walking the walk. As in — you’re letting fear and anxiety steal the joy right out of this journey towards 26.2. You are anxious, nervous, and stressed. And it shows. Um hello, meltdown city last week. Back-to-back headaches the past few days, too.

But why?

…because you’re secretly afraid of 26.2 miles. It’s downright freaking you out vs. fueling that fire in you (you KNOW it’s in there). You’re also far too stuck on that lovely spreadsheet of yours — the one with all the boxes for your miles, for your barre n9ne classes — both for teaching class and taking class…you’ve become fixated on making it perfect.

Well guess what? You aren’t perfect. You’re not supposed to be perfect. And in fact, I believe a certain blog friend of yours once told you to stop striving for perfection and to start striving for excellence instead. At that time, you adored that advice and started to heed it right away.

…so why are you straying from that mantra now?

Because, once again — you’re allowing your mind to trick you into thinking you can’t do this. That you can’t possibly face down 26.2 miles and run it like a champ. But guess what? You *can.* You just have to get back to believing in yourself.

…and the best way to do that? Get back to basics. Stop looking at your training plan as well, a ‘training plan’ and start looking at each run as just that: a run. Something that up until recently, you adored. Stop letting anxiety and fear steal your joy in these runs. Embrace every single mile, particularly those long runs you’re gearing yourself up for in the next few weeks. The long runs that will push you into new PDR territory. Those very same long runs that will give you the confidence that your body can and will push through all 26.2 miles on October 7.

And remember: you are strong. You are fit. You are ready. And most of all? You are a joyful runner.
…don’t ever forget that last one. It’s the key to this entire thing.


57 thoughts on “An open letter to me: do not fear 26.2

  1. Hang in there my friend. You can 100% do this and it seems like you are learning so much about yourself! I have to remind myself ALL the time that I can’t be perfect and I can’t make everyone happy. I still try, but I’m slowly getting better about it. πŸ™‚

    • What’s crazy to me is that I’m BARELy even into marathon training and I’m already learning TONS about myself. I can’t even fathom what I’ll have learned once I get to the end of this journey. But you’re right…I need to step back and take it in, one step at a time, without vying for perfection all the darn time.

  2. 26.2 is no joke – it would be silly if you WEREN’T scared. But I know you are going to be amazing because you are aware of the commitment and embracing the experience. So just get out there and run! πŸ™‚

    • Ahhh you are right — and you always know how to bring the right words to me to get me back down to reality, to remembering that 26.2 IS serious stuff and not something that just anyone will do. And I need to remember that — I’m doing something most people will never do and that means I have lots of leeway to NOT be perfect at it. Right??

  3. I am going through something really similar right now…and i’ve done 2 marathons. so much so that i pulled out of a 10k yesterday and just did the 5k. my head is all f***ed up. trying to get it back and find that confidence that i know I have. GRRR. You can do it lady, I know you can.

  4. Heather is right, it is no joke, 26.2, you are SUPPOSED to be afraid of it, if you weren’t, you’d be not normal πŸ˜‰ However, I know you can do this. I have faith that you can do this and I respect you more than I ever have, as my sister, doing this and facing something that I don’t know that I ever could. I am already so proud of you and will support you any and every way that I can. Love you!

    • Sis, your support and confidence in me is SO awesome and SO what I need right now. I can’t thank you enough for being the supportive sis I need and for never once doubting me, ever ever ever. I mean, if YOU think I can do it, then I totally CAN do this. I have to believe that. love you sis. xoxo

  5. LOVE THIS! Print it out…hang it on your fridge, your bathroom mirror, and in your front door! YOU ARE AMAZING, ABLE, STRONG! Love the concept of being a ‘joyful’ runner….(I need this back in my life too!). It’s all about the process my friend. Tell yourself that YOU CAN run 26.2……because YOU CAN! Now enjoy the process of getting there. Those will be the best memories πŸ™‚

    • I DO need a sticky note or something on my fridge to remind me that I am ABLE and STRONG and a JOYFUL RUNNER always. I cannot forget that throughout this journey, you are absolutely right. You are also right that I NEED to step back and really and truly embrace the process…I think I’m still missing that part somehow and that’s why I’m struggling. I need to embrace – one run at a time, one day at a time. So that’s my plan for tomorrow’s 12-miler, to embrace it and to run joyfully. I shall report back dutifully πŸ™‚

  6. Hang in there babe, it is a scary thing, but you know that you CAN and you know that you WILL. You’ll go through these phases – it’s all part of marathon training. Yes tackling 26.2 is a wicked scary thing – I freak out before every single one. But you are one of the smartest, strongest runners I know, have no doubts my friend!

    • Thank you soooo much for being so supportive and confident in me!! Just like I told Jo, if SHE has the confidence that I can do this and now YOU have that same confidence in me, then I MUST be able to do this thing, right??

    • That’s definitely something I need to work on — trusting the training, embracing the process. It’s the missing piece for me right now for some reason. I need to find it.

  7. I think a little questioning/hesitation on 26.2 is healthy—if you were just blindly enthusiastic, that wouldn’t be totally realistic! At the same time, there’s balance to your perspective and it really seems like you’re finding yourself in a good positive realistic place.
    Hard work, dedication….and heart—you’ve got all those! I have faith your 26.2 will be an awesome experience for you!

    • I always love your comments, and I say it ALL the time, I do realize πŸ˜‰ But really, you bring such perspective and learning with your words, I LOVE that about you. Thank you friend, you’re the best!

  8. This post so resonated with me! I have all sorts of self doubt as I embark on my first marathon. When the anxiety or doubt creeps into my head, I focus on one thing, putting one foot in front of the other. Even though my runs are very challenging right now, there is a sense of accomplishment and self worth by persevering through all of it.

    • That is EXACTLY what I need to do — one foot in front of the other, one mile at a time, one day at a time. I have to stop looking at my training plan and jumping ahead. It just freaks me out too much instead of fueling my passion, you know?

  9. I think that it’s totally normal to be scared! Are you kidding me? For me, I tried not to fixate on the total number of miles too much and instead just tried to focus on each run – one run at a time. And with the longer runs, the conversation shifted to “Oh, I’m just running 1-2 miles more than my previous run” rather than “I have to run 19 miles today???” That shift in perspective was really helpful to me in not making the whole endeavor too overwhelming. And you will do great because that’s one the amazing things about marathon training – to see how your body grows and adapts. Our bodies are capable of so much.

    • That’s a REALLY great way to look at it — only a couple more miles than the last long run, sooo much less scary than “OMFG I have to run 20 miles today??” haha. I have to believe in my body and its abilities vs. doubting it as much as I have been lately. My husband has all the confidence in the world in us…and keeps saying “we could run a marathon tomorrow if we wanted to!” which I think is just crazy talk but he believes in it so I need to harness that and believe it too.

  10. Remember: “basics” doesn’t always mean “easy”. We have a class called “yoga basics” at our studio, but many believe it’s one of our hardest. Basics mean fundamentals, which will carry you through any practice: yoga, running, whatever!

    p.s. you know you can do 26.2. sure, it’s epic. but so are you, my dear.

  11. I just got butterflies reading this! I ran my first 26.2 last November and had so many fears going into it and so many self doubts. But I finished and so will you. You already get that running is about joy and that’s all you need to know to cross that finish line. You go girl!

    • Such awesome words coming from someone who has been there very recently, thank you!! I truly am excited about the process even though I’m sharing my fears with you all here. I KNOW it’ll be worth it in the end. I just have to trust the process a little bit more.

  12. Have you ever heard of the little saying “If you don’t fear your goals, they aren’t big enough”? I know you have…and guess what? It’s true. Remember that very first half marathon you ran? If you’re anything like me, you pictured the finish line a million times (as you should be now), and just before race day you were excited to have trained enough to get there. Right? This is no different. You’re already at a fantastic place in your running…a joyful runner…a conditioned runner. Think of it this way: you’re right were you were when you started training for your half. 0 to 13.1. Now, you’re 13.1 to 26.2. You’ve got this. You’ve got the heart, the strength, the endurance, and the mind to get there…all you have to do is start visualizing it. NOW. If 26.2 were easy, everyone would be doing it. For you, it’s just another 13.1 miles.

    • Ahhh your words, your words!! They ALWAYS ALWAYS get me, every single time. YOU are so good for me, friend. Just what I needed to hear — I heart you, seriously. If I start looking at it the way you describe, I’ll be much better off, much more confident and much more at-ease as time wears on. I’ll remember this tomorrow morning on my 12 miler! Totally channeling you my friend. xoxo

  13. How did I miss this yesterday!?!? Honestly, when I start a training cycle for a marathon, I keep my training plan vague. The only “knowns” are the mileage on Saturday (my long run) and what days I’m going to do recovery/speed/tempo runs. Mileage is left blank. I find that if I try to make it too concrete, I get SO wrapped around the #s on the plan and not how I’m feeling. Keeping it vague allows me to listen to my body. If I feel good during a recovery / easy run, I may run 7-8 miles. If I feel extra tired, it may only be 3-4 miles.

    PS. If you don’t have a little fear about what you are embarking on, you won’t have any respect for it. You need to respect the marathon. It’ll crush you if you aren’t prepared. But a little fear helps keep you on track. So don’t stress about being nervous and scared. We all are when we step up the starting line – regardless if it’s our first, fifth, or twentieth.

    Take it one day at a time. One run at a time.. You’ll get there, lady. I believe in you =)

    • That’s actually a really great way to go about it — knowing that long run distance but not much else for week-to-week. I think that’s been my problem, obsessing about miles-per-week and things. Truly the long run is THE most important, everything is good-to-have but that long run? Critical. I love that your approach helps you to listen to your body even more…I found myself finally doing that the other day when I ended up running 5 miles vs. 8 miles and that’s ALL my body had in it that day. Even though at first I caught myself thinking “omg, I SHOULD be running all 8…”

      THANK you for believing in me friend, means SO much!!

  14. Girl – we’ve talked about this a few times so you probably already know exactly what I’d say. Like nycrunningmama said – you really do have to believe in you. I believe in you and so do your blog readers. Now it’s your turn. And this might sound crazy, but maybe blogging about it is also causing more nervousness? You’re forcing yourself to think think think about it even more. Just a thought – not that I’m telling you to stop mind you. It’s just a “maybe” kind of observation. I know how much blogging things out really can help though. You get so much advice and support. And you get things out of your head. Again – you got this my friend!

    • I think that’s partly why I’ve been pulling back a teeny bit on blogging. Trying to focus on being ‘in’ the moment when running, when training, etc., so that I’m focusing more on how my body is reacting, how great (or not) I’m feeling, etc. vs. thinking to myself “omg I have to blog this later…” so I totally agree with you. I DO love a good ‘ol ‘blog it out’ session like this one now and then to help me get some of those negative thoughts OUT of my head onto paper and to take some of the advice that you guys are SO GREAT at offering up. It always strikes me how great and varied your advice and everyone else’s is (in a very good way). Thank you friend, xoxo

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