Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pushing outside of the zone

"You want to have butterflies in your stomach, because if you don't, if you walk on stage complacent, that's not a good thing." --Joan Jett

One of my friends, who is training for her first half marathon, recently posted on Faceboook about her anxiety. She was heading out for a long run, and was, as she put it, "shaking with nerves, a little teary, highly emotional". She said she didn't understand why.

I understood completely.

The hardest part about racing for me is dealing with my nerves. That pre-race anxiety has almost caused me to DNS more than once. I've worked really hard on my mental toughness and I've chronicled that struggle here on the blog. I've done a great job of reeling in my nerves, and that hard work has paid off for me on the road. I'm happy to say that I've never DNS'd a race because of my nerves.


But I've never shown up to a race without having a little bit of anxiety.

I think that little bit of anxiety is a good thing.  Those pre-race jitters show how much you care about what you are doing. Once you become complacent, once you become overconfident, smug, even callous, that is when you fail.

I'd say that as a group, runners aren't complacent. We care about our finish times and we train to improve them. If we sign up to run a race, more likely than not, we're going to train for it.

But being in recovery mode right now, I can see the appeal of a comfort zone. I won't lie. It feels good to go out for a run without a time goal in mind. Right now, I get to run just to run. There's something to be said for that. It's kind of nice.

I'm looking forward to 2016. So far, I've got 2 races on the calendar, the Sarasota half marathon in Florida in March and a marathon in April, the Big Sur International Marathon. Both are destination races. Both are races that are going to challenge me out of my comfort zone.

The half marathon in March is going to challenge me with the heat and humidity. Living in the midwest, training in the middle of winter for a Florida half is tough. I'm going to do heat training again on my treadmill, to attempt to acclimate myself for running in warm conditions.

The full marathon in California is going to challenge me with hills. It's as flat as a pancake where I live. I loathe running hills. I'm going to have to do hill repeats as part of my marathon training. Oh, and in the middle of winter too!

Look who is at mile marker 24!!!
And then there's that whole destination race thing. I'm pretty lucky to live in an area where there are a lot of races practically in my backyard. There's nothing better than sleeping in your own bed the night before a big race! Even if I'm not running a race, I don't sleep well away from home. Add the anxiety of a race to that....

Why do I do this to myself? I can list a lot of reasons: personal satisfaction, setting and achieving a goal, physical challenge...they're all good reasons. But there is no better feeling than pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

It's a heck of a lot more fun out there.


How do you feel about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone? Do you get pre-race jitters? Any tips on dealing with pre-race jitters AND traveling to a destination race?

I'm linking this post with DebRuns and her linkup, Wednesday Word. Today's word is complacent. I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else says about complacency!



81 comments :

  1. I enjoy running destination races but often times they aren't goal races for me. I like to enjoy the experience of running somewhere new and don't want the added pressure there. Plus, sometimes, it is hard when you are traveling, not sleeping in your bed, not eating your normal food to get the quality of race that you want while traveling. That being said, it isn't impossible! I have PRed during a racecation!

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    1. I'm not planning on making either of these a goal race! But I'd like to conquer that Florida humidity without it crushing my soul as it has done in the past! And for Big Sur, that's all about having fun. It's a total bucket list race. But it is still 26.2!

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  2. I get pre race jitters but they are weird--I get the the few days before, and then they kind of relax the day of and then ramp up weirdly. Oftentimes, I am more nervous about the weather than anything else! (like, will I be too cold and nonsense like that). Where I get stuck in my comfort zone is with training--I like what I do, and I want to keep doing it.

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    1. I only get nervous about the weather if it's supposed to be warm. I wilt in the heat, and that gets in my head. I'm always working on that mental preparation!

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  3. I don't get very anxious before a big race. I've done my training; I trust it. Excited, yes; hopeful, yes.I only get anxious if I'm injured and there's a time limit.

    I often wonder what it would be like to sleep in my own bed before a big race . . . probably won't ever happen!

    Big Sur is soooooo beautiful. If only it weren't a marathon . . .

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    1. Lucky you, not getting nervous! I wish that were me!

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  4. I often get pre-race jitters but I've also been trying to work on my mental game this year. On thing that I do that I hate is comparing myself to other runners. I dont have a "runner's body" so i get intimated by other runners and ask myself "what the hell are you doing here?!". This actually happend to me during a race last month but thankfully the negative thoughts only lasted a few minutes! Thats a small victory for me.

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    1. I do have what is a "runner's body", yet I get passed frequently by runners who are much larger than me. Is there really such a thing as a runner's body? I think there's more to running than being slim. Glad you were able to shut the negative voices down!

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  5. I don't have to tell you how much this post means to me coming as I head toward my final week of half marathon training. I was able to overcome the emotion that beset me last Sunday as I headed out for my nine mile run and have a successful outing. I will bear in mind your words of wisdom this weekend as I finish my last pre-half long run, ten miles, and will again as I cross that finish line, in a bit of pain but feeling glorious.

    My goals are not about time right now, but of endurance.
    Next goal, which I will attach as soon as I recover, is two reach that two-year + attempt at a sub-nine minute mile. I'm counting on you, my friend, for your support. :)

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    1. Thank you for the inspiration for this post! You've got this Connie!

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  6. So true! I think that's the joy of running-- to get better you need to push. It's inspiring and makes you feel alive!

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  7. I dont race but these days? I GET PRELIFE JITTERS.

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    1. Oh, me too! Sometimes just heading to work brings on a case of the nerves!

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  8. Nerves are also something I deal with before each and every race. They seem to depart as soon as I start running, but numerous trips to the porta potty are no fun. I love destination races, and sometimes I do try for PR's depending on the location and the race distance. This year I had two PR's at Disney races which most runDisney fans would think was horrifying. But for me, enjoying some races is earning a PR and an AG award. Yes, I am definitely driven to earn prizes since I aged up!

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    1. Haha! Right there with you on the prizes--it's definitely a perk of "aging up"!

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  9. I have a hard time pushing myself out of my comfort zone and my trainer and I have discussed this a lot. Race anxiety ugh always

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    1. Yep. This is something Becky and I work on almost as much as my physical training!

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  10. I'm so glad to read that you've dealt with race anxiety - gives me hope that I can push past it (and hopefully soon!).

    You are going to LOVE Big Sur. It's magical.

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    1. You can push past your race anxiety or at least make it work for you!

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  11. Heat training on the mil? What do you do for this? I actually am closer to where you are when your not training. When I run I don't have a time or a pace to keep I just run my distance. Even though I'm training for my full I have no expectations at all about a finish time. I think after my full, half marathons will be even more fun. I will have a sense of knowing I can do them. Ya know with 10 under my belt I'm still not sure, ha We will see.

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    1. The heat training is crazy! I wear fleece pants, a sweatshirt, and a hat. No fan. It's tough!

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  12. I was surprisingly calm at MCM, but anxious for the Mainly Marathon series (where times don't matter and I know all the people.) The brain works in mysterious ways.

    I love to travel for races. Just make sure you have a good packing list and a plan for meals and you'll have fun.

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    1. It's so weird to be out of my comfort zone. I have this whole race morning routine. Traveling always throws me off!

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  13. I've been racing for YEARS and I still get pre-race jitters because like you said, I care. I care about how I do and I want to have a good race. As for traveling and racing, I do that a lot. Plan for meals, if you can find (Or better yet, actually BRING) your normal pre-race breakfast, that's always a good start. When I raced in Europe last year, I actually packed all the things I'd need for my race day breakfast in my suitcase and prayed it didn't get lost, ha ha. I wasn't sure what the food / grocery shopping situation would be like so I wanted to be prepared.

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    1. Traveling to Europe would be a whole different thing! For sure I'll be looking for my pre-race breakfast of cheerios, oj, and coffee!

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  14. I get awful pre-race jitters! I usually end up forgetting something I need, like starting my Garmin as I cross the start line lol Last year at the half, I had so much anxiety I did not say one word the whole ride there, I was sweating. I try to relax but it still happens.
    Is is hard to sleep soundly away from home...

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    1. Sometimes I forget to turn my Garmin off when I cross the finish line! And that isn't due to anxiety at all!

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  15. Well, I'm actually living waayyyy outside the ol' comfort zone right now. I don't get too anxious before a race, except for the logistics of getting there. I'm pretty calm at the start line. I certainly wouldn't call it complacent though, just calm. That FL weather could go either way in March! It goes either way all winter too! You just never know. But I know you'll be prepared!

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    1. I did the heat training last year when I thought I'd be going to Florida--as it turns out, I ran a half here, but that was a PR for me! So I really thing there's something to training in the heat.

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  16. I have no tips for you because I am guilty of not racing a whole lot because it gives me anxiety! The comfort zone is so.... comfy. :) I think the fact that you continue to sign up for races, train, and push yourself, means you are doing just perfect, even if you have pre race jitters.

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    1. You are right. The comfort zone is indeed comfy!

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  17. I have never NOT gotten pre-race jitters -I call it excitement though :)

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    1. I like it--pre-race excitement! Puts a positive spin on it!

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  18. I always get butterflies when I'm waiting in my start corral - whether it's a 5k, 10k or full marathon. I think it's good to be excited and a little nervous. That moment is what reminds me of how exciting racing and running can be and why I love it so much!

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    1. Once I'm in the corral, I'm ok! It's the days leading up to the race that get me nervous.

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  19. I haven't done any destination races... but I have been tempted. The EARLY morning thing is what gets me. These RnR night races are very appealing to me as I am not a fan of getting up at 3 or 4 in the morning to run a race!

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    1. Yeah, the idea of getting up in the middle of the night is not appealing. When I run Big Sur, it starts at 630, which is 830 in Chicago. That is just perfect for me!

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  20. Love this. I have found that I keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and I do believe that it's making me a better and stronger person! I'm so excited to hear about your training for both races. I've traveled to the DC/Maryland area from Philly, but it wasn't really a bonafide race-cation...that's got to add some extra challenge, but I know you'll do great!

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    1. I'm thinking about making 2016 my year of the destination race! Since I've already got 2 planned, maybe I'll pick something for the fall?

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  21. I had really bad anxiety before for my last race. I'm so glad that I'm past that now. I do get jitters...even before 5K's. Any advice you receive I welcome it! I Our biggest race in the state and probably the biggest in the southeast is here in Birmingham. I love just waking up to go run it! I love destination races. Just make a checklist and you should be good!

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    1. It's nice waking up in your own bed before a big race! But I've done it before and I'll do it again.

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  22. I get pre-race jitters pretty bad in the days leading up to the race, and then they usually calm down as soon as I get into the starting corral. I'm a huge believer in pushing myself outside of my comfort zone - and every race does that in some way!

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    1. That's exactly what happens to me--I'm fine once I'm there! Anticipation is the worst!

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  23. That bit about being jittery *because you care*. That's what really resonates here for me; I think you've pinned down why I find complacency to be such an awful thing. It's great to be happy with something as-is, in many cases, but complacency implies this lack-of-caring for the future. It irks me when people have opportunities to grow and refuse to do so! Why wouldn't you want to be better tomorrow than you are today? And that anxiety is definitely a way to prove to yourself that you still care. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. What would be the fun if you didn't care? If you just showed up because? I don't understand that...

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  24. Race jitters happen when your heart is in it and you really care. Maybe sometimes too much. It so important to make this energy work for you, otherwise all this adrenaline can actually hold you back and you don't perform your best. You have a really nice race calendar coming up for next year, Wendy. I think it's great that you leave your comfort zone and race under harder conditions than your body is used to. Way to go!

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    1. I agree with you--2016 is going to be a really fun running year!

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  25. Hurricane Point at Big Sur will take your breath away, and not just from the climb to the top! The view is beautiful! The thing I like least about destination races is packing. I'm always afraid I'll forget something very important like my running shoes and custom orthotics. In fact, I usually wear my running shoes in the car or on the plane, just so I know I've got them with me! :-)

    Thank you for linking up!

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    1. I'm really looking forward to running Big Sur! I have yet to hear anything bad about it! I've started reading a lot of recaps..

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  26. Its always great to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, and signing up for destination races is a great way to do that and to experience new places. I ran my first half marathon in Florida in January 2014, and it was definitely a challenge to train in the winter for a hot and humid race. But I'm so glad that I ran my first half where I did!

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    1. I've run 2 half marathons in Florida--one in January and one in March. The weather at the January race was fine, but that March race was steamy! So I want to be prepared!

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  27. I don't sleep the well the night before a big race whether I'm at home or away, so I just try to make sure that I sleep extra the week leading up to it, and then don't worry as much if I only sleep 2-3 hours the night before, whether at home or away. So many people who have run many marathons in many locations say Big Sur is their favorite....focus on that and the scenery and not the hills.

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    1. I just heard back from Bart Yasso with my book club interview questions and sneak peek...he told me to prepare for the downhills! Who knew?

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  28. Sounds like you have a great year planned! I have done many destination races. I don't have issues sleeping since I've done so much business travel I just had to get used to it. Nutrition is my issue. i generally try to get a suite or room with a mini kitchen so I can at least eat breakfast in my room and possibly even my pre-race meal so I don't have to worry about the restaurants. No good tips on humidity or hills. I've tried sitting in a sauna, doing workouts with extra layers on, but the heat (and direct sun) still gets me.

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    1. I wilt in the heat, so I need to mentally prepare for that as well as physically!

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  29. I ALWAYS get pre race nerves that usually keep me in the bathroom right before! Haha! But I'm with you, I had to take control of my brain and still allow some nerves but now allow myself to get out of control. Distracting myself a little by focusing on the task at hand and deep breathing helps me get through it!

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    1. I have that same issue--but the good thing about all that bathroom time is that I don't usually have issues on the race course! Always gotta look at the positive, right?

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  30. Wow, I would not have thought to run on the treadmill to get used to running in warmer temperatures - that's brilliant, and dedicated! Both of those races sound fantastic. And having some down time before you start training doesn't sound complacent - it sounds smart!

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    1. I did that heat training last winter when I was preparing for a Florida half. I had to defer (to 2016) due to family issues, but I did do a local half, and it was a huge PR. So I think there really is something to the heat training!

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  31. I get pre race nervousness for sure! One thing that I do is look back over my training journal and remind myself of the work I have done - how prepared I am. That usually helps a bit!
    I haven't done a ton of destination races, but I think it's so fun! Even better when you can race and then have a vacation afterwards, relax and just enjoy.
    Big Sur is stunning and I hear the race is so amazing - you are going to have the best time!!! So much to look forward to this winter!!

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    1. That's the plan--I want to get to Cali, run, and then relax! I don't think I'd enjoy it as much if I vacationed first and then ran...

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  32. Ugh I get the worst pre-race jitters! I'm working on relaxing and doing some positivity stuff pre-race so that I'm calmer when I get to the start line. When I was a new runner I would cry the night before my races, but at least I've been able to overcome that!

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    1. I like the idea of doing positivity stuff before the race...curious what kinds of things you do?

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  33. Pre race jitters! What mixed emotions races bring me! I've started doing some lead yoga/meditation before so I can focus on something else.

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  34. I think maybe that's why I went to the dark side and did some tris this year. Because I get a few butterflies in the days leading up to a race but on race day, the game face is on and I'm calm...even in Boston I was. The swim is what continues to make me batshit crazy.
    If you have access to a sauna, 15 minutes in there on a regular basis will help you acclimate to heat.

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    1. And that's why I don't tri. The swim. Just the idea of it scares me.

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  35. I can totally relate to the pre-race anxiety! Even though I don't really "race" half marathons anymore, I always still get a little nervous before. But when I do my tris...holy moly that's a different story haha. I'd love to do a destination tri, but I have a feeling my anxiety would get the better of me!

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    1. I think a tri would be the undoing of me! Besides the swim, the whole transition thing...the prep getting all my gear together...it's just too much!

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  36. Pre race jitters? Almost every time!! I take it as a sign of really being ready. The only times I didn't have pre-race jitters were because I was not prepared, or didn't have my head in the race.

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    1. That's an interesting perspective! I feel more nervous when I'm not as prepared as I like.

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  37. I love to race for the experience. I rarely get jitters because I know I will never win, LOL ! I am at the stage in my life where I want to enjoy the ride. And keep on running..... I am excited, anxious, maybe a little nervous but because I am just racing for me, I try not to put too much pressure on myself. Already have enough of that in the rest of my life.

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    1. Ha, I never think I'm going to win. But I want to beat myself, I guess, and that's why I get the jitters.

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  38. I always get race jitters - the greater the jitters, the more important the race is to me. The only time I don't get some form of jitters is when I run with my son - cause then it's all about him.

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    1. That's a great point--the more important the race, yes, the more jitters!

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  39. I don't really get pre race jitters for some reason, not sure if that is a good or a bad thing. Those two races are awesome! Definitely jealous of Big Sur. When we were there last year it made me want to run it even more but those hills are no joke! That one is definitely about the scenery. It seriously is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been!

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    1. I cannot wait to run Big Sur. Even before I ever ran a marathon, I told my husband that if I ever ran a marathon it would be Big Sur. I can't believe I'm going to get to do this!

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  40. I've always said that the day I don't have some level of "butterflies in my stomach" nerves before a race is the day it's time to find a new hobby!

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    1. Agreed! And I do get a push of energy from those nerves!

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