Runner's Anxiety - Just me or...?!

Hello! It's been a while since I posted so regularly... please don't expect this to be the norm ha! I just wanted to write a bit about something I think I've been experiencing recently and I'm pretty sure I won't be the only person who has felt this way. I haven't seen it mentioned before (but I also haven't specifically searched for it either so I could be wrong!) but I just want to try and normalise this feeling and also just spit out all my feelings onto paper (/blog).

So March saw the beginning of lockdown and I moved back down to Devon for a bit with my family. Lovely. As everyone was trying out new hobbies, starting businesses, writing novels and binge-watching Tiger King, I decided to try something I had never successfully done before: RUNNING!

I have been on one-off runs in my life but these were always super short and I never understood the infamous "runner's high" (to be honest I still don't!). So I decided to start the Couch to 5k programme that everyone raves on about. When I started, my brother also came along with me for the first few weeks which was nice. Then he injured himself and so it was just me. At first, I genuinely really struggled with 60-90 seconds of continuous running. I have been a regular gym-goer for a while now so I was shocked at how bad my cardio was, but it was more motivation to overcome this mini obstacle. By the end of it - supposedly 9 weeks if you are consistent, but more like 15 weeks if you are me - I was able to run 30 minutes without stopping which felt like a huge achievement.

So I completed the Couch to 5k programme about 2-3 weeks ago. And guess what? I haven't run since. I genuinely have been quite busy with work and I also moved back up to Cardiff a week ago so my routines have changed. I had all the intentions to run up in Cardiff, but I cannot bring my silly little self to do it! By nature, I am a planner. I like to know where I am going, for how long, etc etc. So I planned to go to one of the parks in the morning before I started working, maybe even grab a coffee on the way back, and set myself up for the day. However, I woke up and my mind told me no. And now, all I'm thinking about is all the "what if's" and what could go wrong and putting it further and further off. My heart races a little bit thinking about running, in a panicky sort of way. 

As a psychologist, I'm also trying to think about the underlying causes of this new anxiety about running. I think it might be a combination of things: mostly a new environment to run in (I'm used to running along the seafront or old cycle tracks with minimal people compared to city parks); and also a feeling of "what's next" now I've finished the couch to 5k programme. I would like to improve on my 5k timing and pacing so I guess that would be a good start! But it still feels a bit new and scary. 

So. Here is me, holding myself accountable, and planning for a run. There are a few things that I plan to do to help make this happen, which I'll list below because I think other people might be able to apply them too.

  • Set out running gear the night before. Everything - shoes, underwear, shorts, top, arm band, headphones. This means less faffing and procrastinating in the morning!
  • Set a decent alarm (maybe with enough time for one 10 minute snooze as well). I know some people hate a snooze and prefer just to get up straight away. I can go either way, so I'll leave a little time for either option.
  • Have a plan for the run. I like to use an app to roughly estimate where I will run and how long it will take. This just helps me to feel prepared and lessens any anxiety.
  • Have a short walk beforehand. I usually do this anyway, as a warm up, but I also feel it'll decrease my anxiety if I'm not going straight into running mode. 
  • Reward yourself afterwards. For me, this will probably be in the form of a coffee on the way home! [And support local independents if you can!!]
  • Lastly, don't beat yourself up if you don't go/don't do as well as usual/fuck up. Everyone does at times, and it will pass.

Do let me know in the comments below if you have ever felt the same! I know this is a very different type of post - more of a rambling than anything and I'm not normally one to share my feelings lol - but hey, maybe it will help someone in a similar situation to feel less alone!

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  1. I can totally relate to this! I get so anxious before races and it's the worst feeling. I just have to keep telling myself that I've trained hard and I can do it. I always feel better once I start running. Good luck to you!