Friday 31 Mar 2017 8:00 am
Recently, I’ve been getting quite down about my forthcoming London Marathon debut.
At night, I lie awake thinking about what sorts of pain I’ll be in by mile 18. How awful the wall will be. What will happen when the inevitable cramp attack kicks in.
I worry about how embarrassing it’ll be to crawl over the finish line – as a fitness writer – way over the average time.
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
When people ask me how training’s going, I go off on how I haven’t done enough (not a lie) and how much of a slog it’s all becoming.
In truth, I love running and I enjoy working out. The amount of time I’m spending training isn’t the problem – it’s how much I’m doing in comparison to everyone else that’s freaking me out. Just start following a few runners on Instagram or join a couple of running groups on Facebook and you’ll see that everyone’s out on a Sunday running a mad number of miles.
What if I’m simply not at the stage that I need to be at?
Those worries are called ‘what if’ questions. And according to the hypnotherapist I consulted earlier this week, they’re one of the biggest things stopping me from achieving success on the big day.
I’m short and a bit stocky. I don’t have a tracker watch. I don’t take protein shakes. I don’t read running magazines. I don’t qualify to be called anything else than a recreational fitness runner – someone who runs to avoid putting on weight and with no sense of competition in mind.
‘I am a trainee marathon runner’ is far more digestible for two reasons. One: you acknowledge that you’re on the very bottom rung of the marathon running ladder – but you’re on it, you’re doing it, you’re part of the club. Second: as a trainee, small things are bound to go wrong – that’s the point of trainee schemes. There’s no pressure because you have to expect the odd blip.
Already I was feeling a great sense of relief.
Next, we discussed how to kill my inner ‘Maybe Person’.
When asked what my goal was, I said that I was merely aiming to get to the finish line alive – but everyone else seemed to have a time set out for me that I was worried about falling short of.
‘By being allowed to remain uncertain and without precision, you don’t have to commit authentically to the process of change,’ he told me.
‘At worst, there is no “buy in” or precise target, belief or point of leverage for effective therapy to work with and this inadvertently sabotages change.’
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)
On my last long run, I thought I might be hitting a sort of runner’s wall but I wasn’t sure and spent a few mile arguing with myself about whether I was hitting it or not – which added to the overall stress of the situation.
Adopting this new strategy would mean making a decision – acknowledging that I’m hitting what feels like a wall now. I can decide at a later stage after the race whether that really was the wall or not, but at this moment in time, that’s what it feels like, so that’s what it is.
The next step is to say ‘this is the part when I feel like I’m hitting a wall’. That’s OK because, in a film, these sections pass and you move on to a different bit. That makes it more digestible.
When we were talking through my various running anxieties, he suggested that I might be showing signs of generalised anxiety disorder. I tend to get overwhelmed by situations, allow them to swell and then use them against each other. Every long term relationship I’ve had, for example, has broken down during a time of change or stress like exams and more recently, this marathon.
He assured me that this kind of thing might be eased by the hypnosis and follow up care.
I was given two audio files to listen to every night before I go to bed – a ‘running and exercise motivation booster’ and a ‘positive thinking and self-esteem booster’. These are to fall asleep to.
I get the feeling that the actual hypnotherapy session is just the beginning of the process and that actually, the real work starts here.
Instead of dreading my next long run, I’m feeling a lot more confident about it. Once I start with the audio files and start linking them to my training, I’m sure that positivity will only increase.
I am a trainee marathon runner…but not for long.