Dealing With the Pressure That Couples With A Goal
"Are you ready for Chicago?"
"Are you excited for Chicago?"
"Are you nervous for Chicago?"
"Do you think you're going to BQ?"
"How are you feeling about Chicago?"
"What's your goal for Chicago?"
By the time the sun rose this morning, I'd been asked about next week's Chicago Marathon well over a dozen times. It doesn't matter if you're a blogger who invited (OK BEGGED) the internet to follow your attempt to shave 25 minutes off of your marathon time or if you're getting ready to run your very first race, dealing with the pressure that comes with a lofty goal can be overwhelming.
I didn't expect the pressure to get to me. I've spent the last two years voluntarily sharing my journey towards different finish lines and there's always been pressure to perform. From a time goal to a brand counting on me to generate funny content while I ran an endurance race as fast as I could, the pressure was always on. And I love pressure! I thrive under pressure! I do my best creating when there's a ton of pressure! So why the hell did Chicago feel different? Why was I avoiding people so that I wouldn't have to talk about training or running Chicago?
It doesn't matter if you're over prepared or under prepared, there comes a point in your training when you just have to say YES. It's like Dr. Bob said, you can't predict the future. You can't predict whether you can or can't accomplish the goal you're setting out to do. All you can do is give it your best effort!
And that's easier said than done! You all saw me spiral into panic mode after the Rock N Roll Philly half marathon. I knew that it was a hot and humid day and that conditions affected my performance. I knew that running 100% was going to feel and look very different than going 100% in 50 or 60 degree temperatures sans humidity. I knew that. But it was really, really hard to compartmentalize it. All I could focus on was the fact that I didn't do the thing I set out to do. And I tried to be calm, cool, and collected but deep down, I was freaking the f*ck out. I love running marathons. I know they hurt. I'm ready for the hurt. I just wasn't ready to suffer the way I did in Philly.
So I actively worked to put it behind me and I promised myself that I would just continue to do everything I could to cross that finish line without regrets in the little time I had left.
And then I got lucky. My final 20 mile long run was a blast. And then the next day, I had an incredible time running 10 miles faster than I ever would have bet I could run. But what do you do when your last few runs are less than favorable? I've never had a good final long run before a race. They've all been total and complete nightmares! When that happens, you have to choose to fake it until you become it. Put a smile on, put the race or run behind you, and figure out how to believe in yourself again.
The only way I can deal with pressure is when I believe in myself. After the Bronx 10 miler, I'm positive that Chicago is going to be a huge day. While BQ'ing is still the goal, my main goal is to finish without regrets and to have as much fun in the process as possible. I love running marathons! It's when I forget how much fun I have that I start to panic. Doubt is one tricky son of a bitch but I just have to remember that the hardest part is behind me. The training is done. My only job now is to make it to race day with a smile on my face.
If you're struggling to deal with the pressure that comes with a goal, remember that just setting the goal is part of the battle. There are so many people who hold themselves back because they're too afraid to fail, so go you! The world isn't going to end if you admit that you're nervous and/or excited. Or that you're terrified and full of doubt. The sooner you open up and talk about what's really going on in your brain, the better you'll feel. Be honest with yourself but don't stop yourself from believing that you can do it. Fake it until you become it. You can do hard things. You're not a quitter. (OK FINE THIS IS A PEP TALK TO MYSELF, YOU CAUGHT ME.)
But in all seriousness, I'm finally in a place where I'm excited to talk about BQ'ing. Yes, I'm afraid but I'm infinitely more excited. Chicago is going to be a party and I'm ready to see what I can do.