I’m going to just get the ball rolling by coming out and saying that I am currently dealing with anxiety in my running. This anxiety was brought upon losing confidence in myself and my running. The stress of following my own path in running to follow my passion for the long distances and having people constantly wish for me to fail made me doubt that I was actually cut out to run marathons. I started losing my passion for my running and training quickly became something I had to do rather than something that I wanted to do. With this anxiety came panic attacks during hard workouts where I felt like I couldn't breath, even though logically I knew my breathing wasn’t increasing, and all I could think of is “I can’t do this”. I eventually had enough of the stress and during last semester of school I took off an 8 week period of time and only ran when I felt like it in order to try to figure out what was going on with me and get myself into a better mental state.
Coming to the realization that my anxiety was caused by self doubt and loss of confidence wasn’t any easy one to accept. It finally came to head this summer after many conversation with my parents. I was in denial for the longest time subconsciously knowing the root cause of my anxiety but not wanting to admit it to myself or anyone else as then it becomes reality, I always responded in my default “I don’t know” when my parents would ask me questions to try to help me. It was hard on them to keep seeing me falling down little by little until I pretty much hit rock bottom and just gave up on hard workouts for those 8 weeks. Once summer started it was time to take a step back and figure out what I wanted in my life. With the set back on my running I found myself in a tough financial situation when it came to paying for college and I ended up getting a full time job at a Early Childhood Development Center near my house and currently work 40 hour weeks to be able to pay for next year. Once I got my job I quickly realized the position I had but myself in with me refusing to admit to anyone what was going on with my running. It took a bunch of crying but once I finally admitted to my parents that I really did want to be a professional marathon runner but didn’t feel like I was good enough to accomplish that I felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I felt so much lighter after that.
After that pivotal talk my parents and I got into making a plan to turn my dreams back into goals and figured out where I am and where I want to be. This summer is all about finding myself again, physically and mentally. I definitely got really out of shape during that 8 week period of time and this summer is about gaining as much fitness as I can back before I start school again and trying to figure out how to deal with my anxiety. We have broken the summer up into 3 different segments and instead of running races this summer at the end of each segment I am doing a half marathon time trial to be able to see the improvement in my fitness and to work on dealing with my anxiety before I run another race. Since that talk I have completed my first of the 3 segments and last Sunday completed my first time trial. I will admit that I had a panic attack before the time trail where I honestly didn’t want to even start it and kept thinking that I wasn’t ready for it and that I wouldn’t be able to follow the race plan my dad had given me. I was panicking to the point that I was actually shaking the last half an hour before I started. I was able to talk myself out of it and remind myself that this time trial was a fitness marker to see where I was, I had to remind myself that my dad would never give me a race plan that he didn’t believe 100% that I was able to accomplish. Since my self confidence was still shot I ran that time trial based on the confidence I had in my dad, and I ended up coming out on top; of the 1 minute target zone my dad gave me I hit it right in the middle and that feeling after I finished was an amazing one. I got the feeling of accomplishment back, the feeling you have after a race you're proud of, a feeling I hadn’t had in such a long time and that helped to make that fire of my passion burn a little brighter. After this summer of training and my time trials I plan on completing a fall marathon to get myself back to where I want to be, I’m not sure which marathon it’ll be or any other races I will do this fall but I know that I want to get back into racing.
Now I am nowhere near close to having my self confidence all the way back nor is my anxiety close to be completely gone but I am on the path of recovery and working hard at getting my fitness and mental aspect back to where it was when I qualified for the Olympic Trials as a 16 year old. Anxiety is something that doesn’t go away in the blink of an eye, it takes a lot of time, effort, and support to get over, it’s a lot of arguing with myself and convincing myself that I CAN do this and that I AM good enough. The important part is I have come to accept the fact that I do have anxiety and that I had lost all confidence in myself and in my running. I’m building myself back up and I have all the support of my family and friends behind me helping me on this hard journey.
By reevaluating everything I have also come to realize, with the help of my parents of course ;), that I have not utilized all my social media accounts and have kept all of my supporters in the dark of what has been happening in my running. When you keep hearing the negativity of the loud minority it can be difficult to focus on the positivity of others who do support and believe in you. That is something I want to work on fixing so I have created a social media plan that I will be trying to implement this summer as well. In the coming weekends I hope to be reconfiguring my website/blog and really start utilizing all my accounts such as Twitter, Facebook Athlete Page, Instagram, LinkedIn, and AthleteBiz.
I really want to thank all of you for all the support you have been giving me no matter what, words can’t describe how much I appreciate it. I will be working on keeping everyone in the loop of the going on’s of Alana and learning to not shut everyone out when I struggle with my running. Have an amazing summer, it’s flying by. :)