Anxiety and Tapering

Hi everyone! I’m in the final week of my training block – the taper week! And I must say, despite a hurricane lurking to the south-east, the weather in New England has been glorious running weather. While this week is meant to be easy, I’ve still had quality runs. Just because I’m tapering doesn’t mean I’m slacking. Here’s how my taper looks:

Saturday: Long Run- 1 mile warm up, easy, followed by 6 miles at marathon pace, followed by 3 miles easy with cool down and stretches.
Sunday: Off
Monday: Intervals- 10 minute warm up, 2x 5minutes at threshold/10k pace with 60 second recovery, 2.5 miles easy, stretches, foam rolling.
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Easy 4 miles, foam rolling.
Thursday: 10 minute warm up, strides, drills, stretch.
Friday: Easy 4 miles, stretching, foam rolling.
Saturday: MARATHON

All those days marked “off” sure are unsettling. But it’s not the lack of running (or intense running) during a taper that bothers me. It’s all the time sitting and waiting for race day. It’s all the thinking. It’s the compulsive weather checking. It’s the sorting through sports bras for the one that chaffs the least, then tossing it back because you had a bad time last time you wore it and are sure it’s cursed. It’s the lack of confidence.

Besides still trying to figure out what to wear, I’m also dealing with Depression & Anxiety. I’ve been preparing my body for the race, but I’ve also been preparing my mind as well. I have a problem with crowds, and noise, and strong odors, and pretty much everything that is a part of a large race. Anxiety struck me in May when I ran the VT City Marathon. It was a debilitating anxiety attack that hit half way through the race and crippled my time. I was diagnosed with  severe post-partum depression and anxiety and have been fairly anti-social since. I’ve been on a low dose of Paxil since mid-June and while I haven’t had any further attacks, I’ve yet to try it out in a loud, boisterous, marathon-type setting.

Every day this week my mind lurches into over-drive. It’s hard not to. It seems that while my running has slowed down, my mind has sped up! Sure, I have the typical pre-race anxiety a lot of runners experience, but I also get jittery over the thought of clanging cow-bells, medical tents, high-fives from strangers, and poorly timed snot rockets. While I’m reviewing my race strategy, I’m also reviewing my mental strategy. I can physically get through the race, but can I mentally? Between the Paxil (which has literally saved my life!), mantras (“do it anyway” and counting), and following a specific plan (when to take water, take fuel, slow down, speed up, breathe) I’m confidant that I can. I get to put all these tools to the test in just a few days and while I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous, I am also very excited!

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