Anxiety and Self-Sabotage -A Runner’s Curse

I am a good runner.

I am a good runner.

I am a good runner.

Seriously, if I say it enough do you think I might actually start to believe it? Because something has GOT to change. I am driving myself (and everyone around me) crazy each and every time I race because the nerves and self doubt flood my system and fill me to the absolute brim with IRRITATING SMALL PERSON JUICE. Honestly I cannot believe I haven’t been punched in the face yet. BY MYSELF.

Hit 1

Let me set the scene. On Thursday evening I arrived at the site of the Saffron Striders’ hosted Kevin Henry League race. Pete, Rach and I probably arrived at about 6:40 with a race start time of 7:30, so there was a decent amount of time to kill. Cue 45 minutes of peeing (three times), pacing, nail biting and being the most annoying person in a 20 mile radius (you can keep your “no change there then” jokes to yourself, smart arse). Phrases uttered to me over the course of the evening included:

“Get a grip Lauren!”

“You need to sort your f*cking head out.” (Thanks coach)

“What is wrong with you?”

Being like this is exhausting, and I dread to think how much energy I’m wasting that I could be putting to good use during the actual run. I’m actually embarrassed by my behaviour and after each run I go home and do an actual facepalm, vowing to change something, anything to stop myself from being such a fool, but inevitably this bad behaviour cycles round and presents itself again next time I find myself on a start line.

But something has to change. Despite everything I managed a 20:51 5k last week,just 3 seconds off my best time this season and this was after a self-enforced 2 week rest because of my confusingly grumpy leg. So I know that the sub 20 5k is in my grasp if only I could make my mind be quiet.

Crazy 3 Gif

I’ve tried the Headspace app but I’ve struggled to really get on with it. I tried to apply their breathing technique at the race last week but it kept slipping from my grasp, like that dream you try and remember as you start to wake up but which fades away as you gain full consciousness. Just as I thought my mind was starting to empty those thoughts began jostling their way in again, all elbows and negativity.

So I did what any rational person would do – I asked the brilliant ukrunchat community on Twitter for advice. A lot of them recommended yoga and meditation (yoga is a big part of my life already), and I’ve been given the opportunity to try a new app that applies different relaxation techniques to meditation. I was also given a new mantra to try, and gin was suggested. I think I’m going to start with that.

Something needs to change. I don’t like this version of myself when I run, and since running helps me deal with the stresses of my life, getting this wound up before a run is so counter productive and self-sabotaging. I never thought when I started running that so much of my ability would be affected by what was in my head rather that what was in my legs. Wish me luck.

Gin Please

All gifs from Giphy



9 thoughts on “Anxiety and Self-Sabotage -A Runner’s Curse

  1. thegirlonsapphire says:

    Giiirrrlllll you’ve SO got this. So many people out there know how you feel. Whenever I used to compete I used to create stupid little habits/rituals/whatever and it then made me feel a little more comfortable afterwards. Mine was eat half a Mars Bar (the other half would be a reward for when I finished fighting) half a bottle of orange Lucozade, do a box stretch, then jiggle each leg twenty times. I know it sounds bloody ridiculous (especially to me now) So perhaps you need something to do actually at the event, right up until the starting line.
    And yes, don’t look at my blog yet, there is nothing there.
    Britni (:


  2. lloydsloops says:

    i would suggest maybe
    some of the advice you are getting
    is not quite right
    i.e. get a grip etc

    we are all conditioned
    from that above
    what you have done is
    well done!

    learn to appreciate
    and indeed respect this voice
    find a routine to warm up with
    maybe away from others
    and when the familiar kicks in
    just say
    i hear you, quiet now
    and carry on, warm up

    you’ll get there!


  3. Derek says:

    Good read, excessive nerves of trying to hit a goal was something I noticed early in my (admittedly short) running life but binned pretty quickly.

    My best suggestion would be remember running is supposed to be fun – enjoy the process of getting there rather than defining your happiness on the basis of being a second or two above or under what is actually a rather arbitrary time. If you focus only on PBs there’s a chance you will never be happy (especially on the shorter distances, I assume it’s easier to bin the chase on marathons given the training time involved) – if you can do 5k in 19:5X, why not 19:2X? And then you’re only a couple of seconds off sub-19 pace and the whole process starts again…

    Good luck!


  4. stokesh says:

    Good Luck! When you crack it, can you let me know how you did it?

    I have been chasing a sub 2 hour half marathon for 10 years and have never managed it, despite getting close and my husband is convinced it is all in my head. Currently, I am managing to psyche myself out midway through my long runs… I don’t know why or how, but come mile 15 I become a nervous, negative wreck!​

    Oh and a sub 20 5km does not make you a good runner, it makes you an AWESOME runner. Definitely in the super-speedy category 🙂


    • girlrunninglate says:

      Thanks for the lovely comment! My coach texted to say he has an action plan so we’ll see what he says next week! Needless to say I’ll keep you all informed. And good luck with the sub 2hr half. I reckon we’ve both got this in us somewhere…. x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. unironedman says:

    A PB is just that; a personal best. Many times, that applies simply for showing up. There are thousands of parkrunners each week who set a PB just by being there. And for them, maybe 40 minutes is a PB. As Derek said, chasing PBs is akin to chasing your tail. Sometimes we forget to run for the sheer pleasure of running. Okay, I’d love your PB… but it’s yours, not mine. I’ll work on my own in my own time. And one day it will be better than it is now. But that’s not nearly as important as showing up and getting your toes on that line. You are a good runner. So there!


  6. Emily says:

    This was a really fascinating post to read, never did I imagine that running could cause people anxiety but it’s really opened my eyes. I’m glad you are slowly beginning to come to terms with it with the help of yoga, you’ll get there! You are strong, remember that!

    Musings & More


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