I DID IT! Just kidding.
When I made the decision to finally sign up for my first full marathon, I promised myself that no matter what happened I would show up for myself. What I didn’t realize 19 weeks ago was that showing up for myself would mean not showing up to the starting line on race day.
Instead of crossing the finish line this morning after running 26.2 miles and celebrating achieving one of my dreams today, I’m sitting on my couch writing this with The Office playing in the background. So, how did I get here?
Ha. Here’s the spark notes version…
Take a very stressful year due to things I’m not allowed to talk about on the internet, throw in a car accident that shook me to my core and gave me a concussion and THEN sprinkle in some debilitating and paralyzing anxiety and panic attacks and that’s how I ended up at a crossroads.
By the way, when I say “sprinkle” I really mean “unscrew the lid and dump the entire bottle on top.”
After the accident, I took three weeks off and once I was cleared to start training again, I decided I would keep trying to make my impossible goal possible. But, something was just different than before. I was tired all the time, it seemed like the base I had built over those 12 weeks of training were completely gone and I was still dealing with soreness in my back and neck.
Even then, I kept pushing through. Even when it stopped being fun, even when I realized all the confidence I built was gone and even when I started hating every single step on every single run. Even when my heart was no longer in it and I didn’t care if I ran the marathon anymore, I still kept going.
Then, the anxiety and panic attacks joined the party. Without going too into the weeds, I started having panic attacks every single day and would remain in a constant state of anxiety and dread until the next attack came on. I haven’t been able to drive on my own anymore without having to pull over every few minutes from getting so lightheaded from stress. I couldn’t leave the house alone, I couldn’t even last long in a store or a public place WITH someone I care about with me. And the truth is, I still hardly can!
The worst part of all of this is I couldn’t even run or exercise without my brain thinking the spike in my heart rate was due to anxiety, and then I started having attacks mid-run.
Once I hit that point, I just knew this wasn’t my race anymore. And it was a much harder decision to make than it was to sign up for the marathon.
Yes, it was a hard call to make because I was (and still am) so committed to making this dream happen and made it so far in the training, but that’s not why I struggled so much with just calling it. What made it so difficult was feeling like this and then seeing every motivational/life coach/influencer in the world in my Instagram feed talking about how chasing down a goal is supposed to be hard and quitting makes you weak and strength happens during the parts that are so hard.
And then right alongside those accounts in my feed is none other than THAT RUNNER posting about their 9 mile, 7:48 pace “slow recovery” run after their half marathon they ran the previous day. Please, let me show you where you can shove your hustle.
Look. I love Rachel Hollis just as much as any other woman on the planet, but chasing down a goal when your mental or physical health is so past the point of being broken isn’t what I believe people like Rachel are telling us to do.
There comes a time when our minds and our bodies just need rest. I know that I could have shown up to the starting line this morning. But here’s what it would have looked like:
- Horrible anxiety and panic attacks waiting in the corral to start the race
- Feeling physically and mentally awful for the entire race
- Take every step with soul-shaking fear of fainting during one of my panic attacks and having no one I know around me to help or keep me safe.
- Probably would have fainted from being so untrained at this point and how hot it was out there today.
That’s not how I wanted to run my first marathon. This wasn’t my race, and showing up and crossing the finish line at this point would have meant I’m still attaching my sense of worth to an accomplishment. I’m still measuring my worth by how many miles I can run and how many medals I can shove in a box that sits on the top shelf of my closet.
I decided to find value in myself instead by stepping away from the marathon, putting my health first and promising myself I’m going to run that damn marathon when it’s my time.
This season in my life is for finding better ways to manage stress and getting the help I need so I can drive my car again and go in public by myself and not worry about passing out or having a panic attack and being trapped. This time is for me to take my life and freedom back from these crippling panic attacks that make me fear for my life.
If you’re burning yourself out and sacrificing your health to achieve some external goal that you don’t have to achieve right now, this is your sign to stop. Stop and take care of yourself. Find rest and peace and try again.
You wanna hear something no one on Instagram is saying? We’re still human beings, even without our goals. We still have value and we’re worthy of being loved even when we fail.
I had to learn how to fail. And guess what? You all get to listen to me about training for a marathon for A WHOLE ENTIRE YEAR ALL OVER AGAIN! I’m not sorry.