Chasing The Demons

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I’ve been having a really hard time sleeping lately.  Most nights, I fall asleep pass out as soon as my head comes within 10 feet of my bed.  But I often find myself waking up for no apparent reason.  I spend the next 2-3 LONG hours willing sleep to wisk me away.

These moments when I’m wide awake have been filled with demons.  Those little voices in your head that question your dreams, doubt all the work you have done, and scare the daylights out of you.  As I lay there at 2am, 3am, my head is filled with worry and my heart feels like it’s beating out of control.

These demons are not new to me.  They are familiar visitors that I have been ready for in the past.   I have come to expect them in the days leading up to a big race…they often go by names such as taper crazies and doubt.  I guess in some weird way, I look forward to their visit.  I know they have come because I’ve dreamed big.  Because I’ve spent weeks/months working for this goal.  Because I’m scared of failing.  These are good things. And so I somewhat welcome the demons.

dreams

Sometimes they make appearances while I am in between training cycles.  This period is filled mostly with easy paced slow(er?) runs.  These easy runs suddenly feel difficult.  That moment of doubt is when the demons slip in.  I begin questioning my ability to run faster.  To run anything more than my recent mileage.  To have the courage to show up to the start line of another race.  It’s not uncommon to quickly find myself in the middle of a hard, fast run to prove to me (and the demons) that I am still a runner. One run like that tends to keep those doubts at bay for a bit longer.

But it’s different this time.  I am still 5 weeks out from my first Ironman. Five very important weeks. I have an extremely long and tough weekend ahead followed by my first half ironman next weekend.  I immediately jump into two more long training weeks.  And then the taper begins.

That’s when I will be ready for the demons.  Not now. I need to be focused on all that’s left to happen from now til then.

So why are they here already?  Lots of reasons I think. I’ve never signed up for a race of this distance or magnitude.  The triathlon is still SO new to me.  There is that fear of the unknown. The last time I trained hard for a race it ended in a heart-breaking DNF.  I’m worried about letting people down.  I’m scared of putting myself out there {again} only to come up short. I’m comparing myself to what other triathletes are doing in preparation for their upcoming Ironman races. {Have I done enough bricks? Enough long rides? Should I spend more time in the pool? On the bike?}. I’m freaking out that I’m losing my speed as I train for the Ironman.

I think social media can make us appear different than we really are.  In my case, I think I sometimes come across stronger, more self confidant than I am.  I post pictures of my daily workouts as a way to share my training, keep myself accountable and maybe inspire / convince even one person to do something they aren’t comfortable doing.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle with doubt and fear and worry ALL the time about what I am doing, how I am training, what paces I am hitting.

I took a few days off after our trip to California, partially because I felt I needed the rest, but partially because I wanted the rest.  After a few really hard training weeks, my body just felt exhausted.  I was tired at the onset of every workout and my pace (mostly for the bike) was starting to really freak me out.  I started training again yesterday and am excited and ready for the next 5 weeks.  Sometimes a really successful workout is the perfect step in the right direction.

20 miles on the bike at a 18.3 mph pace (fastest bike for me to date). I felt strong and in control the whole ride.

bike5

Later in the morning, I got on the treadmill for a steady state run.  I haven’t done one of these since my training for the NJ Marathon (over 2 months ago).  Actually, I haven’t really done any speedwork since then. Most runs these days are focused on distance and getting the miles in post-bike or swim. I was bracing myself for a hard, slower-than-expected run but felt surprisingly strong from start to finish.

Splits: 8:05 (warmup), 7:01, 7:00, 6:29 (1600m repeat), 7:03, 6:58, 6:22.  7 miles in 48:56 (6:59 average).

run9

Yesterday’s two workouts helped push out some of those demons.  I slept a bit better last night. I’m working on maintaining positive thoughts.  Focusing on what I can control (my training and eating) the next 5 weeks.  And I’m hoping that the demons decide there is no reason to hang around.

What do you do when you get nervous before a race?

Do you find a great run helps put your mind at ease? 

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    20 thoughts on “Chasing The Demons

    1. I have been feeling like this for about a week and a half now. I have a marathon coming up and I fear that it will go down like my past 3. But, I just keep plugging away and praying that I am doing the best I can for the day. I have no expectations except to finish strong. I am sure that you can have the same goal for your Ironman and it will go well! A great run always builds my confidence. I really enjoy tempo runs so when I can nail an 8-10 mile tempo, I feel ready to conquer the world! Good Luck and I’m sure you will have a great experience!!

    2. I don’t typically get the same demons. I actually tend to do something a little odd. About a month out from the race I’m training for, I start to be so concerned that I start to forget about the current race and start to focus on the next one. Kind of silly. And After having been so overtrained this year, I probably shouldn’t even say anything!
      Holly recently posted..And the resolution of Monday Blues…My Profile

    3. I think it is perfectly normal to have the “demons” occasionally! And the being awake for hours in the middle of the night has been part of my life for years now – not related to training – just age, I think!!
      I think sometimes I read posts and am in such awe of the accomplishments and amounts of training – you are right to remind us that all people have doubts and fears.
      Km recently posted..Choices and Why I Work out First thingMy Profile

    4. I think that we all battle demons from time to time and begin to doubt ourselves and our abilities. And especially with a new event and one that is as demanding as the IM, it’s only natural. But like Miss Zippy said, you are strong and you have worked so so hard. I love seeing your workouts not because they are all awesome (which they are) but because they really do demonstrate your commitment and strength of character. I cannot wait to cheer you on (virtually) on your big day. xox
      Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Friday Round-Up: Coffee Talk EditionMy Profile

    5. I can totally relate to this. Being new to tri’s like you (I did a sprint a few weeks ago, and first 70.3 is in 3 weeks) but having a big goal in mind. But you are going to do awesome. Don’t think about NJ marathon, don’t think about being new, don’t think about letting ANYONE (including yourself) down. Think about the hours and miles you have been training, think about how amazing it will feel to cross that finish line. The power of positive thinking has been huge for me lately. Last night I had my best swim to date, and a fabulous run afterwards and it gave me the boost I needed to remind myself “I can do this”. I’m such a cheesy nerd but I find visualization a huge tool for me. Picture that finish line, picture powering up a hill or climbing out of the water….you have 5 solid weeks and you’re going to rock IMLP.
      Laura recently posted..Summer Plans & Goals 2013My Profile

    6. I always see you as a super tough woman that just goes through the training kicking tail (bc you DO) but you’re soooo right with the pic – If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough…. I’m starting to get scared about the marathon. (cake compared to the IM) But my first big hurdle :) Positive attitude is definitely key! Good luck these next few weeks!
      beka recently posted..Monday Morning News vLogMy Profile

    7. You won’t lose your speed. If anything,changing things up from the norm (and pressure) of always trying to hit some goal pace will be beneficial to your body. Don’t worry, you’re gonna kill it.

    8. It is funny to hear you talk of demons b/c I think of you as a rock star who would never have to worry! But I guess we all do..I know I certainly do. What always helps me is trusting in my training. You ARE strong, and you HAVE put in the work, so trust that you are going to be just fine…better than! Can’t wait to hear about your big day and how good it felt for you to be told “you are an Ironman!”
      misszippy1 recently posted..Runner or racer?My Profile

    9. Congrats on kicking those demons to the curb with a few great workouts! It’s perfectly normal to feel this way with such a big event coming up, and I think you’re doing a great job listening to your body, resting when needed, and then pushing yourself in your training.

      I also agree with your point that social media can be deceiving, but, in your case, you’re definitely one awesome, strong mama! It might not feel like it every day, but all you need to do is look at all of the incredible things you’re doing! Best wishes for the next few weeks of training. Keep up the awesome work and thanks for being an inspiration!
      Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Blogging Lessons & Quarterly ReviewMy Profile