H-Town Run Tourist
9 ways marathon training prepares you for life's most stressful situations
Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx
This week was super stressful. I stay busy and keep an even busier schedule, but this week was worse than most weeks. I don't want to go into it, but I'll just say that it started with my car getting booted and towed from in front of Market Square Park and it costing over $1000 to get my car back. I knew that I was going to be tested beyond belief to recover from this small catastrophe. So, I decided to go back to my marathon training days and use some of the skills I learned on race day. Since we all have stressful days, I'll share them with you.
Assess your situation and come up with a plan.
From getting to the start line, finding your corral, and planning how to get your pace takes constant planning during the race. Remembering this, from the start of this situation, I began to lay out my circumstances and all of my resources in the best short notice plan. During the week, I checked back to cross off the things that were completed. It was encouraging to cross things of the list.
When you are at the start line, its best not to think about the race as 26.2 miles, but to take it in parts. How are you going to run the first 3 miles? You probably assessed that you will be consumed with finding your proper position and getting away from slower runners and walkers. By mile 5-10, you will be all loosened up and ready to enjoy the scenery. By mile 22-26.2, you will be super serious and on your game. The is a form of periodization. You only worry about the stage that you are in.
While I frequently imagined myself being at the solution of my problem, I knew all the steps that I laid out. During these steps, I was not concerned with much else but to complete the step and progress to the next step.
During marathon training, you would have learned the nutrition that your body needs to go the distance. For me, I need 2 Gu's and a pack of chews for energy. You know when you can skip a water break and how much is too much. Your goal is not to stop for a bathroom break.
With this in mind, I would always make sure I had my meals and water with me. It is too easy to say that you will get some later and the wait until you are totally irrational to stop and get some. I was sure to have mine next to me.
If you are trying to run a marathon without breathing, you will pass out or die. So, you have to breathe right. A good rule of thumb is to breathe to keep calm. It takes the stress out of breathing. During this week, I would regularly check to make sure I was breathing deep breathes. These breathes not only kept me calm, but made me feel slightly high. Much needed.
Ditch negative self talk for positive self talk.
Imagine deciding to run 26.2 miles and telling yourself that you can't do it every step of the way. You would give up. In high stress situations, ditch any negative thinking. Every time you think a negative thought, immediately replace it with a positive one. Can't think of one. Here's one. "You are doing good. You got this!"
Stop and smell the roses.
Around mile 10 is when I start to feel good. I'm loose and looking good. I take pictures, look for snacks, photo bomb other people's pictures, and just listen to my music. It was a long ride to get here. In high stress situations, it is good to stop and smell the roses a bit, listen to music, and laugh. You can't stay in a stressful state all day.
Ask for a helping hand.
In a marathon situation, you would have asked advice on the race course like where the water stops and port-o-potties are. You may ask to run with another runner that you don't know for company or stopped at the first aid station.
During high stress situations, it is time to ask for help. Admitting, you ain't got this and you cannot do it alone is a great way to learn humility and gratitude. It's also interesting that you will find out that others need help to. You are not the only one who is going through stuff.
Have faith that you trained well and that you will know what to do when the time is right. In high stress situations, they say "Faith brings a basket to market." Meaning, even if you don't know how things will work out, keep doing what you are doing and you will get what you need. If you stop trying, you will never know what it takes to succeed or how good it will feel to get to the solution.
REPEAT! All I know is that I learned a lot this week! I would not have traded the emotional training that I got. I feel much stronger than before and I am grateful to be at True Anomaly with my Go Flight IPA, writing this piece while I wait for my tourists to arrive for my Mural and Brewery Tour. Like I do every Sunday!