H-Town Run Tourist

9 ways marathon training prepares you for life's most stressful situations

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. 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.

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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.

Periodized Progression

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.

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Come with your own nutrition

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.

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Breathe

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.

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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!"

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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.

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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.

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Have faith.

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!

Photo by Wongyulee.

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. Read her blog, HTownRunTourist. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @HTownRunTourist. Facebook @jovanabernathy

It has been over a week now that we have been ordered to stay home/work safe. Last night, we just found out that we can expect another 30 days of social distancing. It has been quite the adjustment with no end in sight.

But, if you take a couple of deep breaths and look closely, you can see how there is much to be grateful for. Here are the reasons why I have chosen to practice gratitude during the COVID-19 crisis:

Our focus is on the more important things.

Being ordered to stay home and only leave for necessities has made us aware of what is truly important. Making sure that we have steady income that we can do while staying at home and making sure we are safe and our families are safe has taken number one priority.

We have time to take our time and relax.

If you are anything like me, time is a precious commodity. The cause for a lot of anxiety for most of us is not having enough time to do the things we want and definitely not to do what we want to do well. I took all last week to catch up on much needed sleep. It has definitely been nice to take it easy and know that I am doing exactly what I need to do.

We have the time to make our health a priority.

How many times have you wanted to start that workout routine and something came up? How many times have you wanted to meal prep and run out of time? Because our days have less distractions, we have time to go for a walk, run, or bike ride outside. We have time to cook our own food.

We can let petty things go.

If someone has ticked you off or something upsetting happened, you have permission to let it go. Because we really have no way of knowing when and how this crisis will end, it just does not matter. If you find it hard to forget right away, don't worry, you have time to practice.

We have time to read, learn, and take courses.

There are so many podcasts that I listen to in my car, that I would love to sit down and take notes on and really take time to listen to them. I bet there are so many books that you have been meaning to read, but have not been able to start because you are too busy.

We have time to start that big project we have been wanting to start.

Whether it is spring cleaning, organizing the closet, or start writing your business plan, we all have one thing that we always wanted to start but never had the time. I have been working on a blog that I have wanted to start for over a year now. You can check it out. It is called HTownRunTourist. It is about how I got into running and why I started running internationally. It is not your mama's running blog. Although, it is not for everyone, I hope you enjoy it. Post are being released now.

We have the opportunity to start over.

Is there something about your life prior to COVID-19 that you wish you could change? Did you want to practice a habit like being better organized, you have time to do that. Personally, I need to lose some weight. You better believe it is one of my main priorities. Did you want to end toxic relationships? Now, you can. Use COVID-19 as an excuse why you didn't keep in touch and never look back. If it is not important now, it is not important.

So, let's choose relaxation over stress. There is definitely plenty to be grateful for. Let's start this practice so when we can get back to normal, we can hit the ground running!

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