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Long Run and Anxiety (Read 438 times)

    I posted the same thing over in the RW forum, but thought I would post here as well b/c I need some advice/help and I love RunningAhead.

     

    I am currently training for my 4th marathon and I have just now realized something. For almost all of my long runs I get dizzy, lightheaded, and really hot. It is hard to describe, it isn't vertigo but more of a blurred vision, "don't feel right" type of dizzy. Basically, it is a feeling that is really hard to just push through like I can with most other things.

     

    Today, when I went to start my 15-miler I got that same feeling. I kept stopping and trying to start again, no luck. I finally came to the realization that my anxiety is causing all of this. I do have really bad anxiety, to the point where I had to take a medical leave from medical school to figure out what the heck was wrong with me and why I was dizzy and couldn't concentrate (in case you were wondering, it was anxiety, ha).

     

    My question for whoever might have an idea is how does one deal with this? Obviously long runs are an important staple to marathon training. I know that I can do them as I have numerous times before. It is really starting to frustrate me to the point that I am getting even more nervous for my long runs. My run of 1.4 miles this morning is slightly shorter than the 15 that I need to do and know that I can do. I attempted again this afternoon and made it 1.25 before my dog decided that I wasn't going to run this afternoon (I run on my treadmill). Oh, and to top it all off, I have now eaten too much for last 2 days and feel like a total bum, ha.

     

    Has anyone else dealt with this or I am just being really weird? 

     

      I think it's an interesting question - I've definitely felt some dread before long training runs in the past, but nothing on your level. I have run a similar number of marathons to you and don't know anything about anxiety, so take this with a huge pinch of salt, but here are some random thoughts and suggestions:

       

      - You don't have to run marathons to be a runner. Why not focus on the 10K or the 5K for a while?  No need to run really long, yet still plenty of opportunity to push yourself to excel and achieve if that's what you want.

       

      - Can you approach your training schedule in a more 'exploratory' kind of way?  What I mean is - set out for a run, with no specific distance or pace in mind.  See how you go.  If it's a nice day and you're feeling good, run a little longer - if you hit 10 miles and still feel good, then add a couple more - and so on.Then take it easy the next day - and so on.  Could you avoid the anxiety of a long run by letting them happen, rather than sticking to a rigid schedule?  This would be difficult for me as I like to stick to a plan, but I could imagine it working well for others.

       

      - Could you look at alternative training plans (others will have more detailed suggestions) which don't involve many particularly long runs?  I know of several successful marathoners who never go much longer than about 15 miles; it's perfectly possible.

       

      - Probably the best answer is (as always!) to run more.  I have trained for marathons in the past where my weekly mileage was maybe 30-35 miles, and an 18 or 20 mile run on the weekend is hugely daunting.  If you gradually build up your normal daily runs (and run more like 6-7 times a week) then long runs become less of a big deal.  I'm by no means exceptional in having hit about 70mpw in preparation for a marathon (I followed the Pfitzinger 55-70mpw plan) which involved a regular 15 mile run on a Wednesday, as well as (roughly) 10 miles on Tuesday and Friday as well.  The 18 or 20 miler on Sunday seemed like much less of a big deal when your overall mileage has slowly built up to that sort of level.

       

      Good luck with your training and your marathon, I hope it works out.

        Are you sure it isn't a low blood sugar issue?  Sometimes people get dizzy when they are hypoglycemic.  Are you eating right (and enough)?

         

        Barring any physical problems, plenty of people get anxious before running - long runs, workouts.  The anticipation of a race can do numbers on one's stomach!  Have you read the book "Running Within"?  It has some interesting techniques for dealing with the mental aspect of running including anxiety. Check it out.

        Running Goals ...

         

        "Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great."  John D. Rockefeller

          Thanks guys. I am open to any and all suggestions.

          I know that you don't have to run marathons to be a runner, but I "enjoy" it. There is no better feeling than finishing that long run. I feel on top of the world. However, there is no worse feeling than failing to finish a run Sad

           

          I agree that running more will help. I actually went up a training plan. Doing Hal Higdon's Intermediate 1 program and have been doing great. Had some GI issues recently and since then my runs have been not as great.

           

          As for blood sugar, that is what I always thought my problem was. I have had problems with hypoglycemic tendencies but I don't think that is what it is, though it could still be part of it. Checked my blood sugar before lunch and it was 74. Checked it about 10 minutes ago and it was 84. Low-normalish. I feel like I eat enough. I have actually been eating a lot more recently too. Keep thinking I am gaining weight but the scale still seems to say 102. I unfortunately bought myself some Reece's Peanut Butter Easter Eggs and have been eating a lot of those, haha.

           

          I just added that book to my amazon cart. It put me over the $25 I needed for free shipping so I can order my sports beans, now.

          zonykel


            You can also get "the anxiety and phobia workbook". It should help with your anxiety in general.

             

            and as others mentioned, you don't have to run marathons. Is there a threshold at which you feel that dizziness?

              nickp had some good suggestions. Perhaps not having a specific distance in mind, but taking the view that you are going to run as long as you feel good would relieve some pressure. When I do my long runs, I listen to books on tape, either on cds borrowed from my library and downloaded to my itunes library or books downloaded from audible.com. I get absorbed in the stories and keep my eyes off my garmin so I can just enjoy myself as much as possible and not overthink the running. I have a route in mind when I start, but if I'm feeling bad I will turn around earlier or if I am feeling particularly energetic, I can take a detour to add on distance. I also take my phone with me just in case I feel really lousy and have to call someone to pick me up. I have actually never done that in over 30 years of running, but knowing that I can takes some of the pressure off.

              2014 goals

              1800 miles; 5k < 25:00; 10k < 53:00HM < 2:00

               

              Upcoming:

              NYC Half Marathon 3/16Boston Marathon 4/21; Newport Liberty HM 9/2; Trenton Half Marathon 10/8

                 

                I just added that book to my amazon cart. It put me over the $25 I needed for free shipping so I can order my sports beans, now.

                 

                Hmm, maybe it's the sports beans. I haven't tried them, but when I asked about them at my local running store, the guy behind them said he didn't recommend them because they gave him a kind of "sugar rush" that he found very uncomfortable. Maybe that's what you have been experiencing. Try gu instead or just run without any supplements.

                2014 goals

                1800 miles; 5k < 25:00; 10k < 53:00HM < 2:00

                 

                Upcoming:

                NYC Half Marathon 3/16Boston Marathon 4/21; Newport Liberty HM 9/2; Trenton Half Marathon 10/8

                  I start feeling that way before I even step on the treadmill, typically. I am excited to do the run b/c I enjoy it, so I don't quite get it.

                  I will have to check out that book too.

                   

                  I actually choose the sports beans for partially that reason. My blood sugar does tend to drop so I like things that have a lot of sugar. I don't think there is too much of a difference in sugar content b/w Gu and Sports Beans. I have used Gu before and it isn't bad. I like sports beans b/c I feel I can regulate my blood sugar more easily. Instead of having them all at once, I try to take 1-2 beans per mile to try and keep my blood sugar more constant. Plus, it gives me something to look forward to at each 1/2 mile, lol.

                   

                  Thanks guys! You guys are really giving me some good ideas to try.


                  Pura Vida

                    I got some good advice here recently to think of a range of miles that I'd like to run for my LR.  So if my plan says "11 miles", I might set out for "9-11".  The smaller number has to be a distance I'm completely comfortable with and have run several times.  Then, I don't let myself really decide to run the extra two miles until I've already hit the 9 miler mark.  So I never "have to" run the scary distance, and yet somehow I always get the full run in!


                    Higdon might not be the best fit, actually, since the long runs are so much longer than many of the other runs during the week.  Could that be making it feel more daunting?

                    PRs: 5K: 25:35 / 10K: 53:03 / 10mi: 1:26:15 / HM: 1:55:02 / FM: 4:50:35

                    Upcoming: Rest!

                    NHLA


                      I like all of nickp suggestions.  I have used them all.  I think most people have a sinking spell on long runs and I think it happens before the wall at 20 miles.  On MP runs I noticed a slow down between 8-10 miles so I worked hard to push thru.

                      Another trick is run 9 miles, change cloths and shoes. drive one mile and start over like its another run.  Its a mind game.

                        If I set out to run 15 miles on a Treadmill, I will give up after 2-3 miles.  That's a real mental torture and I think could partly be causing the anxiety.

                          - Can you approach your training schedule in a more 'exploratory' kind of way?  What I mean is - set out for a run, with no specific distance or pace in mind.  See how you go.  If it's a nice day and you're feeling good, run a little longer - if you hit 10 miles and still feel good, then add a couple more - and so on.Then take it easy the next day - and so on.  Could you avoid the anxiety of a long run by letting them happen, rather than sticking to a rigid schedule?  This would be difficult for me as I like to stick to a plan, but I could imagine it working well for others.

                           

                          This was the first thing I thought of, too.  Give yourself permission to run whatever distance you feel like.

                           

                          Having the marathon goal may be putting too much pressure on you.  You could also try giving yourself permission to make it a half if the race allows it, or DNF or DNS.  It's not the end of the world if you don't get the marathon done.  Then, if you aren't pressuring yourself, maybe the anxiety will ease.  If it doesn't, it's okay, just stop, or ease up.  You should be running because you love it, and when you love it.

                          Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.

                          Coastal


                            Some of it could very well be your plan.  If you've run several marathons you might look for a more consistent plan.  Higdon does make for a tougher long run.  If you like getting out there and putting in miles one of Hudson's plans might suit you.  Just adjust the miles on midweek runs.  I had some mental resistance to going on long runs while building up just before starting this training cycle.  I kept adding miles to my early week runs and would have no room left for a long run without going over a 10% increase.

                             

                            Lowish blood sugar can also make one a bit anxious / paranoid.  Been there, done that.  Try pre-fueling before your run.  I like raisins and a banana.

                             

                            If you are into reading and working through some self help books try reading The Resilience Factor, Reivich & Shatte.  It's pretty effective for working on anxiety.

                              I've also had issues with anxiety and the worst thing for me was always people giving me advise on how to deal with it... so here I go...  Smile

                              Generally running has been my best defense against anxiety and I can generally power through the rare "episode" on a long run.   Two years ago I did have a stretch where it was a bit worse and really impacted my running.  I had what could amount to an attack while running a half and it was a real mental struggle, which then stuck with me throughout training since usually the biggest part of anxiety is the fear of the anxiety.  It really took finishing the marathon that fall to give me my confidence back.  I allowed myself just to run and not worry about splits and distances and I think thats what helped the most (that and my old friend SSRI).  I think there is a lot of good advice written by previous posters, but only you will know what works.  If it were logical, it wouldn't be a problem in the first place.  Good luck.

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                                I really like the suggestion to bag the marathons for a while.  Marathon cycle after marathon cycle is tough to face, especially if you don't run many miles as that makes the long runs even more critical.

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