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Thoughts in the head of a runner can be all sorts of crazy the week leading up to a race. It becomes obsessive, focused, anxious, excited, and everything in between (or wait- is that just me?) For those of you who aren’t a runner and want to know what the crazy is like the week leading up to a race (or if you’re a runner and are wondering if you’re normal),  I thought I’d share some of the crazy obsessiveness that has bounced around my head this week.

On the weather: “I should go check the weather again. Something might have changed in the last hour and I need to know what I’m dealing with here” (thought every few hours all. week.).

On clothing: “What if I don’t dress warmly enough and I’m freezing and can’t keep running? What if I overheat but can’t take clothes off? How will I know what I need until I’m part way through the run… and then it’s too late?!” (this goes back to my post on “Now and Then”)

On music: “Playlist… songs…what will I need while I’m out on the course? Should I choose peppy, inspirational, or moving songs? Should I listen to a podcast like I do on my training runs?”

On clothing: “If I wear running tights I don’t have any pockets and can’t carry food and kleenex with me. If I wear a running skirt I can carry food and kleenex but I might get cold. What to do, what to do…”

On shoes: “I think my shoes are shot and that’s causing some of my IT band pain. I need new shoes but there’s only a week before the race. Do I risk running in new shoes with only 15 miles on them in hopes that my IT band won’t act up as much? WHAT’S THE BEST CHOICE TO MAKE?”

On pre-race clothing:  “What do I wear while I’m warming up and waiting to start the race? I think I need to go out and get a throw away outfit. When can I fit this into my schedule?”

On fluid intake: (every day, every hour) “Am I drinking enough? I really need to make sure I’m really well hydrated before the night before the race so that I can be as prepared as possible. Should I drink more? Am I drinking enough?”

On feeling sore: “I think I overdid my workout on Tuesday. It’s Thursday night and I’m still feeling really stiff and sore. Taper is supposed to leave you refreshed and your legs ready to go. Instead I feel sore, achy, and like I don’t want to move at all right now. Will the soreness go away before the race?”

On my IT Band pain: “My IT band is still acting up and doesn’t feel great. I’m not sure how there’s anyway that I can go 13 miles with it being the way it is right now. This is impossible. This isn’t impossible. I can’t do this. I can definitely do this. I’m strong and trained well. Training doesn’t matter with IT band pain. I can do it- I know I can do it. There’s no sense worrying because I won’t know how it will go until I’m on the race course.”

On having to drop out of the race: “What if I have to drop out of the race part way through because of my IT band? Will people in my life judge me or think I’m weak because I couldn’t finish 13 miles? How disappointed will I be in myself? Does it really mean anything about me if I can’t finish? It doesn’t define me or mean anything negative about me if I can’t. Sometimes our bodies just can’t give what we want them to give in the moment. It will be ok if I can’t finish the race…”

On getting a sore throat: “Oh no- am I getting sick? What happens if Saturday morning comes and I have a bad cold? How will my running be changed if I have a bad cold and have a hard time breathing. Agh- go away running nose and sore throat. PLEASE.”

Thoughts get crazy. Seriously. And unchecked they can easily snowball out of control into a negative and distorted set of thinking patterns. Yes, I’ve had some crazy thoughts this week and have said too many “what ifs” and “shoulds” to myself. However, I try to bring myself back to a positive and rational place, and force myself not to check the weather ever single hour of the day because that’s just a crazy thing to do. Runners are passionate, and with that passion comes a little bit of crazy sometimes. Have you ever heard of the taper crazies? Yeah- they’re real, but they also don’t have to completely rule your thought process either.

So, if you saw me the week before the race, I would be at work happily working away, talking to clients and my co-workers. I would have no problem getting everything done during the day. However, behind the smile are all the crazy thoughts that go on. I just don’t always say them out loud because, well…. that would just be too much. Besides, behind the questions and obsessiveness is a whole lot of excitement and building energy for race morning. Saturday morning I toe the line of my 2nd half marathon. I will fight hard for a finish. I anticipate some IT band along the way, and I’ve done my best to prepare mentally for this. But I. WILL. DO. MY. BEST. And that’s what I can do. And I’m thankful I have the chance to run. 

Now it’s your turn to share! If you are a runner, what do you think about or obsessively do the week before a race? How do you deal with taper crazies? 

*This week I’ve continued to put everything in perspective because of the devastation of Sandy. My prayers continue to go out to those who are affected by the storm. I hope the NYC marathon will help to lift the spirits of those in the city.