Monday, April 11, 2011

Top Five Worry Busters

A week from today is the Boston Marathon and did I tell you I am running? The other day my dental hygienist asked me how far the marathon was. Then she asked me what my goal was – to place in the top ten? To win?

I love non-runners. I love that she thinks I could win.

Boston weather update for race day. I could so deal with this:


Before I get to the subject at hand, I wanted to let you know this morning I ran my fastest mile since being P1090530injured. 8:20. I went out for a four miler, and being a shorter run I wanted to see how it felt to run faster again. My legs love to run faster. It felt great. Now back to moderation. For now. But, I will be back.

Moving on…

I read something profound recently. Yes, I do read and not just books with big color pictures or magazines where I am quoted on page 126.

This profound thing I read said, “Worry is not preparation.” Meaning that just because you lay awake all night worry about how hard the wind is blowing does not mean it will stop blowing for your marathon the next morning. It might stop blowing, but it might not, and your worry has absolutely nothing to do with whether the wind stops blowing. So, why worry, right? Wasted energy.

And yet. Worry and obsessing about things at 2 a.m. is what I do. It’s part of my routine. I’ve always been somewhat of  a worrier but it got multiplied by a zillion when I had kids.

This is what I look like right before squatting on –>>
the toilet only I usually have my pants down. Bet you didn’t know
my zipper glowed in the dark.

If I have something really big to worry about like a stress fracture or a sick child and then it resolves,  I will find something else to worry about like the fact that the gutter might fall off of the house and hit a baby. The other day I wanted to do a long run early in the morning. It would mean leaving Emma, age ten, alone sleeping for about an hour. I told Ken, “This worries me. What if she gets sick?” His response, “What the hell? What if you get bombed by a missile on your run?”  (to his credit, the stuff with Libya had just started).

What if. What if.

Then I started worrying about getting bombed by a missile.

The mind is a funny thing. It latches onto your vulnerabilities, and holds on for dear life. Give it an inch and it takes a whole damn marathon. This is why the practice of being aware of your thoughts is so essential.

Here are five things to try to bust the worry out of your mind and life:

1. Have the crazy cat lady conversation in your head or out loud at the grocery store because it freaks out the guy at the deli. The big self (wise, peaceful) tells the small self (negative, judgmental, etc.) to knock it off. Example:

Small: Good luck running that marathon on April 18. You’ll be tired, slow. Your longest run has only been 15 miles. You will crash and burn.

Big: Go pick on someone else. I worked hard to BQ and I’m glad I can go and take it all in. As long as I don’t get swept up at the end and my hip doesn’t fall off on Heartbreak Hill I’m good. Nothing can rain on this SUAR parade. (there is  a parade right?). Now, deli guy, can I take a look at your salami? (That’s what she said)

2. Stop the thoughts. Being aware of your thoughts  means you can stop them dead in their tracks when they arise. Example:

I don’t feel good. Shit I’m getting sick. This means I can’t run this week. Illness will make me weak. What if I’m sick on marathon day? I’ve gone through all of this just to be sick on race day….STOP. I stop the thoughts and replace them with pleasantries or tell them to f*ck off.

3. Get distracted. If I’m hanging out focusing on a worry, I do something else. Example:

My knee hurts. Crap, I hope I’m not injured. This sucks. What if it hurts at mile two? How will I run 24 more miles? STOP wow, look at all those piles of dog shit in the backyard. I’m going to go get some fresh air and pick them up.


4. Tell someone. Many times worry swirls around in our heads and becomes very powerful. Sometimes what we’re worrying about is not even true or is very unlikely to happen. I like to take the burden off myself and share the worry. Helps every time to get perspective.

Me: I’m worried I might get hit by a missile.

Friend: Yes, I could see why you’d worry about this. You idiot.

5. Pray or Meditate. I’ve heard it said that prayer is when we talk to God, and meditation is when He talks to us. I’ve not overly religious, but I do believe in God and the power of something larger and greater. A force. And I do believe that if I trust in the bigger picture and stop trying to micromanage every moment, great things can indeed happen. Sometimes we just have to get out of our own way.


How do you keep worry at bay?

Off for a salami sandwich,


PS: Don’t forget my awesome 110% Play Harder calf sleeve giveaway. Ends Wednesday.


  1. I like that saying about prayer and meditation. I'm a big fat worrier too, it's awful sometimes.

  2. My money is on you for top ten. Well, top ten people running with a recent hip stress fracture.

    Can't wait for the report.

  3. I worry until it wears me out and I get annoyed. Remember that movie War Games with Matthew Broderick when Joshua kept beating himself at tic-tac-toe?? This is what I do mentally, then I realized I was doing it and quit. There just isn't a winner in my worried brain so I quit playing the game. :) Crazy....yes, I know.

  4. I have the deli counter or in my head conversations. Sometimes I tell my husband, but he is like yours.

    Bobby McFerrin has an awesome song ;-) I try to listen to it a lot.

    I can't wait to hear all about your Boston Adventure!

  5. I am an over-thinking, but a lot of times it comes down to being a WORRIER. Good advice her,e as always.


  6. Sage advice. I am queen of the worriers--my mom always tells me "don't borrow trouble." I think some personalities are just hard-wired for it, and we are the ones who need to work on it, every day.

    Let your big voice win out next week!

  7. My book club asked me if I was trying to qualify for the olympics! They seemed disappointed when I said that I was on the fast side of average.

    I am a huge worrier, both before and during races. Lately, I've been trying to smile more while I run and focus on pump-up songs or my breathing (two very different approaches). Both make the worry melt away, which makes me feel lighter and better every time.

  8. I'm a worrier as well. Somehow worrying helps me feel more prepared for whatever the future holds. I worry if I'm NOT worried.

    As for Boston and running races, running is as much a mental thing as it is physical. If you think about the ultra runners pushing themselves through hours, no days, of pain, suffering physical exhaustion, then we (you and me) can make it 26.2 miles with a little discomfort comparison to a lot of people, that's all it will be ... a little discomfort.
    We'll push through it because we want it SO BADLY. There is no question whether we will finish. The wind can blow, the temperatures can plummet or soar, we'll cross that darned finish line one way or another. So not worries... just enjoy and be glad we made it to the start.

  9. I deal with worry by blowing things out of proportion ON PURPOSE. For example, when I am hiking at dawn, I start thinking I am being stalked by a mountain lion. This makes me nervous. So I imagine an epic battle between me and the mountain lion culminating in having a new kitty cat pet. Walking down a dark alley? Action movie fight scene. Alone outside in the dark? Alien abduction and traveling in the stars. It might sound crazy, but making things WORSE kind of snaps my brain into reality better than ignoring/trying to appease my worries.

    So Beth? You are TOTALLY going to win the marathon. Win it. You will start running, and it will feel like flying.

  10. I loved your profoundess on p. 126 of RW, but was most profound was lack of the word "fart" in your statement! he he! kidding!

    Your hubby's response cracks me up!

    I love these 5 tips. #5: I never thought about pray vs. meditation in that context (love this pic of you)

  11. I definitely worry about stuff, but most of it is meaningless silliness. But of course its always running thru your mind! lol

  12. I'm a big worrier - I think it's the Type A in me...trying to control everything and worrying about what I can't. Pointless really. Meditation has helped me a lot - definitely quiets the mind.

    Hope to see you run by in Boston - I'm going to try to get to see at least some of the race if work allows. Best of luck!!

  13. I was a big time worrier in my teen years, worrying for me led to an ulcer at 17. Now I just try to let go and not worry about things I cannot control. I don't have a real method to not worrying.. I pray, I run, whatever works at the time.

    Good luck in Boston!!

  14. Worry isn't preparation? Well, that explains all those nights I worry about what to make for dinner and we go hungry. Bet the hubby is glad you pointed this out to me. Now I better go soak some lentils or something (sigh).

  15. beer keeps my worries at bay. i kid (partially), i try to distract myself, meditate, all the usual remedies.

  16. I tell myself that "the anticipation is worse than the event." I used to get myself so worked about things that I was a nervous wreck, couldn't sleep and my stomach would be in knots for days. For what? Something that's going to be over in a matter or minutes or hours (especially labor). It'll be over before I know it and I should just enjoy it while I can (except for labor).

  17. OK Lady....worrying is such a waste of time. All kinds of sh*t can happen. What happens if something you weren't worrying about happens? I mean really. Stop wasting your time with this....I'm sorry I thought I was talking to my wife.

    But seriously worrying is an energy waster. All that time worrying could be spent in the kitchen whipping up delicious homemade cookies or cruising the internet for REALLY REALLY good porn. Stop worrying.

    Life it too short to worry.

  18. Is Boston REALLY next week? Go figure.
    I am a VERY big worry wart - worry, worry, worry.
    In terms of preparing for a race, ahem, 'event', I just figure it is just one small thing (an important small thing!) in the grand picture of life where lots of more serious things are happening. Maybe it's a little calmness and a wee bit of wisdom that comes with age - just do your best in the preparation and execution and let it fall into place, whatever may. Life happens so live it and enjoy the ride!

  19. I am a big worrier, too. I think if I worry about the 'worse case scenario' it won't really happen lol. You will do GREAT in Boston!!

  20. I get that you can create a wonderful fantasy about something that you are worried about (I was the master at it) but I don't believe for a second that you can control your thoughts and NOT worry. It brings me back to when I had insomnia as a child and I would shyly creep downstairs and tell my parents that I couldn't sleep. "Try harder" they would say. Oh yeah I hadn't thought of that, thanks Mom and Dad. My sisters advice was just as funny and just as useless, "Think of nothing" There really was no advice that was going to help me. I read a book a while back that helped me deal with what I considered to be constant crazy "worry/negative thinking" It's called "Loving what is" It is a simple concept but too long to explain in a comment post. I decided to include the title because I found this book on someones blog one day and It truly changed my life. Maybe I can help someone like they have helped me.

  21. I tell my mom then she worries FOR me.

  22. Big worrier here. A friend of mine pointed out that it's because I'm trying to control EVERYTHING. I come up with a lot of "what-ifs" that just build and build. Anyway, I'm so looking forward to seeing you win The Boston! Gotta love non-runners, they are funny.

  23. my friends give me the "you idiot" talk. a lot. i'm a huge worrier too. what i do is make lists. of what i can do in anything in life. probs a bit ocd but there's nothing like physically writing out the steps to remember things (if it's a work worry that i forgot something) or to write out the worry itself. they look silly on paper no matter how real they look in my head.

    and yes they do have a parade. it's patriots day silly! but you can think of it as the suar parade if you so choose

  24. I've heard that worry it just meditating on something negative. Ergo, if you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. I oughta be a pro...

  25. I get strange looks from my 3 year old and my boyfriend when I read this blog as I laugh out loud! Also, thank you for my new worry...getting hit by a missle! AGH!

  26. Im a worry wart, so my worrying is constant. but from one worry wart to another, think about how far you've came and remember with every step you take, your one step closer to the finish. your going to be amazing!

  27. Thank you for your blog. I love reading it. It always gives me a much needed laugh!

  28. This post was right on time: I tweaked my back last week and haven't been able to run in preparation for this Saturday's half. Thanks for putting things back in perspective for me!

  29. Good luck in Boston, I will be running as well! IT was nice reading your blog, I have a 15 month old toddler and as soon as I gave birth I became a constant worry (I have always worried but not on this level). I hope you are healed and ready to run in 7 days. Good luck once more!

  30. I worry all the time. Their are time I wish I had a switch to my brain so I could just turn it of for a while. Good Luck at BOSTON.

  31. Great advice! The longer I run, the more I find that my mental game is what makes or breaks my run. It doesn't matter if it's a quick up and back couple of miles, or a long run on the weekends. If there's something worming around in my head distracting me, the run sucks. I'm hoping to work more on my mental training and hope that makes me a better runner (along with putting in the miles, of course.)

  32. I pretend I don't worry. I distract.
    I pray each morning and that helps - but really, I have to just. let. go. Otherwise I'd be up til 2am every night. *poke*

    congrats on the speedy miles.
    I love non-runners too.

  33. Anon - I just heard an interview with the author of that book today (Byron Katie). I have read parts of it, really good stuff.

  34. Hi chica!
    love it...I soo need to get out my own way;-)

    Embrace the ride baby!!!

  35. Worry is my middle name. In fact now I'll start worrying about the half IM.. I'm so excited for you! I will be thinking of you during Boston!!!!!!

  36. I'm worried about my first marathon in Pittsburgh on May 15! So, this post comes at a critical time for me AND IT IS SO HELPFUL! Thank you!!!!!

    P.S. You mean you can't win Boston? ;)

  37. Your #4 is now my screen saver. Yep. I copied it and made it my screen saver. Way too funny not to!! Awesome.

    You cant win Boston? Crap.

  38. The only time I get REALLY worried is when D goes out on long bike rides (some drivers are dumb, some other cyclists in group rides are dumb. Ya just never know!), and when I have a big race coming up and I'm definitely going to get sick and/or injured. Day to day, D definitely wears the "worrier" hat and I just float along. ;)

  39. If I were that woman, I'd be worried about falling off that cliff she is so happily sitting on.

    Hope a big gust of wind doesn't blow you off of your meditative perch!

  40. I jsut re-read this. I needed this right now. After having a SHIT week (literally havent been able to run 5k since last saturday without a major GI episode EVERY time) I am freaking about my upcoming marathon. Got So Active Release done this morning, went and had a killer smoothie, spoke to a marathoner who works at my fav running store (where i picked up a bday pressie - a moving comfort run dress)who gave me some last minute training/prep advice and then talked to my bestie run al (who lives 3 hrs away) where she told me to put a stick in teh hampster wheel and just BREATHE.

    gonna work on a nice mantra every day til the 27th and enjoy. My inflamed S. I. join (or whatever it is) is there. I will live with it. And i will do my best. And work towards being OK with my efforts, since they are significant. Thanks for a nice reminder. Alsways good to have some reinforcement along the way.