For a long time now... I've been aware of a disease that I have. I'm pretty sure it was passed down from my mom, because as a kid, I remember her suffering from the same symptoms that I am dealing with now. It's definitely not rare (I believe my co-hort here also suffers from bouts of the disease from time to time, as well), but it can be paralyzing... and it often times appears to other people like laziness or apathy. But, it's neither of those things...
My name is Amy and I suffer from Chronic Procrastination.
I first noticed the symptoms when I was in college... I got to the point where I'd have a 6 page paper due at 9am and I'd wake up at 6:30am to write the paper before class. I would have plenty of time to squeeze the paper in days before that, but would I? Nah. I just didn't feel like it.
And today, I'm feeling it in my running. I have been procrastinating my long runs like you wouldn't believe. Putting them off for the dumbest of reasons (or no reason at all) and this weekend... I started to really think about why I was procrastinating. I mean, call me a sadist, but I actually love long runs. I love the routine of carbing up, I love getting up in the wee hours on a weekend morning... I love running while the sun is coming up.. getting in 16+ miles before most people have rolled out of bed. It's one of the reasons that I love training for marathons. I love the long runs. But, this training period.... I'm not loving it so much.
When I was in college, I finally broke down one day and bought a book on procrastination. And this weekend... as I finished up 8 miles of my scheduled 18 miler and seriously contemplated getting in my car and driving off... I randomly thought of that book...
Everyone procrastinates to some extent, right? I mean... there are always going to be things that you don't want to do and so you put it off. And I always thought that's what procrastination was all about... just putting things you don't want to do off, until the last minute... But, the book, delved into the psychological aspects of procrastination and that's what I thought about as I ran the rest of my 10 miles...
So, basically... the book says that one of the main reasons people procrastinate is because of a fear of failure. You procrastinate because you are afraid of putting all the work in and then failing miserably. When you procrastinate, it's kind of like you are setting up a built-in excuse. So... when I was college and I got a B on the paper I whipped up in an hour before class, I could always say... "well, I banged it out in an hour... if I'd had more time, I'd surely gotten an A." Whereas if I had worked on the paper for weeks and gotten a B, it be because I wasn't smart enough or whatever. Procrastination keeps you from feeling like a failure. It's kind of like an ego-soaked safety blanket. You didn't fail because you aren't good enough.... nooooo, you failed because you didn't put the time in.
Makes sense, right??
So, I realized as I was running Saturday morning... that I am debilitating-ly afraid of effing up another marathon. It makes total sense! My last two marathons have been failures... in Memphis it was the gu/puking debacle that I cited as my demise and in Eugene I blamed my ipod malfunction and my IT band. But deep down... I'm afraid that the real culprit is a lack of mental strength to finish a marathon on my own. And so, by putting off my long runs... I'm building myself an excuse for Chickamauga, already!
And it's true. I am afraid. Really afraid. What if I train perfectly? What if I follow a training plan exactly, do everything right up until the marathon and then in the race... hit the the wall at mile 17/18 and fail to accomplish a goal AGAIN?? How many times can I do that to myself, ya know?
After the Memphis marathon I was upset... it took me a good week to get over the disappointment, but I forged on and marked my calendar for Eugene. I trained really well for Eugene.... I got in 2 20+mile runs and I hit the wall again in that race. After Eugene... it took me a lot longer to get over the disappointment. I had set a specific goal for that marathon, and not only did I miss my goal... I ran my slowest marathon, yet! I was (am still) heartbroken. But, again... I dusted myself off and signed up for the Chickamauga.
My body can do it. I know it can. My body is properly trained, properly hydrated... but my head... my head is getting in the way. Even if I get to Chickamauga and hit the wall... I know I can finish... I always do and I know I'll just sign up for another marathon... but, how much disappointment can I take before the marathons scare me off for good?
I need to train my brain. I've seen some books on the subject, so maybe I'll pick one of those up... But, I really need to shake this fear I have of failing... because at some point... the fear is going to become the actual wall in the marathon.
At least I got 18 on Saturday. And maybe by admitting my fear of failure that will free me a little... Let's hope so.