Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon: Anxiety and Running

It’s time for my bi-weekly training update for the Pittsburgh Marathon. I just finished my fifth week of training. There are 89 days until race day.

Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon, Week 5

It’s been a rough two weeks.

Back in October 2012 when I was trying to break the three mile threshold after my back worked again, I couldn’t shake my anxiety. When I started running again just months before, the running and the simple act of motion saved me from the thoughts in my head that never stop swirling. Living with a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder means that thoughts frequently swirl. Most of the time I find myself able to do things — physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, a mix of all of the above — to keep the anxiety at a livable level. October 2012 wasn’t one of those times, so I went back on meds.

After a sleepy adjustment period, I learned to run really long distances will on that particular prescription. With my anxiety in check, I and ran and parented and loved and moved and lost weight and wrote all the words and generally lived my life. Until a couple of months ago when I once again couldn’t turn off the thoughts. In addition to my normal worries, the thoughts were ungood. So I made some calls, went to some doctors, and ended up with a med change.

While I can breathe again and think clear thoughts, changing meds during marathon training is proving difficult. I’m having assorted side effects during the transition, including a myriad of gastrointestinal woes, a general weakness of muscles resulting in a big hit to my endurance, and the sleepiness that comes with changing your brains firing mechanism. I spent Saturday curled up on the floor with my dog instead of running miles on the road.


I'm not feeling well. Callie is cuddling me.

I tried to run long yesterday, and hit an intestinal wall of woe and a complete inability to take another step. I tried to run long today, and made it further with a better feeling of endurance and muscle capability, but still the intestinal complications. While I’m upset that my training isn’t going as planned, I’m reminded of the lessons I learned while training for my first half marathon. Being flexible is key. Know what else is key? Being in the mental place where the rest of my life doesn’t send me into a tailspin of panic is even more important.

And so, I’ve dropped down to Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 program to take things a little slower. I’m allowing last week to disappear into no man’s land; I mean, the Polar Vortex is also a little to blame. Yeah, yeah, excuses, excuses.

All the same, I am thrilled to be working with Verizon Wireless Midwest again as I amp up my training for the Pittsburgh Marathon. We’ve worked together to create a Vine account just for my running videos. You can follow along with tech tips, running dos and don’ts, smoothies, triumphs and not-quite-failures, and so on over at RunJennaRun. Verizon shared my first few videos, and they’ll be rounding up my progress each week. Today, during my not-quite-long-enough long run, I shared Hal Higdon’s biggest tip: Walking breaks are okay.

I’m in good spirits right now, so I’m hopeful my endurance will see a spike in the coming two weeks! See you then!



The Land of Nod, design for kids and people that used to be kids

5 Replies to “Training for the Pittsburgh Marathon: Anxiety and Running”

  1. I signed up to do the Pittsburgh half marathon just this week (before the price went up again, haha). It’s my first half and I am pretty nervous about it! Best of luck to you…you will do great, I am sure. :). This weather has been rough for sure…I have resorted to the indoor track at the Y, which is boring and hot as blazes.

    One step at a time! :)

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