Just Do It….Until It’s Done

I went for a run this morning. A 18.5 mile run. At the 16 mile point, everything hurt. My legs, my arms, my achy breaky heart. And let’s not even mention the chafing issues, shall we? Thank the Lord for vaseline, that’s all I will say on the matter. My tongue was as dry as the Sahara, my sweat was sweating. I just wanted to lie down and rest. For a very, very long time.

Why was I putting myself though this self inflicted torture, I hear you cry. Well I’m tackling the Causeway Coast Marathon in just under four weeks and today was my penultimate long run. I will run 20-21 miles in two weeks time and that should have me ready for the big day; or as ready as I’ll ever be. So today was a necessary evil if I’m to have any chance of completing the Causeway Coast.

I was meant to run the 18.5 miler yesterday but heavy rain put paid to that plan. So instead I sat and fretted about it, thinking up dozens of reasons why the run was too much for me and I should forget about the whole crazy marathon plan. I’m too slow, too old, too busy, too tired. Round and round my head like a rickety old runaway train. I went to bed full of doubt and dread as to what lay ahead.

But I did it. I laced up my running shoes, gritted my teeth and went out and ran it. Yes, it hurt. Yes, my thighs feel as if I’ve been kicked by an angry rhinoceros; and yes I’ve run out of vaseline. It was wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty. I pulled a lot of strange faces over those last two miles and I’m sure I frightened a few, passing motorists. But as my Garmin chimed 18.5 miles I knew I had beaten my old foe, anxiety.

He will be back of course. Oh, you can be sure of that. But every time I go toe to toe with him and triumph he is weakened and his grip on me loosens. Anxiety is a demon that can run amok through our lives if we allow it to. It wants us to fail and keep us boxed in, convinced that we will never amount to anything. It steals our dreams and replaces them with nightmares.

Anxiety is a flat track bully. He likes getting things his own way and isn’t used to his victims fighting back. For that is what we are, victims. Yet victims have a voice, an inner strength. And victims become survivors when they fight back. It is horrible, it is scary, it is daunting but it is the only way to tackle anxiety. Head on and at full speed. Catch him unawares because we have the element of surprise on our side.

Let’s do the maths. Or math as you crazy North Americans insist upon calling it. I ran for three hours today, which was preceded by a day of worry. If I had ditched the run that would have been multiplied by many more days of self loathing. Instead I sucked it up and finished the run feeling elated, vindicated, alive. It was short term pain. But the long term gain more than made up for it.

Its just taking that first step. When you commit to the act of ‘doing’ then you invariably find that the ‘fear’ of doing is not what you anticipated; indeed the more you ‘do’ and edge towards being ‘done’, it evaporates like a morning mist in the face of the rising sun. And when you’re ‘done’ the wonder what the fuss was all about. Just do it….until it’s done. Nike hit the nail on the head with that one.

How do you deal with anxiety?

Are you ‘doing it’ today? What is holding you back?

61 thoughts on “Just Do It….Until It’s Done

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  1. I deal with my anxiety with music, and breathing exercises, and meds. It’s the full-on panic attacks I really hate. I have tranquilisers if things get too bad, so far I’ve only used them a couple of times.

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  2. What a great description of the suffering that is a long run! I get feelings of anxiety too, when the chaos becoming overwhelming and paralyzing. It’s often hard to take the first step toward order.

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  3. Congrats on finishing! I know that had to be difficult physically and mentally. You have no idea how badly I needed this article today. Fear is my worst enemy. It literally freezes me until I can’t move forward and I can’t move back. It’s a horrible feeling. But if you can run an extra 2.5 miles beyond what you thought you could do then I can try a little more today too. Thanks Stephen!!

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  4. But you know something, Running gives those of us who are doing or have done it forever positive health vibes. I feel that I can do anything since I’ve run 4 complete marathons while being over 30. btw, they were all about 10 minutes short of four hours.!

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  5. I’m very new to this running for “fun”, having only just finished C25K and finally secured my first 5k last week and I think I might be hooked.

    At the ragged edges I often imagine I’m in an interrogation room, with an interrogator who will do absolutely anything to undo me. Any weakness, any chink in my resolve will be exploited. All he ever does is ask questions. Innocuous at first, trivial distractions that can be brushed aside but slowly insidiously as I push on he will ramp up the questions until they can feel like body blows.

    If I lie, lack conviction or fail to answer a question I’ll fail. I’ve failed a lot, but I’ve won more and that’s the bit that’s got me hooked. Every time I’m down on the floor I see it as homework to ensure that I can answer (or avoid) the question on the next visit.

    For me running is rapidly becoming a cathartic experience, it forces me to honestly answer constantly changing personal questions, about who I am and what I want. If I’m not back in the interrogation room when I should be I start getting anxious, I’d rather be in the room answering the questions than on the sofa worrying about being back in the room.

    I hope one day I can sit in the room for 18+ miles, I can’t even imagine the questions you’ve answered and still continue to answer. Good luck on the last long training run and the day. It sounds like it’s going to be spectacular.

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  6. Fantastic story! Especially like the part, “JUST DO IT .”
    Many times when I am fighting the fear that is exactly the words I say to myself.
    Fears, anxieties and such do not rule my life as they used to. With God’s help I am able to “Just Do It.”
    Thanks for your inspiration

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      1. Yes! Fortunately, the older I get, and the more I force myself out of my happy little corner, the easier certain things become. It’s why I STRONGLY encourage my kids to try new things so they will expand their own comfort zones.

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  7. So good. Wish my husband would read it but he only reads the headlines. 😬 great job getting it done!!!!!! Buy some better chafing cream . There are many good brands.

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  8. Hear, hear – loved your post. I deal with anxiety more than I’d like (or care to admit). And I don’t deal with it well; it overwhelms me, among other things, try as I might to convince myself otherwise. Your conviction is infectious; I’ll give it my best shot and tackle it like a linebacker. 🙂

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  9. I.. um… didn’t read all the comments because I’m three days behind on my reader already (speaking of tackling daunting tasks).
    Lately I’ve noticed I give up because I know the work involved. I know I might feel some happiness, but the memory of ALL THE WORK outweighs thoughts of miniscule endorphins -and, in actuality, I end up being right.
    Maybe I need to work toward some things that DO have a big hormonal payback?

    . …”maths” is just wrong.

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