Dear Dumb Runner,
I am in the final month before my first marathon and I'm starting to freak out. One more 20-miler, then a taper. All I think about is this race. Am I being a total marathon sissy?—Charlie, Tucson, Arizona
p.s. I have some half-marathons under my belt—seven in the last three years.
Your first ever marathon is a month away? You SHOULD be freaking out! As I always tell people with marathons coming up: If you weren't nervous right now, I'd be nervous. Running a marathon is a big deal. If you aren't anxious in the days and weeks leading up to it, that means you're either cocky or clueless. Neither of which is good.
So, nervous energy right now is actually a positive thing. (Really.) The trick is to control it before it controls you.
First, acknowledge your anxiety. Don't avert your eyes. Don't cross the street to avoid it. Don't pretend it's not there. Walk right up and give it a big, sloppy kiss on the mouth.
Second, remind yourself that this anxiety is 100% normal. Which it is.
Third, review your training. Think of all the long runs you've done, the tempo runs, whatever it is you've been doing to prepare. Think too of all those half-marathons you've run. (It sounds like you have a tremendous base.) For that matter, think of anything tough you've ever had to endure, athletically or otherwise. All of it has made you stronger. All of it has been leading up to this.
In short: This nervousness you're feeling? That's your psyche realizing, with a month to go, Shit! This is really happening! Let's make sure the rest of Charlie knows this isn't a drill.
It's an uneasy feeling, but it's all good.
Don't sweat it, Charlie. You'll be just fine.