Don't blink. Just run.

Where training meets fandom. And everything in between.

Social anxiety and running

on August 28, 2013

40 min walk


I like to try and do some thinking while I’m running, but most of the time I’m concentrating on not dying. Generally when I run, some, if not all, of my route takes me onto the local bike path. It got me to thinking about how anxious I get around other people.

I read all sorts of things about running all the time, constantly trying to improve my training or to prevent re-injuring myself. I’ve read a lot of stuff about proper posture and breathing and how it’s best to hold your head up with your gaze looking ahead. I have a hard time with this because I have trouble making eye contact with people I don’t know. I look down when a car is approaching me. I look down until the last minute if a biker/runner/dog walker is approaching and then I’ll look up and attempt a “hi” so as not to be rude.

The first 5K race I did by myself (which was technically my second race, first running) was terrifying. I’m not gonna lie when I say that I got slightly teary-eyed after I left Tara on the sidewalk to go line up for the start. I was scared being by myself surrounded by strangers. Not only that, strangers that were WAY better runners than I was. I felt like I didn’t fit in. I didn’t know what I was doing, how it would go, how to move with the crowd as we started out.

As time has gone on, and I’ve now done many more races, it’s gotten a little more comfortable but I still have anxiety before every race. It was really tough doing two obstacles races (mostly) by myself. The first one I did, I ended up chatting with two women before the race and they were nice enough to let me run with them and they helped me at a couple of obstacles.

The second one I was completely solo. It was a nice team atmosphere, but I didn’t have anyone I knew to help me. There were 2 walls at that race that were VERY difficult to climb because there was nowhere to put your feet (and my upper body strength is lacking). On the first wall, a couple of girls cheered me on and helped me with my feet. The second wall was higher, but I couldn’t do it and no one helped me this time. I skipped the obstacle and teared up a little bit. Mostly out of anger/frustration (yes, I cry when I’m mad. I know it’s stupid). These walls were early on in the race so I just skipped it, sucked it up and kept on going because I was too anxious to ask anyone to actually help me.

I feel like the social aspect of my racing has gotten better. I’m also hoping it will continue to do so. Running has not only given me back a life in terms of my health, but is making me branch outside my comfort zone mentally. It’s scary, but hopeful.


8 responses to “Social anxiety and running

  1. bitsyandbug says:

    I didn’t just get teary-eyed… Tears were streaming down my face when you left to line up! It’s a good thing I had the camera to hide behind.

  2. I think racing will definitely help you! It’s awesome because runners are such a community and you can really feel a part of it. And by the way…I cry when I’m mad too! It makes me even madder lol!

  3. You might want to check out a running group – getting into a group of runners of all different abilities, might help you out. And it is always good to remember that everyone is way more concerned about themselves than what you are doing!! 🙂

    • beach3519 says:

      I have looked into running groups. Unfortunately, I live in RI and there aren’t a whole lot of them that work with my schedule. Definitely something I keep looking into though! That will be terrifying to do, but I’m working up to it!

  4. I would be too embarrassed to ask a stranger to help me with an obstacle and then I know I’d get frustrated. What a hard situation.

  5. fattymustrun says:

    I used to get really anxious too. I have got better. We all deal with the pressures of running and racing differently. How about trying out this unique virtual 5K run. It’s FREE, it’s friendly, you can do it wherever, and whenever (but on Sunday 29th) and with whomever you like….did I mention we actively encourage you to do this if you have a BMI of 25+ and we looooovvveee slow runners!!! So please share this event on your facebook pages and lets get 1 million overweight runners…well running!!!

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