Emotional Rescue

I come to you, so silent in the night
So stealthy, so animal quiet
I’ll be your saviour, steadfast and true
I’ll come to your emotional rescue
I’ll come to your emotional rescue

In under 10 days our hell may be over. The roll out of vaccinations and increased testing of Covid-19 may help us feel a little safer and secure but we have all been isolated from our friends and family, the people we truly love. The Harriers will again return to our club night runs. We will start with organising ourselves in small groups of 6 or 7. We could have groups of up to 12 but I think that is insensitive. Some runners will be happy and quite prepared to get out and run with friends in a group again but some may feel not so.

Some of our friends could feel an amount of anxiety. Hey, yeah, it’ll be really great to see my buddies again but am I safe? Will they be safe? Do they have signs of symptoms of Covid? Has everybody been vaccinated? Are they tested regularly?

Anxiety is a performance killer. It has destroyed many potential great athletes, business people, politicians, in fact anybody and everybody. Try not to let anxiety prevent you from coming to club runs or racing. I truly shudder when I type this as it’s such a massive obstacle with anyone who thinks too deeply or worries about things. I am a worrier. I get severely anxious and nervous. I’m not perfect or have the answers but I hope I can help. Here is a simple traffic light system to assess your feelings.

It comes down to how you feel and your thought process. If you can evaluate that, it could be a massive step in the right direction.

What is anxiety?
A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. A nervous disorder marked by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behaviour or panic attacks.

Whatever words you use, it can be crippling and prevent the most tuned athlete from performing at their best. After a year of not racing and competing, without being with friends and family we will all feel some sort of anxiety when we can return together. A certain amount of anxiety can be good and help to give the edge when competing or performing a certain training session. An excessive amount can be obstructive to performance.

What techniques can we use to overcome anxiety? Anxiety typically affects our breathing rate as it is a defence to fight or flight tendencies. When anxious, our breathing becomes shallow and oxygen is not transported around the body as it should be. Deep breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, can help regulate oxygenation around the body.

Try and practice this on a daily basis to build up your skills to be able to use this tool when needed. A similar technique that could be used is Ratio Breathing. This when the exhalations are longer than the inhalations. For instance breath in for 2 seconds, hold, breath out for 4 seconds , hold and repeat.

Other techniques can also be used such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation, PMR, where you tense and relax muscles in order. Podcasts are available to guide you in this process. I believe breathing is a good place to start.

Anxiety can start with thoughts but our thoughts can be can be controlled. Our first thought may be ‘I’m good enough’ but that comes with comparison and especially at the moment there can be no comparison to how you achieved last February/ March or to how our friends have been doing. It’s just a challenge to maintain our own fitness to level that we find acceptable and without races that’s difficult. So it’s vital, when we do return, to just concentrate on the social aspect. Enjoy the company of the friends that we all have missed. Chat and run and soon enough that edge, that pace, that competitiveness will return. And, it always helps to talk.

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