Scary title isn’t it. Where am I going with this? Am I giving you a test at the end of reading this? Don’t stop reading because the answer is no. No test! Or maybe you just passed the test by still reading along.
I don’t know about you but taking a test is scary and inside my head just the thought of it creates anxiety. I even go so far as watching for signs that I ‘m gonna fail. Like last weekend when I could barely complete my long run which was 18 miles but I wanted it to be 20 miles. In my mind, I failed, I failed the test. When really I should have been saying, “Yippee you just went 18 miles!” And it even went further than that… I have been studying to take my National Exam for my Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and when I failed my run by 2 miles last weekend it also made me start to doubt my ability to pass the test. I know weird right! How do those two even go together? But somehow in my mind my self-doubt crept in and said “if you can’t even make it the distance in the run how are you going to make it through the exam and pass?” Nice, right!
So instead of letting my mind take over, I tried to take over. I went home and started studying even harder, about 6 hours on Sunday and then 3 hours a night for Monday and Tuesday. Then it was test day. I woke up in a great mood and each time doubt crept in I would just say to myself “You know what you are gonna know and it is enough. You have completed a marathon, you can do this” (not sure how this related but it worked). I kept myself calm and just decided it was going to be what it was going to be. As I sat in the exam, I just kept taking deep breaths and let my mind use the information I had crammed in to it to make the choices and guess what? They were the right choices (okay they were mostly right) and I passed. Yippee!! I never have to take that test again and now I’m one step closer to that LMHC, just have to wait until May now, but that’s it.
When the weather was somewhat nice today (in the high 40’s or low 50’s) I thought this run will be great. It was another long run, hoping to go 20 miles. But again I was tested! Why????? I don’t know but it was bad. The first 3 miles I just wanted to turn around and say forget this. But I didn’t. I kept going. I stopped for a little bit and stretched hoping my calf pain would go away. Pushing on and on and mentally saying to myself, just keep going (I kind of felt like Nemo, “Just keep swimming”). I got settled in finally and did pretty well for most of the run until around 15 when the wind gusts became harder and it started to rain and with that it cooled off. Really starting to think that forces are against me!
I just kept pushing and was able to complete 18 miles, still not the 20 but it’s done. I have some time before the marathon and hopefully this is just a phase. I’m really hoping that through all these tests I will have success, which I am sure I will. It may just be a completion of the race which in the end is really what I want, I just have some huge expectations each time I tackle something. I want to do my best. Maybe that is why taking and passing a test is so huge for me.
What would I tell a client who is having the same struggles as me? Well probably the same thing that I am finally telling myself. It’s 100% preparation and 1000% mental thoughts. I know that doesn’t add up. But if you prepare to the best of your ability and your mind takes over, it make it impossible to finish and reach your goal. Mental work is needed too. A mantra is great or something you can say to yourself when your doubt creeps in (because it will). I’m going with “trust your training”, “one foot in front of the other” and “you’ve done this before”! I think with all this and the time I have put in training, I will pass this test too.
Do you have a mantra? Have you been tested and made it through? Tell me about it, I would love to hear it.