Run Clinic: When being on TV leaves you running scared
Ruth Field on the RTÉ programme Saturday Night Live with Miriam
In anticipation of feeling nervous, I had actually planned on running during my Dublin visit, but in a very un-grit-doctorly fashion had clean forgotten to pack my running shoes.
Not to be defeated by this inconvenient error, I left the lovely Dylan hotel almost as soon as I arrived (“grittily” resisting two chocolate fairy cakes screaming at me to be eaten) to walk into town and buy a pair. And what a treat awaited me in Grafton Street.
All that wonderful music and dancing and great shops and summer vibes. I got lost in the atmosphere, wondering around and soaking it all up, returning to the Dylan some three hours later.
It was still so hot, that I thought it prudent to take advantage of the hotel’s gym facilities rather than jog in the sun without a cap, suncream and so on, and run the risk of my face being firmly on the wrong side of rosy on the telly.
I had the little gym all to myself. Heaven. And it was baking hot with no air-con, creating sauna-esque conditions, which of course appealed to my gritty side: like training in altitude – I thought to myself – which translates into more bang for my running buck.
I left 45 minutes later, dripping with sweat and completely relaxed as if I’d had a full body massage (err, why didn’t you do that instead Ruth – it might have been nicer) until I realised I had about 20 minutes to shower and get ready. Not so relaxing.
Thank God for hair and make-up at RTÉ studios (I spent longer in hair and make-up there than I did on my wedding day).
Nervousness before a big event like a date or giving a presentation or appearing on live telly is, of course, completely natural. And it is a good thing.
It is your body’s way of facing fear and making sure you are alive to it. Keen, alert, on edge even, can all be an advantage when channelled into the performance, but this is often a very difficult balance to strike as nerves can get the better of us.
The key for me has always been to use running to get myself into a state when I am comfortable and confident enough to almost enjoy being nervous, which transforms it from a state to be avoided into a state to be embraced.
It is the stress hormone cortisol that is the enemy when it comes to any sort of “pre-match” nerves. And cortisol is responsible for some of the negative symptoms we associate with feeling nervous: rising heart-rate, dry mouth and the shakes.
Running, however, is the perfect antidote to all these symptoms: releasing mood-enhancing serotonin and endorphins, while simultaneously tiring out muscles and alleviating nervous tension, plus it literally burns cortisol away so you are left with your natural nervous state minus the stress symptoms that invariably accompany it.
For me this translates into a heightened awareness and pleasure derived from the whole experience; feeling simultaneously both focused and relaxed, intense yet calm, which is always a winning combination. This is how I felt on my way to the RTÉ studios.
All that being said, I still had a large glass of wine before I went on and it tasted even more delicious because of the run I’d done, as did all the food and wine consumed afterwards with the other delightful and amusing guests, Miriam and all the wonderful team behind the show. It was a magical night. Enhanced – I like to think – by that gritty sweaty run in the gym.
The Grit Doctor says:
Running is a medically recognised stress reducer, believed to be as powerful as some anti-anxiety medications. Use running to transform those nerves from enemy into ally.