alsoran runners Wobblies

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I think the most important thing to know about a “Wobbly” is that it happens, and it’s OK to have one!  In most cases guys won’t realise they’re having one, on the other hand, women will probably recognise it immediately.  I’ll clarify later!

So what is a “wobbly” exactly?  A wobbly is when things “fall apart” during a run and you lose control of the situation.  Knowing that you have lost control is upsetting and can make everything you need to do seem quite overwhelming and unrealistic.  All the hard work and months of training seem to go out of the window in a flash.  You feel like you are going into freefall and there’s nothing to grab on to.  In many cases you may have difficulty dealing with your emotions.

Sound familiar?

Let me reassure you, what you are experiencing is not new, or unique to you.  Wobblies happen, much like nausea or cramp or any other ailment which presents itself to you during your run. 

So how to deal with the wobbly?

You need to recognise it for what it is and OWN IT!  Don’t fight it, accept it and deal with your emotions.  Here’s what to do.
  • It’s probably best to be on your own so “lose” your running partners
  • Keep moving forward (even if you are only able to walk)
  • It’s OK to cry (in fact crying is probably the best thing you can do!
  • Have something you can use as a reality check – You need something 'real' to hold on to. Something you can use to gauge the truth between what you’re feeling at that very moment (which seems unbelievable) and something that you know is real (which is believable).  Let me explain.   When I first ran Comrades I carried both my daughters little "birth bands" (the 'bracelets the hospital put around their wrists when they were born).  I had a wobbly just after seeing the handicapped children at the bottom of Inchanga (up run).  I sobbed along feeling like I was losing it and totally out of control, until I reached into my running goody bag and held onto the birth bands of my girls.  This was my reality check telling me I was still in touch and that what I was experiencing was real and it was ok.  Hey it worked for me and I freshened up and carried on running, feeling like I had things under control again.
  • Give it a few minutes then blow your nose, wipe your face, tuck away your “reality check” into your goody bag and start running again – slowly.
You’ll be amazed how much better you feel after a good cry – ask any girl! 

OK I know this is easier said than done for guys!  I’m sure most of you will draw the line at crying.  I suggest you then leave out the crying bit, but keep moving forward (even if walking) and just keep telling yourself that it is OK, what’s happening is part of running Comrades and give yourself those few minutes just to recompose yourself and catch your breathe.  Look at it as a time-out without actually leaving the race!

Hang in there!


Key words: Wobbly
Internal link:  Up Run, goody bag,

External links: Official Comrades Marathon website



Copyright Nikki Campbell 2010
alsoran@webafrica.org.za