Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fear and Running

Yesterday I did something I haven't done since my last half marathon in July, I ran double digit mileage. There are lots of reasons why it's taken me 8 months to get my mileage back up:
  • I was focusing on trail running in the late summer,
  • I was focusing on speed in the fall,
  • I had major surgery over the winter,
  • I was sick for the last couple weeks.
But the main reason it's taken me this long to get my mileage back up is fear. This is nothing new, I experienced this same issue when I was training for my first half marathon last spring. However, I figured it was a one and done kind of thing and I'd gotten over it. As it turns out, that is incorrect.

I am now training for a marathon and I'll be honest, it's kind of freaking me out. The thought of me completing a marathon is a bit surreal. I'm not a natural runner, I don't have a runner's physique, I'm overweight, I'm 40. But to be honest, I felt very much the same way last spring and I ended up completing 3 half marathons over the spring/summer.

I am not sure where the fear comes from. I suspect part of it has to do with achieving a goal and knowing I must now aim higher. It's that "aim higher" piece that generates the fear. Eventually, I'll fail. And I have a very real fear of failure.

But what would it really mean if I were to fail to meet a goal? Is is finite? Would that mean the end of running for me? It's doubtful. Sure, I'd sit and feel sorry for myself for a bit. My inner-critic would have a field day and punish me for even thinking I could do it in the first place. But I'd eventually tell the critic to back off. I'd pick myself up, review what could have gone wrong, beat myself up a bit for not training enough, or fueling properly, or listening to my body (or whatever it is that caused me to fail).

I think there is such thing as a healthy dose of fear. It helps to keep me on track and take things seriously. But when there is too much fear, it can hinder your progress. Finding a balance is difficult for me. Distance running is very much a mental game and keeping the fear at a healthy level is going to be key for my success.

Do you experience fear about your goals? How do you address it and make sure it doesn't hold you back?

1 comment:

Amy Lawson said...

Oh man....

Vermont City Marathon -- Yay!
White Rock Marathon -- Yay!
Around the Lakes Marathon -- Yayish..
Baystate Marathon -- Fail
Vermont City Marathon -- Fail
Miles Standish Marathon -- Fail

...and I pulled through just fine! You can do it...