Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Facing the Fear

During my last training cycle, I was very open and upfront about my training. At the beginning of the week I would post my planned workouts, and then share a bit about how the workouts were going. My blog during those months was what I intended it to be, a training journal.

Here I am in week 2 for the Chicago marathon and I have intentionally been keeping my workouts and goals rather quiet. Its not that I don't want to share, or that I am afraid that someone is going to pilot my training schedule and there will be a chicagorunnergirl doppelganger out there...its because I'm being a fearful dweeb. Yes that is right, I am a dweeb.

Goals are what drive me to move forward in life and try new things. I enjoy conquering my fears (well most of them) and overcoming a challenge coming out on the end a stronger me. But fear is also at times what holds me back, making me a terrified little girl that just wants to hide behind my Momma. I have always known that I am a chicken, and moments like last falls Chicago marathon are burned into my memory reminding me of this on a constant basis. While I have gained quite a bit of self confidence this year in running, I do still have "the fear" when it relates to the marathon. Six marathons are behind me, with only 1 that actually enjoyed myself in. That race I ran as a bandit back in 2004, I know total faux pas, clocking a 3:28 and felt like I could have kept going. It was an amazing experience and I'll save the story for another day. But the other 5 were a losing battle against myself.

So here I am, week 2 day 2 and I still can't decide on my training schedule. I develop each one of my training programs after researching the best workouts for my goal distance, studying pace charts, reading countless articles and studies, and comparing past schedules. It is a labor of love. This year has been a good one for me where I think that I have finally figured out the workouts that my body needs to be able to achieve my goals. Three races into the year with 40 second 8k PR and a 4 minute 8 second 10 mile PR are fairly decent stats and something to be proud of. But even when I think I have figured out a successful system for my body I am still in fear that this may not transfer over for my fall marathon. Truthfully my problem is that I think too analytically about everything.

The only way to get past my dopey fears is to acknowledge them and DEAL with them.

I fear that:
  • My sub 3:10 goal is too great of an achievement for me right now.
  • I am fragile and will break at the least unexpected moment and my dreams will be crushed.
  • People will judge my training and say "too many miles".
  • All sanity will be lost in my mind and I will once again become a maniac that prevents myself from great things.
  • After months of putting the weight lost during marathon training of last year back on, it will yet again fall off and people will say hurtful comments regarding my smaller then usual frame.
  • I will become pregnant and want to run the marathon anyways. Really this wouldn't be a terrible thing, it just wouldn't be what I planned and would call for a rearrangement of my schedule.
  • My training experiences aren't going to provide enough knowledge for further progression.
  • I am getting older. My mother pointed this out to me the other day when a runner told her I am in my "peak years". While I don't believe this because of all of the runners who break past this stereotype, what if I do fall into this category?
  • My commitment to my training will get in the way will all of my other priorities.
  • The marathon isn't my race.
I am a full disclosure kind of gal, so putting my fears into ink as public information may not be of interest to the readers that make a stop here, but for me this is important. I learned last year that pretending like my running fears do not exist and that I am frolicking through a daisy laden field everyday only prevents me from growth. I may fail, I may fall flat on my face and never want to run another marathon again. But knowing that I am human and tried to overcome all of my fears for this race is better then not trying at all and always wondering "what if...", and I don't want to be that person.

So I'm going to give this training a go and it may or may not work, but at least I'm looking all these fears in the face and preventing them from holding me back any further.


  1. First, I think it was really brave for you to post what your fears are. Remember though, at the end of the day, it's YOUR race, no one else's. I don't have great marathon advice as I am just training for my first one but I think you can do it! I think finding a suitable schedule is key. Don't go over the miles. Don't let it control your life, let it be a part of your life.

  2. you've had so many insightful posts over the past few months, so it's obvious that you are really growing this year in your mental running fortitude just as much as any physical gains. we all have that list of self-doubts, but it's that mental strength you've been building that will get you through it. eye on the prize, while enjoying the experience along the way.

  3. Fear is what makes us grow. At least for me. When I finally decided to push the fear aside and stand up to it and move forward, I am never disappointed. You are a rockstar...don't get yourself down!

  4. I WAY over analyze everything about running. I love it and sometimes, I'm consumed by it. I say go with the flow this summer/fall. Enjoy your freedom to train. When you get pregnant and have a baby, your focus will likely change, so NOW, enjoy the moment and the training.

    I would also say, stop worrying about what others say and think. That is wasted energy. I hope you find that acknowledging the fear is healing and freeing. You are so talented! Keep your eye on the goal. Good Luck!

  5. Dont be afraid, I know you're starting to think about things but that can hold you back. I don't believe that you're in your peak years. In fact, I think it doesn't have to exist if you don't let it.

    Just keep on goin!

  6. "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." ~ Roosevelt

    You'll do awesome.

  7. I love trishas comment about "fear is what makes us grow". So true

  8. I love your attitude. I think it will help you through this training. Just enjoy it. I think that will be my primary focus. I have a goal in mind, 3:30, but I want to make sure my runs are all enjoyable in one way or another. I'm sure they won't all be fun but I want to run joyfully. :) I think I took my training too seriously last time and I was rigid. I kind of turned into a stick in the mud. I don't want to lose sight of my friends and having fun this time around.

    I am just starting training this week. My first run was yesterday. I am so excited! Good luck!! I'll be right here for moral support if you need it!

  9. Such a brave post and I totally get it!! Sometimes its more special to keep something (a goal) close to you. The "what if's" can be scary.

    I'm excited to follow you regardless of how much you share or dont!! :)

  10. Way to get those fears out there - especially the ones about other people's comments. Because bloggers can be mean in their comments, when the truth is, everyone is a different runner - you CAN run more miles and lose weight and stay HEALTHY, but compared to some people, what you do would be ridiculous (people like me who can barely manage 30 miles per week). Anyway, don't worry about what all of us think. We have confidence that you will do what is best for you, and that may change from week to week, and being flexible is what is going to prepare you for the best race out there.

    Can't wait to hear about the awesome bandit marathon. :)

  11. I agree pretty much with Happy Feet. You are really brave for putting this post out there. Of any runner blog who I read out there, you seem to be really hard on yourself. I realize that we are all hard on ourselves, but you have an incredible amount of talent, and you work hard - I hope that you know you do that. Your race results speak for themselves.

    You say that you've only enjoyed 1 of 6 marathons that you've run before? I realize that marathons are hard work, but I thought it was an amazing experience, and I hope to do another one sometime. Maybe it wasn't totally fun because you didn't achieve your specific goals during the race?

    Not to play psychologist here, but you might want to examine why you run in the first place. For achievement? Because everyone tells you that you should? For the joy? There are a ton of reasons. Because if you don't enjoy something, you might want to find another hobby that you do enjoy. In high school I ran because I was good at it, and also because I liked it. Now I run more for joy than anything else. There are no external pressures forcing me to run at all now.

    Anyways, I bet you will do great at Chicago, and will beat your 3:10 goal. And if you don't, so be it - you gave it your best shot. That is all you can do in life. I would just try to enjoy running everytime you are out there, and the results will take care of themselves.

  12. i think this was a stellar post!! we have to address our fears so they don't just fester away and we have to at least try for big goals or we will never know!!

  13. Gah I love reading your blog.

    Reading your list felt very therapeutic for me, knowing that I am not the only person with anxieties and fears about life and running, although I do have some different fears (definitely not getting pregnant here.)

    There is no such thing as "too many miles", everyone has a different amount that feels right for their body. I met a world class runner when I was in Santa Fe and she told me that she does 110 per week and that's what works for HER body. Please know that anyone who judges you based on your mileage is a fool.

    And I also can't stand people who judge others on weight. Try to ignore those comments from people as well of course. You're too good to listen to that stuff.

  14. You are amazing! The first step is knowing exactly what your fears are. Now it's time to TACKLE them! You are so brave and so strong and I know you will hit your goals. Remember that if it doesn't happen this time around, there are always MORE RACES!!! Also do not let what other people say affect you. You are beautiful and your body is hot with or without the extra weight! Just listen to your body and give it everything it needs during your training.

    Keep on posting so all of your readers can continue motivating you! I love everything that you have to say!

  15. I love to read your posts. I believe that the only way to get over your fears is to recognize them and 'put them out there'... just as you have done. The little I know you from reading your posts you seem to be such an amazing woman with so much passion and talent and dedication. You have NOTHING to be fearful of. Good luck

  16. You are amazing and I love reading your posts.

    It's easier said than done to say don't waste your energy on things you cannot control. People will always be hurtful. Ive found even in my close circle of friends that jealousy can happen and that people in general do not want to see others happier than they are- until they are truly happy with themselves. You should "let go" all of your negative feelings and stuff you cannot control and live the life that makes you (and your husband) happy.

    Girl, you aren't at your peak in your running. Look up the winner of the Myrtle beach marathon from february this year. A 39 year old woman won it outright with a time around 2:40. :)

    For me, the journey has always been more important than the end result. I let races be the celebration of my hard work training. There's too many variables on race day that might get in the way of my goal- like weather- so I try not to stress too much about that one particular day.

    You are so brave to list your fears and I hope that by doing so it is helpful in overcoming them. This community of bloggers is unbelievably supportive and I wish you the best with this current journey.

  17. So your afraid - being afraid is part of the fun, if you don't try then what's the point. I read what you are afraid of and really I think it boils down to being judged - by yourself and others! Do the mileage that is right for YOU, who cares what other people say, they have other things going on in their lives, if you get preggors - change your goal for this one and..... I have a girlfriend who is hmmmmmhmmm 39 and did a PR for a marathon of 2:54 and she has 2 kids a job a husband and trains for IMs - don't believe you are getting old. You can do whatever you set your mind too, and if the stars don't align this time or the next, they will when the time is right. Don't let your fears get in the way of your dreams! CRUSH your DREAMS! And last but certainly not least - what would you tell someone else thinking the same thing as you?

  18. this is an awesome and honest post! Definitely the first step to overcoming your fears is facing them, right?

  19. Great post. I relate to this for sure - I never want to articulate my goals and fears for fear they will happen! Regardless, you are such a talented runner and have MANY amazing races ahead of you! Excited to read about all of it :).

  20. I can relate to so much of what you say here Britt. You have such a great gift for reflection and getting at the heart of the matter with yourself! :) Love this about you!

  21. Hey! I'm a new reader, and I have to say I love the honesty of your post. I share many of the same fears. I just recently posted a goal on my blog, and announced it to the world and I didn't meet it. I was really disappointed, but it only made me a stronger person and runner. And it made me want that next goal so much more! You are an amazing runner, just keep pushing and you WILL meet those goals!

  22. I forgot to tell you that I loved this post. It's not easy to put your fears out there. But it is most definitely the first step in overcoming them. See you at the finish at 3:09.