I wanted to share a few thoughts today on the subject of “fear.” I think there’s an impression that athletes don’t get afraid. I can tell you that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Maybe we get good at hiding it and looking “focused”, but when you’re out pushing some serious physical and mental boundaries, believe me, fear is very much part of the equation.
In less than two weeks I’m tackling my first trail running ultra. Solo. It’s 40 miles; off road – almost all narrow singletrack; about 4,000 feet of climbing… Should be interesting to say the least. And I can tell you that, yes, I’m afraid. I’m excited and so ready for this challenge, but… of course I’m afraid. I’d be stupid if I wasn’t. The furthest I’ve trail run at one time before this is 20 miles back in June. I know I can bang out 30. And I’m confident that I’ll be able to push myself physically and mentally through to 40 miles, but… I’m definitely afraid of that space in between. How much is it going to hurt? Will my brain be able to convince my body to keep going? It’s November in upstate New York… will the weather be a factor (i.e. – cold temps + rain or snow = hypothermia)? There are a lot of unknowns; things my brain hasn’t quite sorted out just yet.
So, here’s the thing. You might be afraid of getting off the couch and losing the weight – even though every fiber of your being is telling you that you need to. You might be scared of tackling a 5k or 10k run. You might be scared of cutting back on food and alcohol that you love… a little too much.
Don’t let fear hold you back from your dreams or from what you know you need to do. If you want the same old same old? Than let fear run its course. If you want something new or different or better? Sorry, bud, fear is going to be part of the equation. Nothing challenging was ever accomplished without fear as a companion. Here’s the secret; successful individuals aren’t unafraid. They’ve just learned that fear is a given and they’ve moved forward anyway.
After all, fear is just the presence of things your brain hasn’t quite figured out just yet. Don’t worry, get going/moving/dreaming/doing, your brain will come around!