This is day 9 of my 30 day writing challenge.
Yesterday, I was reading a blog post about what to do when your performance stagnates, and after a laundry list of ways to shake up your training, the coach/author said something like “unless it’s time to accept that you’ve peaked and there are no more gains to be made.” Gulp. This hit me surprisingly hard. What if that is me? How will I know? Don’t worry, I don’t actually think this is me, and have concluded either way that I’m still going strong and want to try to kick it hard, so I brushed off this dismissal and went about my merry way. Going after a specific goal can be a vulnerable thing, no matter how loose or specific your goal is. It requires you to acknowledgement it in some form, even if it’s only to yourself, and then proceed as if you can achieve it.
The post did, however, make me think of all my own secret running fears, the things that tend to crop up after a bad workout or race, or also possibly when you’re tired, hungry, or having a plain old bad day. Perhaps some of them are more justified than others, but here are some things that commonly rattle around in my head.
My Secret Running Fears (and what I do about them)
- I’ve already peaked. Okay, I kind of already said this in my intro. This one isn’t completely founded as I have not trained consistently for a long period of time. I’ve had two waves of running, this one being my second. The first one was about ten years ago, and included two full marathons. Life got in the way and I didn’t race at all from 2007 – 2010. In 2010 I started with some 10Ks and concluded with one ill-fated half marathon three weeks before my wedding in 2011. I didn’t race, or even run, much until January 2014. Life was stressful, I was burnt out, and then like the magic that it is, I rediscovered running. It took me until November 2015 to get back down to my previous PR (actually I out ran my 2007 half marathon PR), and here I am hoping to blow it out of the water.
- I’m too old. I know I’m not old, and age is a mindset. I mean, I feel awesome and like I’m in the best shape of my life. This I can flip to work well for me; I train like I feel (youngster), but not with the lackadaisical attitude of a youngster in that I know I don’t have all the time in the world (though I think I’ve still got plenty). Every once in a blue moon this one sneaks into my thoughts, but I can usually shut it down. Perspective. I am infinitely inspired by all you other 30- and 40-something ladies also out there kicking it hard. I feel like I have a long way to go, so go, I shall.
- At some point, for some reason, I will be unable to run. Perhaps this is the universal running fear, that we will get injured or encounter some other life altering event that will render us physically unable to continue running. I like to cope with this fleeting fear by coming up with a list of all the other things I could do just in case. Swimming (leagues and races abound), biking, yoga, pilates, strength training, any number of other activities that my brain is failing to recall right now. Fortunately I’m not injured, no nagging aches or pains, so for now I can file this one under “paranoia.”
- I don’t have what it takes. By “it takes,” I mean that I don’t have the capacity, either mental or physical, to hit my goals. I feel like this is different than a concern about peaking, because you can realize your peak isn’t as spectacular as you had hoped. Like #2 (age), the flip side of addressing this one is also ultimately motivation. I won’t know what I’m capable of unless I simply keep plugging, day after day, week after week. One foot in front of the other. Also, I do have the motivation and drive to keep trying, so that’s probably the deeper insight. “It” is just doing. Right?
- I fear my safety. Perhaps it’s good that I’m always careful about being aware of my surroundings, but as a woman I am leery of being out and about alone. I never run trails or secluded areas. I stick to familiar neighborhoods, well lit streets with a lot of traffic, etc. I almost always cross the street if I have to pass a lone pedestrian in the dark. If I listen to anything, I only stick one ear bud in and I keep the volume low. I always greet other runners in the event that I would need to be identified. I’m comfortably trusting other runners with my early morning hellos. Is this wrong?
- I usually fear the unknown emergency. You know the feeling. 20 seconds before the gun goes off and you can’t remember if your spouse’s emergency contact number is printed on the back of your bib, or you start to ponder the insanity of what you’re about to attempt, mostly in the longer races, and think about all the things that could go wrong between the start and finish. Minus the one lone race in which I desperately needed a bathroom, I have been good to go, and I also find it comforting to be with so many other runners and volunteers. Someone will notice if I hit the pavement and someone will be ready to help. Hooray! I suppose on some level this is also a twinge of a though when I head out by myself on a normal training run, but there are people that know where I am.
How about you, what do you worry about? Are you fears also mostly unfounded?
More calmly yours,