10k, 13.1, comfort zone, running, training

running in the face of fear

Today I’m about halfway through the six week training for my first 10K at the end of the month. With the program I’m using, I run four times a week and cross-train three times a week: yoga on Saturdays and kettle bells the other two days. Rest days are built in, but they are optional and you can either rest or cross-train. I’ve become so enamored with the kettlebells that I usually opt to cross-train on those days, although this past Thursday was one of those days and after the stressful week I had had I decided to skip the morning workout and sleep in. That evening, though, I was so.over.the.week  I came home early and while I wanted to watch Pawn Stars and eat a gallon of ice cream, I instead watched Pawn Stars and used my kettlebells.

Endorphins always trump excessive calories. I mean, I don’t have to feel guilty about binging on reality television. (Ridiculous, maybe, but not guilty.)

While recently discussing my training and the fact that I feel physically prepared to run a 10K, I was asked if I also feel mentally prepared.

Ah. There it is. The $64,000 question.

See, while I have no problems at all imagining myself completing a half-marathon and running 13.1 miles, the idea of running a mere 6.2 causes a strange mental block. I second guess my endurance and strength and ability to finish. Which doesn’t even make any sense. 13 miles seems easy but 6 insurmountable and, frankly, pretty scary. I mean, what?!

Of course I am well aware this is a comfort zone thing. I’m comfortable running 5Ks and know I can complete one without trouble. Like so much else in life, it would be easy and preferable to stay in my comfort zone. To continue to run just 5Ks because there is no fear involved. A half-marathon is so completely and totally outside my realm of understanding it’s impossible to not think I can do it. Look at everything else I’ve accomplished over the past two years, what’s thirteen miles in the grand scheme of 130 pounds? Easy peasy.

But 6.2 miles? 6.2 miles are possible. They are realistic and achievable. A year ago, when I first started running, I wouldn’t have thought so but look at where I am now. Completing this 10K just opens a whole new set of doors. This isn’t about a fear of failure but a fear of success: as long as I stay at my comfort level I never have to continue to step up and challenge myself. I don’t have to put it all on the line and find out what I’m really made of.

It’s easy to give into the fear and let it paralyze you. It’s safe to shy away from the great unknown, be it running a 10K or even hitting goal weight. It happens everyday in all aspects of our lives. We continue to make the same choices, walk the same path, because we know what’s coming. We are prepared and things are predictable  And if things are predictable there is no need to worry our pretty little heads about what’s at stake.

Because when it comes to health and happiness, love and life, everything is at stake.

There will always be risks. There will always be missteps, mistakes, and obstacles. There will always be bad decisions and poor choices. Some you’ll win, some you’ll lose, and some you’ll really lose. But that’s how we learn. That’s how we face new challenges. How we better ourselves and, hopefully, better the people around us.

It’s how we find the courage to dig deep and grab our inner lions by the mane and roar the fuck out of this world.

It’s a scary, scary world out there. This I know. I spent years eating that fear. Literally. Trapped inside a 311 pound body, I put on the brave face, walked with the false bravado of a sassy fat girl, terrified that someone would find out that in reality I was cowering and trembling inside. It’s been a long, very long, process to silence the cowering girl in the corner. It’s an ongoing process, too, that requires patience both  from myself and the people around me. I’m not sure it will ever be over, but maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t want to get comfortable or complacent. And the only thing that will keep that motivation going is my internal refusal to settle down in my comfort zone and to constantly challenge myself to new heights.

The other week I told you that you needed to be your own hero. Well, you’ll never know how high you can fly until you take a running leap off the building. Oh, sure, you may crash and burn but then you just stand up, brush off your cape, and try again.

The caterpillar feels safe in its cocoon, sheltered from the outside. In there, it doesn’t have to worry about how much life will change. But just imagine how much beauty would be missing from the world if it decided to stay there instead of taking the chance to break free and transform into the butterfly.

Anyone else have this experience where the bigger goal seems much more achievable than the smaller one? How do you handle the fear?

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

4 thoughts on “running in the face of fear”

  1. My father has done 5ks, 10ks, halfs and a full. He has told me that the 10K is hardest on him because he expects he should be able to run it like a 5k, whereas with a half or higher he gives himself the mental permission to walk and do intervals.

    Perhaps it is scary because you are aware of your ability to actually RUN the thing as opposed to a half marathon “finish” mentality?


  2. I love this post. I run for exercise, and I have done some 5K events, but not since coming back form a knee injury… Even though I regularly run about 4 miles at a time, I'm terrified of signing up for a 5K. I have been avoiding them, telling myself, it's too expensive, I don't need a race, where will I park, etc… This post makes me see that I really should suck it up and sign up for something. Thank you.


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