Fear. Talk about a four letter word. I spent much of my life being afraid, of all kinds of things. I was afraid of failure, afraid of success, afraid of getting fat, afraid of staying fat, afraid of debt, afraid of being alone, afraid of being with the right person, afraid of drowning, afraid of hard. Whew, how exhausting does all THAT sound?
A few years ago I heard a quote "feel the fear and do it anyway". I realized that being afraid of something was a very human response. Everyone is afraid of something. The problem comes when you let fear hold you back. When your fear keeps you from reaching your potential.
Feeling fear is healthy. Being paralyzed by fear is not. The most rewarding experiences in my life have come when I overcame my fear. I have also found that some of my fear subsides when I do as Deena Kastor says in the quote above, when I put in the work.
Our goal of completing an Ironman this August is a good example. I am afraid. I believe it is normal to be afraid. The best way to overcome that fear is to put in the work and be prepared. Then, there shouldn't be as much fear.
I have spent this past week really working to figure out what part of Ironman makes me feel afraid. There is some fear of not being ready. There is fear about the uncertainty of the conditions that day. There is fear that it will hurt, that I won't finish, that I won't be mentally tough enough.
I have been working through those fears and coming up with plans to put those fears to rest.
- Not being ready? That will not be a fear. I have plenty of time to GET ready. If I stick with the plan in front of me, I will be ready.
- Uncertainty about the conditions that day? If I train my body for the distance and train my mind to be ready to meet any thing that comes my way, there should be no fear. During our USAT coaches training, there was a portion on mental conditioning. They talked about not visualizing a perfect day or going through your game plan of a perfect day, but instead focusing on who you want to be that day - how you want to manage your mental attitude no matter what conditions arise.
- Fear that it will hurt? It will. time to stop being afraid of that and moving into acceptance!!
- Fear that I won't finish? Being afraid of that now will not help me actually finish that day. I know that I will be prepared and there may be things I can't control. Again, it goes back to thinking of who I want to be that day. How I want to mentally handle things. If I can focus on getting to the start line and being ready - chances of finishing are much higher!
The bottom line is this: If I put in the work, both physical and mental, there should be much less fear. What little fear is left should be an indication that I am about to have an explosion of personal growth. If you aren't afraid, then its not out of your comfort zone, meaning you aren't pushing yourself, meaning that you are staying the same. We should be more afraid of that than anything else.
The run in Ironman has been a big fear of mine. This Sunday, in an effort to minimize that fear, we are running another marathon. 26.2 becomes a little less scary every time you do it. I'll stomp my fear down a bit this Sunday, then again on June 5th and come August 29th, 26.2 will be just another thing.
What are you afraid of? What work do you need to do? Start it. Start it now.