The other week fear led me to consider quitting a race. I simply didn’t want to carry on. I felt no passion for the trail and after running mile-upon-mile behind two other women, I was still no closer to catching them. I was exhausted, disheartened and heavy-legged. I quickly became angry with myself for even considering to quit. I’d never quit a race before and didn’t want to start now. I knew that if I was to quit now it would lower my pain threshold and make it more likely that I would quit again in the future. So, I didn’t. I also didn’t win the race, but I had beaten the fear demons inside my head that wanted me to quit. I reached the finish line exhausted but happy. Running is not always about winning.
We run for many different reasons. Throughout my running career I have met a lot of interesting people, all with their own running philosophy. Some run to connect with nature, others run to overcome illness, while some run to escape everyday stresses. No one runs for no reason. I began running to feel alive and now I run for many more reasons, all of which continue to make me smile.
“Negative thoughts & questions cloud our thinking. ‘Will it be worth the effort?’ Yes, but you only get out what you put in”
Driven by hopes and ambition, we tie up our shoes and head out of the door. Yet we often allow negative thoughts and questions to cloud our thinking… ‘Will it be worth the effort?’ The answer is yes, but you only get out what you put in. Running is tough. Unlike cyclists, we can’t sit back while moving downhill! We have to put effort into every single step. Some days this doesn’t come easy – just look at the faces of some ultra marathons runners or obstacle racers, and you can imagine their pain. The objective is always to reach the finish line, no matter how you feel. And when you do you are rewarded by the knowledge that you did it all by yourself.
The experienced already know what they can get out of their sport, but even they may sometimes wonder why they put such demands on their body. I guess we all run with a bit of fear; be that blowing up mid-race, crumpling with exhaustion during exercise or, like me, quitting because you feel you’re not running fast enough. The trick, however, is to try and leave those fears behind.
“My mind takes me to a place far from civilization, where fear is a whisper in the wind”
When fearful thoughts enter my mind – like the day I considered quitting a race – I let my mind take me to a place far away from civilization, where fear is only a whisper in the wind. I think positive thoughts and they fly with me over technical ground and up the hills. They dance with me over the trails and I feel like I’m showering in the sun. I smile. Lots. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m smiling so broadly. I try not to think about any obstacles that might stand in my way. Even in the dark, I leave behind my fears. Instead of being scared, I enjoy feeling at one with the silence and the whisper of the trees, no matter how dark it may be.
I’m a runner. I’m a racer. There are no obstacles my brain can’t overcome. I have no need to fear anything – and neither should you.