Fat Girl on a Run

Running to raise $9,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

I can do this

Posted by fatgirlonarun on January 15, 2010

Every week, on the night before my long run, I freak out a little bit (or a lot). Sometimes I even cry.

It’s not about the running, really. I’m usually afraid that I can’t do the distance, but the fact is that it’s next to impossible to be truly unable to do the distance – I can always walk if the running is too difficult. The freaking out is about the social aspect. I’m afraid that one of the coaches will want to run with me, that I’ll be embarrassed at how slow I am, that I’ll have to make conversation. I’m afraid of what people will think of me.

So last weekend I did six miles. I’ve run six miles before, when I did the Marine Crops 10k with my father last October. I didn’t prepare well for that race and it felt really hard, so I’ve been feeling nervous about the distance ever since. I kept myself up the night before worrying about it. And then I went and did it and it was hard but it was great and I learned something really important.

Here’s what I learned: For me, the challenge of running is almost all emotional. It’s not that the physical challenge isn’t significant but that the emotional challenges are so huge that they overwhelm everything else. Every single time I run, I have to convince myself that I can make it (even when I’m just doing a couple of miles through my neighborhood – at the start of every run I think to myself: “No way! If I feel this tired after a block how can I possibly do three miles?”). Every time I run in a group, I have to convince myself that it’s ok that I’m the slowest person there (and I am, always) – and I have to gird my loins to speak up and tell folks that I’d prefer to run alone.

It is liberating, having learned this. Suddenly, running went from feeling like I challenge I didn’t know how to conquer to being something much more familiar. I’m used to reckoning with my emotions. I know how it feels to have to buck up and do something that seems impossibly scary. Having a name for what’s so hard about running makes it not quite so hard.

So I have another six mile run tomorrow. It’s on a different course, one with lots of hills that I’ve never run before and I feel pretty nervous. But instead of freaking out tonight I’m consciously giving myself affirmations: I can do this run. I did six miles last week and it felt really good. So the hills will be a challenge – big deal. I’m getting better at running and it’s probably time for a challenge. It will feel awesome when I finish and know that I accomplished something that’s hard for me. If someone ends up running with me, I can tell them that I’d rather run alone. And even if I do end up running with other people, it might not be that bad. I might like the company. I’ll just stick to my ratio (one minute of running, one minute of walking, one minute of running and so forth) and soldier through. Next week will be seven or eight miles, which will be the farthest I’ve ever gone and that will be an amazing accomplishment. I can do this.

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