A triathlon Facebook group that I am a member of has a “Workout of the Day” thread and the woman who starts each thread begins with some words of wisdom or things to consider. Today it was:
Fear has been addressed more times than I can count, but it still haunts us so I’ll address it again. It real and the mist powerful force on the planet. Fear starts wars, nuclear threats, panic, chaos and pandemonium. My sister in law is petrified of clowns. Lots of people are. Do clowns pose a threat to them? No. But the fear is real. We may think “How irrational and absurd!” That doesn’t make it any less real for them. IMHO, there is no such thing as an irrational fear. If it holds you back, its a genuine fear and begs overcoming. The first step to overcoming a fear is addressing it. Only then can you move forward. Don’t ever stop doing that! Time waits for no man. Face your fears. Even when everyone laughs at them. True friends will hold your hand and face them with you. Be brave. Be strong.
That made me think of my own fears. While yes, I did have problems with the open water swims this year, I was not afraid of the water. It wasn’t a fear of some physical thing. So what was/is it? What holds me back and makes me perform less than I know I can? What makes me pull out of challenges at the last minute? I could have broken the 30 minute mark on my 5K a few months ago but I was afraid to try. I was afraid to embrace the pain and the suck and put myself all out there and then fail. I was afraid of people (or myself) saying “see? I knew you couldn’t do it!” In my messed up head, it is better to not even try than to attempt something, fail, and have everyone know that I failed. (And “fail” can mean anything from being unable to perform at all to performing less than I think I can or, worse yet, less than someone that I think I should be able to pace. I cannot tell you how many times I have had someone that I think I should be able to hang with pull away and then I immediately begin to flounder. So messed up!) The thought that I might succeed rarely crosses my mind. Totally irrational, yet there it is.
As I am mentally preparing for Nation’s in 10 days, a big race with a lot of high caliber athletes, I am determined not to let this fear get the best of me. I will not let their presence hinder my performance. I will focus solely on my own race. I will not see a racer and think “oh, if that person beats me than I might as well quit!”. I will push myself to put it all on the line and do the best to my ability. Yes, I will likely be passed a gazillion times, I will likely have at least one thing go bizarrely wrong, I may have some “incident” on the bike (the bike course is a little nutty!), I might even come in “Dead F-ing Last”, but I am not going to let those fears keep me from giving it my all. At the end of the day, I want to cross that last timing mat and know that that was my race and my best.