The Fear of Running

Anyone would think that I was facing my own execution.

I woke up on Saturday with a heavy feeling; the weight of having written, ‘Running’ into my diary the night before. I don’t know what causes it now, the almost paralysing fear of stepping out the house for even a short run.

In the past it was people’s opinions – I was scared that I looked stupid, because I almost certainly did. But I don’t think people pay that much attention, or if they do I don’t notice it anymore.

In the past it was fear of exhaustion and migraines. It was a reasonable concern, because my stamina was practically nonexistent, and the repercussions of intensive exercise were dramatic. Crossfit has got me over that.

In the past it was fear of failure. Could I ever run 400m without almost passing out? Would I ever be able to build up to 5km or 10km? But now I know the answers are ‘yes’, and ‘yes’.

Perhaps the problem isn’t what I feel about running now – perhaps it’s the memory of worrying about exhaustion, migraines and the possibility of failing. Perhaps it’s the memories that still tempt me to make excuses, to save the running for a sunny day, or to think that I could do some work instead.

I pulled myself together and went for a run. I didn’t feel like anyone watched or judged. I didn’t feel exhausted or get a migraine. I achieved what I set out to achieve, with less difficulty than I anticipated. I enjoyed it and felt better afterwards.

Fear is a valuable sensation, and we should consider carefully whether it has any basis – ignoring fear completely is not wise. Yet sometimes fear lies to us. Sometimes it is just a small barrier to something incredible. In the case of my running the correct response to fear seems clear: do it anyway.

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