Fear in Running

Fear in running | happyfitmama.com

Fear.

I’ve got a lot of it.

Specifically, fear in running.

Way back in 2014 I had the  goal of being more fearless.

I got a little bit better that year and then yet another injury happened and had me running with my tail between my legs.

Well, here we are 5 years later and I’ve still got fear.

The biggest one is fear of getting injured (again).

I can trace this current fear back to early 2017 when I was training for the Sugarloaf Marathon after swearing off marathons.  I was going to give it just one more go.  Sugarloaf was going to be THE one that everything worked. Training was going very well until I was diagnosed with a fibula stress fracture.

Since returning to running after that injury, I have not allowed myself to actively train for a race. I’ve run races but I have not followed a plan out of fear of injuring myself.  By not following a plan and doing whatever I wanted, I felt like I was protecting myself somehow.  That I wasn’t really committed to the race, that it was a “fun” run and my finishing time didn’t matter.

Now I’m facing my two ‘A’ races – Mount Washington Road Race and Loon Mountain.  I’m committed to BOTH races, they are not “fun” races and I do care what my finishing time is. And there’s that 50k that I’m planning on for the fall too.  I haven’t run more than 20 miles since 2015 but that’s ok. OMG – Typing that sentence kind of just freaked me out a bit. GAH!

I’ve done both races before – Mount Washington – 2016 and Loon – 2017, 2018. My main focus right now is to improve my time for each.  I haven’t pick a time goal yet because, hello fear. Do I go big or try to be conservative?  Of course, there are a lot of factors for my goals like how my training is going and the weather, especially for Mount Washington.  See even there – I’m letting my fear stop me from putting out a BHAG.

Even though I’m feeling good I’ve still got this lingering doubt in the back of my head that something is going to go wrong.  Just last week I had myself convinced I had plantar fasciitis again.  I felt a little twinge and it sent my spiraling rather than being a rational human being. Thankfully, I pulled it together after not feeling any more twinges.  Nothing like a little twinge to make me recommit to my foam rolling and stretching.

I swear running is at least 99% mental.  If I want to be even attempt to be successful in my races, it’s time to work on my mental game once again!

My mind needs to be trained just as much as my muscles and cardiorespiratory system. When negative thoughts creep in, things can quickly take a nose dive.

I can’t becomes my mantra.

Negative Nellie is being replaced with Positive Polly.

Or at least I’m trying to do this. I’m in training so I’m not there just yet.

Along with the positive self talk, I’ve been trying to visualize myself running the actual race. Like I said, I’ve run both races before so I know what to expect – which is good and bad.  I know where the really sucky parts are and where Negative Nellie will most likely rear her ugly head.

I’m also visualizing moments where I’ll be fatigued and want to stop. I’m visualizing the last few miles where I’m deep in the pain cave and just want to be D.O.N.E with the damn race. What will I do to get my head out of that moment? How will I direct my attention elsewhere?

Fear is not a bad thing.  It’s healthy. But I know that I can’t give into fear and let it  paralyze me from trying. Rather, I have to accept that I’m going to have fears and face them one run at a time. I may get injured again.  But then again, I may not.

How will I know unless I try?

Linking up with Coaches Corner.

What fears do you have in running?

19 comments on “Fear in Running

  1. And try to remember that all of this is supposed to be fun and you actually LOVE what you do! I know it’s so hard, and I’m also typing this for myself since I have a big ass race coming up, so I completely understand. You are smart to work on that mental game because it will be everything on race day. Know this – I believe in YOU no matter the outcome, you are strong and determined and one hell of a runner and no race time will ever change that. xo
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown – Just Be YourselfMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Allie! I am having fun but there still is that space in the back of my head saying “remember when you couldn’t run for 6 months because you had a stupid injury?” Don’t do that again, k?

  2. You are so smart to work on your mental game early and I think it will pay off! I used to be so afraid of pain in races and it worked against me. Now I tell myself it’s part of racing and repeat to myself “I can do this all day” when it gets hard and my mind wants my legs to stop. You are so physically strong on the mountains and trails that I bet your mental strength will follow along and you will have some fun but also strong races!
    Laura Norris recently posted..How to Sharpen and Taper for a 5K or 10K RaceMy Profile

  3. Hi. Love all your posts ! I too am running and training for Washington. And Loon. And all mountain series! Right now my fear is I was diagnosed with LVH! Want and need to train hard yet I don’t know if I’m gonna drop dead! The negative thoughts scare me! Don’t know how to get past it😩

    1. Hi Robin! I’m sorry to hear that you were diagnosed with LVH. That is scary but with the right treatment and training, I’m sure you’ll be fine. Have you talked to your doctor about it and what you can do for training? That should be your first step. Thinking of you and wishing you luck!

      1. Had a ekg due to seriously high bp. Primary says I need a echo…..but they are booking out till June. Then I got a apointment for next week. I’ve been running regularly and go to the gym. I have visualization when I’m at the gym of running Loon. I think it helps. And will do this at Washington too. I just don’t want to be told no running. Hope we can meet sometime!

  4. What a great rumination on fear! I feel this because my mental game has always been my biggest obstacle. For you, I think having done both races before has to help quell some of the fear, right? You’ve conquered both beasts. Or is ignorance bliss?

    1. It does help some but it also fuels the fear a tad because I know how brutal both races can be. But really, the races don’t scare me. It’s training that scares me. That’s where I feel like I’m going to do a dumb move like step in a hole and roll my ankle horribly and not be able to run for 6 months.

  5. I remember reading your Loon Mountain race review last year and being so inspired. Then the injury I was dealing with came back with a vengeance and I wasn’t signing up for any races for a while. I have got to get Loon Mtn. on my calendar for next year.

    You are ambitious! Good for you!!! Doing Loon Mtn, MT Washington, AND a 50k in 1 year – wow! You are a fantastic runner and an inspiration.

    Here’s the thing about being fearless – we can’t just will it. We have to have something to base it on. I think looking back at your previous successes is a good strategy. I’m looking forward to reading more race reports from you in the near future! 🙂
    Laurie recently posted..Justice: Using the Weights in Our BagMy Profile

    1. You must do Loon! It’s one of those races that you either love it or hate it. And good point on being fearless. Looking back on previous successes is a great point! Thank you!

  6. I have similar fears as well, but I also know my body does better with moderate mileage (and not “all the miles). I’ve gone into marathons over-trained because I thought that I was doing everything right by forcing all the miles when I really didn’t need them. My gut told me to hold back, but I ignored it. Not any more! That said, my “new” fear is whether or not I should push the mileage a little bit, but with all kinds of precautions. UGH! LOL

    1. Good point! Right now I’m doing less mileage than I’m used to but my coach reminds me that quality is way more important than quantity. It’s hard when you love to run so much. 🙂

  7. Yes, yes! Fear can be paralyzing but I love that you are addressing it head on. I’ve started journaling before a big race- even though I’ve still had quite a few race flops in the last year or two, but it helps me to write out ‘ what’s the worst that can happen?’
    And then visualizing, as you said, feeling good and strong but also visualizing how you will react when things get hard.
    Love to see you going for it again!

    1. I like the journaling idea. All though, answering “What’s the worst that can happen?” could lead me down a rabbit hole of all the bad things that I know have happened. Lol!

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