Welcome back to Tuesdays on the Run, the linkup I share along with Patty from My No-Guilt Life, and Erika from MCM Mama Runs. Our topic today is Breaking through a Mental Barrier in Training which is pretty darn relevant because I’ve been struggling with my training myself lately.
I’ve found that the biggest mental barriers for me come from having had bad runs and bad races. When I have one bad run, it gets stuck in my head and completely shakes my confidence. The two worst runs I had are still etched in my mental and emotional memories. One was the first time I attempted six miles when training for my first Princess Half. I’m still not sure what happened but I just hit a wall and felt awful. And it set my training back by months because I was afraid to have that experience (failure) again.
The second terrible run was the Tink Half where I just gave up halfway through and walked the rest of the way. Somehow I’d convinced myself that I was having a medical condition and was going to pass out or die (I was absolutely fine, I just got all messed up in my head). It was miserable and it made me terrified during the first few miles of the Princess Half that I’d have the same experience.
The root cause of my mental barriers is FEAR. Fear that I’m going to fail, fear that I’m going to embarrass myself by getting sick or collapsing, fear that I’m going to feel awful, fear that I’ll have another bad run. So I let the fear trick me into staying “safe” by reducing my distance goals, my speed goals, my finish time goals.
On the one hand, I think it’s important to learn from the bad runs. Fear can be useful if it keeps me from starting out too fast or pushing myself too hard. But fear can (and does!) still hold me back from achieving my goals. Fear can make me stay in the “safe” zone where I know I can finish a run or a race but I don’t push myself to achieve what I am capable of.
So, how to break through the fear that’s holding me back? Well, I think the first step is recognizing the fear and accepting that I am afraid and that it’s ok to be afraid. The next step is to accept that it is ok to fail, to have a bad run. And the final step is to suck it up and be brave and to try despite the fear.
So that’s my new mantra! I’m going to just do it. Even if I’m afraid. Even if I fail. I just have to try!