Yesterday I ran 6 kilometers. I realize that, in itself, this is largely unremarkable. Especially as I'm about to tell you that I’ve been running that same distance 2-3 times a week for the last month.
Yesterday’s run was by no means noteworthy. It wasn’t particularly fast and I wasn’t racing up hills. But what was worth noteworthy, however, was the way I felt before this run (and all the other 6ks that have preceded it).
Every time I'm due to train (I'm aiming to do my first long-distance run later this year, but more on that on a seperate blog this weekend) I undergo a mental battle with an inner voice trying to convince me otherwise. It tells me that I have a million more important things to do, or that I'm not getting any better, or I'm not a natural runner so what's the point? Getting myself in the mindset of wanting to train, and silencing my inner critic can be a huge challenge.
In scenarios where I feel as though I’m pushing my comfort zone, that feeling of fear kicks in and the little voice of negativity rises, willing me against the decision I've made. It’s a realization that what I’m about to do is unnatural to me. It's going to either hurt, or make me uncomfortable – or both! These feelings all come down to one thing. I’m scared. I'm nervous that I won’t hit my goals, or I won’t be good enough, or that I will fail.
The only way to stop the negative noise is to give in to it, but that would mean stopping altogether. I don’t want to do that. That would be the safe option – letting a fear of failure override the opportunity I have to succeed.
Every day I get up and I have a choice of which voice I listen to. I can give up, or I can push through and remind myself why I'm doing it, why training for this run is so important to me (I'll explain this fully in a seperate blog soon). It's down to me to make the right choice and face up to my fears and pursue the dreams that matter most to me. If it works out I know it will feel so good, and if it doesn't - at least I had the courage to try.
That’s the beautiful thing about adventure, and what I have also found with running. No matter how experienced we all are, or how fast we run, how technical we climb, how sharp we shred, it forces everybody to square up to themselves and confront fear in a way they otherwise wouldn’t ever have to.
In order to get stronger, go further and finish faster I need to challenge my perception of what I think I can achieve, and learn that no matter what I do, or how far I go, there will always be a voice in my head telling me I suck. It's about learning to accept that, and channel the negativity to fuel my ambitions.
My plan now is to up the ante and round next week off with my first 10k finish. And when I do that I'll book my first half marathon for a few weeks time. That means a lot of hard work battling my inner demons. I might not be able to achieve these goals, and I’ll probably suffer en route as I build up to it; I already feel scared - but I’ll do it anyway.