There seem to be a lot of posts recently about being scared and frightened about upcoming runs…..Week 5 Run 3 seems, unsurprisingly, to feature heavily in these posts. This may be because the forum is busier, or it may be to do with the times we live in. While on my run this morning, before I had heard about last night’s atrocity in London, I was trying to work it all out in my head.
We all learn, pretty quickly, that a major component of learning to run, is dealing with the psychological challenge of doing something that we have never done before. Apprehension and caution are natural but once you have embarked on C25k, whether you are using app or podcasts, you really do need to listen to the calming voice of your coach. In my case it was the goddess Laura, who made it clear early on that having to repeat runs was in no way a failure…...those repeats just make you stronger…...so what is there to fear?
Fear is an utterly negative emotion. It can cause physical tension, shortness or difficulty in breathing and increased heartrate, all of which on top of the stresses that running puts on the body are unhelpful. Sure, it may serve a purpose in life and death circumstances, but we have a remarkable ability to let it creep, in an irrational way, into our daily lives. Fear of being seen jogging by anyone who might know us…..fear of being laughed at by total strangers…...fear of being seen with a beetroot face…..all common threads on this forum alongside the fear of not wanting to “FAIL” a particular run.
I remember being excited by the challenge of W5R3 ( for those of you who have not looked yet, you will be ready for it when you get there!!). In no way did I fear it. I am not a superman, I just knew that if it was a step too far and I could not complete it, then my first attempt would have helped me be prepared for the next attempt…….every run is training for the next one, wherever you are in your running career. Take the positives (there are always some) and move on. It is about preparing your body, not a tick box exercise. This, to me, is a far more positive way to approach the programme than repeating weeks just because you are not sure that you will manage the next one……..how do you know until you try it?
Voicing our fears can be helpful, especially when there is the reassuring presence of this forum to confirm you that you will be okay. However, the language that we use and the way we think through these “fears” to ourselves has a potent effect on how we feel about something and how others relate to our concerns. C25k is a series of challenges, superbly constructed to keep us progressing to the target of 3 x 30 minute runs. None of them should be dreaded or feared and I believe even using those words can subliminally raise anxiety. We limit ourselves by telling ourselves and others that we will never be able to do something. So leave your anxieties at home. Running should be stress free and you will actually perform better without those self imposed stresses...........relax, physically and mentally.......
Starting to run C25k, nearly four years ago, flooded me with an absurd surge of optimism, which has stayed with me, although maybe not quite as extreme now as back then. It was bolstered by the beacon of supportive positivity that is this forum. Running has changed my confidence and self esteem along with all physical benefits gained and all that is reflected in my life and relationships.
Now I know that some think that 'positive thinking' is airy fairy nonsense, so let me tell you a story..........Between 1952 and 1954 an Australian, John Landy, ran between 4 minutes 2 seconds and 4:03 no fewer than six times in his attempt to become the first runner ever to record a sub four minute mile. In December 1953 he only needed to run the final 220 yards in 30.6 seconds to break the four minute barrier, but he tied up in the home straight and finished in 4:02. He told reporters after that race, “I feel I could go on for ten years, but I don’t think it is worth it. Frankly, I think the 4 minute mile is beyond my capabilities.”
In May, the following year Roger Bannister famously became the first man to break that barrier, running the mile in 3:59.4.
Forty six days later John Landy smashed the mile record with a time of 3:57.9……….four seconds faster than he had ever run the distance before………..this is the man who had spent two years trying to knock two seconds off his time.
Nothing had changed physically in Lander’s training or form and although his feat has been dissected time and again, the only conclusion is that a barrier in Landy’s mind had been removed, enabling him to achieve what he believed impossible just a few weeks earlier.
This is a lesson to us all, not to limit ourselves............
It seems to me that we live in a world overflowing with negativity, hostility and fear, but as we know, in this little microcosm of the world, positivity and communication garners fabulous results. Talk to the stranger, don’t worry if the question is silly, offer your advice, help the other person, because, actually, they are just like you, with the same hopes and ………..
well, I will leave you to fill in the gap with an appropriately positive word.
I know that next week there will be the same flood of “I am terrified about Week…..” questions and this post may not be of help to many, but if just one person thinks “Right, breathe deeply, keep calm and positive, face the challenge and do the best I can.” then maybe it was worthwhile.
Keep running, keep smiling.