4 Common Running Fears and How to Beat Them

So we're going to talk about that today. That was my best impression of Salvador Dali Scream or maybe Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, depending on, I guess, what kind of culture you pay attention to. But there are a lot of common fears around running, and you might think that doesn't involve me.

4 Common Running Fears and How to Beat Them



So we're going to talk about that today. That was my best impression of Salvador Dali Scream or maybe Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, depending on, I guess, what kind of culture you pay attention to. But there are a lot of common fears around running, and you might think that doesn't involve me. I don't have any fears, but maybe you do.

Fears are insidious in effect, even the most seasoned people in the sport. So stick around. Let's talk about fears today and how to overcome them.

If you haven't been with me here before, I'm Jesse Funk, the owner of Solpri and the host of this show I call Runner's High where we talk about everything running, including today's topic fears. Common running fears that happen to a lot of people, regardless of how long you've been in sport. Now, some of these are going to affect beginners a little bit more than vets because they've had them and they've dealt with them and they moved on. But some of these can affect anybody, sometimes any time.


We're all human and there are things that we fear, sometimes irrationally, and we have to figure out how to get over those. So if that's you, whether you're new or old, subscribe, stick around so we can see more of each other every Tuesday and Thursday where we talk about everything running.

Now, one of the biggest fears, and I think this goes for just about anybody. It doesn't matter whether you're a beginner or a vet is faster runners. Show up to that starting line and then seeing all the people kind of jockeying around and going, Oh, like, do I belong here? I don't. I don't know if I belong here. It's this fear that I'm not good enough. It's kind of like imposter syndrome, right? Like, I'm not qualified, not qualified to be here, and I simply don't think that's the case.

It doesn't really matter how fast or slow you think you are. If you are willing to get up and show up, then you belong. You know, it's something that we tell ourselves for various reasons, right? We think we haven't done enough or we haven't been around long enough or any of this kind of thing. But the experience doesn't really justify your fear of faster runners, and you can't really do anything about those other runners. You can't control them. I mean, I guess you could trip them, but don't do that. You could throw some elbows. Don't do that.

You know, basically leave them to be the biggest way to really focus in overcome this fear that I know of is to focus on yourself. Turn inward, think about what am I doing? And that means working on my warm up routine, focusing on my thing, not worried about what everybody else is doing. This is something I've had to do a lot over the years.

When you go to a race, you have a plan. We talk about this in another video on the channel. So subscribe check this out here in a minute, but we talk about how to set up your running warm up routine that just for you.

You can't worry about what everybody else is doing. If you've ever done a triathlon, this is definitely the case in triathlons, it seems like nobody warms up. So you, similarly, at a running race, do your thing, focus on you getting your own groove, and it allows you to kind of let everybody else fall away because you're preparing yourself to run the best you can on that day. And that's all you can do, right?

Admitting that I don't have control over these other people, how fast or what pace they're going to go at, allowing yourself to know I do have control over what I can do, and then focusing inward is the best way I know to overcome this fear of faster runners. So let's get on to the next fear.

Kind of similarly to the first one. So this will be a short one. I won't go quite as long on this one, but it's kind of similar and it's I don't run enough mileage or they run more miles than me. I was actually talking about this recently on the Smart Athlete Podcast, another show I do on this channel with Sam Piccolotti, who is very long endurance athlete.

He's been at it for, I think, 30 years now and in various disciplines, all kinds of stuff. He's doing some cool stuff, so you want to check that out Smart Athlete Podcast comes out on Fridays where I talk to really, really cool people from amateurs to Olympians and everything in between.

So we were talking about the kind of pissing contest that people have about mileage. It happens from amateurs to pros. I'm not doing enough mileage. They're doing more mileage than me. Who cares? Who cares? Now, we know that mileage is generally correlated with better performance, but not always. I've had other, you know, athletes on the Smart Athlete Podcast, so you want to check that out because you get other perspectives besides mine, talk about how they were running a bunch of miles in college, very high performing athletes, Division One, like twenty eight minute kind of 10k runners, and they kept getting injured and then so they decreased their mileage so they could stay healthy and then began running faster than ever.

More mileage is not for everybody. So again, just like tip one, fear number one, focus inwards, focus on what you're doing. And this one can kind of fall to the wayside because it's a battle of the ego where you go, I'm not good enough. I'm an imposter. Forget about it. It doesn't matter. The race is within you about what you are doing. So when you do that, this one also falls away.

Another common fear, the first race. This is definitely for beginners, but also can be for vets. If you're taking up a new race distance, it's the first time you've done that. Or maybe you're moving to triathlon like I did, or I've not done this yet, but going into like obstacle course racing or something you know you haven't done before, it's still a first race. It's a new experience and you're just unsure of yourself.

Well, the truth is, I can't get you to that finish line, but you can. You absolutely can. You do belong because you showed up, like I said in the very first fear you showed up, you belong. And now the fear is, you know, is the race course going to be too tough? Am I not going to make it to the finish line? Within this, there's kind of a bunch of little fears, right? The race course is too tough. I might have to walk. Oh, it's too hot, it's too cold, it's too windy.

There's all these little other fears that are kind of nagging at us. Oh, you know what? While maybe I won't make it to the finish line because that very first race is scary, right? You're not sure there's so many unknowns. All the time you put into it. I'm going to be worth it. I can say for sure, yes, it is going to be worth it. In dealing with each of those little fears helps the larger ones subside. So when you go, Oh, it's too hot? Well, what can you do about that? There's not a whole lot you can do about the heat itself. You can't turn the dial down on the outside thermostat and say, I want it to be cooler today.

What you can do is prepare for the heat, go out and train in the heat before the race. There's also heat acclimation strategies you can do where maybe you're not training in the heat, but then you do heat acclimation with like time and hot water in a bathtub. It's beyond the scope of this video to talk about that thing, but I actually talked a little bit about it and with another Smart Athlete Podcast guest, Dr Chris Minson, who specializes in heat training and this kind of methodology. So Google for him, he talks about this.

You find your fear and then you figure out how you can object, right? You interrupt that pattern, that pattern of thought and you say, this is how I deal with this. So it's too hot. Well, let's train for the heat. It's too windy. Well, let's train in the wind. And if I'm going to walk, that's a personal objection. Nobody's ever gotten thrown out of a race because they walked. So what? Take a breather and then get going and get when you're ready.

If you have to walk, it's OK. Plenty of people have walked in races, including myself. I know my first 70.3. I was not quite ready. It was ridiculously hot and I walked at the aid stations on the half marathon portion to make sure I was getting enough fluids in. I kept my heart rate down. And this is coming from somebody who at the time I've been racing endurance sports for 15 years.

Walking is OK because you're taking care of you. Most of these things come back to that right. Take care of yourself and what you need to do that day. That's your objection. Focus on "me". How do I feel? How do I need to take care of myself if I need to walk? Cool. That's what I'm going to do, because that's what's going to aid me. You know, it's a positive direction. That's where you're focusing on what's going to help me. That's what's going to aid me walking to get to the finish line.

There's no, you know, there's no embarrassment in walking. I promise. Nobody is going to say anything about, Oh, you've got to go faster. Why are you walking? And if they are, screw them like, you know it, don't listen to those people. And unfortunately, if some of those people are people close to you, it becomes tough. And that again, is beyond the scope of this video dealing with people close to you with these negative thoughts.

But I'll leave you with the thought that they are not the ones in charge of you and you can't overcome those negative thoughts. So when you focus inward again, you figure out what can aid me. What's the solution to this objection? How can I prepare? Then this fear of this first race again falls away?

I left the big one for last, and this has to do with personal identity, something that it takes us each a different amount of time to say. And we often fear saying it again because of imposter syndrome. And that's I'm a runner. I'm a runner, can you say that about yourself or are you afraid to say it? And then you cringe a little bit. Am I really a runner? I don't know. It took me years to feel like I was a triathlete. So by comparison, I remember that a little bit easier than feeling like I'm a runner.

Because I came at running from the time I was 12 years old, it's a little easier for kids to adapt. But I came in triathlon as an adult where I had competency in running. I was not a swimmer. And I mean, I could. I got it figured out. But you know, it took a minute. Same thing with cycling. I was probably my weakest discipline. So how long did it take me? It took me several years, but didn't have to.

The fear for me of saying I'm a triathlete in part, was leaving the identity of being a runner behind because I kind of hung my hat on that for so long. So I think you have to ask yourself, is there anything else that is, you know, you hang your hat on that is contrary to saying, you're better, maybe you're a bodybuilder and you're coming to running and it's kind of frowned upon to do all that cardio.

Well, it might be tough to hang your hat and say, I'm a runner, but you probably are. Maybe you've been out of shape for a long time and you have lost all those pounds yet, and you're like, the runners are thin. Well, you know, runners, they're there so fast. Not all of them. I'd say you probably are a runner. You put in the miles, you put in the time. Well, maybe that probably qualifies.

It's a sense of identity, this is a story that we tell ourselves that we decide who we are. I can't tell you how to change your story, but you can again look inwards and see what are the stories I tell myself. What are the stories I tell myself about who I am and who I want to be? Well, objections are there, why don't I feel like a runner? What is the reason I can't say that yet? Is it valid?

I think if you are putting in the miles. I think you're putting in the time, if you are out running, then you're a runner. Nothing else matters. It doesn't matter if you're only running five minutes at a time. Are you doing it consistently? Good. You're a runner. Are you running a minute walking, running a minute walking? Good. You're a runner. Are you not finishing at the beginning of the race, are you finishing last? Hey, you're still at that race. You're a runner.

All of these things that we tell ourselves again, it's a story of who we believe we are. And sometimes we hold ourselves back from that identity because there's some artificial objective artificial goal that we've created in our minds to hold us back from saying, I am this thing. And I invite you to try to let go of that artificial objective because if you're here with me on this video, if you've made it to the end. I would say there's pretty much no doubt in my mind, you're a runner and you can cross that one off your list.

So are there any other fears you're dealing with? You'd like to discuss, leave them in the comments below. I'd love to help you out, or if you have any questions for me about running, leave them in the comments and I'd love to make a video for you in the future. I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.

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