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Friday, February 22, 2013

Overcoming Fear

When trouble comes along, people get scared.  When you're crossing the street and a car suddenly comes towards you with tires spinning, you get scared.  When you're climbing a tree and you slip, you get scared.  Fear is a normal reaction when something dangerous occurs, and there's nothing we can do about that reaction.  It's nice to know more about the situation at hand so that you're not overwhelmed, but no matter what we do, we will always have that fear.

In my life, I've had a lot of things that freaked me out.  I've cut open my thumb when I was in middle school and thought that I was going to die because of the amount of blood that came out of my thumb (long and hilarious story for another time).  I've lost control of my car going down a ramp onto an interstate and nearly slammed into a bunch of cars.... but one of the most scariest moments of my life was when I ran my first 50 mile race.  I trained a little bit for this race, ready to finish it... never having gone this distance before.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but after a couple marathons, I figured it shouldn't be too hard... but I was wrong.  At the 28 mile mark, I took a little break because I needed to get some energy back in my system, and feeling as good as new, I raced off again, only to be hit by a sudden lack of energy at mile 35.  I still had 15 more miles to go, but I really had no energy.  I was on the trails, the next aid station was about 4 miles away... I didn't know if I could make it.  All this time, I've always finished my races... and at this point, I was scared that I wouldn't be able to finish.  I was very prideful at this point and didn't even consider the possibility of a DNF (did not finish) and at mile 35, I was terrified at the thought of possibly not finishing this race...

Fortunately, I didn't die from blood loss and my aunt and mom took me to the hospital and now I have a great story.  I also didn't crash into cars while skidding down the ramp but managed to somehow get the wheels to catch the road and continue on my way...  and FINALLY, after a long time on the trails, I did finish my first 50 miler, managing to somehow get to the finish line.

Fear was a factor in all these instances and in overcoming these fears, I was able to take a step forward.  However, things don't always have a happy ending...

When I was in 6th grade, I decided to do something I've never done before.  I wanted to become a part of the student council.  I wanted to become the treasurer... so I had everything prepared and was ready to make a speech in front of the student body... but as soon as I got up there and everyone's eyes on me, I got scared.  I couldn't move.  I couldn't talk.  In fact, when I read what I had written, I stuttered so much that I was embarrassed.  To make things worse, after the day was over and I was going home, a 7th grade girl came up to me and started to make fun of me by imitating my speech and my stuttering, laughing with her friends.  I felt like crap.  I tried hard and didn't get anywhere.  For the rest of my middle school and high school days, I never again tried to be a part of the student council because of my fear of talking in public.

Fear is a reaction that we can't exactly control.  What we CAN control is our reaction to fear.  Instead of reacting, the proper terminology we should be using would be to be proactive.  In being proactive, we can control the situation we're in.  Should we let fear control us, we won't be able to amount to much and remain as we are... but should we control the fear, then we can learn and grow from it and go forward.  Fear is natural so don't fight against it.  Instead, use that fear to become stronger.  Overcome that fear to grow.

In my most recent 50k, after running 40 kilometers, I was scared that if I pushed too much, I wouldn't be able to make it and my body would be cramped up and I wouldn't be able to finish strong.  However, at the same time, I understood that if I didn't push myself a little bit harder, I wouldn't be able to catch up with the guy in front of me.  Fear is a tool meant to protect you, and if I had ignored that fear and ran recklessly, I would then end up having muscle cramps and failing to get a good time.  However, due to the fact that I understood what I was being afraid of, I was able to run in a way that I would be performing at my best without going too hard.

Don't let fear restrain you.  Instead, let it help you know more about yourself and where you are.  When you're going for your goals, you don't want to go in recklessly.  You also don't want to let it control you and keep you from your goals.  Let it help guide you and keep you in check, so that you can achieve your goals in a good and proper way.

(Yesterday, I went for a 3.95 mile run in 29:37, an average of 7:29 min/mile.  Today, I went out for a 6.1 mile run and finished that in 47:23, a 7:46 min/mile average.  Little by little, I'm getting into a good and healthier lifestyle...)


  1. tomorrow, as i watch the tokyo marathon from the sidewalks, i will contemplate how to handle my own fears.

    1. Ah~ I wish I was running that race...