I am a really nervous person. I’m not talking panic attack style, just a nervy tummy, banging headache and an anxious feeling. I still get butterflies before any big event, (small events) and particularly before races. I was so nervous before the Paris marathon that I made Tom take me all the way to the start, even though it meant him missing his beloved Parisian breakfast.
I’m not entirely sure what makes me so anxious. I think it’s a combination of worry that I’ll get something wrong, that I’ll embarrass myself, that I’ll hurt myself, that no-one will like me, that I will be criticised. Ultimately I have a huge fear of failing. When I was younger, I never wanted to go first, even if this meant not completing the full competition and therefore missing out on potential medals or prizes.
However, over the past few years, I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. I have signed up to tackle challenges that scare the crap out of me. I’ve gone to events where I don’t know a single person and met new people- some of whom I now count as good friends. I’ve tried to worry less about what other people think, and more about what I think. Overall my confidence has increased, I’ve learnt how to deal with those feelings of fear and I’ve realised dreams I would never have thought possible.
Completing 3 full marathons, and countless other races, I feel somewhat assured in my running ability. When a race entry form asks what my running level is, I confidently tick the intermediate box, knowing that I will be able to finish a race (even if it hurts or I have to walk). Knowing that I want to push myself to run harder and faster, to set scary goals is OK, because it’s running, and I know I can run. It might take me a while to get the times I want, if I ever do, but that’s also OK.
But cycling. And swimming.
They’re totally different.
On my cycle commute to work on Tuesday (thank you Tube Strike) I was overtaken by everyone. Seriously, men in suits teetering on fold up bikes, the casual Boris bikers, and women wearing heels with pencil skirts. It was a bit of an eye opener- not only have I let my activity levels slide since the Paris marathon, but I don’t have the leg strength, cycle stamina (or bum padding) to be a good cyclist yet. I naively thought that my running fitness would easily transfer to cycling and swimming fitness, but apparently not. I’m starting at the beginning, and that scares me. But in a good way.
I have a lot to learn, and that’s exciting. In order to enjoy the journey I need to overcome my competitiveness and fear of failing; so what if I come last during my triathlon, someone has to (but I will probably cry if/when I do!) So what if I get burned at the traffic lights by casual cyclists, and am practically lapped in my gyms 20 metre pool.
Not trying is always the scarier option.
Sign from www.craftynik.moonfruit.com