adventures of a mere mortal in fitness and life

Posts tagged ‘fear’


So those of you who have known me for a long time are well aware of my tendency to be a total spaz when it comes to physical movement.  It is nearly a damn miracle (knock on wood inserted here) that I have been spared injury or some kind of freak accident while logging all these miles swimming, biking, and running.  I mean, I think I know why my mom put me in swimming all those years ago– the swimming pool was a relatively safe environment for a klutz like me, right?  Even so, I still managed to break my foot jumping into the DEEP (12 feet) end of a pool when I was a freshman in high school (figure that out, physicists!).

So naturally, I try to stay away from anything that might lead to my body becoming entangled in a rope or pinned under a heavy weight because of my years of experience doing things like falling off a lifeguard chair and nearly breaking my hip.  Training with Trainer Guy last winter/spring helped me extinguish some of my most basic fears about using weights or doing exercises that involved total body coordination and cooperation.  Still, my klutz radar is on high alert when I go to try new physical activities, particularly the ones  involving pull ups or the dreaded rope climb.

rope climb

Sometime in early winter, Trainer Guy changed the name of his “Ski Conditioning Intervals” class to “Fury”.  Besides the obvious that I would not go to a class with such a ludicrous name, I kind of quit going to it because I didn’t like being uncomfortable not knowing all the different exercises and whether or not I could even complete them.  Plus, there was all the dangerous equipment I could see myself mishandling: sledgehammers, ropes, tires, you get the picture.  I will admit it: I was scared.  Maybe even a little intimidated.

Trainer Guy started offering the class at 5:30 AM last month, and so I decided to give it a try again.  I figured how bad could one hour be, right?  Well, off the bat, these were the happiest damn people I have ever seen awake that early in the morning.  That threw me off because usually I am alone in that category, and these people were REALLY happy.  Like already had their coffee happy.  Then they started doing the workout on the board, and I wasn’t sure what to do, so I kind of followed one person, but everyone was doing things at a different paces and in different orders, so mostly I just did a little bit and then made out loud snarky comments about it (nervous habit!).  I survived that one, and then I went back the next week.  And things were a little more mellow because I kind of knew what to expect, although you really never know what to expect in that class.

The following week, I did the class twice.  And it was really hard.  But I too felt “had my coffee” happy at the end.  The feeling of accomplishment is like double when you look at the workout and then you say to yourself, Oh my God! I can’t do 100 burpees! and then you do them and a whole lot more than that.  Not only am I building physical strength, but I am also building mental strength because I start from a premise of panic and disbelief and I have to move through that mental roadblock to complete the workout.  So it’s kind of a 2-for-1 workout, and you all should know that I’m a sucker for a bargain.

So yeah, resting my sweaty face on the disgusting carpet of the rec center cardio room is kinda where I’m at these days.  There’s so much going on that I can’t control in life right now, so I am grateful for these moments just for me and my overall well-being.  Sometimes it’s really worth it to move beyond deep discomfort and to try something new and stick with it.


a tale of two runs…

So this weekend marked the 1 month countdown to my first half-marathon, an event which I was excited about doing this early in the season for several reasons.  One, if I want to do a half-Ironman triathlon this summer, I am going to have to run a half-marathon at the end of it, so I figured it would be good to get really cozy with this distance as soon as possible. Second, we got this beast of a dog around Thanksgiving (her name is Daisy, but everyone calls her Supermodel) and she needs a good amount of exercise, and she loves to run.  So why not train to do a half-marathon?

Today’s schedule called for a simple 12-mile run, just for “time on the legs”.  (Coach Evil Genius and I started back up this week and apparently she ain’t playing around).  We were at my sister’s house, and I was procrastinating, not really wanting to wind my way around a town with which I am not intimately familiar in the heavy snow for 12 miles.  My husband and sister suggested I head out on the road out toward Buffalo Pass but keep going straight until I reached the private school, about 5 miles in.  So finally I started out, running from Spring Creek trailhead on the road, feeling OK.  At the turn  to Buff Pass, I turned right with all the traffic and started out along a flattish road, which eventually turned into a steeper road.  And a snowier road.  Until I got about 4 miles into the run, looked at the top of Buff Pass and realized I had gone the completely wrong way.  Which would explain all the damn hills that I thought my husband and sister had just been underestimating for my benefit to get me out of the house.

Which led me to Lesson #1 for the day:  When someone is giving you directions, you should pay attention to what they’re saying.

To make matters worse, I realized that my stomach was kind of cramping.  Pretty badly.  On a low traffic road, but with snow drifts about 4 feet high on each side.

Which led me to Lesson #2 for the day:  ALWAYS go to the bathroom BEFORE you start running.  ALWAYS.

So by the time I got back to the car, I was doing a serious “dance” and I jumped into the car and booked it out of the trailhead.  I roared home in time, and after, I unleashed a barrage of blame on Mr. Prepared– about not reminding me to go to the bathroom, about wearing the wrong socks, and about how stupid ultramarathons, marathons, half-marathons, and generally any running over a 10k is.  I told him I was quitting the race (he’s running the marathon) and that I never wanted to talk about doing a half-Ironman again.  Which pretty much precipitated our hasty exit out of Steamboat.

As we rolled home to Eagle in the Land Yacht, I started to relax and fiddled with my iPhone, reading my emails and whatnot.  I came across this post from my favorite blogger, Swim Bike Mom.

Which led to Lesson #3 for the day:  I cannot let fear make decisions for me. 

Part of my agitation all day was the fear that I couldn’t even run for 2 hours, or even 1:30.  Everyone says to me, “Oh, did you run like 10 miles today?”  but the truth is I had never even run 10 miles before. But I couldn’t (and can’t) let the fear of something I had never done before rule my decision-making process.  There will be a lot of things in my life that I have never done before, if I am lucky.

I turned to Taylor and asked if I could finish my workout when I got home.  I figured I had about 30 minutes more if I just needed “time on legs”, as the Buff Pass debacle hadn’t really afforded me good mileage coverage.  He agreed, I apologized, and I told him that I wasn’t going to quit on him and that I didn’t really think he was an idiot (maybe a running fool, but not an idiot).  So we got home, I went back out and finished about 35 more minutes of running on the familiar path, and went home feeling about 100 times better than when I arrived at my sister’s house in Steamboat.

So while it isn’t usually ideal to break a 2 hour run into 2 parts, today it was essential, because today 2 runs were way better than 1.

lake monsters and peckings…

Facing fears, whether real or irrational, is definitely one of the hardest things to do to try to grow as a person.  This week I had the opportunity to face some of my most irrational fears.  The only reason I want to do this is so that I can overcome them and be able to do new things.  I mean, how will I ever casually run into and have a witty exchange with Andy Potts at the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon if I can’t get over my fear of swimming with sea monsters in the open water? 

Must face fears. Must meet Andy Potts.

I have done 3 open water swims in the last week.  All of them have been in freshwater lakes with no overly large marine life.  On Wednesday, I swam in a new lake closer to town with Trainer Guy.  There were some lake trout and you could see the bottom of this lake.  I am not sure why being able to see the bottom makes it worse for me, but it does.  This lake was filled with blooms of “plants” that come close to the surface of the water.  As I swam over each plant, I expected to have a catfish, eel, or sea monster come to bite my face off.  Why do I have this bizarre fear?  I have never had a bad experience with open water, and I have been a good swimmer my whole life.  Needless to say, I freaked myself out by about 30 minutes into the whole event.  It almost seemed like a waste of time, but I know that open water training is harder than the pool and essential if I want to see any more improvement in my swim times.  

See? They do exist.

My other great irrational fear in life is birds.  Yes, birds.  Unpredictable, flighty, harbingers of disease, birds are my #1 irrational fear.  I am pretty sure I know where this fear originated.  Unfortunately, Alfred Hitchcock thought it would be a great idea to make a “thrilling” movie with birds as the main subject, and even more unfortunately, my 8th grade teacher thought it would be a good learning activity for us to watch it.

that shit is freaky, alright?

On Friday, I had an unexpected encounter on my road ride.  I was almost home, dog tired, when I heard a noise that sounded like it was coming from my wheel.  I looked down, only to realize the noise was a bird.  And the bird noise was not getting farther away as a I rode.  It stayed with me.  Then, I saw something out of the corner of my eye and felt a poke on my back.  BIRD!  I shrieked like I had just had my leg ripped from my body and waved wildly at the bird.  If someone had been witness to the situation, they would have surely assumed I was having some kind of outer-body experience on my bike.  It was an act of God that I did not take a huge digger at this point.

One method of getting over fears is to have repeated exposure to them, which I am willing to accept with swimming, but not so much with birds.  I think I am ready to give the lake a try again, and this weekend, I will be racing in Steamboat Lake, so I will get some more exposure.  However, I just don’t think it’s so unreasonable to hate and fear birds.

If anyone has any open water swimming tips to get over my fear of sea monsters, I would love to hear them!  Let me know!


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