Fear of self

Running is about courage. Sure it’s about exercise, and health, and feeling good, and Type-A personalities, and pretty outfits (though not like tennis).

For me, running is that constant metaphor that shows me who I am. It didn’t have to be running. I could have picked anything that would allow me to eat more, dedicate an inordinate amount of my time to it, simultaneously love it and hate it, meet great people, create spreadsheets to track all minute details, and eat more.

Running has shown me all about my fears. A lot of what I fear about running is about not being good enough. I can train hard and not feel fast enough. I can train more than others and not be as fast as they are. I panic thinking that running fast will hurt and I will implode. I can hyperventilate thinking that “everyone” is running faster than me and I am not and it’s all self-defeating. I doubt myself.

Typical trail. Always uphill.

We all have ways in which our psyche convinces us that we are less than others. That comparison to others is where we find our faults. Often I wonder: what’s the worst that can happen? I could run a race and be last. No, that’s not even the worst thing I can think of: I could run a race and be slower than I had hoped. No public shaming, no lashings, or jeers — I could deflate myself in a single comparison to someone I usually train with, but didn’t compare in time. I create expectations that I will be the same as someone else.

Down the way, between the trees, lies a little trail.

A wise friend told me that the only fair comparison I can make is to myself, and even then it’s unrealistic because each training cycle, or month, or week or even day, I am dealing with different variables.

I recently went for a bio-mechanical assessment. They found all the things that hurt on me when I run and what is weak in my body. Knowing this, I am amazed I finished my last 10 km of the marathon. But knowing this, I can also appreciate how much I did endure and get through in training to get through that race.

It’s hard to be patient with ourselves where we are at. We want to be somewhere else, because it seems easier and better there. But if we are never content in one spot, we will never be content in another. We will always find those reasons why we aren’t something else. I  know that if I stopped running something else would take its place as my emotional challenge. It’s not as easy as just stopping something to rid yourself of a feeling.

A misty vista.

Railway trestle  to the beyond.

I dread the moment where things are hard and I want to stop. I can’t fault myself for how I feel in a moment, but it seems like I do. I need to just learn to go through that feeling and not hold on to it. The next moment will be different. Or the next one.


A few weeks ago I ran a 10km trail race. It was very hilly and we waded through two waist-deep puddles. I felt good for the first third, suffered in the middle, and managed to stoke my ego a little near the end. I passed people running uphill and even managed to get by someone right at the finish line. There were many people I wished I could have run with in the race, but just getting to the finish line was good enough. It’s nice to know some days you can feel okay with good enough.


33 thoughts on “Fear of self

  1. I love your new layout! I think I must have missed some posts, I’ll have to catch up. I really like this one. My brain has been on the same topics, like in an almost creepy way. This was my blog’s facebook status today, I feel like it’s too right in line with this post to not share it here:

    “If I judge myself based on the eyes of society, I fail because there are too many opinions.
    If I judge myself based on my own criteria, I still fail because my mind changes moment to moment.
    But if I learn to identify and recognise the particularly sour flavor of ‘judgement’ as it arises, I can spit it out and take a sip of water, savoring the complicated colorful glorious mess of perfection that takes judgement’s place. And then maybe I can do something from the heart.”

    It reminds me of what you were noticing about running and how you were seeing it at the end, as more than just a thing used to make you better than/worse than yourself or anyone else. Really cool stuff, I love it!

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for the comments on the blog re-do. I still have a few things to add but the look/feel is more to my liking.

      Great comments you had on FB. Definitely this time of year pushes us to look at ourselves, and the default is all about comparisons. I think if we can notice where we are at, without judgments or trying to fix or change, then we can be in that place.

      The irony of running (in one aspect) is that it is not about standing still.


    • We’re pretty lucky to have such amazing running in our backyard.
      I’m like that: I rush home to sit down. But I don’t like crowds and home feels safer, quieter and more contained. But we always want something different than the Now.

    • I also run for my mood. Honestly, if I didn’t have that I think I’d never leave my bed. But it’s a good reminder for me in so many ways about being honest with myself and gentle with myself.

  2. Did you just re-do your blog? It looks so pretty. The main thing I learned when I was running heavily was so simple it’s frightening that it took me hundreds of miles to figure it out. Basically, distance running taught me that we all have more mettle than we think.

    And thankfully I never compared myself to others or I would have stopped long before the knee injuries.

    • Hi LnL,

      I *did* just re-do my blog. Thanks for noticing – and the feedback!
      Ah, yes. We need to run hundreds of miles to figure out we are more than we thought we were. So true, but I think it’s because we ran all those miles that we discover who we are.
      I’m getting better at running my own “race” but it’s still a part of how I see myself in comparison to others. An ongoing process, one that’s worth all the miles.

  3. Running brings out so many aspect of ourselves that lie hidden, and it shines a bright light on all of our fears and insecurities. I don’t worry about being slower than others anymore, I worry about running too hard and being miserable for 4+ hours. I don’t worry about failing; I worry about not learning the lessons during the journey.

    Running has taught me one huge lesson: I am much stronger than I ever thought I was. It has taught me that I can do anything I set my heart to do. Confidence and strength are something I had to fight to achieve, and as a woman, it took me years to get here.

    • It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we set an intention. And I can get that part, but I sometimes lose track of my intention by factoring in too many other things.
      These factors may influence an outcome, but are not so significant overall. I guess I just like running with my group of friends, and if I can’t keep up I am running solo. I don’t want it to hurt to be able to keep up, so I sometimes get mired by what I *should* be doing and what my body wants to be doing on a particular day.

  4. Sometimes the journey is its own reward, regardless of what the clock says.

    And besides, you can take heart in knowing you’d kick my ass in a 10k. Or a 5k. Or a stroll down the block… 😉

    • El Guaps! Lovely to have you here.
      Definitely the journey is the reward as well. I remember this when I look back and think: I ran how far? and how fast?
      It’s been an ongoing time of introspection for me, long seated feelings of self-disapproval that are challenged when I challenge myself.
      And we can definitely stroll around the block together. I’ll carry an anvil if that makes you feel better.
      Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. Ha. I was just pondering this very topic today. Running really forces me to check in with myself, consider how I’m feeling — both physically and mentally. You can’t run away from yourself when you’re running, as hard as we might try. Today was a crappy run. I felt sluggish and tired and slow. I had no pride or bravado or bounce as I ran.

    But when I got home and jotted down my numbers in my little running journal, it made everything okay. It made me look forward to the next run. Because getting out and doing it was so much better than doing nothing at all.

    • Dear Salt,
      This is a lovely story and a lovely reminder to me. Sometimes the most simplistic way of doing things is just to enjoy them.
      I ran yesterday and most of my running buddies couldn’t make it. So I ran with a different group and actually really enjoyed it. I wasn’t so worried about my ‘place’ in the group or how much harder I should be working. I just was, and that made it a good run.

  6. Love this blog, Tania
    Especially the para that starts: It’s hard to be patient with ourselves.
    Right on!
    But how can I accept other, unless I accept self?

    • Dearest M,

      Thank you for your comments. The re-design feels good to me. And then the words will come.
      Yes, it’s hard to be patient with ourselves. But every day is another chance!


  7. Good enough is often absolutely the right choice.

    I’ve been feeling like hell all week (think it’s flu) but today finally went for a walk, a fast one, for 30 minutes. It wasn’t the hour I’d hoped to do, but it was fresh air, exercise, broke a sweat – and I saw sunshine, fungi, ducks, blue jays and a deer. Seems pretty good to me!

  8. Ahoj Tano….
    Happy Birthday…..happy running…..happy overcoming of your goals…..and yes you are right:,, It’s nice to know that some days people can feel okay with just good enough…..because life is not a race and we should learn how to like ourselfs and how to appreaciate our own personalities with all the strenghts and weaknesses…..
    I like your graphics.by the way .it reminds me of a book that Ema got in Canada, by Agnes Mackenzie, Princess Alyss Wonderland……….

    Love and kisses and keep on running………..:) and of course ….stay sexy :):):)

    • You cheeky monkey!
      Thank you for commenting here! (Imagine my suprise!)

      Thanks for the birthday wishes, you are a few days early, but the right month, so I’ll take it.

      I’ll send an email soon.
      Lots of love to you guys!

  9. This is a really beautiful post. I’ve gotten into (and out of, hopefully temporarily) running this year, and even though I never got anywhere near a marathon, you summed up my feelings about running perfectly.

    • Hello Brent,

      Thanks for your kind, kind words. It’s always lovely to connect with someone else who feels the same way! I think the point of running is to do it for yourself. And we are all good enough.
      Happy running,
      Take good care.

  10. Pingback: The Awards Show, Part 4 | The Green Study

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