The biggest fail of all...

Monday, May 18, 2009 not bothering to try something out of fear of failing.

This past weekend I was all signed up and registered to run the Bluenose 5K. I felt pretty comfortable about doing well. I run almost every morning and generally do anywhere from 5-8K, depending on how many times I hit snooze, so the run would have been really easy for me. I had considered running the 10K and decided to practice up over the summer so I can run one with ease in the fall.

In the end, I didn't run the 5K. I was in the Valley for the weekend with H2B, which is a handy excuse. I could have easily come back to Halifax on Saturday evening or early Sunday morning without messing up our weekend away.

The truth was, I didn't feel like I'd be in the top placers in the 5K, and if I'm not convinced I'm going to do well I tend to not bother doing things at all.

The more I thought about the race, I imagined all the hardcore runners with all their elaborate running gear. The ones that time themselves and strive to beat a personal best every single day. The ones that are super competitive and can power through 5K in 16 minutes (like yesterday's first-place finisher did).

When I run I'm not out to beat any records. My average pace is about 9:30/mile. I like the fresh air, the quiet time outdoors and the little boost it gives me in the morning. I'm not competitive about it at all.

I'd be looking at a little under 30 minutes to complete the 5K. I thought about myself looking stupid in my baggy pink t-shirt and black yoga pants (no Running Room gear here) being the slowest runner and finishing with an embarrassing time compared to everyone else. I imaged crossing the finish line surrounded by four-year-olds and geriatrics. I could see my name on the results list waaaaay at the bottom. And rather than risk not being among "the best" I opted not to bother at all.

For the next race I register for, I have two options: train so much I'm practically guaranteed to win, or suck it up and participate regardless. I'm thinking option B makes the most sense.

When I was little I had tons of confidence--on the first day of swimming lessons, for example, I convinced the instructors that I could swim and got put into a much higher Red Cross level than I should have been in. "Everybody jump in!" the instructors told us, and I was the first one in the pool--eyes and mouth wide open, super pumped to be "swimming", because it looked so easy. Obviously I had to be hauled out of the pool by my bathing suit straps and ushered back down to the shallow end to join the Yellow group, feeling very deflated. Skating was the same thing. My parents make fun of me and talk about the first time I had skates on--I ran out onto the ice full speed thinking it would be a piece of cake. One very bruised toddler bum later I understood that I wasn't going to be good at everything on the first try...and that's when I started focusing on the things I knew I could do well and turning up my nose at challenging things.

These days, there's a little too much of that in my life. I know everything is a learning process and I'm too timid and hesitant as a result. I could use some more near-drowning experiences and ass bruises. What's the worst that can happen?

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  1. I read something about my "sign" once (gemini) and it said, "Jack of all Trades and Master of None". So basically I'm saying....I feel ya! ha ha.

    Just do it! You are doing it because you love to run. Don't do it just to win or you will never be satisfied. If you enjoy it! :-)

    Good Luck!!

  2. I completely get what you're talking about here. I've been trying to put less pressure on myself lately, trying to enjoy myself more and stop judging myself less. But it's so hard!

    Good luck! :)

  3. run for running's sake :) do you REALLY want to be one of those super-buff women with all the Runner Inc. gear? Only enjoying running because it gives you a chance to beat others? Focusing only on your time and not on the fresh air / feel-good exercise? No! Yoga pants are awesome! So are pink t-shirts!

    At the end of the day, you have to remember-- there's no spotlight. Everyone at the 5k isn't going to be staring at you, wondering about your pants or your finishing time. Especially the crazy runners-- they're too obsessed with themselves, anyway!

    You should run for you. Even if you finished 1st, Run World gear and all-- I don't think you'd enjoy it as much as finishing at your personal best, pink t and all :)

  4. I think that you realised how much of a crap-out this was is a step in the right direction! I can't tell you how many times I've not done something for whatever lame reason;

    I'm going to be the oldest/youngest one there... I'm not going to know everyone/I'm going to recognise people I don't want to see... I don't want to look like I'm trying too hard/I don't want to look completely out of touch...

    Honestly, it's exhausting. Some of the best advice I ever got was "get up, dress up and show up".

  5. i did the 10k ... i walked it, and placed 1800th ... and, although my competative personality would have liked to have done better, i am still happy that there were 103 people eating my fog. :) as cheesy as it sounds, i think i now see that this sort of event is about participating for the sake of the experience ... everyone gets a medal, and the people along the route cheer on everyone with equal enthusiasum ... it was actually pretty cool!

  6. I think sometimes regret is a great motivator.

    Whenever I'm hesitant to do something for similar reasons, I try to remind myself of how rotten I felt when I missed out on something I enjoyed because of fear.

    In fact, I just made myself join a dance class based on this kind of thinking and I'm SO glad I did!