Every person, who takes to running as a fitness or lifestyle activity harbors some fear at the beginning. I am still dogged by certain fears about running. But the journey takes the runner across to become fearless. Else one simply quits running.
When I started toying with the idea of running 2 years back and took my baby steps in the running world, I could barely run for 200 meters at a stretch. My breathing would be laborious. I would feel that my heart will explode under the effort. I was afraid of getting a heart attack or something. Later, when I found a structured way to re-learn how to run, I could slowly increase my running without any of those heart-pounding sensations. However, whenever I pushed myself beyond my limits, I was still breathless. My fear was that my lungs would burst. Overtime I learnt to control my breathing and that fear was gone.
During my running journey, new fears raised their head from time to time. Sometime it will be in the form of a tingling sensation in my hands. Other time severe side-stitches will make me cripple. There was pain the back, pain in my knee, pain in the calf, pain in heel and pain in feet. These came along with their attendant fear of the unknown. I was afraid that running will be harmful to my body. My legs and knees may not be able to take the pounding. Slowly, I made friends with these pains. I realized that these are normal part of a running journey. And again, as with my past fears, they subsided and faded into the background.
There was also the fear of commitment. I was quite apprehensive if I could hold myself up to the discipline that is required. What if I fail? The fear of failure was always in the back of my mind. What if I am not able to finish my run or what if I finish last in a race? What would people say? This was more imaginary than real. No one really cares. And the one person who cares was I. The solution to discipline problem, I realized, was to tackle it one day at a time. I planned just to run for one day. I committed myself just to run for one lap. And that one lap became two and one day became one more day and so on till I had internal motivation to go for a run every time.
During the time I decided to take up running, I had to confront many fears - most of them imaginary and very few real. Now, it is not that I have become a fearless runner; I still hold my share of fear. I fear that I will injure myself. Or that some mishap will happen during my run. I still fear the unknown. But by and large, most of my earlier fears have proven unfounded till now. I have learnt running is not about quitting due to the fears. It is about facing your fears – real and imaginary – and still forging ahead till we reach our goal. But reaching the finish line is not the reward. It is not the medal that makes the runner happy. The reward is the peaceful feeling of having conquered the fear.