Don’t be fooled by my newfound status as a marathoner, hot yogini or my clean.girls Instagram account. I wasn’t always like this.

Filled with fear, even after my first race
My first half marathon completed. Full of fear.

In fact, 18 months ago I was completely different. My healthy achievements would consist of things like only smoking 13 cigarettes in a day compared to the 23 I’d had the Saturday before. “That’s such an achievement. Now let’s celebrate with some wine,” I’d proudly exclaim and light up another.

As a kid I was really into sports. I played football on the boys’ team for about seven years, I’d broken my collarbone snowboarding at 11 and I was really fast at running the 60 metres.

But in my teens I discovered punk music, boys in rock bands and the joys of copious amounts of alcohol mixed with all of the above. Fitness didn’t really go hand-in-hand with my tartan skinny jeans with multiple zips (what were they even for?!), ripped up band t-shirts and heavy eye-makeup, and truthfully I couldn’t be any less bothered.

Then on a particular November day in 2013 after having spiralled down a black hole of post-traumatic stress having just managed to escape the claws of a sociopath (I’ll tell you that one over a cuppa later), I decided to sign up for a marathon. Just like that. All day I’d tracked my mum around the course of the NYC Marathon where she was taking part as a guide runner with her patient of 20-odd years. And then it hit me.

If my 53-year-old mother can run a marathon with her patient who has 39% lung capacity, what the hell is my excuse?

The next morning I sent off my registration form to be a charity runner and by 6pm I’d had my gait analysed after fellow Team Tea-er Michelle Allen told me that’s what I needed to do.

When I had to get new shoes days before the marathon... fear.
When your shoes break days before the marathon… that’s real fear.

That evening I went for my first run and this time, despite having done the classic thing of running three times in a row really excitedly before letting the dust settle on my old trainers once again, I was hooked.

And slowly I realised that the reason I’d never stuck with any form of fitness I’d ever tried to get into before was because I’d never entered a race. I’d never signed up for a challenge. I’d never had the actual fear.

S0! How do you get the fear?

1) Sign up for a race

Whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, pole dancing or a Zumba marathon (yes, they do exist), sign up for something. Set a time-frame on it. Knowing that you have a challenge to look forward to makes it all the more real.

2) Post it on social media

Post it everywhere so your family, friends, colleagues and even enemies see it. The plan is to make it so official that there is no way in hell you can ever go back on it. Once the questions start rolling in every time you run into people, it’ll be pretty embarrassing to say you dropped out. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest… HUGE BOLD LETTERS.

3) Talk about it. A lot

Talk about it so much it makes your friends not want to hang out with you. It’s okay, they’ll love you again once you’ve calmed down, but for now, just keep.on.talking.

4) Get one of those hanging diaries

Yeah. One of those colourful ones. Write down all your scheduled training sessions. Count how many weeks until your event. Look at the weeks ahead and notice how the challenges get scarier and scarier. Put your hands dramatically up to your face and gasp.

5) Ignore your friends

Due to #2 and #3, your friends will start to take the piss out of you. They’ll try and calm your fear down by playing your future achievement down. Hell, they’ll even mock #4. But ignore them. Don’t give in to that third glass of wine.

6) Join a club

Find like-minded people. These will help you when your friends will try and talk you out of the fear. You’ll be amazed at how meeting friends with the same passion as you gives you a whole different kind of fear. They’ll start talking to you about things you don’t know about, like negative splits. Just smile, nod and Google later.

7) Learn how to create the fear

Even when I’d finished my first marathon and didn’t have anything to train for, I’d run. I’d race myself, I’d race my own stats and analyse my runs in great detail over a kale smoothie. I managed to give myself the fear by posting all my runs on Strava. This one might be harder if it’s pole dancing or Zumba, but doing a sport that gives you stats makes you feel like you have to beat them.

8) Become friends with the fear

Lastly, just admit it. You like the fear. You’ve embraced the fear as a positive thing. You’re one of those people now. Ugh.

 

Do you have the fear? If not, why not? Get it!

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