Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Don’t Fear Fear

One of the downsides of human nature is the emotion of fear. That’s right, fear. Its part of who we are as individuals and as a species.  It starts at an early age and continues for life.  As children we are afraid of the dark, afraid of monsters under our bed and even afraid of thunder and storms.  You may chuckle saying those are silly but to children they are real and as adults we too have many fears that manifest themselves for whatever reason.  Too many fear, or the perception of fear is reality and that can be difficult to deal with.
Exercising or competing in endurance events is not immune to the fear factor.  In fact, wasn’t there a popular television show on by that very name? Now I’m not talking about jumping into a pit of Vipers or eating live tarantula but fear associated with exercising can be strong enough to keep a person from achieving the goals they have set for themselves.
One of the top fears for people that would like to do a triathlon is the fear of getting bitten by a shark. In some the fear is so strong they can’t even swim in an lake or a river, knowing full well there are no man eating sharks in a lake and catfish are just too lazy to put that much energy into having to chase down food.  This may be more dramatic, but for others it’s more subtle. For 44 years I had a fear of water and it took a lot of courage, hard work and self-examination to overcome my fear of water and learn to swim.
For others fear of failure to reach a weight loss goal, fear of not finishing an event, fear of looking uncoordinated or heavy in front of others keeps countless people from even attempting to start an exercise program.  They know they need to, they want to but the fear of failure can be had to overcome.
Fear no more as you can overcome your fears and achieve your goals.  Think of FEAR as an acronym for False Expectations Appearing Real.  We tend to blow our fears out of proportion and our minds take our fears to the worst extent. We become so wrapped up in what could happen that we become paralyzed to the extent of inactivity. 
Ironically the anxiety we have over the fear (i.e. not finishing a race, fear of being laughed at by others at the health club or not losing those 10 pounds in six months) is actually worse than fear its self. How many times have you done something that you were afraid to do and ended up saying, “well, that wasn’t so bad.”
Take time to think through and rationalize your fear. Try and understand what it is that you are actually afraid and identify a plan to overcome your fear. If you are afraid of attending an exercise class because you can’t keep up, attend a class as a spectator to see what the environment is like. 
Face your fears, think through them, create a plan and tackle the. I think you will find your fears melting away and you can be proud you achieve another goal in beating your fear. 
Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and Groups Exercise Instructor, exercise, health and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events. 

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