132 comments and a whole lot of insight
To prove we are not alone; ‘your greatest fear when you turned up to your first running session’…

When I asked our community of runners to respond to this open-ended statement, I was nothing short of astounded by the raw honesty and heart-felt admissions that poured onto my Facebook news-feed within moments, and continued to do so for many days after. Conscious that this is but a brief snap-shot of thoughts, I am also aware that this may indeed be a true reflection of what the broader running community also feel when it comes to starting running, joining a new running group, lining up at a race, or just putting on their runners and standing on the doorstep gripped in fear.
Irrational or not; the fear is very real.
It may just be however, that the reality isn’t as frightening as we think.
First; some statistics collated from our post and those who commented—so many thanks to those who did, for without your honesty and openness, there may still be so many out there who think they are alone with their doubts, myself included.
* 53 people told us their fears
* 23% admitted that their greatest fear was ‘Being too slow’…
* A further 23% were most afraid of ‘Not knowing anyone, or not making friends’…
* ‘Not being good enough’ made up 11% of all doubts
* 10% had concerns relating to ’Body Image’
* ‘Being judged, embarrassing oneself, and not being able to ‘get through’ the session’ were named as what was holding back 8% of those who commented
* A further 4% were worried about ‘Holding others back or not performing to expectations’…

None of these fears or doubts are silly. In fact, even 4% of our audience who commented, noted that what frightened them the most about attending their first running session was dying or going into cardiac arrest. Not entirely illogical and certainly worth a mention in this article.
Appreciating the fact that, regardless of what we think others may be thinking, it might be fair to surmise that others are thinking exactly the same things we are!
We are holding ourselves back from doing something that could quite possibly be life-changing for fear that we are going to be the only one out there believing we are too slow, not good enough, the outsider… For me, knowing that everyone else has these same doubts and negative voices in their head, makes me feel a lot less ridiculous, and more likely to take that leap of faith in the safe knowledge that others are doing the same. That’s a nice thing to know, a nice feeling, that—
we are not alone.
When it comes to running as part of a squad; it is fair to say, that regardless of how long one has belonged to said group, each individual is there to focus on their own training pursuits and solo endeavours. Yes we are there to provide support to one-another, to encourage each-other, however, whilst we are running an effort at whatever pace that may be for each of us, the last thing going through our minds is what the person next to us is doing; how they look when they run, what pace they are running at, whether we are likely to form a strong relationship with them, or just a casual mate-ship. We are far too consumed worrying about ourselves!
If this then is the truth, why do we worry so much about what others may think?
*Studies show (link is external) that we consistently overestimate how much, and how badly, others think about us and our failings. An unfortunate consequence of this is that we are far more inhibited and far less spontaneous and joyful than we could be. Source: Pixabay

So then; what do we do? What is the all empowering answer to this predicament we so often find ourselves in? I am not a psychologist, I don’t have the answer; all I hope to do is stir some thoughts and feelings within you so that you may, in time, come to an agreement within your head and your heart on how best to deal with this very real issue.
What I can offer is some comfort in extending to you the compilation of comments to our prompt on social media that we are all being held hostage by the similar fears and doubts of embarrassment and expectations that we put on ourselves.
Our community of runners, not only posted their fears, but also responded to those of others, with some sound and sage advice, warmth, and understanding…
* ‘We will never judge you’
* ‘The fear is real, but the reality is never as bad as we fear’
* ‘Do it—Everyone is welcoming and you will not regret it’
* ‘Take a leap of faith…’
* ‘Everyone is in their own little pain-cave out there regardless of speed. I know I don’t have the energy to do anything but get through the next interval, let alone worry about what others are doing.’
* ‘I’ve never finished a session and though “Gee I wish I had skipped that one”! But when I do miss one, I’m always regretting it…’
* ‘I soon realized that you get out of it what you put in. Everyone has different levels and skills, but you come together to practice your craft with like-minded people in a supportive environment.’
* ‘I actually thought I had to ‘get better’ before I joined, when really; you get better once you join!’




Qualified running coach and marathon runner. Proud Founder of Generation Run Running Squad. Join us and become a Gen Runner today!

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