Fear of failure can be a great motivator to help you succeed in running, it can empower you to push and push and push because you don’t want to be seen to failing in front of your friends, family and peer group so you stubbonly push through the physical pain as the psychological pain of failure is too much to bear.
Fear of failing can also be extremely overwhelming at times, crippling in fact, almost choking you to the point that it stops you performing because your fear turns into anxiety that almost grinds you to a stop. Being anxious at the start of an event can result in a loss of confidence which can in turn affect your run.
In my experience a poor perfermonce often has more to do with the anxiety caused by the fear of failure than any lack in training. I have in the past worried very much about failing in races, running superior workouts and racing well in low key race but then when it came to the big events I’d perform poorly. It took me a few years of racing experience and being creative with strategic tactics to help me get over the fear of failure, hence my advice of standing on the start line in a “superman pose”
I have known many runners would come up with flamboyant cop outs or avoidance tactics before, during or after races to cover the fact that they fell victim to the fear of failure.
Runners set up for failure by putting pressure on themselves by setting goals that are too high, or allow others to do that for them. Then they can worry about letting their coach, their family or their team mates down, they don’t want to be embarressed in front of others, I get that. But it’s ok to fear not meeting expectations, failure to reach goals is part of the process of running, if you are not willing to risk failure you’ll never fully succeed.
And sometimes things happen that are out of our control that mean you also don’t meet your goals, being prepared for this and building up the much needed resilience to stay strong and with integrity means that failure should also be welcomed.
And isn’t this fear of failure so true of our lives outside of running, we seem to be frightened of failure in our daily lives which stops us doing things that we really love.. I’ve had quite a lot of critisism from outside sources since I set up RunVerity 5 years ago, at times I have been physically crippled by this critisism and judgement. Too many to mention but at one point RunVerity was threatened by a man who said he was going to play sniper in the bushes and shoot us all, I have been publically shamed on social media, a debate then continued on all of my flaws, but this is not a pity party, my husband says I am fearless, I am, I believe in what I do, but sometimes it hard to have courage in your convictions and be the most unpopular person in the room. Be bold, be strong, remember what you value in life and as Brene Brown says, “Don’t take critisism from people who are not living their life couragiously”.