It should surprise no one that I am Facebook friends with a wide range of running-related pages/organizations, including Active.com, CoolRunnings, Runner's World, Running Times, Marathon Nation, IRunFar, See Jane Run, etc. Several of them definitely rotate through posting the same articles, and for a while there was one making the rounds called Fear No Run (which some quick Google-Fu quickly turned up). The article discussed common fears that runners sometimes experience as they get closer to a race, things like, "What if I don't finish?" "What if I start too fast?" "What if the terrain is tough?" "What if I slow down?"
These are all pretty foreign concepts to me. I can't remember ever worrying about not finishing a race, or slowing down, or getting beat by the terrain; I plan too well and train too methodically. By the time I'm at the starting line, I am usually able to accurately predict my finishing time to within a couple of minutes, depending on the distance. I know what my race will be, and all I really have do on the day of is execute. In that sense, the race (or time, or whatever) is really won more during the training cycle than it is on the course.
Lately, though, I have had other fears, and those fears are stopping me from signing up for races I want to run. The original plan for the year was to start with a 5K in February, take care of my injuries by March, run a 10K in April fully healthy, run the SF Half in July as a Prestige qualifier, then use the Long Beach International Marathon in October to qualify for Boston. Apparently, my injuries had other plans.
While I really, really can't complain about the 10K I ran in April, I did run it on 50-60% of the training mileage I'd have liked and still didn't manage to get 100% healthy by race day. All the uncertainty around how much I'd be able to run and train in May-June-July had me waffling about SF, and when I thought about the cost vs. the amount of running I figured I'd be able to get in post-injury vs. the likelihood of nailing the time I needed, I finally decided it made more sense to put it off. Instead, the new plan is to spend the summer working on my 10K and running several of those in preparation for really nailing the Half in October or November.
But I haven't signed up for any of them. Not even the local, relatively low stakes 10K in June. I've finally been able to admit to myself that it's because I'm afraid.
I'm afraid that as I dial up the mileage the pain will come back and my training will stall out again, making racing pointless.
I'm afraid of the drain that racing every four to six weeks might have on me and that it might result in overtraining, or undertraining for the half in an effort to avoid overtraining for the 10Ks.
I'm afraid of spending the money for a race and then blowing it by running poorly.
I'm afraid of not being able to run another 10K like the one I ran in Santa Cruz, of training all summer and still not being able to match or beat that time.
I'm afraid that my life will somehow manage to look completely and totally different by October/November, rendering the Half irrelevant. (On the other hand, at $50, the race I'm considering is a pretty cheap Half, and the first 500 people to sign up get nifty long-sleeves performance shirts, so that's sort of helping drive me past my fears.)
As of now, I'm still figuring out how to deal with all this. I may go ahead and register for the Half, but wait on most of the 10Ks until I see how my hip is holding up over the next couple of weeks. The nice thing about the 10Ks is that I don't think they're likely to sell out crazy early, and the price increases are far enough off that I can afford to postpone registering. That's all for now. I'll update in a couple of weeks.