Take track workouts for example. Sometimes you look at the track workout your coach wrote for you and think, "Holy cow I don't think I can do that??" And then you stress about it for several days (but healthy stress- not obsessive destructive melt-down stress) and then you go to the track with fear in your heart but you run the best you can and guess what? You hit those splits! Rock on! That healthy rational fear actually helped you get through the workout. Ok, not just get through it, but NAIL IT! Perfect.
Then there's other workouts where maybe you should have had a little more rational fear (or respect) prior to starting. You know the ones... on paper they don't look all that challenging but then you get out there and try to do it and it's like. "Where's my rest? and Why am I breathing so hard?" Sometimes workouts are a lot harder when we're actually doing them than they were when we were reading them and it would have done us a little good to have some respect for the workout going into it. Just because you're not running as fast as you possibly can doesn't mean that several miles at tempo pace with very little rest won't be a good solid challenge. Rational Fear can be good.
Or take Regina, for example. She just found out that the bike course at Mooseman (her first 70.3!) has been changed and now includes some monster hill right in the beginning of the bike. Holy cow. And then they're going to loop around and do it again. Holy cow x 2. A little rational fear here would be a good thing. ;) Not that she needs to be crippled by fear, but let's face it-some healthy respect for that hill will be good. So lets go find some big hills and train on them to gain some confidence and strength and then let your healthy respect work for you on race day.
And in my own world, this morning was a timed 1000 in the pool. Definitely had some fear in my heart last night thinking about it... how much it was going to hurt... how much I wanted to be faster than I was last April when we did a timed 1000... I had a pretty lofty goal in mind for how fast I was hoping to swim (20+ seconds faster than last year!) and really was not sure that I would be able to hit it. Jogging to the pool this morning I had the following thoughts in my head:
~How are you possibly going to swim 2+ sec/100 faster than you did last year? You were pretty fast last year.
~You're older now and your body isn't going to take this hard stuff anymore (Have to thank Ange here for her recent post on her wicked hard track running at age 40! which helped me ignore this particular thought.)
~Just accept it that you might not be able to make it.
Anyway, I did what I could to talk myself back into the workout and by the time I got to the pool I was determined to give it my all and see if that would be enough to hit my goal. I felt much better warming up this morning than I did on Wednesday, so that gave me some confidence. Eventually there was no more delaying and it was GO time. I started my watch so I could get my splits at each 100... started off maybe a little too quickly, but at the 500 I was right on target to hit my best case scenario goal! Which, by the way, was the fastest 500 I've swam in that pool, um, ever? So now I was going to do it again without taking a break. Yeah right!?! My goal was lofty. I mentioned that, didn't I? Anyway, I checked my watch again at the 800 and was a couple seconds off pace, which made sense because by that time my whole body was numb and I was just trying to not let my stroke completely fall apart. I put my head down and powered through the last 200 as hard as I possibly could. I can't ever remember working so hard in the pool. I hit the wall and saw on my watch that I was 8 seconds off my goal. But then again, it was still 14 seconds faster than last year and the fastest 1000 I've ever swam in that pool so I cannot complain.
Brad Hudson says in his book, Run Faster, that it's appropriate for athletes to hit their goals 50% of the time. If you're always hitting your goals, then your goals are too easy. If you're never hitting them, then they're set inappropriately high. But if sometimes you hit them and sometimes you don't, that's perfect. So I missed it today. But I tell you what, the rational fear I had going into this mornings workout allowed me to get closer than I would have had I not felt any fear at all.
This weekend is another local sprint triathlon... I know... race a lot, Michelle? ;) Seems like we're racing every weekend all spring around here. Anyway, I'm going to let some Rational Fear work for me on Sunday. My goal is just to push as hard as I can, move as fast as I can, and stay completely focused for the whole hour+. It's just a sprint triathlon, so it would be easy to dismiss as no big deal... but I'll go into it with a healthy dose of respect so I won't be caught off guard by how hard it will be!