Monday, 25 August 2014

My running group challenge - Fail?

So tonight I pushed myself to do a personal challenge I set myself.  

I quit half way through.

But ended up finishing it.

Read on...

I have a few blog posts I'm halfway through writing at the moment - so bear with me when they end up being out of order!  But for now, I needed to scribble down tonight's story, to get it off my chest.

(And also because I said on my Instagram account, that I would write it on here)...

So if you're a regular, or semi regular reader of my blog, you'll know that I take the Every-4-Weeks-12WBT-Mini-Milestones that we're meant to do, and turbocharge them - I do them
weekly.  For a year or two now, I've set myself a weekly challenge to conquer.  They're usually things that scare me - things I want to face - things I've always meant to do.  They used to be crazy exercise feats.  1 fun run and 2 triathlons in one day - that kind of thing.

I've moved onto stuff that's more good for the soul, but still, each challenge is well thought out and planned for a specific reason.

I have to still update you and tell you what my 12 challenges are for this round!  I will do that!

But one of them is one I set myself months ago.  Like a long time ago.

It was, to attend a running class..

I had a run coach once.  I only did two training sessions with him, along with a fellow runner.  I've also attended two one off running clinics.  That's it.  I've never been to a run group, or gone for a run with a group of friends, outside events.

Because, the thought of doing that terrifies me.
Blurry vision when you're running, and upset

I've done dozens of events, and find it no real anxiety issue to run alongside thousands of people during them.

But, go for an organised, non-event run with a small group of people, socially, or for training?


The whole thing freaks me out.  It's mainly because I'm so slow!  I just feel like I can't do it.  I've been like this the whole time since I started running.  Friends tell me about them doing runs with run clubs on the weekends, and I can never imagine myself joining them.

Even when I went to Marathon School, it was all theory based, but you could attend physical running training sessions if you wanted, as extras.  I never attended one.

So because of this, I thought it was time to conquer my fear, and just go and do ONE class.  That's it.  I never expected to join, it was never my intention to do it regularly.  I don't really think it's for me.  But I wanted to push myself - be brave enough to show up and do one class.

I guess secretly, I was hoping that I would like it, so I could break through it and not have this fear any more.

I found a Beginners running group that train on Monday nights.  This run club run heaps of weekly sessions - but the Beginners one jumped out at me.  I know, I'm not a Beginner.  But really, I've been putting this off for so long, I had to give myself as much help as I could!  Beginners seemed safe.  Maybe I could keep up.

I emailed the company a week ago to check that it was still on.  I sort of thought maybe it wouldn't be - as we lead into Summer, Brisbane's running event calendar winds down a little bit.  Maybe the run group wouldn't be on, in 'off season'.

Then I wouldn't be able to go.

That would be a shame. :)

They replied and said that yes, they run all year round.



Ok, that's ok.  I can do this.  I planned to go last Monday night, but chickened out.

So I replanned, for tonight.

I wasn't too nervous, in the lead-up.  Even though I had no idea what they did.  D
Under the freeway - Brisbane's river loop
id they do drills?  Did they practice technique?  Did they go for little 100m runs?

My goal was just to attend, with I guess, a secondary goal of not humiliating myself.

As I drove there after work, I started to get fearful.  What was I doing??  I was so scared!  It would be so much easier to go home and drown my sorrows into takeaway Pad Thai...

I thought the traffic would be bad.  Maybe I would be late and would have to miss out.  Oh well...

The traffic was fine.

Then I thought I may not get a park.  I would have to miss out then!  Oh well...

I found a park straight away.


As I walked towards the run office, I still considered turning around.

My confidence has been so low lately.  And in particular, today, I had particularly shot confidence and self-esteem.  It wasn't a good day for me to be attempting something where I had to be brave.

I made myself walk inside though.  An extra coach was there, and he asked me to sign in by writing my name down.  I realised I forgot to bring my money to pay for the class!  My first thought was, I could go and "get my money", but really, just leave and go home!  Yes!  All was not lost!

I wrote my name down and the coach recognised my name. :(

So as I walked to my car to get the money, I realised I couldn't easily slip out and not come back, as he knew my name.

I walked back inside.

I introduced myself to the actual coach.  He explained we'd be going to Brisbane River, then running out for 20min., then running back for 20min. 

I gave myself an out, straight away.  I explained I didn't know if I could do that, so that if he lost me and couldn't find me, not to worry, I was fine.  

He welcomed the group.  Apart from the 2 coaches and myself, there were 9 other people.  From what I heard, they were all very new to running - kind of what you'd expect at a Beginners group!

We had to wear flashing light wrist bands, for safety / identification.

We ran towards the river.  As soon as we started, I decided I couldn't do this.

I was filled with anxiety, and I was at the back of the group, and I was telling myself the worst things about myself.  (Seriously, I really mean it when I say my confidence and esteem is at an all time low).

I decided to try to hang back so far that I could just slink off and hide without anyone noticing, and go back to my car.  I kept following them though, trying to find an opportune time.

We got to the river - people started stretching and the coach started explaining the plan.  Oh my goodness, that was just the warm-up run, and I couldn't even handle that??

He explained to run out for 20min., then turn around and come back.  The idea was, that we'd all end up back here at the same time, no matter what the distance.  It was an individual pace thing.  As long as we ran for 20min.

I was terrified.

KATE!  Seriously!  What is wrong with me?  The longest I've run straight for, without stopping, is 4 hours and 45 minutes.  I can run for 20min.  But I didn't think I could tonight, in a group.

I kept thinking of pulling out, but I kept going along with it.  The only thing that kept pushing me to stay, was my goal I had set.  I wanted to conquer it.

Every time I thought about pulling out, I reminded myself of my goal.  But then I remembered...hang on, I'm pretty sure my goal was to "Attend a running group session."  I didn't necessarily say I had to "Complete a session!"  That relaxed me.  I had certainly attended, and hey, I'd even run a bit!  Ok, it was just the warm up, but mission accomplished, as far as I was concerned.

I was really, really scared, extremely upset (confidence shattering day) and talking so negatively to myself, that I really didn't have much hope riding on me to actually do this.  I had flickering thoughts that hey, maybe it won't be so bad once we start.  So I was trying.  But I kept telling myself that I could slink off after everyone gets ahead of me, if I wanted.  But at least just start.

We started running.  I was at the back anyway, but my smashed confidence and negative self talk was making me even slower.  I could feel it's affects!  The coach was up ahead, running alongside the next 'last' people.  That was good - I wanted him to stay there.  Keep running.  They were getting further away, and he kept turning his head back, to check on me.  I was getting more and more upset.  I couldn't do this.  I am so pathetic, I am such a failure.

I kept thinking of stopping, but I kept going.  Just do it, Kate.  You know how to run!

But my negativity got too much, and after I made sure the coach had turned a corner and
was out of view, I stopped.  Well, walked.

I'd lasted 3min.  We were meant to run 20min. out.  I did 3.

I was so stupid.  Such a failure.  Why did I even come?

I was walking in the direction of the rest of the runners, when I asked myself why I was bothering.  Why was I walking in this direction?

Turn around and go home, Kate!  There was no point in being here!

So, I did.

I was crying, and I turned around and started walking back.

I quit.

I don't usually quit things, but I just couldn't do this.

This was great - my first run group session, and I quit.  Good one, Kate.

I was a bit nervous about the coach worrying about me, but I had warned him that I might drop off, so he shouldn't care.

After a couple of minutes, he appeared.

He had run all the way back to find me.  I felt so bad.  And embarrassed - I tried to hide my tears.

He asked me why I was walking backwards.

I said there wasn't much point.  He said it was ok if I walked - at least I was out there, trying.

It was a bit hard knowing that the fact was, I could run - my whole stopping thing was about confidence and self talk.

He suggested I turn back and just walk the route.  He said it was better being out there at all.

I agreed - only because I don't like creating a fuss - so I turned and walked back in the 'right' direction.

Ok, so my quitting didn't really work too well!

The coach then walked with me and personally coached me for 1-2km or so.  We did running intervals and he encouraged me along. I tried to stop crying.

I explained that I could run, I'm just not fast.  He said that I didn't need to be fast.  I told him about my back, and told him about my speed issue at GCAM.  He was shocked that I'd run a half marathon.  I explained further.  I don't know what he was thinking of me - I knew myself, I was astounded that I couldn't even run for more than 3min. tonight, too.  He asked me what halfs I'd run.  He said I'd run more halfs than him this year.

This, from the teary girl who couldn't run past 3min. who turned back, quitting.

He coached me along for the rest of the 20min. and then told me to turn back, as he was going to run forward to help other people.

I felt a bit better but was still upset and embarrassed.  I kept going though, and even ran half of it.

When I got back to the meeting spot, the girls who I had judged earlier, that they wouldn't want to talk to me, were really nice - and when they noticed my top (I happened to be wearing my GCAM finishers shirt!) they made a commitment to book into their first half marathon, and jokingly asked if I would coach them.  They were so friendly and talked to me the whole way back to the office.  In the end, I arrived back laughing and talking, and wasn't the last to arrive. ;)

So, even when you quit something, things can turn around and you can end up completing something!  I really didn't see myself finishing the session - especially seeing as I quit!  But I'm glad it ended positively, as the alternative was going to be a lot more tearful and lonely.

I have certainly done this goal now, and can tick it off.  I won't be going back, the whole thing was too painful.  Maybe one day I'll have decent confidence and will feel fine to go for a run with friends, or in a group.  But for now, I'm glad I faced my fear, I'm proud of that.  I haven't conquered the speed thing, or the running confidence thing, but I turned up, even though it was so hard to do so, and I attemped it.  And that's enough in my book, for now.

We live, and we learn. xx


  1. I'm not a runner yet, and all the events I've done I've walked, but I've figured out that I really don't like doing them with friends. I feel pressure (completely self imposed) to stay with them, or that I'm slowing them down, I feel that I'm not as good as I should be, that I should be better etc. But when I can do it alone I'm fine, it's like being in amongst all those people somehow gives me the anonymity and permission to do my own thing, more people means less focus on me. I'm not sure that being comfortable in smaller running group is something that's essential, it may just be that you prefer to have heaps of people around you, either way you are still an inspiring young woman who continues to break through her barriers, who challenges her fears, who is completely human, and who really IS brave even though she doesn't think so. xox

    1. Thank you so much Leanne, I love your thoughts and you've suddenly made sense of this for me. I agree with everything you said. Safety in numbers, it's not essential to be comfortable with that and all the rest. Thank you for making sense of this for me and for taking the time to write. Thank you xxxooo

  2. I hope this comes out right! But I think you are so brave. I get totally stressed about going along to a new run group for the first time and this will sound crazy but I have even worried before that if I run too quick they may think I am trying to show off. We are all runners no matter what the speed and we all have our insecurities. You are amazing and inspiring x