I have a marathon in approximately 30 days and I’ve run less than 20 miles in the last month. While that sounds crazy and I could give you many excuses why my training is so drastically weak, the truth is that I’ve rarely been prepared for any long race I’ve attempted over the years. Is it because I’m lazy or unmotivated? Perhaps, at times. But I believe it’s more likely due to a routine, unconscious desire to create this deficit for myself so that I am forced to continually face fear and punish the Resistance in my head murmuring doubt in my ability to achieve my goals. Sure, I could follow a strict training plan and hit the starting line assured and prepared, but in my weird little brain, this is never enough challenge. I do maintain a fairly solid base fitness level and have been running for over 25 years, so I certainly don’t recommend any new runners attempting a marathon without training, but for me, I sometimes need the challenge and fear that go with knowing I’ll have to dig deep to finish the race at all.
I need fear in my life. That fear is what keeps me pressing forward and builds confidence in my ability to overcome that same emotion through a much higher, overarching desire to control my destiny, no matter how hard it may be. In Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, he talks about something called The Resistance. He writes, “Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of the Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”
I will be scared at the start line of the Big Sur Marathon on April 29th. I won’t know what the race will bring, but I do trust my own senses, my attunement with my body, and my confidence that I can handle anything life throws my way. Conquering this fear of the unknown while being often unprepared is for me, an example of life itself. Perhaps I need challenges like this to remind me that through every other facet of my life, I can overcome fear and Resistance to reaching my goals. It will be hard and it will likely bring much pain along the way, but it also offers the thrill and joy of success, if only I can push myself there. I believe overcoming fear is the secret to pushing ourselves forward and silencing the doubt in our heads. Whether it’s a running race, a financial goal, professional goal, personal or relationship goal, almost all start lines are laced with fear. Fear of failure, and sometimes, maybe even a fear of success. Still, it MUST be overcome.
As Pressfield writes, “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
With that in mind, get out there and conquer the Resistance!