I think the first time I saw the phrase “Do one thing a day that scares you!” it was on a Lululemon bag. The bag was filled with inspiring quick thoughts like that but that one struck me. My first thought was “Yes!” it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and push your limits. But, then I thought about something that really terrifies me – – flying – – and I though “hell no!” Why should you do scary things unless you absolutely have to?

Why should I listen to you bag?

Why should I listen to you bag?

So, what is the answer? Is it good to do things that scare you? I guess it depends on what it is.

Lately, I’ve been having some seriously scary workouts. I don’t think I have ever truly been afraid of completing a training session in all of my 15+ years of running. Of course I have felt intimidated by pacing or afraid I wouldn’t be able to hit certain numbers in speed work or, that I would fall apart on a long run during marathon training, but I never actually looked at my training plan and thought “I don’t know if I can finish this.” However, that is exactly how I felt last week when I saw this:

Thursday: 2,500 yard swim/55 minutes followed by 10 mile run/1 hour and 20 minute run

Friday: 40 mile bike ride/2 hours and 30 minutes followed by six mile run/45 minutes

I was even more afraid when I started those runs! I seriously could not get out of my head for the first several miles. I started thinking of what I would do or who I would call if I was out in the middle of nowhere and just couldn’t finish. At the start of each of those runs, not finishing felt like a real possibility.

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But, I shifted my focus to stay present, to run only the mile I was in, I didn’t dare look at my watch and I just tried to listen to my music, my breathing, the birds, anything to distract myself from the pain or the fear.

I also thought, why am I doing this? What 41 year-old mom does this? Is it worth it?

So, what is the answer?

I started thinking about other things that have scared me in the past, how I have gotten though them and, how I felt on the other side of the fear:

HAVING KIDS

I never wanted to have kids, until I did. I got pregnant quickly, once I had decided I wanted to, and then of course got the shock of my life when I found out I was having twins. Nothing, at the time, could have been more terrifying. I was all set to have a perfect little one baby pregnancy and then all hell broke loose.

I adjusted. I researched. I listened to my body. I leaned on family and friends.

Everything turned out amazingly well (so far) and having my boys is the single best thing that has ever happened to my life.

None of my fears have come to pass, and dreams I didn’t know I had have come true.

Don't let those smiles fool you! These two are scary!

Don’t let those smiles fool you! These two are scary!

SELLING MY PERSONAL TRAINING STUDIO

I could say I didn’t have a choice. My aunt had been lovingly taking care of my boys since the day they were born and it allowed me to continue working and running the business I had worked five long years to build. I made it though my maternity leave and then, about two years later, my aunt started having some serious back issues and was no longer able to watch my sons.

I was devastated for her, for my kids and for me. I immediately started looking for a nanny and then realized that it just wasn’t worth it to rush into a relationship with someone I didn’t even know to be in charge of the two most important little humans in my life. I didn’t have to work but I wanted to, until it was a choice between my studio and my kids.

The inside of my studio - VITA Train for Life!

The inside of my old studio – VITA Train for Life!

I was very afraid of being a stay-at-home mom. Very afraid.

But then, I started this blog, and over the days and months and years, began writing more and more. I have made countless amazing friends, have traveled all over the United States and the world to compete, and even have a pretty good freelance writing gig.

None of my fears were realized and dreams I didn’t know I had, have come true.

FLYING

I’m not really sure how this fear manifested itself so it’s more difficult to overcome. When I started to realize the fear had become larger then something I could handle, I went for the quick fix and got a prescription from my doctor.

However, I have made a conscious decision, knowing this is an irrational fear, to do two things:

  1. Never let it effect my travel/life plans
  2. Never show my kids how afraid I am when they’re flying with me

That second one is pretty difficult but so far, my husband has been able to distract them when he knows I’m about to lose it.

I always feel so badly for the people who have to sit next to me.

I always feel so badly for the people who have to sit next to me.

THE REALIZATION

So now, when I’m faced with real fears I think “what is the worst possible outcome?” For all my fears (except for flying!) the worst possible outcome is not that bad at all.

I’ve realized one of the most important things about fear:

You can do scary things, as long as you’re not afraid to fail.

I’m set to do the hour long swim and hour and half run today and, probably a few more times in the training cycle. I’m still afraid of how much pain I will feel during it but, no matter what happens, I know I will come out stronger on the other side.

Ultimately, my answer is YES, you should take the advice of the marketing people at Lululemon and do scary things! You may realize dreams you don’t even know you have.

[Tweet “Should you do scary things? YES! But only if you’re not afraid of one thing… #train4life”]

I will also face one of these fears tomorrow morning, as I board a plane to Breckinridge Colorado, to see if they have any snow! See you all on Monday, March 21 when I celebrate 41 years on this planet!

Do you do scary things? Tell me about them!