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Fear.  Does it paralyze you or push you forward?

For the last few months I have been preparing to run my first marathon.  Two weeks ago, I had terrible training run.  I was at mile 10 of 16, and I felt just plain bad.  I was hot, tired, thirsty, and just plain spent.  In my head, I was asking myself “Why not just quit for today?”  “Why not just stop running, walk home, and try again another day?”  I wasn’t injured.  I was just in a funk – lacking energy and looking for excuses.

I kept running.  I was afraid…

In my head the marathon itself is just the culmination of all of these training runs.  If I can complete them, I should be fully prepared to run 26.2 miles come October.  The race won’t be easy, but if I persist in my preparation, it will be attainable.  However, if I start quitting now – if I give in to the fear now –  I make that an option on race day.  Fear can’t win now and it can’t win on race day.  I am finishing that race.  The joy of finishing is going to be great, but it is the fear of not finishing keeps left foot following right and vice verse day after day and run after run.

I beat my fear that day, and I will beat it on race day.  I know it will be right there with me on every step between now and then, whispering in my ear, tapping me on my shoulder, wrenching through my muscles, aching in my joints… I will not let fear win.

Do I always beat my fear? Sadly, no.

I have plenty of 1/2 written songs, unfinished blog posts, unexplored ideas, and other casualties of my lifelong battle with fear.  At times in my life my fear has kept me from quitting some really wasteful, stupid things.  On other occasions fear kept me from starting or staying with some of great things.  Fear is ruthless.

The good news is, over time, I am learning more about my fear.  If I let it, it can be my worst enemy.  If I own it, it will push me to succeed.

What role is fear playing in your life?  Is it pushing you forward or holding you back? What will you do about it?