Overcoming Fear and Achieving Your Fitness Goals (2 minute read)

You know that the path to your fitness goals is filled with hard work and sacrifice. Sometimes the sacrifice may be small like giving up that slice of cake.  At other times  you'll need to work to your wit's end to fight through lethargy and pain. You trust that your hard work will lead you to your goals and that you'll be the better for it. Trust, in this way, helps you overcome the fear of pain and discomfort.

Trust is a remedy for fear, but while it is easy for many to trust hard work, there are other ways that fear can attempt to sabotage your training and competitions. Here are three common fears and advice on how to overcome them.

Fear: Not having enough talent

Solution: Trust your body

Many of us fear of not being talented enough, or a fear that we are too lazy and that our bodies will lead us astray. Unfortunately, this fear can lead us to treat our bodies like foes to overcome rather than valued allies. While it is important to temper our desires to an extent, it is essential for the success of any athlete to learn how to listen to the cues our bodies tell us. Working against your body rather than with it can leave you injured, broken, or overtrained.

We live in a culture obsessed with natural talent, not paying as much attention to the deliberate effort that is the most important element of most success stories. It's easy to get caught up in the accomplishments of others and fall into the trap of comparison but your objective in training shouldn't be anything other than being the best you that you can be. So be patient with yourself and celebrate the small improvements. Trust your body. If you treat yourself well, you might be surprised at how much you can actually accomplish.

Fear: I haven't done enough

Solution: Trust your training

Don't let the fear of not working hard enough or the fear of not improving impair your ability to train smart. It has been well established in athletics that the most long-term improvement occurs when the body is broken down and given sufficient time to recover.  It's easy to want to set a new personal best every single time you practice and treat every workout like a competition, but this sort of short-sighted, self-gratifying thinking leads to fitness plateaus, burnout, and injury. Every workout has a purpose but most workouts aren't a competition. The multitudes of athletes and coaches that have gone before us have given us drills, workouts, and principles, learning what works best. It's clear that fitness success is not only about training hard but about training smart. A coach can help with this, but even if you are just following a training plan, note how you're supposed to be feeling day after day and compare this to how you actually feel. Be honest with yourself and change the way you approach your workouts accordingly. Trust the process, be patient, and do your research. Be wise enough to learn from the successes and failures of others.

Fear: I'll underperform in my competition

Solution: Trust your plan

Elite athletes are taught to visualize their competition before it happens. They focus on how it's going to feel. And while they focus on the positive, they prepare to adapt to imperfect scenarios when they happen. It's easy for a 5k runner to start off at too fast of a pace only to dramatically slow at the end of the race, going slower overall than they could have. The day of, and even in the days leading up to your competition, the hay is already in the barn. Trust your training and stick to your plan in order to be the best you can be.

Competition can give us a boost, show us what's possible, and enhance our self-efficacy, but draw your  strength from within. Push your limits, establish what's possible, and using your knowledge of yourself, perform your best. Remember that your competition is also human. They put in hours of training and practice and their performance will reflect that, the same as yours will. Have faith in the hard work that you put in and realize that your success will be because of it.

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