Why am I Scared to Race?


I was reading the blog of a new friend and it got me to thinking about sharing one of my fears – racing. What? Racing, mind you, not running.  Is there a difference? How do I plan to ever run that half-marathon if I’m afraid to race?  Let me explain.

Started with the treadmill. I started actually running on a treadmill. The view in front of me was always the same, the front of the employee’s gym and the television on the wall.  It wasn’t scary. I was safe in my closed in-box. No one would see how long or far I ran. It was a truly controlled, comfort zone.

The first time I raced, the Disney Family 5K was my first venture outdoors. I know, I know – a shocker. Faced with this wide open space, I remember being paralyzed with fear that there was a whole running world out there.  So many confident, looking runners!

Once we returned, I finally made the move to run outdoors in the parking lot next to the government building.  Running was a little scary even then, not race scary, just kind of scary.  While hundreds of other runners ran along the pathway by the road, I stuck to the parking lot; another attempt to contain my view. After that, I finally found the courage to locate an outdoor track.  It’s been fun, I’m use to this track and it’s frequent visitors – some walking, some running, even roller-blading. It can be a little intimidating with the wall gone.  The far end of the track sometimes seems so far away. But, what about races? Now, those ARE scary!

The difference between a race and a run is….I’m sure no one cares but me. I know it’s all in my mind, in fact, no one probably cares how I do in a race except for me, but it gets me to thinking. What if it’s too hot out and I can’t race.  What if I come in last? What if I get tired? What if…? A run is relaxed. I push myself when I want; I stop when I feel that I’ve pushed myself enough. A run has no pressure. I think the race scariness comes from the pressure of competition. I’m usually fine and excited about the race until I get to the start line, then my nerves take over and instead of saying, “Yes I can, it’s just like practice.” My first thought is, “Oh, no it’s 3.1 miles.” Look at the big, huge world between me and the finish line!

I guess the bottom line is that it’s fear of failure.  It’s knowing that no matter how much I train, I will look out at the vast space beyond the start line and think “oh, heck…what am I doing?” What I’m hoping is that each time it gets easier, not just the “running the race” part, but the nerves that will one day say, “YES, I CAN DO THIS!”


6 thoughts on “Why am I Scared to Race?

  1. Diawalker, I’m so glad you visited my blog, because now I’ve found yours. I love this post for many reasons, not the least of which is you posted it on my birthday, or that you are my 150th follower, but because it is honest, and honesty always wins… always! I hear other runners share the same sentiment about being scared to enter a race, and I tell them to look at it this way: mostly everyone has been running since they let go the coffee table when they were a toddler. The difference, in my mind, is all the hype. It’s still just running. The elite only make up the top five percent or so of a field, the rest of the runners are people like us, just out there for fitness and fun. I share a few common things with you: I traveled for the government in my last life, and did much of my training on the road; I am also a grandparent of two, and one on the way; and I qualified for the Boston Marathon at fifty. Don’t stress it, you will be fine. Enjoy the ride, talk to runners around you, most of which are outgoing, happy people like yourself. Good luck, and I can’t wait to read about your first marathon.


    1. Dear Jim, I must say your post not only made me smile, but I enjoyed a good laugh – I LOVE honesty! Thank you so much for post. It definitely spoke to my runner’s heart. I’m definitely enjoying this journey I’m on and I’ve met so many great people -from “professional” runners to tons of newbies. Now I’ve met one more, you. Thank you for that. I look forward to reading your posts as well, truly motivating.

      Enjoy the day, enjoy the run!


  2. Good news is that your training kicks in and you KNOW you can do it. Everyone along the course wants you to succeed. That’s what makes this so much fun!


  3. I have never thought of it as a race, even when it is called one… Well except the time I wanted to beat the 3 year old. Lol I guess I just race against myself. At my first 5K I was second to last in my age group… Wuu huu endurance wise, I placed second! Enjoy yourself out there, that’s why we do it.


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