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Month: January 2024

Fear and Action – Mental Toughness In Ultrarunning

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. One who lives life fully is prepared to die at any time.” – Mark Twain

I was thinking about this quote and had a different spin on it.  Fear and action cannot occupy the same space inside your mind.  The idea is we only have two states our mind and body can occupy at any given moment.  That state is either fear or action.  Before you act, you are in the grip of fear, which normally doesn’t let you act.  The trick is to act before the fear takes hold of you.  Fear makes you believe that 100 things will go wrong before the first step. 

AI image of Fear and Action – Via Bing Image Creator

The power comes after we take that first step.  Every action after the first step melts fear away.  It forces your mind to THINK, “Well, what is my next step going to be?”  You have left the state of fear, and are now in the state of action.  That first step is critical.  Procrastination falls under the classification of fear.  It grips you in thinking no matter what choice you make, it’s wrong.  That’s where we get caught, debating if it’s the RIGHT action.  Action eliminates fear instantly.  You can’t be afraid AND move forward. The fears might be there, but they have a hard time growing roots.  The mind gets focused on making decisions for what needs to be done to keep flight AND move forward!

This brings up the idea of iterative design.  The idea is that we keep improving on every attempt.  “First is the worst” is what I always say.  Iterative design is a design methodology based on prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product or process.  Version 2.0 of YOU gets released only after version 1.0.  It’s not complete until nothing is left to add or take away depending on how you look at it.  The issue is we have to create that first version.  That first version takes the most effort.  Each improvement on that previous version is substantially easier.

AI image of Fear and Action – Via Bing Image Creator

That’s the beauty of running.  There’s always next year, next run, and hopefully tomorrow.  I design a lot of my life with the ability to create a better version of myself. I have put many of my “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” on my TO DO list to achieve each year and get completed with daily effort. The future comes one day at a time and no task can survive daily attacks.  If you put in the work then the greatest of achievements will become yours, and thus the greatest version of yourself.  

AI image of Fear and Action – Via Bing Image Creator

My new version of Mark Twain’s quote is this:

“The fear of failure follows from the fear of action. One who acts in life is prepared to fail at any time AND become the best version of themself.”

I force myself to act, to become that version of myself I imagine.  Am I afraid as I move forward?  Sometimes, but if you move fast enough fear never sticks.

Finally, I leave you with one more quote to think about.

“My Dear,
Find what you love and let it kill you. Let it drain you of your all. Let it cling onto your back and weigh you down into eventual nothingness. Let it kill you and let it devour your remains. For all things will kill you, both slowly and fastly, but it’s much better to be killed by a lover.”

― Falsely yours, Henry Charles Bukowski