"The greatest simulator of my running career was fear." This quote from Herb Elliott has always stuck with me for a number of reasons, but now more than ever. One of these reasons is perhaps because I've never understood it. Elliot is arguably the greatest middle distance runner of all time, having allegedly never lost a race over 1500m or the Mile. What was he scared of? Why did this fear make him so good?
Whilst I am not in a position to answer these questions, fear is an emotion that I myself have experienced in the last few months, returning to running from a grade 2 stress fracture in my right tibia. When eventually given the all clear from the physio to pull on my trainers again, I was paranoid. Every twinge below the knee sent alarm bells ringing in my head. Every runner making a comeback will know this unique and frustrating feeling. As weeks pass, the alarm bells become fainter and confidence returns, but now a new fear arises. A fear that my fitness won't come back, a fear that I won't be able to reach the levels I've been at before. This fear has haunted me in the past but I've always quickly shaken it. This absence from the sport has been longer than ever; however, and ambition is at a relative low.
There are 2 ways to use this fear, one is to shut it out and ignore it completely, but what I consider to be a better method is to let it motivate you. After all, don't we all run fastest when running away from something? Training has been sporadic but it feels good to be running again, and the fear of getting injured again is more than enough incentive to do the dreaded rehab exercises.
Best of luck to everyone racing at the Southern XC Championships tomorrow, I'm gutted I can't be at Parliament Hill, without doubt my favourite venue on the UK cross country scene.
"The greatest simulator of my running career was fear."