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Why running is scary

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  December 1, 2013 10:10 PM

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“Central casting couldn't have found a better family.”

That’s the line my parents and I have heard over and over from public relations folks over the years.

By age 7 I knew how to succinctly explain my own birth. By age 8, I could thread my own microphone through a complicated outfit, artfully hiding the cable so that it wouldn't show on camera.

I learned how to diplomatically answer questions at a young age.

I was a fast study when it came to the media. Smile, nod, say what they want to hear, and then they go the hell away.

I became downright good at it.

That is the problem, though. I started to feel like I was downright good at many things (except math of course).

I don’t know whether I was a fast learner because I felt like I had to always get it right on the first try, or because I just liked to figure out how to master something quickly.

This skill of mastering things easily on the first try, though, is a double-edged sword.

It means, that the first time I didn't nail something right out of the gate, I immediately pegged myself as a failure.

For someone who already feels pressure to be perfect, clearly jumping straight to failure is not the ideal.

And so, if you’re me, you become so stubborn that you just don’t try something, or, you become obsessed with mastering the thing at which you failed.

The not allowing myself to fail complex also played a big role in my becoming a runner.

My mother, a teacher and child development major in college, summed it up to me this way: “You were never competitive because you were an only child. You never had to compete. You always just expected to finish first or be the best.”

She’s right.

It’s also why running is an unlikely love.

Running was the first thing I was just plain awful at. And, at times, still am awful at.

It’s not easy. It’s hard. There is always someone better. Or faster. Or stronger.

I hate that.

I hate being last.

I hate being slow.

I also know it’s good for me to get repeatedly knocked down a few pegs – I can still hear my parents saying they were not going to allow a prima donna daughter in their house.

Running has taken more time and patience than I would normally dedicate to something in order for me to improve.

It hasn’t taken days, or week, or even months: It’s taken years.

Years of forcing my body out the door to run when I knew I’d be running against no one but myself – I am my own worst competition.

Running forces me to really compete against myself to improve – and for someone who not only expects but downright demands perfection out of the gate for herself, it would be an understatement to say it has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

I have always thought of myself as someone who doesn’t quit or give up no matter what – but running made face that claim head on. Running is the first sport to test my will in a way I never thought possible.

Running has made me want to stop.

Running has made me doubt myself.

Running has made me prove and earn every step I’ve taken.

Running has forced me to fight every demon I have always tried to bury – the overweight girl who hid behind her sense of humor; the woman who doesn’t like people to get too close to her just in case they get bored and she gets too attached and then she winds up hurt; the woman who adores writing but worries every day that people are just telling her she’s good at it because they know that is what she wants to hear and she’s never had to fight as hard at writing as she has had to fight at becoming a runner.

Running scares the shit out of me, because it makes me worry if I give up or quit I’ll be everything I always said I wasn’t.

And if there’s one thing I like less than failing, it’s being wrong.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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