When I glanced at my training plan this morning I saw 7 miles and strides. I immediately knew I would need my flats. As soon as I went in my closet, my eyes gravitated toward my neon green Oiselle spike bag. This has been happening on a fairly regular basis; getting my runners, getting any item of clothing, when I take naps (because my closet is the perfect napping spot; dark, cool, quiet... perfection). That bag houses my spikes, which have lay untouched and unlaced since June. I knew I should be doing some of those strides in spikes today. The truth is I should have used them last week and didn't because, honestly, the thought of running fast in spikes makes me feel a little sick. What if my foot isn't totally healed? What if it hurts? What if I hurt it again, after only one stride? What if I'm not fast anymore?
Whenever I'm scared to do something, I come back to a run I had a few years ago; a simple premeet that has become a cornerstone of my athletic psyche. My friend Anita and I were both racing at an indoor meet in Seattle and met to do a shakeout. Anita is one of my favorite people to run with; we always run too fast and have the best talks. I remember her saying "I'm not ready to race but I'd rather find out where I am right now than in three weeks when it's too late". We talked about how easy it was to avoid racing with a plethora of (sometimes legitimate) excuses at the ready. But we both knew at a certain point it doesn't matter. You need to find out where you are; ready or not.
So I'm in my closet looking at this spike bag, wondering if I should grab it. Wondering if I'm ready. Telling myself I don't need to be in spikes yet, there is no rush. I'm simultaneously wanting to run and skip and jump around in my spikes; maybe put some two inch spikes in and aerate the lawn. But what if I'm not there yet? What's the harm in waiting another week? I think back to that premeet with Anita, grab my spikes, and head out the door.
Today I decided to stop being scared and found out where I was. I didn't know what would happen when I put them on. Maybe my foot would hurt. Maybe I'm not fast anymore. Maybe everything is fine. As athletes (and human beings) we get invaluable data from doing things that scare us. We see our braveness, force ourselves to face ugly realities, discover amazing possibilities, and (in my current case) find out that spikes aren't scary. It seems easier in the short term to worry and be scared. Push "scary" tasks to the back of your mind until it's perfect. If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives. So go do that scary thing you've been avoiding this week.
ps. Strides were awesome. My foot didn't hurt and I'm still fast.