Learning to let go of fear

Ami Yamane, Voices

Getting on the line and letting go of all fear. 

For me, running itself hasn’t been a problem since I’ve gotten in shape. It’s more the mental aspect of it. I’ve always been mentally weak, and I’ve only ever known myself to do the bare minimum and not find out what I’m truly capable of. It could be in anything. Whether it’s my schoolwork or a hobby I picked up, I’ve always only done the requirement and nothing more. It’s this feeling of pure horror that arises at the thought of somehow failing and disappointing myself and others. 

The varsity girls’ team huddles up for the team scream before the third race of our season on Sept. 17, 2022 at Pearl City High School. (Ayumi Yamane)

In running, there is literally no such thing as not believing in yourself. If you look at any of the greatest runners in the world, none of them ever go into a race believing that they will fail. Then there’s me, a runner, who isn’t the greatest in the world, but still a runner who doesn’t believe in herself all the time. People ask me why I don’t have confidence in my training, and I never have an answer. My coaches are amazing, and they never have me do anything for no reason. I don’t know why I am the way I am, but I do my best to be better. I write affirmations and reassurance to myself in a journal before race days, and I remind myself of how hard I work at practice — yet I still get on the line with a burning fear of failure.

Then there’s that fear of being in pain. I hate doing things that could potentially put me in physical pain or harm. Which is weird because I’m a runner, and running is all about being able to feel the pain and run through it. This fear of pain has held me back in so many ways. I either go out too slow and save too much, I don’t run fast enough, or I don’t run at all.

I have missed out on so many incredible opportunities because of these little fears that I have. Just the thought of being on the start line for a race or even a time trial or hard workout makes my heart sink. When my coaches give me a certain pace to hit in a race or workout, the first thought that comes to my mind is, “wow, there is no way I can do that,” when it’s been proven by the times I have run before, that I can. I do my best to remind myself that I can do it, and even if it gets hard, I’ll push through it. But that’s my issue — I think about the difficulty before I even experience it.

The start line before we raced on the preview of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Cross Country course.
(Ayumi Yamane)

I’m currently in preseason, and I’ve only run one race since the Cross Country State Championship, but since then, I’ve looked into methods for building mental toughness, and I’m excited to test them out once track and field starts. I’m so ready to see what this season has in store for me, and hopefully, I’ll be back to write a post about how well I did. 

I have yet to run a race where I won’t be afraid of failing or feeling pain, but when that day comes, I can say I tried my best and gave it my all.