Sure adventure and spontaneity are thrilling, but I prefer to read the Yelp review before diving into the wild unknown. So when it comes to trying new things in running, even something as simple as trying a new path, my heart quickens and my nerves kick in.
Heading out my front door and running through the neighborhood is the easy thing to do. And I often fall into this routine. I’ve even said before that the treadmill is my not-so-secret love affair, which has a lot to do with the ease and security of hopping on, zoning out, and getting my run in. But tackling a path that I’ve never been down is especially nerve-racking, mostly because it’s new. I mean it’s easy to eat the same meal that you always get at your favorite restaurant. Venturing to another page in the menu is like trying a new running path, you just don’t know what to expect.
The path I now run so often that I know it like the back of my hand used to be a great big mystery to me. Around 1.5 miles the path winds down a hill, crosses a street, and disappears into the woods. Whenever I’d run the path I’d stop at the bottom of the hill and turn back. I often saw runners darting into the woods, but I couldn’t see where they went. I’d go home and study the map. I could see that the trail continued on for another 5 or 6 miles, but it looked like it was up in the mountains, and this frightened me. I even googled the name of the trail and read everything I could about it. The path was doable, but still completely unknown to me. I was so nervous to try this new thing.
One day when my schedule called for a 4-mile run, I decided to brave that extra half-mile into the woods. The path turned into a trail that became slightly technical leading me down by a river and over roots and rocks.
To my surprise, I couldn’t help but smile at the adventure I was having! But again at my turn-around point, I could tell that the path continued on, but I couldn’t see to where. At the time, the idea of going any farther intimidated me.
Jumping Into the Deep End
This reminds me of learning to jump into the deep end of the swimming pool with my dad. I can vividly remember standing on the edge of the swimming pool looking out to my dad. He was in the water calling me to jump in, which I did successfully. Eagerly I climbed out of the pool and stood on the edge looking out to him again, but this time he seemed farther away. But I jumped in again.
The thrill of jumping in successfully was so much fun that I climbed out of the pool again and stood on the edge. My dad called for me to jump in, “Don’t worry, I’ll catch you!” But he seemed even farther away. Despite any fear I was feeling, I jumped into the pool anyway.
When my head popped out of the water, I had a giant smile on my face! With a little trust and bravery, I was able to jump into the pool and go little farther each time.
Running New Paths
Over time I conquered the trail in a similar way. I’d go a just a little farther and see where it took me. I became comfortable with each little extension of path. I ventured farther along the path gaining more and more miles and seeing even more new sites. To my amazement, I found that the trail leads to a bridge, three waterfalls, a gorgeous view of the harbor, and offshoot trails that I plan to gradually explore too.
It seems silly how nervous I was to conquer the path now that I run it so often. I need to remind myself of moments like this, because fear and anxiety often keep me from trying new things in running (and in life). But my go-to trail is a perfect example of jumping into the deep end and coming out all smiles. What I learned is that taking baby steps, conquering the new path in small manageable bites, helped me find the confidence I needed to run the whole trail.
Share Your Runner Vibes…
What gives you nervous excitement in running?