Marc Laithwaite asked me back at the end of Summer 2013 if I would give a talk about Night Navigation at the January Montane Lakeland 100 & 50 recce. I am pretty scared of public speaking, always have been since school, so I avoid it like the plague.
What better an opportunity to face my fear, as if you don't face your fears they just grow out of proportion & get the better of you.
I've done some presentation over the summer with Inov8, coaching an intro into Natural Running, so this gave me something to go on, but I'd done nothing in between, apart from a few navigation courses, which I wouldn't really deem as public speaking.
So I accepted. I figured I would have the Spine to talk about as well & I know my night navigation well, being the planner of the 1st Marmot Dark Mountains in 2013 & also for the future 2015 race. I didn't give it much thought between accepting and Christmas. Then the Spine was happening & I still hadn't prepared my presentation.
Long story short, I ended up preparing my talk the 2 days before the weekend. This was an error on my part. I had 2 days of extreme stress. I didn't know how to make a power point presentation, but I learnt pretty fast. I practiced it twice, once the night before, and once the morning before. Was this enough preparation? I didn't think so.
So what has this got to do with mountain running? Well its got lots to do with everything I coach. I coach people in Navigation, Mountain Skills & Natural Running amongst other things. What I teach is that practice makes perfect. I even brought this to light in my presentation, but I wasn't practicing what I preach. What I did was almost an on-sight, in climbing terms, which I really like, but its not advisable in navigation, mountain skills or natural running & if its your first time presenting a talk on night navigation to 120/130 eager ultra runners its certainly not the right thing to do in my book!
Anyway, what I talked about was fear, fear being the mind killer. Fear killed my mind for 2 days prior to the presentation. Did it stop me in the end?
No. Because the only way to expel your fears is to get out there & practice what your in fear of. By doing this you beat the mental block you have 'created' for yourself. And that is the important point, we all create these mental blocks. Anything & everything you really want to do is possible & guess what, its not as bad as you imagined, in fact you'll most likely find it really good fun & enjoy yourself.
Now I have no real idea of what the 120/30 Ultra Runners on the Lakes 100 recce thought of my presentation, but I got a few laughs at one of my slides, so that was a bonus for me. A few folk came to me at the end & after the recce & told me they thought it was great & that they learnt or related to what I had said, so that was positive feed back. But the most important thing for me was that I felt good about what I had done. In fact I positively enjoyed it! I am the kid who clammed up at school when I had to talk out loud & got sent out of one lesson for completely refusing to read out loud, as I was that scared. Yet on Saturday I really enjoyed it!
So what I'm driving at is what ever your fear, be it navigation, solo missions in the mountains or being able to run for more than 20 minutes without your knee's hurting, if you don't face that fear & acquire the necessary skills, your fear will build & you WILL be crippled by it, hiding behind excuses to save embarrassment.
So the moral of this little blog post, is don’t let your FEARS control your life. Note you have a fear & then take all the necessary steps in order to meet that fear head on & dispel its limitations for good.
Everything you want is on the other side of FEAR…..