How Hard Will You Push Yourself?

Tonight, as I watched The Biggest Loser on the treadmill while doing a tempo run, I thought about pushing myself.



I think all the times I started down this path of healthy living before, I failed because of a self-fulfilling prophecy: I was afraid I would fail.

I was afraid I’d put in all that work and not be able to lose weight.

I was afraid I’d lose that first 10 or so pounds that’s pretty easy to drop when you start and not be able to go any further.

It wasn’t till I decided failure wasn’t an option that I succeeded. I started this blog. I went to a trainer who wouldn’t let me fail (even if pushing through those first few embarrassing workouts when I felt like I couldn’t do anything right felt like a failure.)

Pre-weight loss, I’d run three races, half-assing the training each time, subconsciously giving myself an out if I failed. “It’s okay–I didn’t really train for it.”

But now that I’m not quite as afraid of failure, now that I’ve accepted that taking risks always pays off, whether immediately or down the road as it teaches you something, I still find myself afraid to push myself. Especially in running. ESPECIALLY doing speed work.


[photo via Tina]

Those old days where I was afraid to push myself for fear of failing come flooding back when I try to push the speed. Even though I know I’ve lost a ton of weight, I still sometimes see myself as the overweight girl I used to be, who couldn’t run. I ran with Tina and Monica at Fitbloggin’, and I was terrified. They are fast! How was I going to keep up with them? Again, i didn’t give myself a chance to fail. I was going to run with them, and I was going to keep up. (And I did.)

It took five half-marathons for me to reach my sub-2:00 goal last year. The first half, I wanted it so badly, but I just wasn’t ready. I missed it by just under two minutes. The next two halfs,

I just couldn’t pull it together and try hard enough to do it. Katie even paced me for the More | Fitness Half, but I was afraid for her to see me try and fail, and I gave up pretty early in, before I could fail.

My point? Take a chance on yourself. You’re worth it, and I’m pretty sure you’ll surprise yourself. (Also, if you’re a runner, do the damn speed work. It helps. Sigh.)

What did you think you couldn’t do and found out you actually could when you just wouldn’t let yourself fail? Do you love to push yourself or does it scare you?

Or…what are you afraid of failing at?

20 comments on “How Hard Will You Push Yourself?

  1. April

    Was totally scared of attempting grad school and it has turned out great. I am currently in my last semester and graduating in April! Never, ever thought that would ever happen.

    If I knew I couldn’t fail, I would run on the treadmill. It scares the holy bologna out of me!

  2. Ari @ Ari's Menu

    Maybe I’m just super emotional, but this post totally made me want to cry! I have spent so much time thinking about this lately. I just (Sunday) ran my first half marathon, and the first time I ever tried to run I weighed 230 lbs and gave up after 10 seconds. Literally. For so long I was sure I couldn’t do it and even after I lost the weight, I still didn’t push myself to run because I was sure I would fail. I wish that I could make every single person believe that they can do it and take those risks, because I still can’t get over how amazing I feel, and I can’t wait to tackle new things….like speed work ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Andrea @ the MF Dre

    Great post!
    I had two back surgeries after a horrible snowboarding accident. Prior to both, I was unable to walk or move without being in hysterics from the debilitating pain. I knew I would figure out how to walk again, but I never thought I’d be able to run.

    Today I’m about 1.5 years out from my second surgery and if you can believe it, I’m training for my first marathon. I NEVER imagined I would be able to do this again and I’ll admit, I’m still scared to fail, but the fact that I can run might be the best motivation to get myself out of bed and out for a run.

  4. Brittany @ A Little Less, Please

    I am an AVID watcher of the Biggest Loser and I miss their old opening song, “What have you done today to make you feel proud?” I’d find myself trying to answer that question all the time! They makes themselves proud constantly by pushing themselves past their comfort zone. Something I’m definitely working on. Great post!

  5. carol blanchfield

    Let me take this opportunity again to say how very proud I am of my daughter!
    Remember there is no such thing as failure,you have the courage to pick yourself up and start again, life is full of ups and downs,
    The failure is never to have tried at all


  6. chandra

    It’s totally fate that I read this post this morning. I want to attempt a PR in a spring half, but in order to do that I need to drop a little over a minute per mile off my pace in the next4 months. I’ve done it before (that’s how I got my current PR), but that was 2 years ago and I feel like now it’s different. I’m afraid to fail this spring, but I automatically fail if I don’t even try… and if I don’t PUSH myself, I’m never going to get there. Speedwork is on the agenda for today, so I’ll be pushing it!

  7. Kim K

    I absolutely hate pushing myself. i feel like i fail at race goals because i cant push myself to the brink of absolutely pain and exhaustion. i tend to hold back and hold a more comfortable pace. i need to trust in myself and my coach and my training plan that i can hold faster paces!

  8. Grace

    Awesome awesome post! While training for my 1st half, I always gave myself outs (running in loops in case I wanted to quit), and I seeded myself at a finish time 30 minutes slower than my pace for the actual race. After finishing faster than I thought I would, I’m determined to shave 10 minutes off my next race time, and can do it if I push.
    Also learning that this applies to life – work, relationships, etc. Here’s to setting the bar high and crushing it! And speed work…

  9. Liz

    Love this post! I related to so much, especially about losing weight. I just had a huge realization that the fear of not succeeding is keeping me back from losing the last 20. So crazy, I’ve come so far, why not go all the way!? Thanks for a great post!!

  10. Laura @ Joyful Shimmy

    Amazing post! I have been pondering a lot about taking risks and failure. I just took a huge risk last week that feels right- it feels like its truly aligned in what its in my heart. There is the chatter of failure in the back of my mind but the reality is that I chose not to listen and accept to take ownership of whatever comes up its going to be ok.

    Thank you for the reminder that its the same in the journey of weight loss. I have been holding myself back on this idea what if I failed and gain it all back. You know what its better to take an action and see it than be stuck in my head.

  11. Kimra

    This post totally hit home for me. Right now my biggest fears are all about triathlons, and specifically about biking รขโ‚ฌโ€ร‚ย my weakest sport by far. I went to a tri club meeting last night expecting to get all excited and energized, and instead I left intimidated. But that’s exactly why I want to do a triathlon: to get over old fears.

    I’m also scared of missing sub-2 on my next half attempt, but I’ve already missed it once and know that life goes on, so that’s faded a bit. I know it’s my last try for a while, so I might as well push.

  12. katie

    well the way things are going for both of us, you may be the one pushing me at the next half we run together ๐Ÿ™‚ and regardless, i had fun running with you and erica that day!

  13. Liz

    I was so scared when I began to lose weight. I really didn’t think I could do it and I was afraid I would fail. I was afraid but I did it. I did it very slowly because I went from doing no exercise to running and avidly going to the gym and learning all I could about nutrition. I cannot brag that I lost all 50lbs in only a few months because I did it gradually over 3 years. However, I can brag that after 6 years or so I have been able to balance my weight out to where I am happy with how I look and I am even more happy with the fact that I am aspiring to run a few more half marathons and even do the NYC Marathon this year.

    Now the funny thing is that I too am afraid of speed work but I will conquer that fear as I embark on training for the 2nd half marathon!

  14. Life's a Bowl

    When I make a mistake or fail at something, I tend to shut down and turn inward… The biggest fear I have is of failing at my job- there’s so much responsibility associated with having a job :-Z

  15. Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs

    I think it is human nature to crave a safety net — whether it is physical or mental. I am totally guilty of the “if I don’t give 100%, it’s ok if I fail, because I didn’t give it my all” mentality. It’s a hard habit to break! Thanks for encouraging us to push our boundaries ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Bernie Cole

    I never used to push myself. I don’t know why, I just never did. I started going to this gym that teaches a strength training technique that has made a huge difference in me. That is, in my body and my mind. They show you how to focus on breath and the “inner body.” I’ve learned that I’m capable of so much more than I give myself credit for. And these workouts are intense. I’m so much stronger (not just in the body). So, now I find that I am, in fact, the the kind of person to push myself.

  17. Jen @ Such a Funny Fat

    My whole life I’ve been overweight, like seriously overweight, but July 2010 is when I started my weight loss journey. Last May I walked my first 5K and the first time I did it while training I didn’t know if I could. I told my husband to keep his phone with him in case I didn’t think I could make it back. Thankfully, I didn’t need to call him and it was a huge relief when I finished.. of course it just encouraged me to continue on and do more races. The first official race my goal was just to finish. No other goal than that because my sister was running the race and my parents had come to watch (it was a few hours away from where everyone lived) so I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. On race day I told my husband to keep his phone with him again, just in case and I was relieved when I didn’t need to call him, again.


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