Face your fear
This is a link to an article that I wrote for a friend who created the wonderful site that is Detox Health Beauty (do check it out for interesting articles, amazing healthy food ideas and lots more). I'd not intended to post it myself but it seems to have resonated with an astounding number of people so I thought I would share it here. I'm currently working on ways that I can engage people who think they 'can't do sport' in getting fit and also something in schools to catch those that felt the way I did and help prevent them going through the same. If any one has any great ideas please do let me know!
Run Towards Your Fear by Lucy Hilton ✨
Lucy Hilton is a mum at the same school as my children and I feel like I struck gold meeting her at the time I did. Not only is she an extremely lovely person, she is ridiculously fit and has been an elite marathon runner, running up at the front of the London Marathon with the likes of Paula Radcliffe.
When we were training for our marathons, my friend Natalie and I asked Lucy if she could give us a few training sessions, which she did. These sessions and all of her golden top tips proved to be invaluable. I’ve run two marathons. The first in 4 hours 28 mins, which I was thrilled with but I ran my last marathon a few weeks ago in 3 hours 54 mins. I put that down to a good training plan and the support of Natalie and my other Sweaty Sisters (my running friends) but Lucy Hilton really played an instrumental part in helping me to achieve my sub 4 hour goal.
Lucy's written a great article for DHB about the importance of keeping fit, so that you can cope with fear and life experiences in general. She also talks about how she was the worst at sport when she was at school but eventually found running at university, which changed her life.
Her article is below ✨
I met with one of my clients today and was privileged enough that he shared
with me details of an extraordinarily difficult past year he and his family have
had to go through. Whilst recounting to me all that had happened, one phrase
really stood out for me: ‘Run towards your fear’. When speaking about how they
had dealt so well with a horrendous situation, my client said that he had learnt at
each stage to face fear head on, not to be overwhelmed or conquered by it, but to
face up to it and ‘run towards it’. Cater for the worst that could happen and live
in the light not the shadows as can so often happen when we’re afraid.
In addition he had asked me 6 months prior to deviate from his usual format of
training and instead to write a training programme that made him feel strong, fit
and lean. I was curious about this and when we met today, he said that he
wanted to make sure he felt as strong as possible in body so that he felt strong
enough in mind to cope with a particular event which was a pivotal point in all
that had been happening.
Two things truck me in what he shared. The first was a realization of just how
often I’ve been guilty of running away from fear: whether it be avoiding certain
situations or people, avoiding events or avoiding trying new things. So often
avoidance has been easier than facing a fear. I’d never really thought about it in
Whilst not in the league of his situation, I was reminded of the foundations that
were laid for me in sport, how far I have come since that time and the lessons
I’ve learnt in the process. I changed school several times between the ages of 5
and 14. Each school had a different ‘primary’ sport – for one it was hockey,
another netball and another lacrosse. This meant I never had the time to practice
or become skilled in any of these. I thus started every sports lesson on the back
foot, invariably the worst in the class. The same pattern always followed: the two
best players would be chosen to pick their team. They’d each take turns calling
out the names of people, starting with the best and leaving the ‘worst’ until last;
every time I’d get the humiliated, sinking feeling of knowing I’d be picked
After time my confidence was reduced so much that I avoided sport altogether,
spending every sports lesson hiding behind the gardeners shed. Ironically I was
actually quite good at hurdles and athletics, but because I wasn’t a ‘recognized
sporty person’ I was excluded from all teams and usually had to play rounders as
only ‘the best’ were allowed to do athletics.
At University I dabbled in womens rugby and rowing but was never anything
special. Then in my final year, my boyfriend signed me up for a 5k race. I’d never
run that far in my life but duly went along – and ended up coming third. It was
such a shock, me who had been the ‘worst’ at sport throughout my life, had just
come third in a running race. I carried on running but not very seriously. Then,
as I ran around Battersea Park one day the UK marathon coach spotted me and
asked if he could train me – for free. I thought there must be some catch, but no,
there wasn’t – and still now, 10 years later, he gives me huge support and self
belief. This was the first person that had told me I could achieve in sport, that
believed in me and that showed absolute commitment to helping me be my best.
In the next few years I ran a sub 37 minute 10km, a sub 3 hour marathon and
won all 6 of my overseas multi day ultra races. This is not to beat my own drum –
but just to demonstrate that is it NOT true that some can ‘do’ sport and others
I am definitely not saying that achieving in sport is about winning a race. I
believe it is about finding what you enjoy and being the best you can be. It
doesn’t matter how well others do, there will always be someone faster,
stronger, slower ,weaker. It is about running towards your fear, trying
something and doing the best you can – for yourself.
It is said that 90% of doing your best sport is self belief. How many times do you
hear people say ‘I can’t run’ or ‘I could never run a mile let alone a marathon’.
They have put the brakes on immediately. And yet, if those same people put their
mind to it, they can and do achieve those things and so much more. It is
achieving within your own niche, about having the exposure to different things
to find this niche and about persevering with the self belief you can be your best.
Wherever you lie on the gifted scale, you can still achieve the best for you.
This of course is not only relevant to sport, but there is a reason I focus here on
exercise which I feel is so important. Feeling physically strong and fit has a knock
on effect in all other aspects of life.
This leads me to my second observation – how my client wanted to feel in top
physical form in order to meet the challenge that was coming his way.
It is well known that science demonstrates a strong link between physical fitness
and the state of the mind, confidence and positivity. The phrase ‘strong body,
strong mind’ is often banded around. But really, I believe it is true. I think you
will also be amazed at the confidence that feeling fit and strong can give you.
Improved deportment, physical fitness and physical strength are all vital
ingredients in self assurance, walking into a room with shoulders back, head held
high and feeling strong and healthy.
I find it so frustrating and upsetting that so many adults ‘hate’ sport because they
believe they are no good. So often this has stemmed from school and memories
similar to mine, or of freezing cold and miserable cross country runs and so on. I
truly believe that there is something in sport for everyone; and that in that
‘something’ every person can strive to be the best they can be. It is not about
comparing ourselves to others, it is about being the best we can do. If sport is a
fear for you then I would challenge you to run towards your fear.
In so doing you will be amazed what you can achieve; you will also be amazed at
the confidence feeling fit and strong can give you.
When working with my clients I try to discover what it is that makes them tick,
what it is about sport that gives them that positive feeling and a feeling of self
belief. I want people to be proud of what they can achieve for themselves,
against their own personal scale.
My heartfelt wish for schools is that a more inclusive approach in sport is taken,
that children are allowed to try a broad range of things to find their ‘niche’ and
that they are encouraged every step of the way to be the best they can be. To be
taught that being their best is the achievement, not necessarily being better than
others. Perhaps then there will be less adults running away from the fear that is