Runner's World (UK)

FEAR MAY NOT BE YOUR FRIEND, BUT YOU CAN LET IT KNOW WHO’S BOSS

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Kathrine ran the rest of the race in fear: afraid of being forced off the course and of being expelled from the Amateur Athletic Union. The first fear was unfounded – she finished in 4:20 – but the second was realised, and she was duly booted out, only to be reinstated a year later.

Having experience­d such a fearful start to her career, Kathrine went on to campaign for the women’s marathon to be accepted as an Olympic event. In 2015 she founded 261 Fearless, a socialrunn­ing network that now has chapters as far afield as Albania and Zambia; it encourages women who have used running to empower themselves to pass on this strength to women everywhere, but particular­ly those in fearful situations. ‘I found in my own life that when I ran, I was transforme­d into something free, unstoppabl­e and fearless,’ she told me. ‘This simple act of putting one foot in front of the other transferre­d to a particular certainty that I felt I could manage – not control, but manage – everything difficult in my life, whether that was walking into an all-male management meeting, leaving a bad relationsh­ip, or fighting off a mugger at knifepoint. I wanted every woman in the world to have this sense of self-esteem.’

Kathrine didn’t let her fear hold her back; she used it to fuel her future achievemen­ts – something we can all do. By plucking up the courage to go for your first run or tackling a distance not quite inside your comfort zone, you’ll get into the habit of conquering your fears and that’s a skill you can apply to every aspect of your life: coping with the huge challenges of coronaviru­s, interviewi­ng for a new job, or setting out to find new love. Let’s vow to make this year the one where we square up to our fears and, in so doing, stare them down.

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