Words of a Comrades Winner

The Fear of Success

The subject line may sound silly, but I can tell you, its real!!!!  Let me try and explain a little.

 Have you ever trained really hard and you see your times in training coming down and you know that you are faster and stronger. You enter a race and run pretty much the same time as you always do – and then feel disappointed and dejected.  Why is this?

My theory is that you have a fear of success! For example you run a half marathon in 1H45, and have run between 1H40 and 1H50 for many years, so you have become accustomed to that pace of racing. Although you train harder and harder, when it comes to race day you run at the old pace, and not what you have trained for because that is where your comfort zone is, and subconsciously if you actually achieve a Personal Best time, the expectation is that you will have to better that. So when you don’t beat your time it is easier to say. “I could have run faster but ……. (and you list a whole lot of excuses) because it makes you feel better.  You also know how hard you had to work to achieve that PB time, and if you beat it you have to work harder.

What I do to get over this, is when I line up at the start, I have a time in mind to complete the race, and I forget about all other races I have run and what I did in them. I trust in my training and preparations and tell myself that it’s too late to worry and think about what I could have done better in training etc, because that is time gone by, and the moment is at hand.

In 2009 all eyes were on Leonid Shvestov and everyone had built him up to be unbeatable, (I take nothing away from him, he is phenomenal athlete). I stood about 1 meter away from him at the start and I wasn’t intimidated at all, and I said to myself, “I am the best prepared athlete here on this start line and I will win (And I really believed this).” I did not worry about Leonid as I knew I had it in me to win, as I had prepare physically and mentally to run a 5H20 and that’s all I focused on. If anyone was going to beat be they would have to run a sub 5H20 Comrades. In the end I ran a 5H23 Comrades and yes, I was a little disappointed, but I had run a PB Comrades time, and won the race.

So next time you stand on the start line, don’t be scared to run as hard as you can and push yourself to achieve a P.B, trust me, the joy and satisfaction of doing this far out weighs the feeling  of missing a goal time, and having to say “I could have.”

So put aside the fear of success and run like a Champion, and know that the harder you run today the easy it will be to run at that same pace the next time, so you can push a little extra each time. At the end of each race you can say “I did.”

Cheers Champs



March 7, 2011 - Posted by | Athletics, Comrades, Comrades Marthon, Exercise, Fitness, Marathon Running, Running, Stephen Muzhingi, Two Oceans Marathon, Uncategorized


  1. This article really hits home. I’m on a training program to run a sub 08H00 comrades (far from your winning time, so don’t worry ;). Thus I’m training for a B-seeding at Comrades (sub 3h20). In training I’ll easily run that pace, but come race day I have not ran faster than 03h23 (3min gap seems to be a common thickness of a “wall”). At the next marathon I’ll keep this article in mind. Thank you!

    Comment by Francois Nel | March 7, 2011 | Reply

    • Good luck. You just have to tell yourself during the race that you can run the slightly faster pace because you have trained for it, and dont be scared to push yourself that little extra, at the end you will actually be surprised that you could run even quicker than you thought. You will get the B seeding! Cheers and thanks for reading

      Comment by muzhingi5h23 | March 7, 2011 | Reply

  2. That is exactly what I did for a 2:40 marathon, my pb before that was 2:58!
    Love your articles Stephen.

    Comment by David Ashworth | March 8, 2011 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: