Box the Fear and Face the Grim


Does not require; mits, Rocky music, wrapping paper

Does require; Telling yourself “I am NOT as frail/weak as I think.”

(Few days ago I faced something that I’d been scared of for ages. I was so tired of wasting my time and energy in an attempt to avoid it. Suddenly GOT (like a bolt of lightning) that fear really does exist in the mind alone. The reality is that we are BIG, we are STRONG, we CAN handle anything and we deserve to live the most gorgeous life possible – fear free. So I faced my fear and guess what? Nothing to be afraid of.)


The Grim Challenge

Late November 2012. In my spandex, doing some leg stretches when the phone rings. It’s Naughty N.

“I’m sick,” she rasps. “I can’t speak and I can’t move.”

“Oh no! That’s dreadful,” I declare – and in the same breath ask, “But what about the Grim?”

Long pause. The N croaks, “Can’t. The doctor said I could damage my heart if I run.”

Am utterly crestfallen. Then locked into dawning realisation. Then frozen in lip biting, wide eyed fear. You see, way back in golden September, myself, Ads, Naughty N and her Spouser had all come up with a Brilliant Idea. It involved signing ourselves (and some lucky friends who we were convinced would be game) to the Grim Challenge – an 8 mile run through Aldershot tank training ground.

In December.

Through mud.

And knee deep icy lakes.


*(Includes training methods)*

1. Ads. Ads’ knee gave out during a football match and he couldn’t train at all and so dropped out early. Poor Ads. (V. sad for him, but not too worrying as I still have NN for moral support).

2. Mountaineer M. M became inflicted with a strangulated hernia, was determined to continue, however the chances of him being carried out on a stretcher became too great. (Unfortunate but mildly reassuring that the fitter amongst us have secret handicaps).

3. Naughty N. N continues to give Forrest Gump a run for his money in her daily running addiction. (Slightly disconcerting as my own running regime is badly dented by too much work and life stress. But not too disconcerting as Naughty N can always be slowed down by foul-play).  

4. NN’s Spouser. Spouser selfishly began the Insanity – 60 Day Complete Body Workout For Nutters. (V.v.v worrying. Spouser already fit and this workout would make him insanely fit which is not very team spirited. Also may make him competitive and want to WIN – meaning we will have pressure to run faster).

5. The Lovely Edward. Ed continues his usual athletic lifestyle which involves picking up his coffee cup and lifting a roll-up to his lips. (V.v.v reassured. Lovely Ed giving me good motivational talks. Says training is for wimps and positive mental attitude would undoubtedly see us through).

6. Jac, our long distance, flame haired ally from Boot camp. Jac is briefly knocked out by a two week virus but continues to train hard. (Am so pleased Jac will be with us. With her and Naughty N, the end of the world could be taken on and conquered. We are the power trio!)

7. Thomas. Tom is ex-army and already has innate fitness levels. He is wildly up for it starts hitting the gym every day. (Not too worrying as Thomas is team-spirited and will help keep slower soldiers together. Good. Right).   

8. Me. Not running. Working voraciously. Hanging on by thread that we will all be in together.


Ads had gone down. Mountaineer M was not looking too hot. Naughty N was not coming, which left me with super fit Thomas, Spouser, Jac and … the Lovely Edward.

“You’ve got to come!” I implore Naughty N.

“I can’t!” N rasps back. “I might die. I have cried all week.”

After that, I can’t relax. Had ants in my pants. Spouser says that he would only go if I still go – and suddenly it feels like the fate of our whole team is down to me. Spend several days umming and ahhing. Keep visualising the Sunday morning, pouring rain, having done no real training, exhausted from work, surrounded by ex-military gym boys and Insanity workout hulk.

V deflated.

On Friday afternoon sit in car in car park, chewing nails. Ring Spouser.

“Spouser, not going to do it. Ads not doing it, Naughty not doing it. I’m out.”

“Okay,” says Spouser. “I’m out too.”

Which means that Mountaineer M and Jac are also out.

In bailing, I should have felt better, but I don’t.

Keep drumming fingers on things and feeling v uncomfortable. Feel like I’ve let Thomas down. And Edward. And myself. On Friday night can’t sleep. Toss. Turn. Think delirious thoughts about Burberry jacket and how I’d took the massive plunge with that and the outcome had not been what I expected. Perhaps it will be the same with the Grim Challenge? Think about what I am so frightened off. Realise that perhaps, the thing that I’m really struggling with here, is not the Grim Challenge itself – but my fears and thoughts about it and my capability.

And THIS is when it comes to me! This is when I realise, “I am not as frail as my mind thinks I am.”

It’s twenty past midnight.

I sit bolt upright in bed. Grab phone. Text Tom. “Have changed my mind. I’m in.”

On Sunday 2nd of December, myself, the Lovely Edward, Thomas and Ads – yes ADS with his gammy knee – ran the Grim! T’was a beautiful shining sunny day. Yes there was ice on the puddles and yes, the puddles came up to our chests, but it wasn’t bad. In fact the puddles were good. They cooled you down. All in all the whole experience was absolutely amazing fun!!

My main fear (suffering a heart attack when hitting the cold water) failed to happen. And my dream – that Ads would run – came true. But what was most miraculous of all was the Lovely Edward, who ran AMAZINGLY throughout the whole race, despite the fry up he had on the ferry, the bananas he ate in the car, the Snickers he had just before we started. He came in at 1 hour 22 minutes all on Positive Thinking.

After it was all over we clapped each other on the backs and with chattering teeth and victorious smiles, drove to Winchester, parked illegally and drunk mulled cider in a posh pub.

After all, we were now invincible.

Against ice, against mud, against extreme conditions and against internal bogie-men.

And now we’ve signed up for Spartan August 2013.


Key Point: So much energy, angst and focus is lost through fearful thinking. We also lose potentially amazing experiences. Fearful thinking traps us by making us believe that we are too frail, weak, inadequate to handle a situation (whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually). We get so caught up in the FEARFUL pictures of what COULD happen that we don’t realise that what we need to fight is NOT the situation, but the fearful thinking.

There are certain fears that are logical, but some are triggered by limiting beliefs about who you think you are (or aren’t). Next time you are avoiding a situation because you are frightened, ask yourself whether you are actually as weak/frail/inadequate as your fearful thinking makes you out to be. Then rebel. Show the bastard what you are really made of! Ha.

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