Coach Tip Tuesday: Do the Things that Spook You

Posted On:
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
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Hooray!!  It’s Coach Tip Tuesday!!

And it’s not only Coach Tip Tuesday, but it’s also HALLOWEEN!!  With this in mind, today we’re going to talk about doing the spooky things.

What??  There are spooky things when you train for a goal event?!?!  YOU BET THERE ARE!!  I am very confident that no person reading this feels 100% confident in every single thing.  There is ALWAYS something that spooks us.

When I work with athletes training for triathlons, I find that the spookiest thing percentage-wise tends to be the swim.  Athletes, and especially those who are adult-onset swimmers, tend to be spooked by swimming.  It manifests in several (and sometimes multiple ways): they might be spooked by putting their faces in the water, they may be spooked by swimming in open water.  They might be spooked by the idea of wearing a wetsuit.  They may be spooked by the idea of pushing themselves on the swim since harder efforts might generate a feeling that one is short of breath.

All of this being said, swimming is certainly not the only thing that athletes are spooked by.  They might be hesitant to run fast or hard in a track workout.  They might be spooked of hills on the bike.  They might be totally spooked by a particular event because of what people say about it.  (i.e. How many people do you know locally here in Syracuse who are hesitant to sign up for the Mountain Goat Run, IRONMAN 70.3 Syracuse, or the Cazenovia Triathlon because they have heard that these courses are more challenging than other local races??)

There’s a reason why these things spook us, and I think that deep down, you all probably know what it is:  It’s fear of failure.  And on a broader scale, it’s honestly just fear in general.  Fear of hurting.  Fear of injury.  Fear of something going wrong.  I’m here to tell you all something that you have heard many, many times over the course of your lives: face your fears.  

Eleanor Roosevelt was a wise lady, and she really said it best: “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.  You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”  As athletes, we grow by pushing our boundaries, trying new workouts, aiming for new goals.  Don’t let your fears limit your potential.  The things that spook you are likely the areas where you have the most potential for gains and growth.  Do the things that spook you, and you’ll reap the rewards come race day.  More importantly, you’ll reap the rewards of that for the rest of your life.  What we do as athletes doesn’t just build as as athletes; it builds us as people.  And since most of us will never be getting paid to be professional athletes, it’s extremely important that the work we do as athletes spills over into the non-athletic portions of our lives.

Happy Halloween, my friends.  I hope that you embrace the challenge of doing what spooks you soon.  And if you need someone to give you that extra push, you know how to find me. :)


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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