So, some background on my nyctophobia: As a little girl I was forced to watch scary movies, such as Freddy Krueger, Hellraiser, and Chucky. I have always had a very over active imagination. As I got older my imagination would run away from me. I envisioned all sorts of bad scenarios. I would try to stop my imagination, but at 5-18 that can be a hard thing to control.
Now I’m a runner, planning on becoming an ultra runner. Which consists of running in the dark. My question to myself is how do I overcome that phobia? I have thought about it long and hard and my answer is to get over it. Like they say, “Practice makes perfect”
This last weekend Josh and I went running at Hobbs State Park (wonderful place). When we arrived it was getting late. The plan was to run Little Clifty trail (8 mile loop). I knew it was going to be dark part of the way through the run. I explained to myself, I could run without freaking out.
I’ve only ever ran one other time at night, at the Arkansas Traveler 100 when I paced for a runner. At AT100 it was dirt roads. Hobbs is single track dirt/rock trail, a little more technical, with closer trees.
So back to the story. Josh put his head lamp on first at dusk, 10 minutes later I put mine on. I was already getting a bit jumpy, the anxiety level was swiftly rising. We had about 4 miles left when the darkness descended. I forget sometimes, when it gets dark in the woods, you can’t see anything but what the light illuminates. Everything else is pitch black. Slowing down to prevent injury, we just cruised. As I ran I looked down at the leaves, seeing hundreds of green little spider eyes hiding under them (super creepy). At that point I am seriously having a hard time with my imagination. I am trying to pay attention to my footing, but every time I put my foot down I’m imaging a crazy spider jumping on me.
Josh tries to do the best he can to distract me. There were a couple of times that I pissed him off with my jumpiness, but I think that it could have been worse (not sure he know that). I had Josh look up the sunset time, because Hobbs closes its gates an hour after sunset. 6:45pm was the time. I kind of had a little bit of a freak out moment and envisioned them shutting the gates on us. Locking our car away. Preventing me from getting to my babies. See where my mind goes, when I let it have free rein.
I had adrenaline pumping, didn’t even realize I had picked up the pace. I was no longer thinking of the dark or spiders or bears or clowns. I was thinking about getting to my car before the rangers closed the gates.
Long story shortened, when we reached the car we still had 15 minutes until they closed the gates. As I stretched at the car. I realised the dark wasn’t that bad. Maybe the more I ran in the darkness, the less anxiety I would have.
So I am going to stick with “Practice makes perfect” and maybe a little ” We only have right now”, but I will save that one for another time. -SH