What Sumi The Fear Muse Cat Can Teach You About Finishing Ultras


I'm trying to kill him.

At all times.

At least...that’s what Sumi, The Fear Muse Cat, thinks.

If for some reason I ever forgot what fear was like, I'm lucky enough to share my life with the living embodiment of it - in a cat-shaped package.

When I walk into whatever room Sumi's in, he freezes mid-motion, eyes wide and unblinking, in mortal terror and ready to hiss and/or flee under the nearest furniture. Surely, I have entered the room not to get a drink (a ruse!) but to hunt him down for unimaginable torture.

When all I really want to do is love him. 

(Well…and give him catnip and feed him treats.)

How can this overly-dramatic cat teach you something valuable about finishing ultras?

By what you have in common and the one super-important advantage you have that he doesn’t (besides opposable thumbs).

Let’s start with Sumi. 

He looks around at his world and ignores evidence for the positive. For example,

  • - He was rescued as a kitten and bottle fed by hand...but is certain people are the enemy.

  • - In the 13ish years I've happily sheltered, fed, and loved him despite his antisocial hissing...he's sure the end is near and it will be by my hand.

  • When he’s desperate enough for a treat, he leans in to be petted and purrs like a champ...but usually decides being petted is scary.

Based on this evidence, he decides to believe his worst fear is true and I am trying to kill him.

He then spends a ton of energy reacting to this fear he’s decided to believe in - bolting out of the room, panicking when we end up in the hall together, and generally scaring himself on my behalf.

All the reacting wears him out and makes him miserable in the process.

Now let’s look at you. You might have done the same thing in a race:

Ignored your training and the evidence showing you could finish

Decided, based on this evidence, that you were likely to DNF.

Spent your energy reacting to that fear by going out too fast.

Worn yourself out and made yourself miserable enough to drop.

So far, it sounds alarmingly like Sumi, BUT…and here’s the super important difference…

You can question whether your fear is true.

Do you absolutely know for rock-solid sure that it’s true? (No “buts.”)

Can you find evidence for the positive side that you might have missed? (Look hard.)

Is there a more positive possibility that could also be true? (`Be honest)

You can change your mind this way - literally - if you want to.

Someday, Sumi may change but until then, and as much as I love this ridiculous cat, don’t be like him. 

Don’t let an unexamined fear run your life. 

Be brave enough to question your fear so you can live your version of a catnip and treat-filled life.

Susan Donnelly’s signature

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