Greatest Fears

March 18, 2011

Naturally, for one who has spent a great deal of time abroad, I have many recurring fears involving being thrown into unfamiliar potentially dangerous situations. But perhaps my most prevalent worry is being dependent on others, especially my family. Although I generally enjoy spending time with friends and crashing at home on occasion to catch up, my last visit came with a few harsh revelations: if I were injured, incapacitated, or financially stricken, I can think of no greater humiliation than being forced to rely on my parents for help. Having to call home to check in if I felt like staying out all night; being forced to talk about my day when I desire nothing more than silence; having to look at them, realizing my place isn’t here, but far far away. It’s hardly what one would call suffering, but for me, it would be nothing less than torture.

A gradual fear, if you will, has also been weighing on my mind for some time. Particularly since I saw this YouTube video:

Inspiring, right? An overweight person wants to feel better about himself, and through running, does it. But the whole time I’m thinking: “What about the reverse?”

I run regularly, and I pride myself for doing so. But there’s been a kind of mental block in place since I got a stress fracture last year. My distance hasn’t really built up, and I’m barely in decent 5K shape (for me, sub 18:00). When I was in New Zealand, I was working a very physical job seven hours a day and running at least 8 km in the wee hours. The most I’ve ever weighed was about 90 kg (from muscle), the least 76 kg. And although I’m far from the condition of the man in the video before he had his moment of inspiration, I worry to no end I’ll let myself get that way.

I know, it seems unfounded, but think about what he accomplished, turning around his physical condition so markedly in just a year. Now think about the reverse, i.e. someone in marathon shape letting himself go to the point of obesity. It’s not really out of the question. In fact, it’s probably easier to do; he had to work his ass off losing all that weight and training; all one would have to do to gain weight is drink Coca Cola and watch TV.

I’m not doing that, but I worry every time I indulge in a cake from the bakery or a Coke from the market. Just how many of these things separates me from a six pack? …a casual runner? …a World of Warcraft player? Will I let myself get to that point, or do I have enough discipline to at least keep myself looking fit and healthy? The problem is, no matter how much I accomplish in terms of physical fitness and appearance, I always want more. No, I think I can do more for myself. I know I’d be capable of training for a barefoot marathon right now, but I let excuses like work and sleep stand in the way. I think the best runner is the one for whom running is the most exciting moment of the day. Everything is built around it, revolved around it. That being the case, one who has a flexible schedule might do better in training… not because he has more time to run, but he makes it his priority.

Maybe that’s why my first marathon was such a success. I started training my senior year of university after I decided I was going to stick with my major, aerospace engineering, but it would only be for the diploma; my heart was no longer set on working in the field. So running long distance became an escape from the classroom and the monotony of going through the motions with calculus problems. I tore up 20 milers on Town Lake without thinking twice. Now, it’s going to take some time before I get to that point with Vibrams.

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