Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dirty Little Secret

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.
Mark Twain

I'm not a particularly courageous person--although I don't think I've ever been in a situation that truly required me to be. But I like to think that I'm practicing to be one.

People are afraid of different things. Some people are scared of snakes. I can deal with all manners of creepy crawlies until they come in the eight legged arachnid variety and then I have to crawl in a corner and yell for rescue. (the only exception to this is when there is absolutely no rescue to be had, i.e., I'm home alone, and then I deal with it, kill the stupid creature, and have to go have a lie-down for a while). But most of my other fears, prominently that of making a fool out of myself, or simply starting a conversation, are the kinds I struggle with everyday. Some days I win. Some days I'm unable to pry myself out of the woodwork.

So I have a confession to make in the name of taking a step in the direction of strangling my confounded fear of making myself look like an utter idiot. The fact that I'm trying to make a habit of running three to four times a week isn't really that monumental. But it's also a fact that I'm afraid of people finding out and snickering to themselves. I'm afraid of people looking at me trying to be better than I am and thinking I'm...well, I'm not exactly sure what. But I know that I was, am, for some obscure reason, hugely embarrassed and a little ashamed of this endeavor. And that's ridiculous. Trying to get into some sort of shape is nothing to be ashamed of, so I'm trying to kill my fear of being found out by publishing it for the whole internet to see. Not that the whole internet will see. But they could if they wanted.

And now you can get all your snickering out in the privacy of your own computers, where I don't have to see.

Because of course I'm not really the running type; I'm overweight and out of shape, and when I run I get breathless disgustingly fast and my face turns bright red as I huff and puff along at my stolid speed. The thing is, I want to change that. I got tired of listening to my internal fusspot. In my mind, the only people who have a right to complain continuously about something are the ones who are going to make steps to fix it***. So I've gotten together with a friend for accountability and am starting to make steps to fix it.

I'm a little surprised at how much I don't hate it. I thought I would loathe every single painful breathless step, but I don't. I don't love it, but I can stand it. I won't run around the track, even though it's right at the bottom of the street and a handy way of know exactly how far you've run, because that would make me feel more foolish than my fragile ego can bear, in addition to the fact that it is hopelessly boring. I run to the elementary school and back, which is useful because one way is around half a mile and I have a convenient half way point to stop and stretch my leg (legs actually, for balance, but it's only the damaged one that cares one way or the other), and there are pretty flowers and so on to admire. And a stoplight for an excuse to catch my breath a little.

So now you know my dirty little secret. I'd be ever so grateful if you didn't ridicule me for it, and I'll post periodic updates on how it's going. My long term goal is to be able to run five miles. My short term goal is to be able to run a mile without stopping to walk. Even if I've only been at this for a week or two, I can feel myself improving a little bit, which is encouraging.

*** Please note, before you burst out laughing at my hypocrisy, that I added the qualifier "continuously". Sometimes (hopefully not most of the time) I like to complain, and so does everyone else, and sometimes people just need to let off steam. It's when you complain about the same thing over and over and over for months at a stretch--like I've been doing to myself over this--that I get aggravated. So it's a problem. We understood that last January. Are you going to do anything about it??


Phil Adams said...

hey! congratulations! i'm way impressed. i confess that even people who are 'healthy' enough to run for miles don't do it nearly as much as they should...

re your point that only people who are actively seeking to change something about themselves can legitimately gripe about it... agreed! tee hee.

Marie said...

thanks!! I put off starting for a long time because I thought I would loathe it with all my heart and soul, but now that I'm actually *doing* it and I can feel that I'm getting even a tiny bit better, I'm actually sort of enjoying it!