Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fear Defined

Below is an excerpt from an incredible novel entitled Life of Pi by Yann Martel. One sentence synopsis: a boy, Pi, finds himself trapped on a lifeboat with a bengal tiger. I suggest you pick it up for some summertime beach reading. This passage comes from Chapter 56.

"I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread.

Fear next turns fully to your body, which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and your guts have slithered away like a snake. Now your tongue drops dead like an oppossum, while your jaw begins to gallop on the spot. Your ears go deaf. Your muscles begin to shiver as if they had malaria and your knees to shake as though they were dancing. Your heart strains too hard, while your sphincter relaxes too much. And so with the rest of your body. Every part of you, in the manner most suited to it, falls apart. Only your eyes work well. They always pay proper attention to fear.

Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you've defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.

The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such s shakes you to your foundation, such as you fell when you are brought face to face with your moral end, nestles in your memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak to it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don't, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you."

The thought in posting this is that some runners would be able to relate to this definition of fear, and as a result, master it and become better runners b/c of it.

Here are my last two days:
Friday 6.5.09
PM: lifting routine
The regular YMCA lifting workout. Am wondering if it is worth it to spend time on chest and shoulders and biceps. Is this helping or hurting my running. I've probably put on four or five pounds of muscle since early winter.

Saturday 6.6.09
AM: core work & 14 miles in 99:12
Happy with the run. No calf issues to speak of, but sometimes you feel it the next day. Hopefully I won't. As usual I started out slowly (first three = 7:42, 7:08, 7:02), but ended stronger (last three = 6:41, 6:48, 6:33). Was happy to see that I'm not dragging my butt to the finish line of these runs. My confidence is building as is my base. I'm getting anxious to race, but I know I'll get whipped pretty good if I do. Maybe in another mesocycle or so. Finished the run with stretching, sticking, icing (as always).

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