Exercising Demons

I just finished taking a licensing pre-exam I’ve been putting off for roughly the last year. And I passed. Just like that. I now have to take a separate, probably tougher exam at a facility where I will first have to empty my pockets and lock up my purse and phone. I can’t imagine anyone would bother cheating on an exam like this one. There is so much information, I wouldn’t know what to begin writing on my hands and along the inside of my arms and eyelids and on the soles of my feet. Anyway, the thing about procrastinating for so long is I now feel more guilty than relieved because the pre-exam was much easier than I imagined. Plus I’m not done yet.

Fear of failure cripples me. I miss the days when I was young and hadn’t failed much, so hardly saw it as something to worry about. The funny thing is my overall failure rate is less now. Maybe this is because I take fewer risks or work through things more carefully or have more life experience. So why am I more afraid to fail?

I recently decided to run a 5K on July 4th. A friend mentioned it the other day when I was lamenting that we won’t be at the beach over the Fourth for the first time in many years. I’ve been running since late February, so her mentioning the 5K was one of those signs I couldn’t ignore…I really want to do this. The problem is I’m barely running 2 miles now, and a 5K is 3.1 miles. What’s another mile? A lot when you’re already huffing and puffing on the treadmill while running a no-incline program. So I have to punch up my game get up to 3.1 miles of mixed terrain. I have a month to do this. In other words, I cannot procrastinate for a year.

I don’t know if this is a normal thing with running, but sometimes I run and actually enjoy the process. When I run outside, I enjoy the smell of the woods around me. I love how strong and capable my body feels. Most of the time, though, I struggle and continue only because I know I will enjoy the feeling afterwards. I run about every other day (and do elliptical or walking in between) and cannot detect a pattern of when it’s hard to run and when it feels easier. Maybe it’s linked to my diet, which some days is not so hot. Maybe I’m running too much, but I don’t think so. Maybe I’m just old.

My husband jokes that I’m running from my demons. This is funny because it’s dead true. Before I started running, I tried to sedate my demons with massive doses of sugar and caffeine. Not surprisingly, this did not work. Running is supposed to tire my demons out, but instead I feel like a parent who dozes off while reading a bedtime story to a toddler who silently continues to bounce through the night.

I’m hoping the clear cut goal of a 5K will help me turn the corner in my running. I want to feel stronger and leaner and tougher, and I don’t just mean physically. It does remind me of what an AA friend said the other day. He’s an older guy with a lot of quirks and time in the program, and he warned me “I lost a lost of friends to exercise.” I had no idea what he meant, so he explained that a lot of people get sober and go to meetings for awhile and then move on to exercise as their addiction and cure. I don’t see this as a bad thing, necessarily, since health nuts generally don’t drink. Exercise might be up there with religion when it comes to addictions that help more than they harm. But maybe the risk is when you tire of exercise or suffer an injury. Then what?

I gotta have something to look forward to that’s fun (mostly) and rewarding and takes me out of my own head for a bit. For awhile, meetings helped me feel that way. Then I discovered candy, then exercise. Maybe one of these days they’ll all work in harmony and lull my little demons to sleep. That sounds nice.

by Bobby Chiu

12 thoughts on “Exercising Demons

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  1. Fear of failure is interesting. I find that I also have a fear of success. Sometimes, when I finally succeed at something I’ve been procrastinating with, I feel a sense of added pressure to keep up the success instead of feeling relieved. I find that I’m gentle with myself if I try something and fail but if I succeed, I get caught up in my own high expectations. It’s something I have to be aware of so that I don’t sabotage myself.


  2. Congratulations on passing that exam. I am seeing that your progression in being sober,
    is giving you new insights into what works for you. Running is a great outlet, builds up those
    natural endorphins that make you feel well.
    When we said goodbye to drinking, our bodies
    were still craving and yes sugar worked, your
    excercising is even better. Good luck!


  3. I’m in the fear of success camp and have spent a lifetime of self-sabotage. Thank you, this is an inspiring post – I’m early days sober and want to sleep a lot but I am trying to find more energy to get daily exercise.
    5kms is a fab goal, you can do it! Enjoy yer training, you will be stronger and leaner and tougher in every way. Big yay!


  4. A nice harmony including meetings, candy and exercise would be excellent 🙂

    I wish you all the luck with you 5K mission, I know you can do it!


  5. good luck on the 5K – when I did the swim recently my daft stupid pride made me push on through the pain but at least I did finish and have the medal to prove it! It is a good goal – better to have goals like that that you at least have a crack at achieving rather than the old days of sitting there drinking doing nothing – or if you did it it was only so you had another story for the bar… 🙂


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