For those that are into running distances, there is something about 8 miles. It is often the transitional range when one really begins to train for the longer distances. Though I still have not seen the movie, the distance holds significance for me for a number of reasons.
First, it was the mile marker for the New Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I first spent some significant time getting over my fear of falling there. Today its significance is that if I am to follow a training regimen for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon at the end of this month, I needed to get 8 miles in today.
Eight miles marks the amount of distance most thru-hikers are recomended to begin with when hiking the Appalachian Trail. In general, I prefer to get my exercise at the gym on a treadmill. Unfortunately, this will not do for training for a half marathon. The effect on the joints is different being on a road instead of on a treadmill. Training on a treadmill will not prepare the joints for the necessary rigors that only roads provide.
Similarly, I know that if I am to aspire to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), I will need to hike around with a backpack. Some of this training may end up looking silly, or my feeling like it does, and at the same time, it is better to look a little silly walking around with a backpack than to lose hours in commute to get to somewhere where most are wearing a backpack.
When we deal with anxiety, different forms of training may help, whether it be mindful breathing or using tricks to short circuit the anxiety in our minds. At the same time, it is only through exposure that we can face down our fears. Soon I will participate and complete the half marathon. Soon after that, I will begin to prepare for the AT.
It may be foolish. It may turn out to be a pipe dream. And at the same time, we need to try the things that gnaw at our soul no matter the dangers. Otherwise, we may end up living a life filled with regret. Perhaps that is the greatest fear of them all.