Coping with ‘The Fear’


At some point you may become preoccupied with sickness and death.  This may have already happened and you have reached a happy state of acceptance, if you like me are a parent of young children and of a certain age then The Fear is deep set and rears its ugly head in the middle of the night.  So my next plan is to rid myself of The Fear and deal with what life throws at me when it throws it and not dwell on it until then. It’s easier said than done but I am now beginning to recognise a pattern in my friends and peer groups which I think I could learn from.

Could it be that their coping mechanism is so simple?

What I have noticed is that the almost and just turned 40 year old friends generally fall into two distinct categories.  In the red corner; the drinkers.  This group still party like its 1995 whether its alone in the kitchen in the evening, down the pub with friends, hosting ‘dinner’ parties (ha!) or trying to look younger in a club.  A way to cope with ageing and the stresses of adult life, because yes we are now indisputably adults, is to blur it slightly with alcohol.  I am not sitting in judgement, if it is within reason and doesn’t hurt anyone then knock yourself out. I do. The blue corner however may disagree.  I will call them the fitness converts.  How many of your friends reached their mid-thirties and suddenly took up a sport, and not just a weekly pilates class or a kick about with the lads.  I’m talking 5 days a week training for marathons, triathlons, treks in mountainous peaks, extended bike rides.  How many of you look at Facebook updates every morning of how many miles Tom, Dick and Valerie have run, cycled or swam that morning? Just as much as in our twenties we bungee-jumped, parachuted or earned a PADI diving certificate, this age leans less toward high adrenaline, more to high endurance sports. The irony is that ten years ago many of these fitness fanatics didn’t own a pair of trainers let alone matching lycra.

My problem is I am jealous and at the wine phase and as everyone knows there’s nothing more likely to wake you up in the middle of the night with The Fear than that extra glass of wine drank.  Someone needs to write step by step instructions to discovering the inner marathon runner, how to get a kick out of exercise, more importantly how to get to the stage everyone goes on about but at no point have I experienced – the endorphins that give you a natural exercise induced high.  How much do I have to suffer before I become an addict?  Step 2 of the preparing for 40 plan turns out to be the same as many New Years’ worth of resolutions, take up some form of exercise, keep the bad habits to a minimum or stop them altogether (ouch).  I wonder if The Fear stops if you know you are doing everything possible to lead a healthy life and I wonder if I’ll ever find out. I have a few months left so must get a move on and choose my sport, I’m thinking something unusual and low maintenance, any suggestions…


5 responses »

  1. Ha, ha… I’m one of your Tom, Dick or Harriet FB friends who has recently started extended bike rides and posting my mileage via Map My Ride… 😉

    I’d like to think it’s not just in defiance to turning 40 (a couple of days after you) but also as a response to being finished with being pregnant forever and as a way of reclaiming my body.

    You’d be surprised how quickly it becomes an addiction, I was hooked after the first couple of rides but sadly the suffering doesn’t stop as you get fitter because you just push yourself harder and further each ride 🙂

    Here’s to being 40 and happy.


    • First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to read it – I hope you keep reading. Its been a hobby of mine for a while and only a week ago did I decide to actually put it online. In fact these first few posts were written at the beginning of the year. FUnnily enough the one about the fear and exercise etc I wrote when a friend who lives in NZ had just finished running up some enormous mountains on an extreme marathon. SHe said she felt she had to ‘achieve’ something before she was 40 which is what prompted me to write about how it seemed to be a phenomena amongst people of our age. I totally get the reclaiming your body, mine is buggered!! Deffo 40 and happy. xxx PS. Can you forward it to your friends, you never know it might make them chuckle xxx

  2. I thought I was so special running that god damn marathon at 37. Is it just a sign of my battle against a fading youth? I always had a sneaking suspicion that was the case but suppressed it with carbohydrate gels and foam rollers…

    • Running a marathon does make you special at any age and the battle against fading youth is not a ‘just’ reason. Its a very good reason in my book. My point being that most people I know (you included) probably wouldn’t have done it at 25, and I know for a fact you were lycra free at that age, although you did have a fine collection of trainers.

  3. Lucy owns lycra? LOL (she has, and I’ve seen it!). I struggle with this too – I used to be fit, but that fitness existed in my teens and I keep pretending that I’ll get back to it. At 30 I went back to the skate park, and that was fun, but no one else nearby was going (hello gravity, my old friend – this was the theme…). I own trainers, and run when the weather is cool, but “running” is a relative term. I never seem to get past the “hauling my beer gut down the road” stage or into the “now I’m getting fitter/faster/farther” bit. I want to swim (underwater ipod anyone?) but the pool continues to present its own barriers; mostly that I don’t want to belong to a gym that has one, the university is renovating ours, and I can’t find a community center in my godforsaken poverty-stricken American city. Is that a bottle of wine you’ve got open?

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