Sunday, 13 January 2013

Overcoming Fear: Taking the Untrodden Path

13th January 2013

A Rocky Road: 100 miles from NYC to Philly

One mans quest to run 100 miles non-stop from New York to climb the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia.
Why? As little boys watching Rocky with my brother we always dreamt of being Rocky running up the legendary steps. My bro is 40 in April. He had a mental breakdown when he was 20. Mental illness has crushed half his life; and cast a huge shadow over mine. This is my present to him, a chance to raise awareness, and time to realise my dream!

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I have no idea how many people will see this blog; if at all anybody ever does see it or even if anyone cares. Maybe I will find it too difficult and give up, like a few other things I’ve given up on, and the whole thing will just be another one of Simon’s crazy ideas. The inspiration came during a lunch conversation with a very good friend of mine, just before Christmas. I have no idea why but the Rocky film came up in conversation, and suddenly I got inspired to run up the famous 'Rocky Steps' in Philadelphia!

ROCKY BALBOA - The Italian Stallion!!

I have some issues in my life at the moment taking up a lot of my thoughts, mainly work and romance, and it’s frustrating when things are not really in your control – being dependent on other people all the time. I sensed that instead of dwelling or complaining about these aspects of my life I needed a different challenge; something new that was totally under my control; something that the only person who I could complain about if things go wrong was the man in the mirror. Something that I could focus on and would propel me forward. Something that I could use to prove to myself that I still have the drive to bring my dreams to life while I'm still picking up the pieces from the mess my life was in a few years ago.

This ambition to prove something to myself is the link to mental illness (it's part of what's called 'well sibling syndrome'). My brother Stephen (pictured with me at London Zoo in 2003) is not the only one in our family to have suffered from mental illness. After our father died so unexpectedly and tragically in 2006 I was gripped by a bout of depression thru 2007-08, and I mean totally wiped off my feet. From being on top of the world living in New York to losing my Dad and then losing my mind - planning my own suicide, not moving from my bed for days and lying on the floor just staring at the ceiling for hours upon hours. Everything was blank and I could never see an end to it. Now, with my brother turning 40, the sudden realisation that his breakdown has stolen half of his life provides the inspiration for this challenge.

Stephen and Simon Whitehouse - brothers - London Zoo, 2003

I’m scared about committing to this task. I’m nervous. I’ve never done something like this before. I have a crazy intense work period during the Fashion Weeks in January & February, working 24/7 for two months, and I’ll never be able to train. It’s a LONG way 100 miles. I decided to leave the idea swirling in my head for a few weeks before committing to it, then at the beginning of January start to train and see how I feel. 100 miles is a long LONG way.
It’s 13th January now, and I have basic fitness but I’m in bad shape. I’m overweight by at least one stone (15 pounds / 7 kilos). I got a severe calf muscle tear when I was jogging in Central Park, New York beginning of December. It healed (I thought) and I did 3-4 runs of 5-6 miles over Christmas back home in Stoke-on-Trent. Great – I can push forward now and do longer distance. Then, back in Milan where I live, I ran on new years eve and my calf muscle went again after only about 2 miles. After a couple of weeks doing compound exercise (walking lunges, pull-ups, press-ups, etc) in the park I tried a gentle jog again on 12th Jan, but after about 2 miles my calf went again! Argh!!
Simon Whitehouse - terrified - January 2013

Today I’ve stayed at home. I’m feeling very nervous about the training - the bitter cold mornings and the dark lonely evenings. If I will do this I’m intending to do it in April 2013. My brother’s birthday is 28th April. Mine is 4th April. I sense January will end soon and April drawing closer. I have no idea yet HOW I’m going to do this. But I need to begin. Sometimes in life the most important step is the very first one. That first step into the unknown. Set the goal, work backwards, and never never give up.

I have to remember WHY I'm doing it. This is the motivation. There will always be problems. There will always be excuses and injuries. I have overcome some horrific experiences over the past few years, and I still live with the 'black dog' always in my shadow. Over the next few weeks and months one of the aims of this blog is to give you an insight into mental illness. Or, if you've also suffered or have a loved one with a mental illness then I hope you will feel not alone as you will read thoughts from someone who shares some of your feelings.

My body will never be in perfect condition to do it. I broke both my ankles three times each playing soccer when I was a teenager. I'm still recovering from knee surgery in 2010 and have titanium in my left knee - it hurts me often, especially in the mornings. But f@ck it – if you dream of something and if you want it bad enough there comes to a time when you need to have the courage to overcome your fears. If you want something you’ve never had you will need to do something you’ve never done. I need to start.

Today is Sunday 13th January. Today I decided I’m going to run 100 miles non-stop from New York to Philly in April 2013, no matter how long it takes and no matter how hard it is. If I can’t run it then I’ll walk. If I can’t walk then I’ll crawl. But today I decide that no-one in the world will stop me.

I detox today for 24 hours. I do zero exercise. I eat an orange, a banana, an apple, a small bowl of porridge and 4 asparagus. I drink 5 litres of water. And I sit down on the sofa in the evening, write this blog, and watch Rocky for some much needed motivation!! I really have no idea what I'm letting myself in for over the next 3 months.

A wise man once said that you can mock the man who has silly ideas but his will to fulfil them should be feared by all...

1 comment:

  1. Fear can either be our advantage or disadvantage. Fear is not really a negative factor. We can use this at our advantage since fear can also break barriers, even do things we can never image.

    overcoming fear