Tag Archives: Running

All About The Will

Every time I have a conversation with someone about how my half-marathon went and when I mention that at the time, it was not too hard, the response I get from them is a slight shrug of the shoulders, a look of disbelief and a sentence along the lines of, “I don’t think I could even run one mile, leave alone 13.”

While I understand people not wanting to try a half marathon or any race because running does not hold an appeal, what I sense the most is a feeling of desire. A longing to do that elusive half-marathon or even a 5k. And I tell you it is not that difficult.

I had always wanted to run a half marathon but I never knew where to begin. When I was studying, I was irregular in running so I could not train well enough for a proper run. When I started working, I saw that my evenings were mostly spent watching something on my laptop so I decided to go back to an old love – running. Running once helped me lose 25 kilograms. I used to weigh an impressive 97 kgs.

I decided to buy a good pair of shoes and started running again. But this was still informal running. It was running to keep fit without any real point to it beyond not sitting at home and gaining weight. But come 2012, I wanted to seize the opportunity and run my first half marathon.

Up to that point, I was able to run up to three miles continuously on the treadmill but 13 miles? It seemed impossible. But I downloaded a training plan and started to stick to it.

When you do something often enough, it becomes a habit. Running gives me a real high and so it wasn’t so difficult to start running. What really got me was the ever-increasing distance. The first time I ran 5 miles, I couldn’t wait for it to end. I felt every step and I just wanted to give up and start walking slowly. But I always recalled what Patton said – “Make the mind run the body”.

It’s not about the muscles, it is about the will. Yes it gets hard but surely you can’t want something like this and imagine it would be easy. That rush of adrenaline, that realization that it’s all going to be over in a few more feet, the view of the cheering crowds and that finish line. It’s all worth it. So just get out there and do it.

 

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All About Teamwork

On a glorious, sunny Sunday morning, I finished my first half-marathon. I ran a time of 2:09:56 and in-spite of a niggling neck sprain, I managed to beat my previous personal best.

Long distance running is not about competing with others. First and foremost, it is about competing against yourself. The first mile is relaxed, the second is where reluctance sets in. The daunting prospect of 12 miles looms ahead large and should a hill approach, the urge to stop running and walk up the hill is almost overpowering. But you  have to let the mind tell the body what to do.

After the 2nd mile, it is usually smooth sailing till the 10th. Then you start thinking,”Come on. You have already run 10 miles now! That’s a lot. Why don’t you just relax now?” Again, at these moments, slowing down or stopping is best avoided.

The best part about running an organized race rather than going on a run alone is the people around you. When the first hill hit, I started to buckle under the pressure but voices encouraged me from either side. “Good going!”, “You got this!”. And it kept me motivated. At various points during the race, we kept shouting out words of encouragement to each other when we showed signs of tiring.

There is no gloating involved as you speed past someone. Because you want everyone to finish. You want everyone who is running with you to show off that shiny finisher’s medal. And it feels like you are part of a team. A team of odd members from every age-group. It’s a like a wolf-pack where the survival of the pack depends on everyone doing their bit. And it helps.

It’s not just your fellow runners who are part of this team. It’s also the volunteers who direct traffic away from you, offer water at the hydration stations and constantly shout out to you about how great a job you are doing and how this is the last hard bit and it’s smooth sailing ahead.

I ran for almost 10 miles alongside a middle aged gentleman today. And in spite of all the stress we were under, we shared some light moments together. We groaned in agony during the hills and flew while going downhill. A veteran of several marathons past, he had  some fantastic tips to share.

But the best moment of the day was somewhere near the 10 mile mark. A bunch of 5 year old children were standing on the curb and cheering on the runners and as each runner approached, they gave him a high-five. And as I heard the hoots and claps and cheers and as I high-fived my way past the kids like any professional athlete would, I smiled. They were part of my team too.

 

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And we keep running

After months of dithering I finally re re restart running. Its an amazing thing running. Its called a democratic sport. Have feet, will run. A slow jog, an energetic trot or a full sprint, it doesn’t matter and neither do the reasons.

There came a time a few years ago when I got it into my head that I needed to get fit. I started swimming, I played various sports, I started going to the gym, I started yoga and I started running. I still play the occasional sport but slowly gave up the rest. I grew bored with the routine. But something, and I don’t know what, brings me back to running. Whenever I sense a thickening of the waist, whenever I feel the need to be left alone, whenever I feel the need to think, I feel like running.

In most cultures, running is primarily viewed as a way to attain that perfect shape. Lardballs feeding at burger joints and a million other insufferable places view it as a great way to become a “stud”. And why not? But to many other people running is more than that. Its about spirituality. Its about feeling one with nature, feeling one with the wind, the grass (ok maybe concrete), the earth and with oneself.

So I put on my shoes, do a few stretches and set out. I pick a destination which I can cover in 15 minutes or so. And I am off. The first few minutes feel great. The weather is perfect, cloudy with no rain. I reflect on various aspects of my life and people around me. My thoughts go to an advertisement featuring Thierry Henry in which he is running alone, just like I am and it feels cool. Just for the first few minutes.

Then the pain starts. It begins just below my ribcage and spreads to my calves and heels. I huff and puff like the steam engine to Matheran struggling up the slope. I check my watch and see that not even 9 minutes have elapsed. Its the inertia of the previous sedentary months I suppose. A voice keeps telling me “Dude 9 minutes are enough for the first day. Just stop. Tomorrow you can do more.” But I refuse to listen. The destination is only 6 minutes away. All thoughts vanish from my head and only the white line, which would mean I have arrived, fills my eyes.

I labour on gamely despite 75 kilos of Rohit dragging me back. 12 minutes. So very close and I put on an extra burst of pace hoping it will help me forget the pain. The adrenaline surges as I stagger on. I know I can do it……….. 14 minutes………. I see the line. I have timed this run to perfection. As the seconds count down and the line approaches ever so close, I feel a sense of relief.

As I cross the line and slow down to a walk to prevent my muscles from seizing, my breathing begins to slow. The pain lessens. But my heart soars high. Higher than the clouds that obscure the sun. It is a feeling like no other. The sweet smell of success is intoxicating and makes me forget everything else. As I walk back, the sky darkens and it begins to drizzle. Rain falls on the thirsty earth triggering that sweet smell and drenching everything.

I walk home through the downpour a proud man.

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