It is said that your passion will never leave your tail. Wherever you are, whatever you become you will always find time to follow your passion. Whether it is a sport or a hobby it will always occupy a part of your mind, how much ever busy you are. This is a beauty of your passion. The same passion keeps you moving ahead, keeps you on the edge of your life, gives you a hope for living and as goes the saying. Hope is a good thing and good thing never dies. It’s been two year since I have kept my passion of writing and running on the backburner. Primarily due to birth of my lovely son and change in the job. But as both the things have stabilized, the itch in me to start running and writing has got more stronger. And in the last month I have made conscious efforts to don my running shoes and go for run. The first run after a long time, took me back by almost 6 years when I had started running. I could run only 800 meters and it was not at all disappointing. What was extremely satisfying was that, I went out of the house and just ran. The distance did not matter, the time did not matter. All that mattered was that there was sweat dripping down my body and a certain indescribable feeling was taking over me. The ecstasy which you feel after finishing the distance, the unbearable sweet pain which is running through the legs is all worth it.
In the last 30 days or the maximum distance I have managed to cover is around 2 kms. But at the end of the 2 kms, it gave me tremendous satisfaction. It reminded me of the time when I used to struggle to cover even 2-3 kms. That was the time when it was extremely frustrating. That was the time when I was in awe of so many fellow runners who used to cover huge distances from 10 kms to 50 kms. But today for me even that distance of 2 kms is a glory since I know there is a restart and greater distance are in store.
There are times in your life when you ponder over your past and try to take a leaf out of it and based on that try to take a decision of your present circumstance. I am going through the same thing. The excitement of running a full marathon is indescribable. The moment you get to know of the time and date when the registration would start you start planning on how to register as soon as the window opens. These days the bibs finish the moment the registrations open. After registering you get serious about training. First thing is you day dream on the time you want to finish at. This year I had day dreamed of finishing the full marathon in 4:30 hrs which is a full one hour lesser than the last year. But have things ever happened the way you plan them. A job change, baby and a gastronomical issue disrupted the training in a big way. I have not been able to train the way I wanted to or the way I had planned to. Till now there has not been a single long run of more than 15 Km. This has worried me a lot. I have lately been thinking whether I should attempt such a long distance without any training. But every time I think, the runner in me wakes up and says you will be able to do it. I start re planning my training runs and hope to finish the 42.1 kms on Jan 19th 2015.
This year was a year when there were lot of changes in the personal life. A new job and a kid in the same year took a lot of time. It takes quite a lot of stress to get into the new job especially when you report to the top guy in the company. Then there was a situation which took a lot of time, energy and money related to the medical condition. This led to 2014 being a not so exciting year for me in running. Ignoring all that there was one things which I ensured. That I would run whenever I would find time and if I don’t find, I would dig out some time. In addition to running I also ensured that I would do strength training at least twice a week. Today though I am very weak in terms of running mileage, I know I am strong physically and it would not take me much time to get back to running. Tomorrow I am going to attempt a 15 km run which would increase my confidence to attempt the full marathon which I will be running on the 19th Jan.At the time when I registered I had set a target of 4:3 Hrs to finish, but practically speaking at this time now it looks unlikely. But I am not going to compromise on the finish. I have to finish is my primary concern.
The excitement to participate and run in my second full marathon started almost two months back, when I realized I was not upto my training. The excitement soon turned to anxiety and with one month remaining for the marathon turned into a scary situation. The training runs were not completed on Sundays. Every Saturday at Nike Run Club, the speed workouts and the core strength workouts were not very fruitful. With just a month away from the big day, I decided to pull up the socks and ensure the runs were completed to the brink. The last long run was supposed to happen just 3 weeks prior to the big day. A week before the 32 km run it was a 28 km run. Everything went well till 22 km in that run, but then I hit the wall and dragged myself till around 24.5 km and then I just had to quit. I spoke about this to my Coach and he said not to worry and go ahead with the 32 km run the next week. I told him I just screwed up my 28 km run and he said not to worry and go ahead with the run. Not to worry about the timing and concentrate on finishing the run. As per his advice I was able to finish the run. The timing was very poor bi then that was the last thing on my mind.
The rest of the runs every Sunday went fine. I had purposely skipped the Run Powai run race as it was only a 10 k race and on that day I was scheduled to run 15 kms. which was part of my tapering plan for the big day. Slowly the race day came nearer and nearer and with that my anxiety and excitement for the big day increased too. I went to the exp a week prior to the race and collected my bib and the goodie bag for the marathon.
There I met and saw Milind Soman, India’s top shot Model and a runner himself. He would be running the full marathon completely barefoot a week later. He was at the expo to launch FlyKnit shoes from the Nike Stable. As the big day neared my eating habits and the sleep pattern changed too. I was sleeping a lot, eating more than I usually eat and running far less than I had run in the past few weeks. The night before the marathon was clouded in the usual excitement. i went to the temple as per my routine on Saturday evening. Ate pasta and had dinner at around 930 pm. Somehow my timex ironman GPS watch was not coordinating with me. I had to transfer all my previous runs on to the system and free up all the memory it had taken. Somehow it was not getting detected. Fortunately it worked fine and was able to transfer the runs. I tried to sleep but there was a song stuck in my mind. I had set the alarm for 3:30 AM the next day and wanted to sleep early so that I get good rest. But as expected I finally went to sleep only at 12:00 AM.
At Bandra worli sea link
I woke up at the buzz of the alarm and did my morning things and was ready to leave the house at 4:15 am. I went to the station and reached the marathon start line well just before the start of the marathon. There were almost 3000 men and women running the full marathon and it took me about 5 minutes to reach the start line. When I crossed the start line, a huge wave of excitement went through my soul. I was very happy to start my second full marathon and was hoping for a good finish. The start was good. I made sure I picked up the water at every water station. The first couple of kms went by pretty quickly and i was going smoothly keeping a pace of 7 mins/km. At around 7 kms I met two runners who were from my locality and we started speaking with each other. We have always seen each other running during the practice runs, but never cared to speak. I guess it was out of laziness or just plain ignorance. After chatting for a while I asked them to move ahead as I was running a lesser pace than theirs. Soon after that I saw the half marathon coming from the opposite direction. The pace at which the first person was running was just stupendous. He was literally flying. This gave another wave of excitement. At this point I was going smoothly at a predefined pace of 7 mins/km. Soon the sun rose and and the skyline changed. Now all the full marathoners were facing the racers who were doing half marathons. I saw quite a few similar faces in the crowed. Waved to them, gave them good luck. By now I had completed 15 kms and as per the plan I had to take my first break. But I was feeling good and there was not much tiredness. I thought I would continue and see how far I can go without stopping. Earlier during many races I had stopped before I actually got tired which actually went against me later. So I pushed myself. Met few friends on the way. I had asked my wife to station herself at around 23 kms. I took my first stop when I saw her waiting for me with Gatorade and dates. That was the time when the elite runners went past me. The way they run is the most beautiful site a runner can experience. It is full of great pace, smooth strides, perfect stride length. Just watching them gives you a great shot of excitement. After taking the gatorade and the dates, i started my onwards journey to the finish line. Some how after that my pace broke and I was finding it difficult to continue at the same pace. Till my first break I was thinking of finishing the marathon in around 5 hrs, but then I started taking more walk breaks. Soon I got taken over by 5:00 hr bus at around 30th km. I tried to keep to their pace, bu they soon went ahead. I was unhappy that I wont be able to finish the marathon in 5 hrs. I was regularly drinking water and gatorade and also eating dates and whatever were offered by the bystanders. Soon the psychological mark of 32 km went. I was feeling slightly dehydrated and trying to push a little, when I felt a sudden small cramp in my calves. That’s a time I got scared and decided to hold back and recover from the cramp. I was taking more walk breaks and taking it slightly slow. Soon 35 kms went by and we came to the party. The party was of 6 kms dream runners who were having a good time with various display of the organisation they were representing. I saw a lot of people cheering up for the full marathoners and admiring them for attempting to finish the distance. This bought joy and pride to my heart. Soon saw the 40 km mark and felt very nice. At around 41 km mark came the two runners whom I had met at 7 km mark and really cheered for me to finish strong. I did manage to run with them for few hundred meters but then asked them to move ahead and finish strong. I finally finished the marathon in 5:27 hrs. My wife and friends were waiting at the finish line to welcome me and it was great moment of joy to see her. After the mandatory high fives and few pics of finish, I went and did some stretches. Also went to the medical room to use the ice pack on my calves and thighs. Went to collect the medal. It was a great moment for me. I had been practising for the marathon for almost 4 months. On the whole it felt very nice to wear the medal though I was disappointed with the timing which was much more than what I had expected.
I have often wondered many a times which and when is the most sound sleep I have experienced. This thought specially comes when I don’t get a sleep in some nights. When you have so many thoughts, that you dont know which one to really follow. When all you do is stare at the revolving fan on the ceiling, stare into the dark nights. You curse yourself for not working hard enough in the day to get quick sleep. You try to concentrate on one thing or thought and pray to the god that you get sleep as quickly as possible. And in spite of all these, you fail to get sleep.
I remember the most sound sleep I have ever got was after my first half marathon in 2011. I had completed the half marathon in 2:38 hrs and both my legs were aching. My groin was slightly injured and I had difficulty walking. The moment I reached home I put both my legs in hot water and let it cool down.After keeping my legs in the hot water for 30 minutes, I had a good meal and straightaway went to the bedroom. I made sure all the curtains were on and it was as dark as possible in the room. The time was around 1 pm. The moment I hit the bed I dozed off. After a sound sleep of around 4-5 hrs I woke up in the evening. For a moment after I opened my eyes I couldn’t remember where I was or whether it was sunrise or sunset. The sleep I got was an amazing one and it is something which I will not be able to forget for a life time. I woke up with all my muscles sore. The pain was really sweet. It was beautiful. It was as if my muscle were alive and kicking. I went to the front room, had a good cup of tea and decided to go down the building for a walk. It was one of the most beautiful evening. I came back had my dinner and again went back to sleep. This time around too the sleep i got was very sound and peaceful. It was something which I will remember for a long time.
Running has given me such and lot of new experience which I never imagined I would come across. It has helped me in discovering about myself which I thought never existed. It has helped me in making me mentally and physically strong. It has helped me in finding solution to problems which I thought would be very difficult to solve. It has helped me in realizing what my body is capable of. It is indeed a blessing in disguise. I am realising it all the more today because I quit smoking this day 4 years back and have never looked back. To dissipate my unused energy and time after I quit smoking helped me to discover the joy of running and in turn helped me in finishing my first full marathon of 42 kms which is magical in its own way.
For a long time man’s quest is to find solution to the numerous problems he has faced. He always wanted a quick fire solution to the problems he had. To begin with he had a tough time realizing that there is a problem, let alone find solution to it. He had been thinking it is not his problem and something like that can never happen to him. In the same way, I as an individual do face problem in day to day life. Sometimes silence is the solution to the problem and sometimes speaking is the solution to the problem. Over the last couple of years, I have found out a method through which not necessarily you will get a solution, but you will definitely make a headway towards the solution. And that my friends is “Going for a Run”.
It has been documented and also been spoken about that one of the best ways to come out of your problems, sorrows is running. I have a friend who started running after she broke up with her boyfriend. She was dull and was always sulked, when one day she just decided to go out of house and run. That day she came back as a different woman. Every meter she ran she left a memory of her past and did not pick it up. Today she has run many many marathons and also successfully completed South Africa’s famed Comrades Ultra Marathon.
Then there is a story of a woman who was a chain smoker until few years ago. She had tried to quit many times but in vain. Every fifth day she gave up and hit the butt. Then one fine day after quitting she went for a run and never had a reason to hold the cigarette butt again. Today she promotes smoke free life in the many marathon she runs. She also has a annual event of duathalon where she rides a bike and runs a half marathon and promotes non smoking life.
For me, I have found solace in running. Whenever I face a problem at work or at home, I make sure I go for a run. The run clears the clog of thoughts in my mind and from nowhere it gives me a thought or an idea how to get the bottom of the problem. I get a headway in getting the solution to the problem. It has happened many a times that there is a challenging work in the office and I am stuck somewhere. At this point I just think about the problem and somehow I get to a point where I start solving the problem. Also running helps you dissipate the negative energy in you. There are times when you are frustrated with things which are beyond your control. You feel like taking it on someone who’s close to you and are comfortable with. Like your friend, or your wife, or your children. But you don’t realise how much it would hurt them. Though you clear your mind and frustration. In this situation running is what comes to you help. You just go for a short 30 mins run and it would clear your clogged mind.
I have always feel slight nervous when I take a first step towards achieving a goal or a target. The start is always shaky. But as I move forward and start achieving micro goal in order to achieve that macro goal, the nervousness starts going down. I guess this is a universal problem with human race. As you start moving ahead, you start getting used to things. The tasks which you thought were tough start getting easier. Its like playing video games. The first level seems so tough when you start playing the game, but with time you keep on passing the levels and then it become simpler.
I today took my first step towards running my second full marathon in as many years. I registered for SCMM 2014- Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2014. Last year when I ran the full marathon, it took me 5 hrs 29 mins to finish the 42.2 Kms. This time I am targeting 4:30 hrs. Last time it was to finish the distance and not concentrate on the timings. This time I will be concentrating on the timing too. The target is slightly steep considering that I will be polishing off an hour from my previous timing. The tough part starts now. I have got exactly 6 months to go before I run the full. I need to sync with my coach. I also need to get a new shoe as I have been running in my current shoe for more than 2 years now. The last show which I was using was Asics 1150. It is a good show. It is good except that the cloth over the front got torn. So that’s my immediate task. Once I get a the training schedule from the coach, I need to diligently follow it. Last time there were many runs which I missed. So this time I need to be more cautious.
There was a big buzz around the runners community before the start of the registration process. Some wrote dos and dont’s for registration, some provided the link from where you can get your race documents. Some wrote their experience in registration process. Some were frustrated at the links not opening. Some were outright funny saying that, the hard part is done and now comes the easy part of training. LOL. Overall it was fun with with the kind of buzz it generated.
For me registration was quite smooth. Just to check the link, I logged in 15 mins before the scheduled start of registration and surprisingly the link was working. I filled in all the information and at exactly 10:00 am which was the scheduled time, I clicked on the payment link and went ahead with payment. I purposely waited for 10:00 am as I wanted to be sure that I paid after the stipulated time. This was more to avoid any complications later. Once I received the email and SMS saying that my account has been debited I heaved a sigh of relief. One of the reasons I wanted to do this as early as possible as SCMM has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years and i was slightly scared that the seats might get full early and I would miss the chance to participate in the event. If anyone wants to look at the event and want to register, the link is
Everyone, irrespective of your profession, your nation, your caste, your creed has a I factor which usually pokes its ugly head now and then. The I factor is your irritating factor. How soon you get irritated and what are the factors due to which this irritation occurs. We runners also have this I factor and it is very disturbing and uncomfortable when it happens. Imagine you going for a long run. You have found your rhythm and your pace and suddenly something happens which raises your blood pressure and angers you. This is every runners Irritating factor. So what are the things which irritate you as a runner when you are on a run.
1) Lace getting untied-. Oooooo. This is a disaster. You are running nicely and suddenly you notice your lace is in the middle of getting untied. You hope it hold itself till you finish your run. You try to concentrate on the road ahead but notice it has already come out. You try to ignore it further and then get images of tripping and injuring yourself and you imagine the worse. You stop and tie the lace and use the choicest of abuse. One of the things I have observed is that whenever I run in the rains, due to the wetness the lace gets untied very often. You also cannot tie the lace very tightly as it may hinder the blood circulation in the foot.
2) People asking for direction- This is another thing which you fail to understand. Of all the people the person behind the wheel see’s on road, why does he ask only you for direction. Why cant he ask any other person just walking on the road. Why does he have to stop me and ask for the direction. This is atrocious and you feel like hitting the guy for breaking your rhythm.
3) Traffic As a road runner you will always find traffic hindering your run if you are running on a busy street. It is fine if there is a discplined traffic. What is irritating is an odd man out on a two wheeler or a four wheeler, zig zags your path. This is when you miss a beat in your legs as well in your heart. The blood pressure really rises and you miss your running rhythm and pace. My route goes by a school. The road is choc a bloc with little children and their parents making way to the school. The site of small little children is very refreshing and it brings memories of your school days. You remember how you used to cry on the first day of the school. How it was heartening to see your parents leave your hand. Though the sight is pleasant, the vehicles coming to drop the children are not. The road gets very busy with all the vehicles and you have to zig zag through the vehicles to get to a clear way.
Apart from this there are other factors which irritate you like a sudden pain in the muscle or sudden bout of rains. These are all a part of being a road runner. Somehow when these things irritate the mind, and the subsequent rhythm in running pacifies the mingd, it reinforces your belief that running is a such a pure form of meditation. With time you realize you don’t get irritated and things like these are very minuscule to what you achieve by running.
This is the second and last part of the article titled “Listen to your legs”.
The earlier part of the article put emphasis on why running and listening to music should not be done together. More specifically it was from my personal experience how I used to listen to music and later I realised the benefits of running without listening to music. From my interactions I found that many runners are not willing to take it as a challenge to run without music. They feel they wont be able to perform or run without music as well as when they run with music. But this is just a mental barrier. It just takes a little bit of courage to put your ipod down and go out of the house just with your shoes on.
The next thing which comes to my mind is if not without music, how do we keep the mind engage. The mind cannot be kept empty. The river of thoughts will come and go. They need a solid bank which will help them in revitalizing the body. When I run there are many many thoughts which come to my mind. Some of the thoughts vanish in a second, some thoughts are more situational like a vision of some one or a sight of nature. But as you move ahead they disappear and are replaced by the sight of new things. What you think in the later part of the run is extremely important. The quality of the thoughts will ensure your body responds in a positive way or negative way. It becomes extremely important when you feel your body is not responding in a positive way. So what do you do in case you feel your body may hit the wall:
What to do in office? This is one of my favorite part of the run. usually when I run in the morning and I am into 2 to 3 kms, i start planning my day at work. I start with what I am going to do in the way. What would be my challenges. How am I going to deal with them. Then I think about how I am going to deal with people specially when there is a unfavorable situation involved. What I am going to say so that there is a win win situation for all. This is one of the my favorite chain of thoughts during the run. This is the time when I am not much tired and have got of energy left to complete the run.
Office Gossip: This is again the fun part of running. You recall whats the latest grapevine in office. How the promotions are going to be for the year. How much rise everyone is expecting and how much everyone finally gets. You think about the food of the canteen and how much ever you complain to the canteen guy he is not going to change the quality of food. This is the time when you are into your mid run, that is you are nearing half the distance and are slightly tired. In this period I also think of where would be my next marathon and how I am going to train for it. A significant thought process involves here is of how am I going to react after I finish my marathon. I also try to visualise my reactions and what I need to do in case I get tired, I try to visualise what I am going to say to myself and how I am going motivate myself to keep on going.
Tables: Now this is my favorite part of the run when I am feeling like I will hit the wall. I start reciting tables of very tough odd numbers. Say I start with table of 13, 15, 17, 19, 21 etc. I dont just stop till 10, I go on till maybe 20 or 25. This practice has really helped me in taking my mind off the pain in the legs or taking my mind off the tiredness I am feeling. Apart from this this has really helped me in bettering my math skills. 🙂
It is very important for the runner to make sure he keeps his mind of the tiredness and lethargy during the run. When you think of positive things, your body reacts positively to it. When you think of negative things, the body reacts negatively and you tend to get tired at a faster rate. Its a good practice to think about your achievements, about your dreams, about the time in your life when you felt good, about the time in your life you selflessly did a noble deed. This will bring a big smile to your face and you will finish your run with your head held high.
I am one of the runner who does not listen to music while on a run. I prefer listening to the various sounds of mother nature. The chirping of birds, winds flowing through the leaves, occsaional bark of the dog, men talking about world politics, women discussing their in laws and many more things. While running the anticipation of what sound I may encounter is an exciting thing. Earlier I used to listen to music on my I pod, but later I grew out of that habit. Then I decided I am going to run with all my five senses in tandem with each other. One of the major disadvantage of listening to music while running is that you dont listen to what you body is saying to you. It is very important to speak to your body when you are undergoing such physical stress. Under the hood of music you may be damaging your body. This is what I felt when I was running and listening to music together.
Many times I was running more than I had planned. More than what I had trained for. Now this maybe a good thing but it also worried me. Was I running more than what I deserve to run? It was like going into trance and not realising the pain you body might give you. but I asked my self, do I want to go into trance by listening to music. The answer which I got within myself was a big “NO”. I wanted that kind of high only by running and not by listening to music while running. Then when I reached home after I ran with music on, I used to get aches in the muscular area of legs. Specially in calfs. I realised that as a recreational runner I should be more careful about how much I run and at what speed I should run. No point in flowing with the excitement and later taking a break from running due to injury.
When i was running with music on, my sense of hearing was getting occupied with the music. I did not realise how far I had run or the pain in my legs was getting noticed by my brain after a lag. I somehow was getting the running high much earlier than I used to get. Runner’s high is a point at which you feel superelevated and is usually on cloud number 9. Its a point of getting extreme satisfaction on the extreme physical duress you underwent. The quicker it occurred the earlier you are feel satisfied. And this is something I wanted to avoid. I wanted to be satisfied because I am running and not because I was listening to my favorite music. After all these experience I decided to listen to the nature and more importantly to listen to what my body was trying to tell me.
Initially after I quit music, my mind was confused. It was listening to the sounds to which it was not used to. This was only while running. but i continued with it. The first sound which I realised was the sound of my breath. And let me tell you, it was the sweetest sound I had listened to. There was absolute purity in it. It was completely unadulterated music. The rhythmic inflow and outflow of air through my legs coordinating with the steps I was taking made running all the more beautiful. It was completely ecstatic. There are somethings in life which you have to take granted, because it becomes such an integral part of your system that you dont realise it lives with you and that is breathing. But the moment you notice its existence, it gives you a high. The next thing I realised was that the sound of my each footstep. I am not a lean creature nor do I run on air. This sound made me realise that I am a heel striker. and I intentionally was trying to avoid heel strike. Sometimes it is easier to avoid heel strike but most of the times when you have run a substantial distance, you cannot avoid it. Overall it was a good break from listening to music and running. There are many other factors and reasons on why I stopped listening to music while running which I will be writing it in the second part of the article.