Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Running is Being Human

Photo by Navanee
I am one of those who can give endless gyan on things which might seem trivial to many. This is because of my strong belief that small emotions that we allow ourselves to go through, leads to bigger decisions. In simple words, a small bug planted in your mind can create wonders or disasters.

I plant a lot of small bugs in my mind at regular intervals. I fight with a lot of bugs planted in my mind by others. One such bug that I planted myself is running. About 1.5 half year back, I planted a bug called running. It took about one year to get strong enough in the system (mind). About three months back, the bug was strong enough to get into action. I started running from the first week of August 2013. Thanks to the ChennaiRunners which was the change agent.

Three months from then, I have now completed a half marathon at the CTC Trial Marathon 2013. This might not be a big achievement for an athletic, sports professional or a fit individual. For someone who has just been a lousy, lazy, money earning, money spending, cast out of corporates human; it is.

My learning from this three month old running journey is learning for life/about life. In simple words, running in itself is not learning. The openness it creates and the blocks it breaks is THE learning.

Anil Sharma with his kids
Learning #1: When someone teaches, listen with the curiosity of a child
My first month of training created the base for  future. It is about learning from someone by listening, watching, sensing, understanding and finally being. I think, I was a good student to my running guru Anil Sharma. Anil does not call for training sessions; he just welcomes us to run with him as co-runners. Running together, we learn. He runs for his passion, we get inspired by his passion. Anyone can teach, only the best can inspire.

Learning#2: We never get time for things we do not like to do
To be fit, I have tried hitting the gym, tried swimming, tried cycling but I always excuse myself for lack of time. With running, I ran whenever I can. I was out of Chennai for most of my second month of practice. That left me without a group and I did a 7K x 5Days and couple of 10Ks all alone. Nothing else changed in my lifestyle, but suddenly I got a lot of time for running. I woke up by 4.00am on most practice days. I got time, because I liked doing it.

Finished four 10K
Learning#3: Time spent on practice, is time saved
In the third month, I ran about six 10Ks with the Chennai Trekking Club (CTC). Without these runs, a half marathon would have been a dream for few more months. Time spent on practice, especially on different and unknown terrains helped to face the race day uncertainties with ease. I finished well ahead of many other first time half marathoners. I am sure the only factor that differentiates is Practice. The 100K cycling done as part of the Tamilnadu Cycling Club added confidence to my endurance question.

10K @ Buckingham Canal
Learning#4: Humans hunt in groups, live in groups
Today's life style is more about keeping to you, living to yourself. Various personalities I met during the Chennai Runners Velachery run and the CTC 10x10 runs made me rethink about it. When we are like minded and together, it creates a lot of energy. I could see the energy pushing me to finish my first 6K, my first 10K and at last my first 21K.

Learning#5: Comfort is in the mind, so is pain
A day before the marathon, I went to stay overnight at the running venue with my wife and kid. An under construction building, strangers and darkness were together. We were given with a large common hall in which some slept in their mat and some without. With no electric fans, it started as an hot and humid night, soon we were blessed with heavy showers making it too cold to handle. However, it was comfortable, soothing and pleasant enough for the next day early morning run. The long queue for toilets was not a concern. Blame it on the soft bed habit; I could sense some pain in the back when I woke up. So hard was the pain that I was worried about the run. However, the comfort, the discomfort, the pain and its relief were all handled well by the mind of the runner.

Photo by Creativecolor
Learning#6: Follow yourself more than following others
When the run was flagged off, there were many hundred runners running ahead of me. Some pacing from the start, some excited by the group, some excited by the music, some running fast to avoid the embarrassment. I decided to follow the instructions of my body which was handling a stiff calf muscle for the last one week, a new born knee pain and an overnight pain in the back. With all these, I started very slow, slow enough that I managed to be the last person in the group. I am sure, this helped me finish better than many others.

Learning#7: Life is not a race
In a marathon, everyone does their best. Near the half way U-turn mark, I could see many half-marathoners returning. They should be a good 4 kms ahead of me to complete the run. I am glad that it did not send any negative signals to my brain. I thought that the trial will be less crowded now and hence I can run peacefully. It was my endurance that I was racing against, not any other person.

Learning#8: Humor is the best painkiller
Since the first and last 3kms of the trial was damaged by rain, I know I cannot pace the last few kms. I decided to pace the 10th to 17th kms of the race; the distance during which most runners will face the pain and the 'why not quit' bug gets in. There are two things which helped me handle it. First is the smile, both from inside and outside. Second is the short, funny, witty yet motivational comments I passed on to the full marathoners in the opposite direction. I did it with the curious little kids from the villages en route also. A little extra energy got drained in the process, but I think that induced tons of positive energy into the running system.

At the finish line
Learning#9: Be an animal at the finish line
The last kilometer was a different challenge. I wanted to pace much faster but the body was not allowing me to. Somehow, when it was 500mts more to go, I convinced my body to co-operate. I know that responding to a sudden adrenaline rush may be damaging to the hard worked muscles. But, you got to finish it the way an animal will jump at its prey and that is not possible without the last mile leap. I responded to the adrenaline rush and I am happy that I did it. It was the fastest pacing I have ever done in my adult life. As I said, practice came to rescue and I finished my maiden half marathon in style with no injuries as I write this.

The medal and its team
Learning#10: Achievements make you more humble
I might be a beginner in the runners community, but in the larger world, this shall be considered an achievement. An achievement which would call for a grand celebration. I too was thinking about publishing it loud to the world on my finish. However, the finish changed my mind. It made me feel 'me' and not 'It is me!'. I did it because I tried; not because I am capable. Capability is with everyone; everyone should try..

1 comment:

Ravikumar K said...

I love that sentence "Anyone can teach, only the best can inspire".