I run because… a runners perspective

I came across an anti marathon campaign today & was shocked at the restrictive thinking. The campaign could have been anti-being-a-couch-potato or anti-smoking or anything else. But seriously, anti-being-active-and-fit was not something I would ever expect.


I have been running half marathons for about 7 years. I have seen several runner start from couch to run ultra distances. I have witnessed major transformations that leave the rest of us in complete awe.

Here is a post from a runners perspective:

Running is a hobby or passion, just like painting, dancing, reading, travelling or singing. (wonder if there would be any anti-campaigns against one of these too. Don’t paint & waste your time. Just work harder & do something more productive :p )

There are runners & then there are non-runners, its only a matter of choice. Either you love it or you don’t. To each their own. No one can be really forced to run a marathon. Don’t like it, don’t do it. Simple isn’t it?

It’s a sport & not everyone who runs is a star. But we all are achievers at our own level. You don’t always have to win the Olympics to be an achiever. Yes we post it on Facebook, because its important to us. If its looked down upon as spam, there is an ‘unfollow post’ or better still, ‘delete friend’ option available that can be freely used.

You don’t need organised races to run. But think of it, organised races are a business by itself. It creates employment to many (event organisers & coaches), a platform to perform for some (runners), source of income to few (professional athletes) & entertainment to the rest (who need it).

There is a common fear that running leads to knee problems. I am sure that sitting around and doing nothing is equally dangerous! Both have to be done with caution.

Yes, there have been deaths on the tracks. There have been deaths on football fields too. But I can tell you with fair conviction that there have been more deaths off the tracks & fields!!!

There are so many industries benefitting from this sport – Apparel industry (running gear), Tourism industry (hotel/flights), Pharma industry (Doctors/Physios/balms & medicines), food & beverage industry (health drinks/ breakfast) etc. Sometimes we even travel to run. So a small sleepy town suddenly buzzes with activity during run season helping the locals make a quick buck. So in a way we are contributing to the economy as a whole & also promoting tourism. How selfish it is to think about individual fee as it is nothing when compared to the good it does at large. (wonder how investing in personal skill development as an alternate during training time can help the world!)

Do let me know how else you think running helps. (I have intentionally left out physical or mental heath related benefits). If you disagree completely, you are free to join the above anti – campaign and i would love to hear how it goes 🙂


An update – got to know the campaign was supposed to be a comic take on marathons; but has resulted in serious discussions in some circles. I got the link from one such forum. No offence to the original blogger, i understand his humor 🙂

You’ve got a mail!

So, it was another ordinary day. She was busy with insignificant thoughts like what to wear, what to cook, whether to move out or continue to live with the stranger she married… While the former two were simple, the third one got her confused as always. Bored of the train of thoughts that took her nowhere, she decided to seek escape in social media. A platform that often bored her for being fake. But today would be different. She had a new message. It was from someone unknown, never heard the name before. It said , ‘Hi! Do you plan to run the Goa Marathon next month?’ It was normal for people to connect to her on running related issues. She had another life, that as a runner. She could’ve assumed, this was someone who needed help with some logistics; travel, stay, collection of the running bib or any other matter. But it couldn’t be. She had two accounts on the social media & this one, she never used for any running related  coordination. She had managed to carefully partition her life. She maintained a different account for that part of her life where she was a helpful, well connected runner & motivator. This part was where she was the really happy, confident, beautiful & carefree mother , friend & a family person. Cautiously, she replied with just, ‘yes’. She was ready to close and move on to something else, when suddenly this name turned online & she received her next message. Something that would change a lot for her in the time to come. ‘ok, see you there then. But promise, no hugs this time’

Seriously! Who was this? He didn’t need any help & then what about hugs? Not a person to forget things too soon, curiosity got the better of her. She clicked on the unknown name & a photo suddenly looked back at her. Here was a face she had seen on the running tracks before. A few cordial hellos had been exchanged earlier. He was from another city she knew. But what about hugs?? So the next message got sent. ‘what is this about hugs? What am I missing?’ An awkward silence followed, then a lengthy message. ‘ last year I was so excited after my good run, I hugged you at the finish. Felt stupid doing that as we don’t even know each other. Had been looking for you ever since, to apologise. So here is my sincere sorry for reacting that way.’ So here was a guy, who spent a year trying to find out her name & track her down for an incident so insignificant that she didn’t even remember! Sweaty hugs after a good run are not that uncommon. She was not the one to give or get them usually, but it surely wasn’t something she would make a big deal of. This guy was either a stalker or a really sincere & honest person. She decided to go with the latter & responded. ‘Apologies accepted. Touched that you took the trouble to track me down just to get things cleared. Funny that I had forgotten the whole incident until just now. Thanks to this, I will remember it for a long time to come 😀 cheers!’

A new friendship had blossomed at the most unlikely situation.

Somewhere in her real world, outside the beautifully painted social media account in which life looked perfect, things began to look different. A hope started to emerge. Maybe there was a life waiting for her outside these four walls, away from the stranger whom she lived with. Maybe she needed to give herself another chance!


The Maniac Runner

My day started when the alarm blared to a horrendous tone (even the sweetest music can sound bad if that’s the one waking you up from your Sunday morning sleep). Cursing myself for pursuing running as a hobby, I went on to make some fresh coffee to actually wake me up. (I was moving around like a zombie until then). The thought of a pleasant rainy day, picturesque surroundings & awesome company is what really made me get out of bed.

My strong cuppa followed by a sandwich infused some energy into me & off I went to join the rest of the group. We reached the location chosen for our run that day at about 6 AM. The weather was just perfect with strong cool breeze blowing & the sun nowhere in sight. Each of us started our own respective runs. I did’nt go with any plan, but let my body & my mood do the talking. Ended up doing a very Forrest Gump-ish run. I had no idea about the distance, pace or time I intended to run. I had no reason for running. I just ran because I felt like and at the pace that my feet agreed to carry me forward. I kept running till I thought I had enough, then, I turned back to go the start. (where the group had assembled)

Run 3
Endlessly long roads inviting for a run

I was on foot for more than one and a half hours when suddenly the winds grew stronger, the clouds grew darker. With just open land in all four directions, I could see the rains fast approaching. I kept running & the rains caught on with me within a minute or so, completely soaking me in its cool showers. The drops hits hard on my skin & it felt better than what any Jacuzzi could offer. The pure water was so sweet. I was now running with my arms stretched out looking upward to the sky & keeping my mouth slightly open, trying to take in as much rain as possible. Few villagers wearing plastic ponchos & running to find shelter in an otherwise open place, stopped to look at me with bewilderment. This was the best cool down I have ever experienced after a run.

A run in heaven
A run in heaven

I love Mumbai, I love Monsoon & I love running. Managed to cover a distance of about 14.5 kms (about 9 mi) in 1 hour 50 mins including a warm up & cool down walk of about 1.6 kms (1 mi). Happy week ahead!

The treadmill of life

Another week ends. My life is getting as hectic as it can probably get & I am loving it. The more I keep myself busy, the more I can be distracted from the truth. Some decisions are perhaps better not taken. So here I am living my regular day. Tweaking my schedule just that little bit to fit in as much as I can. Health & fitness is always last on the list, right next to sleep. You get one you lose the other! At least that’s how it is for me.

These days I have simply stopped planning to run on the roads. To compensate, I try extra hard & make some time to go to my office gym. The down side is that I am now forced to use a treadmill. I don’t know how anyone can do this to themselves. Imagine, you are running, panting but nothing around you really moves. There is this beautiful view that you face, but it seems so unreachable as the distance between you never diminishes. You see the same things around you, the same buttons on the machine and out of boredom, you keep looking at the seconds that seem to be ticking so slow that 30 minutes seem like forever. Then when you are sweating profusely, you suddenly see the weather getting enviously beautiful on the other side of the large window. Nice soft breeze accompanied by rains. And here you are in an air conditioned room looking at the showers that would otherwise drench you & rejuvenate you. I do feel like a chimp at the zoo, looking out of an enclosure. Now that is what indoor running does to me.

No choice here, so do just that as of now, 30 minutes of running but not getting anywhere.

Lessons learned while on the run :)

There is a popular joke that goes like this:

Once a journalist is interviewing a doctor at the mental asylum. He asks the doctor, how he decides whether a patient needs to be admitted in his ward or not. The doctor explains that there is a really simple test for that. “We take the person to a bath tub filled with water. We then give them a spoon, a mug & a bucket & ask him to empty the tub. Based on their choice, we decide whether or not they need to be admitted’. The journalist says ‘oh that’s really simple, any sane person would choose the bucket.’ The doctor smiles & says, ‘no, they would just pull the plug. Now you may proceed to bed no 43.’

Yesterday, I remembered the above joke that took me back to one incident while I was running. I run my Sunday long runs on a very long & wide road. It has 8 lanes & is as good as a free-way or express-way. These roads are usually deserted in the mornings. It is not usual to spot a lone lady running. On one side is the entire 8 lane which has few passing vehicles moving at top speed early in the day. On the other side is a stretch of green landscape & trees decorating the entire length of the road. This part is barricaded with a thorny fence to keep away little animals from getting on the road. There is a service road beyond that & finally the pavement where you can see few people.

One day, while I was towards the last leg of my run, I had little to go before I could exit off this road & reach my parked vehicle. I was tired & exhausted & ready to go home. I had left my previous exit few kilometres behind me & was soon approaching my destination panting & sprinting, when suddenly I saw a man enter the road from where I was to exit. He appeared to be a homeless guy, complete dishevelled. With long & dirty beard & hair He looked as if he hadn’t bathed ever. He had random things like rags of clothes etc in one hand, a sack filled with something over his shoulder & a stick in the other hand. He was talking to himself & coming straight towards me. He was no rag picker, but seemed to be of unstable mind. (we have seen many around to know one from the other, right?) I was terrified. There were no other people in audible distance, so even if I was attacked (he had a stick in one hand, remember?), there would be no use screaming. I couldn’t run back as I was completely drained out after my long run & didn’t want to do the extra distance just because of my paranoia. There was a barricade on my right that I couldn’t jump over & a very wide road with fast moving vehicles on my left. Now here I am on the road running towards him & him walking steadily towards me, looking straight at me.

So I did what my tired mind thought fit. I started to run in an angle, slowly moving towards the centre of the road. We had not more than 200 metres between us. I planned to come back to the side as soon as I crossed past him. I was moving with one eye on the traffic & the other on that man (imagine how cross eyed I must’ve looked then). The distance was closing in between us, when suddenly, he stopped walking, put his things down & raised his hands bent at the elbows, gesturing towards me as if to ask what the F*** are you upto. (gesture plus expressions) Then he starts to sway his hands in the direction of the moving traffic, indicating to me that there are vehicles approaching. Next he bows down a bit & sways his hands again, but this time in the direction of the safe side of the road as if welcoming a queen to come & sit on her throne. Well in short he just asked me to run on the safe side & not the centre of the road. While I complied, I also couldn’t stop myself from smiling at him, then I nodded politely to say thanks. Once I was on the safe side, his side, he picked his belongings & walked away without even looking.

I can’t say he saved my life, because I knew where I was going, but he did open my eyes. We sometimes judge people without realising what’s going on in their minds. So here, while I thought he was mentally unstable, he probably thought the same about me! While my mind was busy cooking up situations & stereotyping him, his mind must have been wondering, ‘who is this insane lady running dangerously on the road’.

Running in Mumbai

Boom!! I hear a sound.. I am running at a slow pace with a few friends & we turn around to see a motorbike crashing at a bend. There is a cloud of dust & and a helmet flying about 50 meters ahead. Its 6 AM & there are very few people on the street. The ones closer to him rush to help, while we turn our heads around and continue to run.

The roads here are usually very safe. I have been running for about 7-8 years now & this is the first accident that I witnessed. I guess we were lucky not to be running at the same bend, else we would have been at the receiving end of the crash. Hope the man is doing well & recovered.

It is the month of May, the month when the weather turns merciless and evil. The heat rushes in at 6AM itself, warning us in advance about the arrival of the Sun. The Sun god makes its appearance well before 7 AM forcing us out as early as 5 AM for a run. Monsoon will begin next month, but for now, it is extremely hot & humid. Just sitting around can make you dehydrated & fatigued. Running in these conditions is a true test of our endurance I must say.

But we runners belong to a different world. Here, we are not defeated by the weather, but rather, have adjusted to it. So the earlier the sun rises, the earlier we start our run. Yesterday was my LSD – long and slow (distance) day & I chose a long and flat route for it. I find the rhythmic movement, the sound of my breathing & heartbeat very meditative. There is a point when my mind goes blank, without any thoughts & I enter a different world of emptiness & peace. The trickling sweat sometimes wakes me up as I continue on the long endless roads. Having company or running alone doesn’t make a difference as I seldom speak. When we run in coordinated fashion in a group, we are united by our silence & are separated in our thoughts. This space is something that gives me true happiness.

Had a happy day yesterday & hope it’s the same for the week to follow 🙂