Running Changed My Life
by Arun Mahendrakumar
"What sane person would put themselves through this self-inflicted pain?” I thought to myself as I limped past the 38th km of my first marathon at Mumbai. I wondered why I traveled all the way to Mumbai to run 42.2km. Wouldn't it be the same distance in Bangalore?
As I pondered these questions, my quads & hamstrings screamed and my thoughts drifted to the effort and time I put into running this distance. The immense change in me over the last few months of training was very evident. My time management skills, priorities, outlook towards life and my social circles had taken a turn for the better. I faced the ship of Theseus kind of syndrome. With so many changes was I still the same person? Breaking habits, finding peace and losing fat, the changes were many to ignore. Little by little this ship was turning from an old tug boat to catamaran. Relatively speaking.
A typical marathon training plan starts out about 16 weeks in advance from race day. It tests you both physically & mentally. A training plan requires you to either run or workout at least 5 days a week. A session could last anything from 1 hour to 4 hours depending on the agenda. With so much time spent on training, you don't have time for the trivial stuff in life. The extra cup of coffee, the socializing with an uncle whose name you barely remember or attending the naming ceremony of your mother's cousin's neighbor's grand kid. You have only enough time to focus on the essentials.
At the very least, a marathon plan asks for tiny tasks that are challenges in themselves. It is exhilarating when you win one, and if you fail you get philosophical, you realize its only temporary. The joy of completing a long run or a tough workout, you always thought was humanly impossible is something I cannot put into words. You hit this high every other run. Runner's high is for real!
Of course, there is humor too, from rushing into bushes to emptying your bladder while simultaneously being chased by strays, to a friend forgetting his running shorts for a running event. He ended up running in a pair of tights, Mr. Peterpan.
I have transformed from a heavy smoker, junk food lover, procrastinator, late sleeper to someone on the opposite end of the spectrum. I started breaking down tasks into manageable portions and prioritizing my efforts better. Just by waking up early, I accomplish more work than I did before. I did not socialize unless it was absolutely necessary. Another reason for avoiding social gatherings is people asking me if I have "diabetes" because I look emaciated. That is funny because in India to be "healthy" means being "overweight". Go figure.
Anyway, with time at such a premium, you do only the essential things. You are forced to be disciplined. Not a bad thing actually. I generally like to go with the "flow". But when you leave too many things that are out of your control, you end up fire fighting or redoing a lot of things. Some things need discipline to be executed. My wife will be rolling her eyes right about now because I never believed there is any merit to being disciplined, and she loves it when I eat my own words.
A marathon is a metaphor for life. You are in it for the long haul, so be patient, prioritize, be mindful, humble and you will make it through comfortably. The highs, the lows, the smiles, the tears, the failures, the achievements. It's got it all!
Now ask yourself, shouldn't this be part of academic or corporate training?
About the author:
Arun is a running enthusiast who caught the bait when he was put up to a 10k challenge among st friends. Over the last 5 years, he has notched up some impressive miles. He has been a part of almost all major runs in Bangalore city. He trains runners at Runners360 in Bangalore. He has completed 5 Full marathons. A telecom engineer by education, he runs a printing outfit based in the city. His calm demeanor does not give away as much his humor might amuse you. He believes that running can help communities come together and is keen to soldier the cause of clean & healthy living. He holds immense faith in the fact that running has the power to change ones personality and that it is the purest religion one can follow.
He swears by his mantra for running – Experiment. Experience. Execute.