Why I started running and what it taught me that people never did

By Romi Chugh

Like most people, I have been a victim of a stressful environment at work. My last job had long work hours, many firefighting incidents, flaring tempers, irregular eating habits, (either too much or too little) and, of course, innumerable sleepless nights. This led to several health issues, including sciatica and migraines.

Roadblock after the torrential rains in Bengaluru

In November of 2018, on the way to work, I suddenly got severe chest pains. It felt like my rib cage was about to explode, thinking maybe I had a heart attack. I had hit a roadblock. That was my wake-up call.

I was unfit and overweight. I weighed 80.5 kg. For a 5'8" not so tall person, that was much weight. I was 14.5 kg more than what I was supposed to be. Considering the plethora of health issues that I have had in my lifetime; I had to lose weight and get fit. I used to run earlier, so I thought let's start there. January 07, 2019 - I had set myself a goal to lose 14.5 kg at the end of 20 weeks. Could I do it? There is only one thing I know how to do, and that is to do.

There were three goals that I wanted to achieve every day -

  • 10000 steps
  • 30 mins exercise
  • Mindful of what I ate

    I started by walking a kilometer or two and no sooner, would break out in a sweat and start panting like a canine. Man, what did I get myself into? Well, 20 weeks later and 68 kg today, I felt reborn. Recently, I climbed 3000 steps atop a hill and 15 kilometers without breaking a sweat or panting. I was fitter than I ever was.

    I never knew why I liked running; I just knew that it was challenging, and it made me feel excellent after. I have always referred to running as my own 'ME' time. I realize how much of an impact running has had on my life and how it has helped me be the person I am today. I am not just a marketing and branding person anymore. Work will come and go but running will be with me forever. Running on the road, navigating through uncharted territories gave me much time to think.

    Running made me realize what I had been missing in life, all those years at work. It made me appreciate the small things that matter. Every one of the lessons that I learned from running is such that it can be applied to everyday life with a little bit of mindfulness.

    It hasn’t been until recently that I started making those connections.

    1. Do what you want to rather than what you have to - When I run, its only me, road and my music. I love it. I realized that doing what I love makes me happy. The same thing applies to everyday life. Rather than suck up and do what others want you to do, don't compromise and do what you want to do, to make yourself
    happy.

    Scuba diving in the Maldives

    2. There is always time to do things - For a sport that uses a stopwatch, time is irrelevant. The only thing that I can hear when I am running is my breathing. It's like I’ve stopped time. No more running a rat race but doing things at my own pace.

    Sunrises with coffee and conversations

    3. One speed and onward - I always wanted to better my time in completing my 7 km run every day. It started with 80 minutes, then 75 and now it's 60. There is only one thing that I needed to do - put my head down and run. Nothing else matters. Same with life - have your goal in mind and run onward at one speed irrespective of the ups and downs on the road.

    Running with Brooks

    4. Shut your mouth - Running isn't the only thing that makes you lose weight and gets you, fitter. You have to eat right as well. You need to shut your mouth and eat what is required. Keeping your mouth shut, helps you live life more comfortable. Talk less. Listen more. Do most.

    5. Being fit is not about losing weight - Losing weight is not the measure of excellent health. It would help if you were fit physically and mentally to beat life at its own game — mind over Body matters. If you are equipped in your mind, positive in your thoughts, you can achieve the impossible.

    6. Run towards something instead of away from something - I finally found something that I wake up to every morning. I look forward to my run and what the new day has in store for me. I eventually run towards something instead of running away from something. Who knows, you might run into some beautiful screw pines.

    Screw pines are used to make the world's best ice-cream

    7. Always be an explorer - Running gives birth to curiosity. How far can you run?How fast can you run? Also, where can you run? Everyday beckons a new route and new surprises along the way, much like life. If you become the explorer, then life has something beautiful to offer.

    Running barefoot on a beach in Goa

    I haven't missed a single day of running since January 08, 2019. There hasn't been a day that I haven't exercised for 30 minutes or done my 10000 steps. My sciatica and migraines have disappeared, and life has turned on its head for me, For the better. 

    I have found my 'ikigai.' Have you?

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