I started running last month, exactly on the 17th of July, says my phone. I say like it is a new thing, because it is. So yes, I have run in the past, mostly on the treadmill; and for a brief period in Pune, on a track. But this is a new thing because all my earlier ‘runs’ were 1) More of a run-walk-run-walk-try to run- walk 2) Done solely for the purpose of burning calories. My best continuous run was on 31st December 2012, when I ran for 20 minutes on the treadmill at a speed of around 7.5 kmph. This was also the day I decided I would register for a 10K. And I did. Last week.
Yeah, so it took me 5+ years to garner the courage and enthusiasm for it. And no, it hasn’t happened yet, but atleast I am in now, and there is no looking back, because the money’s gone. But what has happened is that I have started running. The main features of this proclamation being 1) I run outside under the blue-blue sky 2) I run for most part of the run and try not to walk at all 3) My firm belief that this isn’t easy has been hence proved.
I think I have always romanticized the idea of running. It’s the way it has always been presented in popular culture. Can you imagine it? Tall, long legged girl, in a fitted tank top and leggings (or shorts, ok, make it shorts), hair up in a high pony tail. Running on a beautiful track amidst tall trees, music in her ears, a smile on her face, her steps synchronized with the rhythm of the track she is listening to (this is an assumption, have some imagination), sweat glistening on her neck. Glamorous sweat, and an equally glamorous picture.
Cut to reality. I will ignore the runner’s description here, because some of you might fit the bill, and I have a bit of an ego to protect. Talking only about the logistics, how many of us have easily accessible parks and tracks around us? And even if we do, how many of us have the inclination to step out for a run before the sun rises (because we are talking of the omnipotent Indian sun here, you don’t want to mess with it). Anyhow, say you have conquered the sleep-monster and you are clear as to where you want to run, now comes the actual beast that needs to be tackled. Running.
Maybe it’s because I have never bothered to run before, especially in my adult-life, or maybe because the body tends to tire faster when you are 35, fact is, it is not easy. And you don’t know it till you have done it. You might have seen people run and though how easy they make it seem, but you just, don’t know. You see, it is just science really. You are strolling around, chatting with a friend, when this person whooshes past you. You technically have just 2 seconds to notice the runner. In those 2 seconds, you only notice the coolness of running.
What you don’t notice is the huge gusts of air the runner is trying to fill her lungs with, for the fear of them exploding otherwise. You don’t see the sweat dripping off their forehead into the eyes, annoying as shit. You don’t see the stupid hair flying around the face and eventually sticking to the horribly sticky forehead. You don’t know that at that moment, the runner is actually questioning every decision she’s ever made in her life, including this one. That her GPS keeps dropping, causing less distance to be recorded, which is technically annoying. That her music stopped working mid-way but she can’t stop to fix it because pace-pace-pace. That this, is not easy. And it’s definitely not cool.
But the end of the run is always worth it. That’s the point when the sweat seems sweet, the thumping heart feels accomplished, and I finally feel awesome. In the last 4 weeks, I have moved on from stopping to catch my breath after every 1 km to running continuously for 6. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you are driven mentally but your body refuses to budge, and sometimes all you want to do is sleep, but your body surprises you by recording your personal best. Everyday is a different day, but still, no days are easy.
Which makes me wonder, why do I do it at all? I have stopped reading people talking about how exhilarating the ‘feeling of running’ is. It isn’t for me, yet. It is a push, it is an exercise, it feels great, but only when it ends. But there’s got to be something, because it does make me want to go back and do it again.
So yes, I am running. I am trying hard, to improve my stamina, my pace, the distance I cover. I track, I analyse, I dissect and discuss. Read articles about it, buy better shoes and other gear. Even casually mention ‘breathing-techniques’ as if I know what that is. Maybe it is a good thing. May be it’s mid-life crisis. Maybe it’s a passing phase, and I will get over it.
But till something else strikes my fancy, this will do.