Lessons Long Distance Running Can Teach – Part 2



This happened on my Sunday run 2 weeks back. We were given a target of running 21 kms.

At 5.25 am, 5 of us huddled into a Honda City and started driving towards the start point. Throughout the journey, we debated on how much we would run that day. All of us were clear that we wouldn’t run the prescribed 21 kms. The decision to be taken was whether to run 15 kms or 18 kms. By the time we reached, majority decided to run 18 kms. I too agreed knowing that it was the right decision. But that didn’t mean that I felt prepared to run 18 kms at that moment.

It was a perfect weather to run. Mumbai was finally getting its dose of winter and for runners, this kind of temperature helps. There was a lot of crowd as this was to be the last long distance running before the SCMM 2016 for the half-marathoners. There was a lot of excitement and light banter all around.

We started our run at 5.50 am sharp. Inspite of the great weather, I didn’t feel inclined to run 18 kms. We usually run a loop of 7.5 kms to complete 15 kms and 9 kms to complete 18 kms. By the time I reached 7 kms, I decided that I would do only 15 kms.

I felt a bit guilty about this decision because during the run up to the 7th km, I kept telling myself, “Positivity & Responsibility are your top 5 Gallup Strengths. You always complete what you take on etc. etc.” You may wonder, why the reference to the Gallup Strengths. Well, I had just attended a workshop the previous day on the topic and was eager to make an impactful entry in my journal and ofcourse, impress the other participants and my coach in our WhatsApp group with how I had applied my Strengths.

So now you can imagine how guilty I must have felt to turn back at 7.5 kms instead of running the 9 kms mark. “Positivity” being another Strength, my mental talk, had to change to make me feel good. For sometime I focused on my breathing. Then I told myself, “All is not lost. I will get back to the starting point and then run back another 3 kms and thus, complete 18 kms.” I was happy with this decision because now I wasn’t cheating on my “Responsibility” and I was using “Positivity” effectively. Ofcourse, there was a niggling fear that once I reach the starting point and see the warm, mouth watering muffins, I may just drop the thought of running any more that day.

On the return, when I completed 10th km, I realized that all this mental chatter was draining me. That’s when an advise that my husband and trainers from Striders (the company that trains more than half of Mumbai runners for marathons), struck me. They have told me many times to focus on my breathing and get into a rhythm. The recollection of that advice was most timely as it helped me to get into a comfortable zone for the next couple of kms.

Then once again the chatter took over. “Will I be able to run back after reaching the start point? I have to somehow do 18 kms today. I must be inspired to run another 3 kms after reaching the starting point!” etc. etc. Just then a group of my friends who are running the full marathon came by. They had just started their run and asked me to join them. This group  was running at an easy, comfortable pace. Thanks to them I managed to run 19 kms that day and got my personal best timing.

My learning from this run: I am a practitioner of the Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism philosophy of life wherein I have often heard that the environment around one is a reflection of one’s own thoughts, words and deeds. I think, that wonderful Sunday morning, I saw this in action.

I was keen to run 18 kms and was looking for ways in which this could happen. My environment supported my just so mystically.

Firstly, the recollection of the advice to get into a rhythm came just as I was getting mentally fatigued.

Secondly, the group of full marathoners came by just when I needed the motivation and energy Continue reading


Lessons Long Distance Running can Teach – 1


Many of you know that I am training for the Mumbai half-marathon scheduled on 17th January, 2016. I did commit to you and more importantly, to myself, to write more about my weekly conversations with myself during my runs. Unfortunately, I haven’t been very successful in changing the reasons for not writing. I still fill myself with muffins, eggs and sausages and go into a horizontal position for most part of the day. Occasionally, a movie or party gets included in the day. Come Monday morning, and life has another purpose altogether.

I have finally woken up today, inspite of the fact that it is Monday. All because I am due to attend a workshop focused on strengths and this one conversation that happened between me and myself is linked to the topic of the workshop.

Yesterday, I ran 15 kms with a friend of mine. She has a steady pace and I benefited by keeping pace with her. As we reached the first incline, she slowed down considerably whereas I increased my pace and kept going. I have noticed that, most often, I manage slopes very well. But after the slope, I lost steam whereas she got back her rhythm and went on at the same steady pace as earlier. As I tried catching up with her, I realized that we both have some common and some very unique strengths. If we were to combine our strengths, that is, she runs the flat surfaces and I run the slopes (our unique strengths), we could cover the 21kms well within 2 hours without feeling exhausted.

I am a firm believer of working on strengths and harnessing each other’s strengths. Yesterday’s small revelation just reinforced my view. @Nitul Ojha, looking forward to your workshop on “Discover Your Strengths, Unlock Your Potential”, on 19th December.

Another realization along the same path was that, without spelling it out, my friend and I encouraged each other. Silently, we pushed each other to bring out our best. I ran my best ever 15 kms, all because of the environment we had created. The revelation was that the right environment helps to bring out our best. Also that each one of us has to work towards creating a conducive environment. It doesn’t happen on its own.

That’s all for this week. Hope to not go into hibernation for long. Have a great week friends!


Should I / Shouldn’t I…write a blog?

That has been my question to myself since I created a blog site almost a year back. Well, I knew I wanted to write something and that’s the genesis of this page. Thereafter, came the bigger question of what to write about. When I created the account, top of mind topic was my experience with long distance running.

During each Sunday morning long run, I had long mental conversations with myself about how insightful, funny, thought provoking my blog page regarding my run would be. Alas, till this moment, they remained in my head and provided insights, humour and thoughts only to I, me, myself. Because, you see, by the time I finished the run, I would get so exhausted that to start with I could only think of the warm muffins awaiting at the finish line. Thereafter, thoughts veered towards greater needs like chilled beer, bacon and eggs and cool cotton sheathed bed. So, writing a blog got relegated to a far off space in my brain, to resurface only the following Sunday when I would don my running shoes and grudgingly make it to NCPA, Mumbai from where we usually start our long runs.

This was a year ago. IMG_7486

Now, I am back with the next season of preparation for the Mumbai Marathon scheduled on Jan 17th, 2015 and I said to myself, “girl, if you have to make a start, do it now”. So, here I am, making my start with blogging.

I still intend to write mostly about my running experience. By now, you must have figured out that I am a keen, fit runner, who is working towards a PB (that’s Personal Best, for the uninitiated).

In reality, I am a curious runner. I decided to run my first half marathon in Mumbai in Jan, 2014, to tick off one “to-do” from my bucket list. You see, as a kid, my inclination towards sports was largely restricted to TV and a few Kho-kho, Kabbadi and Volleyball games thrown in for flavour. I am also a late bloomer as far as weight management is concerned. Hope you are getting the drift… So, for most family and friends, my participation in the Mumbai Marathon in 2014, was a strong, scorching ray of hope to try something as arduous looking as running 21 kms at a stretch, preferably within 3 hours.

Ofcourse, I was tickled and immensely thrilled to know that I, least known for anything remotely connected with sports, could inspire so many others, men and women, to take up running. Now that I was an inspiration, I felt morally compelled to run my second half marathon, which I did in January, 2015. It is a different story that all those who supposedly got inspired by me completed their first run in far better timing than I did.

Last year, I ran in the euphoria of having so many friends running alongside or far ahead of me, as it turned out. This year, I have started training seriously and with a determination. I am hoping to complete 21 kms in 2 hours 30 minutes. I will use this space to share my triumphs and challenges from now till the run in January, 2016.

Many of you who are reading this post may also be runners. Please share your views and thoughts. Let us make this a joyful, enriching journey for all of us. We can all learn from each other’s experiences, celebrate each other’s victories and more importantly become a support group for each other.

Those of you who don’t run long distances, I am sure you are great at giving marathon level encouragement. Please do so wholeheartedly.

Eat, Love, Run (cheesy, I know… but then I am a new kid on the blog)