Running a Marathon is in my mind’s radar these days. The idea has been slowly forming over the last 4 months. Perhaps the preparation for and writing about Ram Viswanathan who has run 49 marathons all over the world, has only given a fillip to this desire.
I have run on my own – particularly during the past six months – reasonably well. Towards the end of December last year, I even managed to do twenty-eight km one Sunday. At the end of the run, my legs felt like jelly and I dragged myself to the house using what seemed like the last ounce of energy.
Over the last two weeks, running with Ram Viswanathan and other members of Chennai Runners has convinced me that running a marathon does not happen from heroic bursts of intermittent running. Getting up when I want and running what I feel like, is not the right way to prepare for a marathon.
There are several heroes out there like Ram who pay the price with a life of discipline – all for the high they get by conquering distances. Many of them have run several marathons. To run my first marathon, I need their support. That calls for a commitment to getting up around 4 am, doing stretches and pounding the roads from 5.15 am. Otherwise, I wake up late, run alone what I can, exposed to the merciless Chennai summer.
Writing blog posts too need similar rituals and discipline. Regardless of my mood and weariness, I commit to keep writing. Wearing my shoes is half the battle won concerning my runs. Opening a new post and writing the first word is half the battle won towards completing another post. For that matter, creating a habit of a nourishing routine is the fulcrum around which I make my business thrive.
Running with the group affords me a sense of perspective about where I am now and how much more I can stretch. I used to be like a frog in the well croaking about my long distance accomplishments till recently. Now I have become a little wiser and humbler, not to brag.
I have run long distances with my friends in the past many, many times. But the last two weeks have given me newer, fresher insights.
Running with a group or with a companion in itself forms a great support system. One Sunday, about two weeks back I found it difficult to run even a kilometer while the target was sixteen kilometers. I told my group about the late night drinks and dinner, the previous night. One of them fetched me water to hydrate myself and they supported me without any fuss, till I ran the entire distance with them. There is a tremendous sense of bond among the runners – even with strangers running on the road. A smile or a nod in recognition and respect, as we pass them is common place.
Running is also a nice way of discovering the quieter, nicer parts of the city. That makes the runs even more fun. There is a lot of learning involved in discovering new places. Getting lost is part of the package involved in trying new routes.
I was reflecting about the sense of uncertain fear that sets in when I get lost while trying out a new route, alone. I know the trick is to maintain the same feeling of wonder and exhilaration even when I think I am ‘lost’. Instead, I tend to give it names like ‘misfortune’, ‘failures’ and worse. The fact is, another name for ‘failure’ is discovery. It all depends upon how I view it.
My plan for the next 3 months is to run a minimum of 40 km every week, running three times a week. The other mornings will be invested on strength training and yoga. Practicing for a marathon is not only about running, it has to blend with other activities as well.
Discovering new terrains, creating new friendships, enjoying the high of private victories as I achieve my distance targets, feeling fitter and looking for new conquests are among the rewards that I gather as I run along. And, very likely, some of these rewards will also percolate into other areas of my life.
My ankles and my mind hold the key to these treasures. So, I strengthen them.