8 twisted reasons why I run

1) When I was in boarding school in Class 9th, I could not even run 400m. It used to look so very long to me. I remember once being forced to take 1 “loop” by our instructor and although I was “pure” back then, I had abused him with all my might. I really hated that one loop. When I started running around 5-6 years back, it really felt blissful when I could run 4 X 400m of a nearby stadium for the first time. I didn’t realize the distance was a mile, but it felt 100 times as good as bad it felt that day back in the boarding school. Falling in love with something you hated to start with is amazing!

2) Until the age of 22-23, your body is able to take all the bad food abuse. You don’t put on much weight and look reasonably fit. I started to feel lazy and put on weight around my belly during that time. I was fine with the initial gain until I saw some of my pictures in which I looked “fat”. Although little. I absolutely hated that. I had this feeling from teenage that since I am of average/short height, I just could not afford to put on weight. And I stopped being a part of pictures. I would just not allow anyone to click my pic. Abnormal behavior continued till I started to run. I didn’t mind looking like a “road-side-never-bathed” guy, but not “fat” from any angle. I run and I enjoy being clicked now. Anywhere, any mode, any dress!

3)An offshoot of the first point is that during my very early attempts at running(class 3,4), rather sprinting, I used to be the last finisher. Consistently. 8th out of 8 participants. Either I used to start after everyone had started and never catch up, or I used to get scared mentally thinking “all these guys are also trying so hard, this is tough for me” and give up somewhere. I remember being happy about coming 7th in one of the heats and enjoying the feat with my mom. She was kind enough to “shaabash” me on that. As an adult, I run to practice improving that mentally-weak kid and not worry about others who are also racing and competing. I run to improve my mind.

4) I have been a smoker of 5 years before I started running seriously(long distances). There was an overlap when I was both running mildly and smoking not-so-mildly, and that phase was terrible. I was living in guilt. The guilt after the run used to be worse that the one after the smoke. I quit smoking for some medical reasons as well, but deep down I knew that I had just done a sub-2 half-marathon at the Delhi half-marathon in 2009, and wanted to better that. I chose the activity that provided me with a daily dose of “negative-guilt”. I have never smoked in the last 4 and a half years.

5)My wife picked up running to lose weight, and I am sure my visits to cubbon park every day for training and other running events inspired her to do so as well. 1 year later, she had lost around 12kg and gained some speed and love for running as well. She did a sub-53 10k in the recent Pinkathon Bangalore event. I fear somewhere that if I stop or reduce running, she may too. And that is not a good thing. I run so that we both keep on running and going to running events. One after the other.

6)When you are a part of the indian IT industry, unless you are a clubbing enthusiast or from the city in which you work, your social life is limited to your office colleagues. I know this is not true now, but earlier in the early to mid 2000s, this was the case. As a result of going to running events and meeting fellow runners, I knew some people who did not work in IT. It felt good. It felt good to share a passion with someone outside of my immediate circle. Running binds you with strangers.

7) Over the last 5 years, my wife and I have planned most of our vacations around running events and that has enriched our trips. The ideal way to do this is to first finish the run and then enjoy your vacation. I have done the opposite as well and although the vacation part had been smooth, the run not so much!

8) During my teenage years, I had a sudden surge of ambition to become a cricketer. I have inherited my love for sports (both as a spectator and a player) from my dad, and was good in sports in school. The cricketer angle was not encouraged too much because I had not proven myself by 16, and that was a crucial time to “study” too. Sometime before that, I wanted to become a table-tennis player. Actively running and training for running events regularly helps me to live those dreams every day. A little bit at a time!

Rejection, running & humor!

We all dread rejection. And failure. But sometimes, rather most of the times, the price you pay for not getting ready for rejection is way more than getting rejected itself. I have just stated something which is common sense but I doubt it is put into “common practice”. What I want to share here is that rejection is good for you. I am not talking about the “mistakes are good, failure is the stepping stone to success” theory that we all know. I am taking about the lighter side of rejection. And the future of rejection that can be extremely different from the present.
Without getting into detail, I can assure you that I have got rejected many times in different fields of life. At all ages. Sometimes even in things that I am supposed to be good at. You would have too. Nothing new. I have walked into interviews thinking I am gonna crack it only to be told “We will get back to you”.

There are a couple of funny incidents from my past that I would like to share regarding interviews and rejection.I find them funny now: back then I was “daypressed”, i.e. depressed for a day. Depression and the “I am depressed” syndrome is a topic for another day, but it does deserve some space. Back to the incidents.

The first one is when I had just passed out of college, had an offer and got another interview scheduled at a big company. Big on the outside. After getting grilled on C programming(which is something I didn’t like) for about 45 minutes, and probably not looking “needy” during the interaction, I came out and sat in the reception area. Since the interview had laster for a decent 45 min, I was confident that I have made it through this round. I had that “virgin” confidence that you have initially after passing out. After about 5 min the pretty lady at the reception gently waved at me and asked me to come over. I confidently went to her only to be told “You may leave now Abhishek! We will get back to you”. This was the first time I had come across this omnipresent rejection line, and took the statement literally. So I asked her “When?”. She did not have an answer and managed to say next week. I obviously went back with pride only to realize next week that I was rejected. Someone out there had the guts to say it to me over phone that I had not made it past that round. Since I had no past of love-life/ girlfriends by then, this was the first time I felt truly “rejected”. One was the actual rejection of not getting selected, since the salary was 1.5 times of the other offer I had. The second reason was the real one. During that 5 min period that I had waited in the office lobby, I had foreseen some friendship/romance with the pretty lady and had planned few things as well. All in vain. It was a double blow to me.

Looking back at and sharing this incident right now gives me more joy and fun than the “daypression” I had gone through back in 2004. At the end of the day I feel good that this “rejection” happened to me. Only that we fail to realize this fact at that point in time. Trust me these incidents happen for a reason. First up, they get your confidence level in the right zone & secondly so that you have stuff to laugh about with others.

Another incident is related to running. I mean “running”, the sport. I started running kind of seriously in 2009. Amateurishly, but seriously. One of my friends Naveen had run the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon in 2009 and had finished it. He somehow motivated me to register for the 2010 edition of the race and I did. Although I knew that 42km was a monster of a distance, I did not train for it as much as a first timer should have. So I had not done any long runs. I did not know how the world felt at km 28, 30, 34 etc. The longest distance I had run on whim was 26km at the Bangalore Ultra 2007 and had got fever for a week post that. And cramps. Without knowing that those were called cramps. But I did run(well, walked most of it) the 2010 mumbai marathon and took some 5 hr 38min to finish it. My friend Naveen who had encouraged me took around 6hr 20 min. When we reached the finish line, we were bruised. More mentally than physically. Our “male” egos had been crushed since many females(of all ages) had “overtaken” us during the run. One good thing that happened as a result of this ego-crushing is that the male chauvinist in me died that day. We realized that it’s all about how much you put in and not about your gender. That’s one amazing thing you can learn from running.
So we trained better next year. We ran many 32km runs and would not miss our runs for VIP relatives as well. Saturdays were our long run days. We used to do 40 loops of the Queen’s park at Cubbon park. One loop being roughly 800m. As a result of which we did way better at the 2011 mumbai marathon. Naveen took 4 hours & I took 3:56. Not sure whether we were elated, but we were definitely relieved. Although Naveen had taken 4 more minutes than me, he somehow got more accolades. You know why? Because he had improved from 6:20 to 4 Vs I from 5:38 to 3:56. That temporarily “daypressed” me. You know what I wished at that point? I wished I too had taken more time the previous year. That why did I not do worse last year. This year’s performance would have looked rosier.
The point I am trying to make is that it doesn’t matter. You never know how your mind can conjure up reasons to feel good/bad.

Rejection or failure is just an event. Be happy and proud of your successes, but make sure you laugh off your rejections. They can be very funny, albeit later. Have some patience for the humor though. It will come.

11 things to DO & DON’T to have an awesome TCS 10k, Bangalore

The world’s richest 10k road race, the TCS 10k, Bangalore is less than a day away & this time around I sense the biggest enthusiasm and participation compared to previous years.
The last few days before any major event(sports or otherwise) are crucial. Although for most of the experienced runners this is common knowledge, having some prior experience of making these mistakes, here are 10 things you can do/not do to make the TCS 10k  2014 a memorable experience:

1)DON’T pick up/buy new shoes/running gear to run the 10k in right before the race day. Run in shoes and gear you have already run in, no matter how little you have trained. If you haven’t trained at all & this is your first 10k, do whatever you want!

2)DO eat light the night before the run. You will love the feeling of a light stomach just before the start of the run. And you will enjoy your run. More.

3)DON’T run too much the previous day before the race. Keep yourself rested. At the maximum, run an easy 4km. Make sure you stretch post the run.

4)DON’T worry about timing too much if you are a beginner. Time your run, get competitive, but don’t worry about it. If it’s not too good, worst case don’t post in on Facebook! There will be many more races and 10ks you will run, so make sure you enjoy the run and the feeling of “healthy” competition.

5)DON’T try new food or drinks on race day. e.g. don’t try Redbull on race day without having trying it in practice. Stick to a banana 30 mins before the run, it’s enough for the 10k.

6)DON’T get into the “carb loading” mode for a 10k. Carb(carbohydrate) loading is for marathons & longer distances, not for 10ks. One chocolate bar or a banana should be fine.

7)DO understand and respect the fact that there will be runners faster than you. Make way for them. Be receptive to someone coming from your back and if they are faster, let them go. If you are using headphones, be extra careful since you may be blocking some runners without realizing it.

8)DO take a lot of selfies and pictures with you friends and running buddies. You will regret later if you don’t take enough. I mean prior to and after the run!

9)DON’T run too fast initially. No matter how well or under prepared you are, run the first km to get into a rhythm.

10)DON’T drink too much water during the run. You will feel heavy. Have little sips of water before & during the run.

11)Sprint the last 50 or so meters. This will make you feel like a champion & come back to this run better prepared next time!

Have a great time!

Who is the badass Indian of the decade? Why?

Answer by Nuthan Santharam:

Arunachalam Muruganatham,
Inventor and social entrepreneur,
Invented a low-cost sanitary pad making machine.

  • Drop out at the age of 14.
  • Began to experiment his low-cost sanitary napkins on his wife, sisters.
  • His family thought he had gone mad when he began his experiments.
  • His wife, mother left him. Sisters started avoiding him.
  • He was passing out free pads to college girls and collecting their used napkins for study.
  • He had a storeroom full of them. His mother left him and packed her things to move in with his sister.
  • He looked for female volunteers who could test his inventions, but most were too shy to discuss their menstrual issues with him.
  • He even tested it on himself, using a bladder with animal blood, but became the subject of ridicule when the "sanitary pad" was discovered in his village. First man to wear sanitary napkin.
  • It took him nearly two years to discover that that the commercial pads used cellulose fibres, derived from pine bark wood pulp.
  • Finally, Invented a low-cost sanitary pad making machine, and has innovated grass-roots mechanisms for generating awareness about traditional unhygienic practices around menstruation in rural India.
  • Muruganantham's invention is widely praised as a key step in changing women's lives in India.
  • Muruganantham's machine creates jobs and income for many women, and affordable pads enable many more women to earn their livelihood during menstruation.
  • In 2006, IIT (Madras) awarded the first prize to Muruganantham in a contest for innovating for betterment of society.
  • He has also given a TED talk.


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