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!