I run to breathe the fresh air.
I run to excel.
I run to savour the high which kicks in.
I run because I cannot yell.
I run to escape the ordinary.
People may think so, but I am no rebel.
I penned these words down when I was ten. Gosh, what a dramatic kid I must have been. Unlike girls of my age (the ones I grew up with), I was a sporty and quiet child. It could very well have evolved after realising, that I was faster than most boys I played with. The sense of winning and being the odd one in the pool excited me. And in the process I bumped into my first love – running! I took to running as fish does to water. (For reference, when I speak of running I only mean it in context with speed, not stamina.)
I have been at it since the time I remember. Consequently, a variety of outdoor sports felt like a piece of cake. But amidst all, running was the constant companion. Regardless of how things were around, it always made everything slightly more vibrant. It may have been difficult on the legs but was always easy on the mind. I literally ran my way through academic life. Excuse me for the lame joke! All in all, it felt like it was a relationship which could withstand the test of time. And boy, I was wrong and how!
After graduation, days turned into weeks, weeks into months and before I knew it six years had gone by. In hindsight, I got so carried away with things and people around me that I lost sense of the fundamental thing which made me happy. Not just usual happy, it was insurmountable, relentless, irrevocable and overwhelming happiness. Why would anyone let go of something like this from their lives? How stupid!
Call it the lack of motivation in life or desperation to get out of the shitty frame of mind, I went back on track earlier this year. The idea was not to create any record or even continue for x number of days, it was simply the urge to get back to something I used to love. I was not even sure if I knew how to run anymore. Okay, I may have exaggerated a bit there but the anxiety was real. I no longer had the comfort and familiarity of surroundings. I was not at the ground in front of my home but was rather at the brink of Marine Drive. I was no longer the lone warrior of my fantasy but just a timid wannabe runner among a sea of jersey clad athletes. A fleeting thought in my head was shouting, “Abort! Abort!” but I guess I was too deep into it to swim out. I convinced myself that I would just jog for a bit and go home. The brain seemed to have fallen prey by then. With flickering joy on one side and self-doubt on the other, I managed to cover a kilometre. If only I could tell you the number of times I wanted to withdraw midway!
Without giving much thought to it, I posted a story on Instagram on my way back home. I casually wrote Day 1 along with it and by the second half of the day, I didn’t even remember it. All I could feel was a tiny burst of joy all through the day after a passable reunion with the first love of my life.
Such was the everlasting joy, that I did go for a run the next day but forgot to post anything on social media. That was never the agenda, to begin with but so was the jubilation to run again that it engulfed any possible secondary thought.
By Day 5, I think I was getting close to get my mojo back but the negotiations were still on.
By Day 13, I felt like I had arrived. I could feel the energy in my feet. My calves were in some killer form. Every stride I took felt stronger than before. I was getting my speed back. I was clocking in a kilometre in five minutes. I did not care what the respectable record was but my happiness knew no bounds. It was no less than a homecoming!
The following days felt like a piece of cake. I was nearly doing a 3-5 kilometre each day, depending on my schedule. For a sprinter like me, each kilometre felt like a personal victory. From barely being able to breathe after an average 400 metre race to doing a freaking kilometre was unbelievable to me.
By the end of Day 28 – 30, there was hardly any road around Fort and Colaba which I was not aware of. The desperation to get back to running had transformed into a strong will to keep the relationship alive. The days I missed out on the mornings, I compensated in the evenings or even at nights. There were days when my knees felt a little sore or the heels felt some stress. I was naive to ignore them a couple of times but then as the days progressed, I lessened the distance covered. I just did not want to lose the rhythm. In hindsight, I was probably scared to let go of it all.
The journey till Day 50 and up till Day 60 was rather smooth. Barring a few issues here and there, I felt like I was in best form of my life. I was covering a 5 kilometre on regular basis and that too in less than half an hour. On days I felt strong, I would even go up till 7-8 kilometre. I was impressed by myself. It was a feeling like no other. But it came with an expiration date, I guess.
If the highs were great, the lows were terribly low on this journey. The stretch between Day 64 to Day 74 – 77 was just the worst. I think I had hit my saturation point. Regardless of how much I tried, I was not able to better my timing or pace. It could be possible that I was being slightly greedier and more impatient with myself. After all, it was all new to me. I was used to do a non-fussy 100 metre sprints. After years of doing that, I was suddenly doing something which was a completely different ball game. I remember whining to a few friends. Many of them suggested that I should let go of this streak. But I guess I had gone a little too far in my head to retrieve. That was it, I guess. The impulse to complete a century was the new temptation.
From thereon, I was not running to break any record or better my timing. I had already surpassed any expectations I had from myself. I had built my stamina from nothing to a respectable something.
The last 20 days were about keeping the same momentum alive. It could have been the temptation to score a ton but I was already way ahead of what I had set out to achieve. The pressure was replaced with just utter fun. On some fine days, I aced my way to a mighty 10 kilometre within 50 minutes while on others, I did a reputable 5 kilometre in half an hour or so.
I rested for a few days after 100 days of running because why not! I still run although I do not document it everyday. Because to start out with, the agenda was to get back to what I love the most! I guess years later, I still am that dramatic kid at heart. I strongly feel, one cannot help but, romanticise things one feels strongly about. I know no other way.
Read this somewhere a couple of days ago – One run can change your day, many runs can change your life. Give it a go, it is worth the sweat!