We run to escape, chase dreams, to fly, for life.
We run to be free.
All of us are practically runners.
The reason behind why we run can change with time. Sometimes we run to destress and unshackle our minds from the chains of boredom. At other times, it is only to get fitter as time goes by.
Meenal Kotak, a Chartered Accountant by profession and an ultra runner by passion, describes running as a liberating experience for her.
‘That priceless feeling is indescribable when you run for hours with yourself out of the artificial make-belief world that you entrap yourself in. Ultra running is a world where you leave your limits behind, and compete with an adversary inside you. Setting for yourself new limits to conquer.’
Running being an endurance sport has less to say about a person’s anatomy, but speaks volumes about grit and character. One size does not fit all when it comes to motivation.
For Sangeeta Saikia a dental surgeon, the baby steps from usual post pregnancy jogs to running, started when she once went to cheer for friends at the Airtel Delhi half Marathon in 2009. Standing there 500m from the finish line, she met a gentleman who was an acquaintance to her. As his grandson and her son were in the same class in school, they would see each other every morning dropping their wards off to school. Amused to see him at the race, she casually asked him who he was cheering for and to her utter disbelief the old man told her that he had just finished running the half marathon himself! It was there and then she decided to train and participate in the race next year.
Women have been continuously breaking barriers and stereotypes in the world of sports but that doesn’t mean they didn’t face any challenges on this arduous journey.
Anupriya Kapur, the author of the famous blog Mom on the Run had no athletic background. Putting mind over matter she willed herself into running. Recalling the days when she used to have a tough time making her son understand why running is important to her, she says, “I know that once my son grows up, he will look at fitness and well-being as a way of life for each individual, irrespective of gender.”
As a woman in India, the roles are defined which may not always be favorable to a woman. They are raised with a mindset, that a good mother is one who nurtures her children, without prioritising or taking care of her own being. Sangeeta vouches against the stereotype and firmly believes that a mother, a wife or a daughter is equally entitled to her own time as her male counterpart.
If running is a fun activity, it has a cost as well. Three out of four runners get injured each year. It’s a mind boggling statistic of the running community. Injuries among runners are so common that they are written off as part and parcel of the sport. It is still possible to avoid injuries while running by being smart in the training process.
Shibani Gharat, a marathoner and journalist, advises about keeping injuries at bay by listening to the body. ‘I don’t believe in mind over body. Your mind has to function hand in hand with your body. Your body is always giving you signals when tired or, exhausted. You should have the ears to listen. Injury surfaces when you stop listening to those cues.’
Anupriya seconds the same by sharing her experience, “I have been injured a few times due to too much running in a short span and the recovery time is very frustrating.”
Training hard is an oversimplification of what it takes to crack the running code. The key to well-balanced training is variety in your runs and workouts. Having finished the Highest Ultra Marathon in the world (The Khardung La Challenge), Shibani lives by the mantra “Eat right, eat clean, stay natural, work hard, and travel, rest and recover, and repeat.” Whereas Meenal prefers mixing her training with cross training as it helps her stay rejuvenated.
Running as a discipline can help improve someone’s mood. It has been scientifically backed that while running the body starts to produce endorphins, resulting in a euphoric feeling also known as ‘the Runner’s High’.
Anupriya shares her experience, “Running got me in touch with myself. I started respecting myself and my body more with every kilometer I ran. It gave me time to have conversations in my mind that I couldn’t have. It’s meditative for me and it gave me a higher purpose in life of reaching out to others through my blog.”
Running is a great way to combine the efforts of many different physical practices into one. It is a healthy pursuit, with a minimal requirement of a comfortable pair of shoes and the willingness to move at your respective pace. The best way to keep yourself running is to find a race, sign up for it, pay for it and put it on your calendar. A fixed race date will help you stay focused and keep you on a regular running schedule.
Or in the words of Shibani Gharat, “Get Moving!”
In case you lack the motivation to run those unimaginable miles, then discover what drives every ultrarunner to the finish line, at this RunDEZVOUS with Dan Lawson.
Author: Shantanu Negi
Engineer, marketer, skipping rope geek, lover boy. When not strategising about our next online onslaught, Shantanu divides his time between anime and desserts.