8 February 2009

Why I run

Yesterday, I stepped out into the London morning and began my run. A few minutes later I entered Regents Park. After half a mile, my breathing settled down into a routine and my legs started following their own rhythm, leaving me feeling absolutely in bliss. Recently, I have also started a meditation practise but it pales in comparison to the feeling I have when I am running. It's the only time I feel I am living in the moment - there exits no past, no pain and no future. Truly peaceful. The only other time I have felt this "oneness" is while I am dancing and I am wondering if its something about a physical activity that makes me feel 'in the zone'. Adrenalin, perhaps? Hard to say, but any analysis is quite academic because I feel good doing this and am going to continue unless that status quo changes.

Running a marathon was not on my list of things to do but it became an idea when I cheered on the thousands at the NYC marathon. Then an opportunity called Asha presented itself and I just resisted. Everything felt like a bigger priority - PhD, the logistics of training, the fear of injury and the overwhelming anxiety of being unable to finish. So that year I balked and told myself that when my life settles (what a useless term, I now think) I will train. The next year the marathon coordinator called again and I was impressed that they followed up. I caved and went for my first run to central park. I woke up at 5, drove into manhattan, was late, had to park in an horrendously expensive parking garage and worried my outfit/ shoes weren't right. I was greeted by a smiling coach and 20-odd runners of various capacities. We started running and I haven't looked back since. The whole training has transformed the way I look at myself physically and emotionally. In fact, its been so transfomative that I would recommend running a marathon to anyone with self -esteem issues. Of course there were other incentives - I ran for a cause which made motivation easier, had a fabulous support team (friends who reserved parking for me in mid town and had meals ready later! etc) and a generous donor base.

Running has helped me in several ways. It has given me the confidence to accomplish anything; all I need is a good plan and dedication. It gives me something to do and talk about. It allows me to enjoy parks, running trails and water fountains like never before. I have had several "flashing lightbulb" ideas while running and its changed the way I think about packing such as, "how many shorts should I take?" Lastly, its helped me become more spiritual, strange as that may sound.

It has also taught me that I had a lot of prejudices and ideas about an activity without even trying it, which is not always the best way to enjoy life. Our mind is a powerful organ and if it has the will, you will feel like a Kenyan even though you might be running like a tortoise. So go out there and experience things for yourself. If you would like to get started with a marathon training program, please do consider running for Asha.

(P.S. the team asha webpage is looking funny on my computer right now, but the individual links are working fine)

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