06 October, 2017

How I ran my 100DaysofRunning

The first thing I need to do to keep this place alive is to stop planning and committing to write. 'Will come back for more', or 'watch out' have not helped. Not to mention the latest - which is now a year ago! - coming back with more on my running journal. Not surprisingly I still have not done my first full marathon. I won't be doing it this year. And personally, that's a disappointment for having boasted quite a bit about my running. I procrastinated hard training till the thought of hard training faded away! So much for bragging that I'm a runner.

That said, 2017 has indeed been better than 2016. And 100DaysofRunning is definitely the main reason. It's no big feat by any measure, still, for once I would like to take pride in what I accomplished. For it revealed not how much I can take, but how I can take it, and keep testing my limits. How much is nothing. 5 kms a day, on average, for 100 days in the runners' world would probably not be that much different from 'hey, I've got a job in IT' 20 years after the industry has come about, and especially after it's past its heydays! (Occupational hazard, you see!). That's all there is to the how much really. But the how was definitely more interesting and revealing than I had anticipated. For, the moment I push towards how much, the mind competes with just about anybody I can think of. But when it comes to the how, it competes with just who I was till then. At least, that is how I want to take everything. I would like to live as if I have no competitors except myself, want to be better than the man I was yesterday. And running does help in its own way, help change my life, help change one small perception or motivate to do one small positive thing at a time.

So, here goes the mildly adventurous story of an amateur runner's 100DaysofRunning:

The first 10 days were easy because of the adrenaline of having gotten started and counting the initial excitement in days. The next 10 were again easy because I did the first ten without a break. At this point, I was also at the 100 kms mark. Then, as it is a common belief that anything you do continuously for roughly 20 days becomes a habit, the next few days, till the 50th day, were more or less routine. I mostly struck the run off as a daily chore. The days when I missed the mornings, I ran in the night. Some days, I missed the planned night runs also, thus scrambling at around 11.30 PM or so, to run  the min 2 kms/day mandate. From 20 to 50, the daily kms started trickling down, but a couple of professional half-marathons helped fill the gap in the average. Actually, I took the liberty of cutting down on the 5km/day just because of this. (And that definitely would figure in as a disappointment to a true runner to whom consistency is everything!). But you have to listen to your body. Some days it just cannot move, and it will not. Those were the days of just meeting the minimum mandate of 2 kms/day. And thus went the first 50 days. The 50th day was, as expected, a psychological barrier, for I was literally at the 'half done' point of a job well begun.

The days from 60-80 were the most challenging. By then, the routine was fully set, a habit was more or less in place, and the 'motivation thrust' had completely died down. So why would I run? To make matters worse, my body just wouldn't budge. Those were the days of intense pain. Some days, my legs would just keep trembling for hours at a stretch. I still ran. I just ran. In fact, I ran with the 80th day as the finish line in mind, for I knew the last 20 days would again be a period of intense anticipation and excitement to get to the finish. It's like the last couple of miles to the finish line in a half marathon, where one would forget the 18 kms already done, but run these 2 kms as if one were chased by a pack of ravenous wolves. At least, that's how I have run all my finishing miles in every half marathon till date.

Come 80. It's just amazing how the mind can rewire and the heart refresh when the finish line is in sight. It's like coming a full circle. The mind has its own way of teaching patience, not to hurry or be overambitious to do 10 kms every remaining day. Stick to the basics. It's not a race. By this time I had built more than the target average of 5km/day. All I had to do was just keep to the minimum of 2km/day and I would make it past 500. Thus, 80-100 was a breeze.  I wrapped up the 100 days with 511 kms. So, there!

On the 100th day, I felt a mild sense of satisfaction and pride on how I had come to finish it. More than that, I felt peaceful. And peace was what I was after, because these 100 days happened right after a crisis. In fact, I wanted these 100 days to help me stabilize my mind and heart, to help me beat the crisis. Anger and rage were getting the best of me, and I HAD to run to keep the anger away, to beat it to pulp. Some days, I ran longer, proportionate to the intensity of anger I felt, to the point that on a few occasions, sheer exhaustion would beat the anger. I ran. And thus passed the 100 days.

I heartily thanked Mother Nature, the God Almighty, for taking me through all this. For, many days it would have been impossible to move if I had not felt the invisible hand that woke me up from bed, that patted on my shoulders to simmer my anger and put the shoes on, that lifted me up in the middle of the road, that high-five'd when I finished running on some testing days, or stood at the finish line on two of the professional half-marathons during the course of the 100 days. It was all worth it. It was worth every one of the 100 days.

All of this points to the simplest of truths when it concerns both the body and the mind. No pain, no gain. I took a long break, for more than a month, and now I'm back on the road again. So, here's to more running! (Oops. I shouldn't say that, rite?)

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