Running, a penance

I use to wonder why people take up difficult things like adventure sports and difficult Yatras while it is damn difficult to do and finally do it with everything they have. I never understood what it takes to do such things till a bucket list hit me a few months ago.

Yeah, my bucket list is to run a full marathon before sept 22, 2018. Before I hit 40, I want to finish this bucket list. It was hanging around for sometime and it got intense as years went by. When runners went by with a slight gasp and an elegant form, it all looked easy and sexy to do. I told myself one day I will tick the checkbox of marathon.

Time is an unforgiving tool in life. It so happened that my procrastination reached its edge. When I viewed the finish line of my marathon from 365 days, it looked daunting and sometimes even impossible.

24 months ago I wanted to checkout weight loss so that I can run better. Guess what, I was derailed by the details of weight loss and decided to do all sort of diets available out there and checkout how we can reverse lifestyle disorders like diabetes and obesity. I realised that just by reducing weight a lot of it can happen. I was committed to the cause and started exploring the most effective and efficient ways to reduce.

Well to reduce weight, you must have so much weight beyond BMI 35. So I spent sometime in adding the required weight to have an empathy for obesity and followed by testing weight loss with high carb diet (vegan, gluten free and sugar free), high protein diet(low carb and low fat) and high fat diet( almost zero carb and moderate protein). I lost weight in all methods and I recognised all boundaries are difficult. Just the time taken for each method was different. With each dietary modification I had a great respect for the human body and I awed what a magnificent machinery it is. It was not easy to be in any diet so to speak. My systemic take away is, it is not easy to be in boundaries and I was fighting to break away and rebel at the cost of my health. In all this I forgot why I started losing weight in the first place. It was to run better and run farther. When the realisation hit me, the status quo was I ended up with screwed up livers and kidneys and may be some hormones too by trying different things. I geared up the little motivation left and said now I am ready to train for the marathon ahead.

Like all new things in life for running also I did enough research, read enough books and watched enough YouTube though it feels easy. Just run. What else. Well sort of.

This time I was a little more intelligent. I realised growth is faster and better with a coach than by self. Took some time and found the best of best and surrendered myself to them. Coach happened.

Guess what the first thing my coach shared with me was to give up refined carbs and sugar including fruits. He explained with a lot of science about running using ketones and not using glucose etc. This time I did not rebel with my knowledge vs his perspectives. I just said, if that is what I should do to run I will.

With a lot of difficulty I agreed for the most difficult diet of my life (high fat and no carb). As a fruitarian it was hard to give up on my fruits (it may be for life). The next big thing was hydrating self. I hardly drink water generally. May be 200 ml in a day. Now I was asked to drink up to 3000 ml in a day. As a lover of coffee, I gave up on my heavy loaded milky and sugary coffee.

Boundaries make me cringe and for running I must imbibe a number of them. A lot of my friends feel i must be happy as I can eat all the cheese and butter I want but the reality is I hate them to the core and I never liked the idea of cheese or butter or paneer ever.

Oh, the biggest change was adding intermittent fasting of 18:6 so that I can train my body to run on ketones. The very ketosis diet I hated a few months ago became my life now (with no meat though) along with intermittent fasting plus 3 litres of water and a run first thing first in the morning.

I have no words to explain how I am feeling inside. It feels like everything about me changed and got shattered for good. To manage the timings I started working at 6:30 am till 2:30 pm so that I can have my one or two meals hot and made by myself at home. I only dreamt of waking up at 4:30 am. Now it is a reality.

I always wanted to do my yoga first thing first every morning. It was a dream again. With running it is a must. I am amazed how I can change my entire life for one thing.

All the above for running a marathon. Something inside me is rebelling but something inside me is also at peace. Overall I am amazed at the surrender. I cannot call it love yet as there is only pain everyday.

But I keep going. It has been 9 days so far and I already feel it is 9 months of my life. All I can see is the finish line. On a positive note I am a transformed person inside out. I am carrying the spirit day in and day out inspite of all the pains, flu, headaches and fatigue. I am not stressed about anything and I am not anal about tracking all the details as this is for lifetime and not for just a few weeks.

I am taking one step at a time and the running runs me these days. As I am reading the “unbreakable runner” I am taking a break to create my running diaries here.

When I embraced design 12 years ago I felt the same way. Design was above me whatsoever. Still is. I still see my entire life through the eyes of design and always will. Slowly my perception has widened and i am starting to see everything with a lot more clarity and a new found wisdom.

I stopped counting calories. I stopped craving foods. I stopped complaining about pain. I am not talking about time management. I stopped weighing myself. I even stopped counting water intake. I stopped measuring pace and distance. Probably this is what Krishna advised Arjun in Mahabharata in his Gita to be. Just keep doing everything he can with great commitment and involvement without worrying about progress, data, results,relationships etc. I can taste a bit of it now. Even my design is getting better these days.

If all the above could happen around one axis called running then it must be my penance.

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