V+V.K Run: Life in Motion

This blog post was originally supposed to re-introduce me to blogging but then Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice happened, I was compelled to write a review.

Back in school, I was surrounded by better runners and so never won a single running race; doesn’t mean I was terrible either. My slim build and agility ensured I was active in other outdoor sports. This blog is about my experience of finishing a 10K run that changed my life (I know, 10K is no big deal!).

Year 2015 was a special year for me in many ways, potentially a turning point in my life. Job hunting took up most of my time between the months of July and September; during which I started running (as frequently as 6 times a week sometimes) to get some fresh air, to combat physical inactivity of staring into the laptop screen all day and feelings of claustrophobia. I used to run/cycle as a hobby as often as I could until then but during the job search phase applying for jobs, networking on LinkedIn, following up with HR consultants and running became my daily routine.

Second half of the year 2015 was filled with surprises and experiences that were new to me and caused quite a bit of discomfort. Having said this, I am also glad for the way things have worked out as it taught me a great deal about life and served as platform for self-discovery; that learning I am sure will help me a long way and is a great takeaway. I am grateful and fortunate to have such wonderful family & friends all-over who have supported in ways unimaginable for which I am forever indebted to. On the other hand, I know running helped me on a personal level, delve into my mind, and became aware of my mental barriers and limitations.

Running was still very much part of my daily routine even after joining the new job. Despite my best efforts to keep the wheels moving at work, volatile market conditions and slow business eventually led to shutting down of the firm and that put me back in acquaintance with the pool of job seekers, for the second time by the end of the year. Having gone through a similar phase a few months back, I handled the situation more confidently; with the support and guidance of the then CEO I landed a job on the 31st of December, 2015.

Running can be a different experience for different people. During the days of self-imposed disconnect from my regular social-life, running proved contemplative solitude giving me an opportunity to reflect and take the time for myself. As days passed, I had come to appreciate this especially because I would not consciously do this earlier. As with any sport, upon regular practice you get better at it and running was no different. I did not start running with an intention to lose weight or take part in 5K, 10K, or marathon running but simply because I enjoyed it.

Having come to know of the Standard Chartered 10K run (held on 22nd January, 2016) I started preparing with the only goal of finishing it. For someone who is used to running 5 km (non-stop) pushing for 10K seemed like a Herculean task but I was confident I could do it. When fellow runners kept overtaking me during my routine evening runs in the park my interest in knowing how fast they were going, step count, etc peaked. This curiosity led to using an app for running in order to measure speed and time. The data gathered helped me gain insights and clock a better time finally.

The entire experience of running was as liberating as difficult it was. The event of pushing the boundary everyday was nothing short of a breakthrough. Every time I succeeded in running a kilometer or two more than the previous session, my confidence sky-rocketed and felt great (this feeling can be infectious and can motivate to push further). To continue pushing the limit beyond the comfort zone not only took physical strength but also a great deal of mental strength. It was during this time I had once again realised how a healthy mind is as important as a healthy body. Keeping a steady focus on reaching mile-stones, constantly reinforcing the mind (and body) that it is right up the alley of its capabilities (and to continue pushing), affirmations, inner incantation, visualisation and “positive talk” coupled with some motivating music lead to crossing the finish line.

Standard Chartered 10K: This was the first time ever running a 10K and I believe the preparation was perfect besides the tiny adjustment that the run was taking place in the morning as opposed to my comfortable customary practice of running in the evenings. It was both exciting and overwhelming to see the runners gather in thousands. I got off to a good start and was consistent throughout the run. However, let me point it out that running a 10K and running in the park (preparing for the same 10K) do not compare.

The sense of excitement can get you nervous and it’s easy to lose focus from there on. Once the run commenced, the lead up to 2K mark felt like eternity but that feeling was left far behind soon after I knew my body was warmed up. Sometime before hitting the 5K mark I witness an athlete running in the opposite direction half way ahead closing in on 8K milestone and eventually winning the 10K, clocking a mind-blowing 29 minutes (I was staring at awe at the results board). It is after that point of physical exhaustion I experienced at around 7K the mind started playing tricks that made the training suddenly seem inadequate. More than the run the negative thoughts (that were telling me to give up) exhausted me. I was making a conscious effort to get the mind to calm down as it seemed to be in a state of panic that led to moments when I wanted to just stop and give up.

Concentration on breathing proved a quick fix and soon enough my mind was back in the game. Last two kilometers were particularly difficult for two reasons, primarily physical exhaustion and the other being mental as I was venturing into uncharted territory. I stopped listening to music as it seemed distracting, inconvenient and causing loss of concentration. I knew I had to something that I had not done before to cross the finish line. I gave myself small targets (trees, lamp posts, sign boards etc.) and achieved them, this stage was getting more and more difficult as time passed eventually reached a stage where I could no longer run. You wouldn’t believe what happened later, I laid eyes on some cute girls ahead of me and followed them before sprinting away when the finish line was in sight (Note to self: You Moron!!!). Moving on, I was quite pleased with my time of 53 minutes and 47 seconds.

Desert Road Runners Dubai Autodrome 10K: Finishing the first 10K run in about 54 minutes I was determined to finish this run in 45 minutes, accordingly started training as early as February. My research on running from blogs, websites and videos indicated that the key to running longer is having stamina which is dependent on the core strength and so naturally I was on course to improving core-strength. During the same time I was also running and adopting newer strategies to improve my average speed during which I somehow ended up hurting my knee.

I paid no attention to it and continued training (a bad decision). The situation deteriorated quickly and I was slightly limping, also it hurt every time I took the stairs (even 2 steps) for the next 2 weeks. I knew I had to stop running before it getting worse but I guess it was too late and therefore I stopped training altogether two weeks before the run.

By the way, my friend Vaisali got me registered for the run as my birthday present and seeing the probability of not taking part in the run rising made me uncomfortable and I was making peace with the eventuality. By the 11th of March my condition improved and I ran the following morning.

The fundamental strategies followed by Krissy Moehl, a long distance runner:

1. Having a Smile on the face and enjoying the run

2. Ensuring everybody around is enjoying

3. To be competitive (only after having met strategy 1 and 2)

I jumped to strategy three straight away as the run began, I was in the top 5 initially but fell several spots by the time I hit the two kilometer milestone and eventually dropping 95 spots by the end. Obviously my fitness has dropped not having trained in the last two weeks and it was getting more and more apparent as the race progressed. Carrying that 45 minute ambition made things worse and every time someone raced past me I was devastated.

I threw my only “not stopping come what may” rule to the dogs (it is ok to jog, no walking allowed either) and end up stopping at least six times throughout. I was broken, have given up on several occasions. Motivation kicked in when my phone said I already covered seven kilometers in 39 minutes (surprised and very delighted at this point). With a huge sigh of relief I launched myself listening to the compositions of Hans Zimmer. Having battled all the demons in my head, I broke down one last time with no will to continue. This time encouragement from the fellow runner cleared the noise in my mind; I applied the strategy from training and managed hitting 20 kmph at the finish line, a sprint finish.

A difficult run filled with ups and downs (literally, we were running on a race track), the triumphant experience instilled confidence and an overall positivity filled me up besides being elated and contented to have clocked 51 minutes 58 seconds, my personal best, yet.

Learning:

1. The only one stopping you is you

2. Surrender is not the same as giving up or accepting defeat. It is about letting go.

Running to me is a way of life, an activity to engage the body and the mind to have a conversation to build empowering belief systems. It is a form of meditation to silence the demons inside the head and clear the fog over the mind.

To conclude, in the words of Charlie Dark, Running is not a test; it is a celebration of how far you have come. Celebration of being alive!

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