I vividly remember my glorious childhood days when I would run in the ‘big field’ (we called it that because we had two fields in our school — big field and a small field. Big field was big but small field was only relatively small.) When I ran I would think of myself no less than Usain Bolt. The wind blowing on my face like a hairdryer when I sprinted towards the football along with four others coming from different directions. Hair ruffled. Tie flying back. With predator instinct, my eyes chasing the ball. Their eyes chasing me. When I parted with the ball, I would stand there, hands on my knees, panting like a dog.
I felt heroic.
My love affair with distance running initially began in high school when I participated in the three-mile road run organised by the school. This was in 2005, long before the cult of 5K and 10K events even picked up. I took part in the annual event for 3 years, bettering my personal best each year. Few months into college, I registered for my first 5K run — the TCS 5K Majja run. Two weeks to go for the run and I began to rise with the sun and train in the neighborhood park. I ran in the park covering a distance of nearabout 2 kilometers each day. On the run day, I sailed through the first two kilometers. The third, fourth and fifth were a tad exhausting. I put a decent show though.
I felt athletic.
6 years passed without much distance running. YearOne was a lazy bum, YearTwo believed in doing weights rather than running, YearThree stayed up late in the night with a quill and ink. YearFour was busy working. YearFive was struggling and YearSix was a sedentary pupil of academics.
I felt sluggish.
The summer of 2016 was retreating. I made a decision one day (like always) that I would wake up early and start running again. And I did (unlike always). I rose with the sun’s first light, phoned my friend and we set out to Lalbagh. 30 days — I decided. I’m going to wake up early and go out and run, walk, jog, play, whatever. But 30 days straight, I promised myself. A part of me worried — what if I do not make it. I’ll be mad at myself for failing to keep my word. 30 days later, I was proud of myself. There were days when I had a headache, days when it rained, days when I went to bed late at night but those were also the days when I got out of my bed and ran nevertheless.
I felt triumphant.
I ran more 5Ks and 10Ks this year than I ever did before. I’m no champion, no pro. I clock just about average timings. But I run. That’s what matters to me. I run to push my limits. I run to see how strong my will power is — because as you approach your limit, your mind screams, it begs you to stop. But I push forward. Little more. Just little more. Until hundred meters seems like a kilometer. Because it is only the distance you cover after you’ve reached that threshold is what counts. Running, to me, sometimes is a metaphor for running away from sorrow — from all things that bother me inside. I bring all the painful, hurtful and distasteful moments to the fore. After the run, I feel so light-headed.
I felt empowered.