Category Archives: Random Musings

Running is a degree

When I was in college, the prospect of doing a Management degree never fascinated me. I somehow refused to follow the usual norm of engineering, MBBS or MBA and decided to create a path of my own. Probably the fact I was right brained and showed more aptitude towards areas like communication, human behavior and people, had something to do with it.

I would often meet people from B schools who always talked about the enormous network they made from studying there . So this time when I got an opportunity to attend an orientation program at Stanford Business School, I sort of got a glimpse of a B school environment and the nature of the course.

Along with the subjects, lectures, presentations and case studies, it was the wide range of network that apparently benefitted the several aspirants. It was this network that made them meet people from varied backgrounds, opened out new opportunities & friendships, offered different perspectives and several transformational​ lessons for life.

While I was caught in the frenzy of ‘the social network’ ( only this one being in person), I couldn’t help but draw parallels of the entire B school phenomena to running.

Some deep introspection made me realize that Running was an art, science and management in its own way. Art- not in the conventional sense like music or painting but that which enabled one to be in sync with their inner selves- something which many artists proclaimed while indulging in their specific art. Science as it involved the technical aspects like posture, gait, the entire process of training for a race,etc. Management when it eventually came down to organizing an event where the logistics of finance was involved along with aspects like people management, leadership, motivation, decision making and marketing.

Besides this, running also blessed one with that enormous network of similar thinking people from different walks of life. Being on the same platform, it opened up new gateways to friendships and the wonderful family aka ‘network’ of runners with whom new opportunities are discovered. Similar to how every subject in management offered a distinct learning, each race/ run did the same.

This sport was nothing less than a degree. It did not require the rigamarole process of getting those mind numbing scores, writing an entrance exam or paying those exorbitant fees. All it required was- for one to hit the roads after which life was never the same again, considering the people that one meets, the races that they run, the change that one’s body and mind goes through. The learnings only continue as life goes on.

As I look back to the last 5 years of my running, I realise that I may have learnt the art and science of running but most importantly like what a MBA graduate would say, it was the network of a community like MRR ( which is no less than a university) which has elevated my confidence levels and helped me forge new friendships.

Most importantly, I also realized that a sport like running gives a person a new sense of identity. A runner nevertheless elicits a new found respect that makes them bask in the awe and admiration of their fellow humans.

As I pondered more on the similarities, I was even more convinced that running was no less than a management degree- one that does not involve the conventional classroom lectures but that which broadens your horizons as you venture on this ‘road’ less traveled. ( Pun intended)

The Bhim meets Hanuman moment

I was out on one of my usual training runs. It was a day of Hill repeats and I had retreated to the woods to get a good mileage on those ascents. As I went up and down the slopes, I noticed a middle aged man watching me intently. He looked quite fit for his age.

Now over the last 1 year, I prided on having mastered the hills compared to what I was earlier- a person who would stagger up those slopes gasping for breath. Regular training helped me overcome the phobia of hill running and here I was prancing up and down the ascents like an Impala in the wilderness of the savannas.

The hills repeats were going well and I got caught in the moment of sprinting downhill eager to show off my prowess to my ‘audience’.

The man continued watching as I glided down the slope. “Be careful. You will hurt yourself if you come down so fast.” I paused to take a sip of water and just shrugged.

“What does he know”, I thought.

I continued my repeats and as I came down again he remarked saying ” your form is not correct”

Now being a person who could not take instructions/ criticism from anyone other than my trainers, I began to feel slighted.

” So what did I do wrong”, I asked him.

” Here let me show you.” He said. He sprinted up and down the hill in a flawless and effortless manner.

” Lean back as you come down.” He stated firmly.

I just nodded numbly as I gaped at his perfect form.

Unable to contain myself I blurted out asking ” Sorry I don’t seem to have seen you around before. Are you a runner as well by any chance”.

” Yes I am”, he replied. “But I am not like you. ”

I began to feel puzzled and said. ” I don’t understand sir.”

He just smiled, lifted his track pants a little and pointed to his feet.

To my horror I saw that he was amputed.

” Don’t look so shocked”. He said. ” I used to be fast and furious once upon a time. But one day I tumbled down the hills and that accident cost me my limb. However thanks to advanced technology and will power I am still able to run and I am known as what you call an amputee runner.

I run long distances and take part in many marathons. So yes I am a runner but not like you. That’s why I kept telling you to be careful while coming down as I didn’t want you to go through what I did. ”

I stood there standing in awe as my respect for the man grew double fold. Ashamed and humbled at the same time, I regretted having misunderstood him as an interfering nosy parker. It turned out that he was only trying to caution me for my own well being.

” I must go. See you around. Make sure you don’t break that leg.” His eyes twinkled and I watched him walk away into the woods.

I learned that no matter how big you think you are, there is always someone bigger and better than you. So it’s important to be humble always.

It was a ‘Bhim meets Hanuman’ moment for me as I went home- a humbled soul.

( Bhim- a pandava prince finds a gigantic monkey’s tail in his way and gets infuriated when the monkey asks him to move his tail. Being a powerful warrior, Bhim was surprised to find that he was unable to lift a mere monkeys tail. It was then when he realised that this was no ordinary monkey but the mighty Hanuman himself. Bhim is humbled and seeks his forgiveness. Hanuman later tells Bhim to never underestimate his opponent.)

This is a humbling lesson not only for the Pandava prince but for all of us as well to have our feet firmly on the ground no matter how much success we attain in terms of popularity, accolades or awards.

As the saying goes ‘pride always comes before a fall.’

Running is the new cool

My husband and I were sitting at a popular hangout in town, enjoying our lunch when we heard a voice behind us saying ‘hey guys long time.’ We looked up to see a familiar face of an acquaintance whom we hadn’t seen in years despite living in the same city. There was a phase where we would meet such people at house parties and pubs, dancing the night away until wee hours in the morning. It was a time when not partying on a Friday or a Saturday night was considered ‘uncool’ and a time when fitness just meant squeezing in a short workout at the gym during odd hours, sometimes battling the previous night’s hangover.
As we exchanged pleasantries, he remarked saying that we guys seemed to have ‘disappeared’ from the scene. On hearing about our daughter, he nodded with a sympathetic smile saying how having a kid probably puts an end to one’s night life. My husband and I exchanged secret smiles and explained to him the real reason to the elimination of our night outs-Running!
Ever since we took up running, our Saturday nights were spent tucked away in deep sleep. We would be up in the wee hours of Sunday morning hitting the roads, feeling as fresh as the morning dew. Quite a contrast to the times when we would head back home in ‘high spirits’.
His jaw dropped in astonishment as he heard about our running escapades along with our passion for fitness which seemed to have grown double fold over the years. “You guys are totally cool”, he said with a new found respect in his eyes. After a few minutes of small talk, he took leave, still shaking his head in amazement.
My husband and I pondered over this new definition of ‘cool’ as we came to the following conclusion.
The new cool is now associated with fitness-a phenomenon which has grown especially in the last few years. It is now ‘cool’ not to get drunk or be seen at the most happening places. It is now ‘cool’ to be passionate about running, marathons, triathlons and have a ‘healthy’ lifestyle. It is ‘cool’ to be seen in singlet and shorts, drenched with perspiration and show up at those fancy breakfast joints with that unmistakable glow of the runner’s high which can put a shame to all those cosmetics in the market.
Races have become the new happening places to meet people and have a blast. Medals have become the new beer glasses and the pre and post- race Zumba sessions have become the new dance floor.
Not that partying isn’t fun as it’s good to let your hair down once in a while. But as the days go by and with the numerous events/races happening every other Sunday, one can certainly come to the conclusion that Running is the new cool!
 

Fun on the Run

A poem I thought of today while working out in the gym. A conversation with my inner voice about the upcoming Mumbai marathon which I have drafted into a poem..

With the Mumbai marathon buzz in the air,
I don’t seem to exhibit undue care,
About the slopes, weather or time,
As the inner voice in me chimes-

“This isn’t a do or die situation,
Or a prelim that will determine your education.
It’s just one of the older races,
That gave birth to running in its earlier phases.

So run like no one is watching you,
Drive away those race blues.
With your training so sincere,
None can mock you or sneer.

Worry less about the clock,
Make your strides go tick tock.
Like horses galloping in the wild,
With a smile that depicts a playful child.

Enjoy the spirit in the air,
Mumbai city embraces you with care.
With volunteers from the young to the old,
To cheer you from their hearts of gold.

With water, fruits and sweets,
They stand tall on the winding streets.
There might be a moment when you hit a wall,
Only to tell yourself- this run is nothing less than a carnival ball.

The finish line seems near yet so far,
Yet the image of celebrating later at the bar,
Will boost your spirits as you think of the beer,
Followed by the smiles, laughter and cheer.

It will be time to put on your dancing shoes,
To dance off those race stress hues and woes.
What time you ultimately clocked won’t matter,
Once you indulge in the crazy banter and chatter.

The next day will dawn nice and bright,
As you set your future goals to a greater height.
Life will go on as usual in its charming way,
As long as you keep your inner turmoil at bay!”

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The goodness of a kind word

I was running on marine drive today at a tempo speed. After a point I began to feel exhausted but decided to keep going. Just at that point, I heard a voice say “good running”, despite the fact that my speakers blaring loudly. I looked up to see a retreating muscular figure give a thumbs up sign but couldn’t quite catch the face. All on a sudden, my ego spiked up at this unexpected massage of these soothing words and I began to imagine myself as a champion running in the last leg of the race with spectators cheering for me from the side lines. This helped me pick up pace and finish strong at NCPA.

While I was stretching at NCPA, my thoughts delved deeper than the calm blue Arabian Sea that I was looking at. I wondered what was it that was considered as a good gift to runners or any person for that matter. Good shoes? A smart pair of shorts with a funky singlet? A Garmin watch? A complimentary buffet breakfast at the Taj?? ( Not a bad option;) ) I then realised it was none of these.

A few words of appreciation goes a long way in boosting ones self esteem and the feel good factor. We are forever dealing with scars from past insults or put downs with regards to our abilities or physical appearances. This has led to lowered confidence levels and self doubts to creep in.

In this world where criticism is hurled easily, it becomes a rarity to see goodness in ones words or gestures. As a journalist/ writer, I have strongly believed that words, especially positive ones, go a long way in creating that long lasting impact and remains etched in ones psyche forever.

The best gift therefore lies in these golden words of appreciation that radiates one’s morale in the “long run”. (Pun intended).

Moral: Be sure you give that thumbsup or a word of encouragement to any fellow runner/ person when presented with the opportunity. You never know, these words could help in making someone’s day a tad brighter!