Are you crazy? Do you want to run in this condition? What’s wrong with you?” my head remarked in a scornful manner.

My heart hung its head down. “Yes I know.” it said feebly

It was the eve of the most awaited event of the year –the Standard chartered Mumbai marathon (SCMM). Several months of hard work, sweat and blood went into preparing for this one. I was no exception and had given it all in my training be it running, strength or cross training.

Unfortunately things took a different turn as a sudden bout of viral invaded my body on Friday the 13th, leading me to feel nauseous, feverish and giddy. A strong dose of medication made me feel better by Saturday evening. However my doctor’s voice echoed in my head, “I don’t want you doing a Dr. Rakesh Sinha on me.(a doctor marathoner who collapsed recently while training) Only if you feel absolutely fine you run but run slow and do NOT race.

On Saturday midnight, I threw up twice much to my aghast. I leaned back on my bed exhausted looking at my bib, pinned on my black puma T shirt. It was the right choice albeit a tough one. I had to summon my courage to let me stick to this one firmly while my head and my heart were engaged in a fierce tussle.

“You are defying 3 rules of running here.” my head continued pompously. “1. Hydration: Your droopy face looks like you need an entire ocean to restore life back into it. 2. Energy: At the moment you look so malnourished that you can barely walk a km leave alone running one. 3. Rest and sleep: You have been up since midnight and there is no way you can run with a sleep deprived body. Do you plan on sleep walking the entire 21 km and fainting later on?

My heart opened its mouth to protest but my head continued to speak,”

Trust me. It’s not advisable to run. You run for health and fitness. Your livelihood is not dependent on the same. Why stress? It’s ok to miss one event and it’s not the end of the world. You keep saying health is wealth. You will be defying your own philosophy putting your health in jeopardy. You may think you can run but who knows, what will happen out there. What if you faint or collapse? It will be an absolute nightmare. “

My heart nodded and looked down in silence.

My head said gently, “I know what you are thinking.” You have trained hard, taken extra precautions with your diet by eating only home cooked meals, avoided weight training, swimming, rested well and why should this viral attack you now, right? Your friends are running this one, you will miss meeting them, the mandatory clicks, post-race breakfast, etc etc.. Yes I completely understand and empathise. It’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself. You have been as sincere as ever but sometimes things are not in our control. Some things happen for a good reason but we don’t realize it at that time.

My heart listened intently as my head kept talking.

“Look, sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. It requires immense courage to take this decision probably more than what is required while you indulged in all those adventure sports in the past. But it’s all for the good. Yes it will hurt initially but it will benefit you in the long run (pun intended). You want to keep running strong, injury free and lifelong don’t you?

My heart nodded meekly.

“Then this is for the best. You will have plenty of opportunities to run, race and meet your friends. By letting go of this one event, you are blessing yourself with years of running. Think about it. You don’t want to land up in the hospital do you and have people reprimand you saying you should not have run. You know that was the wrong choice. You know your body well enough. You have always listened to it. If your body says no, then it means you are not ready to run forget racing.

My heart sighed and said, “You are right. I have to take this call and it’s for my own good.”

“You are doing the right thing. Trust me, by next week, you will be back to your form. Just keep listening to me. I will guide you in the right direction. You need to be strong. One day when those legs whine and sulk, it’s up to you to take us to the finish line in style. Remember the runners keep saying, if your legs fail you, run with your heart. So brace up my friend.” my head replied.

The choice was made and I decided to skip the event of the year. Sometimes it helps to step back and make a tough decision as it tends to bring a lot of things into perspective. It enabled me to see that every person is different with regards to body type, speed, strengths, and drawbacks and possess their own approach to running a race, including that of my running partner. It may not be advisable to emulate anybody but to dwell on your own strengths and work on your weaknesses. It also made me reflect and redefine my goals while speaking to my mentor/coach on the same as I gear up towards a good year ahead.

I have considered every run as a learning experience. For the first time, I learnt a lot by not running a race. However there are many more races in the offing and as a famous poet has said there is miles to go before you sleep!!