Sunday the 20th of September. At the Thames Valley Park.
The sun hidden behind the clouds. The grass still wet with morning dew. Chill wind in the air. 13 degrees C something.
300 odd folks gathered. In trainers and jackets. Beating the morning chill. Sacrificing a cozy Sunday snooze.
Yeah. The Spirit of Wipro 5k #SOWRUN – London.
Warm up. Stretch. Sip on electrolytes. The day starts to get sunny.
It’s a big day. Especially for amateurs like me. It’s a big deal. It’s a very very big deal!
Cheers and whistles push me as I cross the finish line in 26 minutes 24 seconds.
I wait for my friends to come through the finish line. And am waiting with excitement to tell them I made it in my personal best of 26 odd minutes. Until someone asked me, but who won?
As I battled this question in my mind, the sun which until then was gaily shining on us, slowly slipped behind the clouds like as if he was hiding a smirk!!!
Why do I run?
- Refreshes me. The best of my runs have been when my mind and feet were in tandem. My mind focusing only on the pace, the running style, balance and breath. A run that totally refreshes me and leaves me wanting the next. There are times, more often than not when on my run, am playing devil’s advocate with myself. Evaluating choices, contemplating decisions. With no one interrupting my thoughts, no text messages or phone calls to distract me. Noises around me cease in to oblivion. The road beneath my feet, the wind in my hair and lost in my own thoughts.
- I push my limits. Cut to 2013, when I decided to explore running. 2 minutes on the treadmill as I panted and gasped for breath. And now in 2015, 5 runs including 5 k and 10 k under my belt it’s been a long run, literally. Every time I was tempted to stop and re-tie my shoe lace, every time I was happy to stop for someone to let them pass, every time I rounded off my run time, to the smaller whole number – I can’t help but smile when I think of then and now. With each run, my timing has only improved. Each run makes me believe I can.
- A whole new world. Influences of people around me who have fought their own battles – from weight loss, to fitness, to belong, to get ‘me time’, to meet like-minded people, to win a race – the reasons are multitude. And the positivity that exudes in each one’s personal story of endurance and success, is endearing and inspiring.
I grew familiar with fellow runners, folks taking a stroll, moms walking their babies on the same route as mine. If I missed seeing someone on any day, and saw them on the next I would smile to myself – ok, all is well.
Indeed, a whole new world that opens up.
- Another excuse to shop. I now can genuinely browse through the sports section in a store. I can discuss specific requirements with the sales assistant. I have a section in my wardrobe for running. I have another reason to shop.
- Running clubs and fancy apps. I discovered communities that brought together coaches, amateurs and pros to discuss and learn. Some that helped me were the ASICS running club #asicseurope, The Running Bug #TheRunningBug. In addition to the Nike Fuel band #NikeFuel and the absolutely wonderful Android app – S Health #shealth. A perfect app to track, analyse and record your run.
- Let’s me explore. I find new routes to break the monotony. In the process, I tend to discover different cities. Discovering new stores and joints that have opened up in the vicinity apart from of course discovering beautiful paths and different terrains. I have been lucky to run the Spirit of Wipro #SOWRUN in Bangalore, New Jersey and London. Each came with the trappings of discovering new run routes, different terrains and starkly different climates.
- I eat all I want. Clothes fit me differently (also read easily). And despite digging in to that chocolate tart topped with ice cream and a spurt of fresh cream, I don’t feel guilty any more. Strangely enough, I seem to be naturally eating healthy and I don’t feel random urges to snack. Energy levels are always at a high through the day. Apparently science has an explanation for that – running boosts happy hormones.
For me, it’s quite simple. I run. I feel refreshed. I beat my own limits. I meet more people. I have more reasons to shop. I eat guilt-free. I discover. I explore.
And the sun peeks back from behind the clouds almost mocking that realisation has dawned. Did I win the 5k run? No I did not. I was a close 4th.
Would love to hear why you run. What’s your excuse?