Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Running encounters

 I am at home today. Leave. I have cold and feel a bit weak and sick. I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday as well. But I totally loved yesterday's run. Because I was running after a long time. It was a run chat with a friend and I think that's good use of time!
I saw this pepper haired lady who was cycling on campus. She had a helmet and a headlamp mounted on it. It certainly grabbed our attention.

After a good 4.8km run and some ballet stretches, I headed back home. This cheerful lady parked her cycle on the side of the road near ED Dept. I went and said "Hi" and began chatting with her. She told me she is an alumni. Chemical Engineer, class of 83! Wow. I have always wanted to meet female alumni and here I was, with her. She told me about some women's cycling group when I told her that I just started my cycling journey. She had so much positive energy! I just couldn't stop smiling. I asked her to run with us and we joked about body parts that hurt when cycling/running.
On the way back, met a junior and it's just the second time that I am meeting him. We quickly made plans about our Sunday run. I also told him about this encounter with Sujatha, the alumni.

I came home. Same levels of excitement. I told my flatmates. I open facebook to search her profile. Google helped me out and there, I found her. What I also found about her was that she is the mother of Akash Dube, the kid who started the Chennai Chapter for Terry Fox run. Akash was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. They started the Terry Fox chapter that year. The annual run was held in my campus, IIT Madras. It was phenomenal. They raised ~50 lakhs. This has been a tradition now. Akash passed away few years back..

This incident, somehow had a deep impact. It was a reminder to forget about all the petty things that bother us. It was a reminder to look at life from a big picture view. To ease off and explore.

Terry Fox has been a special run for me as it kind of marked the beginning of my running journey. It was then my longest continuous solo run with probably 10000 others running, cycling, skating on the same road. I had also dedicated this run to a very dear friend of mine, who was diagnosed with symptoms similar to cancer.

To me, this is the essence of running.. And well, cycling. Rather, being out there on the roads. With people. Sometimes all by myself. To be a part of this planet and to know different stories. Stories that help us in exploring the plethora of emotions within us.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The other world

Why do they run? Why do you run? Why do I run?
These are questions that keep coming back to me every now and then. Maybe when I see someone running on the roads. Maybe when I catch myself out of breath with my legs pleading me to stop. When I see people complaining that they missed their target by 43 seconds. By 43 minutes. By 43 minutes and 43 seconds. Surprisingly not many complain for overshooting their target. I wonder why. 

People say that human feet are not meant for running. Yes, some have said that to me. Early men and women used to run to hunt their food. You can a read a lot about that everywhere and  here .
Now that we have established that humans did run, I will go ahead and say that everyone can run. Yes. Look at this for example 

What is running? What speed classifies as running? Maybe 9-10 kmph is running. Maybe the guy who does a 1:30 HM might say that 13 kmph onwards is running. Any speed less than that is jogging. Well, I would say these are just tags. How does it matter what the world calls as running. Does it? Not after you answer the question that opened this dialogue between us. 

In case you don't run, you might be wondering how you will answer this question. That is if you are generous enough to read through this. Or else you might just close this tab and move ahead to catch up stuff on reddit. Wait, will you? Do you walk sometimes in spite of having an option of taking a vehicle? Do you take those stairs at times? Do you care about what food goes down your food pipe? Why?

Ah, I think I run to stay fit. I think that exercise is necessary for the human body. Well, not just me. A lot of people say that. Even a kid in Class 2 would say that. You can find more proof here. That would have also told you why exercise is important, what are the perks, what are the downsides etc. Let us not get there for now. I have come to believe that exercise is necessary and fun! 

So yes, there are a lot of reasons to run. I started running in an attempt to rectify hypothyroidism. I also started running to beat loneliness I guess. No no. Other way I guess. Never mind. After I started running, I realised that it is awesome, in spite all the struggle. In spite of not being able to run 200 metres. Yes. I did not feel lonely in spite of running solo. Maybe because I could now connect with millions who run. Yes, millions. I could now feel happy and smile at a stranger and even hi-fi as we run past each other. It is a big community out there. A very warm and lovely and vibrant and super excited community. To believe you should go watch a run, hang around near the finish line if you are too lazy to move. 

You know, I felt pretty special when I could run 3.5 km (one of the loops in IITM campus) without a stop. Because none of my other friends could do that. Because I was the chubbiest of the lot, least athletic and I could still do that. Later I did make friends who could run 110 kms in the Rann of Kutch!
I did not feel as special when I ran the first 10km run because that was when I saw thousands of others running! People of all sizes and shapes. People wearing all sorts of attires (read sarees!). And when I went to Stanford, I saw how common it was for people to be out there on the roads and running. It was super common.

So why do they run? Well, a hell lot of reasons. The most basic one being- to stay fit. To be healthy. To delay the onset of health issues. To drive away existing health problems. And only after one starts running, will they discover a whole new world. A world where it is very easy to get lost. A world where people cry for missing their targets by 43 seconds in a 42.195 km run. A world where people cry out of happiness as they run. A world where people push their targets and conquer miles.

So tell me, dear friend, why do you run?