I have been running for last 14 years and have run two Marathons and 18 halves till date. In the first glance, it seems crazy to run a Marathon which is a distance of 42.195 KM. It seems absolutely hopping mad when legend has that the first recorded instance of running the Marathon ended in a grave. Apparently the Greek messenger blurted out “We Won” before collapsing.
Long distance running like any other sport requires investment in time and money. Time is inelastic and is a zero sum game. The time spent on the feet hitting the pavement or trail is the one which got traded with time with family or even deep sleep. Hence it is not surprising that I am plagued with questions for subjecting my body to sweat and elevated heart rate for more than five and half hours. Here is my honest attempt to answer them:
Runners High: Constant Aerobic Exercise like running produces Endorphins. Endorphins results in runners high. Once you get hooked it is difficult to turn back.
Nature Connect: My favorites are nature running trails among towering Eucalyptus trees and aged Bamboo shoots. The herbal scent and creaking bamboos fills the senses and mind with indescribable peace. The scurrying squirrels, chirping birds and the falling leaves connects the runner to a deeper calling.
Inner Solitude: The rhythmic repetitive pounding of the feet translates to inner calm and balance. The world suddenly starts to look perfect. I forgive the driver who had cut me off wrongly and I forgive myself for feeling angry at him. It is a Micchami Dukkadam moment.
Walter Mitty: Running with Music makes me a Walter Mitty. It is the floo powder which takes me in to my favorite fantasies of having invested in Google when it was a fledgling startup, writing a bestselling novel, crooning melodies to awestruck audiences. So what, If I am tone deaf but in my mind there has been countless gold labels to my credit. Every weekend, I regularly solve the debt crisis, world hunger and write meaningful commentaries on purpose of life. Only PG rated stuff is mentioned here obviously.
Reputation: It could be a continuation of my Walter Mittiness, but I believe that my reputation is that “He might not look dashing but he certainly can last the distance”.
Strength: Running contributes to tremendous growth of mental toughness and ‘can do’ attitude. Crossing the finishing line feels NEW even though it has been done countless times before. It stands for ‘not giving up’ when it was easier to do so.
Camaraderie: Solitude does not mean I run alone but it is an achieved state of mind. I run with my best buddies. We regale ourselves with juvenile and off color jokes, continuously pull each other legs and break idlis or dosas together. We find inner reserves to run faster or longer to be together.
On a wine tour in Monterey, the guide told a motley bunch of tourist including me “My dream is to die in my favorite chair with a glass of wine in my hand”. Mine is to blurt out “I did it” while crossing the finishing line of a Marathon and the family watching with pride.