18 Jun Running, Healing and Making Sense of it All
I go through phases in life: phases where I am running and phases where I wish I were running. There is no in-between.
About 8 months ago, I developed a condition which caused me immense shortness of breath and weakness. The pollution worsened it, probably. The problem became acute enough for me to not be able to talk for a few minutes at length without having shortness of breath. I had to give a talk in February end. I deliberately spoke very slowly in the talk, so people cannot tell that I am catching my breath in between the sentences. So running was quite out of the question. Walking was challenging.
The problem with not running is that it makes me feel like I’m vegetating. I like to feel my muscles. I like to feel like my body is alive. When I am not running, I feel like an essential part of my existence is missing. When I am upset, I go for a run. When I need to boost my spirits, I go for a run. When I am bogged down with this unforgiving, unfeeling world, I go for a run. I wrote about this before, in ‘When a Runner is Told to Walk.”
Now it is an even bigger need. What people don’t realize is that running a marathon is not an event. It is a lifestyle. It becomes the focus of your day. And when you cannot be on that “track,” you keep feeling like your life is all over the place.
Whenever I go for running, I don’t “just run.” I need to train myself to push myself forward. It is part of my kshatriya training. Kshatriya training is also an endurance training, not just a skill building exercise. If you are in control of your body, controlling any other body is simply a matter of detail.
When training, it is not just a matter of running for an hour or so every day. That is just one part of it. It changes when I sleep, how much I sleep, when I eat, how much I eat, what I eat, when I work, and hence, when I cook and do other chores. My whole life essentially revolves around just running and the yoga that follows. But it helps me pick myself up every day. It is the one thing that helps me keep myself going. It is what reminds me to keep the focus on me.
So, it was fulfilling for me to start clocking the kms again. Even though I could start with a meagre 2km on day 1, I don’t use that as a measure of how well I am doing. Running is a very long business. Those who measure their daily progress in their pace and kms alone miss out on a vital element of running: building the stamina, the stomach, and the endurance for it all. The body undergoes severe changes when you go running, and not just muscles. When I am running, I see how my body feels–heavy or light–at what point I need to stop to catch my breath first, after what point am I able to continue running at a stable pace, and how easy or difficult the run felt, despite how much ever I ran.
In some sense, it reduces my restlessness and makes me calmer. It serves as a release for any stress, anger or irritation I might have been building up. It helps remove the cloud of confusion and doubts from my head. I feel like it awakens the real me. And if the real Me can stay awake for even an hour every day, it changes the character of the rest of the day. It makes the transition to a proper Kshatriya much easier. It makes it easier for me to be Parantap – One who conquers the enemy outside by conquering the enemy inside.