2021 review — Walked a few miles, ran a thousand (kms)
Walking in 2021’s shoes wasn’t easy at all, for any of us. We loved, we lost, we lived and we learnt quite a few lessons in a year that takes a lifetime. With that being said, as the year inches closer to its end, I can’t help but get nostalgic about how I started and how far I have come, quite literally. As I journal the paths I walked and the lessons I learnt in 2021, I share some bits of it with you in the spirit of #inthistogether. Here we go -
January to March
Started the year riding on a high of losing weight and starting on my fitness journey. I lost 40 kgs around that time and I couldn’t be prouder of myself.
It was a high that one gets when they know that they have achieved something extraordinary — recognition from your near and dear and appreciation from complete strangers just makes it more special.
And believe me when I say it — that kind of high has a tendency to make one believe in the concept of invincibility — that you can conquer anything (in a positive way).
April to May
These months were a reminder of the saying — Man proposes, God disposes. Life has surprising ways of telling us that invincibility is at best temporary and that no matter how much we plan in life, we can’t plan life.
Going down with Covid19 myself, then seeing it getting passed on to my entire family, going through the many visits to the doctor, seeing my Dad getting hospitalised and fighting his way through post recovery complications — were among the many things that pushed me to dig deep, to reflect and pray, to go with the flow and most importantly to hope…. Hope that this too shall pass.
While we all won over covid19, the whole ordeal led to me regaining some of the lost weight. That meant whatever progress I had made towards being more healthy and fit, it had backtracked some of its way to the past. I won’t lie, situations like these get to you, they affect your morale and confidence, and I felt all of that. To know the amount of effort I had put in to get there, and then to see a part of that suffering, was not easy.
I had two options — I could brood over what had transpired in the last couple of months and go on a downward spiral or I could start taking baby steps towards regaining what I had lost. Gratefully, I chose the second option and with my doctor’s advice, started going for short and extremely easy paced walks.
After a couple of weeks of doing these walks and building a bit of stamina and confidence, one morning I felt this urge to run and so I ran (slow jog to be precise). I ran for exactly 2 kms with multiple stops and took almost 20 mins to cover those couple of kilometers. But then, neither the distance nor the time taken mattered — what mattered was how good it felt while I was at it and the belief and confidence I gained, that getting back in shape and getting more fit was indeed possible — and that was enough to taking running seriously and making it part of a daily routine.
Today, I have run 1000 kms, completed over the last 6 months, including four half marathons and participated in 15 running events (both virtual and on ground). My friends from the running fraternity tell me that it is great progress for someone who is running for the first time and I won’t deny that I am super stoked too.
But more than the distance or the pace, it’s again the learnings of this journey, which I am most fascinated and proud about. Sharing the same with you here -
Getting started is easier, sustaining what we started is the real deal
You know what made me run a thousand kilometers in 6 months — showing up every day, no matter what — rain, fog, freezing temperature, lazy mornings, early morning flights, vacation in Goa or any other excuse, which i would have used in my earlier avatar did not deter me from going for my run I am not here to gloat; I am just super proud of myself for having done this.
In my initial weeks of running, I did not have any particular goal in my mind — the only thing I never stopped doing was showing up early in the morning every single day and just running to the best of my abilities.
The high that I got at the end of every run trumped all the niggles, the pain and the hunger pangs that were a constant part of this journey. Totally worth it!
Look out for people who have been there and done that
A few weeks into running, I realised that I needed someone who I could look up to for guidance and mentoring, someone who could coach me to run better in a more structured way. So glad that I found a very accomplished and credible — Doctor Rajat Chauhan. Having someone who has travelled the same path you are running is a blessing.
Trust the process
Dr. Chauhan provided me with a simple weekly plan to follow — and I invariably followed the plan to the T — from interval runs, to tempo runs to strength exercises.
No matter how little progress I made in the beginning, the most beautiful thing was that I made progress every day.
And therein lies our next lesson — many times, we get so obsessed by the end result that we forget following the process and enjoying it. Believe me, there is no end to success or progress, it’s forever a process that we must learn to respect and cherish.
For every moon-shot goal, we need to set up many mini goals
It was sometime around the end of September when for the first time I thought of putting a (moon-shot) goal to my running effort. To set a realistic goal, I went back to an article from a dear friend — Mayur — that he had penned in December 2020 on how he went about running 1000 kms in a year.
So, there was my moonshot — run 1000 kms in 2021. The only issue, and a big one at that, was that I had barely run 300 kms by the end of September at an average of 90 kms per month. To attempt running 700 kms in the next three months with an average of more than 200 kms per month was daunting to say the least, for a newbie like me.
But if I have learnt something about goals over the years, it’s that we must break the goals into mini goals. That’s what I did and that’s what worked in my favour.
Monthly targets were broken down to weekly ones and the weekly ones further gave way to daily milestones and were backed by an honest attempt to get to those mini goals.
As I went about achieving those mini goals, it not only spurred me to move to the next one but also helped immensely in building the confidence — that the end goal was achievable!
We are our only real competition
Possibly the most beautiful part about running is that we are not competing against anyone and that is an extremely liberating feeling. Every time we put on our shoes and run, and fight our way to do better than the previous run, we prove that it is possible to be a better version of ourselves. And when we actually end up doing that repeatedly, it is a fascinating feeling.
Gratitude keeps one going
While running is an individual sport, as we go through the paces, it is almost impossible not to have gratitude towards so many things and people who have played their part — big or small — in helping us achieve our moon shot.
Here is my list of people who I have gratitude for — my doctor, who treated me while I was down with covid and gave me the confidence to get back to my fitness regime, all the fantastic runners and friends I met on social media who continue to inspire with their exploits and encouragement, my mentor and guide — Dr Chauhan and my parents, wife and daughter — who have kept up with all my up and downs and idiosyncrasies which comes with running!
Oh, one last but not least thing I am super grateful for — my running shoes. They have been my constant companion throughout this journey, I mean in the most literal sense :) I am grateful for the shoes I chose and the way they stuck with me for the whole thousand kilometers.
In the end, I just want to say that getting introduced to running has been nothing short of a blessing in many different ways in this tough and challenging year and I am looking forward to building on the start I have had this year. Amen!