-By Prema Rajaram
When you are new to running, there are numerous questions that cross the mind. Is running for me? Will running damage my knees? Will I lose too much weight if I run? While these are valid questions considering the articles we read on social media and what people say, there are also articles on the positive effects of running.
While I may not be a professional runner, I still can tell you how my passion has gotten me so far to the point of addiction. It has been less than a year that I have started serious running and there is so much more I visualize in my mind that are part of my achievements in waiting.
I write this as my first blog piece as I want to encourage others to run and through my experience try and get others who are just like me, to run. First and foremost, running is a form of fitness. With this in mind, I remember starting with a fun run of 2-5km in March last year. This was however short lived and I went back to my gymming which has been a must since the past seven years and yoga since two years.
I restarted in August 2015, this time with a 10km run with a running group. The run seemed never ending. I remember me and my friend and yoga trainer Harsha Bhantia looking at Arun Sir, a 65 year old gentleman running faster than us, which is what motivated us to finish the run. Once we achieved what we had, we managed to speak to Arun Sir, a humble gentleman minus an Army background or any formal training who told us he has just been running for the last ten years. So we thought, if he can start running at the age of 55 why can’t we? There were major aches and pains and I did have a paracetamol before sleeping that night. Maybe with some proper knowledge on adequate stretches before and after the run and massages, I would have done without the pain killer. But there was no looking back.
It was a 10km run almost every Sunday, followed with a 12km run at the Paljor stadium in Sikkim set amongst the hill when I went for a vacation. Then a 17km run back in Kolkata and then my first Airtel half marathon of 21km in November. I didn’t realize running a half marathon was a big achievement as compared to a full marathon. Moreso that I ran alone post 14km. It was only post this that I became a part of ‘Kolkata Ultra’ where I realized the feat in running a 21km and that I had stood 5th in my age category.
There were many more marathons that followed. Yes, what helped me was good core strength thanks to gymming and yoga. But running is a different ball game. It is about the grit, determination and the mental strength required that takes you to the finish line. It is a battle with yourself. Only you know why you are insane enough to participate in a marathon and jog those uncomfortable distances when you could be home fast asleep on a lazy Sunday.
But it is a different kind of fun running the streets that you usually drive through. It is a kind of meditation being with your own thoughts and convincing your mind that you can make it to the finish line and get that medal to add to your showcase. It is the confidence you get when you know you have beaten your old lazy self. You need to run those miles to know what I mean.
And yes if all you do is run and don’t take care of your knees, you will damage them. Which is why it is a good idea to alternate running with some stretches, yoga, cycling, swimming or gymming. While running does result in loss of mass, if you balance it with the above mentioned forms of fitness, you can strike a balance. And if you really want to know if running is for you, get up, get going and find out. You might just surprise yourself.