Long distance running is something I have picked up late last year when I visited one of my client's office and was really impressed by his health and the cabinet filled with Medals & certificates. Truth to be told I was fascinated by the sheer number of medals he had on display. I felt jealous and thought to myself if he can do it at 55, I am young and can do it better. That was the trigger to be honest.
I registered for my first ever half marathon and started preparing for it. People say that running marathon is not only physical but it has lot to do with mental fortitude. I wanted to test this hypothesis and I realized very soon that it indeed requires a great deal of determination to get up early in the morning and go for your daily run. It's so painful literally and figuratively. But I kept going with the dream of crossing the finishing line & getting that coveted medal and perfect selfie which I was to show to my near and dear ones. The day came and I ran. I was very slow off the tracks and despite my practice I just managed to finish the race, just somehow.
But the exciting part was the selfies and WhatsApp messages to those who mattered and also to those who didn't matter. It gave me immense happiness. Congratulatory messages started pouring in and I felt really good.
Next race? I realized that the glory of few minutes took a hell lot of effort from me but somehow I felt good and wanted to continue. I continued and ran race after race (7 to be precise in last 9 months) till I fell in love with running. Yes, falling in love meant that I ran for the sake of running and nothing else. Just getting up in the morning and being out on the road with fresh air blowing through and birds chirping, I started drawing to the nature and started feeling connected. Slowly I stared keeping away all the gadgets at home starting from mobile, earphones, and watch and just concentrated on running. But is this a sign of me finally starting to enjoy my run, I thought so. But I wanted to test it.
I decided to run the next half marathon and enrolled myself in the same without telling it to anyone. I went there alone, did my warm up and threw my BIB. Yes, it's the BIB which has the electronic chip which measures your time and distance. This is also used to give you the certificate which you can use to run for other famous marathon. Why did I threw it, because I didn't need it. I didn't want to beat anyone not even myself. I just wanted to run. One of the organizer came to me and said where your BIB is? I said I missed it. Would you allow me to just ran, she looked at me in surprise and said ok she also told me that we won't be able to give you running certificate or medal. I said that would be perfectly fine. Believe me that feeling of not having an identification number was a big freedom moment for me. I was loving it.
Second most used device in a race is the mobile phone. Most of the people who run use it for perfect selfies or stating the running app to see how fast/slow they are doing while running. Some also use it to get through the best songs while running. I have used it too. The second thing I wanted to get rid was my mobile phone. I just switched it off & put it in the car. I was thrilled to not having that instrument which has actually taken over our privacy. I was ready to run.
Running without frills was fun in a public event too. I looked around, cheered others, got encouraged by differently abled people trying to make their mark, people on the sidelines cheering for us & beautiful cloudy morning. I could soak in the experience and then the rain came. It was a wonderful experience to just run in the rains without any worries or burden and be with yourself. I kept going on with a uniform pace never worrying about when someone passing me or I being left behind by a group. I was in my own zone. It was my time and I was enjoying it. I don't know when I crossed 17 Kms because its then I had little pain in my knees because of continuous running in the rain and the wet shoes which was taking a toll on me. But I saw around and could see others too feeling the pain but not giving in and I just didn't want to give in too. I could see others too slowing down and that's where I found energy to cheer them up. Cheering them and helping them cross the last few KMs was fun. I forgot my own pain and loved the effect of my positive words on others and it also ensured I ran through the last few KMs without much discomfort.
So, I could see the finish line and also the encouragement of people on the sidelines cheering for us. I crossed the finish line and felt extremely happy. I didn't want any Selfie, I didn't have to send any picture to someone and I don't want to go on the FINISHER podium for that perfect click. I even didn't go to collect my finisher's medal as there was no need for it. I just soaked in the energy of those who finished. Their face was glowing and you could see why researchers put so much of emphasis on goals and your ability to achieve that increasing your happiness level. I could learn a lot about the fact that everyone wants to achieve things in life and wants to showcase to the world for appreciation. But when that appreciation is coming from within you then you will not need any of this.
I felt, today's race gave me many lessons of life & I am glad that I didn't run for the medal or Selfies or to prove to anyone and I ran for the sheer joy of running and that's the perfect thing to happen.
Here are few learnings from my experience of today:
1. Happiness comes to you when you are not dependent on others for recognition. The best recognition is self-recognition.
2. When you do something in the hope of getting a reward or to not get reprimand, it's usually not something you enjoy and that's why external motivation impacts you and your performance. But when you love what you do, recognition comes anyway.
3. Being in present is something which we have forgotten. Either we are thinking about what has happened or what will happen. Living in the present, enjoying the surrounding you are in & being mindful of activities you do gives you immense happiness.
4. While running is a solo activity but the fun increases when you run with people. You make acquaintances with strangers, encourage those who need it & find satisfaction in the thought that you all are in it together. That's your community and that's the crowd which is like you. This togetherness gives a sense of joy which is difficult to explain. So never try to run solo be with others and you will go far.
5. Even if you are in bad situation, it should not stop you from encouraging others to come out of it. Sometime you yourself will get the energy from seeing someone succeed because of your encouragement and it will give you the push you need to carry on.
6. Telling your mind to not look for rewards constantly can be tough initially but regular self-talk can help you be there. This self-talk is very important as it allows you to manage your thinking and emotions. Once you are in control of your positive self-talk you can actually be self-aware and being self-aware is first step towards being an authentic leader. Running makes you think like a leader.
Well, this is my take of how I ran today and not necessarily needs to be true for you. So if you click photographs and run for putting that perfect selfie and discussion points in your office continue doing it. But I just wanted to share that there are immense pleasure associated with running apart from the above obvious dopamine flowing activities & at times you should try to experience them to.
Well, did I tell you that running is good for health :)
Credits : This article has been contributed by Ashish Ambasta.