Monday, December 2, 2013

Five Insights from my Full Marathon Experience

You don't know what you can do till you try. 2 years back, 5 km Marathon looked like a monumental step for me.  I remember vividly the first 5 km marathon which I ran in 2011. Tired to the core after stretching myself to the limit to complete 5km, I thought I had done it. Then the 10km happened. Then the 21 km. After completing 21 km twice, finally, I mustered the courage to try out a full marathon. 42.198 km. and it happened at the Wipro Chennai Marathon event, which became the 2nd most happening Marathon events in India after garnering 10000 runners, after the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon. 

I completed it in 7 hours & 20 minutes. Comparing it with other full marathon runners, the timing is ridiculously long enough to consider it as an achievement. But considering the fact that after running for 22km, I got knee pain and blisters in feet, & hence had to walk the remaining 20km, it’s amazing in one way, because I never fainted ;) On a serious note, during the run, I gained some insights which are very much applicable and relevant to our day today lives. I hope this post will help you get few insights of your own.  

1. It’s all in your mind:

Ideally, for a full marathon, a minimum of 6 weeks of training is recommended. So to get your muscles used to the full rigor. In my case, I had recovered from a viral fever 3 weeks back & was held up with few personal commitments to get the required time to practice for 6 weeks. By the time, I realized that I had to start practicing, it was just 1 week ahead for the marathon.

Still, with some exercises & practices in the last 1 week, I was set for the marathon. I realized that it mostly is a mind thing. Definitely, the practice helps, but more than the practice, its what you decide in your mind. My colleague Bala A had attempted 21Km as his first marathon and was able to complete it, without much of a practice. Iam not advocating running without any practice (you may not be that lucky ;)) but the point is, if you think you can do it, you will do it. Period.

In our lives too, let it be your goals, ambitions, desires, what you think in your mind, plays a big thing. No matter where you are, what you are, how you are, just BELIEVE that you can do, whatever you desire to do. In due time, you will achieve what you set out to do. Just realize it & leverage it, after all, It’s all in your mind. 

2. Relax, It’s your race to run:

When running the race, I saw people running faster than me, running far better than me. Sometimes, it was disappointing to see, how badly I was faring when compared to rest of the folks who were doing a much better job. But gradually, it dawned on me, that it was my marathon to run and I needn’t worry myself about how others were running the marathon. Others may have had a better (or less) practice, better (or none) accessories, may be running their 5th, 10th (or 1st) marathon.  Due to the knee pain and blisters, I was walking (mind it, not running) at a speed which would have made a tortoise speed look awesome! All this lead to a timing of 7 hour 20 minutes (Gosh, feels so embarrassing to say this long time!), and I was feeling bad over it, with every passing minute. But then the truth dawned. “So What?” Only, when I realized that it was my marathon to run & I can run it in any way, without any pressure or comparisons, I became relieved & tried to enjoy the run.

Similarly in life, as long as we are concerned about what others have, what others make, wear, speak, do, you will never be able to focus on the most important stuff, i.e YOU. You will just continue to waste your energy, time and effort living your life, the way you think, others expect from you. It’s other life, they are living it their way. You have a life to live, live it your way.  What others are and do is none of your concern, what you are and do is everything for your concern. So, friend, Relax, it’s your race to run.

3. There are some things you can never be prepared for:

I had kept a target time of 6 hours to complete the Marathon but I never anticipated the knee pain & blisters to occur. It had come few times before, but after running at Gym for 2-3 days, the knee pain had subsided. I thought it wouldn’t come. Similarly, it had started raining cats & dogs, shortly after the Marathon began. No matter, how much I had practiced before (though, I hadn’t done much practice), I could never have practiced with a knee pain or blisters. Likewise, the unexpected down pour of rain.

The point is, in our lives too, we can’t be prepared for few things. No matter, how cautious or well planned you are, you will always be hit by the unexpected in life. The question then is, what do you do then? When it happens, it helps to laugh at life’s unexpected twist & say to Life “You know what, I expected the unexpected”. Trust me, it helps quite a lot to know “There are some things you can never be prepared for”

4. You can’t do it alone:

After I had completed 24km, I met another runner (Ezhil Kumar) who was walking at a similar pace. Gradually we struck conversation and I got to know that even he had got blisters in his feet, due to which he wasn’t able to run or jog at all. It was his 3rd marathon and he considered it as the worst, coz of the unexpected rain and the pain.  Still, we managed to walk on. Many times, either he or I wanted to sit down for a while, take some rest but then, we continued to encourage and push each one to move on, one step at a time. In due time, both of us completed our Marathons, with our continued support to each  other playing a crucial role in helping us complete it. Likewise, 2 of my colleagues Nageshwar Sahu & Narita Kumari who had run 10km and 21km respectively, were waiting for me at the end to complete  my race. A senior leader (Venky) in my company, who is an avid runner, had shared some tips and wished me luck for the race. Few colleagues (Dharma, Uma, Sahu, Narita) had even called during the race to check if I was doing all right. Similarly, the encouragement said by the volunteers at the aid station, was very helpful. Such support played an immense role in ensuring that I complete the marathon at any cost.

I realized that no matter what we do, achieve in life, it wouldn’t be possible; without others support and encouragement. It doesn’t mean, one cant do anything by himself. The initiative certainly has to be taken by someone, but in due course, unless you have someone to support you, to motivate you, to mentor you, to believe in you, you can’t do it alone.

5. Your actions have a meaning:

Finally, after completion of the race, when the news spread to my colleagues, friends, they all congratulated me and celebrated it as if it was their own achievement. It was so touching to see that. Some even said that my act was an inspiration to them, to try out something new. Looking at it, I realized that what we do every-day, knowingly or un-knowingly makes a big difference in someone’s lives. We may keep speaking about stuff to be done but in the end, what we do, what others see us do, makes a big difference.  

In our daily lives, in the different roles that we don, a father, son, friend, brother, colleague, manager; everything we do, will impact someone’s lives in some way. A caring word, a shoulder to cry, a small support, may have impact, far beyond anyone’s imagination. We may or may not attach any meaning to it, but chances are that others might make BIG sense of your actions. So, friends, bottom line, whatever you do, think once before you say or do something, because way beyond your imaginations, your actions have a meaning

That brings me to the end of the post. Hope, you found the post useful in some-way. Before I end the post, I have a small request to you. If you haven’t tried running marathon yet, its time you give it a shot. Start with 5km or 10km, depending upon your appetite, believe me, the experience is truly mind boggling and elevating. Apart from the health benefits, you will do yourself a world of favor, by adopting a habit, which will give you memorable memories for a LONG RUN. :)

For those planning to take part in the upcoming Marathons, here are the details of the next eagerly awaited ones:

Dawn to Dusk (in Jan):
Auroville Marathon (in Feb):

As a closing note, I would like to thank my Mom, my sister Chinth Nidhi, Sahu, Narita, Venky, Vikramadhetan (my 10th school batchmate, who I got to know recently & who is an avid runner), David, Dharma, Uma (BACI Team Aspire members), Ezhil Kumar, Harish Raichandani (facilitator who completed his dream of full marathon at the age of 50 and whose marathon experience was a morale booster) for their support and encouragement in helping me complete my FULL Marathon. Also, thanks to my BACI Toastmaster friends for their hearty wishes. :)


vardhinee said...

Hmm..grt attempt ...Good to see ur post !
Well it feels good to see the positive in all actions ...It feels grt to know that every action is a lesson to be learnt..Life always throws challenges because we can ..So if we think we can ....we CAN ....ready to experience life every moment of life ...:):):)

Mystic ray said...

hey , good to see you back ... give lot of gyan in every action..thats marvellous ...
and u r a awesome writer .!

Nari said...

Really inspiring and thoughtful..
Keep reaching greater Zenith..

Prashant Sree said...

@vardhinee: Yup, our actions can impact others positively & help us learn a lot about ourself as well

@Mystic ray: Thank you for accepting the gyaan :) and thanks for the nice words, Iam trying to improve.

@Narita: Thank you for the wishes, glad to see you found the post inspiring!