Why on earth do people run?
There was a time (about 6 years ago) when four or five of us would congregate three times a week at Anna University at around 4.30 am or earlier, to run about 21 kilometers each time. Our inspiration was a fitness freak called Sunita. In those days, I had not much of a choice about getting up so early and traveling about 10 kilometers to meet my tormentor.
She made it a point to wake me up around 4 am and order me to the ground. For friendship’s sake I gamely braved the early morning jogs for about 3 years. Those were the days when I even attempted running three marathons which I gave up after reaching the threshold of 32-35 km.
Looking back, those were heady days, when we cherished the long runs, the company of friends, the unpolluted air of the big university campus and the chatter of the birds. We chatted more than the birds did – ceaselessly talking about politics, movies, business and cracking jokes so often.
The days of instant gratification
And then, Sunita got transferred to Bangalore and I heaved a huge sigh of relief. For the next two years I indulged and pampered my body going back to my old, comfortable routine of getting up well after the sun woke up. Our group also stopped going to Anna University.
However, one of them, Suresh, did not stop. He made it a point to raise the bar constantly and ran a mind boggling 31 km every day for several months. He ran so much he tore his ligaments, had it repaired in US and came back with a vengeance to run even more with strengthened muscles.
On my part, I found it convenient to amble across to the park nearby my home and run whatever pleased me. Most of the times, it used to be 5 km or less and there were a few exceptional days I would run a maximum of 10 km. Meanwhile, the protuberance in the front part of my body grew in stature, girth and weight, giving even pregnant women a complex.
Then, about a month back, Suresh and another friend of mine Subba, spoke about reviving the runs at Anna University and I agreed. We now run about 12 kilometers thrice a week, starting the run at a more earthly hour, ranging from 5.30 am to 6 am. Then, one day we decided to run, for old times’ sake, the nearly forgotten half marathon.
Today, 26th January was the day we had chosen for our 21 km run.
Fighting the cold
I hadn’t however reckoned with the nasty cold and mild fever that I developed all of a sudden, two days back. I decided to run anyway, unmindful of the sore throat and running nose. Getting up at 4.45 am, I reported at Anna University at 5.25 am. I told myself over and over again that I could conquer the discomfort of my body by thinking positive thoughts. And, it was indeed true till we completed about 15 km and decided to stop for water and refreshments.
After the 15 km mark, the run was an ordeal for me. Whatever positive suggestions I gave to my mind, was not accepted by my knees. They began to wobble. After running two more kilometers, I wished my friends would bail me out and save my honour. My subtle hints that I had a nasty cold fell on those cruel, deaf ears. They started running even faster, covering about 18.5 km in all. Then, I decided discretion was the better part of valour and was on the verge of calling it quits.
Just at that point of time, one security guard at the university accosted us and told us not to run along our regular route as Republic Day parade was going on with the Vice Chancellor being the chief guest.
I conned my friends into thinking that it was God taking the form of a security man to stop our run. At my suggestion of divine intervention, they stopped, albeit with a nagging thought that we had completed just about 18.5 km. The next half marathon is scheduled on Saturday, 31st January. I hope to acquit myself better, the next time around.
About Cliff Young
Speaking about how crazy some people can get about running, I recently read about Cliff Young who in 1983, at the age of 61, completed the long arduous run of 543 miles (875 km) from Melbourne to Sydney running non-stop, without sleeping, for 5 continuous days.
This is an awesomely inspiring story about the awesome power of the human endurance. My effort today was pathetic and woefully inadequate compared to the Herculean effort of the 61 year old man.
I end my story of today’s run, very humbled and wishing I had managed to run all of 21 km this morning.
Image Credit: Luiginter