Guest Columnist and runner, Bahar Sinha talks about how she made running an intrinsic part of her everyday life and routine.
Running is a state of being. The feeling of constant motion that takes my weary mind through a myriad of emotions, gorgeous new places and amazing people.
I took to running in my late 30’s and was fascinated by the possibilities it could offer me. A mother of 2 teenage kids, a partner with varied sporting interests and a demanding project manager job did not stop me from chasing my running dreams.
Working out as a couple is a great way to stay connected with each other and ensure we both meet our individual health and fitness goals. It helps us be accountable thus driving us to stick to our workout plan, motivate and be proud of each other. Well, that’s the ideal situation at least but the reality sometimes is very different.
In most cases, the real scenario is that the couples are in different fitness spaces, have different energy levels and varied interests in sport and fitness. With this backdrop, making a joint workout plan successful requires patience, understanding and respect for one another. In my opinion, I think it’s a good thing for couples to have varied interests because it brings about a certain kind of balance.
Most often than not, most couples tend to have a mindset that everything needs to be done together. In the first few years of a relationship, this could be a tenable way to do things, but it hardly works in the long run. We need to be open and acceptable when something is not working so that a change can be made, and both meet their objectives and goals.
For me at home, as a couple we have completely different sporting interests – my partner loves table tennis, badminton, swimming and the gym while I, on the other hand, am passionate about running. In this story, I would like to take you through how I am able to juggle a busy life but still enjoy my running and the support I receive from my partner and family to be able to achieve this.
Taking baby steps into the running world
My start with running was fairly routine – as with most people, I took to running to shed some those extra kilos. Being a mother of 2 especially when they are younger, does not leave you with much time for yourself and all that stress had me out of shape. When you think of getting fit, the first option is usually hitting the gym, but that idea never really motivated me. Instead, running seemed to be an easier option as it was something, I could do at my convenience during the day. Finding a partner to run with was a challenge and my partner enjoyed other sports and had his friends to hang out with.
Getting over the practical challenges in a home with kids
I spent the first few months learning the various techniques with running and just getting used to it. Over time, I got comfortable and that’s when I set my first running goal – a 10K run.
I obviously needed to do a lot of planning on how I fit the training plan into my schedule because I just had a lot of other things in life that needed my priority. Looking at my calendar, I figured the only option I had was the weekend considering my partner would be at home with my kids. That’s how I started running with the Nike Run Club on Saturdays.
As I progressed, I realized that I needed more structure to my running if I wanted to improve – that’s when I joined the Jayanagar Jaguars in the summer of 2013. The training plan involved early morning starts with training on 2 days (Tuesday and Thursday) and long runs on Saturdays. It worked for me considering it was the summer break for the kids and they were at home.
All that changed when school reopened, I needed to come up with a workaround quickly so that I could still make time for my weekday training. My partner (god bless him!) and I came up with a strategy – I would do a pre-prep the previous day, wake up early to pack some lunch for the kids and then head out for training. He would then wake up the kids, get them ready by which time I would be back, and I could see the kids off to school – the teamwork and coordination between us was awesome and helped me smooth over that challenge.
There were times though when I have had to compromise on my training schedule – like when the kids were unwell, or they had an exam, or my partner was travelling. On those days, I made sure I ran around the apartment to compensate for a missed training day. My objective was simple – (a) stage 1: move up from a 10K to a 21K run and (b) stage 2: finish 1 full marathon before I turned 40.
The hardest moments
I was training hard with big dreams and stars in my eyes when all of a sudden life threw me a curveball. My partner had to relocate to Singapore for 2 years which meant I had to manage everything on my own. Now, I’m sure a lot of you have been through something similar or even more challenging so you will understand the emotion of being overwhelmed. My runs were an outlet for those emotions to get through and with every run, I grew stronger and more determined.
To say the weekdays were a challenge is an understatement – getting my kids to understand that they had to get ready by themselves before I was back from my run was quite a task. My daughter was very cooperative, but my son had other ideas (boys, I tell you!). I had to wake up even earlier than usual to get work done at home and then head out for my workout at 5 that went on until 0645. I had the kids give me a missed call around 6 just so that I reassured they are getting ready.
To be honest, I took it one day at a time and profusely thank god if it went smoothly. Over time, things got better – my kids became more adaptable and learnt to get up and be ready on time, but we still had the odd bad days thrown in. For example, I would have planned a speed workout for the day and that’s the day my kids decide to miss the bus – that leaves me driving them 12K in the maddening morning traffic!
Weekends were usually ok but there were hectic ones too like when I would finish a long run (36K – 40K) and then immediately rush for a parent-teacher meeting. Days like this leaves you wishing for your partner to be around but like they say c’est la vie!
During the summer break, we used to visit Singapore to be together again and spend some quality time as a family. Unfortunately, it was around the same that the TCS 10K happens, so I had to train for that.
While there, I had to work remotely, follow my regular training schedule and despite the challenges of being in a new country, I found the time and courage to compete and finish in an ultra-marathon of 64.5KM organized by Tampines Sports Community in Singapore.
The love of a good family (what would we do without them, huh?)
Once I graduated to the 21K distance, I had to travel to multiple cities to participate in different races. These travels were sometimes with my family but a lot of times it was alone – during these times I had the support of my family to look after the kids. I tried as much as it allowed me, to travel only the weekends thus reducing the impact on my schedule for the rest of the week. The reason was because while I was passionate about running, I did not want to miss out on important events in life – family gatherings, parent-teacher meetings, festivals – we all need a balance in life, don’t we?
My family has been my biggest support (as it should be!) so far. They aren’t too much into running but they still attend promotional events with me, do a few 5K runs with me or just be there to cheer me on – makes a huge difference to have them around. I remember one event where we participated as a family (the Alpha league obstacle race) – we had so much during the event and after reliving the fun moments and the follies we made.
In the end
Believe in your dream and it will all work out for you – In this busy life we lead, we must learn to embrace the challenges it poses and find solutions to overcome it. I did and it helped me achieve my dream of completing my first full marathon in Bangalore (October 2016). That was just a start and since then, I did the Pune Ultra (50K) in November 2016, the Singapore International Marathon) in December 2016 and the SCMM in January 2017…and the journey continues.
The struggle may be real but it’s always worth it because running reminds you that it’s not about how badly you want something; it’s about how hard you’re willing to work for it! It doesn’t matter if your goal is to run around your block or to run a marathon, we are all running to push our limits and see how far we can go!