Running can help you in more ways than you can imagine, Guest Columnist Vanitha Shankar, an avid runner, talks about her life changing experiences from her morning runs.
It was a Saturday morning. While lacing up for a ritualistic long-distance run, my gaze shifted towards the wide-open French-window of my apartment offering a fresh view of the world outside. The colour painted on the sky that day was a kind of vivid blue, indicating an impending dawn break. It was the start of a weekend, a new day, a run-day.…. also, the start of yet another day of a recurrent inner conflict in me!
The Battle of Choice
Do I listen to my legs begging to release themselves to motion, like a pup desperate to grab attention from its owner to go outdoors? Or yield to my hands stretching out to grab the camera! Giving in to the temptation of capturing the glorious sky could mean justice to Mother Nature, but certainly a compromise on the scheduled training plan. Chewing that unresolved inner conflict in mind, I decide to grab few pictures and set my feet in motion.
As I step outside, I see visuals in plenty. The magnificent sunrise along the coast, the morning beauty of a sprightly child with ruffled hair running through the lanes, the warmth of a young father walking his toddler, a street dog pacing a forerunner, a tea-stall banter tempting a great picture-story, the curvy bend with luscious greenery for a scenic shot. Do I now stop by and capture some of these on my mobile phone, I wonder with an itch on my hands! I settle to adopt the piecemeal approach, yet again.
Along the route, I see more in store – the historic buildings, statues of great leaders donning the long stretch, now serving as distance milestones to the runners, the vision, perspective, essence and variety is infinite and appearing unique every time. Upon each sight, my heart would signal a pressure, not from the cardio regime, but from conflicting stretches of my hands and legs in bipolar directions. Inner conflict is never a good thing, even when the choices are positive.
Well, to set context, it’s not an exaggerated emotion that I try to project here; but a genuine expression of an inner dilemma. A tad confused initially, I somewhere came to a self-realization that that I’m indeed one of many people, wired with a deep sensitivity to many different passions – writing as one example.
Along my route
Listening to a TED talk recently by Emilie Wapnick on multiple interests, I concluded that the key to resolution was in figuring out a way to connect these different passions. Not something new, considering my earlier weekly activity of connecting running and writing through comprehensive stories and weekly profiles of runners!
Gradually then, I learned to navigate through this specific one too, by sending rationale to the rear, and letting my heart rule as it deemed appropriate at that very moment. Even if it meant a compromise to one or the other. A progression I guess, this pattern led me into another new space – it’s been over a year now, since Running opened me up to yet another new world of creative expression – through photography connecting it with crisp and intriguing captions!
Today, as I progressively work on building distances, I find my thoughts and stimuli more in control. I find my thoughts gradually zoning out from the everyday chores and nagging to-do lists into a free and open space, where all I see around is life, an air of clarity engulfing the mind, and a rhythmic body motion playing along. At times, my mind would feel blank, only my eyes picking up pervasive visuals, making me wonder if this really is the powerful meditation exercise that the spiritual practitioners often talk about!
I get into a mind space where nothing else matters – neither speed nor timing, neither goals nor work, certainly not the grind of life. What truly takes over the mind is synchrony, and a connect with the world. BUT… somewhere with a hidden thought wondering what I can I take back as one memory for that day, recorded in the form of pictures and captions. Just one memory from each run, for I have also come to realize that not all moments are meant to be recorded.
It is in that self-connected zone; many such beautiful weekend mornings culminate. Power mornings, as I call them, take me to new spaces of expression, offering me a zone to nestle into – irrespective of whether the world around me, chooses to dance to my desire or not.
I RUN so I can set discipline in life, I RUN in search of that free space, I RUN to see the world around, I RUN to enjoy simple moments.
If signing up for a race can help me get on a focused track to achieve all this, I’d like to do it periodically. Incidentally, as I write this, I’ve just signed up for another training program to prepare for my subsequent running goals. My target may not be guaranteed at this point, but satisfaction certainly is. And it comes from working towards a goal with discipline and focus.
Beyond fitness of body, it’s the fitness of mind, channelizing inner conflicts through creative outlets, and achieving a progressive degree of clarity in thoughts. This is what rhythmic running has given me in all these years, my friends!