Thursday, August 03, 2006

Running Obsession?

Do I have a running obsession?

Someone read my last post and e-mailed me in private. They wondered if my life lacked balance i.e. was running dominating it too much? Even though I replied that I had ample balance in my life, the question got me thinking.

Running Is Life. Everything Else Is Just Waiting.

How beautifully someone put it long ago. I read it many, many years ago and it stuck in my mind. Whoever wrote that felt like I do. I wake up in the morning and I start to plan when and where I'm going to run. How much. With whom. Even work pressures do not dominate my thoughts like running does.

I wait everday to be free again, to feel my body warm up with every passing step, to feel my breathing settle into an even rhythm, to feel my muscles move fluidly as I power up a hill, to spend an hour alone with my thoughts and my feelings ...

An obsession? Maybe.

Let's examine it some more.

In the early 90s, when I started running really long distances in Muscat, Oman, I used to go for weeks and weeks without rest days. Friends of mine can attest to the fact that I would be unavailable for any kind of activity between 6 pm and 8 pm which is when I would do my daily runs. If I were unable to run that day for some reason (rare but it did happen occasionally), I would be irritable and crochety. I used to schedule life around running.

Obsession? Sure.

These days I am wiser and more "balanced" about my running. If I miss a day or two, I am more rational about the loss of the workout. I realize, and correctly so, that the rest will do me a world of good. I no longer schedule life around running. If there is a run on the cards for that day, I will slot in in when I can.

Obsession? Probably not.

I used to be paranoid about missing a run for fear that I would gain weight. There were days when I would feel tired, from not having recovered enough from prior workouts, but would still head out for the daily 5-8 miles. It's a wonder that I did not have a breakdown between 1993 and 1996.

Obsession? Certainly.

I HAVE gained weight. All of 10 lbs in the past 2 years. Some of it muscle. Some of it fat. So what? I do still look in the mirror and notice only that which is ugly - a small roll of fat around my midriff. So what? I have my running and my biking and my swimming to help me control weight gain but I often neglect to exercise protion control. That should explain the roll of fat. Nobody is perfect. Right?

So am I obsessive about running? Probably not.

Thinking about all of this has made me realize that my current increased involvement with running has to do with new goals and new horizons that have opened up in the past year. Like a child who is taken to a brand new playground, I am fascinated by the new vistas I see spread in front of me. My horizon has expanded from 26.2 miles to almost infinity. There is no limit to how far I want to see or how much I want to travel.

THAT is what has re-energized my running. THAT is my obsession! Running as a means to explore these new lands. Lands here, of course, being synonymous with areas of my mind, my personality and my being that I am discovering like never before. Lands called Determination, Persistence, Commitment, Motivation and Equanimity. Equanimity to accept a DNF with the same feelings as a Successful Finish.

I still read a lot. I still listen to music. I have this new interest called Blogging! I still write poetry. I still compose complex puzzles. I'm happier than ever before.

My life DOES have balance.


angie's pink fuzzy said...

great perspective. I liked how you analyzed it.

As I read this, I was struck by the fact that this is a running blog. It could seem out-of-balance from the rest of your life - the rest of your life is not necessarily presented :)

Rajeev said...

Hmmm. That's a thought.

Rashmi said...

Nice, Rajeev ..nice. And the best part to me about it is you REALLY don't need company. I have actually caught myself talking to myself somewhere 20 mins into my run!

rashmi said...

Nice Rajeev, (another) nice thing about running is that you REALLY don't need anyone. I have caught myself talking to myself somewhere between the 6th and 10th mile. :)

Anonymous said...

I like your obsession and dedication of running as I can observe it for the past few years. I also enjoy your post and blog. Great job!

See you soon on the trails.