Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Simple Joy


I jumped off the treadmill and as I was walking towards the cross trainer, I held on to whatever I could grasp to steady myself. The last sprint had made me all woozy. I was here at the gym after a gap of almost 2 weeks. This is what a break does. I *hate* taking breaks, but I could not help it this time. Yes, I published a long blog post a few months back admonishing women for avoiding exercise. But here I was myself, back to almost square one! I looked at all the other runners and then at the men in the weight training section with amazement as they lift very, very heavy weights. I frown each time I see them, coz it is almost unbelievable! What are they made of, and what do they eat!

Today, as I ran, I saw a bunch of people at the pani-puri stall in front of the gym, across the road. These people are immensely mean. They devour their pani-puris with relish while staring up at the runners - like we are in some TV show. It is so funny, I wonder how it does not wake them up from their pani-puri reverie and join the exercisers.

After some time, a guy came on the treadmill next to me. One glance at him and I knew I was in for a bit of a lecture. I knew him and had heard this lecture once before and it makes me feel like jumping off the cliff each time! He had, perhaps forgotten that I had been an audience to it before already.

After about 4-5 minutes he started running like Flash. I could not see him (well, almost). After 10 minutes, while he was cooling down (at the speed I usually run) he gave me a smirk that said, "Eh! Weakling!".  He jumped off the treadmill while it was still on and I glanced at his monitor sideways. My eyes widened at the numbers. That is what had "inspired" me to do my last sprint - but it got me all woozy.

When I was on the bicycle, he was right there and as I expected he struck up a conversation. I knew the sequence of the conversation too. So, I only smiled and nodded.
He said he weighed 130 kgs about 2 years back and he's lost oodles of weight because of running. "It is all in the mind, you should push yourself. There are women who are of age 52 and run the Ironman Triathlons covering about 70K! You are not obese, you can run more! And you have to follow a diet. Eat carbs in the morning and only fruits throughout the day. And NO alcohol, ok? NO ALCOHOL at all!" Alcohol does this, alcohol does that, blah, blah..(As if I look like someone who gulps down big bottles of alcohol everyday) Sigh! I could see he was trying to encourage me, but it was not helping somehow!

I am like Po from Kung Fu Panda. Stairs are my biggest enemy. But running - I love. However, I can only improve at my own pace. I am out of breath in no time compared to other runners, but I am not embarrassed of that any more, because I have come a long way from where I was, 10 months back. Frankly, it is not running that I like so much, but I like the exhilaration AFTER the run which is awesome..

My biggest inspiration and the person to push me the most has been my husband. He aims for higher goals and it pushes me to at least think of achieving them. A humble confession - my New Year resolution was the TCS 10 K but I am nowhere near achieving it!

When I see my niece and nephew run around, it seems to be so easy for them to do that. Why is it that a task that was so simple becomes so tough when we grow up! The age that I am at, most of us are fit, our blood reports are normal, our hearts are ok, our lungs are moderately healthy. Then why is it so tough, I wonder. (I do not want to know the reason, lest it becomes an excuse for me to justify my slow progress and empathize with myself!)

For now, I enjoy running in sprints. When I run, I feel like I am a child again devoid of all inhibitions. I love the fact that I am ABLE to run again.  Those 20 minutes on the treadmill make me forget everything that stresses me out. And when I achieve a tiny new target, I feel like I have achieved something huge. :) I try my best to leave everything that is not-so-important and make it to the treadmill for at least 20 minutes. For me to be able do the other important things, those 20 minutes hold a lot of significance. And of course, it helps me sleep better and on time.

My new friend at the gym tried to encourage me. But when I only hear of 50-70K runs, I start panting! But he did succeed in pushing me to start aiming towards being better - even if it means starting all over again. Even today, I get everything from muscle sores to fatigue. But this Po is not willing to give up yet. All of those who are in my league, I do not want to overwhelm you by big numbers that other people achieve. But I'd love to push everyone to experience the simple joy of running...