Later today we’ll kick start the 10th edition of La Ultra - The High. With all the crew members and runners acclimatizing together in the mountains of Ladakh, conversations are meant to happen, ranging from life to running. Which set me thinking about the reasons behind I decided to create this run ten years ago, one of the toughest in the world. It's not about running. It's about what the experiences of being in the mountains teach you.
We all sleep for approximately one third of our lives. It is for good reason, to recover and be ready for challenges the next day but yet it’s importance is under-rated for peak performance. What matters is quality, not quantity.
Pic powered by Unsplash, from Michael Green @somolet24
The commonest complaint of beginner runners, even of walkers is that they get breathless very soon, instead it's their heart that is ready to jump out and go for a run. Most don’t even breathe optimally while sitting and then expect it to magically function to its best when they move. Here is a simple trick using a basic tool easily available that’ll be a game changer for you.
Most walkers-runners walk-run the way they drive and vice-versa. Try out any park in India and you’ll find it pretty difficult to overtake those in front of you, not for lack of speed or will but because they aren’t prepared to let go of that prime real-estate they have recently acquired, whether by hook or by crook. Let us become mindful while running for our own sakes and others around us.
We can be preaching running or any other life skill to beginners for ages but till we experience it at that level, we have no clue how difficult it can be. I ran-walked Midnight Sun Marathon in Tromso, Norway, with a friend who isn’t the fastest in the world. His determination to get to the finishline taught me an immense lot.
India is sweltering this summer and Delhi NCR just experienced the hottest day ever in the month of June (48C). These conditions of skyrocketing temperatures and the scorching sun pose significant challenges for us running enthusiasts. How can we even run let alone feel good in the heat of the summer?
Amongst runners ‘Death Before DNF (Did Not Finish) is a very jazzy thing to say but when death comes calling, the bravest of us are humbled. Even more importantly, we need to realise that living on the edge is all good but there is more to life.
We need to go back to the simple question that needs to be answered for your own sake every week. Why do you run? If besides everything else, it is about joy of running and to connect with your deeper self, we are on the same page. But if it’s only about a better time, longer distance each time and yet another finisher’s medal, I feel sorry for you. Somewhere you have lost the plot.
We often look to others for appreciation, which then defines our sense of self-worth, which creates an internal disconnect. Shifali Gupta, a 40 years old, mother of two, first discovered running, jumped in to the deep end of the rat race, but along the way, happened to discover her own self too.
Many gurus and experts will give you a discourse on running and life at drop of a hat; a similar pattern found on social media. These sources undermine your true potential and only bring passive understanding. Lessons learned from your daily experiences are your best teacher. Focus on those, and how they will serve us well in the future.
My College Dean, Dr. Nagra & Mrs Nagra picked up running at 74 & 69 yrs of age. They share their fitness routine, and dabbling with running at this ripe age. Physical fitness is an investment for a better tomorrow, he feels. Dr. Nagra gives his take on Sports Medicine from the 1990s and it's evolution to where it is now.
Contrary to what people think, it’s not running that causes the bad knee pains, but running with poor form. Unfortunately when you pick up running in 30s and beyond, you are trying too hard as you’ve forgotten how to move naturally, the way you did as a child.
There is no rocket science to it. You need to slow down and work on your strength training. Be patient as you’ve taken decades to master the art of moving inefficiently and unnaturally. It’ll all soon come together.
What if I tell you that you could pick up running even in your mid to late 50s! That age is just a number if you focus on form and overall health for running. Let me illustrate this point by talking about Mr. Ramanjit Singh Oberoi.
“Blindness separates people from Things, Deafness separates people from People”. This quote from Hellen Keller sums up the importance of the senses of seeing and hearing in our lives, which enables us to forge personal and professional relationships as a society and with the surrounding environment.
If you’ve risked your life by running a full marathon(s) in gas-chambers of modern cities of ‘civilised’ world, here is your chance to push it a bit further in scenic Ladakh, by running 55 kms over Wari-La, a high mountain pass not yet infested by tourists who can’t differentiate between Goa and Ladakh.
Instead of hiding the imperfection, instead of shunning the brokenness, the implication is that there is value in being broken and coming back whole, there is value in falling down and bouncing back up. The cracks add to the beauty, to the experience.
The Dawn Wall is an attempt to climb the impossible wall by someone who the society had given up on. This blog is about learnings from this documentary esp. Kintsugi (Golden Joinery) & Wabi-Sabi (Impermanence & Imperfection).
Do we teach our kids to focus not just on their “doings” but also on their “beings?” What makes their hearts and souls beautiful and unique? What makes them happy and at peace? What virtues can we laud and appreciate? What do they have to show the world, which goes beyond academic accomplishments?
Once exercise and sports has a negative connotation, children would not be excited about them in the future even when they become aware of all their benefits. As parents, teachers and mentors we need to be careful because our well meaning actions could scar the next generation for life.
In 2014, 33 year old wholesome Amit, weighing at 104kgs, had taken his mother to hospital for kidney disease but was shocked to find his own blood sugars to be crazy high. This is his transformational story of moving for himself and his loved ones. This is a longer version of my column Run&Bee in Hindustan Times.