What I think about when I'm running

First off, a disclaimer. The post title is not a violation of Haruki Murakami's book. His book's title is "What I talk about, when I talk about running".
But I will admit this, I misread the title at first which made me write this blog post :P

I don't think there is any runner, who does not feel a flood of thoughts coming through his/her brain.

Some people are more retrospective/philosophical ( my category ) , some are not, but I think anyone who has run, if not anything, must have had this thought atleast once " Where is the finish line? " :P

Writing what I think while running came to my mind (while running ) on a cold, dark February morning at 5:30 AM. I drafted this blog in my brain that day during an 11 kilometer run. Its mostly in conversation form, with the conservationists being me and my brain.

1st Kilometer : The street is dark and I hope the dogs don't chase me.
Brain : "Why run? Why not walk? Why not ride your bike? Why not swim?"

Me :
"Until humans figure out how to swim through hardened tar, I don't think I can swim on the road. Also, its February, stupid!"

" Hmm. Good question. People love riding bikes. I do, myself. Personally, I think it is less strenuous to ride your bike than run. Maybe I love running more."

"Are you kidding me? You know how long it takes to walk a kilometer? Plus, walking is boring.
I'll walk at mile 70 of an ultramarathon when my legs cannot function at more than 8 kilometers/hour."

Brain again :Why not sleep then?
Me : " Remember, when you were sick? Remember the days when you could not get out of bed? Remember time when you just wanted to breathe the fresh air and let it caress your hair but you couldn't? Well, now is the time you make up for that lost time. Believe me, it will feel better after finishing the distance, rather than waking up 2 hours later and then gloating about it. "

"Hey, there is a cyclist, lets pace with him!" *30 seconds later, the cyclist has a shocked expression on his face, as a man in running tights chases and overtakes him*

2nd Kilometer : This white line!

Brain :
 Remember Dean Karnazes' story on Badwater?
Me : "Yeah, here is the white line ( the line marking the end of the road in white paint ). "

A little background : Badwater 135 is the toughest footrace in the world ( certified by National Geographic Magazine ). The race starts in the Badwater basin (272 feet below the sea level ) and runs through the gruesome Death Valley desert. The temperatures are in the range of 50+ degrees in the day and the lowest it goes is 44. As if running 135 miles was not enough, you do it a range of High Passes that slow your progress to a desperate walk. The race ends at Mount Whitney Portal, 14000 feet above the sea level.
Legendary Ultramarathoner, Charlie Engle often asks the groups he is addressing " How many of you can run a mile(1.6 kilometers) in 12 minutes? ". Everyone raises their hand.
He then replies " If you run this distance, at this pace 135 times over you will not only win the Badwater Ultra but break the course record by almost an hour and a half." {Now you won't break the course record at this pace though, it is 22 hours }

Anyways, Dean Karnazes' stated and I quote " The road temperature crosses 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and if you don't run on the white painted line on the side of the road, the soles of your shoes would just melt right off "

Back to the conversation.

Me : "Lets practise running on this white line."
Brain :  I'll change the setting for you.

Suddenly, I am teleported to another world. I feel as if I am running on an alien land. Just street lamps for company. No one is around, not soul as I run towards increasing darkness on the white line.

I don't feel the heat, but I get the chills as my feet rhythmically hammer down another kilometer.

3rd Kilometer : Of the World of Records
Brain : Now that you are in the groove, lets get the competitive you out. Lets talk about records.

Me :
"Records are a form of vanity. Running after them make you near sighted and kill the pleasure of running. But I won't mind doing a 2:05 marathon or maybe finishing Badwater in less than 20 hours or cracking a sub 8:30 Ironman. What would be the pace we would be keeping? I'll need some trusty pacers. Guys who can speak non-stop and push me through. But will the record be worth it? Off course, it will! It will be your driving force!"

Brain :
 Your throat called, it needs water
*gulps a sip of water*

Me :
"So yeah, what after breaking the record? Back to love? No! Lower the record further. Keep going  low till you come out of the other side.
All this talk is pushing me way too faster, this is supposed to be a recovery run man!"

4th Kilometer : Hey, we have company!

By now, my brain has started to run out of topics ( already! ). So it comes up with another idea.

Chemical लोचा! (Straight out of Munnabhai - 2)

I don't know how many of you experience/do this, but my brain often introduces virtual people while running.

Dean Karnazes or Craig Alexander nonetheless!

So I am running in the dark, imagining Mr Karnazes and Mr Alexander running by my side.

Somehow, this hallucination of imagining people running with you is very helpful on real long runs, or at times you are down and out and have no strength to go on.

I often remember Dean's quote " Run when you can, walk if you must and crawl if you have to. Just don't give up!" and often imagine him saying this to me when I feel like giving up.

I also often act like I am Killian Jornet, jumping off curbs and acting as if it was nothing :D

 5th Kilometer : Don't quote me on that
With Dean and Crowie for company its the time for the brain to function

Here are some of the best quotes I came up while running.

"Running is the exact rendition of life. The weak give up and finish with guilt. The strong power through and finish with with a smile"
" People like lactic acid in their drinks, I like it my legs " ( Beer contains lactic acid, the same acid which causes burning sensation in your legs when you are tired )
" Sometimes you need a little insanity to feel sane "

But the best

"Watch out for that truck!"

6th Kilometer : Life and Death
No matter how many stupid jokes I may make, deep down I am a very serious introspective person.

I have been lucky in the sense that I have not seen too many close family members die.

But then, life has not been perfect.
A lot less hardships than many people, but I've had my fair share of bad decisions. Bad days I want to forget.
People I want to run over and things I feel I have left unsaid.

I breathe it all out and turn back with a smile.

Running is therapy.

Talking to yourself is the best way to get it all out. Running gives you the time to talk about it.

It also gives you the time to think about death. Your death.
No, not because some truck might run you over.

Death in general. What will happen before you die? How would you die happy, without regrets?
What would you achieve before you die?

Too depressing right?

Lets go the next kilometer

7th Kilometer : Roads or Trails?

Brain :
 So, where do you fell more PB Shelly-ish? Is it the roads or the trail ?
Me :  " They are two completely different individuals per-se. Trails are always the same, peaceful and easy to talk to. Ever changing landscape and running on them gives you that sense of being connected to the earth.
Roads have different faces. You really cannot think when you have traffic coming at you and people staring at you. In those moments, your fists are balled and mouth filthy( if you know what I mean ). On the other hand, certain roads have magic in them ( The Western Yamuna Canal Link Road or my secret training base in Rohini Sector xx)
There is another level of magic, the magic that came in the form National Highway 1-D, which was THE BEST ROAD TO RUN ON. {Read : "Running in Leh", written by me for more details}That magic has not been produced by any trail so far."

8th Kilometer : Science it up
I can't really create a dialogue here, as I don't know who speaks at this time.

But I actually came up with this theory while running.

Even though Distance covered = Speed * Time

The rate of your conversation is often inversely proportional to the distance covered. Wait, let me explain.

I know we think a lot on our long runs, but, after a time I don't think any one wants to converse altogether.
We crave for peace and on a long distance run, we get it.
Thoughts finally come on an end. I like to call it the "Running Nirvana"

I also have been guilty of creating some of my worst jokes on runs.

9th Kilometer : People Power
The female population in Delhi is THE strongest set in the world.

And, I say this from experience.

Delhi Males are the world's worst oglers. They stare at you as if you are a creature from the outer realms of this galaxy.

I am a male runner and I get ogled by so many idiots, sometimes I think either a major percentage of the male population is gay or they haven't seen a person running.

My female counterparts, loads of strength to you and hats off. I don't know how your shoes manage to remain tied to your feet.

10th Kilometer : Almost Home

Brain : Now that you are almost home, its time to plan your day
Me : "Lets see. I have bathed and prayed. I'll go back and bathe again, then sleep and then......"*are you really interested in what I do after I finish a run? Get a life, pal!*

But, yeah running is a great way to get sorted if you are one of those *living by the time-table* types.
Then again, why spoil your runner's high by thinking you have to get to office?

 11th Kilometer : Final Lap!

I don't know how many of you do this, but if you don't then try running the last kilometer of your run faster than all the other kilometers ( or atleast last 50% of the total distance you run ).

Then only 2 thoughts come to your mind.

"Why are you slowing down?"
"Where's the finish line"


Post Script :
I hope you had a good time reading it. This one was really long and I didn't know how to finish it.

I'd love it if you guys shared your thoughts( those which you get while running and on the blog in general ), would love to hear them :)

Cheers and keep running!


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