My (delayed) Weekly Blog#7

Being Grateful

When I still had to carry my iPhone with my Apple Watch while running(God knows, I took an embarrassingly long time to figure out that my watch works with a SIM card), I enjoyed deep diving into the world of podcasts. One interesting podcast was with Deena Kastor on Lindsey Hein's podcast. Deena is the American Record holder for the Marathon having run a 2:19 :36 marathon.

She is a grade A badass, she still to do not only holds that record but also the record for the Masters Age group marathon(running a 2:27:47 at age 42). And listening to the podcast I realized why. Physical gifts are the ones you are born with, and many mental ones too. For example, I had severe temper issues growing up; I've mellowed quite a lot but try and get me ticked off and then watch me glow dark red. But I was and in fact, still am a die-hard optimist. I enjoy being positive about things and even if  I'm running a time goal, and I need to run the last kilometer in under 2 minutes, I won't stop believing I can do it. My circumstances have made that optimism die a little thanks to particularly bad phase in the last few years( happens to the best of us i'm no one special) my mind lost a lot of its optimistic capabilities. Some of it is a part of maturing and realizing that you can't always get what you want, some is just plain practicality: I can't run a Sub 2 minute kilometer, no one can; and part of it is consternation; consternation that mounts with each wilted petal.

Last few years though, made me lose my edge quite significantly. It's like how I felt after I got a backlog in Electrical Science in 2nd semester of my B.Tech. I had never failed at anything in life, till that point. And when that happened, I was in a state of disbelief for a long time. And I couldn't run it off! (because I started running 3 years later!). It now felt like my whole life had become one big Electrical Science exam and that guilt of counting how many times my teacher said "Ok" instead of taking notes and clearing doubts, began to cloud my thinking and my judgement.

Coming back to Deena Kastor; she said on her podcast that she looks at everything in life very positively. So much so that for example, if someone is stuck in traffic while going to work; instead of being annoyed by traffic, she believed that the person should be grateful about the fact that she/he has a workplace to go to. And on that rainy, windy run that point really hit home. Problems are an intrinsic part of our lives, the path we have chosen to go down. It is totally perspective oriented and depends on how we look at them. I, in the perspective department, was so screwed up mentally, that when I ran a particular distance at a pace I had been trying for years; enroute the total mileage for that day, my mind was unable to believe it. It started whining about finishing the run then & there, even though I had not even reached my overall goal. I had to talk to myself , tell myself that this shit is going down and no-one is quitting: In other words, I had to tell myself that something good can happen to me too, not everything is and will be a "shit-sandwich". I have a lot of work to do mentally, to become a better athlete and better person. It means caressing my mind gently, listening to the insecurities, questioning them and trying to resolve them.

I am not a particular fan of Tim Noakes, especially after his switch to praising fad diets and selling out, but I agree in parts with his Central Governor model, which in essence states that it is your mind controls how much effort your body is allowed to exert. I would argue that the mind "tries" to limit the body, like an overprotective mother telling her son to wear a helmet every time he steps out the house, but with training you can become a teenage rebel and at the very least, confuse your mind.

It really is mostly about the brain. Our brain governs our muscles, it prevents them from pushing us to the point of killing ourselves in more ways than one. It is our brain which perceives things, it is what decides our responses and it is one which starts proactively worrying every time a plan goes awry. Our inner voice (which in age of internet has increasingly become governed by outer noise), complains every time we have a problem but I think we forget that in the end, as adults, our problems stem from our choices.

I made some choices in my life, about training and diet which I want to seriously abide and stand-by(otherwise, what's the point, right?). I decided not to eat foods of which I do not know the ingredients of. Yes, I can read labels on various products but in the end, I trust to eat what I have made because I know exactly how my body would respond. And to add to this, it is not like I am Tony Stark(I have been broke one too many times, I know how hard my parents have worked to support me), so I won't order-in or go out and eat, it's very expensive here in Switzerland(too much; if I'm honest).

Working towards this; atleast that suit.
I make my own food, have been for almost 2 years now and over the last 6 months, I pay special attention to eating healthy. When I had a roommate(he's back, yay!), the workload was shared but over the last few months, with him gone, it became progressively difficult. You don't dream of waking up at 3:30 AM and cutting onions to cook Brown Rice Khichdi(for which you have soaked up so much rice and lentils, that you end up cooking twice). But it is an essential step of the process leading to my dreams, knowing I did everything in my power to meet my goals. So, while it is not ideal, I sleep rather early, to wake up early, to cook and train and cross-train so that I don't die from training before I join the rat-race to become rich so that I can pay my bills and become an annuity. It's a very unique problem set, and I did tell my mother over the phone that "Today I was on the edge" but hey, come on, getting frustrated is only natural. The fact is though, I love it. I love the challenge, I love it that I have to wake up early and live a disciplined, almost monk-like existence day-after-day(I'm sure Monks don't watch Netflix while stretching, but I'm working towards that. Maybe i'll quit after finishing Brooklyn 99 and this season of Better Call Saul).

The fact is these challenges, this "being on the edge" is what keeps us sharp. I have to do what I do, otherwise I am just like everyone else who gave up on their dreams. And I wasn't raised a quitter. And in the process of rewiring my mind, I have realized that I am so grateful for these challenges. I mean, it sucks when you are sleepy at 11 AM because you've been up for almost 8 hours and peeling & cutting half a dozen carrots at 4:30 AM isn't exactly stimulating joyous feelings in my mind, but I chose to do it and I am bloody proud of the fact that I am doing it! And being grateful about having all this on my platter is much better way of living life, than always being in a state of complaining. After all, these little things make up the overall mindset.

Which bring me to accountability

IF you read my last blog, I talked about Endogenous and Exogenous choices. One of these exogenous choices in life is your parents.

And I know this awesome quote by MewTwo:
"I see now, the circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant; It's what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are".

It is a very powerful quote and demystifies the proverbial "secret to success": Exogenous factors in are a constant in life; they will keep gnawing at you if you let them, but if you ignore them and control the endogenous factors; work hard to achieve your potential, you will make it big in life. And if you don't and you want to complain about the circumstances and how they didn't favor you, then you are free to to do so too! It won't get you anywhere, which means you will contribute to lowering the standard of competition in life, so hurray for you!

Your upbringing does have a huge influence how you turn up in life. I mean, obviously life gives you plenty of opportunities to change and evolve your mind, but the initial beliefs in your are inculcated by your parents. A simple analogy is the your undergraduate alma mater and your "group". The people you hang out with influence(even if you are the leader of the group) your thinking and your approach to life. Not the core of who you are as person; if you are a psychopathic murderer, hanging out with a bunch of saints, won't make you become one(I know Aṅgulimāla did; but again he wasn't a murderer at hear, he became one because of the circumstances).

I am good person deep down: Strong willed and hardworking. A lot of my personality, shaped by the people and my circumstances is pretty abrasive, I agree, but I am working towards being less of an asshole. A core value I hold very dear is Accountability(especially self accountability). My parents did their job to ensure that I knew I was accountable for my actions. They didn't take me by the hand and forced me to do it, they did it by setting examples for me. Like my father, who never quit on searching for something I asked for. He took me to every single shop in the neighborhood until he found what we were looking for. Or my mother, who showed up to every swim practise and told me to be accountable to myself. I saw a video recently and it really got me thinking about the choices I have made in life.

I have been self-coached most of my life. I have worked with some fantastic coaches, who have a lot of knowledge and wisdom and I have picked a lot from them. And I mean no offense, but I trained at my best when I am accountable to myself. I value their mentoring I get from people I respect and their guidance & feedback, but I cannot be accountable for someone else's work; someone else's time. It just doesn't sit right with me that I am responsible to follow-through the hardwork someone did making my training plan and then dealing with the guilt IF I wasn't able to execute the training in a way they wanted me to do. I am not that student who does things he was not supposed to do and feel good about it.
Being self-coached first of all, eliminates any blame-game. I am accountable to myself, right at Ground Zero to the Top floor. Everything: Runs, Cross-training workouts, Nutrition, Hydration, Mental Training; is my responsibility and I know what I have done and where I can improve. A coach might take pity on me and ask me to take an easy day(or worst of all, a rest day *shivers*), but when I am accountable for my training I am more in-tune with what I need to do rather than what I have to do. And that makes training more fun for me. I have thrived under managers who gave me work and then expected results, rather than micro-managing me every single step of the way. I take advice, and I follow it but I am responsible for my decisions.

Being someone who has suffered from anxiety most of his life and being kind of a major control freak, I find this approach somewhat relaxes me. I keep going through checklists in my head, over and over again just to ensure everything is inch perfect. I know it is very bad thing to try to achieve perfectionism in everything, rather than doing your best and accepting the situation for what it is; I am working on it.

PS: This checklist situation only holds true when I am not in charge of something. Make a plan with me, take charge and see me give up control entirely.

Accountability is a critical pillar in anyone's success story. It is very easy to find things to blame; the weather, traffic, sleep, children, Donald Trump but really, in the end do any of things really matter?

That excuse you made about being 5 minutes late to work because of traffic is the difference between a good impression and a bad impression. It is a reflection on your inability to plan things out in your head, not leaving enough buffer and the worst, not caring enough about the "thing" that you showed up late. And so what if the meeting isn't crucial or you know the other person is always late: if you begin to think like that, it just creates a fallback to bad habit. After all, in the end, you are your own boss. You can lie about showing up late, but you know the truth and that's what is defining you as a person. I am not berating anyone about anything here, what I am saying here is just an example of us a human beings not bothering with little things in life, only to realize that these little things make up the big things.

When we begin to hold ourselves accountable to our actions: throwing the trash in the bin or being on time or showing up for training even though it is 5 AM and dark; it shapes our overall personality. I don't mean you need to become a "holier than thou" soul who lectures people on self-improvement; but in this day of modern day inspiring figures, most of who lack the conviction to follow what they preach, you would be a 1%-er. A person, who lives their life knowing that they're responsible for everything they are doing, day-in and day-out and knows that from your end, their is no lack of effort. You'll see your complains coming down by a huge margin and you will see your life take a turn for the better.

Special Shoutout(Sports Roundup)

There's only 1 thing I want to talk about: Daniel Ryf. And her 3:57:57 70.3 World Record at Gdynia.
1st of all, she didn't receive her luggage till late night before race day. She stepped on the plate; swam, bike and ran so fast that despite a 2 minute headstart given to the Men's Pro field, she finished
7th OVERALL. She beat the 3x World Champion, Miranda Caefrae by 23 minutes, she was 10 minutes slower than Miranda Carfrae's husband Timothy O'Donnell, who won the overall race.
 I mean, how can you not be overwhelmed by that? She's faster than many male Pros, maybe we need to rethink our sport!


  1. Its quite nice (being nice?!) to read your blogs. I am also waiting to read when you blog on your method to madness. (Or its not madness and pure method?).


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