My Story of Running

I turned 45 years recently and regularly run distances ranging from 10 to 21 kms. However, this was not the case till about three years ago, when I never ran more than 3 Kms. My passion towards running developed in the past three years and this is my story of becoming a RUNNER.

Having studied in a boarding school which laid emphasis on physical activity, I was used to running cross-country and playing various team sports in my childhood. I joined my job at an early age of 21 years and since then, running was never my preferred physical activity. Although, I used to run 2 – 3 kms once in a while and do gym/swimming etc to keep myself fit. For around 20 years after joining my job, I never ran more than 5 kms at a stretch. I never believed I could run anything more than that, let alone enjoy it. I always wondered how one could enjoy “Distance Running”.

Three years ago, I met Avdhesh, whom his friends dearly called “The Pied Piper”. He is a marathoner and an avid runner. He has an amazing ability to motivate people. He had seen me running short distances and encouraged me to start running longer.

I had watched Avdhesh and his friends (mostly in their 40s) regularly run long distances. At times 3 – 4 times a week. Their runs used to start at 4 AM or earlier in the day and I always wondered how running could be an enjoyable activity and what motivated these people to voluntarily forgo their morning sleep, definitely not my cup of tea even in the wildest imagination!

However I wasn’t aware what was in store for me! One fine day, after my evening gym activity, I was enjoying a cup of tea with Avdhesh. He said that he was planning for a 10 Km run the next morning and asked me to join him. As usual, I said I couldn’t run that far. He probably sensed that I needed some persuasion to take the plunge.  He used different tactics to make me agree to his offer. He said that my physique was ideally built and that my running style was suited for long distance running blah blah. All to make me feel that I had the ability but didn’t know it. I felt elated to hear such praises. Yet, I couldn’t muster enough confidence to say ‘yes’.  He then said that he’ll run alongside me at my pace and for whatever distance I run. I was running out of reasons to decline his offer when I realised that maybe prediction of Accuweather rain Gods could bail me out of this situation. I said I’ll join him for the run next morning but will drop out if it rains. He said not to worry about the rain and patted my back for my decision. We decided to meet at 5 AM the next morning.

The next morning, I reached rendezvous point sharp at 4.45 AM and was glad to see the drizzle. I thanked the rain gods for giving me a way out of the forthcoming misery. I thought I had a perfect reason to drop out of the run since my friend had told ‘not to worry about the rain’. When my friend came to rendezvous point, he bought a running jacket and gave it to me and told me that Accuweather rain God keep him also in the loop. Also, till then, I didn’t know that people run in rains as well and that there was a gear for it. He must have enjoyed the look on my face to see my last hope of escaping the run getting dashed. Incidentally, on that day, there was another novice (Jamy) like me who was encouraged by Avdhesh to join for 10 Km. Jamy too had reached the start point.

We three started the run at 5 AM and I was still wondering what am I doing here??….this is still my sleeping time!!. I had decided that I’ll stop whenever I felt tired and would tell Avdhesh to carry on. My friend had probably thought of this scenario and had his plans ready. He kept encouraging me from the word go. He showered all praises for my dedication & determination for undertaking my first 10 Km run. He said that this would be an impressive feat for me, if I completed the run. After about 3 Kms, I was getting pretty tired and my body was giving all indications for me to stop. But my friend’s words echoed in my mind and I decided to push my limits and keep running till as far as I could. He also kept giving me some tips such as to keep my step length short, coordinate the movement of my arms and regulate my breadth, which proved quite useful. Besides, Jamy too was running and I thought if he can do it, so can I. I must admit that I did use quite a few expletives for my friend Avdhesh throughout the run for having put me in this situation. He, however, always responded with a smile and kept motivating me. We finished the run in about 75 minutes. Although it felt like a lot longer. It was a great feeling to know that I had run 10 Km. My friend was equally ecstatic and soon posted my achievement in the Runners whatsapp group. Soon, I started receiving all praises.

That first run 10 Km run proved to be a turning point for me. I was now confident of running 10 Km without stopping. I realised that there was a pace at which I could run such distances without losing my breadth. Not long after, I participated in an organised running event and ran 10 Km. I thus won my first medal (for completing the run) in an organised event and proudly displayed it in my room. Hereafter, the focus shifted from completing the run to improving timings. I started running 10 Km regularly. I was now part of the Runners Group (called MAMILs), whom I always envied. I looked forward to those early morning runs. I regularly participated in organised running events and ran 10 Kms. Over the next few weeks, I had slowly increased my distance from 10 to 18 Kms.  The feeling after completing a 10 or 15 Km run was amazing. Throughout the day, I felt a sense of achievement and satisfaction. MAMILs have a whatsapp group, where the participants posted their daily activities (running, cycling, golfing, etc). I also started posting my running stats. The group members always appreciated these efforts and patted my back. Those words of appreciation made me better my performance, every time I put on my running shoes.

My friend nudged me to go for 21 Km in the next event. I was not confident, since I had not run that distance ever. He used his usual tactics to convince me by saying that one should not run more than 17-18 Km in practice before a half marathon and that my preparations were ideal. While I was still contemplating, he went and registered my name for 21 Km. On race day, he stayed with me throughout the run, constantly motivating and guiding me. I managed to finish in 2 hours and 20 minutes. That was again an amazing feeling. So! within three months of meeting him, I ran my first 10 km run and also my first 21 kms and now a regular 10 – 21 km runner. And now I know why my friend is called “The Pied Piper”.

I moved on transfer to a different station after a few months. My passion for running continued. I now regularly run 10 Kms and above distances. I hope to run a full marathon someday soon. All thanks to my friend Avdhesh who had made me realise my abilities and lit the spark for running in me. MAMILs group is still very active and is a big source of inspiration for me. Running is now my passion and I enjoy it thoroughly.

In the end, I would like to share some important lessons that I learnt during my journey of becoming a runner, and which keep me passionate towards running:-

  • Don’t compare your performance with someone else’s. If you are running, then you are a runner. Be proud of that.
  • I had once read a quote in a gym. “Good physique cannot be inherited, borrowed, bought or stolen. One has to acquire it by one’s hard work, dedication & discipline”. The same is true for running. If you have the ability to run long distance, it is due to your hard work.
  • A person can derive happiness from various facets of life. Success in career, wealth, family etc. However, good health is a different happiness vertical. You either have it or don’t. No other factor can compensate for good health. The fact that a person can run long distance at such age, is a reasonable assurance that he/she will lead a relatively healthy old age. That should be a big motivation for all of us.

– Ravinder Joshi

Running socks

Socks – one of the most critical pieces for running and weighing only few grams and also the fact that most of us buy it without thinking too much about them… just like the shoes we buy which look greaaat!

Your choice of running socks can be the difference between a comfortable, pain-free run and a painful one. Wearing the wrong type of socks can lead to foot blisters, chafing, corns and other issues. Some runners run in the wrong socks for years before they realize how much better their feet could feel in the right type of socks.

A good pair of running socks should be made of moisture-wicking fabrics, such as polyester, acrylic or even a wool and nylon blend. When choosing socks for running, the most important factor to consider is the material. You want to stay away from 100 percent cotton socks. Once cotton gets wet, it stays wet. When your feet sweat or you step in a puddle, the moisture won’t get wicked away. Wearing cotton socks in the winter will make your feet feel cold and clammy. In the summer, sweaty feet will increase your risk of blisters. The best running socks are ones that are made from synthetic materials such as polyester and acrylic because these fibers wick moisture away from the surface of your skin. You may be familiar with these fabrics for technical running shirts, and they work great on your feet as well. Look for a breathable, anti-chafing material for all of your running clothes.

A correct fitting sock should do three things: protect your feet, be comfortable and wick away moisture. Resist the urge to just buy a pair of “athletic socks.” Look for a pair designed specifically for running, even if they’re on the expensive side.

In comparison to regular socks, running socks are built with cushioning in mind, which is especially important when you’re pounding the pavement day after day. A good pair of running socks will also have a tight feel around the mid-foot and heel, but plenty of room for your toes. Running socks also come in various heights, from no-show to knee-highs. If you prefer no-show socks, just make sure that they have a tab that goes above your running shoe and over your Achilles, so your shoe isn’t digging into or irritating your skin.

Compression socks

Compression socks for runners are a super strong elastic sock, typically worn up to the knee. They compress veins on the surface of your leg, as well as arteries and muscles, so that blood is circulated through your legs through smaller circulatory channels. Blood gets back to your heart faster, making it less likely to pool into your feet.

Most brands apply graduated compression, meaning they are tighter around the ankle, and less so at the knee, which makes them tricky to put on. Since leg sizes vary, you can find compression socks to match your foot and calf size. Make sure they aren’t too tight – they shouldn’t feel like a tourniquet!

For athletes, compression socks are designed to reduce swelling, muscle soreness, and muscle fatigue experienced post exercise.

According to one study, most compression sock manufactures claim they aid athletic performance by improving circulation and blood flow, limiting exercise induced peripheral edema of the lower extremity, supplying muscles with more oxygen, enhancing lactic acid removal, or decreased muscle soreness during and post exercise.

The perceived benefit here is that if you can circulate blood faster back to your heart, you can regenerate blood quicker to your legs.

There is a lot of debate on whether or not compression socks for runners perform as advertised. Some runners love them, while some find no benefit at all.

The study I read looked at distance runners who wore them during a 2 hr run, and then again 8 hours post run. Their findings indicated that there was not a statistically relevant benefit from wearing compression socks.

My experience

I have worn my compression socks on many long runs, marathons and post runs also. In my experience, my legs felt better than they normally would after each activity. I felt less sore and more “recovered.” It was as if 1,000 little fingers were giving me a calf massage.

While my experience is hardly conclusive evidence that compression socks work, there’s no denying that these things are comfortable to wear.

Should you try ? – If you have a specific goal in mind for your next race, or are especially sore going into it, you may want to pick up a pair. Can’t hurt, right? Try wearing them after every run and see how you feel.