My tryst with jogging

I devote this piece to all of you out there who apparently gave up on a challenge the first time they suffered failure. For me, it had come in the form of building my strength and will power to work towards a physical challenge I thought I would never overcome.

I have been walking, out of habit since the past 15 years from what started as a fitness gig. This has been interspersed, time and again with power training, yoga, dance, swimming and the kinds that didn’t last long enough to be part of my routine. Walking lasted for the sheer pleasure of how it felt much less strenuous, especially with a friend or two to keep your conversational explorations in tow. This had falsely acclaimed me a place at the higher end of the fitness spectrum, by friends and acquaintances.

This routine continued till about a year back when my friend who is a high octane workout buff invited me to have a 2-mile jog with her that I accepted with no second thoughts. I huffed, puffed and panted for what seemed like an endless stretch to keep in pace with a seemingly seasoned jogger, not to mention my ill-equipped lungs and shin splint that my middle-aged body stood witness to. It was a bitter-sweet experience that I took home with me that day, with mixed feelings of disappointment on one hand and motivation on the other.

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As chance would have it, 2 months later I enrolled for a 10 K race along with some enthusiastic friends and I had made up my mind to stretch my limits a bit further on every jogging session still making sure I didn’t hurt myself to the point of hating it. I realized that in order to gain speed you need to build strength and endurance. It is effective to alternate the run with power training sessions. Keep yourself hydrated during and after the run. Warm-up diligently before and after the run.When your legs can’t take anymore give short breaks and save yourself any injury. The season ended not too bad with the realization that I could jog at least 1 mile at a stretch huffing, puffing, limping (and blaming age)inclusive, leaving room for more improvement.

In quite contrast, following summer saw a nose-dive in the progressive chart of my strength, endurance and speed. My inactivity had seen an all-time high with a few impromptu strolls in the neighborhood to answer my guilt call. To add to it was a barrage of high calorific food that made its way to the gut in the winter holidays. It wasn’t before I put on a few pounds that I swung back to the regular walking routine that often came after long days at work!

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End of January saw the dawn of the next session of Cap 10 K practices for the race of 2015, that I envisioned as a nightmare for the fear of disappointing myself. Nevertheless, this was an opportunity to get back in shape, so I decided to join the band-wagon with much fan-fare. Enough precaution was taken to loosen up the muscles and increase heart rate through a set of dynamic stretching routine before the run and static stretches soon after, that seemed to have paid off well the first day, since I did come close to my target of continuous jog for more than 2 miles. I repeated the routine for the following week, with a steady pace of short strides, for a stretch of 3 miles causing no major discomfort to my legs! At this pace, there is anticipation of some improvement on speed and endurance in the coming weeks!

For more information on dynamic stretching, go to http://www.runnersworld.com/stretching/a-dynamic-routine

It did come as a revelation never to give in to initial feelings of failures or negative thoughts that visited my doubting mind. If you try hard enough, you just might as well prove yourself wrong more than once!

Hang in there

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Often times, most of us encounter situations where we strive to reach a goal or simply pull ourselves together, but give up at some point of time. The result is a sense of disappointment and resentment where the blame is conveniently thrust upon an external element for the sake of our redemption. From what I have known in my own life, most of the rewarding experiences were from efforts that have gone above and beyond my comfort level, where I almost wanted to give up but decided to hang in there because I believed! These experiences have taught me to brave all bad weather and move forward for that too will pass.

These challenges visit all of us in different forms like losing job, encountering a life-threatening illness, being stuck in meaningless relationships or facing death of closed ones. In other cases, there could be lesser challenges like losing weight, getting a certain academic or professional goal under your belt or running a marathon or attempting sky diving. How can you make challenges less daunting and more acceptable?

1) When faced with a situation, bring out your positive energy and positive thought and work towards finding a solution, than finding an excuse or blaming bad fate that has befallen you. Focus on the end result that present struggle would pay off. This gives you ample confidence in the first place.

2) Fear is our biggest enemy in life, when it comes to making a change. We don’t realize that most of the fear is imaginary. What are the possible outcomes of fear? You either succumb to it and let things be or you realize it and take measures to combat it. The result of outliving your fear is, you see and feel a different life.

3) Sometimes, when you are in the bumpy ride, it might feel like a journey in darkness with no light at the end of the trail. Hang in there and tell yourself not to give up. It could be bitter, sometimes blended with extreme feelings of loneliness, desolation and helplessness. Do not try to deny these feelings or run away from them. Just give time and let things just be. Time is the biggest healer.

4) When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. The fact that we alone can essentially help ourselves is a great realization when encountering difficult situations. Learn ways to toughen up and brace yourself to unfavorable circumstances in life. It helps to connect with other people or groups in the same situation facing same kind of challenges. There is a lot to learn and share when you network either through online resources or social groups that offer support and solutions.

5) Expectation that every effort should turn out to be a success can be a big deterrent in accomplishing what you have set your mind on. Failure is essential to make us well-rounded as human beings. We need to be brought back to realization of our modest existence often enough to keep us rooted. When you do any task with no expectation of results and with wholeheartedness, success and failure become nothing beyond just labels.

6) When you are going through rough terrains, it often helps to hang in there just from the realization of other lives that are also dependent on us. It becomes all the more important that we took responsibility of the situation because it makes perfect sense in the bigger scheme of things to keep ourselves and the rest of the lives going.

7) Be grateful for what you have. Cherish every moment. Counting our blessings on an everyday basis helps pull through difficult moments. Often times we forget to appreciate life’s small things in search of bigger ones.

In short, it is all in our minds how we perceive the situations we are in. It is simply our attitude that defines our course of life!

From point A to point Z!

Conquering Self-doubt!

Next time you are in self-doubt about something you want to achieve, or dreamed about but never dared to reach for fear of failure, think twice. Wouldn’t you rather be in a place where you tried, no matter you succeeded or not, than in a place where you always have been-where there is no growth in terms of experience, perspective and understanding.
• When something seems more challenging, do not fear and hold yourself back.
• Stick with people who believe in you and help you reach the goal.
• Break up your final goal into small chunks and strive for the immediate goal than taking the big leap that might end in a deadly fall. It could be anything like losing weight, or help for a cause, or write a book, or trek the Himalayas!!
• Don’t pay heed to naysayers. Keep away from them.
• And to the little voice in your head that says not to go there because danger lurks, remember it is your alter ego that is too comfortable with being in the little box you call world and deny there is something outside of it.
• Whenever you feel fear in your gut about any challenge, take it as a good sign and encounter it, for you would come out a new person after it is all over.

courtesy: tinybuddha.com

This is my story about how I got myself ready for a 10K challenge:

Week 1: My friend wants to find out if I want to join for the weekly practice for a marathon. I am thrown into my usual self-doubt mode. I give her no word, sensing my fear of failure. I go home and the thought won’t leave me of how badly I had always wanted to participate in a Marathon event for a cause, and how much I always loved outdoors and never quit walking. I sleep over the thought. Next day I call my friend to say I am in!
Week 2: I assemble with a group of like-minded friends on a Sunday morning in a nearby park for our first marathon practice session. It was a conglomeration of around ten enthusiastic moms who still had the spark in them, who seized every opportunity that came their way. Our final aim was to cover 10K, 10,000 meters or 6.2 miles. But today, we plan to walk or run at our own pace for 3 miles. Our mastermind, the crew leader had already charted out the route and plan for us. As we set out for the run that day, I feel different as if driven by a purpose.
Week 3: My teenage daughters join me for the Sunday morning ritual, followed by a dozen other kids that seems like a movement. I feel proud for having inspired my girls to set the alarm at 6 am every Sunday morning. Our kids do watch what we do, after all!!
Week 4: Our team meets again, this time for the entire stretch of 10K that we would eventually cover on the final day of run. We cheer up each other as we try to fit into our comfort time groves. It was a heartening sight to see us all finish the entire stretch in our own better timings.
WEEKS 5, 6, 7 and 8 passed and more practice and more sweat and muscle cramps ensued, but never did our spirit dampen.
Week 9: The day of the RACE!! Yes, Cap 10 K is the biggest race in Austin, with almost 20,000 member participation every year. This year was no different. We had registered weeks before, collected our race packets, before the D-day and felt the tingling sense of excitement at the final countdown. The Capital was prepared to embrace the runners as we felt the cheers and music and drums on our scenic city streets that were off limits to traffic that day. The crowds’ cheering and enthusiasm were simply infectious. You realize the truth that you couldn’t have made it if not for the water, the food and words of appreciation showered at you by selfless volunteers and onlookers, not to mention the friends who took initiative in the first place as well as fellow runners. When we touched the final line it was as if the moment we had been waiting for, was finally here with no room for self-doubt.

Sweet satisfaction indeed!!