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!

Finding Your True Self!

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Midlife Magic

When we transgress the unknown, we often find ourselves!

Few months back my daughter threw me off-guard with this question: Mom, what is your passion…what do you like doing the most. I scrambled for a qualifying answer as a pursuit worth mentioning, only to find myself losing ground. I reminisced self-intuitively with instant recognition that somewhere down the lane I had lost my true self, immersed in the duties of a wife and mother in addition to various other societal roles.
Why is it so hard for so many of us to pursue what we truly love or stand by our true calling in life. Every person is born with the remarkable ability to pursue something they truly excel in. Still, there lingers a feeling of  non fulfillment in most human beings we come across or a failure of recognition of what they truly want in life. It is important that we live beyond the everyday rut to have an enlightenment in this realm!
1)Our social conditioning and demands put us at cross roads to make the choice between a pragmatic compromised lifestyle and our true calling that gives utmost satisfaction and reward. Striking a balance between the two, and pursuing them hand in hand could be quite challenging, but certainly doable. All you need to do is try. To follow your heart and dare to do what you believe takes courage, belief and diligence.
2) Vulnerability is viewed as a weakness and we dread to expose ourselves through our true passions for fear of non-acceptance and non-conformity. When you are out there sharing with the world who you truly are, judgments and criticisms are bound to follow. Using these tools for further awakening and empowerment alone could see us through the fulfillment of a purpose beyond a mortal existence.
3) The fear of failure is a major obstacle that stands in the way of pursuit of our passion. Failure puts us down in our own eyes eventually leading us to give up the idea of following our heart. The thought of stretching our comfort zone is quite unsettling but that is the only way we could bring change. I for one, learned it the hard way, but better be late than never.

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Months passed since that chat with my daughter and life went on as usual and I happened to stumble on a show that inspired me to share my thoughts with the outside world. My foray into the blogging world transpired out of a yearning to convey messages on holistic healing of the ailments of an emaciated world in terms of physical and mental health, as part of my own soul searching. As much as I thrive in the vibes and applause of like-minded audience that is a part of my tribe, I am also equally humbled by their presence! When my hands itch every weekend to write about ideas close to my heart, I sense that I have truly found my place.
It was an equally satisfying endeavor when I signed up for a 10K Marathon recently and finished it unscathed! The fear of failure of meeting my own new standards and an unwillingness to get out of my set routine were the factors that held me back from exploring new avenues or stretch my physical limits. When we transgress the unknown, we often find ourselves. I also stretched my intellectual limits when I signed up for a new academic challenge that continues to tickle my grey cells and show  new horizons of learning. It is also teaching me that acquisition of knowledge transcends age. Life should be a continuous process of learning and growing at personal and intellectual levels.
I have a new found energy in my midlife, from the interests that I indulge, that reveal new unexplored paths.  I am in a state of greater understanding of self that has given  me a new lease on life. It is not midlife crisis, rather Midlife Magic for the gift of discretion, of clarity and a renewed sense of purpose!!