Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Body won't Mind

'Oh yeah?! So? Ok, you tanked at Hyderabad and couldn't finish and therefore you've decided you are going to listen to your body and not behave like an overgrown baby or an absolute nutcase like you used to when it comes to running? C'mon Vishwas, don't be such a sissy. Get your butt out there on the roads and don't return till you've done your usual 30-35k. Don't let your body dictate terms to your mind and screw it up any more than it already is.'

This was a conversation on Saturday evening when I announced that I wasn't going to run on Sunday as well. It's like this. Whenever it rains, I have to get wet. And there are other temptations I cannot resist. Paani-puris, ragda, tava non-veg, keema samosas, bhel, you name it. Everywhere I go, temptations line the streets. And once in a while, I do the best I can - give in to temptation. Having done that last Monday and on Tuesday, I lost my digestion in such a way that I thought I would never find it again. And the getting wet gave me the chills. So the run on Wednesday was marked by runs to the public loo and then a run home before disaster struck. But this time, I listened to my body. On Thursday, body said, 'Don't run.' So I didn't. Ditto for Friday. Ditto for Saturday. Saturday evening itself, my body again said, 'Don't run tomorrow.'And I agreed. And the long monologue above followed my announcement.

I was transported to a day in January, 2009. My mother probably did not believe I really ran marathons. As she claimed, driving over 42.2kms is different from running. Running that distance makes it longer. She came to the start line of SCMM to see me running off with the others and waited some 4 hours and 45 minutes till I returned. As I returned, among the first things she said to me were, 'How I would love to do this next year!' And I wholeheartedly agreed. As an added incentive, I told her that next year she would be in the Super Veteran category so the volunteers would pay a lot more attention to her (making it sound as if that would make it easier for her to run the Marathon, or it would be a shorter distance for her or whatever), I would train her and all that blah. Then she said that given her age, she should listen to her body and probably attempt the Dream Run. And my reaction was, 'Oh yeah?! So? Ok, you'll be 60 next year and so you've decided you are going to listen to your body and behave like an overgrown baby or an absolute nutcase  like other old people and not run? C'mon Mom, don't be such a sissy. Get your butt out there on the roads and make up your mind not to return till you've done your run. Don't let your body dictate terms to your mind and screw it up any more than it already is.' I arrogantly told her to not even ask me for tips if she wanted to do the Dream Run because I was not going to train anyone whose target was a measly Dream Run. I believed I was entitled to my arrogance; after all, I had run a Full Marathon. You, know, a FULL MARATHON! All 42.2kms of it. It was below my dignity to train someone to start running. And she agreed to attempt a Half Marathon at SCMM, 2010.

I agreed; a Half Marathon was respectable. And given that she had never ever run, even while in school, prefering books to anything remotely physical, a Half Marathon was actually quite a challenge to undertake. When she started in February, 2009, she was, quite frankly, an embarassment. I, in my arrogance, did not see the respect that a 60 year old lady attempting her first Half Marathon  should have commanded. I just looked at her slow pace, I heard people telling me how her 'run' was an 'exagerrated walk', I saw her getting tired after even a 8k run and thought she was incapable, I saw her refusal to wear shorts and a tee for a run and instead stick to the more traditional 'salwar-kurta' as just another tantrum. I didn't see the efforts she took to overcome the challenge she had taken up. Yes, I am ashamed of it now and... but that is another story, best left for another post. I guess it would suffice to say that today when I say, 'Buddhi daud rahi hai' (The old woman runs), I say it with a lot of pride.

January, 2010, Mom finished the Half Marathon. She took more than the time allowed, but that would be tackled next year at SCMM 2011. March, 2010, while she asked me to set the pace for her, her knee gave way. So badly, she almost needed to be carried home. One visit to the doctor and the verdict was out. 'No more running. You wanted to do one Half Marathon, you've done it. Now enough is enough.' 2 months she was in crippling pain. Then she went to my sister's place in Pune and made a few trips here and there. The knee continued to pain and running was out of question. Come July-August, she chose to register yet again for the Half Marathon at SCMM, 2011. Come October, she still wasn't running. She again asked the doctor to get her up and running (literally) so that she could resume practice for the Half Marathon. It was a firm 'NO' from the doctor again. So she stopped visiting the doctor. She started taking painkillers. And she started running. She said her mind told her to run and so she was, even though the body did not agree with her mind. She ran with kneecaps, painkillers, rubbing in iodex in the morning, volini in the afternoon and relaxyl in the evening. But run she did. Even as late as at the Expo, I told her she shouldn't run if her body was not up to it. There was no shame in pulling out of a race due to injury and all of that. She very politely asked me to shut the **** up, do my thing and not interfere with her business. And on a heavy dose of painkillers she completed SCMM, 2011. With the same timing as last year, but complete she did.

He mind continued to tell her to run. She did, weaning herself off painkillers. She runs today, does not need painkillers, does not wear kneecaps and is now looking at having about a 2:40 finish at SCMM 2012. She's discovered that in a worst case scenario, one could take a local anesthesia and run - the results can be handled later. (At her age, she says the 'handling the consequences later' is a safe bet.) All because her mind tells her and she tells her body to shut up when it protests. And she's proved her point. I have no further arguments.

One house, two runners with two different mindsets. Two different perspectives. One has age on her side. I have running experience on mine. And the twain doesn't seem like it'll meet anytime soon.

Why am I writing this? Because after the stinging monologue on Saturday evening, I got out of bed at 4:00am and hit the road in about an hour. My mind was raring to get me running. My body was indifferent. With about 75% relative humidity, I broke a sweat at about 3.5k and was completely soaked by the time I hit the 8k mark. Maybe, just maybe, I would not only be able to make it but enjoy it as well. 3 and a half hours later, I had done about 37k. Maybe, after all, Mom does know best. But I am very happy, and all set for Kaveri Trail Marathon next Sunday with the long run done. Of course, I am going to listen to by body and run on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before I leave for Mysore. I am also writing because I am now confused as to what I should do when my mind and body are locked in a battle with each other - should I listen to my body, which tells me to do something or should I listen to my mind which protests wildly, or vice-versa?

Till yesterday, I was sure, I would listen only to my body bcause it knew best. Today, I know that my mind knows its mind too - and I have discovered that it is not wrong. Maybe for the future, I will do something very logical and scientific. I will toss a coin.

1 comment:

  1. Just read this blog.Kudos to Aai for her spirit!Amazing!