from driving to Running – Covid-19 lesson.

2020 (not 2021) started with a Bang. Months of planning my epic Roadtrip from Bangalore to Bhutan finally happened. With lot of fear and apprehension, we did start and complete the 13 day 5 states, 2 countries, 7000 kms drive on the 8th January 2020.What seemed a very daunting task till we started, finally did go through. With planning, luck, excitement and enthusiasm something new, something different and something bold did happen.

But that euphoria was short lived.

Covid struck and put a stop to not only any future Roadtrips but it also grounded the best of industries from aviation to hospitality. All roads went empty and the fear of meet and greet was almost paranoid. Many lost jobs, lost health and even lost lives. While no one could control anything, but everything seemed bleak and hopeless. I started to think what could be done in such a situation. I could not travel, drive, meet people or even go to work. Sitting at home long hours of office meetings, calls and HR interviews was not making things great either. That’s when the thought of “Running” struck me.

While I always liked the outdoors, Running was one sport that never clicked with me. From the beginning I though it was exhausting. difficult, unsocial and something that I could never do. Nevertheless, with such thoughts, I tried. I turned up to the small cricket ground in our new complex, where we had just moved in. Early morning walks there was giving it a nice feel and the empty green field at 6:00am beckoned me to give it a try. Its a 250 meter circumfence ground but the newness and lushness appealed. I started by walking 3-4 rounds of it, never even thinking or attempting to jog or run it.

After few days of walks, I broke that initial taboo of “what will people think” seeing a middle age person running. (Later I realized this is one of the most common fears for people to take up running as a sport). But I pushed, thinking “whatever” lets see, its not going to hurt anyone” attitude. But it did. People those days were not coming out of houses, so I started at 5:30 am when it was still dark. I pleaded with the security guard and with a mask on, I started slow running till I could do 1 complete jog of the field and felt accomplished. It was a full 250 meters of jogging. Wow. I did this for 2-3 weeks and slowly I targeted to complete 3 rounds of running on that field. I mustered all courage, read all motivational quotes from pinterest but still the fear of crossing that hurdle stopped me from trying. Then one fine day I just broke free and gave it a shot, and yes with some nice music in my playlist I did it. 750 meters of running. Not even a 1k, but doing 3 rounds of that field did give me a boost.

Next I planned for 5 rounds of the field, that was 1 KM run. I can’t tell, how tall a mountain it seemed, it seemed impossible to finish 5 rounds of that field and that thought stopped me from trying. Then I downloaded Nike’s NRC app. Coach Bennett’s guided runs helped, helped a lot. The coaching, the voice, the motivational speakers made me do more, push more. I did that 5 rounds of the field, that 1 km run. It felt great as if I had reached the summit of my achievements. I clicked selfies, shared on insta and put it on my whatsapp DP, etc.

Then I went on to attempt my first 1st 5k Run. That’s almost 15 rounds of the cricket field. I remember not so long ago doing 3 rounds and feeling overwhelmed and here I was planning 15 rounds? A 5k Run? But with grit and little motivation from my NRC app and music playlists, I did it. I did my 1st 5k Run inside the ground in 32 minutes.

Slowly things were turning better in the Covid world, too. Some folks were getting back to streets and shops were opening up. I tried the next impossible thing. Run on the Roads. My biggest fear running on the roads was “Dogs”. I have seen dogs running and barking up to you and probably even bite. So that stopped me from trying, also the thought what if that happened and people were to see and laugh etc. There were so many reasons for me not to start. But since now I had accomplished 5 rounds of the field, which seemed impossible some months back, I gave it a shot. And lo and Behold, It was done. A 5k Run on the Roads.

From not being able to do long Roadtrips, here I saw a different purpose of the Road, Running. So I started running on the roads. Dogs did come after me. I stopped immediately then walked past them slowly. I also changed my time from dawn running to slightly later in the morning, around 7am . That helped with the dogs too.

Then, I attempted my first 10 k Run. It was over 1 year of running and completing multiple 3K and 5K’s Runs. In October 2020 I completed my first 10 k Run. I was over the moon. That’s like 30 rounds of that same field which 1 year back I was scared to even do 3.

Finally, yesterday, 31st January 2021. I completed my 4th 10k Run and on the Road. I dint want one 10k to be a fluke. I dint want 1 run on the road to be a , one off. This was my 4th 10k Run.

Running a 10k is not ground breaking in any ways, Lots of people, athletes do it. But for me it was a big challenge. Overcoming fears, personal taboos and even a pandemic crisis to come out and learn a new sport. A sport that not only helps your body but also your heart and your soul. That was a great learning, Challenging but defining for me.

The pandemic has changed lives for so many people in many different ways. For me it transformed my life by helping me take up a life-long sport and taught me valuable lessons that with small strides, patience and a sense of adventure, No Roads are difficult, No Journeys are impossible. One should but Just make a Start.

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