Running footloose & fancy free

This morning started early.

Up at 3.45 to caffeineate, and then drive to Gurgaon, the satellite city to Delhi (where I live) for a 5.30am race start.

This race, officially called Footloose, comprised a 5k, 10k, 15k and a half marathon, and the rules of the race were quite simple.

No watch.


No mobile.

No music.

No pacers.

And the winner is the person who predicts his/her finish time as accurately as possible.

Now HOW fun is that?

This is, in all seriousness, the first time I have ever run without a watch.

I mean, we all wear watches, right?

Even that very first running session with my now (sadly defunct) running group, when I could barely manage 100m without gasping for breath – even then, I was wearing a watch. Because that’s what we all do.

Now, of course, I always wear my Garmin & track my runs and download them and analyse them.

I realised just how instinctive that action of starting my Garmin at the beginning of a race/run/training session has become, when I stopped at the timing mat that marked the starting point today, so I could switch on my watch…oh, yes, right, no watch 😛 so off I trotted.

It was a nice route in a part of Gurgaon that I have never been to.  There were stretches of grassy land on either side of the road, and cows and water buffaloes, and at one point a cow scrambled up the bank and crossed in front of me & I “reached” for my phone to take a photo and…oh, yes, no phone 😛 so on I trotted.

All very relaxing, I have to say, and since I’d put in an easy predicted time for my 10k (70 minutes) I took the whole race nice and easy, and funnily enough, didn’t even miss my music.

There’s clearly something to be said for running gadget less.

The whole vibe, actually, was relaxed.

Everyone had breakfast and yogurt and drinks after the race, and then we all went and planted a sapling.

As one does after a race.

Love the idea of all of us giving back, in some little way.

We all have to run in the poor air of Delhi & Gurgaon, so it’s in all our interests to “green” as much as we can.

We will be the beneficiaries, after all.


Verdict of my first gadget-less race?

Loved it.  Quite liberating.

And all of us from our ASICS Running Club came in under our self-predicted times, so that was nice.

One of my running friends, Nilay Arun, had this to say on Facebook about his experience today:

“If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen. But today was an exception. The no Garmin, no mobile phones Footloose run by Coach Ravinder. This is the first run in the past 6 years which I didn’t track. Happy to know that I’m not as addicted as I thought I was  “

Nilay – you took the words right out of my mouth!

Let me end with backing all this up with a lovely quotation from the late Ed Whitlock, a British-Canadian runner who died very recently.  At the end of last year, he ran the Toronto marathon in under 4 hours, at age 85, by the way.

“I don’t follow what typical coaches say about serious runners. No physios, ice baths, massages, tempo runs, heart-rate monitors,” he explained in an interview with the magazine Runner’s World. “I have no strong objections to any of that, but I’m not sufficiently organised or ambitious to do all the things you’re supposed to do if you’re serious. The more time you spend fiddle-diddling with this and that, the less time there is to run or waste time in other ways.”

Fiddle-diddling: has there ever been a better term of dismissal for the diversionary nonsense which clogs up the modern jogger’s preparations before they even reach the start line? Whitlock insists that at his age he has no time to squander on peripherals (nor does he always have a grandchild handy to show him how to program his fit-bit). He prefers instead simply to get out there and run and run, not stopping even when he reaches 85. And for that he serves as a role model for us all.

Thanks to the Daily Telegraph for the above.

So, let’s hear it for being footloose & not fiddle-diddling 🙂


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