There’s running. And then there’s life

Or is it the other way round?

Which comes first, running or life?

Seriously, there are times when I marvel at just how complicated something as intrinsically uncomplicated as running can be.

It’s not the running itself that’s complicated.

Far from it.

Running is dead easy.

Lace up your shoes and head out.

End of story.

It’s the whole fitting your running into a busy schedule that includes so many moving parts. And other people.  And other people’s demands.  And work.  And everything else.

That’s the complicated part.

Let me state my own case, to get the ball rolling.

I have life pretty easy, I’m the first to admit.

I’m old, so don’t have young dependent children.

I work from home, so am more mistress of my time than many people.

And yet…

Getting the life-work-family-running balance sorted is not easy, and never more so than when I’m 6 weeks from a full marathon & totally under-trained.  Carving out blocks of 3 and 4 and 5 hours to run is not simple.

And, as I said, I have life very easy.

For those of you who don’t know me, I live in New Delhi, India, a city which is currently cursed with the reputation of being one of the most polluted cities on the planet.  It is therefore not a good idea to get up in the pre-dawn dark and try and get those miles in, because the early morning pollution levels are horrific.

One feels (whether it is true or not) that the sun “burns off” some of the pollution, so I tend to head out mid-morning to run in my local park.  That’s an advantage office-goers don’t have, I fully appreciate, and I do love my solo runs.

But…we have house guests.

As one does in India at this time of the year.

And so what am I supposed to do, as I must get my long runs in, other than abandon them for 4 1/2 hours, which is what I did yesterday?

Yes, I did abandon them and, for the record, felt mighty guilty about it.

Now what I’m about to tell you next is such a first world problem, but one of the hazards of trying to train hard in Delhi in the winters is that social life takes over.

Yeah, such a problem, right? 😛

Fellow Delhi runners will understand – actually I think all my fellow Indian runners will understand – but this is full-on wedding season.

For those of you unfamiliar with Indian weddings, they are not a half-day affair, like most western Christian weddings.  No sirree.

Your Big Fat Indian wedding lasts for days, has a cast of thousands, involves many different functions, is admittedly great fun, but is completely incompatible with pre-marathon early nights.

Totally impossible.

I have a dreadful reputation amongst my husband’s friends, whose children are all getting married and/or having babies (which involves equal amounts of partying).  I routinely skip functions, because I have a race the next day, and the all-round perception of me is (I’m sure) of someone who is totally wrapped up in her own interests over those of whoever is celebrating.

However lovely it is to be invited out, if there’s a race on the horizon, or a major training session, these have to be prioritised.

After 5 years of running, I still have NO idea how to manage my life-work-running balance.  Someone or something always seems to be offended.

I am bored witless by people telling me that I’m obsessive about my running.

Bored.  Witless.

Perhaps I am obsessed, but what of it?

Isn’t it better to be obsessed with trying to exercise and keep healthy in my dotage?

And since the “obsessive” monniker usually comes in the context of not wanting to party late/go out/have another drink, it’s always deeply ironic.

Yeah, perhaps I am obsessed, but at least it’s a healthy obsession, right?

Oh dear, I don’t want to sound grumpy, and I think that is how it sounds…

I run.  I love it.

But it’s unfortunate that for so many people in my immediate world, the need to run, and train, and train some more is perceived as being a selfish pursuit.

I see that I have shared similar thoughts on the Running vs Life debate twice before, and I’m clearly no closer to getting it sorted than I was 3 years ago when I first discussed it & in July this year


  • Vinita s jain

    I could give a whole interview or talk on the topic and trust me Christine whatever we may say or do, there’s only one notion …. running or cycling or a tri life is our own selfish passion. Even if the family supports you morally, at the end of the day, the physical aspects of carrying out the daily Norma of a working professional, a mother, a wife, a daughter in law, a sister in law, friend and so on cannot be overlooked. Your family expects you to be loyal to all your duties and find a balance for yourself n ur passion. If I have to run or bike I need to find time through all these daily non ending chores and do it. If I can’t find time in the morning, simple do it in the night when everyone else is off into the dream world and you can carve a niche for yourself for your dreams and passions alike. You will manage but trust me most of the times it’s on a completely exhausted mind and body. Yet I feel energised after each run or bike episode of mine because finally I get an hour or so to be just ME

  • Sneh Wadhwaney

    Very well put Christine! Although my life is very different from yours (a full time teacher witha 4 year old at home and a partner who travels a lot) it’s the same struggle. Finding the few hours for myself is ridden with major juggling and often guilt. On weekdays, running straight after work helps and on weekends the mornings work best, despite the rocketing pollution levels. Good luck on your running journey. Hope the marathon goes well!

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