Meet my new running squad

Here they are.

The gorgeous little girl in the red, grey & black sweater is Lakshmi & the beautiful, tall girl in blue is Pallavi.

They were sitting by the side of the road as I started the uphill slog back to Nagini village, a little after Deori, and after a fit of giggles, 3 of them started to run alongside me, and when I ran faster, they ran faster, and when I slowed down, so did they.

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2 others materialised and by then we were chatting and were friends, so I challenged them to a race.

Stupid move, Christine.

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Anyway, it’s all about taking part, right?

And last is better than DNF, right?

The 2 older girls practised their English on me, and at one point when young Lakshmi and I ran ahead, she took the time to invite me to a wedding that was happening in the village the next day.  And, since we were on the subject of weddings, had I had a big wedding?  And where was my husband? And where did I live? And, and and…what a chatty little doll she was.

When we ran through Sairopa village, a group of people sitting outside the village shop laughed and cheered us.  I was trailing an honourable last at that point, so I think there was a degree of sympathy 😛

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And to think, before setting out on this run, I’d wondered whether to go or not.

Having already run in the morning, wasn’t a 2nd run a tad overkill?

Thank goodness I ignored myself and ran.

Would never have met my new running group otherwise.

What did you see on your run today?

I am back in one of my all-time favourite places in India, the beautiful Tirthan Valley, in Himachal Pradesh state.

I went for a slow trot along the valley this morning, feeling distinctly winded by the altitude, which isn’t that high, if the truth be told – just 1477 metres.

But whew! Felt very out of puff, so I ran super slowly, enjoying village life as it happened.  Which is, of course, one of the many joys of running in India.

I saw cows and goats, and dogs a’plenty.  2 dogs lazily tried chasing me, but it was all very half-hearted.

I was greeted by villagers going about their village-y life.

I made a poor wee little boy cry.  He saw me, was so shocked by what he saw, that he promptly fell over & burst into tears 😛

But most of all, I enjoyed village life at its peaceful best.

Like so:

Does running help combat jet lag ?

Of course it does.

Running helps combat almost everything, she adds in a muttered aside.

That statement is a bit simplistic, agreed, and way too enthusiastic, agreed, but in my unscientific opinion, it is 100% true.

Running (in the 4 wonderful years since I discovered it) has proved to be the answer to just about every ill.  Headaches, cabin fever, jet lag…the answer is, go for a run.

To be honest, it beats me why the whole world isn’t out there, running away their aches and pains.

But anyway, yes, back to the matter in hand.

Jet lag.

On Sunday, I flew back over night from London to New Delhi where I live.  Didn’t sleep on the plane, nor did I sleep the first night back, so when my alarm went at 5 am on Tuesday, I wanted to weep from chronic exhaustion and headaches and mosquito bites and feeling so miserable and tired and ill-tempered.

But instead of dozing – which is all I’d managed to do for 2 consecutive nights – I got up, laced up my running shoes and headed out to my local park.  And felt immediately 100% better.  Immediately.  I kid you not.

10 slow happy kilometres later, feeeling fit as a fiddle, I trotted into the house to find everyone else still fast asleep.

While the others slept, I’d seen more peacocks than you could shake a stick at.

I’d seen adolescent peacocks dancing and mock fighting, their little stumpy tail feathers making them look more like turkeys.

I’d said hello to all the park regulars.

I’d explained to the sweet lady selling tea and biscuits outside the park where I’d been & why she hadn’t seen me.

I’d plogged.

And I felt alert and energised.

So. Yes, running definitely combats my jet lag for sure.

Now let’s check out the science a little, shall we?

This article from Runner’s World has some interesting points, though clearly there is still more study needed on exactly why erxercise helps combat jet lag.

This is also a very interesting article.

Ans before you go, do please read the article in this link.  I found it while researching if/why running helps with jet lag, and not only is this a beautifully written ode to running through jet lag, it is also about running in Delhi. It’s good to know that I am not alone in feeling that running is the answer…

So how this hell did this happen?

What on earth has happened to me?

In the 4 1/2 years since I started running, my life has changed in so many ways, 99% of them for the better.

I have changed, too.

And no, it’s not the obvious thing everyone assumes with running – weight loss.  In fact, with boring old-age, I am heavier now than I have ever been in my entire life, even heavier than when I was pregnant, for crying out loud.

So, no, actually, I haven’t really changed that much in physical ways – except being able to run for 42 km, of course!

I have, however, changed emotionally and mentally, and that’s why I am in a terrible, cranky mood this beautiful morning.

I’m in a filthy mood because I didn’t get up and run.

My day is potentially shot now, and all because I didn’t run.

So, as I asked in the title of this blog post – how this hell did this happen?

How does the fact of not going for a run, something I didn’t do for 60 years, suddenly get to define my day and my mood?

For those of you reading this who don’t know me, I started running when I turned 60, as part of a bucket list.

I also climbed a mountain, was on the BBC, was an extra in a Bollywood movie.  All bucket list ticks.

But the lack of those “ticks” in my every day life does not affect me in the way running does.

If I don’t run I feel bad.  End of story.

How is it possible that for decades I successfully negotiated life with just a cup of coffee to get me started and motivated and feeling happy and alert?

How did I get myself through Oxford, and working, and 2 more degrees, and motherhood, and living all over the world, on just a morning cuppa to get me kickstarted?

Why now must it be the fact of running/not running that governs my mood and my day?  Why is today feeling like a bad day, at 9am, just because I didn’t run?

When. Did. This. happen?

Take this morning, for example.

And let me quickly set the scene for people unfamiliar with New Delhi, where I live.

It’s hot here now – as in hot – so early morning running is about the only sensible way to beat the heat.

Delhi is also super-crowded and cursed with insane traffic, so on all logical counts, it makes sense to run in those relatively cool, relatively un-traffic-y dawn hours.

Add to this the fact that Delhi had a storm last night, with rain and strong winds which meant that this morning would have been cool and washed-clean-y, and the normally polluted air would’ve been…

Grrr.

But I didn’t get to experience any of this mood enhancing morning, did I, because I slept horribly badly, and when my alarm went off at 4.45, I could not get up.  Just couldn’t.

So, having tossed and turned, I got up at 6.40, still-tired and headachey, but by then it was already a little too hot to go for that scheduled long run, & so the day started with a feeling of loss, of wasted opportunity, of a moment I’d never get again…and of guilt.

Definite guilt.

Major guilt.

I’d planned to run this morning with a young friend, Ripu, who is coming back from injury.  We’d agreed to do an hour or so’s stretching and training in the Lodhi Gardens, and then run for 13km.

So added to all the above feelings of irritation at not running, is also the guilt at letting one’s friends down.

So, once again, I ask you: when did this happen?  And why does it happen?

How is it that not running can ruin my day, before it has even really got under way?

And…am I alone in feeling like this?

I suspect not, but why oh why oh why does running have this effect on us?

Do swimmers feel like this when they don’t swim?

Footballers when they don’t play?

Jockeys when they don’t race?

Or is this feeling of loss at not having exercised unique to we runners?

(The reason I suspect I’m not alone in the guilt stakes is this article, from which the above quote is taken

https://www.outsideonline.com/2156936/you-can-never-escape-runners-guilt )

Meet the Indian-Swedish ploggers

PLOGGING.

Possibly the coolest & most impact-ful concept this year to come out of already pretty darn cool Sweden.

Plogging is a new word, combining the Swedish word “plogga” (to pick up) with “jogging”, that universal word, and the result is plogging.

All it means is runners picking up trash.

Could. Not. Be. Simpler.

Last month I wrote 2 blog posts about plogging in my personal blog – christinepemberton.me – because I felt that the whole issue of rubbish and littering was one that needed addressing in a general forum, and not justin a running context, given the magnitude of the problem here in India.

So, for anyone who didn’t read them at the time, here are the links.

I’m linking you to my personal blog, since you’re already here in the running one!  That way, you can also see what I write about when I’m not writing about running 😛

So, my first post post was by way of an intro to plogging.

And then a follow-up post a couple of weeks later showed the extent of the challenge in our local park, and the observation by one of the youngsters in my running group that “rubbish has become invisible”.

Which brings me to yesterday.

The Delhi-NCR office of the Swedish company Ericsson held a family running event yesterday morning in the Aravali Biodiversity Park in Gurgaon, and keen to do their bit for the environment, they organised a post-run plogging session.

A couple of us went over to join them, and give a helping hand.

The significance of a Swedish company being the first corporate to organise a plogging session here in Delhi NCR can not be overlooked 🙂 🙂

The Gurgaon Aravali Biodiversity Park is one of our big success stories, with formerly degraded land being rehabilitated, the ground cover increasing and the wildlife returning (just like my own south Delhi local branch of the same park).  It is also clean.

As I ran my 10k, up and down the slopes I actually thought “Whoops, perhaps this isn’t going to be such a successful intro to plogging after all.”

Hey, hey hey!!

Don’t get me wrong.

We don’t WANT litter, of course we don’t, but when a corporate arranges a special cleaning up drive, in order to motivate people, and then there’s not a whole lot to clean up, well…

Be that as it may, a core group from the Ericsson Runners stayed back, and off we set back along the trail, which had been cleaned after our run.

But oh my goodness me.

Despite looking clean, with every glass or paper cup or chip packet we picked up, with every metre we wandered from the path into the thorn bushes, the extent of the litter problem revealed itself and within 30 minutes we had filled 2 big garbage bags.

Remember the observation “Rubbish has become invisible”…

The good folk who cleaned up, braved the fierce sun, got stuck in thorn bushes, all of them agreed that though the park superficially looked clean, it was still depressingly littered, with horrid caches of rubbish, which then gets blown around, or spread by stray dogs.

Like so.

How horrid is this?

A big shout out to the Ericsson Runners, who became brand ambassadors in a way for yet another Swedish incentive 🙂

Here they are in action :

  

Here’s wishing the Indian-Swedish ploggers all the best – do, please, take the initiative forward, guys!

TOTAL running inspiration

WHAT a photo 🙂

This was taken at last month’s New Delhi Marathon, and if ever you wanted an illustration as to why runners are the best – well, here you go!

The lady in the centre is Neelu Panag Khanna, & she is between 2 legends of the Delhi running community, the stars of long-distance running, Mamta and Meenal.

Let Neelu take up the story, in her own words, below the photo…

“When you hit the wall & you hit it hard.

Not a great pic to share but it’s more than a poor pic of me.
It’s about women supporting each other in odds.
Holding hands, not one but from both sides and making sure you reach your goal.
It’s about selfless friendship, sacrificing your own Sunday run and much more.
Most importantly being there…knowing v.well that you’d be dragging a dead meat.

And it’s a promise that next time I will make you proud for what you gave up for me.”

I love every single sentiment expressed by Neelu.

Every.  Single.  Thing.

This is just such a powerful image.

Hugs to 3 amazing friends 🙂

Sometimes it’s good to look back…

In this funny ol’ journey called running, there are moments when you really do need to stop, look back and take stock.

Which is exactly what I did yesterday.

This week, thanks to those handy Facebook reminders, I learned that 4 years ago I ran my first ever 10k.

I remember that day so clearly.

10k.

An unthinkable distance, a huge challenge, both physically and mentally, and oh my goodness me, the subsequent pride at having completed 10k.

Fast forward 4 years and yes, 10k is still a very respectable challenge – I just ran a 10k race 2 weeks ago, in fact – but it is no longer a distance that scares me.

I’d be showing off if I were to say 10k is my “normal” daily distance, but it almost is.

When I go for my run in my local park, it’s 1.8km there & back = 3.6k.  One round of the park is about 5 1/2K so without much effort, yes, an-almost-10k has become a regular distance.  One I tackle slowly & pottering-ly, but as I said, I’m no longer scared by it.

So yes, it is good to stop & look back occasionally.

Which is by way of a long lead-in for yesterday’s “looking-back” session.

We were a small group yesterday, for our tempo run, but boy were the standards high.

A cracking pace was set by Navi, & I had to battle to keep up, succumbing to a wave of nausea 120 metres before the agreed distance.

But by and large I did manage to keep up, nausea notwithstanding.

Then we planked.

I’m still pretty bad at planking, but I can do it.

Sort of.

There were a few admonitions of “lower” and “bottom down” yesterday, but I can at least hold a plank, something I could not do a year ago.

Which is why, when I flailed around like a beached whale while my companions effortlessly did super cool yoga asanas, I tried to keep the faith.

Above we have young Ripu, in his first run after injuring himself, and (below) the one and only Navi.

If I can now run 10k without worrying…

If I can hold a plank for more than a minute…

Then yes, one day, perhaps I, too, will be able to do cool things like this…

Rachna makes it look so easy.

So, instead of fretting about what lies ahead/what is still to be achieved/what seems impossible, sometimes it’s OK to look back.

End of sermon 🙂

What did you see on your run today? #373 stars my namesake!

My lovely running girlfriend Katha is back in Blighty, after a whirlwind trip to Delhi last week.

Taking advantage of, as she says “the unexpected super bright sun that shone for a couple of hours”, out she headed for a run.

A brisk 4-miler on a road near home, where she captured the sunset for us:

And –  quick drumroll – look what else Katha saw 🙂

Yaay!  Fame!

Thanks, as ever, my dear friend for these & #keeprunning #keepinspiring

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