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…
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.
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