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

Summer time and the running is lazy

It is the beginning of March and here in Delhi, where I live, the winter has well & truly given way to spring-borderline-summer.  Mornings & evenings are still pleasantly cool, but the days are hotting up, all adding to the summer holiday mood I am now in.

Let me explain.

The North Indian running calendar – well, my calendar at least – is very winter-centric.

There are an increasing number of races throughout the year, in line with the growing popularity of running in India, but I stick with just a few of the big races, which all take place between late November – late February.

In the 3 months from late Nov 2017 to end February 2018, for example, I ran 2 halfs and 2 fulls.  Small wonder that, having run 2 full marathons in the space of 5 weeks, this week seems like the beginning of the long summer hols when I was a child…no pressure, only fun times ahead…

It was in this holiday spirit that I went for a slow, gentle run in my local biodiversity park.

No training schedule in mind, just pottering along, enjoying myself.  Which is why I run in the first place.

The park was deliciously cool and deliciously empty as the sun rose, and I got to run past more peacocks than you could shake a stick at.

Gorgeous creatures, all their plumage in place, and I look forward to seeing these lovely fellas dance their hearts out in a few weeks, as they do every year.

I rounded a bend on the track and ran smack dab into this flock of multicoloured women 🙂

Wow, I told them, you look amazing.

Hoots of laughter all round.

Where are you all going ?

To do a puja (a religious ceremony).

Where?  At the little shrine down there, I asked, waving in the general direction of a little temple inside the park, back down the track.

Yes, they all agreed.

Is it a special day, I asked?

Here, come over here, was the reply, as a young woman who had been at the back of the group came forward.

She’s the daughter in law, one woman said, as though that explained everything.

Which it sort of did.

I guess they were all off to do a puja because she’s just become the “the daughter in law” or possibly isn’t getting pregnant, but whatever it was, with cheery “bye byes” (in English, please note) off they trotted at a heck of a clip.

This morning’s slow amble round the park – 15km worth, all the same – was a refreshing reminder of why I enjoy running so much.

There is a wonderful running life beyond races 🙂

And the award for the best marathon sign goes to…

Pause, while I open the envelope…

(Oscar fever?  Moi?)

Well, actually, why ever not?!

And the Oscar theme also allows me to explain to my dear friend Sushant why I waited 2 whole weeks before posting this 😛

Sushant recently ran a full marathon – here, let him tell you himself:

“I ran my second full marathon this weekend, on a cool, overcast day in lovely Austin, Texas! But my awesome wife stole the show with her sign-making and cheerleading skills, with an Austin website featuring her on their site!”

Here’s Megha holding up That Sign.

And here’s the link to the website 🙂

What a great team you two are!

Congrats, Sushant for the marathon.

And congrats to Megha for possibly outshining him 😛

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