Author's Note: This is the second of a three part series.
I was living in Paris staying away from the family in those days. During those days, it is hard to find the energy to get up in the morning since the situation was far from ideal. As my family was living in India at that time, a cloud of lethargy had descended on my life. I was doubtful of uncovering reserves of energy to pursue a new hobby even if it was for better health.
Despite adverse conditions, I kept planning to reach my end goal of long distance running in my mind. The first step was simple. I should be able to run non-stop. One of the initial plans was to run and walk alternatively. I will run for a minute and recover by walking for two minutes. Over a period of time, I will gradually increase the running time while decreasing the recovery time. While contemplating this plan, I downloaded the one of the "Couch to 5K" programs. Despite all these efforts, I was still missing the spark to light up the fire.
Then, my assignment in Paris ended. As a result, I had to return to India. After settling down to the routine at home, it was my wife who encouraged me to go for a walk or run in the nearby park. The park is built around a lake and has a track for running or walking around the lake. It is crowded from 6 am. I decided to put on my running shoes and use the Couch to 5K program as a guide. Gradually, I was able to run for a burst of 4 minutes. When I was progressing with the running, a new assignment resulted in me shifting to the UK.
The move to the UK was a setback. Again, I was away from my family. The long hours at work and the late night binges to meet impossible deadlines had a detrimental effect on the waistline. Fortunately, my wife joined me in a few months. She helped with the diet. I had unsuccessful stints in two different gyms. During this time, I was able to run continuously for 20 minutes covering a distance of 2 kilometers on the treadmill. But I was not a regular.
I was due for the yearly health check. After the examination, the doctor explained the health risks due to my age. Although these may not be high, there are factors which I needed to control. The doctor asked me to change my lifestyle and advised to exercise regularly. I chose running as the activity for changing my lifestyle and infusing energy. As I had spent already spent money on gym memberships and running shoes, I decided on spending as little as possible in this venture which was started and abandoned many times in the past.
The only option was to use the streets in Reading, the city I was living, like my treadmill. NHS has a free "Couch to 5K" program. Unlike other apps, this is a podcast. The podcaster talks to you, and there is music. They have a program which lasts 8 weeks. By the end of 8 weeks, you will be able to run for 35 minutes. When you run for 35 minutes, you would have covered a distance of 5 kilometers or more. The program is designed for beginner runners. I chose to run after 8 pm in the evening. The first few podcasts were only 20 minutes. Gradually over a period of 8 weeks, I was able to complete this program.
Covering 5 kilometers in 35 minutes is not a laudable task. There were a few inconsiderate runners who had ridiculed my pace. But there were a few lessons to learn at the end. There are many things in life where you will minimal support from outside world. If you are lucky, you will get one supporter for every ten detractors. If you do, thank your stars and get on with it. Most of the times, you will have to find motivation within yourself. Secondly, you don't need an expensive or grand plan to achieve your goals. A simple plan is sufficient if you have the resolve.
Photo Courtesy: Photokkaran