Running Like An Elephant

There isn’t a single thing in this world that you are the first to do or the last to do.  Writing, running, singing, whatever. But for you, there will be a lot of firsts and lasts. Running is a first for me. I ran as a child (didn’t we all?) and then I stopped. Recently, I started again. Armed with neon green Nike shoes which I borrowed from my best friend and eventually made my own, and a very flimsy spirit to run, I began running. I didn’t do it alone. Good god no. A friend of mine,  a very kind friend of mine told me, “run when you’re ready and you want to.” A spectacular runner and a thorough gentle soul, she is on fire at 5:30 am in her running gear. Her Instagram is enough motivation to get even the laziest walker (a.k.a me) up and running at 6:00am.  So, when it felt right, I went for it.

This August, my birthday month, I took up running. I rang in my 23rd year with a long, panting run with my friend, who I’ll call M. While M was busy enjoying the birds chirping and the dogs running, I was panting for breath and life, wondering why anyone in their sane mind would run.

Now, to be perfectly honest (if there were ever such a thing) I started running to prove a point to myself. I had quit on so many things in my teens (exercise being one of them) that now I wanted to stop quitting. I was back at writing. At poetry. At dancing. So far so good. But running was getting hard. Add in pollen allergies and early onset of Asthma, and I had enough problems to start and run an Ekta Kapoor serial for seven years.

Still, I couldn’t quit. Not for my sanity. So I went. I panted, howled, joked, and low key thought I’d die. But here’s the thing – no one died while running. Not that I know of anyway. So I jogged. I walked. I panted.

One day, a week after my miraculous 10k, I ran for 0.5miles alone. While the 10k had been a fait accompli and an unknown 10k that my phenomenal running group (introduced to me by M, of course)  encouraged me through, this 0.5miles was conscious and for the first time, I felt a surge of happiness from within. Where the time went, when I started enjoying it, I don’t know. But that happiness came so quickly and lasted so long that suddenly running wasn’t so bad.

I haven’t been able to run since because Delhi pollution and pollen struck, so this story has a short, short ending as of now. But the good thing is, after one month of disliking, panting, and even cursing running, it’s begun to feel like writing or poetry. It feels like I belong in that deafening rush of my heart and feet, where every second my body is torn between loving it and grudging it. Where at some point, my feet begin to understand the ground as if I was dancing, and take on the joy that dancing brings to me.

I will obviously not stop running. That much I’ve understood. But learning to run with the group has been so far the biggest highlight of my birthday month.

I’ll update you as and when I run something blog worthy, but till then, be content knowing that when I run, I look like an underweight agitated elephant throwing a tantrum. A little like this: