Jan 21, 2013

In which I philosophize about running...

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep.
 - Robert Frost

About a year back, I wrote this. And promised myself 2 things.

I regret to look back and see I haven't reached 300 posts. The count's only 275. Damn!

But I did finish the Half Marathon in under 3 hours. 2:43:13 to be precise. Yay and all that!

And all along, I thought the other milestone of 300 posts would be the easier one to achieve. Especially since, just a few weeks back, climbing a few steps had left me muttering to myself that "I am too old for this shit."

Life has this unique ability of surprising you. And making you realize that you are not as prolific a writer as you thought you were, or as bad a couch potato as you imagined either.

If you talk to the people who run on a regular basis, they tell you it gives them a 'high'. They tell you it makes you fitter, slimmer, even smarter. They talk about 'being in the zone'. They talk about some strange thing called 'second wind'. They invariably have this anecdote about that one time when they experienced cramps, which left them hobbling, but somehow they 'pushed past the pain barrier' and managed to complete the race. They talk about 'mind over matter', and other positive thinking stuff. They are mostly nice people, but they can get incredibly annoying. Almost like Amway salespeople or Art of Living evangelists, only their agenda is to make you run.

If I ever start sounding like some of them, do me a favour. Walk up to me and punch me in the face. Or if you are too far away, call me up and abuse me like crazy. Do whatever you can, but ensure I don't become one of those "hey, this is so much fun, you should do this too" kind of guy.

There are other people who say running teaches discipline. And planning. Just like you don't get up one fine day and decide to run half way across town (well, some of you do, but I am talking about normal people here). You start with a small run. Wheeze through it and give up. Then, the next week, you find out that you can last a minute longer. And then, the week after, 2 minutes more. And slowly, you build up stamina over time to last the distance. And they claim, you can use this 'template' of planning and executing in other areas of life. Like your personal life or career or timing your bowel movement.

At first, I thought that sounded plausible. Because, I like to think I am a 'plan and execute' kind of guy. Till I realized that unlike the financial model that I build which has a steady state 3% increase in cost of X every year, the reality is starkly different. The people who lecture you on 'planning and execution' are usually the people who end up in investment banking and management consultancy, and who think life can be explained in a 2 x 2 matrix. These are also the people who end up buying a 1000-rupee 'belt' which holds 2 water bottles, because you know, holding the bottle in your hand when you run reduces your 'efficiency'.

And so, while you listen to them and start sweating it out and counting calories to improve your heart's health and to reduce your BMI to acceptable levels, something other metric (which the pharma industry is yet to come up with to sell you expensive pills) is off the radar and is killing you. And the 'suits' will come up with a post-facto explanation as to how they saw this coming.

Running is pointless. In fact, it is one of the most pointless activities I have been a part of. It'll be the second most pointless thing you would happen to indulge in, right after reading this blog. Poor kids in Africa run because they don't have other means of transport. Animals run because they can't drive a car. Reasonably well-off people only run because they can come up to you and lecture you about 'adrenaline rush' and 'runner's high'. Or because all that pounding on their knees somehow killed off a few grey cells in the process.

Stay with me for a while. Even though you are bored to hell by now with this post. Stay for one sentence longer. And one more. And while you have come this far, why not endure it a bit more? Just that one bit extra. I know there is a nice cat video that is streaming on your other tab, but just hold on. Are you still there?

Now read the above paragraph once more. And again. And again.

Running is as pointless as that. Putting one step in front of another. Once. Twice. Ten times. Hundred times. Thousand times. Left, Right, inhale, Left, Right, exhale. Repeat. Over and over and over again.

"Now wait a minute. If running is so pointless, why did you do it again this year?" I hear you ask.

Because, sometimes, you should do something pointless. Not for your health. Not for what other people say or think. Not even for how you feel about it. No, sometimes, you should do pointless things just for the heck of it. Because you can.

Because you know, life itself is pointless. There is no 'grand purpose' to it. It just is. And that doesn't stop you from living, day after boring day, over and over again, does it?

PS: And that's precisely why I will end up running next year too. Just for the heck of it.


  1. Anonymous12:17 PM

    You man,you,gorged on diwali goodies,even wrote a post on it,So it was payback time to the calorie karma u'd accumulated.
    and you ran from point A to point B and wrote a post on it?! i understand,you couldnt have stayed in bed all day and written a post on it.That would have been such a Duh.

  2. Anonymous2:24 AM

    I run whenever i feel very angry,instant release.I like collective running.
    makes one sorted.

  3. @ Anon 1:
    if you are thinking about calories when eating sweets, you are on the wrong blog. Chill and have another laddoo.

    And in spite of writing posts on inane things like eating and running from point A to point B (technically, it was point B to point C, since it was from Bandra to CST), I haven't touched 300 posts. :(

    @ Anon 2:
    I never get angry. And I like collective running too, especially if someone else can run for me. And I don't need to be sorted. What am I, a thing to be arranged in some order?

  4. Anonymous4:29 PM

    nice read.
    you do not need to lose weight.Just run for fun.

  5. Anonymous4:40 AM

    you are of which nakshatram sir,since you like running from a lotof things?

  6. @ Anon 3:
    Run for fun? After I write a whole post on how boring the things is?
    We seem to have a communication gap!

    @ Anon 4:
    If you go by the Big Bang Theory (the theory not the sitcom), all stars are running away from each other in an 'expanding' universe. So, how does it matter which one they assigned to me based on my time of birth?

  7. Good one.
    I'm one of those half-wits that wants to run but too lazy. This Monday, i swear, I'm gonna start.

    Or not.


  8. Someone asked George Mallory (Storied mountaineer of the early 20th century), “Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?

    He replied:"Because it's there.”
    Fully agree with SRK!

  9. @ Random Blogger:
    Why is everybody reading this as if I am recommending people go out and run?

    I might be.

    Or not.

    @ KV
    ah, that's an over-used cliche.

    I mean, nobody tells stories like:
    "Why did you choose to step on that pile of dog poo?"
    "Because it's there"


  10. Anonymous7:18 AM


    give your thoughts on this.

  11. Anonymous6:48 AM

    Hello sir,where's vday rant?

  12. Anonymous6:49 AM

    U married!!! :O

  13. @ Anon 5:

    @ Anon 6:
    Posted. Please do read :)

    @ Anon 7:
    Assume you are same as Anon 6.
    And of course not!

  14. Anonymous10:04 AM

    Siva,do you know abhishek mukherjee from before?

  15. @ Anon 8:
    Don't think so. Why?
    And if I Abhishek Mukherjee is reading this and I actually do know you from somewhere / sometime, please refresh my memory :)