Last weekend, I participated in the BSA Hercules Duathlon organized by RFL.
I did the 10 km running + 20 km cycling thing.
I was the last-but-one guy to finish and I did take twice the amount of time as the first guy to finish.
But I didn’t care about that. I expected to finish in 3 hours and I completed before that. And I finished strongly, not crawling to the end as I used to. I enjoyed the run, I enjoyed the cycling and I was satisfied.
Photos by Vikram:
It reminded me of the book “What I talk about when I talk about running” by Haruki Murakami that I read recently (borrowed from Varun).
I really liked the book, because Murakami puts into words the things I have felt as a runner but is almost impossible to truly explain it to somebody else.
Just to put things into perspective – Murakami started running in 1982 at the age of 30, running everyday since then for nearly 23 years. He has run at least one marathon every year, i.e., 23 marathons till date [when the book was published], and many more long-distance runs.
Some of my favorite passages from the book are below.
About the rhythm:
As long as I can run a certain distance, that’s all I care about. Sometimes I run fast when I feel like it, but if I increase the pace I shorten the amount of time I run, the point being to let the exhilaration I feel at the end of each run carry over to the next day. This is the same sort of tack I find necessary when writing a novel. I stop every day right at the ponit where I feel I can write more. Do that, and the next day’s work goes surprisingly smoothly. I think Ernest Hemingway did something like that. To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm. This is the important thing for long-term projects. Once you set the pace, the rest will follow. The problem is getting the flywheel to spin at a set speed – and to get to that point takes as much concentration and effort as you can manage.
About why we run:
Most ordinary runners are motivated by an individual goal, more than anything: namely, a time they want to beat. As long as he can beat that time, a runner will feel he’s accomplished what he set out to do, and if he can’t, then he’ll feel he hasn’t. Even if he doesn’t break the time he’d hoped for, as long as he has the sense of satisfaction at having done his very best – and, possibly, having made some significant discovery about himself in the process – then that in itself is an accomplishment, a positive feeling he can carry over to the next race.
… Marathon runners will understand what I mean. We don’t really care whether we beat any other particular runner. World-class runners, of course, want to outdo their closest rivals, but for your average, everyday runner, individual rivalry isn’t a major issue. I’m sure there are garden-variety runners whose desire to beat a particular rival spurs them on to train harder. But what happens if their rival, for whatever reason, drops out of the competition? Their motivation for running would disappear or at least diminish, and it’d be hard for them to remain runners for long.
For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.