Concomitantly, a gust of cool, crisp air caught me unawares. The swirling wind rocked the trees to its breezy music, enticing the birds to chirp and tweet their morning melody. Grasping the elegance of the moment, the butterflies seemingly intoxicated by the nectar-laden flowers exuding fragrance from their bosoms gladly joined in the symphony. There could not have been a more glorious moment orchestrated for me to embark on my customary weekly long run as I launched my body for a joy ride. My feet picked up the pace. My arms swung swiftly with each hurried breath as I passed by the magnificent trees and deer grazing on the roadside. I noticed droplets of sweat breaking out on my face as my lungs howled and begged for air. Suddenly, my train of thought slowed down gradually to a whimper and eventually receded into nothingness. My body had taken over, putting my life in reverse. It was - matter over my mind. My thoughts evaporated, substituting them with euphoria. Time ceased to exist as a secret door magically flung itself open on the running planet, ushering me into a continent of pure bliss.
Discovering the joys of running or taking to run didn’t come easy to me. It doesn’t come easy to others either. Although I now love running, I must confess that I spent my first twenty-odd years despising running because I experienced cramps every time I ran. So much so that just running a few hundred metres seemed an ordeal. I loathed running so much that I even resisted thinking of it.
After clearing the UPSC exams in 1991, I joined the foundation course at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy of Administration, Mussoorie. There, I evaded mandatory jogging sessions during morning PT, mostly feigning injury and ill health. I even completed the course without running a mile. But when I joined the National Police Academy at Hyderabad a little later, the same ploys became undeployable. The instructors forced me to lace up my shoes every morning and run in a squad formation even when my lungs burnt, and my feet threw a total fit. Not only did that feel terrible while I was running, but it also felt horrendous the following day when I woke up feeling sore all over my body. Finding no way out, despite the suck, I stuck to it. As days passed by, the suck softened and dwindled. As I persisted with running, one magical day, I realised the terribleness or the suck of running had mysteriously disappeared. Surprisingly, the secret of riding out the suck had untangled itself to me. Of course, not instantly, but in the long run.
After a few years and a couple of active postings, I realised that the trappings of being a police officer had induced me to a life of comfort and lethargy. I awkwardly jutted out in the middle, as I wasn’t doing enough to honour my body. I admired officers and men doing their runs in the Armed Reserve grounds when I attended weekly parades. Deep down, I knew some steady running could battle the growing bulge. But I was reluctant to drag my body to run out of laziness. After mulling over it for several months, I pulled out my track pants one fine winter morning, dusted my shoes, and pushed myself to run for fifteen minutes. I have never looked back since then. Over the years, I have run several marathons and ultras and even earned a couple of Asian records.
Since long, I have come across several friends, some of whom were curious to know why I ran. Some wanted to know how to run, while some wanted help to run. Running, in the beginning, feels terrible, absolutely terrible for all. But as one runs consistently for a month, it starts to feel amazing. It may sound awfully cliche, but jogging indeed has liberated me from negativity, anxiety and fear. For someone who was initially reluctant and adamant to run, I would say there is no harm in trying to pursue it for some time till one catches the bug. Here is a statutory warning, though — running could become an addiction; when one gets bitten by the running bug.
Running for long periods can open up new frontiers. The act of running nourishes the joy bubbling within me — in rhythm with every stride and swing of my arms. Jogging occasionally cracks open unusual mental spaces inside me that allow me to solve my life
problems from a positive mental state of mind. It also helps me be more mindful and makes fantastic things come about in my life. A good run tugs me and sucks me into the present splendid moment. Running is meditation in motion as it silences the mental
chatter. That’s why it is spiritual. And losing oneself totally to the moment feels rapturous and ecstatic beyond words.
— The writer is ADGP, Idol Wing CID