How Running A Half-Marathon Turned Out To Be A Life-Changing Experience For Me

Posted on January 15, 2016 in Health and Life, My Story

By Rahul Bhardwaj:

Source: Flickr
For representation. Source: Joe/Flickr

I am writing this article after my first 21 km run and hope to inspire others to do so in the process. I have done treks, runs before in my life but this particular event was the most unique experience of my life and after going through the whole process, I realised why it was important for me to run now and my whole life. No matter how many pitfalls came before the event, there was always a voice inside me that said not to give up and just move ahead. What was this voice? Why did this event have such a huge significance?

As marathons are becoming more and more popular among Indians, sceptics have come up to call this interest as to gain some bragging rights among friends. But those who really enjoy running will tell you it’s the battle inside which matters the most and not the world. And this battle inside motivates you to run faster and farther. While running, you leave behind all the tensions, worry, jealousy, envy, etc because the battle does not concern the world or anyone else except you. There are no factors other than you, your body and the path. That is a time in your life where your brain will not think anything, and you will be at complete peace.

Events That Happened Before The Run

Since it was a half marathon, I decide to train well for this, otherwise, I would fail to even complete the event. And it is always better in these events to go with someone, as it gives you the added motivation to participate in the run. So I decided to go with a friend and we decided that we will discuss how much we trained and how many kilometres we ran every day.

So 2 weeks before the run, I planned to run 10 km (half of the actual event) to test my strength and fatigue. It was a good run and I was feeling happy after the session. But as I was walking towards home, an agonizing pain started to build on the lower-middle part of my feet. The strange thing about the pain was that it kept on increasing for like 10-15 minutes and then it remained constant. I was sure it was a muscle pull due to practise and it will go away if I soaked my feet in warm water with salt and applied a sprain bandage. But the pain didn’t go away so easily, and there was a voice inside me which kept on telling me to endure the pain and just get ready for the marathon.

While I was dealing with the pain I got sick with a viral infection (10 days before the event) and it took me solid 4 days of bed rest and medicine to be normal. After I recovered from the viral I finally decided to see a physiotherapist and she explained that the problem was due to my shoes. So here I learnt a very hard lesson that if you are a runner and you do these kinds of events regularly, changing your shoes every 2 years is a good practice.

My ultrasound therapy session started 6 days before the run and after 3 sessions my pain reduced by 80% and I was feeling confident to run again. But 2 days before the run I met with an accident when my bike skidded off the wet road and I injured my left hand and knee. I was lucky to not get any serious injuries since I was wearing proper riding gear. While returning from the hospital after addressing my wounds, that voice kept telling me to not quit.

What Happened During The Run

The day finally arrived and as it was a midnight marathon the cold breeze started to show its effect as all were waiting for the start whistle to blow. After a motivational speech from the legendary Milkha Singh we were off and then, there was just the path and me. It felt great that so many middle-aged and old timers were running the race, it gave me added motivation to run faster and at the same time maintain my energy levels.

There is always one thing that happens in every marathon, you make an unknown marathon buddy. You will not say hi or know that person’s name but you will make sure you are not far behind that person or at least at reaching distance and at the final stretch you will try your best to beat that particular person.

The first 10 km were quite easy as I had properly trained for it but after 15 km the excruciating pain in the lower feet came back and it was worse than ever as there was no option to stop at this point of time. Now, I had to make a decision right there on whether to run the last 6 km or to stop as the pain was too much to continue. Based on the intensity of the pain I decided if it crosses a certain level then I would stop, otherwise I will keep running and not worry about it.

What The Run Taught Me

1. Perseverance: No matter how bad the situation is in life there is always a way to push through the troubles and come out as a winner.
2. Testing own limits: If you run you can test your own limits every time. Remember it’s not a fight with others but it’s the fight within that counts the most.
3. Me time: While running there is not a single thought inside your mind. I guess many have achieved this via meditation but for me running does the trick!
4. Inspiration: When you go on runs you will meet people much older than you running much better. This inspires me to remain fit all my life and automatically gives me motivation to atleast match their performance if not beat them.

At last I would like to say, I have experienced a lot of highs in my life but a runner’s high is the best feeling in the world; when you go beyond your own limits and achieve something which you thought is not achievable. So go for it, stop listening to the world, train your body and just run!