Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My journey from a Sprint Runner to a Marathon Runner

All through chilhood, I have been a sprint runner.
So a 100m dash, 150m dash, 200m dash and even a 400m dash were welcome anytime,so easy, fun, competitive and of course, I did enjoy the sweet smell of victory several times :)
But for anything beyond - 500m dash, 1K run or anything beyond - It was a struggle - Something which I did not really enjoy and invariably lost, some I could not even complete :(

I never really pondered about why I found the long distance running (or marathon running) so tough...
It was only in 2012 when I was successful in marathon running did I find the answers!

I must confess here that I have always enjoyed running - I find it truly energizing, fun and also spiritual in more ways than one. Running is also a great time to be by yourself and be free of "thoughts" if you focus only on running. Also, you can run any time if you are up to it and all you need is a little will and a decent place to run! (No special equipment or frills attached)  

So what did I learn during my journey from a Sprint Runner to a Marathon Runner

Firstly, both sprint running and marathon running are two very different games each requiring different skills, strengths and focus. 
Sprint running is really a test of speed, so it translates into a test of your body and how fast you run to reach the finish line. Of course, your emotional state and immediate environment (w.r.t the running track and people) also play a critical role in how fast you run. But it is a game of skill, speed, practice and competitive spirit!
On the other hand, Marathon running is really a test of endurance, will-power and focus, so it translates into a test of your mind. This will determine whether you will even reach the finish line!  

Two, sprint running is primarily about conditioning your body. The focus is continuously on improving your own baseline record (usually with respect to time). So you think, train, exercise and practice practice practice - To run run run - In record time to reach the finish line.
On the other hand, Marathon running is about conditioning you body and mind. The focus is on drawing from your internal strengths and reserves to touch the finish line. I know that many time my body gives up - I think I can't run anymore. But then the mind takes over, and I am able to run more than I'd have ever imagined! So you dream, visualize, think, draw from internal source of energy and strength and run! And before you know, you will reach the finish line. If ever you let your body take over, you will stop mid-way and probably never finish the marathon!

Three, as a sprint runner I usually used to draw motivation and inspiration from others - be it my coach or friends or ther sheer competitive spirit of standing on the victory stand. Not to mention the applause, popularity, celebrations and importance that followed after a victory (For e.g.: Most people have heard of Usain Bolt who holds the world record of the fastest runner - 9.58 secs for 100m -[ I truly admire this feat!] but how many would be able to name any famous marathon runner?). After all, we all like speed and to witness records being set! And then what's the big deal about running a long distance and reaching the finish line?
But as a marathon runner, I draw on motivation and inspiration from within. The whole world around you blurs and you just focus on running the whole distance! Marathon running is tougher for those who are mentally or emotionally weak! You need to be in a state of internal harmony and balance - physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to enjoy a marathon run!  

Personally, this journey has not been easy - Simply because I was a sprint runner and hence have been conditioned to "RUN FAST" at the word Go. So getting to the destination was the primary objective always! But with time and practice, I have learnt to focus on the destination and also "RUN AT AN OPTIMAL SPEED" at the word Go - which is critical for a marathon! And also enjoy the journey as the journey is as important as the destination!

So what do I like better today? Honestly, both! I can still enjoy a sprint as much as I enjoy a marathon! Just that they both give me personally different pleasures and satifaction.. So that's my journey!

What about you? Are you a sprint runner or marathon runner? Do you have a story similar to mine? If yes, Leave a comment to let me know
If none, may be its time to start running...

NOTE: Incidentally, I am currently also reading the book "Don't Sprint the Marathon" (By V Raghunathan) which is a must read for parents and teachers. This post is partly inspired from the book.

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