100 Days of Running – or How to Get Back on Track

I run to breathe the fresh air.
I run to excel.
I run to savour the high which kicks in.
I run because I cannot yell.
I run to escape the ordinary.
People may think so, but I am no rebel.

I penned these words when I was ten – what a dramatic kid I must have been.

Unlike other girls my age, I was faster than most of the boys I grew up with. The sense of winning and being the odd one in the pool excited me. I took to running as fish does to water.

I have been at it since I can remember. Consequently, a variety of outdoor sports felt like a piece of cake. But amidst it all, running was the constant companion. It may have been difficult on the legs but it was always easy on the mind.

All in all, it felt like it was a relationship which could withstand the test of time. But boy, was I wrong.

After six years of a hiatus, I got back on track earlier this year. The idea was not to create a record or even continue for ‘x’ number of days; it was simply the urge to get back to something I used to love.

I was not even sure if I knew how to run anymore. Okay, that may have been an exaggeration in my head but the anxiety was real.

I was standing at Marine Drive. I was no longer the lone warrior of my fantasy but just a timid wannabe runner among a sea of jersey clad athletes. A fleeting thought in my head tried to get me to abort but I was too deep in. I convinced myself that I would just jog for a bit.

With flickering joy on one side and self doubt on the other, I managed to cover a kilometre.

Call it the jubilation of running or the subconscious need for validation, I made a post on Instagram about my run.

By day 5, I was getting my mojo back but the negotiations with my body and brain were still on.

By day 13, I felt like I had arrived. I could feel the energy in my feet. Every stride I took felt stronger than before. I was getting my speed back. I was clocking in a kilometre in five minutes. I did not care what the respectable record was but my happiness knew no bounds. It was no less than a homecoming.

Day 13 at Marine Drive, Mumbai. Image credit: Nidhima Taneja.

The following days felt like a piece of cake.

I was nearly doing 3-5 kilometres each day, depending on my schedule. For a sprinter like me, each kilometre felt like a personal victory. From barely being able to breathe after an average 400-metre race to doing a whole kilometre felt unbelievable.

By the end of day 28, there was hardly a road around Fort and Colaba which I was not aware of. The days I missed out running in the mornings, I compensated in the evenings or even at night. There were days when my knees felt a little sore or my heels felt some stress. I was naive to ignore them a couple of times, but as the days progressed, I lessened the distance covered. I was too scared to lose the rhythm.

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The journey till day 50 and 60 was rather smooth. Barring a few issues here and there, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. I was covering 5 kilometres on a regular basis and that too in less than half an hour. On the days I felt strong, I would even go up till 7-8 kilometre.

I was impressed by myself. It was a feeling like no other.

But it came with an expiration date.

If the highs were great, the lows were low. The stretch between day 64 to day 74-77 was terrible. Regardless of how much I tried, I was not able to better my timing or pace. I was used to doing non-fussy 100-metre sprints.

This was a different ball game, I remember whining to a few friends. Many of them suggested that I should let go of this streak. But I guess I had gone a little too far in my head to withdraw.

The impulse to complete a century became a new temptation.

When the author completed 100 days of running. Image credit: Nidhima Taneja.

From there on, I was not running to break any record or better my timing. I had already surpassed any expectations I had from myself. I had built my stamina from nothing to a respectable something.

The last 20 days were about keeping the same momentum alive.

The pressure was replaced with just utter fun. On good days, I aced my way to a whole 10 km within 50 minutes while on others, I did a reputable 5 km in half an hour or so. The excitement during the entire journey was impalpable but D-day felt like no other day.

Years later, I think, I am still that dramatic kid. I strongly feel one cannot help but romanticise things one feels strongly about. I know no other way. I think that’s what kept the zeal alive. They say one run can change your day, many runs can change your life.

I say give it a go, it’s worth the sweat.

All images provided by the author.