I no longer feel that I am dedicated to the cause of health and fitness. Of course, I am! But, I rather look at it as more of my love for the act of running that just gets me into the groove. Dedication to me sounds more like lots of unwilling efforts and the pain taken to be healthy which is the case no more. I would rather call it a happy and fruitful relationship with running and a fit lifestyle.
I have declared the year 2021 as the year of relationships. I call it my Happiness Project. And this is the third project in a row since 2018. This year, I am looking at everything in my life and around, in the context of relationships. So let me talk about fitness in the context of relationships on this running blog.
THE RELATIONSHIP: DEFINITION
A relationship is looking at one thing in the context of the other. It is often said that we are all islands within. But, we don’t exist as islands. We co-exist as archipelagos – a group of islands. Thus, relationships are very important. And we don’t exist in vacuums.
In the context of fitness and health, I look at my body and the mind bearing a deep relationship with me. When I feel good about my body and I feel fit and healthy, I can say that I am enjoying a great relationship with my body. The same goes for the mind. A fit and a healthy body lets me do things that I would otherwise struggle to do.
We all want to be fit. Think of it as having a fruitful and happy relationship with our bodies. When we suck in that body, it means that we are no longer enjoying the relationship and wish to get rid of that sick body.
So, when we are looking at getting fit, we need to evolve our fitness as a kind of relationship that deepens with time. So, what are those timeless principles to learn to start the journey of our fitness.
In this context, let me give you my story.
MY EARLY DAYS OF RUNNING: 2018
Having decided that my new year resolution for the year 2018 will be working on health and fitness, I went to bed by 10 PM on the 31st of 2020. You see you can’t have both: The pleasure of 31st Night and the Joy of Early Morning Rise. In a relationship, you gotta make a choice. Today, when I look back, I look at the 31st Night of December 2017 as Historic.
I call it historic because I got serious about my relationship with the self. I sincerely wanted to improve my health and fitness. And I was hungry for the change in my equations with my body.
THE FIRST STEPS, THE BABY STEPS:
So, what is the most important thing in a relationship. You may be hastened to give out a lot of virtues like honesty, sincerity, commitment and things like that. But the most important and the defining thing about evolving a great relationship is giving time.
Yes, it is time that makes all the difference and is the mother of all the virtues. When you are dead serious about something, you will forget everything else and simply focus on the thing that you are interested in. I was interested in changing my equation with my body. I wanted to be fit.
Nothing else matters in the beginning. I honestly tell that to you. I had no idea about running. I did not intend to become a runner. My interest was however very clear: Do something that will make me cheer for my own body.
So, I decided to wake up early and go for morning walks. And this is what I learned from my dad.
MY CHILDHOOD DAYS AND THE INFLUENCE OF MY ARMY DAD
It might come as a surprise to you but I was never interest in physical activity. However, I had the opportunity to see the fitness and fit people all around me. My dad served the Indian Army for 26 years. So, in the morning every day he would wake up early by 4:30 a.m. and go for his P.T. periods. PT Period is about running for 5k to 10 k and doing exercises and playing some quick outdoor games.
So, this is what I knew about fitness. And so decided to start my journey of fitness from there. I would get up in the morning and go for walking. I knew the wisdom of waking up early. My dad enjoyed a very healthy life as long as he lived. He would hardly fall sick.
I would get up early in the morning while my family slept and the world stayed quiet in deep slumber.
THE EARLY CONNECTIONS WITH NATURE AND THE MORNING GLORY
Every day I made a concerted effort to get up early in the morning. Getting up early in the morning is a struggle in itself. And I know that half of the humanity is grappling with this problem. I called it the battle of the bed. I would fight it every day.
Initially, it felt like a lot of efforts to me. But I was crystal clear about the fact that fit body implied getting up early and taking out time for the body and fitness. I am harping on the morning time because I did not have the luxury of “MY TIME” for the rest of the day. Family, work and the timelines that would not allow me anything else.
And I pretty much succeeded at winning the battle of the bed. Luck played an instrumental role in forging a lovely relationship in the initial days. I was shunted to a place of work that was inaccessible for the large part of civilisation. People are sent there as a mark of punishment. I had to stay away from my family. I was holed up in a lodge for over a year.
But, this came as a blessing for me. The place, Sidhi abounds in natural beauty. The city is more of a country side. I would get up in the morning and go out in chappals(the Indian slippers made of rubber) wearing the cotton T Shirt and the shorts. I had no idea about running then!
However, within a few days of morning walks, I started to fall in love with the morning glory. The rising sun that I could see across the farms while I walked along the country side roads. The quiet roads. The smell of morning air filled with high concentration of Oxygen.
I hardly heard any noise. And whatever I heard in my ears had such a clear sound like tinkling of bells of the milkman, the shouts of people playing volleyball in the nearby stadium, the dusting of roads by the sweepers etc. I realized that I was pulled out of bed to experience the surreal nature every morning.
I must have spent few weeks walking before I realized that I loved doing that. So, walking without any specific goal or aim made the legs ready and the muscles warm. My digestive system also improved. And I had started to feel mentally more peaceful. Walking progressed into an advanced relationship called running gradually.
RUNNING AS A RELATIONSHIP:
The love for running is the result of my natural process of falling in love with the process of running. It is about the whole experience that I have been able to create through the act of running. When I run, I forget about everything else. I experience freedom from everything. I enter into a state of meditation.
In fact, when I had started to run, I was going through the painful phase of my life. But when I ran, I forgot all the pain of living. I enjoyed and cherished every moment spent with running. Running became the medicine, the therapy of curing all the illness of the mind and the body.
I realized and honestly confessed to myself that I have not been doing any work on my body for years. But here I was who found a true companionship in running. I always ran alone but I did not feel lonely. I felt that I was discovering a whole new world. I was led to the discovery of my inner kingdom.
THE INNER CONNECTION:
I knew that no matter what I learned from the internet, I would not be able to sustain long until and unless I had an inner connection with what I wanted to do: create a fit body. I left it to occur to me in a natural way. The process was slow but very steady. It was steady because I simply enjoyed being in shoes and moving on the roads running. It did not matter to me what rewards I was getting or not getting.
As I ran, I felt thirsty for water. After I come from long runs(half marathon or a full marathon), I only longed for two things – food and water. I realized that they are the most basic things I needed to live. And nothing else. After drinking water and having food, my body felt better. I felt that the body kept thanking me for giving such an exhilarating experience.
As I ran alone, I would often talk to myself. Train of thoughts appear as I begin to run. But they start to clear my way as I advance into long distance running process. You can never get the same kick out of running a sprint than the one you get out of running a long distance. This is so because running along distance is more of mental process where you drift from the material world to a spiritual paradise.
During the course of running, my mind shifts from the results to the process. When you start to enjoy the relationship, you don’t bother about the outputs. I enjoy the process and therefore distance, speed never bother me. I am not running for the Olympics. I run for the sheer cause of recreation. I would call this phase the phase of total engagement.
SLOW AND STEADY PROGRESS
The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single stepA Proverb
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And this holds true when you want to develop a lasting fitness regimen. Look at the fitness routine that you are creating as a lifelong commitment. So, you need to imagine how you would work in such a relationship. Be slow, Be steady. And give all the care you can.
This is where we go often go wrong. And no matter how much knowledge we have acquired from the world and the best coaches that we have hired and been to the best gyms and the workshops, nothing sticks for long because we treat our health and fitness routine as some kind of pain. It’s not a pain, but it is long term relationship you are entering.
When you start from zero, every step that you take takes you further. And it is registered as progress. This is what I could experience. We want things to happen fast and move at a fast pace. But, relationships will always remain the exception to this principle. And this applies equally to both: human relationships as well as our relationship so with our pursuits in life. Fitness is a relationship with the self. So, you need to treat it as such.
If you wish to build long-lasting relationships, then give time and efforts to build and stay dedicated, committed. The rest of the virtues that you need to build a healthy lifestyle you would attract naturally.
So, what it takes to build a great relationship :
Measure what matters and you will be surprised by the amount of time you always have for the things that matterSanjuruns
So, how do you go about taking the time out for building lasting and deeply engaging relationships in terms of fitness? Here are few tips that I may suggest to you.
When it comes to taking the time out for exercise, we often get stuck due to lack of time with us. So, it would be a good idea to jot downtime you spend every day. You can start with a very small amount of time. When you have developed the intent to enter into a long-lasting relationship, your mind becomes conscious and wakes up to every tiny opportunity.
So, pick up a note book and turn into journaling your time spent in doing something for the body. You cant start with jotting down such small things as I have listed below.
Opting for few days to take the staircases instead of the escalators or lifts.
Deciding to take the walks around the office campus on some days.
If you are at home, get up and go around the house and walk outside with your kids and family members. Or simply walk alone if no one is around.
Find the pretexts to use your body more often like fetching milk from the nearby grocery shop or parking the car at the rear end of the parking lot so that you can take walks.
So, what I mean to say is find the small chunks of time and become conscious of those tiny actions that you can take. All these tiny acts are the precursor to forging your relationship with your better self. The industrial age has been disconnecting us from our natural selves in many ways. And we have to become super aware of this fact and take the measures to reconnect ourselves with nature.