Running for life!

It is not always about finishing, but also about celebrating each milestone.

The Auroville Marathon may have been just another 42.2 kilometer race for many of my fellow runners, but for me it was indeed a new beginning.

Transitions are moments that we come to in our lives when we must decide whether to continue on the same path or change our course and direction. Mid-career professionals often question the meaning of their work, job autonomy, work productivity and the value of life. It all began with a telephone call from a friend inviting me to a charity run. Busy mornings gradually made way to more such little runs in Cubbon Park.

Each run was special to me as I realised that I was competing with myself.  However, each day seemed to take my focus away from my career to this new definition of myself. My company was competing with other rivals and we were left fighting against time ourselves. Yes, competition helps you learn and determine what works and what does not within the industry. Yet, were we really giving it our best? Why were we not competing with ourselves?

I realised these runs were the beginning of a reflective period where I spent hours either in silence or talking to myself. I took part in the 10-K run and gave it my best. Half marathons and a mid-night half marathons followed a few months later. Though I cut down on my work schedule, much to the charging of my boss, I was clearly moving. I realised that I operated at about half the speed I did a year ago and got about twice as much work accomplished. It was actually quite remarkable how much I could do whenever I was calm and collected. And perhaps even more importantly, I enjoyed what I was doing.

At one of the half marathons, I was injured while trying to overtake another runner. Much similar to how we injure ourselves amidst the rat races while building our careers, also taking our family members for granted in the due process. I was truly exhausted. A year later I signed for the Auroville full marathon. As I started, the shuffle of every step reverberated through my body in steady beats. Time stood still and I kept moving. I could visualise myself running towards that bend in the road and turning the corner to a new path. I couldn’t see what the new path looked like, but saw myself there anyway. New milestones were set in the process.

This process taught me an invaluable lesson. It is not always about rushing towards the finishing point called life but it is also about celebrating each milestone. A marathon has spectators cheering you all the way, while life has friends, colleagues and family. The concept of marathon is believed to have originated in 490BC, from the ancient Greek legend of Pheidippides. It is believed that this messenger ran 42.2 kilometers from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, without stopping until he collapsed and died.

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