Saturday, June 16, 2012

Why do people run marathons ?

On 29th September, Shimla is going to host a marathon. I am pretty excited about it and this excitement is easily seen in my disucssions with my friends.

In one of these discussions my friend asks me a few questions.

"Mujhe to samjh ni aata marathon bhagte kyun hai?
Na to wo koi race hai...sala teen ghante tak bhaagte raho.
Aisi race ka kya fayda jisme pukka harna hi hai.
Jeetenge to wo Kenya wale hi."

I couldn't answer him than but let me try and answer him now....

From the time i have got hold of my senses and till date i can see  a ridiculous obsession with being the "Best".
So lets start in the chronological order...
  • Mother to Kid :"Mera bacha... jaldi jaldi finish karo...first aana hai...(She wants the kid to eat fast.)
  • Father to son : "Is baar agar top kiya to cycle milegi."
  • Any Parent trying to motivate his kid : "Beta Gaurav se seekho kuch...har baar top karta hai." 
  • A Child trying to justify his low scores : "Papa mere 32/50 marks hain...par Gaurav ke bhi 39 hi hain. Is baar strict thi marking bahut"
As you can see from the above examples...the obsession is with being the "Best".
However in order to be the Best you have to find someone who will be second best to you.

So if you want to be the best student in the class you have to find out the present best student in the class.

This approach produces a false impression of having achieved everything that there was to achieve.
Going for the best is a limiting approach as you become contended once you are No 1.

The Best Syndrome was so much hardwired into my systems that i could not enjoy the brilliance of any performer individually.

If Sachin scores a 100 hundreds it was difficult to enjoy Sachin's artistry in isolation.
I'll be satisified only if someone says he is the best and he is better than Lara or Sir Bradman.
Approaching "Best" is limiting...."Better" has no limits.
Trying to Achieve "Best" is daunting and intimidating to start with any effort....Better is doable.
"Best" approach tries to impress..."Better" Approach enjoys .

So how do you get this Hardwired "best" approach out of your systems? a marathon. :)

Before i ran a marathon ...I was asked to run races whose end point was visible.(100 mtrs,200mtrs,doing homework,coming first in class.)

So when the end point is visible it becomes hard to enjoy the process.
Or i should say when the end point is visible..i don't feel the need to enjoy the process.

As the destination is visible,i can afford to reach the destination with/without enjoying the race.

All my focus is on the competitors...if someone goes ahead i'll put in a better effort...once i am ahead.... i'll try to maintain the lead and once i am sure of winning i'll relax and not put in my best effort.

I may win with a time that was worse than my best performance till now...and still feel happy about being the best athlete.

With marathon this is different...

As the distance is small small bursts of brilliance won't do.
As the distance is a monster..i won't even be able to complete it... if i have not practiced for it.

...that's when i have to enjoy each and every step..i just can't afford to be focused on the destination...destination is way way far ahead and getting obsessed with destination makes the situation worse.

I have no choice but to enjoy the journey.

Completing the marathon becomes a challange for 99% of the participants.
You feel those legs aching...breath going haywire...lips drying...heart pounding...but you have to go on as your sole motive is to complete the race.

and that's when you are fighting/challenging yourself.

Once you complete the race you have no clue who won the race..who lost the feel like a champion as you have outlasted yourself.

You start appreciating the people who completed it faster than start respecting people who completed it slower than you.

.....and that's when the "Best" syndrome is knocked out of your systems.

....and once the "Best" syndrome is knocked out of your system.
You'll see magic happening. :)

PS: If you also feel bugged with the "BEST" Virus. Please run a marathon.

Symptoms Of Best Virus:
1) Craving for "Best Employee Awards".
2) Feeling like a King if you are enjoying the highest CTC amongst your batch mates.
3) You are 80kgs at a height of 5' 7'' but feel happy as you are the fittest in a team where average weight is 120 kgs.


Sunday, June 10, 2012


If someone was to plot a graph showing the relation between the Activity on your Facebook wall and the events in your life.

I am sure to find some seriously abnormal peaks on my Birthday ... Diwali  also brings a lot of activity along with it and so does a New Year.
(This graph would be similar for SMSs recieved on my cell)

Recently me and my wife celebrated one such event of our lives...and that was our first wedding anniversary.
and as expected my facebook wall starting brimming with wishes .

but there was something unusal about these wishes....they were lesser in comparison to the other events of my life.

No matter how less they were.....I was really really feeling happy for each and every wish i recieved. ...i wanted these wishes to continue.

Not that i don't feel happy when someone wishes me on my b'day or on a diwali or on independence day.
but this was comparitively more deeper...more profound..... more heartfelt.

I could make out this difference and immediately my mind went into analysis mode.
Alrite what was different with my wedding anniversary and the other events of my life.

One thing that was strikingly different for me ...was that my wedding anniversary was a outcome of my efforts.

It was my choice...the day existed because of my efforts and that was what made it more special to me.

It is not true for my bday...may be my parents would feel that happiness but not me.
I think i try to feel happy on my bday as i am supposed to feel happy on my b'day.

Same goes for Diwali....may be God Rama would be happy for all his efforts...but the wishes that i receive on Diwali are i think...more of a expected societal norm rather than a heartfelt wish.

For me Diwali is more of a metaphor and less of  it's historical meaning...and that metaphor holds true through out the year....through every moment and not just one day of the year.

So what's the point i am getting to.

I think the satisfaction that comes after you have made a choice is huge in comparison to something that you have not chosen.

My choices define me..they are a few things that i stood for someday.

Ok let me just summarize a few things that i have chosen and a few that i haven't.

Chosen Few

  1. My Life partner.
  2. My hobbies.
  3. Respecting/Disrespecting Ideas.

Not chosen

  1.   My B'day
  2.   My name
  3.   My gender
  4.   My Family
  5.   My caste
  6.   My country
  7.   My language
  8.   Respecting Elders/Gods/Country/Religion.
  9.   My religion
  10.   My festivals
  11.   My Places of worship.
  12.   The Gods i worship.
  13.   The Way i am treated after my death

hmmm.... the items in the  "not chosen " list are way too much than in the chosen list.
but the intensity or the attachment that we are supposed to show towards the items in the second list is huge in comparison to the first list.

Going against anything in the second list is nothing short of blasphemy
going in favour of any thing in the first list is more than blasphemy.

This is really confusing personality is a function of very few choices and a lot of non choices.
but  it was my choice that made me happy.

My choices say a lot more about me than do the other non chosen attributes.

So i think ...the focus from here on has to be on the behavior that comes from my choices and not on the behavior that is expected out of me because of the second list.