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Don’t measure yourself by weight of certificates, medals, trophies

In today’s society we are always connected with the whole world. Unfortunately, we forget to connect with our own selves. We feel scared to be alone.

other sports Updated: Jun 29, 2018 18:41 IST
Running,Walking,Breathing
Today, we’ll do a three-minute easy walk, followed by a two-minute slow jog. And repeat that six times.(Getty Images)

Running has been said to be a good exercise to get to know oneself. It almost comes across as a cliché but this statement literally has legs.

‘Who am I?’ This question has stumped mankind for as long as we have had the capability to think. No, contrary to pop-culture, thinking first about ‘I’ is not selfish. Thinking only about ‘I’ is.

Upanishads answered this tricky question millenniums ago, ‘I am the Self of the entire Universe’. Just that in our eagerness to know more, we have ignored the basics.

In today’s society we are always connected with the whole world. Unfortunately, we forget to connect with our own selves. We feel scared to be alone. And we confuse it with loneliness because we don’t know ourselves.

This loneliness, besides other reasons, has led to an epidemic of depression in today’s society. A third of suicide deaths in India happen in the age group of 18-30 years and then a similar percentage in 30-45 years (National Health Profile, 2018). Is it surprising then that people of the latter age group tend to pick up running like religion? They are trying to find themselves.

BECOMING AWARE OF SELF

As many friends and family you might have, you come alone into this world, and you go alone. You need to become comfortable with being alone, being with your self. For that you need to know yourself, not from anyone else’s perspective. No, please don’t measure yourself by the weight of your certificates, medals, trophies, titles, bank balance and running times too. To know yourself, start with closing your eyes. You’ll see a lot more with eyes closed than with eyes open.

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Now go for a walkrun. Today, we’ll do a three-minute easy walk, followed by a two-minute slow jog. And repeat that six times. It’s alright if you only walk for 20-30 minutes.

BE LIKE A PUPPET

Start with thinking of yourself like a puppet that has a string from the top of your head and you are being pulled up tall from the sky. You are almost defying gravity and growing taller. You can feel your neck and spine lengthen. Relax those tense shoulders of yours. Let all that tension go. Just let the shoulders fall.

Now come down your arms and relax those elbows of yours. Spend five seconds thinking about your elbows before moving down your forearms, the hair on them and then your hands.

Open that fist of yours and think about each finger starting from the thumb to the little finger. Spend five seconds with each of your fingers. Now slowly walk up your arms and up to relaxed elbows and then shoulders.

It’s time now to think about your neck. Remind yourself again that it being pulled up. Feel that air on your neck. Now slowly slide down the spine, first the upper back where your ribs are attached to your spine. Feel the ribcage expand with each breath in and then almost collapse with each exhalation. Focus on three breaths.

ALSO READ | Poor posture and stress forces us to breathe dysfunctionally

Now come down to your lower back. It’s almost always stiff. Just let go by simply thinking about the thought of letting go. Come down your butt and appreciate that it’s not only meant for aesthetics but plays a very important role in walking and running. You will feel it contract with each step. Slide down your thighs to your knees. Just let them be.

THE MUSCLES AND LIGAMENTS

Now come down to your feet and become aware of all 54 bones that are there. Think of 100-plus muscles, tendons and ligaments that are at work to keep you moving and also of the electricity coming through your nerves starting from the brain that sends them the message to keep at it.

Becoming aware of your own self and how you move is a big step in knowing yourself, rather than just taking things for granted. It’ll help you let go of your ego that you are very special.

(Disclaimer: The author is a Sports­-Exercise Medicine doctor who is also race director of La Ultra ­The High, a 333 km race in Leh­, Ladakh, with running experience of 33 years)

First Published: Jun 29, 2018 18:11 IST