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I’m Vivek Singh, and this had started out as my journey as a runner, but running has become a part and parcel of my life now. It has changed my approach towards challenges in life and how I now view obstacles. This is who I am.
I used to be scared of the idea of running even 1 kilometre. My reaction was ‘Oh my god! It’s way too much.’ Even though I’m from an Army school where we would wake up early to do physical training, and I’ve always been good at sports, I had never even thought of running long distance or felt any attraction towards running. It all changed through a friend.
A spontaneous beginning
I credit a friend of mine for the running bug. He’d never say no to any challenge. One day I told him ‘Let’s run from Salt Lake (Kolkata) towards a park in New Town’, the distance was around 5 kilometres. He said ‘Yeah let’s do it!’ Some of our friends were less enthused, ‘Are you guys crazy?’ and we both said in unison ‘Yes we are!!’
Back then I was completely unaware of the importance of warming up/cooling down, proper shoes, running with the proper technique, I knew nothing. I just took off running in my sneakers.
Five kilometres sounded simple, but I was panting heavy after just one kilometre. After two kilometres my legs were getting heavy. But I continued running as my friend was running just ahead of me. That was my motivation to keep going, I didn’t want to give up while he was going on. Somehow I covered the distance, reached the park and just collapsed to catch my breath. I love challenges and going through that 5 km run felt as challenging as any obstacle I had faced. There and then I made up my mind that I’m gonna take up running
Getting in the groove
In the initial days, it was not easy at all. The body needs time to adjust, and it was also tough mentally to run regularly in the beginning. Some days I would wake up and snooze my alarm and fall asleep. We’ve all been there. What helped me get over the hump, was that I’ve always been an early riser and I had some friends who’d always inspire me, they used to call me regularly and ask if I’m running or not.
Not giving up
Even if I did not run regularly for a week or so, I would pick it up again and be look to be consistent with it. I was not big on measuring the distance because my focus was not to hit a number but to just enjoy the run. After two months I was able to run for around half an hour. Over time, I discovered that there is a unique joy in long distance running.
The first race I ran was a 5 km run. It was funny to think of the time when that distance had stretched me to my limit. That race, I actually ended up finishing 6th. It was really tough for me at that time though, I had to give it my all to finish quick.
A New Year’s Resolution
2017 was going to be different. I had been putting in time in running and it was visibly paying off. It also helped that I had friends who were also into running. I along with two friends decided to register for the 10 km run in the IDBI Marathon in early January, we wanted to be able to say that we had run in a marathon event.
Sportingly yours - The Decathlon journey begins
That’s when Decathlon came along in my running journey and ended up playing a very integral role. I’m crazy about trekking, running and yoga and that love helped make the process of joining Decathlon feel natural.
I was elated to start a new journey with Decathlon. I used to visit various Decathlon stores all over and was always fascinated with their dynamic work culture. I was asked to join the running department, I was happy with the challenge and excited to take it on. Once the Salt Lake store was ready, I started to take on running as a challenge. In the past I had looked at it as just something fun, but now I started to really look at it with a deeper perspective.
Running with a purpose
With Decathlon, I started by participating in the IEM UEM Kolkata Half Marathon, which I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to complete, but I like to challenge myself. I remember standing at the starting line just thinking about enjoying my run. I completed it in 1 hour and 48 minutes.
That day I met Mr. Manish from Salt Lake Runner’s Group. He introduced me to someone who was preparing for a 150 km ultra-run. Talking to him made me believe that I ran well, and I was further inspired to register myself for the IDBI full marathon of 42 kms. That was something I had not even dreamed about.
You can do it!
I discussed running the full marathon with my coach Sagar, he told me very calmly that I can do it as he knew me as a trekker. He made me feel that it I could do it in a snap. Up until the last day of registration, I was still thinking if I should indeed register for the full marathon or go for the half marathon. Before that, I ran my 2nd half marathon, the Ekal Run, and finished 8th which boosted my confidence further. I also met many good runners and had a conversation with them.
The Full 42.195 KM Marathon
Finally, 3rd February dawned. I remember standing at the start line, not thinking too much just being in the present, living in the present and enjoying every bit of it. Everybody was waiting for Sachin Tendulkar to come on stage. It was finally time for flag off, and time for me to challenge myself and find the motivation to keep going.
I started my run easily, as someone who had run 200 kms had told me that the marathon starts after 30 km. I felt the same, I was feeling good till 30 kms. After that it was more about the mental challenge than the physical as I discovered. I kept going and felt incredibly proud to say that I completed my first full marathon strong in 4 hours and 55 minutes. I learned that every distance is achievable, the mind just needs to accept it.
A runner’s high
I’d like to thank my teammates Sagar and Shubh who’ve encouraged me for every race I’ve run this year. Thank you to everyone whom I’ve met knowingly or unknowingly, without you my journey would not be the same. It’s a journey which I’m enjoying at its very best
I run just for fun, the enjoyment of the result and the benefits one gets from running are just happy side effects.