A Friend or A Stranger

A gap of 2 months. This amount of gap in anything can be a problem if you are looking to achieve the perfection. But what if you are new to it, just learning the art. And suddenly you are forced to break the flow. The next time when you do it, it is after a gap of 60 odd days. One is bound to feel that he is a newbie or give a second thought to the idea of leave it and let it go. But not if you love it….

I was very much on right track to run my first Half Marathon by February. If not an officially timed one then at least unofficially on one of the Sunday as my Long Slow Distance Run. But there was something else in store. Since November I was suffering from growing toenail on my right foot and it was in worse condition since December but I preferred to run rather than consulting doctor as I had couple of runs planned in December and over next few months. I had Bangalore Midnight Marathon 10K, Ajmera Thump 10K in December 2016 and The RRRun Half Marathon in February 2017. I was in good shape during all this training runs and achieving PB in every next run so I planned to continue with it. One fine day in early February my body or rather my toe said, it’s high time to stop overloading it. I was unable to run smoothly, pus formation was increased, pricking pain inside the toe and muscle seemed to be coming out anytime. All indications that it’s high time to knock the Doctor’s door. As it was approaching the Holi vacation so I decided to stop running and consult doctor after Holi Vacation. As a result, I sort of planned for break from running for around a month.

While doing my practice runs in the month of January 2017, I used to see a stranger doing his regular run every weekend but hardly had we exchanged any greetings. And February it all stopped suddenly. I came back from home in the mid of March 2017 after Holi vacation. Consulted doctor and a surgery was performed on the toe. Due to my casual approach and negligence towards the issue the wound which would have healed in a week after surgery, may take 2 weeks to heal now. So that meant roughly I would be back in my running gears by start of April. I went for the regular checkup after around 2 weeks with a hope that no more bandage once I move out of the hospital today. But….. Yes, I was still in bandage and it got extended by a week as there was some infection and so it may take few more days to heal completely. On this day, I could recollect one small saying which my father always tells me whenever some of our plan fails, ‘Man Proposes, God Disposes’. I decided one thing, I will come early for my next regular checkup and will start my practice next week. To cut long story short, after my last run on February 07 of 18 KM, I was struggling to complete my 5KM run in 28 minutes on April 08.

The next weekend i.e. April 15, 2016 I moved out for my long run feeling much better and relaxed. While on my way back to my home, I met that same (known) stranger after around 8-10 weeks. We waved hands and greeted each other with a smile. And even though both of us were on a move, suddenly we came to stand still. Our chat started with my where about over last two months and gradually it moved to the one common subject of interest, running. We discussed our way of practicing, our current running status and our running calendar for 2017. After having a good discussion over road side cup of tea, we said good bye and moved towards our destination with a brisk walk.

I came back home and over breakfast I narrated the incident with my running partner cum wife. While discussing more on the same line, about the known strangers on the running circuit. We found that more often than not it is the same group of people with whom we run along when we are close to finish line or at times even we finish together. Gradually we get to know some of them only by face and some of them by name and face as well. And there are some whom I have never met and know them just by name. So much that when 1000 miles across they were putting their efforts to overcome the difficulties presented by track and weather at Boston during Boston Marathon on April 17, 2017, we were following and cheering for them sitting at our home. Glued with our laptop and mobile, stuck with the Boston Marathon website and sharing the latest possible status on Facebook.

Running has given me a lot, whether we talk about physical fitness, mental peace or healthy way of living which can be challenged. But one thing that we can never undermine is the set of new friends that keeps growing with every run, if not in terms of count than at least in terms of bonding and understanding for sure. I get motivated by reading every new post about individuals from our running community, by having a look at their daily goals. And when they do better, I feel that even I can give it a try.

I can say just one thing, I have not learnt the Art of Living. But being a part of this new group and having this new friend circle irrespective of being on social media. I have learnt the Art of Running and it provides me a different Way of Living.

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