Monday, January 03, 2011

Running and Chasing your Goals!

There is an inherent philosophy in RUNNING and lot of people have written books around it [ quite notable is the one written by Haruki Murakami which is more of a memoir and the title of the book is, “what I talk about when I talk about RUNNING”]. Somerset Maugham has told that in every shave, there is a philosophy and so does Haruki Murakami, who says that there is a philosophy in doing mundane activity in a diligent manner. (On a side note, Haruki Murakami sold his own jazz bar lock, stock and barrel and took to serious writing; to keep himself fit, he took to active running- He is author of several books that have been translated in to 42 languages and he has participated in almost all of the international marathons across the world )

I don’t have the courage or the diligence to write a book on “running” but I certainly wanted to write a blogpost on this for a while- So here it is! In my usual style, I love, “connecting the dots” and “associating” things- My association right now for this blog post will be on “running” and “chasing our goals” in life, career choices/decisions!!

Haruki Murakami says that a serious runner ought to cover 6 miles a week, 6 days a week- This amounts to around 36 miles a week or 156 miles a month which is apparently his standard for serious running. I definitely don’t fit in the category of a “serious runner” today but certainly will be able to do it someday as I am aspiring for a marathon sometime. It is definitely there in my “bucket list” to cover atleast 10-15 world marathons in my life time and my inspiration is Haruki Murakami quite naturally!

I have been running for around a year for at least 45 minutes to 60 minutes on alternate days - Going by the standard for serious runners which is around 156 miles a month; any normal kid will tell that I am nowhere near serious running. I will reach this golden standard someday.

Coming to the central theme of this blogpost, when you run in a treadmill say for 1 hour or more, you get these mind-related breaks at 10 mins, 20 mins, 30 mins and at 45 mins respectively. It can vary from individuals to individuals but I do get these mind-breaks at every variation.

What I mean by mind-breaks are the following:
  • Stop the treadmill and walk…
  • Decrease the speed?
  • This music sucks and why don’t we have separate musicians for runners!!
  • Why are you taking this pain?
  • What do I need to do in work differently?
  • Void thoughts- Blank vaccum state
  • I need to change my shoes- Nike air is not that great!
  • I can spend this time in something meaningful?
  • This is really boring as running does not make you cool?
  • Depending on the day, some other “weird” thoughts comeby which I cannot categorize here but definitely valid ones! :-)

These mind-breaks take a cyclical route every 10 mins, 20 mins, 30 mins and 45 mins- The urge to stop the treadmill is very serious and most of the times, I stop around 48-50 minutes. There have been somedays where I have pushed beyond 1 hour.

As anyone who has ran, the key to running is the synchronization between lung, heart, mind and your legs- This synchronization can be broken very easily by mind-breaks. Mind plays a major role in running and after 45 minutes, you tend to become a sort of “robot” where you will have the pain; but still you can go on and on without much of hassles. You will be sort of robotized and You will be in the “zone” during that time and your mind will be in a sort of blank state but you got to keep at it to close it. I think this is where I draw the parallel between “chasing your goals”- Most of the times, we tend to chase like how we tend to run. Before we reach the “zone” state in running, we give up and the same state more or less applies to our goals as well. I am not generalizing this for everything but most of the time, this is similar. The goals then fizzle out because reaching 90% of your goals is actually easy; it’s the last 10% that will kill you. For finishing the last 10%, you have to be in the “zone” state. The urge to stop or break away before reaching the “zone” is tremendous. You can actually correlate this to some goal that you had in mind and have actually completed to your satisfaction [you don’t need to be a runner to visualize the parallel]. Do you agree?

There have been numerous occasions where I have been pushed by my mind to stop after 1 hour of continual running [even after reaching the zone]. I feel the same is applicable for all of our goals; big or small. We reach to around 90% of our goals but have been pushed by mind either to abort it or sort of half-close it and call it as full closure. This does not give you the full satisfaction as you know internally that you have not achieved it to the fullest satisfaction. The joy of completing a goal to your satisfaction is awesome and this feeling will never keep your goals open-ended. Similarly, I am sure the joy of completing a marathon or a half marathon is a great feeling or even a run for fixed amount of time (based on your capability)- And it’s like talking with your mind and taking control of it.

I have always found that we complete 90% of a goal that has been set by ourselves and then in the last 10%, we give up. This is exactly the scenario in running which is amply evident than any other sport because in running, you set the goals for yourself. You are never in competition in running- The competition is yourself! The same is applicable for your goals!

Think about it?

Disclaimer PS: If a serious runner reads my blog, s/he will sure have different perspective. This is a perspective of a rookie runner who is aspiring for serious running!


Anub said...


I completely agree and its a well defined thought. But Prakki I feel that this stand also differs from goal to goal. Or are you emphasizing that whatever be the goal the reason remains the same?

Anacreontic said...

hey while i am reading this post, i get to remember a movie "Mugavari". In this there will be reference to a story "Gold at 10 ft". (this is the core theme for the movie).

A saint would give a tit bit to a villager, that in this place there is gold. So, he would start digging and every ft he digs the ground, he would expect to strike gold. But there wont be any. when he comes to 8 ft, he would give up, thinking there wont be any gold and the saint had just lied. A Couple of days later, another person walking by the same place would get to see a huge hole dug and he would get curious and would start digging further. At 10ft he would strike gold.

I felt while we are talking about "GOALS", (nothing to do with "Running") this is another story that tell onself to pursue and not let go.

Prakash Gurumoorthy said...

@ Anub- Its true most of the times irrespective of the goal- big or small!

@ Anacreontic- This is very different screen name..:-) I like it. The story is bang on..:-)

Dave said...

10-15 Marathons, huh? That's a serious goal for someone who's not yet a serious runner. My running ebbs and flows, but here's a highlight:

Prakash Gurumoorthy said...

@ Dave- Thats in my bucket list..I think I will do it for sure..You are definitely way ahead at this time on running! BTW your post was cool..

Six Sigma for all said...

Hi Prakash,

I completely agree and very rightly said that the mind breaks at multiple points and drags you back from running. However the feeling of achievement in the last 10% makes you relax and that drags you back from the goal. And by the time it is realised it become a lost oppourtunity.

Harry said...

Hi Prakash

Does this happen when we do not have a realistic goals?

I remember a old saying "you can eat an bite at at a time"

I hate the mind breaks.

Anonymous said...


I think you rightly mentioned what we do in our life every day. You can equate to any some task to big resolution you take. Put your 100% and 90 % is not complete

hezedgodson said...

Hi Prakash,

Nice post.. I remember one of the book I read said that.. to start working on a boring job, which we normally postpone, BUT we HAVE to do.. just concentrate for the first 5 mins (I am not sure, if its 5 or 15 mins) and you will gather interest as you progress.. I have tried this several times..