Life is a Marathon

Sitting outside on my balcony, looking at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon every year, I always fancied running in one. As years passed by, I kept busy with my growing family, exploring career options along with my procrastination reading hobbies! One of those years, walking on the streets of downtown, enjoying Chicago summer, my wife showed me the hoarding of the Chicago Marathon. She smiled and commented – people often procrastinate when it comes to marathons! That was the moment, I decided, I must run the marathon that year!

Grant Park Chicago

I pushed myself in intellectual pursuits all life and experienced that humans can do anything once they put their minds to it. However, the marathon was a completely different ballgame for me. I reminded myself of Anthony Robbins’ quote. “What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are”. I figured – if anything – I will be a healthier version of myself through training.


4 months – 5 days a week – with Nike Training & Nike Run Club apps!

I still can’t forget the first day of training, felt so exhausted that I really doubted whether I will really be able to finish. I concluded that huffing and puffing meant I needed more time training potentially into next year. In retrospect, it was a story I told myself. “The reason why people don’t get what they really want is because of the stories they tell themselves” – Anonymous.

That night I calmed myself down and recalled a Bhagwat Gita verse.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।

मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भुर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥

(Meaning: Perform your duty but do not have any expectation of the fruits)

I had heard it many times but never got to apply, particularly because the corporate world is highly outcome-oriented. Usually, in our day-to-day life, we are constantly striving for the outcome, and we tend to stress ourselves. I decided not to worry about the outcome this time and just enjoy the journey.

Juggling between the time demands of two younger kids and a crazy work schedule, the best time for my training was late evenings. Obviously, most folks may prefer early morning and that might be better with a high protein diet you have to accompany the training. Initial training days felt excruciating at best, most time. The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success. Not allowing any distractions helps you to keep focused on your goal and slow progressions are the main driver to fuel our minds. The keyword ‘slowly’ as an addition to my routine became a stress buster mantra.


Being a vegetarian, moong sprouts, paneer, and dry fruits became my protein sources. The time of the runs should be ideally managed such that you don’t have your regular meal after a run to increase protein intake. You don’t need to be bulky, so there is no need to overdo it; this is all about mental and physical endurance (yes, mental before physical)

I drank Gatorade during training and the marathon. Whether it is better than any other sugary electrolyte drink, I am not certain. What I know helped me is beetroot juice before big practice runs and during the marathon. The naturally occurring nitric oxide in beetroot increases the oxygen levels in the blood, reducing the build-up of lactic acid which contributes to the feeling of sore muscles.

During the run

              The day is etched in my memory. After proper training runs, which included one full marathon run in about 5 hours, I was super confident. However, interestingly (or not), there were more curveballs during the run. All the months I practiced prior to the marathon were pretty much summer and on the marathon day, it was very chilly. Also, it was a lot more crowded and some of the roads were uneven. You need to be very careful as it won’t take time to twist if your steps aren’t in rhythm. This is exactly what happened to me.

“Ouch!”, I shrieked, as my leg twisted just before the halfway mark while running the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. This never happened to me during the training, and so, I was not prepared for this predicament. The world around me stopped and I was able to rummage through lots of thoughts like in a slow-motion picture. Looking around, I see folks of different nationalities, ages, and physiques, and a 60-ish-looking man was walking next to me and gathering from the name on his T-shirt; he was doing this for a charity. It’s hard to say why people do what they do. Everyone around has a story from which we can learn. He wasn’t giving up. I decided I wasn’t going to either. It is weird how our brains work, and at that moment, almost as I reflux to push myself, I recalled Henry Ford’s line, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t; you are right”.

              I applied Bio-Freeze and started walking till the effect kicked in. I eventually caught the rhythm back towards the end, as you can see from my splits below. It took longer than my practice runs, but hey – I finished. Don’t be hard on yourself.

Oh, by the way, I can’t emphasize enough how important icepacks are after the run. Don’t ignore those just because you are tired.

Needless to say, I always had big support from my wife during all these whimsies. Am I going to run another Marathon in life? Hell yeah. I would love to do Iron Man in Goa one day. Do I know swimming yet? Nope. But finishing something that I wasn’t sure I could do tremendously increased my belief in myself, and that’s all you need sometimes.

Do not let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Push your body and mind. You will be surprised by what you can do! Consistency is key; work hard. Unleash your full potential. Win.