Thursday 18 June 2015

42.2 or 21.1 ? Chaos or Ease?

42.2 or 21.1 ? Chaos or Ease?

Authoring “Dare to Run” got me some amount of recognition and made me many friends.  Many of these friends often ask me for advice when it comes to running.  But often times, I think that they haven’t read the book thoroughly enough.  They seem to be asking advice from the wrong person.
But recently, for the first time, I met a runner who actually knew whom to ask for advice.  Let me explain.

Moushumi is a passionate runner.  She has run a few half marathons. She is currently wrestling with a problem which is typical for many half marathoners. 

As the training season for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon begins, she is not sure whether she should train for another half marathon or should she move up in distance to the full marathon. 21.1 km or is it time for her first 42.2 km? That is the question!

She has so many questions.  She has so many uncertainties.  All of them are relevant. 

Her questions basically get divided into two groups.  Those to do with the running itself and those that have to with the effects of running a lot, on life in general.
Although she hasn’t asked me for advice, she has over the last few weeks, articulated the questions to me.
Following is her list of concerns in no particular order:
1) Am I capable of running 42.2km?

2) Have I done enough half marathons to move to the full?

3) Should I first improve my half marathon time before I move to the full marathon?

4) Will I be able to physically handle the additional volume of training?

5) Will I be able to finish the full marathon under 5:00 hours?

6) Will I get injured with speed and hill training?

7) Will my coach agree to let me run 42.2?

8) Will I be able to commit the time to the training necessary for 42.2?

9) Will I be able to do justice in terms of my time and attention to my husband Manish and to my two children?

10} Will my social life remain in existence?

11) Will I be able to meet my friends as often as I wish?

All valid questions!

Before committing herself, she was searching within herself, for some definite answers.  She wanted a firm answer. She wanted her question solved. She wanted a guarantee given.  A surety, as she leaped into the unknown, that there was a safety net somewhere beneath to break her fall.

For once in my life, I didn’t answer these questions.  

The reason being, she didn’t ask me. She was simply ruminating aloud over the questions.

I of course had answers. If only I were asked!

My answer would have been based on what I’ve imbibed from Osho.  
I would tell her that there is no way to know the answers to these questions because unless one engages with life and the future, one cannot know what they hold.

“Life is insecure”, says Osho. “When you ask for security, you become insecure.

Life is insecure-that means life is free. If there is security then there is bondage; if everything is certain then there is no freedom.  If tomorrow is fixed then there can be security, but you have no freedom.  Life can be a security only if you are dead, then everything can be certain.

But tomorrow is beautiful because tomorrow is total freedom.  Nobody knows what is going to happen; whether you will be breathing, whether you will be alive at all- nobody knows. 
Hence there is beauty, because everything is in a chaos, a challenge, and everything is existing as a possibility.

Accept insecurity.  
Then the insecurity disappears and you are no longer insecure.  It is a paradox, but absolutely true. 

Up to now you have existed, so why be worried about tomorrow? If you could exist today, if you could exist yesterday, tomorrow will take care of itself too.

Just having the understanding, immediately you feel at ease.  But that ease is not that of security, that ease is not that of death, that ease is not of the grave.  That ease has tremendous chaos in it, but it is still ease, there is no tension. 

A chaos at ease – that’s how man should be.”

I would have told my friend Moushumi to welcome the chaos of the 42.2.  I would have told her that there are no guarantees in life.  Life is Chaos.  But that Chaos will bring her freedom.  She might face every single problem that she is worried about in her 42.2, but then she will have the freedom of responding to them and that freedom is Life. 

I would have told her that she is about to sign up for Chaos.  I would have told her to face the chaos at ease.

But she didn’t ask me for advice.  She asked Neepa, my wife.

A couple of days ago, Moushumi sent me a ‘What’s app’ message.

“Amit, I met Neepa earlier today and asked her whether I should run the 42.2 or the 21.1 and she said without hesitation that I should run the 42.2.  She explained that once I register, I will have committed and once I commit, I will train and once I train, I will finish.  I am glad I spoke to Neepa this now seems very simple to me.”

Well, I’m glad too.  Things are so much simpler with my wife, Neepa.  

She deals with Chaos at Ease.


  1. :-) good one amit ... way to go neepa

  2. As always, brilliant piece of writing and advice!

  3. Thanks, makes it so much easier to decide, exactly the questions I had and the answer was so simple.