Calvin & Hobbes Bully 1.jpg

37 year old Pooja had been a great mother to her 8 years old son and 11 years old daughter. She had been a great wife, daughter-in-law, daughter and sister. She was climbing the corporate ladder by leaps and bounds. Her life had been dedicated to everyone around her but her ownself. She was clinically depressed and had to fight suicidal thoughts on a daily basis.

Luckily she was introduced to running by a resident in her colony and that changed her life. She started being happier. As happens in all running groups, she was encouraged to sign up for her first race. She loved that feeling of getting to the finish line and having that sense of accomplishment on her own. Soon, she wanted to run every race possible, run faster and longer. As is inevitable in runners, she got hurt. Just that her injury lasted longer than it does for most. Her depression demons started appearing again. Her situation was made worse by her running buddies who told her that she was making excuses not to run because she wasn’t capable of doing it. Most probably that was intended to get her moving again but it backfired in a big way, pushing her over the edge and into a downward spiral.

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Now that is a problem I see on a regular basis.

In running, your running buddies and running groups play an amazing role in getting you moving. A few years back Haile Gebrselassie, the man who broke 27 world records in distances ranging from 1,500 metres to marathon, while visiting India, was asked for the role of a coach among runners. He surprised everyone in the audience. ‘You don’t need a coach if you are running a half marathon (21 kms) in over 1 hour 10 minutes. What you need is a mentor.’

I have been of a similar opinion. We need to motivate people. Even if you don’t know the subject well enough, you can always encourage others to do more, more by your actions than your words alone. The problem happens when you over do it. With best intentions, unknowingly you transform into a bully. Even if on your own you aren’t doing it, when a few of you get together, the mob effect comes into place. Now you really get aggressive about your subconscious thoughts.

We need to again go back to the simple question that needs to be answered for your own sake every week, if not every day. Why do you run? If besides everything else, it is about joy of running and to connect with your deeper self, we are on the same page. But if it’s only about a better time, longer distance each time and yet another finisher’s medal, I feel sorry for you. Somewhere on your running journey, you have lost the plot. Even worse is when you bully other runners to do the same. If you want to talk about how fast or how long you run, let me help you burst that royal bubble of yours. My best time for an official half marathon (21 kms) is 1 hr 18 min, that too with walking for last kilometre or more. The longest race I organise is 555 kms in Ladakh as part of the 10th edition of La Ultra - The High.


Does that help in addressing your ego issues?

Having shared the above, nowadays I enjoy running 3-6 kms with my 18 year old son to whom asthma had been a big bully and restricted his physical activities. I love bonding with him even though we barely speak while we run. I keep reminding him to breathe and to slow down so that he can be in the moment.

When we push our fellow runners and belittle them, we don’t realise the long term damage we are doing besides the physical injuries that are happening sooner than later in most new runners. Probably running has given these new runners a new identity. We should be interested in healthy longevity of running rather than pushing them to achieve too much too soon.

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Couch to 11 kms in 101 days (start date: 11th May 2019), is a program where by taking one baby step at a time, you will walk-run 11 kms, the same day participants of 10th edition of La Ultra - The High will do 55, 222, 333 & 555 kms.

Well said Dr Rajat Chauhan. Mentoring runners works for me.
Events leave me cold though I run a couple a year.
— Col. Anuj Srivastava

Dr Sangeeta Saikia posted the article on DRG’s facebook page and following were the comments by the runners there.

I really like this one from Dr Rajat Chauhan! How many of you have thought about things from this perspective? After reading this, I feel, consciously or unconsciously, I have definitely been a bully myself and have been bullied too... in running :))
Personally, I’m on the road to recovery and will not be a part of such bullying any more... either ways!!!
Your take DRG?
— Daktar Sangeeta Saikia
Bulls eye...
— Kanchan Dwivedi
Love it.
— Preet Singh
I can identify a lot with this. Happened to me after I got a hamstring injury. Yes. We have to really be careful about this.
— Pallavi Aga
We all need such reality checks. An excellent article that puts things in right perspective. Thanks for sharing.
— Shrikant Pandey
Calvin Monkey.jpg
I guess most of us from the running fraternity can connect with this... finely articulated msg...a must read for one and all..👍
— Nitin Bhardwaj

“Running has been more of solo activity for me. Running alone in solitude kind of shields you from peer pressure and ego issues.

One can choose to run at whatever pace comfortable, what ever distance feasible without being pushed. Negative point in such an approach is that the progress is slow and most of times the body resists being pushed beyond the comfort zone.

This can result in disappointing timings in competitive races.

If one is looking for validation and sense of achievement by running faster or longer this can be a bad approach.

We tend to be competitive in almost every sphere of life including running.

Pushing a fellow runner can have varied responses in people, some really thrive when pushed where as some can land up in injuries or being turned off from running.

Even though with good intentions a lot of coaches, mentors and running buddies are simply unable to interpret clues from their fellow athletes.

I think a lot of this is because a number of coaches come from competitive sports background where goals are completely different from recreational running.

As a running group I think this is a very valid point being discussed here. I have see lesser accomplished runners, specially introvert struggling.

As a little more experienced runners we should restrict ourselves to providing our fellow runners with vital training insights making sure we are not judging them.”

- Adil Rizvi

Adil, I can closely identify with running being a solo activity and solitude being it’s important reward. To improve timing and endurance is natural as we all want to see better version of ourselves but for recreational runners, to enjoy the activity is of supreme importance. Being obsessed with numbers may affect the enjoyment part and also be a harbinger to injury and attendant disappointments.
— Shrikant Pandey
It is one of most factual and hard hitting article I’ve read on running. It is v important to distance yourself from wannabee’s and enjoy the sport. Sometimes you are made to feel like a criminal if you’re not running. The day you get lost in the crowd & madness of running you’ve lost your thing.
I’m a mentor of a running group but what I maintain is
- Do it at your ease.
- It’s not my job to make you run.
- I have a job & I have a life.
- Do you ?
— Neelu Panag Khanna
Calvin run.jpg
I have never allowed anyone to bully me or even push me. Always knew my limits and ran within those though ended up with SI joint disfunction in Sep’18, for a while (not an injury, technically) but all to myself. Its a good write up so that new runners can benefit by filtering bullying.
— M P Jain
Totally agree!!
— Abhay Kohli
Absolutely, right.
— Surender Rawat
— Veeraj Vashishtha
Totally agree!! I realised this sooner, that I need to stick to why I love running... and it’s definitely for the joy of it and for that “me-time”, and definitely not for the timing / medals / pace / events!
— Bhavna Sharma
Exactly what I see...competition fucked up.

Glad there is so much resonance here on this subject.

The beauty and silence is gone it’s all about clothes and decorum and watches and all the crap.

Love and simplicity lost mostly and the innocence laughed at ...

Anyways .... Wish everyone well..cheers!
— Koyal Geet HK
Always an advocate of it.. and never run for timings. The fun of it ONLY.
And now to save the environment with Ploggers of India 😎
— Ripu Daman
Bullying someone is definitely not acceptable but don’t you think without a definite goal the whole process becomes a monotonous one and non enjoyable.
— Rohit Francis

Below is the print version of the column:


An amazing bunch of runners from across India will be running their first ultra at the edition X of THE HIGH in August. Few slots left for the all special 55 km race. Grab your place at the start line now. Entries will close soon.

La Ultra 55

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