At times, there are certain interests or hobbies that you pursue which helps you to get the right perspective and formula for success. It was in 2002 that I saw a write up about Mumbai hosting the Marathon for the first time. Although I had never run more than 3 kilometres in one go, I somehow felt that I should register for the Dream Run which would be a great achievement for me to target to run 1/6th of a full marathon – 7 kilometres to be precise.
I started preparing in earnest and jogged along Marine Drive atleast 3 to 4 times in the morning and having never run more than 3 kilometres, it was an uphill task to reach even 5 kilometres. And I recall that in December 2002, I did achieve a 5 kilometre run and I felt on top of the world and all geared up to running the Dream Run on 18th January 2003.
Although I ran the inaugural dream run in 55 odd minutes, I felt ecstatic on having run a distance that I had never run before. And quite naturally, I registered for the subsequent year with the objective of running the same distance in possibly a lesser time and I did manage to reduce the time by about 5 odd minutes in 2004. However, being the second edition of the Mumbai Marathon, I realized that it was indeed a bit too crowded and took almost a kilometre’s walk to start finding the feet and jostle against the crowd at the starting point for more than a few metres before actually starting the run. The second edition was more like a carnival with people dressed in various costumes and coming to have fun and across age groups and various size levels too.
A few months later, I happened to meet a good school friend of mine who was on the heavier side and I was indeed shocked to find out that this friend was slim, fit and had lost a few stones in weight. When I enquired the secret of his success, I got to know that my good friend too participated in the marathon but to my utter disbelief, he ran 21 kilometres. Generally, when you do see someone who is fitter than you are, either you envy or you get motivated and with me it was the latter. I told myself, that I too could probably give it a shot to run 21.097 kilometres for the 2006 edition of the Mumbai Marathon. It was probably mid-September that I put my running shoes on, got up an hour earlier than normal and started running longer distances. With my headphones for company and music in tow , I planned a schedule of crossing mental barriers and stretching the distance as the weeks went by and in December, I did achieve running from Nariman Point to Worli and back in 2 hrs 30 minutes. From a dream run to realizing a dream of completing a half marathon had almost come true and on 15th January 2006, here I was running my first ever Half Marathon and clocking it in 2 hrs 13 minutes and 37 seconds. This was possibly one of the greatest high point for me, and I was faster than a few friends of mine by atleast 5 minutes even though they were running the second or third edition of the marathon.
Once you achieve success, either you become complacent or you could raise the bar and for the following year I wanted to cross the 2 hrs 10 minutes barrier. Knowing that I could do it in 2 hrs 13 minutes, I started preparing in right earnest and I practiced harder for the 4th edition to cross the 2 hr 10 minutes barrier and run the half marathon in 2 hrs 8 minutes 28 seconds on 21st January 2007. One of the reasons for achieving the goals was that I continued using the SMART technique for success.
S – being specific about my goal of running 21 kilometres under 2 hours
M – measurable , trying to achieve a distance of 21 kilometres and gradually increasing the distance during practice
A – achievable and not avaricious, trying to set a goal that I was confident of achieving and not burning out with the objective of achieving something which was beyond my reach
R – realistic, it is important to always set realistic goals with reasonable time frames rather than stretching excessively amounting to either failure , be it through injuries or mishaps of trying to reach your goal too fast.
T – time bound. The objective was to run 21 kilometres in a particular time frame. So starting early, moving ahead gradually rather than briskly is the right formula for success.
The next couple of years I did achieve timings that one can be proud of. However , there was a sense of complacency, probably over confidence in my approach that I can achieve timings that I have set as I did so previously. So out went the SMART formula out of the window and a few weeks of practice prior to the 2008 run helped me achieve a timing of 2 hrs 10 minutes 12 seconds, 2 minutes slower than the 2007 outing. I did passify myself that I could have done better.
That got me fired up and during the next edition of the Marathon, I started practicing harder than ever before and clocked 2 hrs 4 minutes in practice time and was supremely confident of clocking a personal best. I probably pushed myself a bit too much before the week of the run which led to injury and I had to skip the 2009 Mumbai Marathon – the first year that I was not able to run since the start of the Mumbai Marathon in 2003. In hindsight, I realize that I stretched myself a bit too much and hit the wall.
A few months passed by and then I started pondering whether I should give it a go for the following year. And against the wishes of families and friends, I started preparing once again, although cautiously to avoid any injuries and I battled recurring back and knee injuries during my practice of 12 odd weeks to participate in the 2010 edition with success. However, I recorded my worst timings of 2 hrs 13 minutes and 42 seconds , 5 seconds slower than the first year I ran the half marathon.
If you compare this scenario with achievements in your career too, at times you experience phases on your life where everything turns out well for you and then you try to stretch yourself too much and end up getting hospitalized or sick in bed and lose the momentum created in reaching greater heights. You need to pause, take a break and assess whether you are able to strike a balance between your health, family and work. If any of these 3 elements are not in sync, problems arise resulting in failure in one or more areas.
I realized that a better way would be to train myself with professional guidance and I joined a group called the Mumbai Striders who were professionals in training marathoners and following their guidance and advice on 19th December 2010, I clocked my best ever “unrecorded” timing of 2 hrs 39 seconds. Probably I discovered a SMARTER way to success…where
E = education. It is never late to learn and get educated. Whether it is running a marathon or even pursuit of excellence in your career, educating yourself to discover better ways to achieving your goals is the right way to go ahead.
R = being result-oriented. A person who is result oriented will always persevere to achieve excellence in his field.
And earlier this week, 16th January 2011, I got up at the wee hours of Sunday morning and reached the starting point in Bandra at 5.15 am and geared myself up to running the half marathon much before the break of dawn, crossing the Bandra Worli Sea Link and heading towards the CST station clocking 2 hrs 1 minute to record my personal best in the 6th year of running the marathon.
I realized a few things I learnt in life, preparation is indeed a key to success and if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Using the SMARTER formula did help me to record a personal best and I will continue to strive for greater heights and excellence in the coming years and even applying the SMARTER formula in my professional life. I am sure these tips would be useful for any of you who wishes to either run the half or full marathon or those who wish to find a smarter way to success be it in your personal or even professional life.