Running and Solitude Are My Best Friends

“I only run when I am inspired. Luckily I am inspired everyday, more or less ;).” __Madhav SBSS

I love running. In my 10th Grade, in a nail-biting cricket match, I got out early but I helped my team win the match by becoming a by-runner for the last batsman. I ran between the lines like crazy, as if my feet were on fire, we won the match. In my XI and XII grades, I ran barefoot and competed with my arch rival (who wore spikes) and won the 100m and 200m races.

Growing up, sprinting was something I enjoyed a lot. However, I completely let it slip from my routine for 16 years. When I was at MIT, a classmate of mine mentioned that he completed a Marathon run. My ears perked up as I heard the word “running” and then I got curious about Marathons. I had no clue what a Marathon was. I did a little bit of research and found that Marathons are these long 26.2 mile running events. It sounded challenging and fun to do, I wanted to run one. I thought, if my friend could do it I could do it too.

It took 2 years for that thought to become action. In December of 2004, I searched for the upcoming marathons in the Boston area. I came across KeyBank Marathon in Vermont. My Dad had died of Brain stroke in 2002. I wanted to do some good in that space. I looked up American Stroke Association and found out that they were running as a team in the KeyBank Marathon. I attended a meeting organized by the ASA to register for the run.

My wife and daughter were in India at that time and that helped a lot in jumping off this cliff and building the wings on the way down. At the end of the meeting they said, pay $100 non-refundable registration fee, if you decide to run, this fee will count towards your fund raiser. I thought to myself, if I sign-up now and dropout later, I may lose $100 but if I don’t sign-up now and go home to ponder, I may never sign-up. I may be richer by $100 but I would feel terrible not taking the chance to run for a cause. I signed up in the hopes that I will work hard to complete the long run. At that point I was terrified because I wasn’t sure if I could raise the committed $3500 funds and run the 26.2 miles without hurting myself.

KeyBank Vermont Marathon

I had a brief coaching session from the ASA trainer. He gave me a training packet with good information on diet, running schedule etc. I used to run every other day. Since it was winter and roads were filled with snow piles, I took membership in Ballys fitness club that had an indoor running track. The track was just a 200 meters long loop. I recall running my first mile in six and half minutes and feeling exhausted, dejected and close to throwing up. Next day on, I paced myself at 12 minutes per mile. There were many evenings when I was the last one in the fitness center running like a madman, when I got closer to the race date I used to run 150 rounds on the 200 meters track to complete my practice. I felt dizzy at times but it was fun.

After KeyBank I used to run on and off with breaks every few days. I then set another goal to run the most prestigious Marathon in the world. The Boston Marathon. I practiced for it, signed up with Dana-Farber Cancer Research to raise funds for them while also fulfilling my dream of running the Boston Marathon. In 2009, I completed the Boston Marathon. I stopped running after that for a few months. I signed up for Boston 10k and Boston half Marathon in 2010 just to get back on the track. I realized that I love running, but running loves me more!

My complete recount of the Boston Marathon is here in the original writeup from 2009.

For the past 2 years I have been running 3 miles a day, 6 days a week. Simple, no nonsense routine and I look forward to it every morning. On Sundays when I don’t run, I feel strange.

Running Marathons was just a pretext to have more of what I love, running and solitude, my best friends.

I enjoyed Illayaraja’s soothing violin during my Boston Marathon, you can listen to it here

I was able to carry my ipod using this nice little running gear, it was a gift from one of my good friends. The Under Armor gear helped with the sweat and protecting my body from getting too many blisters. GU Energy Gels are a godsend when you are running up against the heartbreak hill.

A pair of good running shoes and I totally recommend Asics Gel, which I used on both my Marathons, are a must.

Lastly, I could have never run the Marathons without the love and support of my family and wonderful friends in Boston who came to cheer through the course.


“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” 

Image result for ripples in water
Yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind. Then there is abiding in the Seer’s own form.” ― Patanjali

Meditation has become a regular part of my daily life. I had meditated quite a bit when I was in middle school, fell of the track for a long time and then it was on and off for many years. In summer of 2018, a stressful day shook me up and harshly reminded me of how much I have been gifted in abundance and how I’ve been sleepwalking without ever thinking about these gifts.

Over the past few months, I have been trying to sit down in meditation for 5 minutes right after waking up and about 20 minutes in the evening before bed and it’s been helpful in calming the mind. It has been helping me clear out fears and anxieties and clarify my thinking. What is my meditation like, it’s just silent sitting, observing my thoughts, my body, my surroundings, listening and being fully present. It’s hard and I have not been able to do all of these things consistently for longer than a few seconds at a time but I know it’s a muscle that needs to be built over time.

I have tried a few meditation apps including Calm and Headspace and the one app I have come to use regularly is In particular I use the smile meditation which runs for about 25 minutes. It relaxes my mind and body. When I’m really distracted, and desperately trying to come back to the present moment, I use the Be Here mediation which is roughly 20 minutes. Thanks to Tara Brach for her dedication, great gift of meditation to the world and for inspiring me to meditate.

“Distractions arise from habitual thought patterns when practice is intermittent.” 

— Patanjali

I’ve heard my friends say that meditation is hard, that they can’t sit quietly for so long and they get bored or distracted easily. It is true. Meditation can be hard and like many good things in life, meditation will get easier as we start practicing in small sessions, my recommendation is to do it immediately following an activity that we already do and in the beginning keep it tiny, like 1 minute. So tiny that you can’t say “I get bored, it’s long etc”. From there as you spend a few days or weeks doing 1 minute meditation, increase to 2 or 3 minutes. Meditation is a mind game and tricking the mind into believing that we are not “wasting” time sitting quietly requires increasing time spent very gradually and not trying to do it 20 or 40 minutes on day 1.

“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.” 

–Tara Brach

Meditation can be a life long practice that can only get better and more beneficial as we grow older. As I make progress over the next few months, I’d like to wean away from guided meditation to going solo. Guided meditation is an amazing tool to keep us engaged and focused on the present moment, it’s like giving the monkey a task to repeat e.g. going up and down the totem pole. It’s necessary but it should not become a meditator’s crutch.