I’ve been preparing for the Everest Base Camp trek in May, working slowly and steadily on my fitness. I cannot boast myself to be a very fit person at all, but the trying counts. It has been a slow process, the rewards have been soul satisfying.
Training has made me more positive minded, better focused and has introduced a new fighting spirit which I haven’t experienced before. I’ve never felt this mentally sharp.
It is in this spirit I took up long distance running as a hobby after my first backpacking trip to the mountains. I felt a complete change in attitude towards everything in life. It is on such a trip you feel how small and insignificant you really are in the world no matter how much money, wealth or power you possess.
Running is one of those sports that enables you to build your endurance levels physically and helps you to train your mind to push a little more harder each time. I felt the need to do this because I wanted to enjoy the most out of every trip I planned to take in the future.
In short, it is really important for all of us to be fit. I began running training at a local park near to where I stay. At first, I could barely manage 100 meters of continuous walking let alone running. But after putting days and nights of lots of effort, hard work and the determination, I pushed this slowly and steadily to 5k and then graduated to 8k and 10k respectively. There were and still there are days when you just don’t feel like doing anything and you have that constant battle with your mind. You feel like wrapping yourself in the bed and sleep. But with support from friends and family, I have been able to overcome these pressures. Training in the peak of summer last year at 50° and with 80% humidity in the air, was an impossible task but still doable. I used to get back home with an additional 5 kg of sweat on the clothes. That was pretty nasty but worth it.
For my second trip to India, I went northwards and along with the travelling I shifted my focus on a side project of climbing/trekking Mt. Stok Kangri located in the Stok Range of the Ladakh Himalayas which is at a height of 6153m above sea-level or 20000+ feet. In the lead up to it, I got hooked onto a lot of motivational videos to mountain movies and shows and that was the reason for this newly developed interest and also from the love for the mountains which was born on my previous trip to Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Although climbing 6km up high sounds stupid, it was a realistic goal for me. Being able to run 5k-10k is considered as base fitness for a climb up this mountain. the important word here is “base”.
Mountaineering and climbing requires immense training and focus. With this in mind I continued training for Mt. Stok Kangri and the trip to Ladakh. There were times on the trail, where I kept asking myself, why I had to put myself through this. Why not jump in the sea next to a cozy beach which is easier to do.
“We go to that lonely fork between security and difficulty, because that’s where we finally see whether this is something we truly love, or just some pretty pictures and nice-sounding posts built to bolster our egos.
We believe the truest version of ourselves stands well beyond comfort’s perimeter. Shed skin. Lose blood. Find ourselves gasping for breath and drenched in sweat and still not even close to halfway there.” – The North Face
With the successful second trip up the mountains, I got back home and began to get involved in more outdoor running activities with the Bahrain Road Runners group. Next up on the road to fitness was training for the Cross Island Coast to Coast Run in Bahrain. The historical 16.5 km race which takes you across the desert from coast to coast was my first test. It was quite a struggle, my legs gave up mid way but my fighting spirit didn’t die. I was able to crunch this one and it motivated me to move forward forgetting and dusting off my weaknesses with the desert sand.
The very next month was the test of a 21.1km Half Marathon Run. There were only a few weeks in between to train for this run. As always I focused on building the willpower first and then get physically fit with a focused mind. With the determination to achieve, again I was able to finish this run. It was definitely harder than any run I tried before. I hadn’t even attempted a trial half marathon run prior to it. During that run after about 16kms, my legs started cramping, and I hit the wall, leaving me behind the running pack. Maybe I didn’t train hard enough, maybe I wasn’t ready. My motivation was drained, I saw older men twice my age whizz past me, and almost had a mental breakdown after pushing it to 18kms. With a help of a friend who revived my spirits at that last 3 km mark, I somehow pulled myself together to finish that race. Again the reward of finishing was so satisfying.
After a gap of a month and more training runs around the city, I prepared for a charity run of 8kms. The run was a big success for me and helped me to introduce this sport to a few more friends.
With the help of Reebok through an online competition and a little bit of luck, I was able to get a free pass for my next race, The Spartan Race. The world’s best obstacle race was coming to town and I was more than overjoyed to take part in it. The race definitely put me to the test to prove my mettle. But I couldn’t forget the hours and miles of training I put myself through to get till here.
A week after, I completed a Team Duathlon, run-bike-run event with two of my friends, working together as a team and again a week after, to keep the momentum going, with a friend I attempted a long early morning walk around Bahrain for 31 km. The original plan was 40kms but after 7 and a half hours of pounding it out with a bag, time constraints and the exhaustion in the mid day heat I had to call it quits at the 31st km, reminding me not all days will be Sundays. I was happy that my friend who joined me for it still egged on and completed the remaining 9kms that I missed.
A little over 2 weeks for my biggest trip so far, I am raring to go. I don’t know what lies on the trail or the obstacles I would face. But I take courage in the fact that I worked hard for it. If asked the question “Are you motivated enough?”, what would your answer be? If it’s a yes, go for it, whatever you are aiming for, if the answer is a no, then work on it starting today.
“Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – St. Francis of Assisi