If you are looking for a semi porn blog full of innuendos OR a photo essay which goes one step beyond Bay Watch OR an article which tells you how to run in the nude, what happens to the bouncy parts and uncomfortable stuff like that! Then this is not that article. To such readers, I recommend you surf the net with appropriate search words to land at inappropriate sites. Ciao, all the best, and don’t share your credit card number. Trust me. This is about Naked Running!
Welcome, then, interested readers (if any).
So, it was Tanya Agarwal who invented the term ‘Naked Running’. And it was Dinesh Heda who introduced me to the concept.
What is Naked Running?
It means running gizmo free. No music, no mobile, no watch. Yes, so attached to our electronic ‘digits’ are we, that running without them feels like running naked.
“Oh, God!” I hear you say. “Are you crazy? We need gadgets to improve our timing and our stamina.”
That’s what I thought till I met Dinesh Heda.
This was 2011, when smart phones had just entered our lives and I was just learning to stop and wait for my GPS signal. So my life was entering a pretty cool zone. As long as I made sure I ran in a GPS enabled area, and my mobile was charged, I could leave it to Endomondo to figure out my distance and pace. Now that was really liberating! I no longer had to run on pre measured routes, or frantically shoot emails asking what distance the loops at Rose Garden or Nehru Park were. I could run anywhere, pick any freaky route, or not worry about a thing!
Or so I thought. So I ditched Dinesh’s crazy idea.
The next time I ran with Mr. Heda was a year later, when I had just turned barefoot, and used that as an excuse to run much slower than him. It’s only when he told me his best half marathon timing that I realized I was speaking to a Pro! He had done his first Half in 1:40 or 1:45. My best to date was an unrecorded 2:07. So I checked again. Not only was his time correct, he did that running without even a watch.
So that’s one part of running naked: no watch.
No music? No running. (Please bear with me as I flash back to 2011)
The other part was no music. Sometime in 2011, Doctor Rajat Chauhan talked about running without music. And this when he was running a half marathon every day of October (‘Oktober fest’ he calls it). Now, for me, and thousands of hobby runners, music is a way of distancing you from your inner self, the one that says you are tired, should stop, and be home in bed like normal people. But Doc went on to explain how he loved to hear the rhythm of his breath and match it with the sound of his feet.
Listen to your breath? God, I’m asthmatic. If I listen to my breath, I will die of anxiety! Sorry, Doc, maybe your feet make a sexy sound. Mine squeak.
But then, at the Mumbai marathon 2012, I felt the Awakening.
When I reached Mumbai, there were circumstances (which we will discuss in higher classes) that mandated me to not return without a medal. So my target was to not cross the cutoff of 6 hours (for a full marathon). For which I joined the 5:30 hrs pacing bus. As Destiny would have it, I saw myself abreast the 5:00 bus by km 10, and a kilometer ahead by km 20.
My iPod ran out of battery at km 30. I finished in 5:08.
Lesson learned: no music during running
Back in 2012, I was already without shoes or music. So I was running partially naked anyway, both figuratively and literally.
I didn’t really listen to Dinesh Heda, though. Realization hit me the hard way later that year. Doing my first barefoot half marathon, I did the first half of the race at breakneck speed, just because I was expecting my soles to start hurting after an hour. Well, they didn’t and even Doc said, “****ing good speed, Sanjeev!”. I did not look at the time till I glanced at my watch a little before the 20km mark. Without my reading glasses, I read 1:54 as 1:59, and said, “Well there goes my sub 2, so might was well chill.” So I tripsied the last 1200 metres to do a (still PB) of 2:04
So that’s when I went pretty naked.
Not all naked yet
An asthmatic, I cannot think or ever being without a handkerchief and an inhaler. I might use neither, but their presence is a calming influence. Last year, as a pacer for the 2:20 bus at the ADHM, I was, as is my wont, chatting up many runners on the way, subtly egging them to do better. This was 2015, when the smog first became a serious matter, and many runners said they hadn’t practiced enough because of the smog. Till I met this lady runner. She was an Indian, who had specially flown down from Singapore for the ADHM. Not only did she have no complaints about the smog, she told me something which blew me off. She was an attempting her first inhaler free run!
No music, no watch, no inhaler! Now that’s Naked Running, if you please.
Share your naked runs and we will publish your stories on this blog.
By Sanjeev Chabbra for Wellthy.Fit
I trained to be an architect at IIT, which is where I got into serious running. Currently a management consultant, I really started running in 2007 with the VDHM, yes that’s what the Delhi Half Marathon was called pre Airtel. I have run for weight loss, for achievement, for silent competition and to test my limits. Now I only run for peace. Which enables me to do apparently crazy things like running at midnight , Running inside my house or running in office wear, and of course barefoot running. Concerned about the environment, I keep doing my bit, like cycling to work, even it means buying 2 bicycles and parking them at 2 metro stations.