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Vega – The Smoking Runner

by Tanya Agarwal

They said – Vega was born to run. She got better with every run. She ran like the wind . She ran everyday. She was poised looking. She had the looks. She could have runner men swooning over her with just a smile. Vega was tough too. Within a few years of running, she had conquered the running scene locally. “She ran all types of distances, effortlessly”, they said.

Mostly in a mix of awe and envy, most women runners waited for Vega to get injured. They all groused, ‘she is running too much too soon, she will be injured – mark my words – things don’t stay so rosy for a runner forever. Every runner must go through the cycle of a forced injury if she is not sensible enough to stop herself.”

But things really did stay rosy for Vega. 4 years had gone by and Vega never got injured enough to take a break from running. She was actually very excited these days. Having gotten her French visa to run the UTMB she was now ready to go take her love for running internationally.

There was Vega. There was running. And then there was something Vega was hooked to. As Vega’s fingers reached for the 20th cigarette of the day, she was aware how badly she was addicted to smoking. Smoking while running too. It all started at work. As the men went out to take their “sutta” breaks, Vega agreed to it too. Not easy to be the perfect employee, great runner, a good mother. Gradually she had gotten used to this additional fix to keep fixing other things in life.

For a long time Vega had managed to hide her smoking while running from the running community. She did. She knew it was wrong. She knew that exercise and smoking didn’t mix at all. Smoking was her addiction. Running was Vega’s religion – she told everyone. How could she claim that she was flavoring her religion with such toxicity? And then – it happened. In one of the ultra runs, she was seen smoking by a bunch of runners and then waves of information went far and wide.

Vega was a strong girl. As the waves of her doings touched her, she didn’t seem to care. “Finally they have something to talk about me. Yes I smoke, I live on coffee and muffins. So???? Go on , judge me!!! But I tell you what  – I still stay a runner – one of a kind! Am not injured, am not slow! Nobody has scaled up the way I have. Beat that!”

There was no wake up call for Vega. Not her son. Not her daughter. Not her doting husband. Not even the news of a distant relative dying of lung cancer.

She had disillusioned herself into believing that tobacco was giving her the much needed energy to run better and faster. Nicotine killed her appetite and kept her slim.  She talked herself into saying that Running was keeping her healthy. Her blood tests showed a high hemoglobin. In reality it was higher level of damaged hemoglobin, typical with smokers.

Vega knew what nicotine was doing to her. She was overwhelmed at the thought of how the lack of nicotine would be for her. Infact she was on the lookout of getting hold of stuff that could help her run even better. She was OK with ways to become a better runner. Better Runner? Vega wanted to shine. Because that’s what her name meant – one of the five brightest stars in the night sky.

Vega didn’t believe in happy endings. Only delusional,  happy ‘nows’. Half blind, half drowned, for now, she wanted to shine in her own smoke.

How many Vegas do you know?

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Featured Image by Gijs Coolen from Unsplash.com.

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Tanya Agarwal is Founder and Blogger at WellthyFit - a health and fitness blog on Yoga, Running, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Travel, Joy and everything Life! She reviews fitness products and experiences. WellthyFit is her platform where she invites passionate fitness writers to share their expertise. With her blogs and fun videos she motivates people to stay the course of health and fitness day after Day.

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9 comments

Sunita Pandey October 10, 2019 - 2:19 pm

Thats a very strong article Tanya. You have touched up a topic that remains a taboo. Heavily bulked up self-proclaimed Coaches, slim size zero women – all hooked onto the smoke or coke – and then campaigning “for health” – Fooling only self.

Reply
Tanya Agarwal October 10, 2019 - 5:52 pm

Things have changed enough. Sometimes I rub my eyes in disbelief.

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Rukhsana Parveen Haque October 10, 2019 - 2:56 pm

Loved it as always…. She seems so like the girl next door!! Felt like helping her out…to get rid of her habit ..God Bless her

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Tanya Agarwal October 10, 2019 - 5:51 pm

Love will heal her. If she finds it.

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Taru Mateti October 10, 2019 - 5:15 pm

Tanya, you are brave! Very well-written! Call it naive or whatever, I didn’t know about these practices until about amonth ago until I met a friend who had returned after a tough ultra and we wanted to hear about her experience. She mentioned that two male and one female runner were on something, and I was nothing short of shocked! I would think that these things would hamper performance! Anyway, to each his/her own! Let wisdom and good sense prevail!

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Tanya Agarwal October 10, 2019 - 5:51 pm

The world is an interesting place. Some of us live, run and learn. Some….don’t 🙂

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Anamika October 10, 2019 - 6:06 pm

Wow what a woman, what an athlete! Hope she realizes she doesn’t need a crutch!
The pressure to excel can be phenomenal!
But at what cost?
Very well written Tanya!

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Tanya Agarwal October 12, 2019 - 9:25 am

Hard times for women ? The need to excel is more than ever ?

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Sanjeev Chhabra October 17, 2019 - 11:15 am

I myself went through this illusion during the puppy-love stage with smoking. There was asthma, there was smoking (10 packs a day) and there was running and there were steroids. Another friend of mine had all that but it was karate instead of running. I was fortunate to meet my Lady Love (and wife of today) very early into my Vega phase, and dropped smoking there and then when she told me to. (Also ran 13km to make up my mind about proposing, but that’s a different story).
So, yes, there is a little Vega in everyone. And she will come out of it.

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