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It Started With 0.25 Miles – Aum Gandhi

Aum Gandhi Ultra Runner
Aum Gandhi
Year started: April 2018
Next race: April 10th, 2021 - Zion 100

I started running as a means to relieve stress from some difficult times in my life. My family was dealing with financial burden, my important relationships in life weren’t great, and my job was burning me out. I was physically overweight and mentally on edge. I was so depressed that I had “made it” but my life felt over. Could I get my life started again? The answer was yes and it started with running 0.25 miles.

Defying Defeat: Setting the Joshua Tree Half Marathon Goal

So, I went outside and ran just to see how much I could do. I ended up running 0.25-ish miles and walking home feeling sick, tired, and defeated. I decided enough was enough at that point and I set myself a goal for November 3rd, 2018: The Joshua Tree Half Marathon. I set the goal of running my first 5k in early August. I realized for me having a huge goal looming in the distance would keep me accountable. I started taking it day by day and breaking my goal into obtainable milestones, adding them into the Hal Higdon training plan.

Building Momentum: Milestones and the Hal Higdon Plan

I ran for 15 minutes, ran my first 5k, ran my first 10k, and did a 10 mile final training run. Each accomplishment helped me build forward momentum, What I remember the most about that first year was how difficult running was when I first started. I had to do a run/walk routine until I could run 30 minutes without stopping, something that seemed impossible. I remember there were more bad days than good days at first and I didn’t always feel inspired, but I pushed. I suffered injuries, such as a left Achilles injury, and right knee strain.

Embracing Difficulty: The Grueling First Year

At this point, I wasn’t sure If I could finish the half. Despite hurting my right knee again during the race at mile 11, I finished. I told myself I’d never race again but then I signed up for the Yosemite Half in May 2019. Then I did the Long Beach Half in October 2019. I had signed up to do my first full Marathon in May 2020, then the pandemic hit in March. By 2019, I had started backpacking and had begun exploring the world of trail ultramarathons, including the 100 mile race.

Inspiration Amidst Isolation: Learning from Endurance Legends

It seemed like this colossal feat that I could never dream of doing myself. During the pandemic,  I started listening to key players in the endurance sports world such as Rich Roll, Courtney Dauwalter, and David Goggins. I signed up for the Zion 50K in September, having never ran more than 16 miles. I am running the Zion 100 in April, followed by the Bryce 50 in May.

Advice to Beginners: Beyond Limits and Failures

Don’t limit yourself to opportunities because you think you’ll fail. It’s OK to fail. Set big goals off in the distance that look like tall peaks, then break the path down into small milestones. Be consistent and build on forward momentum.  Bottom line: Be consistent and FAIL. You’re only a failure if you don’t get back up. For me, it started with 0.25 miles. What will it be for you?