Reevaluating my Relationship with Running and Myself
In the past, I spoke at length about my DNF at Moab 240. After the race, I dove into what it means to fail your dream goal with an outlook of pragmatic optimism. Months of self-reflection after the initial 6-week period of injury post race have led me creating another How it All Started. The longer you do something, the more evolutions will occur. To evolve is to be human because adaptation is one of our biggest strengths. This particular evolution was among the hardest I’ve ever faced in my life – because running saved my life. Here I was thinking that unlocking my endurance potential may have stalled.
Is My Self Worth Tied to Running?
Since picking it up in 2018, running has changed my life. In 2011, I hit rock bottom and had severe depression. I lost my desire to keep moving forward and almost ended it all. Then, I found a way to keep moving through evolution. Unfortunately, life had other tests facing me. A stressful engineering career, family financial struggles, and relationship struggles put me up against the wall again. I struggled with obesity once more. Naturally, I found my way to an outlet that was accessible and easy to pick up for someone with no true athletic talent – running.
I ran my first quarter mile. Between that and my journey to Moab, I relentlessly ran mile after mile. In the process, I became sober after a nasty hangover just a few weeks after my first 100 mile race in April of 2021. The challenges increased, but so did my attachment of my worth to running. Nothing had ever made me feel more alive and nothing still does, but I was intoxicated on a new high – the runner’s high. Life had other plans. In one fell swoop at mile 225 of the Moab 240, my life changed forever.
When the Foundation Crumbles
Life is relentless. One moment, you’re holding a 100-mile buckle. The next, an injured hip and DNF puts you out of commission for six weeks. Between June of 2018 and the Moab 240 in October of 2022, I ran every single week. Running was everything, so what do you do when everything is taken away from you in one fell swoop. As my adrenals and physical body recovered, my mind spiraled. I couldn’t stomach seeing the finish line I had visualized for so long, though I wished everyone congratulations. Naturally, I distanced myself from running. The grief hit me hard in my stomach, especially while I did slow strolls in the park. Who was I without running? Who was I? One day, during such a walk, my mind screamed at me for not getting the buckle and only doing 235 miles. It hurt. Ultimately, that was the wake up call. This was the first step to unlocking my endurance potential.
We Are So Much More Than the Pieces
Every morning after that, I knew my mission. My journey was now self love and worth. Who was I without running? Trick question. I was enough. As my rehab continued, I began to consciously meditate. Each day, I looked in the mirror and said “I got your back Aum.” Certainly, there were relapses. The future of my ultrarunning career left me anxious. There was uncertainty regarding whether or not I could find that it factor. The it had helped me cross four 100+ mile finish lines. Then, I let go of that.
Reaffirming my fail big mindset, I focused internally. Although running saved my life and gave me purpose, Aum Gandhi was bigger than that. Aum deserved love and had worth outside of what he did. I wasn’t just an ultrarunner. My definitions include, but not limited to, are business owner, brother, son, and writer. Leading into the Everest Ultra, something clicked: the parts alone are pieces. We put them together in a mold. During adversity, we remove and reshape pieces, molding something new together. This becomes a new evolution. Pieces will always come in and out in our lives, but it is the mold that is who we are.
The longer you stick with something, the more times you’ll reshape that puzzle. Don’t be afraid to tinker with the pieces because you never know what beautiful mold you’ll make. Dare to evolve and realize you’re so much bigger than one piece. By focusing on this task you will be unlocking your endurance potential.