Have you ever “bonked” or ‘hit the wall’? If you are a runner, you probably have. It’s the feeling that every runner dreads – of suddenly feeling like you are out of breath and out of will. It’s the crushing sensation in the pit of your stomach that you are not just physically, but mentally depleted. And then, sometimes, it’s in these moments that your spirit fights through the darkness, to find the last glimmer of light. Your body digs deep into the reservoir of your mind to find the courage to run again. You pull through, haltingly at first, but getting more confident with every stride. You rise again. Sometimes, it is in these darkest recesses that you discover your own strength. Running is funny like that – so is life.
The Running Soul – My Journey from Darkness to Light is Mumbai-based architect Parul Sheth’s first book on personal loss and reclaiming her life- with help from family, her personal courage, and of course, running. With 4 marathons and 14 half marathons under her belt, Parul is a well-known presence in the Indian running community. Even if you are familiar with her story, the book will still hit you hard in certain places. Without revealing too much, let’s just say that ‘The Running Soul’ is a poignant reminder of how quickly life can change, how little we can actually take for granted, and how important it is to live every moment like it’s our last.
While the physical benefits of running are extolled regularly, we often forget how therapeutic running is for mental health. For so many of us, running is the only time when we are truly alone, to switch off and to reconnect with our body and our mind. Parul describes how running jolted her out of the despair and how it gave her the audacity to believe in herself again when all seemed lost.
It is important to mention that The Running Soul is more than a book on running and life. This book underlines how difficult life is for single parents in India, especially single mothers. One of the biggest takeaways from the book is the importance of an empathetic and dependable support structure for women who are navigating the maze of domestic responsibilities and careers. Women receive social cues all their life that someone else’s needs always comes first, and too often, women run out of the resources to take care of their own physical and mental wellbeing. The Running Soul tells us how crucial it is that women take time out for themselves – a time when they are not mothers, partners, and sisters – so they can focus on their own wellness and dreams.
If you are a regular runner, we recommend that you take an evening off and settle in withThe Running Soul. It’s an emotionally rich, painfully honest and rewarding read. As Parul chronicles her life transition, one run at a time, you will vicariously relive the triumphs and tribulations of your own running journey. It will remind you of the joy of your first 21K finish, and the agony of missing your PB by a few seconds.
In a time when we are inundated with training advice and jargon, The Running Soul is a refreshing, non-technical read for runners of all experience levels to enjoy. Gift it to someone who has just started their own running journey. We all remember how difficult those first 100 meters are when you are just starting out. We all remember how tempting it is to quit running because it feels too hard, your legs feel too weak, and your body feels too breathless. This book will help a beginner hold on when they are close to giving up. Better still, pass it along to someone you love who doesn’t run, with an inscription about how running has changed your life- and how it might change theirs. We can’t think of a better book to get them started on their own beautiful journey.