When I was growing up, I didn’t quite understand sport. Don’t get me wrong. I played. From kho kho to badminton, I pretty much tried my hand at everything but never stuck to one. Maybe that’s why, today I don’t make a great spectator. I still don’t understand the compelling allure of watching organised sport. I respect it. But fail to associate with the frenetic passion that goes along with it.
What I love is watching a sportsman go at it. I often go into youtube black holes of watching athletes training. They could be soccer, tennis, basketball players, athletes or even intense gym workouts. I believe it is in the training and not the match itself that you get to see the athletes’ love for their chosen sport. When there are no spotlights, no pressure, no ticking clock. Just the player and the field. For them, nothing else exists. They are in a meditative trance that the most evolved spiritual gurus will envy.
So in love with the moment and what they are doing in it that you can almost experience how fulfilling it is. And that is a beautiful thing to watch. You want to get close to that mindset. Drawn to it despite your best self. Understand what makes it tick. Recently, I was lucky enough to move on from youtube and interact with an athlete of this caliber. And that too an ultra runner. The most meditative of all sports. I can’t even imagine the blank mind you need to be able to run distances more than 200 kilometers!
And It was everything and so much more than I expected. Scott Jurek is one of the best ultra runners that there ever has been. I was a bit intimidated, overwhelmed and excited at the same time about seeing him live. But he was unassuming and came down to the level of a beginner and explained basics like what’s a stride, stride rate, correct posture and importance of strengthening. He spoke about the right level of nutrition, hydration, recovery and rest. He was mindful of the audience through out and at no point I felt small. I was surprised at how the energy of just one person can make the entire room upbeat and enthusiastic.
I also had the good fortune to interview Dan Lawson a couple of months back (btw, he finished second in Spartathlon 2015) and I was truly amazed how humble he is. Meeting Scott Jurek was just a reinforcement of my beliefs. The stuff ultra runners (or all great athletes) are made of!