Runner’s look for a reason to celebrate and generally like to sync up their runs with important events, personal milestones, and for the last few years with festivals to perform it uniquely. And this helps. I mean this not only gives you the required motivation but also sometimes give opportunities to contribute towards your society.
One of the festive runs which have become popular over the years is the unique concept of Navrun organized by Mumbai Road Runners (MRR) every year during the Navratri festival. I have been part of this for the last 6 years. And this year Navrun was special as Navrun 2020 was supporting 9 different NGOs and their numerous initiatives.
Now, before I deep dive more into Navrun, I would like to quickly touch upon the Navratri festival (esp. for our readers outside India) which forms the base of this Navrun concept.
Navaratri (Nav – Nine + Ratri – Night) is one of the major festivals in India that runs for nine nights and ten days and is celebrated every year during the autumn in honour of the divine feminine. People worship nine forms of Shakti/Devi during the festival.
People celebrate Navratri in the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls between September and October. It is also observed for various other reasons and is celebrated uniquely in several parts of India.
Why do we celebrate Navratri
The festival is connected to the prominent battle that happened between Durga Mata and demon Mahishasura and thus, celebrates the victory of Good over Evil. These nine days are exclusively dedicated to Goddess Durga and her nine Avatars – called the Nava Durga. Each day links to an incarnation of the goddess.
Apart from worshipping Goddess Durga, the festival is also known for Garba, dandiya, delicious foods, and special colours. 9 days and 9 colours with every colour have a different significance.
In order to motivate people to take running as a habit and to inspire them to get into a fitness regime, Mumbai Road Runners (MRR) one of the oldest and popular running groups in Mumbai had come up with a unique concept of Navrun.
9 days, 9 colours, 9 km
Navrun is a 9-day event to celebrate Navaratri in a Runner’s way. 9 Km (or 9 workouts) for 9 days wearing 9 different colours. The motto of the event is to inspire people to brand fitness as a part of life.
You can choose any form of workout – be it running, walking, or cycling. Just commit to whatever you choose for all 9 days. To make it interesting, you can wear the colour of the day.
Though I have been running Navrun for the past few years, however I will restrict this blog to my Navrun 2020 experience.
I celebrated Navrun by running 93 km in 9 days by wearing nine colours of Tshirt. I have been participating in the Navrun for the last 6 years and I love this concept.
The first day of Navratri belongs to Goddess Shailputri. One who grants wishes.
Color ‘Grey’: Represents neutrality and balance.
I celebrated the first day of Navratri by breaking the barrier of Half Marathon distance (21.097 km) after a gap of 7 months. COVID lockdown restricted outdoor running. Resuming the run and finishing a Half Marathon on the first day itself was an amazing experience.
People worship Maa Durga also in the form of Goddess Brahmcharini. She is pure bliss and awards happiness, peace, and prosperity. Filled with heaven and happiness, she is the way to liberation or moksha.
Color ‘Orange’: Symbolises tranquility, brightness, and knowledge.
After a long run on day 1, I did a recovery run on day 2. I celebrated the second day by doing a slow recovery run of 14 km.
A recovery run is a short and slow run performed at a pace 60s – 90s slower than your normal run. The run helps to recover your muscles and your entire body by increasing blood circulation, which will support the body process of waste products.
The third appearance of Goddess Durga is Maa Chandraghanta. Legends state that through one of the great battles between gods and demons, the sound vibrations produced by her ‘ghanta’ or bell had killed the demons. Amazing, isn’t it.
Color ‘White’: Represents peace, serenity, calm, and purity.
Celebrated the third day by doing a 5 km walk.
Walking is perfect for endurance training to help assist your running. Normally, a person can walk a lot further than run as walking is less intensive than running. But that doesn’t diminish the value of the exercise. You’ll strengthen your feet, build leg strength, increase lung capacity, and reduce stress.
The fourth day of Navratri celebrates the fourth form of Goddess Durga called Kushmanda Mata. People worship her to eliminate the dark and provide light to the universe.
Literally, her name means – Ku means ‘little’, Ushma means ‘energy’ and Anda means the ‘cosmic egg’. Thus, the cosmic egg signifies the whole universe, and Devi’s divine smile is alleged to end the darkness.
Color ‘Red’: Symbolises courage, passion, auspiciousness as well as anger.
Celebrated the fourth day by doing a 5 km hill run.
Hill Run helps to build endurance and speed at the same time. Hill run though might be tough, but it helps your body to run faster on roads. You can improve your current fitness by incorporating the hills into your running routine once a week.
On the fifth day of Navaratri, people worship Goddess Durga as Lord Kartikeya’s mother – Skandamata. Since Maa Durga gave birth to Lord Kartikeya (also known as Skanda) in this form, and hence the name, Skandamata.
Color ‘Royal Blue’: Represents divine energy.
Celebrated day five by running a 6 km tempo run.
Tempo run is also known as Fast Continuous Running, lactate-threshold, or anaerobic threshold training. The tempo run is a great training tool because you run at an effort that feels strong. The drive of a tempo workout is to run at a constant effort to build “speed endurance”—that is, the ability to embrace a stimulating pace over a long period.
This day is to worship goddess Katyayani. As per the sacred scripture, Goddess Parvati incarnated as Katyayani to destroy Mahishasura, who was a demon. And Katyayani is also worshipped as the most violent form of Goddess Parvati. This avatar of Maa Parvati is also known as a warrior goddess.
Color ‘Yellow’: Symbolises joy and cheerfulness.
Celebrated day six by doing a 5 km slow run.
Slow running is subjective as each person will have their own pace. However, by definition, a slow run means keeping your heart rate between 97 and 116 beats per minute.
The 7th day of Navaratri is devoted to Maa Kalratri, the 7th manifestation of Maa Durga. Kaal means time and death and Kaalratri means the One who is the Death of Kaal. Maa Kalratri destroys ignorance and carries light into the dark.
Now, this avatar also depicts the dark side – the superpower that creates mayhem and eliminates all negative things. But to her devotees, Maa brings peace and courage.
Color ‘Green’: Represents Mother nature. Let’s protect the environment by planting more trees and keep the environment clean.
Celebrated day seven by doing a speed interval workout and planting a tree.
Speed interval workout comprises of repeated shorter segments of fast running separated by slow jogging or standing recoveries. This aids a runner to pack faster running into a single workout than he or she could with a single prolonged fast sweat to exhaustion.
You can start with a 2kms slow warm-up run, then you can do speed repetitions of 200m/400m * 4 reps followed by a 2kms slow cool down run. You may start your initial speed reps by doing 100m* 4 reps or whatever is comfortable for you.
Mahagauri is the attractive appearance of Goddess Durga in her eighth form. People worship her on the eighth day of Navratri, more commonly known as Ashtami. Being a symbol of purity and serenity, Mahagauri is worshipped to put an end to all the suffering of her devotees. It is also believed that Mahagauri is the 16-year-old unmarried form of Goddess Parvati.
Color ‘Peacock Green’: Represents the desires and wishes that gets true.
Celebrated the eighth day by a long run of 20kms with my KDR buddies at Malang Gad with a good elevation and greenery.
A long run is a part of every distance runner’s routine. If you are training consistently (at least 3-4 runs per week) add one longer run each week. It doesn’t matter if you are training for 10km/ 21kms / 42 km, you need to run a slower-paced long run once a week.
It helps to increase your endurance, improves leg strength, burns body fat efficiently, and increases the time you can hold onto a faster pace.
On the final day, the devotees worship the ninth form of Goddess Durga Maa Siddhidatri. Her name translates to the one who grants or fulfills every wish; Siddhi means supernatural power or meditative ability, and Dhatri means the one who blesses or gives that power.
Color‘Purple’: Represents ambition, goal, and energy.
Celebrated the last day by doing a slow run of 9 km in my city. These 9 days of running helped me to build my endurance.
It is a common belief that for any activity to become a habit you need to do it continuously for 21 days and it will be part of your life henceforth. Yes, your goal should be to continue this Navrun for a lifetime by doing regular workouts.
Runners across the world had celebrated Navrun and posted pics on social media, which helped the runners to stay connected virtually. You get a lot of encouragement from social media from your friends.
I am happy that I was able to run for these 9 days and managed to clock 93 km which is my highest mileage in the last 7 months, thanks to ease out of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Thank You for reading it through. Runners don’t need any reason to run. They can link any festival or any celebration to running and celebrate it in a runner’s way. That’s the beauty of this sport. Hope my Navrun experience has motivated you to run and take up fitness as a primary goal.
I would like many people to participate in this event next year and if you have already participated this year, do share your experience and we would love to feature it in our blogs.
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