Shreyas Karnad shares his special running story where he beat unsurmountable odds to win back his health.
At 22, Shreyas Karnad weighed 120 kilos and was dealing with issues ranging from fatty liver, kidney stones and gastritis to low self-esteem and depression.
A 10-year stint in insurance, content, learning, and development had Shreyas working weird shifts and leading an unhealthy life. He decided he needed to make a change. He says, “The ONLY WAY OUT of this rut was WAY IN, to dig deep and do justice to my existence”.
In his endeavour, to lose some weight, Shreyas joined the gym and took to the treadmill. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience as he was often breathless after a few seconds but he persevered and 6 months later, he was able to jog 4K continuously. This was a life-changing moment for him. He soon let go of negative elements and instead surrounded himself with positive influences. Consequently, he became more confident and positive in his approach. To this, Shreyas says, “While the circumstances challenged me, I was very lucky to have a great support system in the form of amazing people around me – family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues – I’m at a loss of words”.
Proper exercise and nutrition, of course, played a vital role and talking about this, Shreyas says, “Training was simple: Burn calories on the treadmill, elliptical, indoor cycling and some strength work initially. Nutrition played a HUGE ROLE. I dropped dairy, meat, fried and processed food, white rice. I essentially ate a lot of fruits, vegetables and fewer grains along with regular exercises that led me to a drop my weight to 60kgs across 3 years”.
As part of his overall plan, Shreyas followed a whole food plant-based diet that worked wonders for him. Talking about its benefits, he says, “I feel great and can easily manage a healthy weight without calorie counting eating plant-based nutrition most times. I’m mostly dairy-free unless I’m travelling and when I’m left with no option, I would give into butter or paneer at the max but that’s also extremely rare. This approach to eating has enabled me to discover amazing local foods right from grains, fruits, legumes, pulses, vegetables – it’s a whole new food world there”.
Having lost weight and feeling more confident, Shreyas wanted to experience running outdoors. To this end, he signed up for his first official run – the SNAP FITNESS 10K in mid-2011. “It was one of the very few outdoor runs as I was running a lot more on treadmills but running outdoors made the experience even more euphoric. It wasn’t a finish line – it was the start line, the line that got me hooked to outdoor experiences: running events, Run-Vacations, Hiking, Cycling, and Travelling”, says Shreyas.
Having had a great experience, Shreyas now wanted to run more and more. In September 2011, he decided to sign up for an FM but unfortunately, Shreyas did not have a lot of information on how to train. He says, “I became ambitious but was ill-informed. The marathon to me then was just 4 times of 10KM + 2.2 KM. I chose the toughest marathon, Kaveri Trail Marathon and ended up finishing it in 5 hours 56 minutes. I was beaten and started questioning myself if could run distances beyond a 10K. A year later I ran my second marathon in 2012 in 3.30 and this time prepared well through reading and by reaching out to people. In the last ten years, I have from 4km ran close to 40,000 KMS till date”.
A new frontier
Things were going well but unfortunately, he had a motorcycle accident in October 2015 which affected his movement. During this time, he had a lot of time to reflect, “Did I live the Life I truly Loved” and to this he says, “I didn’t enjoy my corporate work, it seemed mundane, wasn’t exciting and also due to back pain my performance suffered as I could not sit for long hours at work and decided to take a sabbatical from work”.
At this time, Shreyas got an opportunity to train Isha Vidhya Volunteers who were running the TCS10K (2016) and that opened doors towards coaching. His years of running, coaching and understanding human behaviour combined with his knowledge on fitness and nutrition made him an ideal candidate for a coach. He decided to quit his full-time job and became a running coach and started a group – Runners360. Its aim was to provide running coaching, weight-Loss, and get-fit programs virtually through group sessions and via personal training. 3 years on and he has coached over 400 people across the country and worked with the government and police department on fitness initiatives.
Talking about achieving goals for his trainees, he says, “This is an evolving process. Initially, I was a bit pushy, but with time I realized no matter how many calls you make, how much motivation you provide unless the trainee is “Driven” you will fall short. I now put the onus on the trainee and ask them to task responsibility. Once that is clear along with values of trust, patience, discipline, and consistency in following training schedules any goal can be achieved. Each individual is different and needs customization in terms of training schedules and plans to help them reach their goals and that’s what we precisely do at Runners360. We enable people to discover themselves”.
Shreyas loves to spread the joy of running and to this, he says, “In life, we more often get and take than we give. It was time to give back. I first raised funds in 2014 by running the Auroville Marathon, in 2015 cycled close to 700 KMS to raise funds for Isha Vidhya, in 2016 through Bengaluru Marathon we put together a team of few people to raise 5L for iSupport Foundation, 2018 and 2019 raised funds for free back surgeries conducted by Sita Bhateja Trust”.
To date, he has finished 100 events across various distances from 5KM to 75 KM Ultras. The race that he holds close to his heart is the 2019 Tata Mumbai Marathon. “I ran my favourite marathon distance after 3.5 years post my bike fall. I had given up hopes of running a marathon but then TMM happened and a few weeks later the New Delhi marathon was more special and I finished the race in 3.11. To break a 3.15 was a longtime dream and it happened when I thought a marathon distance was a distant dream”, says Shreyas.
This year, he has his eyes set on the Bengaluru 10K Challenge, 2-hour Stadium Run, and few other local events.
In closing, Shreyas says, “Whatever you do ensure it makes you a better human being along the way. Shun peer pressure, remember this is your own journey and you are accountable for yourself. Be honest to yourself, do things because you love doing it and not just to belong to some community. Finally, be modest, patient, and consistent through the process. Have a long term goal and be willing to unlearn and open for new wisdom that will make you the runner and person you are truly meant to be”.