Pinaak Pande, an investment banker by profession with Northern Trust took to running 4 years ago with a mission to get fit and he speaks to Deepthi Velkur about his journey.
“I may not be there yet but I’m closer than I was yesterday”.
Pinaak Pande, an investment banker by profession with Northern Trust took to running 4 years ago with a mission to get fit. He has come a long way since then and as we listen to him talk through his journey, there’s one resonating message he would like for us to focus on – patience is key.
What was the key driver to pick running as your choice of sport?
Sports was always a part of my life – I represented Karnataka and Bangalore University in Baseball and Softball for 5 years. In 2010, I got an offer with an MNC bank and had to work night shifts and sports took a backseat. The long work hours, bad eating habits and inactive lifestyle had me weighing in at 90kgs. In 2014, I ran my first 5k (majja run) at the TCS 10K event and it was hard due to my unhealthy lifestyle. That’s when it hit me – I was unfit! It was a jolt and I decided to do something about it. That’s how I joined a running group and haven’t looked back since.
Given that you have a crazy work schedule. How do you find time to run?
Where there’s a desire, you persevere – that’s my thinking!
The last 4 years was maniac – I used to wrap up my day at the office around 4 AM and then head straight for the training. Despite the madness, I always felt better after my runs and this drove me to make time for my runs.
You did the 12-hour stadium run earlier this year? How did you train for it? Did all go as per plan during the race?
This was my first ultra-run and a very memorable one too. The amount of training I went through during this phase was immense and quite challenging. I trained 7 days a week with one goal in mind – finish the race no matter what. I followed the 2 weeks of high mileage and 1 week of low mileage training plan, focusing on my strength training and cross training. I have had weeks where my weekly mileage was higher than 90kms. My weekdays were pretty much sorted with a recovery swim post the weekly runs.
You can plan everything to a T but things don’t always go as per the plan – exactly what happened to me. It kept raining all day and during the race, it poured for 8 hours making it hard to run especially with the humidity being so high. Unfortunately, I fell short by 5.6 km from the planned target (80kms), clocking 74.4kms at the end of 12 hours.
Nutrition plays a big role in every athlete’s life. How do you plan your nutrition?
I keep it very simple. I have a big bowl of seasonal fruits for my breakfast with 2 glasses of water mixed with jaggery and sattu (natural protein for the body). For lunch, I have a millet-based diet, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds as an evening snack and millet-based food for dinner.
In the recent SPBM event, you were the pacer for the 2hr30mins bus? What has been your experience of being a pacer?
It’s always a great feeling to be a pacer as you are helping the running community achieve their goals.
In this event, I was pacing the 2hr30min bus. I started with a bunch of runners but towards the end, there were about 15 runners who completed with me. As far as I remember most of the runners were doing their debut HM and a couple of them with 3 HM’s under their belt. I completed the race in 2hr29mins7secs just within the target time. The bus I was pacing was filled with conversations around nutrition, hydration and running. It was a comfortable race and I did not face any challenges along the way.
The satisfaction you get when you help other runners achieve their respective goals is immense and hence, I would choose to pace over racing any day at any event. I believe in karma, do good and the good will come looking for you.
Do you wish to take part in a triathlon event in the near future? How are you going about your training?
Oh yes, I would definitely take part in a triathlon event post a couple of ultra-marathons. I do include cycling and swimming as part of my cross training workouts. It takes a lot of training to be a successful triathlete. I am strengthening my weaknesses to get better 😉
Being one of the ambassadors for Pinkathon, you obviously have a connection to the cause? Your thoughts on this?
Pinkathon is about women empowerment and spreading awareness about how important it is to take care of one’s health. According to me, it’s very important for women to focus on their fitness apart from what they do on a given day. I want to ensure that all women take the right steps to stay healthy and fit if they haven’t already. “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”— I believe in this mantra. I am glad that my mentor and Guruji, Milind Soman chose me to be an ambassador for Pinkathon.
You need the right physical and mental strength to run a marathon. How do you stay strong during a race?
I would say you got to be more mentally strong than physical. Running a Marathon is easy but convincing your mind is tough. The battle is between your mind and the body for those 42kms. Your mind will always want to give up after running for a certain distance but being mentally strong is the key to run marathons and ultra-marathons. I train solo most of the days and I train my mind by altering the distance just before I head out for a run. This way you are removing the mental block from your mind.
Do you train with a coach? If yes, how has that benefited you in making you a better runner today?
Yes, I do have a mentor who trains me to be a better person every day. According to me, coaches are there to guide you and without them, certain things are not achievable.
You constantly set new highs for yourself. Where does this motivation come from?
Yes, certainly. I love to push myself and set new highs all the time as I believe you got to constantly challenge yourself no matter how much you have achieved or what challenges you might face. The challenges and my past achievements keep me going and motivate me all the way until the finish line or the end of my goal.
What is the advice you have for anyone who wants to take up an endurance sport like “running”?
Get up at 5 in the morning for a month and head out for a short run/jog and see the difference it makes to your life and you will certainly see a lifestyle change.
What big races do you have insight in the coming year?
I definitely want to do a 24-hour stadium run and a couple of ultra-marathons in the next calendar year.