I love an early morning run. The cool, crisp air and the relatively noise-free streets of Bangalore are inviting enough for me to slip on my running shoes and run…just run!
In 2009, running fever was just catching on in the city and the largest running group at the time was the Jayanagar Jaguars (JJ’s). Around the same time, I met Mr Suresh Pathi, the brainchild behind JJ’s and a dear friend of mine. He suggested that I join the JJ group and that marked the start of my running journey.
Running with a group was a completely different experience – it was fun, engaging and motivated me. I enjoyed every bit of it. The excellent camaraderie we shared in the group was a major influence on why I developed such a big interest in running. For me, it was never about losing weight – it was all about having fun. Through the years, I managed to keep my weight in check and had the willpower to keep myself healthy.
The turning point for me happened when I attended a 2-day workshop conducted by Mr Ashok Nath (a seasoned marathoner who preaches chi-running). He spoke about how to run less, run faster and the art of ‘Chi running’, I was fascinated by the concept and everything else he had to share, and I wanted to know more.
I went up and had a conversation with him – he checked my weight, spoke about my running form and he had a few recommendations – reduce my alcohol intake, practice proper running form and follow a proper diet (he did share the contact information of some well-known dieticians.
The power of transformation.
But, changing your diet and harbouring thoughts about being a serious runner, especially at the age of 48, isn’t a joke. I needed some help and I met with Dr Sujay (Physiotherapist) who was kind enough to offer that he will help me get fitter and stronger. Since that day, he became my personal trainer and dietician.
The transformation wasn’t easy. It started with me giving up carbs completely (sugar, rice, chapati, dal). I also decided to give up alcohol. Being a non-vegetarian, it made it easier for me to follow a protein diet and a little bit of the keto diet as well.
On the workout front, I started with an intense work out 3 days a week – High-intensity training (HIIT), stretching, regular massages and strength training. Sujay made sure that my core and legs got stronger. One thing – I made sure I followed the diet religiously.
Seeing is believing
Bit by bit, day by day, I started noticing the changes in my body and my weight dropped to 62 kgs (a good 8KG drop!). The best part of it all was that it wasn’t just the weight loss I noticed but how toned my body was getting. The outcome was that I had become a faster runner in 18 months – in 2015, my FM timing was 5H 25M and in 2010, it had dropped to 3H 19M. All this would not have happened if not for fitness and diet under the guidance and training I received from the right people at the right time. It all fell in place and I was able to perform better in every event I participated. Now when I reflect back and think it all looks like a dream to me.
My advice to all runners is to stick to the plan, receive proper training guidance by a professional coach, look into your strengths and weaknesses in running, be realistic, have patience, don’t burnout by running too many races and trying to get faster in an unrealistic time. In my experience, I have learnt not to run faster than my body can handle. I never suffered from a serious injury between 2013 to 2015 while I was chasing my dream of running the Boston Marathon which I eventually completed in 2016.
We all want to compete and win races, but it is not what you should aim for until you reach that level. There is no shortcut to success. You need the support of your family and you have to balance both running and your family. I am very grateful for what I could have – a personal trainer, goof nutrition, gym equipment and the ability to take my trainer to all my important races and a good pacer too. I was blessed with a lot of things which made it easier for me to reach my goal faster than others. I am always grateful to God for this.