Deepthi Velkur talks to Adil Nargolwala about how he balances running and work and achieves so much in both.
“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you down. It’s the pebble in your shoe” – Muhammad Ali.
Adil Nargolwala, a senior HR professional has climbed many a mountain, run many a mile and broken down many barriers. From running the 2009 Standard Chartered HM on a whim to setting a Limca record for running 60 events in a year, he certainly has achieved something unique.
Recalling his first run, Adil says, “I was in Pune for work and happened to read a news article which said there was the SCMM marathon going to be held in the next 3-4 days. I asked my office team to get me a bib but they came back saying registrations for the event closed months ago. So, I called a friend who was the medical director of the race to run the FM, but he refused to give me a bib since I had not trained for it. However, after a bit of compromise, he handed me a bib to run a HM and that’s how I ran my first half marathon”.
My running journey.
Earlier, there were not many running events, but the scenario today is more vibrant with multiple events being held every weekend across the country. When he started off, Adil limited his running mostly to 5Ks, 10Ks, and HMs organized by his friend Rahul Verghese who runs a company called ‘Running and Living’. To this Adil says, “In those days we did a handful of events, unlike today where there is an event every weekend. We were also not in a position to travel within India or abroad for races”.
After having taken part in events on and off, Adil seriously took to running in 2015 and his passion for running only grew and he was unstoppable thereafter. Adil starts his day very early and heads out for his morning runs which he really looks forward to as it’s his time of being one with nature and just having fun along the way. On days he is not in the mood for a run, he would go for a swim, a bike ride or hit the gym.
Over the years with the options of running events steadily growing, Adil’s participation in them was equally growing too. Adil’s wife is passionate about running just as Adil is and she has run 5K, 10Ks, HMs and 1 FM herself. Speaking to Adil about how has it benefited him to have a partner who runs, he says, “She understands me as a runner. For example, I’m training for 15-20 hrs a week because of some big events coming up this year. To be able to train for such long hours, you need to sleep early, wake up early, ensure I eat proper food. That way she has been extremely cooperative and understanding”.
Seeing the world, one run at a time.
Through running, Adil and his wife have travelled the world and planned their vacations around running too which led him to coin the word “Runacation’. His first ever international event was the New York Marathon in 2016 which he ran with his wife. Through his passion and perseverance, Adil has completed a race on every possible terrain, climatic condition, and elevation.
In 2017, Adil completed 60 events (10K, HM, FM, ultras, 4 WMM) across 52 weeks which saw him enter the Limca Book of records for being the only person to have completed such an unthinkable feat of running the highest number of events in a year. On asking him how he accomplished this feat he says, “I run because I enjoy it and it’s a lot of fun. I choose half a dozen runs in a year as competitive runs, some runs which I do as training runs and few others I just run for fun with friends who want to run at an event. Let’s say I have a training run of 30km, I try and club it with an event. So, I start an hour or two early to the race venue, finish my 9 km and continue to run my HM. There have been times when I have done 2 events back to back”.
To name a few of the events he has participated in are the 6WMM (one among the 6 Indians to have completed it at that time), ran the Antarctic Marathon (with a broken hand), 7 marathons across 7 continents, Chandratal Ultra run, Ladakh marathon, Utah marathon, Punta Arenas, Chile marathon, Kilimanjaro, Cherrapunji, amongst others. “A lot of vacationing has happened because of running. It gave us a purpose to travel and experience different places”, says Adil. The total number of events he has done till date stands at a whopping 250 and that number will only grow exponentially year on year.
Marrying running and work.
For someone who has always been on his toes right from enjoying motorsports during his college days to running all over the world, he was determined to take the same active lifestyle to his workplace as well. He led from the front by starting WNS sports where every employee could take part in various sporting activities like cricket, football, chess, table tennis, running, etc. within and outside of the office. Adil proudly says, “We are a BPM company and a lot of our work happens sitting behind the desk for several hours which is not a very healthy thing. So, we started WNS sports where we encourage people to come out and take part in any sporting activity and as a corporate, we try and see what best can be done to support them. Last year we had 9000 people taking part in some sport or the other. We try and motivate them to keep going and lead a fit and healthy lifestyle”.
The road to becoming an IRONMAN
Since running, swimming and cycling have always been a part of his training regime, transitioning into triathlons was quite a natural progression for Adil. He has done a couple of Ironman 70.3 and is also a triple Super Randonneur.
Till about a few months Adil was training on his own but his friends introduced him to Deepak Raj (Ironman coach) who in turn became Adil’s friend. Deepak eventually convinced him to sign up for a training program with him. It’s completely an app-based training program where the schedule is shared on a weekly basis.
This year Adil has big ambitions for himself of swimming across the English Channel, doing a full Ironman, a couple more Ironman 70.3 and maybe try the ultra-man.
He closes with this message, “In our system of education when the kids are young they should be put into a sporting regime by making it a part of their routine/curriculum across India (urban and rural). That way we can see more youngsters leading a healthy life, which will keep them get away from drugs, alcohol, make them conscious about their food habits, sleep early, etc. All this will bring in some sort of discipline to their lives and lead better lives”.