In conversation with Shruti Jain, marathon runner and certified yoga trainer who talks about the transformation that yoga and running have brought to her life.
At the age of 16, most teenagers struggle to get out of bed but not Shruti – she would wake up and accompany her father during his morning walks. However, she soon got bored and decided to start running – it left her ecstatic. The feeling of unbridled joy it gave, made her want to go back for more day after day. When asked if fitness was a way of life early on, she says “When I started running at 16 it was purely because I enjoyed it. As I was growing up my parents always emphasized the importance of being healthy and it was something that stayed with me subconsciously. Even when I was in college I remember focusing on being healthy from within rather than something for just exterior beauty”.
Since then, Shruti has been constantly challenging herself to do just a little bit more day-after-day. “The breathlessness after finishing and the sense of accomplishment after every run is a feeling that stays with me till date”, says Shruti.
The ‘Yoga’ connection
Shruti’s journey into being a full-time yoga teacher happened quite by accident. Two years into her job, she started developing pain in her upper back which left her unhappy and uncomfortable. That was the last straw and she decided to quit her job and focus on staying healthy. With time on her hands and the gentle encouragement from her mother, Shruti took up a yoga teachers training program.
The yoga program consumed her. She enjoyed it so much that she wanted to dig deep into the subject. In order to study and understand the subject better, she said, “My teacher insisted that I start teaching. So, I met 2 ladies in my apartment who wanted to learn yoga and started teaching them at home. Before I knew it, I had 10 students. Even then it was not something I thought I would be doing full time”.
In the 2 months break between jobs, she continued her practice with running and yoga. It wasn’t until she took her second job, that she realized her heart lay in teaching yoga. She quit her job in a month and took to teaching yoga full time. “I told myself, I’ll make less money but I will be happy. Little did I know that the fitness industry in India would start to boom and money would not be a problem J”, recalls Shruti.
Yoga has helped Shruti in connecting with her deeper self and she feels that it has made her more aware of herself and her surroundings. While growing up her mother was always unwell. This made her take fitness more seriously and lead a healthy life. Not only did Shruti believe in changing her life but encouraging other people along the way. “It is my deepest quest to encourage people to start making healthier choices for themselves & their loved ones. Every time I am able to help someone walk one step closer to a healthier lifestyle I feel a deep sense of satisfaction towards myself”, says Shruti. She goes on to say, “I truly believe yoga is for everyone. The benefits of yoga cannot be penned to a few. Although it does help in having a healthier Body, Breath & Mind, improves emotional well-being, spiritual evolvement, improved athletic performance, injury prevention, etc.”.
While staying fit is one component, you also need to watch what you eat. Shruti has grown up in a family that stuck to traditional ways of eating. “My parents emphasized the importance of eating home cooked, fresh food & not trusting anything that came in a packet or from outside. These values are deeply grained in me and I continue to follow the same even after moving out of my parents’ home”, she recalls.
The effect of yoga on running
To date, she has over 10,000 hours of experience in teaching yoga. She is also a prenatal yoga and a yin yoga trainer. When asked about if running and yoga go hand in hand, she says “Running is a high-intensity sport and yoga is great for bringing balance, recovery, strength, flexibility & mobility. So, with intelligent yoga practice, I compliment my running. I say intelligent because when you’re running competitively a lot of factors have to be kept in mind. Too much of mobility & stretching can be counter-effective to my running. But the right amount prevents me from injuries & promotes recovery”.
It was in July 2017 that Shruti followed a more formal and structured training for her runs after she joined the running group Jayanagar Jaguars. The mentorship she received from her coach and training has helped her tap into her true potential. The regular training schedule she follows consists of 3 days of structured running, 2 days of strength training, 3 days of yoga, mobility training, and recovery. Talking about how running has moulded her, she says “Running helped me satisfy my quest to do something with my life. Every training program given by my coach humbles me and the race day gives me the fruit of my labour”.
Speaking of her running accolades, Shruti says that the highlight of her career has been when she was awarded the title “Procam Slam Champion”. Winning the Procam Slam Title was indeed a coveted award for Shruti and to that effect, she says “The Procam Slam is special to me because I did my debut marathon here. Further, it was a full year of committed training and performances. I guess it made me an amateur athlete in my head. My coach always reminded me that I was an athlete. But the slam made me truly believe it. I pushed my limits here, achieved my PB’s & most importantly I ranked first in the Slam”.
Some of her best accomplishments as a runner over the years have been
- TMM 2018 – 1st runner up
- TSK 25k 2018 – 1st place female category
- ADHM 2018 – 2nd runner up
- TCS W10K 2018 – 2nd runner up
- SPBM HM 2017 – 2nd runner up
- Bengaluru Ultra run 2017 – 1st runner up
- Pride run 2018 – 3rd runner up
Currently, Shruti is hopeful she qualifies for the Boston marathon in the near future.