Amit Bhowmik talks to Protima Tiwary about how running isn’t about physical fitness, it’s a spiritual process that transformed my life.
He took up running as he battled with a tough phase in his personal life, establishing a spiritual connection with it as he ran through dense green neighbourhoods and beaches in and around Vasai. “It transformed my life” is all that Amit Bhowmik has to say when asked what inspires him to keep going. Protima Tiwary enjoyed an inspiring, touching conversation with this powerhouse performer, and has this inspiring interview to share-
What does running mean to you?
Running for me is more than just a physical exercise; it’s a spiritual process. It’s the time I am grounded to Earth. I enjoy running in picturesque locations because it helps me connect with Mother Nature. I run in solitude on nature trails and beaches. I run to think, to be mindful, to introspect, to process the past, present and future. I run to savour the sensory experience – something so simple yet vast in terms of learning and exploration.
How did you start running?
I took up running in my mid- 30’s, and it wasn’t due to peer pressure or to chase a fitness goal. Running simply evolved into my default coping mechanism (through some tough years) and personal meditation time. It gave me comfort and solitude while I was battling the pain and hardship of being a 24/7 caregiver for Dad as he battled and eventually succumbed to Dementia.
The last five years have been a blur. Memories of ICUs, Hospitals, Ambulances and 24/7 caregiving can sap every ounce of energy from even the fittest person. The one thing that kept me sane, functional and alive was running. It grabbed me from the edge of deep depression and pulled me back and gave me strength.
Running didn’t require any equipment; I could get a run in at any time of the day, anywhere. For someone who didn’t have the luxury of time to plan anything, running was convenient more than anything else. Sometimes, I would run back from the hospital to home (8 kms) after passing on the hospital shift duty to Mom.
Running is the best therapy, and the best teacher too, isn’t it?
Absolutely. In the last 5 years of running, I have discovered and learned more about myself than ever before. It has transformed and shaped my body, mind, diet and life philosophy. It was not only about physical fitness for me; yes, the shiny marathon medals are nice to get and I have fond memories of running events in different cities, but these races were incidental. It is the entire process of running that motivates me.
Do you have a training routine that you follow?
Not really, because I’ve never run for events and races. I sign up only when I feel like it, or when I want to explore a new city. I run 6 days a week, and 5K every morning. On weekends, I run for a longer time, and it’s a meditative run for me.
Your story has inspired so many on social media. What message do you have for your readers and followers?
Yes, I do get a lot of messages, and am grateful for all the support. But here’s the thing – I don’t actively preach anything. I have no goals about being another running coach or fitness influencer. I don’t pester friends to sign up for races. That’s their journey, not mine. I prefer to be mindful of a person’s fitness questions and life history and suggest whatever I can picking up from my own experiences. If they benefit in any way, great.
We’ve loved the running updates you’ve been sharing on social media, mostly because you show us a part of Mumbai not many speak of.
Thank you! That’s mostly because I am lucky to live in Vasai. It’s blessed with a lot of greenery, farm lands, beaches and even hills. I choose my routes and times carefully to avoid people. I have run so many times on a shoreline with kilometres of sand and the infinite sea in view and no other person in sight. That’s when I totally zone out and enter a Zen State.