Seniors Comments Off on It’s never too late to start running! |

It’s never too late to start running!

Deepthi Velkur catches up with senior runner, Rajendra Kumar from Bengaluru on how he fell in love with running. 

Running is not a sport reserved only for the young and elite but rather an all-inclusive lifetime sport that challenges you from the moment you start  and all you have to do to get started is have the will to put one foot in front of the other for miles.

The growing phenomenon of senior citizens taking to running is evidence enough that it’s never too late to start running and talking to them you will see that they have all good things to say about how they’ve improved their physical and mental health.

One such gentleman I spoke to is Y.S. Rajendra Kumar, a retired Assistant General Manager who was with State Bank of India for nearly four decades.  An inspiring individual to youngsters and old people alike, he took to running at the age of 74 years in the year 2014. I was curious to know from him, how running became a passion at the age of 74. These are the excerpts of our conversation.

What motivated you to take up running at an age where most people put their legs up and relax?

Prior to me taking up running, I have always kept myself physically active over the years by doing yoga as well as taking long daily walks with my wife to the temple. In one of my discussions at home, my son suggested that I take up running and join his club “Jayanagar Jaguars”. The thought appealed to me; I started in 2014 and here I am 4 years later still enjoying every run.

Can you tell us from your experience what kind of changes running has brought into your life?

Before I took to running, the winter season was quite challenging for me. I used to suffer from a cold and chest congestion but that has now completely vanished since I started running. The bigger impact that running has brought to me is a more pleasant psychological change and cheerful attitude that I can attribute to my experience in running alongside the youngsters in the group.

To encourage more senior citizens to run, how should they start their process?

I would think that there are 2 primary steps that need to be in place:

  • Following a structured training program and
  • The able guidance of a coach providing them with the required direction to follow the training program.

There is a growing number of senior people who are running marathons around the world. What is your take on this growing phenomenon?

With the amount of information available online and the increased awareness among seniors on the benefits of running, this phenomenon does not surprise me. I welcome it and think that we as a society should be more open and encouraging to senior people taking to running.

In terms of your runs so far, how many 10k’s and half marathons have you completed?

Since my first competitive run in December 2014, I have completed ten 10K runs and six half-marathons until now. I am also proud of the fact that I have been able to achieve a podium finish in 2 of the runs –Ajmera Thump 10K (3rd place) with a timing of 1:13:47 in December, 2014 and TCS World10K (3rd place) with a timing of 1:05:58 in May, 2017. Some of other running courses I have completed are: Scotia Bank Calgary Run (Canada)10K, Spirit Of Wipro 10K, SCMM Half Marathon, Bengaluru 10K Challenge, Bengaluru Half Marathon, Chamundi Hill Challenge Mysuru 10K, Celebration Mysore Half Marathon and the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

That’s quite an impressive list and hopefully this will encourage other senior citizens to take up running as well. In your group of runners, is there a large percentage of people over the age of 60?

Not quite – in a group of over 600 signed runners, training across ten locations in Bengaluru, we are four runners above the age of 60 years.We are hopeful that other senior citizens will soon take to running as the benefits definitely outweigh the initial challenges that they will face.

In terms of your training sessions, can you give us some insight into your weekly running schedule?

We are currently in the middle of getting ready for our next half-marathon and our training schedule includes running 3 times a week with a mileage of 25K – 30K per week. Also, there are specific drills and exercises that we go through under the guidance of our very experienced coach, Pramod Deshpande and this helps us get stronger and stay injury-free.

To complement your training schedule have you made any dietary changes since you took to running?

Yes; I have made some dietary changes to boost strength and stay healthy. I have increased my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables while avoiding fried, oily foods and minimizing my intake of sweets. Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is paramount to supplement my training and overall running activity.

I have also learnt that your entire family is into running. That is quite an achievement, how did that happen?

Yes, it is true that as a family we all love running. It all started out with my daughter-in-law, Padmashree; she has long been into running and over time introduced my son Darshan to the sport. With the growing enthusiasm of seeing my daughter-in-law and son involved, my grandson Tanmai soon joined the running group.

During mid-September 2014 at the age of 74, my son suggested that I join him as well. While it did appeal to me, I was hesitant at first but decided to give it a shot. In the beginning, I found it a little difficult to run. However, I persisted and my continued efforts with proper guidance and encouragement enabled me to develop a passion for running.

Today, as a family we collectively participate in certain important running events through the year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Seniors Comments Off on The Runner who talks to God |

The Runner who talks to God

The name Fauja Singh is an inspiration to senior runners the world over, Capt Seshadri takes a look at this remarkable runner.

An 89 year old Punjabi man in London, wishing to train for a marathon, landed up at Redbridge, Essex, probably in deference to the formal attire of the country of his residence, dressed in a three piece suit, much to the bemusement of his coach. To further add to the trainer’s surprise, the bearded and turbaned old man confessed that he thought the marathon was run over 26 km and not miles. Not that it mattered at all. His training began in complete earnestness and dedication. The outcome? In 2003, at age 92, he completed the London Marathon in 6:02 and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 5:40.

This is the saga of Fauja Singh, a name that must now be familiar to every marathon runner across every continent. This was the same person who, born on April 1, 1911, in the village of Beas near Jalandhar, the sports goods capital of India, struggled to walk on his weak and scrawny legs until the age of five. One hundred years later, the very same ‘old’ lad set eight world age group records in a single day at the Ontario Masters Association Invitational Meet: 100 m in 23:14; 200 m in 52:23; 400 m in 2:13:48; 800m in 5:32:18; 1500 m in 11:27: 18; the metric mile in 11:53:45, the 3000 m in 24:52:47 and the 5000 m in 49:57:39. A series of events that no professional athlete would dream of attempting even at the peak of his career!

Where most master athletes would take weeks to recover from such a strenuous ordeal, just three days later, on October 16, 2011, Fauja Singh scripted history as the first centenarian to complete a full 26.2 miler, running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8:11:06. Sadly, this amazing feat never made it to the Guinness Book of Records, since he had no birth certificate to prove his age, despite a passport confirmation of his date of birth.

Even though he was undeterred by age and never laid low through injury, this living legend decided to call it quits from competitive running after the Hong Kong Marathon on February 24, 2013, where he completed the 10K in 1:32:28, a timing which is just outside the qualifying limit of 1:30 set for the Tata World 10k, and meant for runners who would qualify as his great grandchildren! The proud moment of his running career was when he carried the Olympic torch in July 2012. The retired Fauja now runs for pleasure, health and charitable causes. Fauja Singh was honoured with the British Empire Medal in 2015, for his outstanding contribution to sports and charity.

The 52 kg, vegetarian Sikh attributes his longevity, stamina and outstanding fitness to his non-meat diet comprising roti, dal, vegetables and curd. Good hydration with plenty of water and ginger tea, early sleep, an abhorrence towards smoking and alcohol, and a professed diet of love and respect from the world around him, keep him going strong. His take on running successful marathons at such an advanced age: “The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for the last 6 miles, I run while talking to God”.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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