With Mumbai Marathon (January 21) coming up, Amrita Prasad talks to women runners to know why they took up the activity, how it has changed their life and what are their expectations from the upcoming event.
‘RUNNING HAS EARNED ME FRIENDS’
Running in itself is a huge source of inspiration and motivation for all, including me. And yes, in a way addictive too. Thanks to my years of gymming and my father’s genes, I ran a 10 km distance, the very first day I started running in September 2013 at the age of 39.
Within two weeks, I managed to scale that up to 15 km. Then I decided to participate in Goa River Marathon which happens every year in December. I ran my first official half marathon in Goa and finished successfully in 2:14. By then, I was inspired and motivated enough to train harder in the coming year and ran my first full marathon in August 2014 at Hyderabad and finished in 4:19.
Running made me realise that with hard work and consistency, I could keep setting my goals higher every time and achieve them. I am happy that my journey has been inspiring enough to motivate my son, a few friends and relatives to take up running. They keep updating me about their progress. So yes, I’ve been able to spread the goodness around.
On a personal level, running has undoubtedly made me healthier, and I have also become mentally stronger and calmer. Overall, it has helped me become a better person.
As a runner, I would also like to clear some misconceptions or myths about women taking up running. First of all, there is no age which is good or bad to start and be healthy. Everyone needs to be healthy. And secondly, it does not matter whether you have kids or not, or whether you are a working woman or a homemaker. All you need is to get your priorities right and take out time for your own self and fitness.
It has been an honour for me to know so many runners from all over India and overseas. I am thankful that four years of running has earned me a lot of friends and fellow runners.
At the upcoming Mumbai Marathon 2018, I am doing a half marathon. It will be training for Boston Marathon to be held in April, which will be my second out of six world majors.
— Kavitha Reddy, a core member of Pune RoadRunners, Boston Marathon qualifier and having completed TCS New York City Marathon
‘I RUN TO CELEBRATE MYSELF’
Running has helped me find myself — I feel liberated, confident, ready to take on the world, and beautiful inside out. I am inspired to do more.
Running has transformed me physically, mentally and emotionally too. It has touched me in more ways than one and opened me up to so many more possibilities, making me more receptive to the universe. I have not only become more acceptable to myself and others just the way they are, but running has also taught me to be more humble, unstoppable and fearless. My family and friends love the transformation in me and find me calmer, stronger and happier.
It has also helped me deal with my separation with my husband and the emotional conflicts that I went through. Initially, I would run to vent out my frustration, anger and at times, as a way out of my loneliness. Today, I run to celebrate myself. Lacing up helps me push beyond my physical and mental limits. In a way, it’s like meditation which connects me to the cosmic energy and helps me align and attune my body, mind and soul. It makes me realise that the spirit is indomitable. I find divinity in running.
Running has also helped me reach out to more people, especially women. They started relating to my story and found themselves through the journey and learning. I actually started writing because of running and also became a motivational speaker. That way I could make a difference to so many people including men. It taught me that support comes from many corners and in different forms.
Running is challenging, fun, creates memorable experiences and bonds of a lifetime. I realised my self-worth through this activity and earned more respect and admiration. I always tell people that if I can, anyone can. It’s important to accept and love who you are, and do things that truly make you happy.
With the Mumbai Marathon coming up, I am getting back into running after a three-month break due to ankle fracture. This is the first racing event of the year I am participating in and hoping to achieve my fitness and running goals of 2018. I want to participate in one full marathon, one ultra-run and one international marathon this year with focus on improved form and timing. The focus is not only on running but overall fitness.
— Sonia Kulkarni, PR professional, writer, and Pinkathon ambassador
‘RUNNING IS FOOD FOR MY SOUL’
I decided to take up running when I was living abroad in Hong Kong, as a mechanism to beat stress at work. I started hitting the gym, doing weight training and a little bit of treadmill running. Then I stepped out to run along with some of my expat friends. I tried a little bit of trail and road running and fell in love with it, so I decided to take it up. I didn’t take up running for fitness or for weight loss, but to overcome work stress.
I run essentially because I feel good in my mind, head, soul and heart. After coming back from a run, I feel very positive about myself and what I do in life. It helps me face the challenges that come my way during the day — whether at work, or home. Following my running routine and hitting the gym makes me happy. Running is not just a physical activity, but ‘food for my soul’.
Running has made a big impact on my life. I think it has made me a complete person — it has helped me become more focussed and humble as a person, because I interact with all kinds of people when I go for running. I also get an opportunity to discuss and have meaningful conversations with those who enjoy running.
Training for races, and setting and beating goals makes me mentally tough and gives me a lot of grit. Running has made me a better human being, a better leader and a better boss and I have learnt better time management.
At the upcoming Mumbai Marathon, I want to have a good run and that’s all. I like the crowd and the support, so Mumbai is always fun. I’ve been doing the full marathon regularly, so this year I decided to do the half.
— Vaishali Kasture, managing director and country head at Experian, and having completed all world major marathons (Chicago, Tokyo, Boston, New York, London and Berlin)
‘I AM MORE ALIVE NOW’
I took up running about four-and-a-half years ago at the age of 49. Earlier, I used to participate in other fitness activities, but I loved the outdoors so much that I completely took to this change. Podium finishes from the very first run provided additional motivation.
To be able to run while I was still working until August last year, I had to be better planned and disciplined. That said, running has transformed me, and has added to my determination and patience. However, the transformation was more subtle than dynamic. In running too, we have good days and bad days, good runs and bad runs, and obstacles to overcome. The longer the run, the more is the involvement of the mind with the body. So, I am now more aware of myself, others, and the surroundings.
For me, another motivation is that my husband also runs, so we have found another activity to do together. The bonding definitely keeps increasing.
Morning runs leave me energised and alert for the rest of the day, and I can definitely say that I am more ‘alive’ now. Every run gives me a sense of accomplishment.
When you run, your energy is channelised well and you become more confident, better planned, disciplined, determined, and happy — all this in addition to being healthier. As a bonus, you get many friends too.
My social circle has definitely become bigger and wider after I began running. The running community is like one big family where people not only run together at different times and places and within different running groups or together, but also come forth to help proactively in case someone faces difficult times.
I find myself surrounded more and more with positive, warm, and fit people who practice healthy living habits. I know many runners outside Pune too, and whenever we meet during events, it is like old friends meeting again. The warmth is always visible when two stranger runners also meet. They have so much to talk about always!
You can experience all this and more, once you fall in love with running.
— Taru Mateti, ultramarathoner and freelancer