A giant leap

Tania Roy
Sunday, 22 December 2019

Having completed five World Marathon Majors,  Kavitha Reddy also recently qualified for the prestigious AbbottWMM Wanda Age Group Championship

From 3:23 in London Marathon 2019 to 3:14 in Chicago Marathon 2019 is not what many can do. But Pune-based Kavitha Reddy made it happen. “I thought 3:18 would be more achievable, but then I managed to surprise myself and my coach Atul Godbole,” says one of the fastest amateur women marathoners in India. She achieved this despite not faring well in her initial training phase. 

“July to mid August, I experienced a lot of fatigue because of my fluctuating thyroid levels. Close to the second week of August, the  training started falling in place,” says Kavitha emphasising that she made two important changes to her training, “First, I increased mileage and second, I had company while doing my training runs for Chicago. While training for London, I was mostly running solo,” she adds.   
As the final phase of her training for Chicago run went well, she gained greater confidence. “On race day, you always have butterflies in your stomach, but then I pulled myself up,” says this star performer who has completed five Abbott World Marathon Majors (WMMs), including New York, Boston, Berlin, London and Chicago. In 2020, she will be heading to Tokyo to complete all six. These are considered to be the largest and most renowned marathons in the world.
Recently, she qualified for the prestigious AbbottWMM Wanda Age Group Championship. It comprises a one-year qualifying period during which athletes in nine separate age groups can compete in marathons across the world to earn ranking points. The highest-ranked runners in each age group will be invited to take part in the 2020 Championship race alongside the top scoring athlete from each nation represented in the rankings. 

With five WMMs under her belt, she now has varied experiences of global races. For Kavitha, Boston 2018 was cold and rainy. “Chicago 2019 was also cold, thankfully not rainy. Cold weather improves one’s performance,” she says, adding, “But the GPS doesn’t work on your Garmin, so you have no idea of your pace on the Chicago course. I had heard about this from others and I had prepared myself accordingly. I did not panic. But then I started running a lot faster than my target pace, which is a risky thing. Fortunately, I could pull on till the end and I felt very strong at the finish line. I ran by feel,” says the 45-year-old inspiring runner who is thinking of pursuing the 7 Continents races next. 

She also wants to run across India. “I want to run in all the states and explore the places around,” says Kavitha, adding that she does not intend to repeat WMMs, however, 2021 Boston (Massachusetts), and Big Sur International Marathon (California) are on the cards. 

Kavitha has been making Personal Records at most major races, so every time she runs, people expect her to excel. Ask her if she feels any pressure to meet others’ expectations and she replies, “No, I don’t feel any pressure. I trust my training and go for the race. I run to better myself,” says Kavitha, who took part in India’s first-ever Ironman 70.3 triathlon held in Goa held in October 2019. “Personally, it was a good experience. It was a well organised event. I ran a half marathon as part of the event. To do all three sports is tough. You need a lot of endurance. I have a lot of respect for those who complete Ironman solo,” says Kavitha, who is a mother of two.
When it comes to fitness, most believe in the 70/30 rule — 70 per cent nutrition and 30 per cent exercise. “I am a big believer in this,” she says adding, “But I eat everything in moderation. I keep a check on the quantity and quality.” Her well balanced, everyday meals include more juices and veggies. “Although I must say I love eating rice and sometimes, I tend to overeat, which is why I replace rice with bajra or jowar roti, some boiled veggies and grilled fish or chicken,” she says, adding that she loves to snack on peanuts and murmura. You may wonder if a runner of Kavitha’s stature has cheat days. She answers in the affirmative, “I do love spicy food, which I indulge in occasionally.” But she doesn’t have a sweet tooth.

Giving a few tips on race day prep, she says, “Carry salt tabs to replenish lost electrolytes. If you are running in cold weather, wear protective gear. Most importantly, take it as it comes.”    

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