DEEPTHA RAGHUNATH, a Bangalorean, started running in 2014. She describes herself as a fitness enthusiast; however, as a teenager had never been a part of any sport. One of her friends suggested her to take part in the Pinkathon 10K. She gave it a shot and began jogging and felt liberated as she had no distance or pace occupying her mind. She truly enjoyed the experience of being on her feet and felt it as a medium to let go of her stress as she had just started her own business. In no time she joined a group, Pacemakers under a renowned coach KC Kothandapani and has been a part of it for the last 8 years. As suggested by her coach, she started slowly with 5/10K for a year and did not overwhelm herself. Eventually, she graduated to 21K and by 2018, debuted to full marathon with TCS New York City Marathon, world major, being one of the toughest.
“As a runner, everyone would relate that running is never like a linear graph.”
It would always be up and down. From training hard to build your pace and reaching a certain rewarding level to being down with some injury and a 3-week recovery rest only to be back to square one. It's a circle of runner's life where running feels rewarding but the 3 weeks might feel frustrating sometimes. This is when COVID was a task for the majority for adapting to virtual running. This shift took a toll on all physically as well as mentally.
“My biggest challenge was to balance my social, professional, family life and get enough sleep to be able to train better.”
Deeptha had not been in an active lifestyle and it took a while to adjust with her new normal of waking up by 4 am to train at 5 am and sometimes finds it challenging even to date. People around her have gotten used to her schedule and her family’s immense support gave her a lot of confidence to keep going. It's been 8-9 years by now and these are the advantages she has enjoyed:
Liberating - when one runs, they spend time listening to their body including the breaths, and introspect their thoughts and emotions which is very rewarding.
Community - it's very uplifting but has gotten a bit competitive.
Maintain a good lifestyle - a healthy sleep schedule and ethical eating habits.
“You’ll thank yourself years down the line for making those changes.”
Deeptha’s favorite out of all events she has run to date is the Procam TATA Mumbai Marathon for the way this event is marketed, the support from organisers as well as the crowd, and the exposure runners get here. Bringing a city that never sleeps to a standstill for 5 hours on a Sunday is quite a task that is very well being taken care of. Even though the registrations for these events are expensive, at the end of the day it’s worth it. She feels the Mumbai running community is more united than the Bangalore as latter has a lot of groups where the community as a whole ends up being secondary.
“I've never experienced that spirit, that energy anywhere in India except Bombay.”
In fact, she suggests new runners who are skeptical about distances to go for the Bombay marathon for the support spirit will eventually push them to complete that distance.
Grateful to have been associated with Adidas runners for a few years , which gave an insight about community building and to get more people to be aware to come out of their comfort zones.
"Also extremely grateful and thankful to procam for having recognising me as one of the Star Sports Believe Heroes and having featured me and some of the best athletes, to have my parents present me the medal at TCS world 10K while being interviewed by the top people, being paced by a cyclist throughout the course, it was an experience of a lifetime and truly etched in my memory."
DOS and the DON'TS of running:
~ Run because you enjoy it. If your body and mind enjoy it, there will be longevity.
~ Don’t run to lose weight. If your body and mind are not aligned, you’ll feel frustrated most of the time while doing it.
~ Do have a mentor or coach if possible to monitor you and be on the right track.
~ Don’t get easily carried away/ peer pressure to avoid injuries.
~ Listen to your body. Know your physical limits and train accordingly. Extend your mental capacity.
~ Don’t overpush yourself to a stage where you collapse and take months to recover.
Edited by - Mokshi Savla