In The Long Run

We can achieve the impossible if we don’t give up, no matter how difficult the path seems. Positive attitude, faith and perseverance will pay.

I am now 67 years old. I was a chain smoker, and 20 years back, in 1998, was at the crossroads – I could continue to smoke and embrace a quick death, or start leading a positive life.

Once that crucial decision was made, I was able to give up smoking by sheer will power. Not only was I unfit, I was even unwell. With my friends’ advice, I started going on morning walks.

Bit by bit, I took to jogging and then I started running. In December 2003, a 10-km marathon was being organized by HSBC Bank in Kolkata. I prepared myself for the run and this was the turning point in my life. I finished third in my age category. This success gave me such inspiration and joy that I started dreaming of running a full marathon some day. Soon I ran half marathons in Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi, but running a full marathon had to be postponed due to my age.

In 2005, at the age of 55, I started preparing for hurdling in the Masters Category (above 35 years). Initially, it hurt and I was often injured badly. But the sportsperson in me was slowly awakening. I felt the need to train professionally – so I joined Sports Authority India, Salt Lake, Kolkata. One doesn’t have the fitness for hurdling at 55 years, but this training helped me gain professional acumen and confidence.

In 2008 and 2009, I won bronze medals in 100m hurdle and 300m hurdle at the National Master’s meet at Guwahati and Hisar respectively. These successes were so exhilarating that even as I fractured my right leg fibula bone in November 2012 – I was 62 years old at that time – I prepared myself in less than eight months for the national meet in Bangalore and won a silver medal in 100m hurdle.

At the Asian Masters level I won gold in 300m hurdle and bronze in 100m in 2016 in Singapore. In China in 2017, I won gold in 300m hurdle and silver in 100m in the 65 plus age category. At the international level, I came fourth at the 22nd World Masters Athletics Championships in Perth, Australia in 2016 in 100m and seventh in 300 m hurdle.

I run marathons regularly and this year I stood first in the Kolkata Police half marathon in the 60 plus-age category.

People wonder how I perform so well after starting to train when I was 55 years old. I think anyone can do it if they have conviction.

Exercise and run even during summer – don’t let the heat stop you

Hydration is the most important aspect of running during summer months. Some runners are hesitant about carrying water during marathons. But I must say it’s very important to keep sipping water after 5-6 km till you complete the run. I am based in Kolkata – which has a humid summer and therefore, I am very cautious about this aspect.

Do weigh yourself prior to as well as after completing a competitive run, and balance the lost weight with more fluids within the next three to four hours. It’s a good idea to have electrolytic drink sometimes instead of plain water. While most marathons are organised during winter, these days there are some runs even in May, June or July.

Someone working full-time in office who wants to continue running can safely run 10 km five days a week (between 5 to 7 am when the temperature is cooler) during summer. But remember, do drink four litres of water every day.

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