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Never too old to run a Marathon!

Last updated on: January 17, 2014 22:36 IST

Never too old to run a Marathon!

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Laxmi Negi

Three women over 45, who will run the Mumbai Marathon this Sunday, talk about what keeps them going.

If you feel you have lived more than enough, these women will make you have second thoughts.

Kripa Sagar, 47

Kripa Sagar is a mother, wife, daughter, entrepreneur and runner.

Until four years ago this mother dreamt of running but found herself too lazy to get out of her bed. One morning in December 2010 it just took her some conviction and efforts to shun that lazy worm. From that day she hasn't stopped running. She gets a high out of running and admits that she becomes a child when she runs.

By running this entrepreneur has been spreading the message of quitting smoking. For 26 years Kripa was a smoker, she tried quitting but never successfully. Miracle was round the corner when she kicked the butt within five months of starting marathon training. She was surprised with the ease she quit her addiction.

It wasn't easy though. She jests how cigarettes would dance in front of her eyes as soon as she would finish her run. She says, “Sometimes I would be sweating after a run and I had no patience to wait and light a cigarette. But within five months of running my body stopped craving for nicotine. The desire to smoke lessened. One day I stopped smoking. I would get an urge to go back to smoking for the first few days but my resolve was firm.”

She says, “I did a bit of research and found that the reason for this was the endorphins and other chemicals that jogging releases into your body. They are the same as those secreted after smoking. That's when I felt that I had been given this gift of running and quitting smoking with a purpose. And that purpose, I feel, is to spread the message that quitting smoking can be fun -- if you use running as an aid to quitting.”

Kripa has launched a campaign for a smoke-free life: Take A Breath of Fresh Air. To promote this cause she has started a series of runs called 'India: Run to Quit'. During these campaigns Kripa will run one marathon in every state and union territory of India -- to spread the message that quitting smoking can be fun and even easy -- if one starts to run.

She emphatically states, “This is probably one of the biggest things that running has given me -- improved health, physically, mentally and emotionally. And I want to share this with people.”

So far Kripa rates her journey as fantastic and has covered five states, Andhra Pradesh (Hyderabad), Karnataka (Mysore), Tamil Nadu (Chennai), Kerala (Kochi) and Goa. The next on her platter is of course the Mumbai Marathon and then in February she will be off to Pondicherry. With no sponsors coming her way, it is increasingly getting difficult for her to sustain her dream run project.

Hopefully this enthusiast gets the desired aid to compliment her series of runs.

But she will always remain the strong, confident and competent runner.


Image: Kripa Sagar


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Mohana Ganesh, 55

Having led a sedentary life all through her middle age, Mohana Ganesh was inspired to get in shape at the age of 50! As crazy as it might sound this marathoner opines, “I feel running is the best thing that has happened to me. Today I feel healthier than when I was 30.”

In her college days this sports enthusiast excelled in badminton and shooting. Mohana has successfully completed basic and advanced mountaineering courses from the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling.

Needless to say SCMM (Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon) was the reason she wore her running shoes again. The 55 year-old says, “Initially it was a struggle to run even 500 metres. Then in October, 2009, I joined the Nike Run Club (NRC) along with my husband. I learned about training, nutrition, stretching and strength exercises from NRC coaches Daniel Vaz and Melwyn Crasto. This helped me immensely and I successfully completed my first HM (half marathon) in SCMM 2010.

This run also holds a very special place in her heart because her entire family -- husband, son and she -- participated in the race.

After four years, running has become an integral part of Mohana's life. She has completed 15 half marathons. She proudly states, “During these 4 years, I also managed to pick up a few prizes in my age category.”

Mohana adds, “I feel that you are never too old to take up running. There should be a change of mindset. We are only as old as we think we are.”

In this journey, while there were moments of exultation, there was pain too. There were podium finishes but there were injuries too. Mohana says, “With age you are more prone to injuries and injuries take a longer time to heal. But with disciplined training, injuries can be avoided.”

“Initially I was very prone to injuries and had persistent knee and ITB (Iliotibial Band, a common knee injury) pain. But over time with proper stretching and strength training I was able to overcome these problems. I run 3 to 4 days a week and attend NRC training sessions every Saturday,” she adds.

“Elderly runners should also avoid competing with other runners and should realise their limitations,” she parts with words of wisdom.


Image: Mohana Ganesh


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Paras Jatania, 51

SCMM was also the 51-year-old Paras Jatania's calling card. When she started running, it was like home coming for her. Exactly a decade ago, Paras decided to run again as her husband coaxed her into it.

Having been a sprinter in her college days and rubbing shoulders with stars like PT Usha during the inter university championships, after marriage running took a backseat in this homemakers life.

She opens up a little and says how she used to dream about running a race and wincing in her sleep trying to catch up with the opponents. But Paras is at peace with herself now. After running the Mumbai half marathon for almost 10 years now, she says, “I have realised that I need not compete with anyone. I run for myself now. The sprinter's edge had also faded since I run 21 kms now.”

What inspired this housewife was Katherine Switzer who broke the gender barrier in 1967 at the Boston Marathon. She adds, “You may call me fitness freak or fitness conscious; running has kept me very fit and healthy.”

“I can vouch that it gives equal benefits to mental state and health. Running has given me tremendous self confidence and always helps me to think positive. And running has increased quality of my life,” she says.

The feather in Paras's running career is her injury free streak. She highly recommends stretching exercises before and after the runs. She also gives out her family's secret formula to healthy life. She states, “My uncle is an ayurvedic doctor and he concluded that combination of cow's milk and ghee is most healthy, energetic and perfect. Every day I have full glass of cow milk with about two tablespoon of cow ghee.”

Quiz her more on the secret of her healthy self, pat comes the reply, “First and foremost women over 40 should never ever think that they can't run. Running is possible in every age and every walk of life. Secondly, give top most priority to healthy life. Fitness is all about living life at fullest.”




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