Time to lace up

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NEW DELHI, JULY 13,
Sundays are for slumber, right? No, according to Balakrishna Rai, they are for waking up at the break of dawn (before that if possible) and heading to Beach Road. Why? So he can do what he loves doing best — run.
A regular marathoner, Rai spends his mornings running along Beach Road covering at least 10 to 15 kilometres every day. This has been his routine for the past several years. Rai took up running after he turned 54, just to stay fit. What started as a conscious step towards healthcare is now a routine that he looks forward to. “I am on Beach Road every day by 4.45 am and start the run by 5 am. It is now a way of life and I cannot do without it,” he says.
Running is a fitness trend that has gradually caught up in the city. After the first Vizag Navy Marathon in 2014, more people have taken up the sport.
Last year, 12,000 people participated in the marathon. The number of participants grew eight-fold since the first edition. The city is all set to host the fifth edition of the marathon on November 18 and the organisers are expecting 15,000 participants this season.
Everyone can run
Considered more a fitness trend than a sport, the piqued interest in running encouraged Rai to establish a runners community. Vizag Sole Runners was started by him and Ravi Shankar, a fellow runner. From eight people in 2014, the group today has 80 runners who participate in various marathons.
The group meets at Beach Road three or four times a week through out the year. Together, they have chalked out a daily schedule for the runs.
“There are different types of runs, targeting different activities. For example, we run for endurance, speed or for stamina. Depending upon this we decide the terrain. At times we run on the beach, sometimes in hilly areas or on slopes,” says Shankar.
For the runners of this group, it is more about bonding and running those miles together. The fitness enthusiasts would rather meet for a cup of morning tea than for drinks in the evening. The commitment to the sport also means tailoring the lifestyle and holidays to incorporate various marathons and fitness activities in their schedule. “Most of us attend marathons that are held across the country. We have even been to Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai for the same,” says Rai. The group is now gearing up for the Hyderabad marathon which will be held on August 25.

“On days that we don’t run together, we get together to swim and practise yoga. This is done to help the calf muscles recover. Fitness today represents a way of life. It is not just exercising but also eating healthy, staying active. People have now become proactive,” Rai says.

All for health

Madhuri Pillai, a member of the group, took to running four years ago. Before running she used to visit the gym because she felt running wasn’t her cup of tea.

“One day, a bunch of us at the gym decided to go running for a change. It felt so good that I wanted to do it more often and that is how I eventually joined the group,” she says.

A doctor by profession, Pillai says, “Many people have the misconception that running is not good if you have a knee problem. Even a person with knee problem can take to running, but of course there are precautions that need to be taken. The lifestyle disorders that people largely encounter these days are kept away if one takes to running,” she says.

Currently the group is completing the 100-day running challenge, a fitness movement started to encourage people to run. “Many companies and institutions are making an effort to popularise running. The trick behind the 100-day challenge is that once a person does it for that many days, he or she gets accustomed to it and it becomes a part of their routine,” he says.

After finishing their 100-day challenge and the Hyderabad marathon, the group will move on to start training for the Navy marathon where most of the members plan to participate in the full marathon that spans 42.2 kilometres.

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