‘Running is like meditation’

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Mornings in August aren’t the same in Coimbatore. The weather is pleasant weather, with a hint of chill thanks to the recent southwest monsoon. While for some, this offers an hour of extra rest; for others, it is an opportunity to head out for a walk or run.And there’s the perfect excuse for the latter: train for the forthcoming Coimbatore Marathon, held on the first Sunday of October for the last five years. Walk down Race Course Road, Codissia Road or Saibaba Colony and one cannot miss seeing the bright red shirts of Coimbatore Marathon.
The Coimbatore Runners, a voluntary group of recreational runners is not only instrumental in organising the event, but also organises training runs for those interested in participating in either the 10K or 5K runs. Their “Couch to 5K” programme has become widely popular with runners joining initially out of curiosity and going on to become regular runners.Palaniappan AnnamalaiSome like Uma Palaniappan and her husband Palaniappan Annamalai have even finished marathons. Palaniappan and Annamalai joined the training programme in 2014. Both were regular walkers and practised yoga but had little background in sports, which kept them away from running. They joined the group only to find that they could run the 10K.
Subsequently, in 2015, they participated in the Annur Half Marathon, where Palaniappan was among the top three finishers in women’s veteran category. “The biggest prize I have received from running are the wonderful friends who constantly encourage me to find my best,” says Palaniappan. In 2015, both ran their first full marathon in Bangalore. “I feel proud to say that we are able to set a good example for our daughter and son to take up an active life,” says Annamalai.
For Manjunath HV, it was not only a change of lifestyle that prompted him for running, but also a change of place. After moving from Chennai to Coimbatore in 2012, he found it difficult to settle down in a new place. Inspired by his colleague, he took to running during the first edition of the Coimbatore Marathon.
“Running helped me find new friends and settle down in Coimbatore, in addition to relieving stress and improving fitness,” says the runner and cyclist.
He has since completed many full marathons and long cycling rides, including the 200K Brevets. His personal bests are always when running with the group rather than the solo runs. “In a group, there is always someone to converse with in various languages and topics and you rarely get tired, irrespective of the distance,” says Manjunath.
In 2016, Sudheer Elenkath and his wife Rani Sudheer registered for the 5K event and planned only to walk the distance. On hearing about the training programmes, they wanted to just check it out on their way to work.
“On the first day, we covered the 2.5K around Race Course and actually ran some of the distance. We couldn’t believe that we could actually run!” says Elenkath, who ran the 10K in 2017 along with his wife and is now getting ready for the half-marathon. “Running is like meditation. It helped us gain lot of confidence, meet diverse people and we are highly motivated to do more” says Sudheer of her experience of running with the group for two years.
These training runs organised by Coimbatore Runners are voluntary. “The only investment we seek from runners is time and commitment. Our objective is to make sure that runners finish the event strongly and cherish the moments and, of course, the breakfast,” says Ramesh Ponnuswami, co-founder of Coimbatore Runners and also Race Director of the Marathon.
The training runs are oriented towards helping runners achieve his/her potential.
“We do not push them to run at any speed. Everyone runs at their own pace making marginal improvements all the time.
The group is full of enthusiasm and we have extended our activities to strength-training sessions for injury-free runs,” says Karthikeyan P, co-founder of the group, who leads the training in Saibaba Colony.
Running is an education by itself. For each, the learning is different and training with the group helps facilitate this. The sharing of information and personal experiences helps improve oneself not just in running but also in life.
Pull out those shoes and head towards the door before the day breaks.

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