• Padmja Sopori

Eat Pray Run

Running is both a sport which can take many forms, and a great way to get in shape.

What does ‘running’ actually mean? Running is defined in sporting terms as a gait in which at some point all feet are off the ground at the same time. This is in contrast to walking, where one foot is always in contact with the ground. The term running can refer to any of a variety of speeds ranging from a slow jog to all-out sprinting. Hobbbyist World had an opportunity to talk to Ankita Konwar about running and long distance running.

How and when did you start running?

About 4 years back when I was in Delhi, I started falling sick very often due to my hectic schedule and not allowing myself to have the time to practice a healthy lifestyle. It was affecting me a lot because I could no longer give 100 % to my job or my personal life. And I don’t like half-hearted things. So one day I woke up and decided to hit the gym which I already was a member of. I reached the gym only to realise that it was closed and I felt extremely agitated. At that very moment, I decided to run on the road for the very first time. It was indeed a life-changing moment and decision.

What do you love the most about the sport of running?

There are so many things about running that I love but what I love most is how it makes me feel about myself. Unlike many other physical activities, running can let you sort out your thoughts, feelings while you’re at it. It allows you to feel an almost meditative state which then not just physically but also mentally leaves a positive impact on a person. I have been dealing with excessive anxiety my entire life but running has allowed me to realise things in a different perspective.

Have you thought about calculating the distance you've run over the years?

Haha, I never have. But now that you have asked this question, I kind almost regret not calculating it. Must be quite a bit though.

What has been your best running experience so far?

I would have to say my first full marathon in Athens. That’s where ‘marathon’ started and running on that very path where some thousand years ago Pheidippides ran and having my husband as my personal cheerleader throughout the way, will always be an ineffable experience.

What was your longest run? How did you do it?

My longest run would be from Colombo to Una in Sri Lanka, which was about 140 km. My husband organises this run called ‘last long run’ on every 30th and 31st December as a farewell to the year gone by. It’s an invite-only run. So along with a couple of our good friends last year, I also decided to join him and I love it. We covered the distance within 2 days and it was fantastic. My recent long run was a 12-hour stadium run in Mumbai in its extreme humidity. Quite a wholesome experience I’d say. When you’re running a longer distance like 60 - 70 km, you have to keep taking short breaks of 2 to 3 minutes, walk at times when needed and stay hydrated.

How do you stay motivated?

I am blessed to be surrounded by so many inspiring people that motivation kind of flows through them. When it comes to self-motivation, I keep assigning myself some targets throughout the year so that keeps the flow as well.

How do you avoid injuries?

It is very important to understand your body when you’re into any kind of physical activity. There are days when you need to slow down and days that you need to push yourself. One must allow their body to have enough rest for it to grow as best as it can. Food is another aspect that we must take care of. We need to have a healthy balanced diet, a diet that is not alien to us. I’m also very careful when I run. My footfall, my posture and energy level are a few things I always keep a check on. We need to listen to our body for an injury-free journey towards health.

How do you train for a run? Do you believe there's such a thing as overtraining?

I run almost every day because of the amount of joy it brings me. I also use my body weight to train for better strength. But when I’m preparing for a particular event, I give myself a proper schedule to follow for better results. I think I haven’t experienced overtraining yet but it seems to be quite common. I always start with small, comfortable distance runs and gradually increase the intensity, and as the event approaches, I start decreasing the intensity of my training. Allowing the body to have enough rest to perform, yet not forget the training it has been through.

How would one start running?

If you have an existing active lifestyle, running comes easy, just wake up, get up and go for your run. But if you have been inactive for a while just start going for a walk. Then gradually you can push yourself to slow run 500 meters and walk 500 meters until one day you feel confident enough to break your barriers and run the entire distance. No one understands your body better than you do so make sure you listen to it.

What piece of advice would you give someone who has just started running?

Well, it was easy for me, like I told you, I just got up one day and started running. So for any beginners, I would just say, take one step ahead of the other and keep repeating it. Eat a banana before you head out and keep a small bottle of water with you. Hydration is crucial, especially for a beginner.