With the emergence of marathon and running clubs in and around the city, the sport of running appears to emerge as the next big thing in the capital in the coming days
Housewife Alka Jain, 52, actively participated in athletics in her school days. Unfortunately, she had to keep her passion at bay as she eventually engrossed herself in raising a family. However, every time she saw young people running and participating in marathons , her passion to run rekindled.
After years of wistful thinking, Alka has participated in and completed multiple marathons and half marathons including Milind Soman’s Pinkathon run for women. She realised her dream after joining RunXtreme — one of the many running groups that have emerged in Delhi.
The trend of putting together running groups in Delhi only started post 2010, with groups like RunXtreme, West Delhi Runners and Gurgaon Runners slowly started gaining popularity amongst the public. Even companies like Adidas and Nike have also started such running groups.
“We were a group of 5-6 running enthusiasts who started a club just to keep ourselves fit”, says Ranjana Deopa, co-founder of the West Delhi Runners Club in Dwarka, set up in 2012. “But slowly and steadily we found out that there are more and more people who want to join the group as they started enquiring about us”, she says. “We then created an official group on Facebook where we informed people about our events. We invited people to join us in our runs and we got amazing responses. Now we are a group of over 200 members”, says Deopa.
RunXtreme, a group started by architect Tarun Walecha, in 2013 started off with around 20 members and is now one of the largest running clubs in Delhi with over 2,000 members. Their main activity is to conduct practice runs before marathons.
Walecha, founder of RunXtreme, says that running is the most natural form of exercise. “Running keeps your muscles in shape, your heart rate in check and helps you maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s even one of the best practices if you want to lose weight”, he enthuses. “When you go to the gym or the dietician, they tell you not to eat, which is a very unnatural way of losing weight and can have many side effects. If you run properly every day for a few hours, you can keep yourself healthy without cutting down on food”, says Walecha.
In fact, to avoid joining gym or undergoing a strict diet, more and more people are joining running clubs, says Deopa. “People want to remain fit, but they don’t want to undergo the hardship of giving up their favourite foods. Running is the best alternative to a diet, where you can be as fit as possible, but do not have to sacrifice anything for it”, she adds.
However, to stay fit, one needs to follow a pattern for running, and not run aimlessly. Walecha explains that there are four types of running. There is the ‘interval’ — which is a short period of running at a fast pace followed by a long jog for recovery again followed a short fast burst. This helps in mind-body coordination, fat burning and also keeps the lungs fit. The second type is the ‘fartrek’ — involves running at a brisk pace, without changing the pace too much, but covers a longer distance. This helps in increasing your stamina. The third is the ‘hill run’, where a person has to run at a fast pace up a slope, and it requires more effort than normal running. This helps in shaping the calf muscles and is good for the heart as it helps to pump more blood into the body. The final type is the ‘long slow distance’ — where the person doesn’t have to speed up but has to run a long distance, like a marathon, without any intervals. Also, one should not run with headphones on, says Walecha, as it disrupts the co-ordination between the mind and the body.
According to Ranjana Deopa, another interesting trend that she has noticed, is that there are more people above the age of 35 who are joining running clubs than youngsters. And the number is increasing on a daily basis. “I think those above 35 are completely stressed out due to the pressure they have to undergo in their everyday lives. Thus, running helps them not only to stay fit, but also to get a breath of fresh air.”
Lawyer Neena Narayan, 53, was extremely stressed out with the workload at her courtroom and wanted to be relieved of the stress. “It was three years ago that I joined RunXtreme, and now I am extremely fit and completely relieved of stress”, she says. “In fact, I started running to gain fitness because I wanted to go trekking in the Himalayas. But running every day, and joining these group helped me discover my passion for running”, she adds. “In fact, running has also increased my creative acumen thereby helping me to design my own product — a pocket toilet sanitiser, and started my own business. Now the business is flourishing, and I totally credit this to my practice of running everyday”, says Narayan, who has run eight half marathons, and has managed to remain injury free.
“Running is one of the most rapidly developing sports in India, as newer and newer running groups are emerging around the country. Even the number of running events has increased a lot in the last five years. I see a huge surge in the number of runners, and more and more individuals getting serious about the sport”, concludes Deopa.