Soles of Cochin, Kerala (SOCK), a group of runners, organises weekly runs in the city to promote running as part of a healthy lifestyle

Run for dear life, quite literally, and better it in the process. Run and discover the joys of running and its health benefits. That’s what Soles of Cochin, Kerala (SOCK), a month-old organisation in the city, is propagating. They are, with their weekly run, spreading the goodness of this physical activity that is shrouded in myths.

Founded by Ramesh Kanjilimadhom and a group of die-hard runners, SOCK aims to take running right into peoples’ hearts, to become a part of their lifestyle.

“SOCK is about popularising running and blasting myths about it,” says Ramesh who is in his 40s and has participated in 33 marathons. He owns an IT company in Kakkanad.

A family history of diabetes and a pre-emptive warning by the doctor turned Ramesh to exercise and running.

“Do everything in your might to be diabetes free,” said the doctor. Ramesh started running small distances and slowly got onto the track. Being in America helped as running is a popular activity and part of the lifestyle there. But it was Ramesh’s boss who, in 2006, encouraged him to sign up for a marathon. Once he registered for the run Ramesh began his training and ran a couple of 20-km races. “After that I just went ahead and ran the marathon,” he says, with disbelief still visible on his youthful face.

The experience left him elated. It changed his thinking completely. “It was a surreal experience, its physiological impact was profound,” he says, explaining that the body loses its ability to produce glycogen, which releases energy, after a 30-km run. It is the final 10 km where the training helps, in this 42-km race.

Ramesh recounts the oblivious mood he floated into as he completed the marathon. “At one point in the race, every new entrant wonders about joining something so arduous, almost crazy. But when one crosses the line, it changes your life. Such ecstasy is not derived from anything else,” says Ramesh who took 3 hours and 47 minutes to complete his first marathon.

Long- distance running

Thirty-two marathons later he still remains enamoured by the competition and has participated in the Mumbai, Dubai, Bangkok and the recent tragic Boston Marathon.

“What makes me proud is to have run in three Boston Marathons, which is age-group based and I needed to clock three hours 15 minutes,” he adds.

Entry to SOCK is free. The group’s first run was from Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium to International Stadium, a distance of nine km. SOCK has decided to have short runs around the city every Sunday to familiarise city folk with the act and the benefit of running. They are also planning a run in the cool climes of Wagamon. “In Kakkanad, where I reside people now don’t give me curious looks and neither do the dogs,” says Ramesh who had a setback recently when he was hit by a car while running. He was out of action for three months. It affected him in the long run as he was targeting the ‘sub 3’ timing, which is to clock under three hours. But his never-say-die spirit sprung him back to run the Boston Marathon.

Ramesh ran four marathons in 2011. He speaks strongly against the common notion that long distance running is injurious to our bodies. “It is a falsehood, sadly spread by people who don’t know the right facts,” says Ramesh adding that a human body is meant for running.

SOCK has so far 11 regular runners, with two women. Ramesh says good running gear is available in the city. Of his own style and growth in the sport he discloses that he now runs barefoot and believes that such running leaves one with no injuries.

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