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Updated: March 28, 2012 20:11 IST

The other way round

Akila Kannadasan
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Leaving the world behind: A. Ashok Photo: M. Periasamy
The Hindu
Leaving the world behind: A. Ashok Photo: M. Periasamy

A.Ashok wants to set a Guinness World Record in reverse running

I have seen him often in Race Course. The sight of a man running backwards in Race Course startled me one evening. Dusky, lean, and dressed in track pants and running shoes, he runs backwards! I can't resist stopping him to ask what makes him do this. and asking was there almost every day, doing this strange exercise! We met near the Pisa Tower (yes, there's one in Race Course) for a chat and This is what he had to say:

“I jogged like everyone else, until a year-and-a-half. One evening, a stout friend and I were jogging together. He couldn't keep up with my speed and I ran backwards to egg him on. I had run only for a little while and suddenly felt dizzy. I felt I had no stamina to run further. That was strange. I'd always considered myself fit. Why did I feel so exhausted? Did it have something to do with running backwards? I searched the Internet for information and found that reverse running was extremely beneficial for the body, and I was hooked.

My name is Ashok and I'm 30-years-old. I'm a driving instructor at GeeDee Driving Institute. I run four rounds backwards around Race Course every day. I can cover 10 km in 48 minutes. The current Guinness World Record for reverse running is held by a German who can run 10 km in about 40 minutes. I want to beat that. I'm practising hard to do so.

It took me six months to perfect my running pattern. Since you're running backwards, and can't see what's behind you, your senses get more alert. The body heat of a person behind me, the rustle of a shirt, the tiniest sound and movement…I can sense them all. I glance backwards just once in a while when I run. I'm accustomed to it now and know the path quite well.

Over the year, running backwards has brought about a lot of changes in me. First of all, my hair growth improved. My receding hairline disappeared! And injuries healed faster — a deep gash on my leg was cured in a week. Pain in my leg-joints disappeared too. I felt really good. I burned six times more calories than I did running the regular way. My body did whatever I asked of it.

Reverse running is my life. I wake up in the morning thinking of it. Every thing I do during the day is aligned towards my evening running session. A guy running backwards keeps talking to me in my mind. He is my friend. When I'm alone, all I do is think of him. I don't know why I'm so fond of him, I just am. I will keep doing this for the rest of my life.

Since I'm not all that well-to-do, it would be nice if I get some financial aid to attempt the Guinness Record. And I just wish people would stop taunting me. People who discourage me are more than those who say, ‘Come on, you can do it!' Young boys make fun of me. Once, a boy hurtled his car at me in full speed and veered inches away from me. It was his idea of teasing me. Some men mumble ‘This is a wrong form of exercise' as I pass them. But I don't care. I'm just going to keep running. You can lose a lot of weight through reverse running. Every time I see an obese person, I feel like walking up to him and teaching him this exercise. I'm ready to teach this to anybody free of cost. Anyone else who wants to run backwards?”

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