Sports persons are often unfairly judged on what they do for few minutes on the event day, ignoring the hours of drudgery of training that consumes their lives. In long distance running, while achievements like running a marathon or a half is widely celebrated, the simple act of getting up every morning and stepping out is rarely appreciated. It is for no reason that runners consider the distance between their bed and shoe rack as the most difficult distance to accomplish. Like Anton Chekov said, “Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.”
Tanvir Kazmi, a renowned recreational long-distance runner, has inspired many runners through his blog. He is one of the finishers of the Comrades Marathon in 2010. He observed that many runners disappear soon after an event or two and, when they do return to running, they are invariably plagued by injuries. In 2014, he came up with the 100 Days of Running challenge. “It was a new experience for me too. There were tired days at work, travel, vacations and reasons aplenty to excuse oneself. This was a test of will power and I wanted to first try it on myself.” says Tanvir, whose idea has now spread across India.
Started formally in 2015, the https://100daysofrunning.in idea is simple - run everyday, minimum of 2K and no pressure on timing or pace. There were 48 takers for this idea in 2015 and today there are over 10,000 this year. Coimbatore has 15 runners who went on to finish all the 100 days.
Arunan Thlagavathi, 29
Arunan made his first attempt to run 100 days in 2017, but had to discontinue for personal reasons. This year, he was even more determined to finish. His most difficult day? “One day, I had to report to work early and could return only at 11:00 pm. I realised that it was impossible to go home, change and then run. So, I asked a friend to drop me two kilometres before my home and ran in my formal work wear to complete the day’s quota.”
Venkatesan R., 70
Venkatesan started running with the Porur Racers, a Chennai-based running group. He found running to be the perfect way to keep himself active as well as healthy post retirement. “In Coimbatore, running with the Saibaba Colony runners helped me complete this challenge with ease. I was also moved by their gesture to honour me on the final day,” says Venkatesan. Asked about the most difficult days, he commented, “Luckily, I am retired and don’t have any work pressure. The only commitment that I have is to attend weddings and, on those days, I have to be up early and finish my runs.”
Manju Viswananthan, 39
For Manju, the 100 days challenge presented a transition from a walker to a runner. She started morning walks for her health and found this challenge intriguing. “Initially there were a lot of apprehensions on what it means for someone who has never been into sports to take up running. Once I started, there was no looking back.” says Manju who found plenty of encouragement from fellow runners in Saibaba Colony. “There were days when I stepped out at 9:00 pm to go for a run and wondered what people would think of me. Once, you get over that fear, no distance — be it in running or life — is difficult to conquer,” says Manju, who has since finished a few 10K races during the 100 days.
Prof Suriyaprakash C, 50
Suriya has been a regular runner but his travel commitments often keep him from running. He found the 100 days of running challenge the best way to force himself into regular running. The biggest challenge was running in higher altitudes. “I had already planned for a trip to Kailas-Mansarovar during this time and it was a real challenge to run in the higher altitudes beyond 4000 metres. The serene atmosphere helped me, though,” says Suriya who believes that running should be an integral part of everyone’s life.
Senthil Kumar, 48
Senthil, who started running about two years back, for fitness had simple targets initially. He worried about injuring his knees and never ran beyond 100 km a month. Joining the Coimbatore Runners at CODISSA was a turning point. “The 100 run target was daunting initially but I thought it’s the best way to clock up miles,” says Senthil who has run an incredible 1350 km in the process, highest among other finishers in Coimbatore. He is now raring to get more runners to take up this challenge next year.
Gayathri Babu, 42
A couch potato till 2016 — medical ailments forced her to quit her job — she started focusing her efforts in getting active. The first 500 m of walk was Herculean, to say the least. Her journey from counting tubes of pain-relieving ointments ointments to counting miles is inspiring. She transitioned her walks into running in January 2018. Support from her family, doctors and fellow runners have been indispensable. “We are always evaluated by comparing oneself with others. Running helped me to focus on myself and get better every day. The icing on the cake was getting my first ever medal, that too at the age of 42, is certainly something that I would cherish,” says Gayathri. who is gearing up for a long run!