TAMIL NADU

Running, the new fitness mantra

EASY EXERCISE: The Chennai Runners on their Sunday morning run. PHOTO: N. SRIDHARAN

EASY EXERCISE: The Chennai Runners on their Sunday morning run. PHOTO: N. SRIDHARAN  

Vani Doraisamy

Chennai Runners, a group of fitness freaks, shows the way

CHENNAI: For a city that is thinking big on fitness, here is more good news: it looks like one doesn't really need swanky gyms or expensive personal trainers to fight flab.

Just a sturdy pair of running shoes would do, say the Chennai Runners, a growing group of fitness enthusiasts, mostly working with MNCs.

If you are an early bird south Chennai resident, you can't miss them on their Sunday morning run: a cool 17 km loop from Alwarpet to Adyar, Elliot's Beach, Madhya Kailash and back to Alwarpet.

Started a couple of years ago by two seasoned marathoners, Ram Viswanathan, chief architect at IBM, and Hari Shankar, a recruitment specialist, the core group includes the city's techies, entrepreneurs and software professionals.

As the group, with members from ages 20 to 53, runs, it picks up others along the way.

Lessons

"Running is fun and fitness, bonding and social networking. You learn group dynamics and getting the best out of each other lessons you carry over into your work," says Mr. Viswanathan, a globetrotter, for whom running shoes are suitcase must-haves.

The group has already tasted its first success: completing the just-concluded Bangalore midnight half marathon (21.1 km) and would be looking at the Dubai, London and Boston marathons in the years to come, says Shahid Mansoor, who manufactures the globally branded Florsheim shoes.

Chennai Marathon

A 30-km Chennai Marathon on the ECR is planned for July 15. "Every Sunday, there is a marathon happening somewhere in the world. This is one sport anyone can participate, without fear of losing," says Mr. Viswanathan.

`Runner's high'

What keeps them hooked is the classic `runner's high': a rush of endorphin into the blood stream that is unbeatably feel-good. "You learn to set targets and push your limits, develop physical and mental endurance," says Hari Shankar. For younger members like Senthil Kumar, Karthik Vijayakumar and Karthikeyan, it is the `mentoring' that keeps them coming back. To join the group, log on to >www.chennairunners.com or call 9384512301.

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