by Neela Panchpor
I do not have a sports background. During my school and college days, I was a real bookworm and refrained from participating in any extra-curricular activities. I am a Cost Accountant and this professional qualification demanded a study time of at least 8-10 hrs a day, so any form of exercise was out of question.
But when my son started going to school, I religiously tried to follow a routine of a 1 hr brisk walk daily. After a few years, I started going to Gym and also joined a yoga class.
Start of the running journey
Seeing the runners enjoying their activities during my routine DP Road morning walks, got me into running in 2016 and I joined Motiv8 Coaching. My main focus was having an injury free strong run. After joining Motiv8, under the guidance of my coach Atul Godbole, I felt a really drastic change in my approach towards overall fitness and running activity.
My first 10K race was PRBM 2016 which I completed in 1: 08 hrs and first 21k race was PWHM 2018 in 2:08 hrs. I have 10 podium finishes till date, most of them due to my age category though. But the cherry on the cake during this journey of 3 years was receiving a trophy from the hands of Hon. Milkha Singh ji at Red Marathon 2018. It was like a dream come true and motivated me to work harder towards improving my performance and stronger finishes.
Preparing myself for the dream – 42.195K
I started running with a dream to run a full marathon at least once in my life. And the dream came true when I finished the TMM 2020 in 4:37 hrs. When I decided to register for the marathon, one thing I was sure of was that I was going to follow the training plan religiously without a miss, come what may. I decided to prepare myself mentally and physically for this challenge.
I imbibed in myself that it is my responsibility to make my dream come true. Once I decided to do this, there was no turning back. I prepared myself to give my best to this challenge along with balancing other responsibilities.
All the mental tricks and motivational thoughts by my Coach really helped me face the challenge mentally. The tips and suggestions by fellow runners, their experiences and race reports also helped to build my confidence.
I started following a balanced diet and proper hydration, rest and recovery as recommended by Coach, from the day I decided to register for the race.
The two things I followed strictly were eating only home cooked food and avoiding sugar completely. I, being an ‘eggetarian’, included eggs, nuts and all types of fruits especially bananas in my diet. I strictly followed my lunch and dinner timings (dinner before 7 pm).
Whenever I had to attend a social gathering, I always had my meal at home before leaving. Eventually, even my relatives and friends got used to my routine and diet restrictions. With the help of strict diet, I dropped my weight from 51 kgs to 46.5 kgs within 5 months. Regular strength training, Yoga and Pranayam helped me improve my strength. In spite of losing weight, I always felt strong.
Above all, the most crucial issue was time management. Running 4 days a week, Friday ST session at university, balancing office timings and family responsibilities was a really big task.
In addition to running, I am a passionate gardener. I have had a terrace garden since the last 6 years where I grow vegetables organically without any chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Though I enjoy it a lot, managing the garden requires a lot of time and is also physically tiring. It was a challenge to plan my daily schedule properly to balance all the activities. With the help of proper planning and family support, I managed my timing efficiently. My day would start at 4 am and would end at 9.15 pm. Though it was very hectic, I really enjoyed the training process. I consider all the above things as my achievements and not my sacrifices.
I never missed a single training run and followed all the pacing plans precisely. My thumb rule was to focus on the tips given by Atul and ignore what the rest of the world said. I strictly followed the prescribed paces. All the above things really played a very important role and helped me improve my performance. Ultimately, I could finish Bajaj Allianz half marathon with a PB and sub 2. The run was really strong from start to finish and it proved to be a confidence booster. Even both my 32K long runs were strong.
For TMM, as it was my maiden FM, my main focus was to finish strong and injury free without much emphasis on pace, distance and target time. Normally I run alone except my Tuesday group sessions and I was very comfortable doing my 32 K long solo run. Solo running is like meditation and ‘ME’ time. So the plan was to run alone without any running partner. I completely believed in my training and was confident that I would finish the race within 4:45 hrs, if everything goes well.
I focused on my hydration plan from the start to finish. After the initial 3K, I found my rhythm and decided to stick to my marathon pace prescribed for training runs. At the end of 21K, I felt I was very comfortable with the pace and went on with the same for upto 32K. I never felt the need to stop or take a walk break, thus consistently maintaining my average pace within the range of 6:29-6:31. At 40K, Sameer, Rhishikesh and Kavitha were cheering and encouraging. It was like an energy booster to sprint and I managed to finish strong with my Garmin showing 4:37:09.
Thanks a lot to Coach Atul Godbole and Team Motiv8 for all the support and guidance.
And, last but not the least, I would like to say – ‘If I can, Anybody Can’