Pune’s Taru Mateti is aptly crowned the podium queen as she almost never fails to make it to the top three whenever she runs. Clearly age is just a number for someone like Taru who is now 53 years old and ran her first 10 km just four years back when she was 49. Without any prior athletic background or training it has been an arduous and equally enjoyable journey for Taru with more than 40 podium finishes to her name. How did she do it? And what made her take up running at this stage of her life? It has been more than a delight to have an ultra marathoner like Taru Mateti as a Mobiefit Fitness Icon. She is indeed a fresh breath of air with her go-getter attitude and her infectious energy. Here’s more from Taru…

At an age when most people are discussing their retirement plans what got you into running?

As you know I got into running just 4 years back. Although I wasn’t a fitness buff earlier, being married to an army man always kept me on my toes at all times. I guess this was the beginning, where my husband who would spend his afternoons and evenings playing games, it was natural that I would take to something. I started off with badminton and as we moved through different postings, it became swimming, walking, gymming, table tennis, whatever came my way. But in 2009 for about a year, I became very busy with my job and daughter and gained a lot of weight. My cholesterol also became high. That was a sort of a wake up call and turning point for me. I started gymming again and did aerobics too. And then there was no looking back from there.

One day at the gym, there was a competition where we had to planks, balance on one leg, Surya Namaskar and run. Though I won the first three competitions, in running I came third. That was a trigger for me and I thought to myself that I should try running on the road. So, I laced up and ran a distance of 10 km on the very first day! It was sort of liberating for me being on the open road instead of indoors. I enjoyed the open space so much that I thought I should do some more of it

Did you get it right on your very first go or were there any difficulties that you faced?

Well, the initial phase was filled with aches and pains. Since I had no prior athletic experience, the doctors told me that I had not developed the ‘right’ muscles in my body. Though this didn’t really deter my spirit, the most difficult bit was when I had to manage to go running in the mornings, as this is believed to be the best time to run. I had to rework my entire schedule starting from my job to how much I slept. The first competitive run that I participated was a revelation. I realized how dangerously low my vitamin and hemoglobin levels were, given my unhealthy eating habits and lack of a proper nutrition. Since I was new to running, maintaining the right form too was a task.

How did you successfully reach where you are now? Do you credit your mentors for it?

I think the best way to get anything right is by being persistent and learning from mistakes. It’s also very essential to get a good mentor or coach. I’ve had different mentors/coaches for running along the four years. I started running with The Pune Marathoners Club with Michael Francis as the coach. I also attended a running workshop by Ash Nath. Puru the Guru is someone I consult as a brother-friend for things ranging from diet, exercise, running, injuries, etc. I take tips from Parag Dongre and Sunil Shetty. Most importantly, for the longest time, my mentor and form-guru has been Jeetendran Nair.

Can you tell us more about the marathons you’ve won and other achievements?

I have won more than 40 podiums in marathons all over India, in Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Delhi, Goa, Lonavala, and Kolhapur. I have participated in three 50K ultramarathons; in one of them I was one of the pacers for a 160-mile runner so I did a total of 50K + 11K. I have run five full marathons and have lost the count of the number of 25Ks, half marathons, and 10Ks that I have run. I have also participated and won in a Duathlon. I have run a half marathon in Melbourne. I was the Event Ambassador for the FICCI FLO Half Marathon in 2015, the Tiger Point Hill Challenge in 2016, the Cybage Run in 2017, and now the 10K Pune Challenge in Dec 2017. I was the Race Director for the FICCI FLO Half Marathon in 2016. I also volunteer at many running events in Pune and, on invitation, make presentations related to Fitness for Corporate Professionals and Women in Corporate organizations.

Career wise, I am an IT Professional with BE in Instrumentation and Control. I taught in engineering colleges for 3 years, after which I took to teaching in schools for 10 years while I balanced the role of a mother and a fauji wife, and completed my BEd and MEd. I later completed a Diploma in Information Systems Management from Aptech and moved to IT as a Technical Writer and grew to a Department Head and Delivery Head managing a team of over 250 people. During this time, I completed PMP ( Project Management Professional), became a CSM ( Certified ScrumMaster), and also learnt three levels of Spanish. I simultaneously focused a lot on fitness and practiced to reach a level of consistency. Now I am looking at being a diversified consultant to use my multiple skills.

And how many hours do you work out or run in a week to reach where you are?

This varies depending on the number of events that I have registered for. At the minimum, even when there are no events, I work out for about four hours a week and run about five hours a week. Additionally, I do some yoga and/or cycling. If I am training for a marathon or ultra, the weekend runs become longer by 1-4 hours.

How do find time and energy to manage family, work and your fitness schedule?

I take pride in balancing work, home and “me time”. Hence, I plan and slot out time for everything. I believe in delegation too. Just last month, I gave up my full-time IT job to take on newer things and give more time to fitness and travel.

This shows how I feel when I run!!!

A post shared by Taru Mateti (@tarumateti) on

Any advice to newbies who want to adopt a fit and healthy lifestyle?

Make a beginning, a small one and stick to it! Don’t expect results in a jiffy, but celebrate small successes. Join a group or get a mentor. Focus on the overalls of fitness.

What do you eat before, during and after your workouts?

Before a run or workout I mostly eat a banana and/or some almonds. During the run, I have dates and Enerzal if needed, depending on the distance. While working out I just sip on water. Post-workout/run of more than 3 hours I consume a protein shake, otherwise eggs.

Taru Mateti’s 3 Life Hacks

1. Look up to positive people.

2. Take small steps progressively.

3. Capitalize on your strengths and work on weaknesses.

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