In the course of our journey, we have seen all kinds of runners – from those who have run all their lives, to those who take it as a challenge to bring energy to their professional and personal lives. Running improves a lot of aspects of your life, but for some like technology journalist Nimish Sawant, it’s just about the pure joy it brings. Sawant has been a regular at the Mumbai Marathon for the past four editions, running the full marathon. Here’s his running story.

When did you start running and what do you love most about it?
I first started seriously running back in July 2010, as I had registered myself for the Full Marathon (Mumbai Marathon). Registering for the full marathon was an impulse decision, but one of those best impulse decisions you make. I have been running the full marathon since 2011, so post September I run at least 3-4 times a week, with longer runs scheduled during the weekends. When I am not training, I try and run at least twice a week.

The best thing about running for me is that it gives a lot of me-time. It’s just me, my music and the road. There are no distractions since I put my phone in the Airplane mode while running. It helps clear the mind and is a great stress buster from the hectic life otherwise. After the initial couple of kilometers, I kind of acquire a rhythm and am in an almost meditative state. The high I get after accomplishing my target, or if I push myself harder by trying to run the incline towards the end of the day’s run, is what gets me to wake up early to run. It’s an addiction after a point. Practising over long periods also teaches you a lot about goal-setting, which helps in the professional environment as well.

What’s your favourite running memory?
At the Mumbai Marathon, one comes across many fascinating runners and stories. One that stands happened in 2012. I saw this old lady running the full marathon. I was completely taken aback at her fitness levels, because I had caught up with her only at the 28km mark and had run past her. But at 35km when I was completely drained, and was about to sit down, she passed me by and literally yelled, “Do not sit. Carry on walking, but do not sit.” That was great advice. She continued running and finished much before me. Later, her husband told me that she was 78 and had run in over 130 full marathons around the globe. In fact, they were flying out to Nepal, for another marathon in 3 days! I had nothing but sheer respect for her!

How do you prepare for races and marathons?
I chart out a plan and try my best to follow it at least 4 months prior to the marathon. I track my performance, distance and times. I try and not get too bogged down if I am having a bad run day. Three weeks prior to the full marathon, I taper. I am also careful about not eating too much junk food, and, of course, not hurting my feet in any way.

Which spots in your city do you love running in?
I love running at Marine Drive. The route I particularly love is Nariman Point > Marine Drive > Chowpatty > Peddar Road flyover (which is where I generally end my weekday runs) > Haji Ali > Worli (on weekends when I am feeling too ambitious).

What’s your running dream?
Well, for someone who has run a marathon, the next summit is participating and completing an ultramarathon. It is my dream to complete the Ladakh Ultra which takes place in September every year. The challenge is immense – 72km of varying inclines and at that altitude! Hopefully by 2017 I shall be ready for it.

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