Bijay Nair is a 38-year-old former Lt Cdr in the Indian Navy, who now works for the National Classification Society of Shipping. Despite battling thyroid, he’s been running marathons since 1999, and participating in timed events since 2008 after leaving the Navy. A veteran at running events now, he also writes inspirational runner profiles on his Facebook page and for the FirstRun blog. We caught up with him on all things running.
When did you first start running and what do you love most about it?
I come from a sports loving family; cricket, football and almost all games were part of my growing up years. However, I never advocated running before, even though, in the Navy, endurance building was part of our training. In 2008, I was at 98 kg when I discovered that I was thyroid deficit. That’s when I started running on treadmills, enjoying the thrill that came from going 2 km at a stretch, then 5km and 10km in a few months, finally leading up to my first half marathon. Now it’s an addiction. Running has made me more disciplined towards life and my body.
Till date, I have run several half and full marathons in 13 countries around the world, and even graduated to an ultra. The line, “I run, therefore I am” defines me, and even my favorite number is 2142!
What’s one of your favorite running memories?
In 2012, we had a unique date combination – 12/12/12 – which was also my birthday. My wife devised project 121212, with the aim to run 2012 km in the year 2012 by December 12, while completing the last 12 km on that day. We appealed that for every one kilometer covered, our friends would contribute Rs 12, which would eventually be handed over to the Tata Pediatric Cancer Centre through the NGO RUHI – a group of runners and doctors working for underprivileged kids battling cancer. We eventually managed to contribute and raise Rs.1,21,212. It was one the most unforgettable and spell-binding experiences of my life.
I’ve had many memorable runs, but running for little kids changed my perception of life, and I’m thankful to my wife Mala and all the friends who made it possible.
How do you prepare before a marathon?
When I started, I used to just run without a thought. But with experience, I have matured and focus a lot on the training period. I run one marathon and several half marathons in a year. For the marathon, I start my focussed training three months before, putting in the required long runs, strength training, hills, tempo runs, etc. For half marathons, I just run. I am not a time-crazy runner; I love to enjoy my run and make friends on the way. But I do focus on the week and the days before a run and ensure that I’m well rested. Health and sleep are both important for maintaining an injury-free and effective running schedule.
What are some of your favorite running spots in Mumbai?
Marine Drive, Eastern Express Highway, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Aarey Colony, IIT Powai, Mulund Salt Pans are some of the many. However, have you tried running to catch the 6.45 local from Mumbai to Thane? It still remains my favourite running place in Mumbai!
A spot of advice for those who have signed up for their first marathon.
Never succumb to peer pressure; enjoy your run. Train well, and don’t aim for a time; aim for completion. Do a medical check up before you take up the sport, know your Resting and Maximum Heart Rate. Take advice from a senior runner if needed, or train under a coach or run with a group—they’ll add confidence and technique to your runs.
Main image: BNP Endurathon