This is an edited and rephrased version of a post by Bijay Nair on his Facebook Page.

How does one go from not being able to run a kilometre to running 42.1 in one of the toughest races in the world. Thomas Bobby Philip knows the answer, having reached the heights of Boston Marathon and Big Sur last year.

Don’t ask him about his age; he’ll simply say, ‘age is just a number’. Despite being one of the best amateur long distance runners in India at the moment he remains humble, a friend and a guide to many in Mumbai and Bengaluru. Extremely committed to any task and the transition he went through from 2009 to 2015 is the result of that and the training by KC Kothandapani Sir. A barefoot and bare-chested runner too, Bobby supports various charities through his run. A runner to follow and be inspired by.

When did you start running?
My passion for running developed accidentally. To train my daughter for a school sports event, we ran together for around 10 days, and later she stopped, while I continued the sport. Then while purchasing shoes, I was introduced to the Nike Run Club, where I came across many inspiring runners. I would struggle to run 1km without a break, while the others could run long distances.

My initial target was to run a first 10K, without a break, and I achieved that with over 2 months of training in May 2009. Then I slowly increased my intensity and also progressed on the endurance. Ran my first half marathon in SCMM in 2010, completed in around 1 hour 52 minutes. The Nike Run club helped me recognize the importance of strengthening workouts. With guidance from experienced and matured runners, I started focusing on longer distances and finished my first full marathon at SCMM in 3 hours 49 minutes. After the completion of every race, I would wonder whether I could improve further. And over the years, with the proven methods of training and the guidance from coach Kothandapani, I have successfully improved.

In April 2012, I took the first step towards barefoot running. This further helped me with my goal of improving my running form. It had its own challenges, and with a very patient transition, my first barefoot 10K run was successful. I continued to work hard and finished a half marathon and a marathon in Mumbai barefoot.

With this success, I tried to promote barefoot running within the community, and many have had similar success with their barefoot transition.

Philip is known for his minimalist running style with no shoes and shirt on
Philip is known for his minimalist running style with no shoes and shirt on

The various runs and events you have competed in.
My major running finishes have been at:
• TCS 10K in Bangalore since 2009
• Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon – Half Marathon in 2010 & marathon since 2011
• State-level Masters Meets and National-level Masters Meet for 5K and 10K events
• Half marathons in Hyderabad, Mysore, Chennai and Cochin
• Runners for Life & Life is Calling events in Bangalore

What’s your training routine like?
When I started training in 2009, it was primarily to gain endurance and progressively build up mileage from 400m to around 20K. The next year I trained for longer distances up to 40 km and since 2011 I have been using scientific training methods of Interval, Tempo and Hill runs. Every run would start with proper warm-up and completed with cool down sessions. This ensured an injury-free running experience.

In 2012, PaceMakers group and my Mentor Kothandapani came into my life. This streamlined the complete training experience, with variations in Intervals, Fartlek, Tempo and Hill workouts. Now every workout would finish with strengthening and stretching workouts. This only made me stronger and fitter.

One of the few Indians to have completed the Boston Marathon
One of the few Indians to have completed the Boston Marathon

Now I run 3 times a week; Tuesdays for Interval workouts, Thursdays for Tempo or Fartlek or Hill workouts and the long runs on Saturdays. The long run varies between 15K to 35K. From February to May, I focus on running intensity for 10 km events, and from June to September on increasing the endurance to HM and then the last three months with a focus on marathon training. I usually participate in one full marathon every year, but 2015 was an exception with the Boston and Big Sur full marathon events.

What are your running goals?
The primary goal is for an injury-free running experience. With the limited time availability, I find it challenging to focus on strengthening workouts. It’s not the medals that give me happiness, but the process of challenging myself during the trainings that make the sport exciting.

Running tips for someone who want to take up the sport.
Start easy, and enjoy the process of running. Have a companion or join a running group. For many, including myself, this has given a new life, with new friends anyone will envy to have.

About the author
Bijay Nair is a 38-year-old former LtCdr in the Indian Navy, and now works for the National Classification Society of Shipping. He’s been running Marathons since 1999, and in the timed events since 2008 after leaving the Navy. He’s veteran of 40 half marathons, 5 marathons and a 12 hr Ultra run, having run all over the world. In 2012, for the project 121212 (to commemorate the unique 12/12/12 date, which incidentally was also his birthday) he ran 2012km to support cancer patients at the TATA Memorial Hospital and collected Rs 1,21,212. He’s currently posting inspiration profiles on his Facebook wall with the hashtag #TheyInspire

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