Major DP Singh, India’s very own blade runner has finished several competitive events, starting with the Delhi Half Marathon in 2009, only bettering his time with every race. A Limca Record holder, he is also a great source of inspiration to physically challenged people across the country and has held several interactions, sharing simple stories from his days in the army and the daily challenges of keeping his spirits up and racing alongside him. In Part II of his interview with FirstRun, he gives us a glimpse into his training, nutrition and what sports can do to make up for one’s shortcomings.
Could you give us a glimpse into your daily running routine?
Well, to be honest, like any other person, my routine suffers from breaks due to the daily constraints of life, jobs that need to be done, errands that need to be run – that sort of thing. It also breaks because of my internal and external injuries that don’t allow me to run as frequently. When I do get the opportunity to train, say for an hour or two from 5:30 am, it means that I have to be up by around 3:30 or so, because it takes me over an hour to put on my prosthetic leg, which is one challenge that separates me from the general public.
I’m comparing it on purpose because there are several people who say they don’t find the time to run due to their job and other commitments, when all they need to do is just step out. In my case, it’s an extensive process – and when there’s an event to prepare for and the training time increases, I have to start my day even earlier, so as to be able to finish my training and get back to the rest of the day’s work. I also shift my training time as per the weather – so in the summer, I prefer running in the evening. Flexibility is very important in maintaining any kind of discipline, I feel. When you want to do something, you just have to make time for it somehow, there’s no other way.
What other forms of training supplement your running schedule?
You definitely need to add to your running routine for overall fitness. I cross-train with cycling as well as do a range of core building, stretching, and flexibility workouts – all of which are very important to maintain your form as a runner. I mix up all this up and make it a part of my weekly fitness schedule, apart from my running.
What are some of the nutrition mantras you follow to supplement your physically demanding routine?
There’s a lot of research and writing going around off late, on different nutrition strategies and diet trends. I have also done my share of reading up on the same, but with conflicting reports every two days, things can get confusing as hell. It’s easy to be carried away, but you have to remember your roots and geography when you think of a diet. Of late I have realized that the most important aspect of staying fit as far as diet is concerned is to stay as natural as possible. Including a good amount of vegetables, fruits, water and fresh air is vital. Instead of chasing fads, I’ve found it best to follow an ancient diet – or the diets which our forefathers had that took into account one’s place, climate and digestive patterns. Before the internet made all these articles accessible, how did we eat? Yet we still produced a Dara Singh and a Dhyan Chand. I find it best to stay simple, stay natural, and stay true to your genetic dietary routine.
You started ‘The Challenging Ones’ with amputees from across the country. Could you share a few more details about the group?
The Challenging Ones is a group for amputees which I started in 2011, after my fourth half marathon. When I realized that I was capable of running once again, and that I could even take part in races, I wanted to share the same experience so that more and more amputees in India could lead the lives they should be. The idea behind the name ‘The Challenging Ones’ was to enable people with challenges to become challengers themselves. It’s a battle between a person’s mind and all the inhibitions and restrictions that are put up against him by society and his own perceptions. So we take them through this transition with some handholding and supported events like marathons.
Instead of chasing fads, I’ve found it best to follow an ancient diet – or the diets which our forefathers had that took into account one’s place, climate and digestive patterns.
There is also direct feedback from people around, who cheer them on and comment on what an inspiration they’ve been. They eventually realize that once they overcome the restrictions they’ve imposed on themselves, it immediately transforms the people around who now consider them normal and who get inspired by them. As of today, we are around 780 amputees connected from all over India and several of them have participated in almost every possible marathon in the country. There are swimmers, runners, cyclists, adventure sports enthusiasts among us. We offer a platform of discussion where amputees can come and motivate each other, we seek out new amputees to assure them of support and we create a sense of inclusiveness with general society through participation in major sporting events, where each one can make a challenger of themselves.
Finally, what would your message be for all those who are hesitant about taking that first step into fitness or sports?
If you’re actually looking for the ideal opportunity to get fit or start running, let me tell you – that moment will never come. Ideal situations are only found in books. Everything revolves around what you make of a situation and the way you tackle it head on. Don’t look at challenges or obstacles as a hindrance – the trick is to get on with your plans no matter how difficult it may seem at first. Challenges are meant to make you stronger, so think of them as opportunities to test your mental will, to test who you are. If you’re looking for the ideal day to start running, you’ll just end up waiting forever. Instead work through the challenges, it’ll help you transcend all the limitations you thought you had. The choice is yours. Don’t wait for a sign; make the change you want today.
If you missed our introductory Q&A with Major DP Singh, click here to read it.