Running long distance can be a lonely business. But if you thrive on camaraderie and competition, then joining a runners group could be the thing that will motivate you to take part in a marathon.
Group activity: A friendly race in a Gurgaon park. Ramesh Pathania / Mint
“You’re more likely to get out of bed and go running if you know there’s a group...waiting for you,” says Arvind Krishnan, CEO, Runners For Life (RFL), a running group that began six years ago in Bangalore.
Many runners would agree. “It’s really fun because you start off with a group, but you can choose your own distance,” says Purvi Sheth, vice-president at Shilputsi Consultants. Sheth, who is part of Savio D’Souza’s group at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai, says her group has runners who run at different speeds. But they all start together. And when they finish, they do their stretches and cool-down exercises together as well.
Sheth began running a year and a half ago. She says she is one of the slower ones in her group. “But everybody eggs you on; when you feel like you’re dying and like you’re going to stop, somebody will cheer you on, they’ll slow down and run with you.”
Plus, here’s where the difference in solitary stretches and doing a group exercise comes in. “They’re (the latter) just that much more scientific,” says Mahesh Srinivasan, vice-president, ABN Amro Global Markets, who used to run alone for some years before he came acrossTopGearMIG, a volunteer-driven running group based in east Bandra, Mumbai. “Previously I couldn’t run for two days after my long run,” he says. “Now I can and my timing and my distances have improved tremendously.”
Motivation and friendly competition apart, there’s also the logistics of the run. “Somebody has to organize the route, the water and refreshment stations for a long run,” says Tanvir Kazmi, founder of Delhi Runners. Kazmi, who organizes monthly half marathons in Delhi, tries to pick varied routes and involve different groups of runners as volunteers. TopGearMIG sends out a mail every week to members with timings, route details on Google pedometer, and also interesting options for where to have breakfast after the run.
Being part of a group also ensures lots of bonhomie and scores of stories to be swapped between the members. “There are not too many people who understand runners, why they need to go to bed at 10.30pm, why they will not go out Saturdays nights (because they have the long run on Sunday),” says Sheth. So it helps to be a part of a group that understands you. Runners are constantly exchanging notes: what to do for that troublesome knee or where to get a good pair of shoes. Some groups have online discussion sites, with forums discussing where to get good reasonably priced whey protein, etc.
Also, joining in on group activities is a flexible option. At TopGearMIG, not all members join in for the after-run breakfast, which is sometimes at Leopold Cafe, sometimes at the Parsi Gymkhana or elsewhere. Srinivasan is one of those members who misses the group breakfast. But like everyone else, he takes along with him food that the group shares: “I carry bananas or dates or stuff that can be consumed on the run,” he says.
Suddenly, that long run doesn’t seem so lonely any more.
FOR MEMBERS ONLY
Find a group to run with in your city
Savio D’Souza’s group: At NCPA and Priyadarshini Park. To join, show up at 6am on a Monday at Marine Drive, opposite NCPA.
Nike Run Club: At Marine Drive. Register on Sunday at 6am at the Police Gymkhana on Marine Drive.
TopGearMIG: At east Bandra. Show up at MIG club at 6am on any day (except Mondays).
Striders India: At NCPA, Shivaji Park, Aarey Milk Colony. Contact Praful Uchil at 9920272883. Subscription fee: Rs4,500 for three months.
Runners For Life: Click here and show up for the runs.
Nike Run Club, Kanteerava Stadium: Just come in on weekends at 6am to join.
Chennai Runners: Click here to join.
Runner Girls India: Click here to join. For details of runs scheduled, contact Sudha on 9840430425.
Running and Living: At Gurgaon. Click here and show up for the scheduled runs.
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