On The Run | Pervin Batliwala

Pervin Batliwala, 59, was a latecomer to the running party. She ran her first half marathon in Mumbai in 2006. But she is a natural long-distance runner, both in her career and sport. The executive secretary has been with Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) for 32 years. Since she realized her flair for marathons while training with Mumbai-based running coach Savio D’Souza almost a decade ago, she has run 20 half marathons and one full marathon, including the challenging Ladakh Marathon. She has finished on the podium 12 times, including winning top honours in the Goa River Marathon on 8 December. Closing in on her 60th birthday, Batliwala is looking forward to dedicating more time to running. Excerpts from an email interview:

The basics first: Why do you run?

Running is addictive. Once you have experienced the runner’s high, you are hooked for life. A couple of hours on the road early in the morning are the best part of my day. It is completely my time.

Has running in any way affected your professional life?

Yes, in a positive way. A good run ensures a good day. At work, I feel full of energy.

What’s your favourite running gear and soundtrack?

Nike T-shirt, tights, cap and a water bottle with Enerzal. I feel music is a big hindrance to one’s running rhythm, as one tends to change running pace with the pace of the music. Instead, we need to find our rhythm—rhythm is what makes us better runners.

What’s your pre-marathon training routine like?

I train with Savio D’Souza, a former marathoner appointed by HUL to train employees. Since I train for the full marathon, I do a long run (27-35km) on Sundays, recovery run (9km) on Mondays, speed training on Wednesdays, and a 2-hour run on Fridays. I train in a group and sometimes, the Sunday long run ends with breakfast and lots of fun.

What kind of diet do you follow before the race?

I drink lots of water, lemonade, and Enerzal and eat carbohydrates like pasta and potatoes. Generally, it is normal food.

Have you managed to convert any of your friends or colleagues into runners?

I have managed to get a lot of walkers to start running. And they are hooked to running now.

How supportive is your company when it comes to running races?

HUL has been very supportive. All my Delhi marathon trips are taken care of fully by HUL. I will always be grateful to HUL for engaging Savio to train us. I started running when Savio joined us 10 years ago.

With age, have you slowed down or suffered any injuries because of running?

I think I am becoming a better runner as I am nearing 60. I started running at 50 and today at 59, I think I am a better and strong runner. With the right shoes, good training advice, cross-training (swimming, gym) and most importantly, by listening to your body, you can minimize chances of injuries.

Which marathon’s next?

I just ran the Vasai-Virar marathon in November, where I stood third in my category, and the Goa River Marathon in December, which I won. I am now preparing for the full marathon in Mumbai in January.

Is there some personal goal that you have set yourself in terms of races, time, etc.?

I have plans to run the Comrades (89km) race in South Africa and will start training for it after I retire next year.

What is the plan for sticking to running after 60?

I think my best running will come after I turn 60, with more time on my hands, more training and full concentration. I hope to run till I live.

On the Run is a monthly series that profiles India’s most
enthusiastic marathon runners.

Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com

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