Two women from Bengaluru, who walked up to 100Km during a virtual trailwalker, share their fitness secrets
Fitness enthusiasts across India eagerly await for certain events that challenge them to push their limits. One such event is the Oxfam Trailwalker, the 100Km walk that happens in India every year between the months of December and February. However, this year, the event went virtual. Participants could choose to either walk 50Km or 100Km in a matter of 10 days, at a location of their choice. From Bengaluru, while a large number of runners, walkers and athletes participated, two women stood out from the rest. Their unique backstories and the challenging situations they handled while participating, made their journeys quite memorable.
Deepti Shetty, a 34-year-old businesswoman walked 50Km while she pushed around her three-year-old son in a stroller. This was a first-of-a-kind experience for her. While, Kajal Rana, a 40-year-old homemaker from Bengaluru (currently in the US), who underwent an open abdominal surgery just a year earlier, walked 100Km.
We spoke to Deepti and Kajal to know more about what motivated both of them to take up such a challenging fitness task, and how they went about preparing for it. Excerpts:
What motivated you the first time to participate in the Oxfam Trailwalker?
Deepti: First time was a few years ago. I had participated in runs and obstacle races before, which didn’t need much prep. The Oxfam Trailwalker didn’t just depend on my physical and mental fitness but that of my team as well. We had to build a reliable support crew who could stay with us and wait patiently while we finish our walk. It was a challenge that was unlike anything I had taken up before.
Kajal: I love running and participating in wellness events, it gives me happiness along with health benefits.
How did your family and friends support you during this virtual walkathon?
D: My husband and my friends who are also fitness enthusiasts. They accompanied me on my walks during the 10 days. This made it a lot more fun for both my son and me.
K: I have the full support of my family. They always motivate me to continue running and working out activities.
Tell us about your preparation for it. What fitness regimen do you follow and how did you train for the virtual walkathon? How did it pan out?
D: I planned to complete a minimum of 5km each day so that it would be fun for my son and isn’t very repetitive. This virtual walk didn’t need much preparation. Basic fitness was sufficient.
K: I generally do short/long distance walk/running at least for 2-3 weeks ahead to physically condition my body for the walkathon challenge. Keeping the body hydrated, sticking to a planned diet and giving enough rest to the body for recovery are essential factors. More than physically, you should mentally prepare yourself for the challenge with a goal to improve on your previous record.
The cause this time is quite different from the usual causes that Oxfam supports. Tell us about your intention in participating in this edition.
D: Oxfam has always supported several meaningful causes which are close to my heart, especially the ones that support women and children. During the pandemic several people have been adversely affected and Oxfam’s work to support them is admirable. A chance to pursue my fitness interests while supporting these causes is a winning combination, and it gave me a lot of satisfaction.
K: I really wanted to do something people who have been impacted by the pandemic and are struggling to make ends meet. Oxfam's effort to bring some relief to such people aligned with my intention to help them.
What's the key to staying fit? Could you elaborate on the aspects of how many days you train, what exercises you do and the diet you follow?
D: After delivering a child, a woman’s body changes to a large extent. Accepting my body with all its beautiful flaws is the most important aspect. I try to consciously work on it every day. I try to train for a minimum of 4 days a week. Over the weekends I like stretch it out and include my son in my fitness regimen by either taking him for a walk or running with him while he pedals his little cycle. I have done different types of training such as HIIT, dance, cardio based workouts, however my favourite go to exercise regimen includes strength training a few times a week. I avoid fad diets and try to stay clean with my diet during the weekdays and indulge in my favourites over the weekend. I plan my meals ahead to avoid stress and binge eating while hungry. I ensure not to keep anything at home that could impact my diet adversely.
K: I train five days a week and my exercises are combination of strength and cardio. I generally do not work out on the weekends to give my body rest and help it recover. Lots of beginners make the mistake of overdoing the exercises without giving proper rest to their body. This could lead to injuries and other health issues. Apart from my exercises, I also target to complete ten thousand steps every day.
As for diet, I do not follow any specific diet. I eat homemade food. I don't recommend any specific diets because these are not sustainable in the long-run. I would suggest everyone to stick to food they eat regularly, it must include more of vegetables, fruits, and local seasonal produce. Keeping the body hydrated is important. I would like to mention here that everyone’s body is different and so will be their journey.
As women, how challenging is it to maintain a regular fitness routine and how do you stick to it?
D: As a working mum it can be very hard to always stay focused. However, I’m blessed to have a supportive husband and family who enable me to make fitness a priority by adjusting their schedules. Their dedication to fitness inspires me as well. It is also challenging when you put in a lot of hard work but do not see all the results you expect. This leads to deviating from a clean diet and being very hard on myself at times, but I remind myself to accept these little bumps in my path and revert to my routine as quickly as possible.
K: Health is one of my top priorities in life. So, I adjust my schedule to ensure that it is not derailing me from my fitness routine. There will be times when I miss working out, but I am not hard on myself for missing some routines. Life is unpredictable so I adapt and adjust.