For Croatia World Championships, Anjali Saraogi talks about benefits of ultra running
Running as a fitness regimen has become extremely popular in the past few years among the upwardly mobile, health conscious, urban youth, thanks to a number of Marathons that take place.
This year, a team of seven Ultra-Runners are going to represent India in the 100km World Championships for the first time in Croatia, on September 8, organised by the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) every two years. Sponsored by NEB Sports and IDBI Federal Life Insurance and selected by Athletics Federation of India (AFI), the team comprises six men and one woman athlete, Anajali Saraogi from Kolkata.
Fortyfour-year old Saraogi is the fastest woman to have run Comrades Marathon and won the IDBI Federal Kolkata Full Marathon in February this year, by finishing the race in three and a half hours. Before heading to Croatia for the event, Saraogi spoke to Indulge on her love for running and fitness regimen. Excerpts.
Is running a kind of meditation?
It’s extremely meditative when you run, since you run alone and reflect and focus a lot. Focusing on something is an integral part of meditation. Running helps to distress and has a calming effect. One cannot run with anger or depression in mind.
How are you preparing yourself for this Ultra Run?
I am training pretty hard for this 100 km race. Since it is a long race, it is going to be slower and will require more stamina and less speed. I have to concentrate more on distance. So, I am training with weight and focusing on right nutrition. I am now very careful about what I eat and my diet consist of a lot of carbohydrates, protein, fruits, vegetables and lots of water.
How should one prepare oneself for running?
I was 41 when I decided to run seriously, after winning a half marathon race. But I started to brisk walk, jog and run years back. I had gained 20-25 kgs post pregnancy and to shed those extra kilos I started to run, jog and brisk walk for five kms a day. Since then, it has become an integral part of my fitness regimen.
So, my tips for anyone contemplating to run, is that first get on the roads without thinking much. To save your knees from hurt and pain or damage, you must include stretching and strength conditioning in your fitness regime. Don’t focus on running fast or running a great distance at the first go. It’s more important to consistently run at least five days a week and then slowly increase your strength. Concentrate more on building stamina, strength and speed.
What are the benefits of running?
One of the best things that happened to me due to running is that I have become much more patient, happy and positive as a person. Now, managing body weight is no longer an issue and I don’t have to count my calories while eating, I can eat whatever I like, because I know I am going to burn it out all the next morning. But one must not go overboard while eating and shouldn’t cheat every day.
What should the first-time runners be careful of?
You must listen to your body and the signals it gives. You should stop immediately and take some rest if your shoulder or legs hurt. You must respect your body and its limitations and build on strength and stamina with time. And lastly, never give up. Your motto should be that you will be stronger than yesterday.