Mornings in August aren’t the same in Coimbatore. The pleasant weather, with an air of chillness emanating from the western ghats recently washed by the south west monsoon rains, is something to cherish and relish. While for some, it implies another hour of extra rest; for others, it is an opportunity to go for a morning walk or run, possibly followed by a hot cup of tea or coffee at one of their favourite joints. The Coimbatore Marathon, organised on the first Sunday of October over the past 5 years, has presented a perfect reason for people to step out and train for the event during this period. One cannot miss the bright red shirts of Coimbatore Marathon when going for a walk down the race course road, Codissia road or at Sai Baba colony.
Apart from being instrumental in organising the event, Coimbatore Runners, a voluntary group of recreational runners, also take the additional step of organising training runs for runners interested in participating in the 10K or 5K event. Their “Couch to 5K” program is widely popular with runners, who initially joined out of curiosity only to go on become regular runners, with some even finishing marathons. Uma Palaniappan and her husband, Palaniappan Annamalai are one such example.
Uma and Palani joined the couch to 5K training program during the 2014 edition of Coimbatore marathon. Although regular walkers and practice yoga, both had very little background in sports which kept them away from running. They joined the group only to find that they actually run the 10K distance. Subsequently, in 2015, they participated in the Annur Half Marathon, where Uma was among the top 3 finishers in women’s veteran category. “The biggest prize that I have received in running are the wonderful friends who constantly encourage me to find my best,” says Uma. In 2015, both ran their first full marathon in Bangalore and it capped a fine transition of them to a complete runners. “I feel proud to say that we are able to set a good example for our daughter and son to take up active life,” says Palaniappan.
For Manjunath H.V., it was not only a change of lifestyle that prompted him for running, but also a change of place. After moving from Chennai to Coimbatore in 2012, it was difficult for him to settle down in a new place. Inspired by his colleague, he took up to running during the first edition of the Coimbatore marathon. “Running helped me find new friends and helped in settling down in Coimbatore, in addition to relieving stress and improving fitness” says Manjunath, who is now a runner and cyclist. He has since completed many full marathons and long cycling rides, including the 200K Brevets. His personal bests are always running with the group more than the solo runs. “In group, there is always someone to converse with, in various languages and topics, and you rarely get tired of running, irrespective of the distance,” says Manju
In 2016, Sudheer Elenkath and his wife Rani Sudheer had registered for the 5K event and had plans only to walk the distance. On hearing about training runs, they wanted to just check it out on the way to some other work. “On the first day, we covered the 2.5K around race course and actually ran some of the distance. We couldn’t believe that we can actually run!” says Sudheer who along with his wife has gone on to run the 10K in 2017 and now getting ready for the half-marathon. “Running is like a meditation. It helped us gain lot of confidence, meet diverse people and we are highly motivated to do more” says Rani from her experience in running with the group for the past two years.
Coimbatore runners organise these training runs voluntarily. “The only investment we seek from runners is their time and commitment. Our objective is to make sure that runners finish the event strongly and cherish the moments, and of course, the breakfast” says Ramesh Ponnuswami, co-founder of Coimbatore Runners and also the Race Director of Coimbatore Marathon. The training runs are oriented towards helping runners to achieve his/her potential. “We do not push the runners to run in any speed. Everyone run in their own pace making marginal improvements all the time. The group is full of enthusiasm and we have extended our activities to strength training sessions to help us run injury free,” says Karthikeyan P, co-founder of the group, who leads the training runs in Sai Baba Colony.
Running is an education by itself; One can never know it all or know less of it. For each, the learning is different and it is best to experience one self. Training with the group helps in facilitating this learning. The sharing of information and personal experiences with each other helps in improving oneself in running as well as life. Pull out that shoes and head towards the door before the day breaks.
Race Course Road – In front of Income Tax Office
Coidissia – Outside Jenny’s Club on the road leading to Codissia
Sai Baba Colony – Children’s park, opposite BSNL on Alagesan road
GV Residency – Outside the Vinayagar Temple
Saravanampatti – Outside Lisieux CMI Public School, Sahara City, Saravanampatty,
Kovaipudur – Q block park
Start Time: 5:45 AM
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(And edited version of the Article appeared in The Hindu, Metro Plus, August 1, 2018 – https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fitness/on-training-for-the-coimbatore-marathon/article24572866.ece)