Dr Anand Patil, trauma surgeon, was sweating it out at Shivaji Park around 7 am early this week. He says he has slowed down the pace at which he runs almost thrice weekly to be in perfect sync to run the marathon at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) tomorrow – January 17.
A busy medical practitioner who frequently travels to other cities for work, Patil just about manages to stay true to his schedule of running in the city thrice a week.
He has an impressive list of achievements that he calls his `could do’ list. Patil is the only Indian to have completed the Ironman Triathlon and Comrade Marathon in a calendar year in 2015. The Ironman Triathlon is a non-stop stream of physical movement – 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km cycle ride and a 42.2 km marathon run. If you thought that was painful, here’s what the Comrade Marathon, held annually in South Africa entails — an 89 km ultra marathon. For the ultra marathon, an athlete has to run and walk more than double the marathon length of 42.195 kms!
Breaking new ground in a feat that none of his countrymen has attempted before has been thrilling, Patil admits. He began year 2015 running the marathon at the SCMM, then went off to the Goa triathlon, did the arduous Hyderabad 3/4 Ironman (135 km cycling and 31 km running), flew out of the country to complete the Port Elizabeth and Zurich Ironman, New York City marathon and finished the year with Busselton Western Australia Ironman.
For a man who has made running his goal, Patil is not quite fit. He is still overweight by 8 kgs. Running, he says, is about meeting a self-set goal. His target is not to win a marathon, but to complete the 42.2 km run at a personal best timing every time he enters a race. “That is my only goal. When I first began running, I would get very excited about the race and winning it. Thankfully, that excitement has given way to the satisfaction of running,” says Patil. When one wonders aloud about the diminishing excitement, Patil says, “One matures as one runs frequently at marathons. That is what experience does,” he remarks philosophically.
Life before races
An athlete in school and college, Patil was quite agile as a student. He stopped watching his health after finishing his MS degree and beginning life as a surgeon. “I worked long hours and neglected my body. One day a friend from college met me and was shocked to see my altered look. I weighed 110 kgs. His expression changed my outlook. I decided to follow a discipline and get myself into shape,” says Patil.
There are many sports that Patil could have taken as a 43 years-old, like golf, mountaineering or walking. “But I chose the marathon as a good means to test my stamina,” he says. Soon, he and a few friends got together and formed a runner’s group, Striders and started pounding the turf at Shivaji Park. Slowly he began picking up pace and before he knew it, he was prepared for the half marathon (21 kms) in his first year of running in 2007. A few months later, he ran a full marathon. Since then, Patil has participated in more than three marathons a year.
Running a marathon has taught Patil life lessons. He lists out a few:
Set a target: I began running to lose my weight which I have brought down to 85 kgs from 110 kgs. By end of 2016, I will achieve my target of 80 kgs. I am not able to practice consistently due to my medical practice. I achieved my best timing of 3:58 at the Berlin Marathon, which I have not been able to replicate in other races.
Learn to be disciplined: You can’t prepare for a marathon a few weeks before the event. First-time runners practice four months before the event. I can get my body in best form with a preparation of a month and a half. I have been practicing for years and so I can now get by with a shorter duration of practice. I wake up at 5 am and hit the Shivaji Park ground by 5.30 after which my friends and I run two hours or 10 kms and on a weekend that stretches to 15 kms. In a week I run 50-60 kms. If you run 400 kms before the marathon, you can be confident of completing it and not injuring yourself.
Take care of body: Running regularly keeps muscles in action and the body in good condition. A fit body is agile.
Frugality helps: You learn early on that less is more while running. And that’s true for life.
Understand limitations: When you run a race for the sheer joy of participating or for completing a personal milestone, then it does not matter whether you have won the race or not. It is good to learn this early else unbridled passion can damage your body. When passion becomes an obsession, then you take out your frustration of broken dreams and bruised ego on friends and family.
Release feel-good hormones: When you run with someone, your body chemistry improves and endorphins, dopamine and serotonin are released. Happy hormones are not released in a solitary runner. Life is about getting along with others. That gives you a sense of self-satisfaction.