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Runversation: Marathoner who first ran for health

THE ASIAN AGE. | SAMUEL SUDHAKAR
Published : Nov 19, 2017, 2:23 am IST
Updated : Nov 19, 2017, 2:25 am IST

A routine health check revealed to Lokesh Kumar Meena that all was not good.

Lokesh Kumar Meena has finished 154 races since September 2015.
 Lokesh Kumar Meena has finished 154 races since September 2015.

We hear it all the time: Exercise is good for your health. At every single doctor’s appointment, in magazines, and on blogs. Everywhere. Regular fitness will keep your visits to the doctor down, plus a whole host of other benefits.

You have no idea what kind of world you are getting into when you change your lifestyle to a more fit and healthy one, but you will  be glad you made the change. The key to living a full, successful life is to recognise and celebrate those defining moments when you decide to chart a new course.

A routine health check revealed to Lokesh Kumar Meena that all was not good; added to this was his excess weight. Lokesh is an Indian diplomat with our Embassy in Washington. Rattled by the health check report, and to amend things, he took up what he thought would be easy — running.

He says, “I used to play cricket during my college days and that was the closest I ever came to fitness. After taking up running, I was surprised at how good I felt after a run. The after-run attitude boost was better than what I had experienced after any activity during my earlier years. The camaraderie and fun of running with a group kept me coming back, and I was hooked on endorphins and friendship. I continue to be... after having lost over 33 kg in a year.

“I set small goals for myself. There’s something about reaching small goals that motivates you in other areas in your life as well. The more goals I make through running, the more goals I want to make in other areas of my life. Running helps improve my career, my relationships and my overall outlook on life.”

Today, millions are “discovering” the vitality and attitude boost that comes from a simple run. Our ancient ancestors survived because they covered thousands of miles a year, and genetically destined humans to walk and run.

“In the past two years I have collected so many amazing memories which I will not forget my whole life. So far I have finished 154 races from September 2015 to date, out of which 102 races were in 2017 alone, including the Boston Marathon, the Chicago Marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon and the North Face Endurance Challenge. I have 20 podium finishes so far under my belt and dozens of top 10 finishes. There came a point when I wondered why am I running so much? I got the answer in 2016 when my daughter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. I think God was making me strong for this,” says Lokesh.

For him, running is “exactly like life — it’s hard, you do not always want to do it, summers are better than winters, and you feel better when you have new shoes.

But it’s worth it. After the pain comes happiness, both in life and in running. That’s why my life is moving forward again. I’ve never stopped running for a day.

“You should try it too. It’s a place where I feel safe and at peace. The mind begins to envelop the joy, tension in muscles eases and you feel your heart a little lighter."

(The writer can be reached at gs.sudhakarrao@gmail.com)

Tags: exercise, lokesh kumar meena, marathoner