“In the morning of 3rd February, 2007, I was lying naked on a cold metal table. My entire body was being shaved, except the head. I was joking with the hospital attendant that this was a contrast to the tonsure at Tirupati, where the head was shaved and the body hair left untouched!
I was praying hard to HIM that my Coronary Artery Bypass Graft procedure (CABG aka Open Heart Bypass Surgery) should go well. So were my family members who had assembled outside.”
Thus begins the preface of P. Venkatraman’s book, “From Sofa to 5K: A Beginner’s Handbook on Running for Good Health” with a foreword by renowned cardiologist Dr. Aashish Contractor who is also an avid long distance cyclist and runner.
Contractor concludes his foreword as below:
“May fortitude hasten you and let temperance chasten you.”
Venkatraman outlines his story in the prologue describing his family history of heart disease beginning with his grandfather. His father and younger brother too were similarly affected.
Venkat details how he was always health and diet-conscious throughout his early life.
The author began running in 2004 and by the very next year was completing half-marathons. All this physical activity, however, could not prevent a 100% blockage of his left artery. And in Feb 2007, Venkatraman underwent heart surgery.
In January 2008, he ran the Mumbai half-marathon once more highlighting the second coming of the inspirational founder of You Too Can Run.
You Too Can Run’s mission is ‘To Promote Running For Good Health’.
Venkatraman divested his stake in one of India’s largest BPOs where he was a Promoter Director and founded his social enterprise.
The book is an attempt to inspire others to take up running for their health and is published by You Too Can Run Sports Management Private Limited who have registered themselves as a publisher with the HRD Ministry.
Chapter 5 onwards tackles the actual subject of running for beginners.
IITian and running coach Daniel Vaz is the technical editor of the book while nutritionist Kinita Kadakia is a major contributor to sections dealing with weight loss.
Venkatraman initially lists the psychological, social and physiological reasons for running.
There follows an entire chapter devoted to getting started—the most interesting part is how to handle aggressive stray dogs.
Chapter 7 deals with progressive loading and has a beginner’s 5K running plan pull-out.
Most beginners are astounded that they don’t start losing pounds immediately or sometimes for quite a while despite being quite regular and disciplined with their exercise programme. Kadakia answers these questions in the chapter ‘Running and Weight Loss‘ and how losing weight is simply about burning more calories than you consume i.e. a calorie deficit has to be created and maintained.
Finally, ‘Staying Motivated‘ is simply about that—how to keep oneself going and how it all begins with setting a goal.
The book also provides a Daily Health Log sheet that helps runners cultivate a habit of checking their progress towards their goals.
The book is of value specifically to someone who wishes to start a running regimen.
Recommended for beginners—you could do worse.