“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”
—John F Kennedy.
“Jogging is very beneficial. It’s good for your legs and feet. It’s also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed.”
—Charles M Schultz.
“I haven’t had a regular cake in 23 years now. I don’t understand life any other way. This machine will break down if I change it now.”
Rahul Verghese is the founder of Running and Living, “a marketing company with a passion for running.” Their goal is to get 200 million Indians running: man , woman and child. Their marketing goal? Let’s talk about that later, shall we?
When did you start running? What was your first race? How many races have you completed so far? Can you break it down by distances?
I started running in December 2000 and ran my 1st Marathon in Oct 2001 in Chicago. Have done 54 Marathons and Ultra marathons across 6 Continents so far.
You’ve written and published a book, Unleash Your Potential. (I haven’t read it.) What’s it about?
My book – “Running And Living – unleash your potential” is about Running And Life and the several parallels and learnings between them. It’s about the multiplicity of impact points that running can have on you as a person and fire you up with passion, get you to start dreaming, and then going on to living your dream, whatever it may be.
Lots of lessons from Running that I incorporate into my daily life – read the book – Running And Living 🙂
Have you ever not completed a race? When and why?
I have had one DNF at a 50km trail run in Faridabad. I had not trained as required and paid the price with getting cramps and opting out at around the 40km mark. Big learning that like on Wall Street you are only as good as your last quarter.
Have you run races injured or sick? What’s your advice to runners concerning it?
I have never run a race sick, I have run a Chicago marathon post hernia surgery in 2003 and a San Francisco Marathon post a fall on my back. I took it really easy in both and kept a strict watch on listening to my body. I never take pain killers as that would mask any signals I need to listen to. I would suggest that if you are sick or injured – run a shorter distance if possible, else run much slower than planned – or change your objective to having fun – carry a camera, cheer people on – or else just opt out of the run and perhaps volunteer or spectate. There is always another run to participate in when you are back to normal.
Where do you usually train? How often?
There is no usual place that I train – the usual place that I train is – Outdoors – wherever I am. I am in the Himalaya this week and I will be running at around 12000 feet. But its not training for some event. I am just running to enjoy myself and be out in nature.
I came across a picture of you holding a guitar in one of your Facebook posts? Are you also a musician? What instruments can you play?
I like playing the Guitar and Harmonica and singing 🙂
You’re married. What’s your spouse’s name? What does she do? Any children? What are they doing?
My wife Jamuna runs on and off. She’s a banker and now consulting with PWC. My daughter Diya is working with VISA and my daughter Naina is studying economics and psychology, with a year more of college to go.
If you were to do it all over again, what would you change? Why?
I wouldn’t change anything if I was to live life over again. I have enjoyed every moment so far and will continue to do so.
Part II of this interview will follow when Rahul Verghese returns from the Himalayas on May 10.
Disclosure: The interview was conducted via email. Answers are published as-is except for spell-check.
Who is Jenil Dholakia?
Namaste! I am Jenil. Well, ‘Who am I’ doesn’t have a very definitive answer. I am yet on a journey of exploration. Taking each day as it comes. Experiencing emotions, people, places, things & more. I strongly believe in “Do not worry about the destination, but enjoy the journey!”
What are your interests, in order of priority?
Practicing & teaching yoga, writing my heart out, reading inspiring authors, travelling to newer places, healthy cooking & simply exploring!
What makes your day go ‘Boom Boom Boom’?
A day that begins with yoga, stretches into some simple joys, a moment of serendipity, a quaint corner, my super awesome boyfriend, enriching conversations, a great book, sunshine, fresh air & bohemian state of mind.
What makes it go ‘Kaboom’?
Days I don’t do yoga or days when I know I am not giving my best to anything that I do.
Is yoga your pick-me-up, your stimulant? What does it do for you?
Yoga is a way of living for me. It is not just what I do on the mat for an hour, but also what I do for the rest of the hours off the mat. It is a practice that has become inseparable & almost natural with me!
What is the Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance is the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. Their mission is to promote and support the integrity and diversity of the teaching of yoga. It certifies a yoga teacher who has received a certain standard of yoga teacher training at a Registered Yoga School (RYS), which is recognized & honoured across the globe.
Why go all the way to Rishikesh to learn yoga? Why not somewhere nearby?
What better place than Rishikesh, the birth place of yoga to do my teacher training from! Surrounded by the Himalayas on one side & Mother Ganga on other, the entire atmosphere buzzes with great energy. My entire stay there was very immersive with highly experienced teachers & inspiring fellow students.
Why did you decide become a Yoga instructor?
I discovered yoga by chance and began practicing as a way to deal with daily stress & remain fit. As I pursued it formally, I discovered how much more there was to yoga then just its physical aspect. It started to give me a larger understanding of self, life and environment and thus it has become an integral part of my life. This journey with yoga has continued to enthrall, inspire and challenge me – to the point where I am highly inspired to teach and share this love of yoga with the world.
Now that yoga is listed as a sport by the government, what are your thoughts on it?
I can see how yoga could be considered a sport and will be beneficial to promote it & build more awareness for it. But most sports are competitive and I would not like to see yoga as such. Where do you draw the line between sport and spiritual practice, and can the two ever be combined?
How is yoga beneficial to sports persons? Anything specific you’d like to tell runners?
Yes, it is very beneficial in many ways to sports persons. It is an appropriate practice providing physical exercise, breath control and flexibility, as well as mental focus. Yoga relieves muscle tension and loosens joints, hips, hamstrings and shoulders. Athletes who practice yoga gain greater ability to manage their breath — maximizing oxygen intake and lessening loss of energy during endurance training.
Practicing yoga is beneficial to runners because yoga helps maintain the balance between strengthening and stretching, absorbing the impact frequent running has on other areas of the body.
Anything you’d like to tell the readers about yourself, your business or any other message?
I would like to reach out to people who are afraid of yoga simply because they think they are not flexible enough or have any other misleading pre-notions about it. Yoga is very welcoming. It is for everybody. It is just a movement of breath & body.
Jenil is a Registered Yoga Teacher certified through the Yoga Alliance. She has completed her 200 hours yoga teacher training from Rishikul Yogshala, Rishikesh – the birth place of yoga.
Jenil believes in applying yoga as a path of personal harmony and transformation. A standard class will consist of dynamic and static practices of the traditional Hatha Yoga. Asanas, pranayama and meditation will lead in connecting the mind and the body. The teachings will be based on the scriptures of Sage Patanjali’s Sutras to retain the true essence of Yoga. It is her intention to have students leave her class feeling centered, grounded, and balanced & feel the innumerable benefits in their daily lives; not just on the mat. Her class will be the one that is filled with people of all ages, languages, and cultures – where all bodies are welcome and our common spirit is celebrated.
Disclosure: The interviewer is neither a practitioner nor student of yoga. The interview was emailed.
Hockey players are the fittest sportspersons on the planet.
Indian hockey wizards are among the top five fittest teams in world hockey.
That would make Indians among the top five fittest sportsmen in the world.
Quite an achievement.
Would you believe it?
You would , if you had been watching the Hockey World Finals third-fourth place encounter between Team India and the Netherlands last evening.
10 exhilarating goals pumped in 60 minutes followed by a thrilling penalty shoot-out.
Indian hockey has come a far way and fans can start to believe again that we may just have a medal round the corner at the Rio Olympics.
The School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences of Loughborough University, UK conducted a study that compared three team sports—hockey, rugby 7s and football (soccer).
The two main criteria for measuring fitness were distance run during a game and intensity maintained while running.
Field hockey players were discovered to cover more distance and work at a higher intensity than their counterparts in the other two sports.
A rugby player covers 94 metres, a footballer 125 metres and a hockey player a whopping 140 metres in a minute.
The study said:
“Where a football player spends just nine per cent of the game working at an intensity that sees the heart-rate reaching 85-90 per cent of its maximum, a hockey player can sustain that work rate for 30-40 per cent of the game. A rugby player works at a high intensity for 20 per cent of the game.”
While a hockey player may cover eight to nine kilometres in a game, a soccer player covers an average of over 10 kms per match. The difference lies in the time taken: 60 minutes versus 90 minutes.
As early as April this year, Team India’s physical trainer, Australian Matthew Eyles claimed that the men’s side were among the top five fittest nations.
“Physically they (Indian players) have improved a lot. When I got here 18 months ago, they were good, lot of them were very good natural athletes but now they have developed a good base. I think any strength and conditioning coach can’t feel content, they always want more from their athletes.
Their speed is good, endurance in good. They are looking really sharp at the moment. So I am happy with them.
I don’t think we are the fittest side at the moment. It’s hard to compare. Australia and New Zealand are always physically good sides. But I think we can definitely match any team now.
In my opinion definitely we can consider India among top five nations on fitness front in world hockey.”
Eyles did not take all the credit for the transformation.
He said he just focused on the basics as the base had been built four years ago with Michael Nobbs in charge and David John as the trainer.
“When I arrived here I first assessed the fitness level of the players and then followed standard process. I just tried to develop their base and then build them up from there.
I did just progressive things. We built a good base early on and then managed to just keep topping that up. We focused more on the speed and agility, and that got better and better. We have done a lot of work on the pitch and they are getting stronger. They have got a decent strength base.
There is always room for improvement but currently we are in a very good place.”
Eyles named Dharamvir Singh as the fittest player in the team then.
Naming the fittest sportspersons is a tricky debate.
You have to make sure you have the criteria right.
Jeff Potteiger, dean of Graduate Studies and a faculty member in the Movement Science department at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, believes that
body composition (level of body fat),
muscular strength and
would complete the list of items to weigh.
Who do you think are the fittest sportspersons?