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Have Feet, Will Run

Posted by - Sanjeev Mantri, Executive Director
April 09 2018

When a news reporter asks Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) in Spielberg’s namesake movie, why he was running across America, he replies — “I just felt like running.” Like Gump, I too have been into long distance running, for the sheer experience that running gives me. Sometimes you don’t need a reason to pursue your passion. You just go ahead and do it. That’s my inspiration behind indulging in my favourite sports, be it running or tennis. Today, my day has to start with either a long run or tennis; it’s the inspiration for me to ensure a sense of fulfilment through the day.

I have been running for over a decade and I have savoured every single minute of it - the rhythm in running, the experience of freedom, the joy of living in the moment, the sense of belonging in a larger group of like-minded individuals and friends. In the process, I have also benefited from the physical and mental perks of running the distance.

Whether you take up sports as a profession or for personal development, it helps to build character and resolve, boost confidence, induce strategic thinking, teach leadership skills and promote goal-setting.

It also prepares you for the challenges and risks of life - helping you come out triumphant. In that sense, sport introduces you to a holistic way of life; one that shapes your personality for the rest of your life. As the saying goes, you may lose in a game of sports but you can never be a loser.

Once I got into the habit of running, it wasn’t long before my feet sought new challenges and experiences. I started running marathons in multiple cities and became a much stronger and happier version of myself. I pushed my boundaries and the fact that I could hold myself up also made me believe that mind over matter plays a big role in sport and in life. Having run marathons for over a decade, it has become a journey of self-discovery for me.

Today, I manage my daily schedule around my running calendar. Running a marathon is my priority, not its outcome. I derive immense satisfaction just preparing for the long run — the degree of discipline, mental aptitude, the training and perseverance required to start and finish a run. Be it a regular work day or while travelling, I try to ensure that I don’t skip my morning sports session, as this has become a habit.

That said, running can be gruelling, and not without its share of hurdles and heartaches. Injuries are common and can be discouraging for runners. I have had my share of injuries, though I have been fortunate to have regained my fitness through perseverance and good medical advice. Over several years of marathon training and running, I have acquired certain values that have helped me in my profession. Running helps me build endurance and gives me the capacity to work long hours. The mere thought of going for a run, leave alone actually running, fills me with a positive energy that reflects in how I deal with personal and work-related situations. Above all, running has made me fearless, optimistic and goal-oriented.

Moreover, running across geographies especially at the international level has further added to my exposure to this sport. I have been fortunate to run international marathons including New York (twice), Berlin and Amsterdam. In India, the Mumbai Marathon is close to my heart, since I have been running in this event for years. I have lost count of the number of half marathons I have completed, though every run is as refreshing as the first marathon that I ran years back. Every time that I stand at the starting point, I feel a sense of accomplishment.

I truly believe that each one of us should find the time to follow our passion which is outside our work. For me, it is running. I intend to continue running for as long as my feet can continue to support me. It is a privilege to be able to run. It is my ticket to happiness. I hope you have yours.


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