Three hours before the share market opens, Mahesh Bhagwat starts warming up his mind to chase the bull at Dalal Street. The 45-year-old fund manager with a multinational bank has discovered that a good outdoor run is the best way to gear up to face a manic day at work. “The best thing about running is that it calms your mind,” said the Powai resident.
Thrice a week, he starts from the heritage garden at Hiranandani Complex and takes different stretches to avoid monotony. The 90-minute session that starts at 5.45am could be an uphill jog towards Vikhroli station or a pleasant run along the Powai lake.
The boost of confidence Bhagwat got from losing more than 12 kg in a year since he began running has got him hooked to the grueling routine. “People don’t think much of you if you work out in a gymnasium. But when you tell them you have done half-marathons, they look at you with respect,” said Bhagwat.
His observation explains the corporate world’s newfound fascination for runners. “Running definitely adds a status symbol to a resume in corporate world,” said Praful Uchil, promoter, Striders Miles Pvt. Ltd. The company that started with just 15 students soon after the first Mumbai Marathon in 2004 now trains 230 middle-aged people doing corporate jobs.
That explains why Malabar Hill resident Sanjiv Mantri, 40, never skips his running sessions. Even when it is raining heavily, the banker hits the running tracks at Priyadarshini Park before sunrise. “It is the best time to be with yourself,” said the senior general manager with ICICI Bank.
Mantri’s family was not too happy with his early-morning sessions because it put an end to the family’s late-night dinners and parties. But the effort began showing shortly after he successfully completed the 21-km half-marathon this January.
“It is embarrassing when I get introduced via my running at business meetings,” he laughed. The tennis club he frequents organised a small function to felicitate him, he added.
Fitness trainers feel that many people rule out the option of running without doing a basic web search. “The city infrastructure has witnessed little change, but many running groups have mushroomed, courtesy the Mumbai Marathon,” said Uchil.
VI Venkatraman stumbled on one such group less than three months after relocating to Powai from Singapore last year. Singapore is a more running-friendly city, but Venkatraman has few grouses about Mumbai. “I am amazed at the amount of planning and research that goes into running here,” said the South Asia head of a multinational bank.
Early morning sprints also exposed the newcomer to several people from different walks of life. “It is an excellent social platform to meet people without feeling the need to know what they do in life,” he said.
While Marine Drive, Priyadarshini Park and Worli sea face are some good options to run for SoBoites, suburbanites have options of the Bandra sea face and Juhu beach, among other places. Goregaon, for instance, has the Aarey Colony. “Besides, there are community parks and small playgrounds across the city,” said Heath Matthews, fitness expert and physiotherapist. “You can also ask friends where they like to run and use that as a starting point.”
For those living in congested neighbourhoods Bhandup resident Pratiksha Londe has a handy suggestion. The 32-year-old gets down three bus stops before her residence. “I do a brisk 30-minute walk on the pavement,” said the schoolteacher.
Being one of the first occupants of a new tower at Koparkhairane, Tulsi Ganguly makes ample use of the deserted parking lot to knock off some calories. “When it’s not raining I go to the terrace, otherwise the parking lot is convenient,” said the 60-year-old who performs pujas for a living.
If all else fails, Matthews suggests using the treadmill in the building gym. “The advantage is treadmills are often surrounded by pleasant music, air-conditioning and a television to keep you entertained,” he said.