16 Nov Front Runner- Gunjan Uppal
Front Runners are exceptional individuals who run for the cause of educating children at Bhumi. Every stride they take helps Bhumi support the children with their literacy, numeracy and life skills. Thank you, Front Runners – for taking us forward in this journey of Change.
1) Tell us a little about yourself & how did your start running?
I’m from Kolkata and an event manager by profession. I work for Round Table India and organise the Airtel Run for Education every year.
My tryst with running was an outcome of my attempt to get back on track with fitness. For 29 long years, I hadn’t really fantasised the idea of leading a fit and healthy life. As my health started taking a toll due to the nature of my work and fatigue, I decided this was the time. I started off with what anyone would generally do – food regulation and normal exercising; eventually, I realised that discipline was being a major issue and so, I decided to walk rigorously for four months, and if that worked, I’d join a gym! Four months down, I did observe a great change in my overall health and fitness and started hitting the gym, and realised it was such a cool idea!
A year and a half from there on, I started exploring several fitness avenues; I tried Zumba, belly dancing, swimming, trekking, cycling and a lot more.
What made you take up running?
Constant support and encouragement from my husband, undoubtedly! While I was approaching fitness based on my understanding earlier, it is he who led me into taking up running and made me delve into many other fitness options.
Earlier this year, I got married, and life post marriage has rather changed me for the better! One day, my husband suggested ‘why not running?’; and that was the moment of inspiration! I took part in one of the most popular marathons in the city, tried completing a 5 km run, and guess what – I absolutely loved it and the vibe of the run immediately struck a chord with me. This feeling of satisfaction was more than enough to encourage me to participate in many such marathon events in the city, including the Bhumi Run!
However, due to overexertion and lack of knowledge on how to approach fitness in a better manner, my body started developing a few complications and it was then that I decided to read and know more about fitness – for two months, I read several books and blogs and widened my knowledge to garner a better understanding and approach fitness through a holistic lens. The primary task in hand was to build stamina, and streamline my food habits that would help me build stamina, apart from just exercise, physical activity and flexibility! In simpler words, I started focussing on strength training more than just running. This was my first big step.
The second big step was that I quit smoking – the two months of extensive reading made me realise I had to discard those pack of cigarettes that very day; I did so and from then on, there was no looking back! I’ve become much more disciplined and have started practicing Yoga, adopted better ways and means of getting my nutrients and food habits right. I’ve also understood that sometimes, we need to slow down, listen to our body, and not over-exert in the name of fitness and treat ourselves fair!
3) What does running mean to you?
Running, in my view, is a community sport that brings like-minded people from different walks of life together on a track, to share positive vibes, enthusiasm and smiles. Every single person on a marathon track has a story to share. It is this feeling of togetherness and familiarity in each of us that brings us together into a happy family, where each of us come from different backgrounds and ethnicities. Man in a social animal, and hence, just like any other individual, running has given me many friends, like-minded circles and family!
What is the source of your inspiration? What keeps you motivated to continue running ?
My source of everyday inspiration is my family whose constant support keeps me going, no matter what! Also, the strength within me to take steps towards finishing challenges, and the excitement to see what the result of any of those steps would turn out to be keeps me on the move – closer, inch by inch closer to my final goal, positively anticipating how a particular action of mine would take me closer to it. Marginal improvement, both physically and mentally, keeps me charged. The surprise element of ‘let’s see what I can achieve today’ is what drives me every day.
Do you think running should be associated with a cause? Why?
Well, not always, I’d say. But if it is, then it is something definitely great! Running builds collective responsibility and connecting it with a noble cause will prove doubly beneficial, as this collective responsibility will be channelized directly into serving the needy and ultimately give the runner a feeling of immense satisfaction of having contributed something to the society. While receiving direct donations from people might be a difficult task, this method of associating running with a cause, will make people come forward and contribute, as they directly benefit from such runs too, get to be a part of a like-minded community and exchange happiness and positivity.
How do you associate Bhumi with the cause you believe in ?
Bhumi has been doing a wonderful job in bringing together people across cultures, ethnicities, communities, professions, to collectively work towards the empowerment of the needy. The Bhumi Run is indeed a great initiative and is also a huge motivator for people like me to come back every year and do my bit to the society too! The proceeds from the run go to the underprivileged and with every year, the organisers up the quality of the event, encouraging more and more people to take part in the run with zest and zeal.