Mumbai: The story of 45-year- old data analyst from Navi Mumbai, Rajnish Rathore, who had a heart attack in 2008 and had to have an angioplasty, but is now a constant fixture in marathons organised in Mumbai is inspiring. “I signed up for the cardiac rehabilitation programme of the Asian Heart Institute and thanks to their training and guidance, have participated in every marathon in the city,” said Rathore.
“You have to prepare and practice for it well. There is a certain diet that you need to follow and you need to give your body enough rest, which means you cannot go partying whenever you like. I make it a point to have dinner by 8 pm so that I can wake up at 6 am for my training. There are days when I get caught up with office work and some family obligations, but missing training is not an option, not even on Sundays. My morning routine includes a ninety-minute run followed by stretching and yoga. And, because of my health history, I go for cardiac rehabilitation every Friday,” he said.
He added that after the surgery, he started recovering slowlyas he wasn’t in a hurry to prove anything to anyone. He knew he had to give time to his body to recover. “As my apartment is on the 3rd floor and there are no elevators, right after the surgery, I would take a break at each floor before walking up the stairs,” added Rathore.
“Then, I slowly started doing controlled and monitored exercises. I ran my first ‘Dream Run’ — 6kms in 2009. Gradually, I increased my pace and, a year later, I started running half-marathons. Since then, I have participated in eight half-marathons. I have learnt that everybody has specific tolerance levels, and these can be changed, but it has to be done gradually.”
“Participating in marathons has been the single-most confidence-boosting exercise. It has taught me that I am capable of achieving more than what I once thought I could. I feel good when I think that once I was struggling to take the three flights up to my apartment, but today I am running the half-marathon. Running makes you stronger than you think. With every run I complete, I grow fitter and more confident. Besides, I have started valuing the small things in life. When the surgery was done, I was informed that I had three blockages. Angioplasty was done in only one of them. The doctor said that I need to wait for a few months to fix the other blockages. Running has improved my heart condition and it has been nine years and I didn’t have to go back for those other surgeries at all. That makes me feel empowered, knowing that my own efforts healed me to some degree.”
Rathore adds, “In 2013, as I was running the half-marathon, I thought of quitting because of severe knee pain. But something within me told me not to give up. I slowed down and took small, consistent steps, and doing so helped me reach the finish line. So, one learns to believe in oneself and shut out negativity.”
“Running has taught me to not compete with anyone but myself because when you start competing with others, you don’t really enjoy the run. I do get inspired by senior runners, but not envious of their achievements. The marathon is a personal experience. I see it as a battle against my own mind and body. So, one needs to train the mind along with the body,” he opined.