Sunday, May 4, 2014

Boston Marathon -The lesson learnt for Indians

Completing something that you once considered impossible, even ridiculous, is a marathon - running 26.2 miles. On top of that, if it is the "the Legendary Boston Marathon", the person who achieves it is truly special regardless of his or her age. Some of us who are not aware of qualifying times should take a look into the table below.


Just to give you a perspective, an average distance athlete considers himself a good runner if he runs 26 miles in about 4 hours. I myself got tons of congratulatory messages when I completed my first half marathon in 2 hours. Guess what, yet I can only dream about running the Boston marathon which is way beyond reach at this speed. To qualify for the race, you would have to run for hours at a pace even normal, fit people can only hold in a sprint. In my opinion, there are only few challenges that can compare to the sense of accomplishment that one would feel after running 26.2 miles to finish the marathon.

That’s pretty much what Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon said about it as well.
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon,” she said.

I am always a big proponent of the theory that long distance running is more about believing in yourself than anything else. It does not really matter, if you are in the early 20’s or even your 50’s to become a long distance runner. Neither does it matter, if you were ever an athlete in your life.  There are several veteran runners who have confessed that they ran marathons faster in their 40’s then when there were in 20’s. There are lots of myths around long distance running especially in our community. In my previous blogs, I have written few articles to bust those myths and how can you be benefitted from running as you grow older. However, there is still so much reluctance and disinclination among Indians due to various reasons.

Since, I have a personal interest in Boston marathon considering the iconic nature of this race; I dug through the 2014 race statistics. My curiosity was mostly wondering about the super humans who run this marathon. How many Indian or American Indians qualifies for this race? Results were surprising if not mind-blowing. Check out the chart below – what is the first thing you notice?


  
Number of runners in the 40+ age group were way more than the younger ones. Out of a total of around 36000 registered runners, only 14307 were below 40. Really? So another myth busted here – marathon is not only for young people. It is statistically proven by the data that long distance running is more popular in people over 40 than the younger ones. Another not very surprising though, was the fact that there were not many Indians qualified for the race; however the number of Indians qualified in year 2014 was way more than last year. There were few corporate teams who participated in the race from companies like Infosys and TCS.

Overall, the analysis provided strength to my belief that it is never too late to run. In fact, runners 45 years and older represent one of the fastest-growing age groups participating in the increasingly popular events in United states. Of course, the stresses of long-distance running are harder on joints, feet, muscles and backs, and more prone to injury than younger competitors. But, by adopting different techniques and going at your pace will certainly make things right for you. I know we are by nature "risk averse" people but are we not risking our well-being by not doing anything at the right moment?

Happy Running!!

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