The Solefest runner of the fortnight is Pradip Mondal. In the running circles of Vadodara, he is known as the Flying Fish due to the speed which he attains while running. If anyone is a emblem of persistence in running in Vadodara then it has to be none other than Pradip Mondal. Today we will hear the story of Pradip Mondal,how he transformed himself into a running machine.
Solefest: Tell us about your start as a runner?
Pradip Mondal: Due to sedentary lifestyle and 10 hrs. sitting job in office, I was gaining weight and growing my paunch. That time I decided to start morning walk / jogging in the year 2013. Started with 1 km walk / jog daily. That time I came to know about the announcement of Vadodara Marathon 2013 edition. I decided to participate and complete 5 KM run which was a distant dream for me and started practicing for the same. That time I met few other runners of Baroda (BRR) and we started running together. That’s how my running journey started.
SF: What were the challenges that you faced initially when you took to running?
PM: The major two challenges I faced (hopefully all of us has faced it) is getting up early in the morning in winter season and managing the time schedule to be a consistent runner. Thankfully I could get over both the demons and running has taught me to be more disciplined, focused and punctual in life as well.
SF: Any specific reason you took to running?
PM: I was very active in sports since childhood, would spent whole day playing outdoors. The time when I started my professional career, the active lifestyle became passive, depressed and one dimensional. It was need of the hour to start some activity, so that I could get my focus back and no other option was better than running.
SF: You started with small runs and then took to ultra, any reasons?
PM: As usual, I started with short runs and was very happy to complete my first HM, as I never ever dreamt of running 21 KM. In 2014 Mumbai based ultra-runner, Raj Vadgama was attempting Bharathon 10,000KM, to support him I ran consecutive 45km each in two days. That’s the time I got the taste of Ultra. With time my love for the Ultra has grown up to certain level that I feel like I achieved Moksha while running an Ultra. Running an ultra is doing meditation for me. The best part of the Ultra run is mostly it is not time bound and you can take several breaks as per your needs. Ultra is not a race with others, it’s a race with yourself. It is much easier to run an Ultra than racing in a Full Marathon.
SF: Ultra running is just not about body, but it is more of a mind game, in endurance your brain becomes the boss of your body, if I am correct, why is it so?
PM: Your body can achieve anything what your mind wants. This goes true for Ultra running also. That’s why positivity & strengthening your mind is very important along with training for Ultra runs. After a certain threshold your body becomes slave of your mind and your mind rules your activity. Once you learn to control your mind you can achieve anything which looks impossible sometime before.
SF: If someone wants to run a long distance of 50 or 100 Kms for the first time, what would be your advice?
PM: To attempt an Ultra, one should have completed atleast 5 Full Marathons and FM timings are under 5 hours. It takes 3/4 to months of preparation for the Ultra run event. More than physical one must be mentally fit and determined to accept the grueling challenge and get grilled under the Sun throughout the day. As most of the Ultra events are conducted on the Hills or in the desert, one must choose his race wisely and prepare him / herself according to the weather condition and terrain of that region.
SF: What is your running schedule currently, how much do you run in a week?
PM: As the Marathon season is underway, I started my preparation for the selected annual Full Marathon events. Presently I run 4 days a week, strengthening exercises and stretching for rest of the days. Running days consists of Interval training, Tempo run, constant pace run and long run in the weekend, cumulatively 200-250 Kms per month.
SF: You play football also, how different it is to when running, what is more difficult, playing a game for football for an hour or running for an hour?
PM: You can’t separate a Bengali from three ‘F’s i.e. Fish, Football and Festivals. I am playing football from childhood days and enjoy the game very much. As we have now grown up and suppressed under the pressure of so many responsibilities, I relive my childhood through this game of football. Definitely an hour of football match is much more difficult than running for an hour, as per my own experience.
SF: Suppose someone wants to take to running, what would be your advice, what care should be taken?
PM: Start with brisk walk and mix of walk / jog for the first month. Try to understand your capacity and run accordingly. There is no hurry to achieve any long distance in a shortest time or to participate in a Marathon race. I have seen many people getting injured in the starting phase due to peer pressure and then quit running. Not to get influenced by performance of fellow runners and over doing the things. Just remember – you are running for your own health and you should try to improve upon yourself. There is no competition with the person running beside you. Learn to enjoy your run, whatever pace you are comfortable with.
SF: How has running changed in the last five years, since you started running
PM: coin always has its both sides.
On one hand, running has become more of a commercialized sport these days. Many organisers are minting money with online virtual events, where you register with a hefty amount and then run at you own place without any kind of support and lastly you end up purchasing your completion Medal. Some events come with so many promises with a higher registration fees but end up with a sub-standard facilities to the runners. Many online fake events / online coaching / training programs are also around these days. Largely we are spending too much for a sport which was absolutely free of cost to start with. As a runner every individual need to be vigil enough and asses before spending / contributing his precious time and money whether it is worth it ?
On the other side, there are lot of information readily available online. Sometimes it is better to be spoilt for choices. Also the awareness about running and fitness has spread like anything, which is a very good sign for the whole country. It is upto us to filter the useful information and use it for our betterment.
SF: A runner of your caliber should always give some wisdom thoughts, runners reading this will be surely enlightened …..
PM: In the race to become a superfast runner, don’t forget to enjoy your life along with families and friends. Ultimately we all are recreational runners and not elites. Spend time together with family in outstation events and have a short family vacation. Finish any run with a smile and not in the pain. Don’t forget to having a blast with your besties, ultimately that’s the moment you cherish forever in your life. Lastly don’t forget to take rest for yourself from running. It is very important to take one / two months rest from running in a calendar year. This time can be spend in activity like swimming / yoga, so that your body can relax and heal from any niggles.