Recognised as one of the successful amateur women recreational runners in India, Ranjini Gupta has finished running four of the World Marathon Majors. Aspiring to finish the remaining two marathons by the end of 2020, she takes us through her journey from being a new mom to becoming a Fitness Coach to starting her own fitness consultancy firm Rungenie Fitness.
This most inspiring interview with this humble super mom keeps us wanting to do more with our lives.
What inspired you to get into marathons?
“A mother of two,
My younger daughter just nine-month new;
To wade away the baby blues,
I took to my running shoes;
What set out as “Mine Exclusive” time,
Grew on me, while runners I began to mime;
Learning the skills and nuances of the sport,
Yes, running I began to court.”
Back in 2012, when I took to the sport, I didn’t know what a ‘Marathon’ was, leave alone the distance. Slowly as I got familiar with the sport, I aspired to run the distance, and in October 2014, I ran my first Marathon in Bangalore.
How did you first start as a Fitness Coach?
To me, fitness is a lifestyle. It’s like my second nature. Maybe early childhood conditioning in sports was a reason for it. However, while training for my first marathon in 2014, I realised that the sport needs much more than just running. That’s when I took to learning and reading more about the fitness aspect of a sport. Then I went on to do my fitness certification from the American Council of Exercise in 2016.
What did your family think of your new career choice, and how do you continue to manage home and career together?
Well, for me to think and take this up as a career, it took a lot of time. As a runner itself, I had enough of hurdles to pass. I always used to be questioned about why I am running as this age and that too after two children. I was told that running is bad for my knees and that I’ve lost all my charm and look pale and sick. However, little did people realise things from my perspective. I was more active, agile, alert, managed to get more done in a day than when I was sedentary, my health report showed fantastic numbers which my doctors approved of. I felt alive, and that made me turn a deaf ear to such comments. People believe what you do. Today it’s the same family and friends who are my pillar of support.
Was it an easy journey…..’Hell NO!’ I had to plan and prioritise my day so that my family commitments were taken care of and I had enough time to pursue my interest. Over the years, when my husband and children realised that this means so much to me, they started lending a helping hand. I am where I am today because of their support.
You have run the world’s biggest marathons. Could you tell us more about your experience with that and your journey in this field?
In 2016, I ran my first international marathon – Berlin Marathon. Post that, every year I have been running at least one international event and have completed the Chicago Marathon (2017), Tokyo Marathon (2018) and Newyork Marathon (2019). This year in April’20, I was to complete the Boston marathon and London marathon thereby completing all the World Marathon Majors and earning my six-star medal. However, due to the recent pandemic that we are facing both these events got postponed to later this year.
Having said that, for me personally, it’s the journey that matters. It gives one great joy in receiving that medal at a race, but it gave me a lifetime of experience, training for each race. I was fortunate to travel with my parents for the Tokyo marathon in Japan. Having my family by my side in a foreign land holding our national flag…..that’s an experience!
I made a lot of new friends, thanks to this sport and all the travel. People sometimes are amazed; we go to a different country just to run a marathon. It’s nice to get exposure and experience different cultures.
What is your philosophy regarding Fitness Training?
“CONSISTENCY is KEY”. I truly believe you must be fit if you want to pursue any sport. It’s not the other way round. Even for your activities in daily life, a fit lifestyle makes you that much more efficient.
Can you share with us your personal favourite form of exercise apart from running?
Running is a sport and not exercise, in my opinion.
I believe in training the movement patterns rather than training the muscle. So, I like any form of compound movements wherein more than one muscle group is involved.
You might have come across many misconceptions regarding fitness. Could you tell us about a few of them?
The first thing and the most common one I have heard is fitness is for sportspeople. That is not true. Fitness is for every individual who wants to move efficiently.
Running is terrible for your knees, another common one. If people take the time to read and understand about a sport, this kind of misconceptions could be avoided.
Women shouldn’t lift weights. They will get bulky – I only wish it were that easy to put on muscle. Contrary to this, I believe women should do some kind of strength training to maintain good health.
Is it necessary to own or use fancy gym equipment to get fit? Are there any options?
I don’t think one needs much if you decide to keep yourself fit. Small equipment like resistance bands, Kettlebells, skipping ropes, a swiss ball and/or a medicine ball are good options. They don’t occupy much space and don’t burn a hole in your pocket. There are also a lot of bodyweight exercises which one can do to keep fit.
We all know “getting fit” is one of the most made resolutions for the New Year. As per research, this resolution is also the one to be broken by mid-January. Any tips on how to make the resolution stick? How can one add fitness into their daily regime without getting bored and keeping it fresh?
Firstly, follow the KISS principle – Keep It Stupid Simple.
Next, be realistic with your fitness goals. Take into account your lifestyle demands and plan accordingly.
Start small and build up as you progress. Gradual progress is better than no progress at all.
Again ‘consistency is key’ – There are no shortcuts to fitness.
To avoid boredom, one may add variety into the exercise formats they do. Also having a friend or small group of like-minded people to train with or joining a fitness club will keep you going. Try to pick up one exercise you would like to ace at, and work on it.
What is that one advice that you would want to give to anyone wanting to embrace fitness in their life?
Please make fitness a lifestyle change. Don’t do it because ‘XYZ’ is doing it or you want to temporarily lose weight to fit into that suit or dress or just look good for some function that is coming up. Weight loss is a by-product of fitness. Unless it is something you consciously try to work and build into your daily schedule, it won’t last.
As we are seated for too long while working at home, what kind of exercise would you suggest to avoid muscle knots due to tension and stress or from sitting idle for a long time? If one has the opportunity to go outside, what quick exercises can they do that can give them an intense workout?
As these unprecedented times needs us to stay home, whether for work or otherwise. This could result in lesser movements and longer hours of sitting while working and taking calls. We should be conscious to get up and move from our work desk or couch every hour. Simple exercises to mobilise joints need to be done. If going out is an option, a brisk walk or slow jog or cycling is an activity one could pursue with safety gear. It would be best to refrain from very intense and prolonged training now, as it could drop your immunity levels.