It isn’t easy to change yourself, especially if it’s habits you’ve held for years. Parth Rele knew this better than anyone else. Fortunately for him, his transformation was made easier by the guidance his friends showed along the way.
At 27 years of age now, Parth is in fine shape. Possibly the best he has been in his life. He goes to work as a graphics visualiser in a digital agency but before starting his day, he pulls on his shoes in the early hours of the morning and pounds the streets relentlessly. He runs for at least 5 or 10 kilometers, 15 to 18 if he gets the time. While it is something he enjoys, he also does it to prepare for the rigours of marathons.
“These days, the good thing about marathons is that there are so many people out running on the road. The people all from all age groups and they motivate you,” he says. “It’s about encouragement on the road. The only thing you need to do is step out on the road to get motivated,” he adds.
The person he is today is a far cry from who he was a mere five years ago. For as long as Parth could remember, he was overweight and unfit. His life did not include any particular exercise or physical activity. While in college though, he met a friend who would change his life for the better.
His classmate guided him toward proper nutrition and a healthy diet. He weighed 85 kilograms but once he began to follow the new diet, the results followed. Seeing this positive change, he was motivated to dive deeper into a fitter lifestyle. He began to work out in the gym and turn his life around.
It became a habit for him to lead a more active life and he soon made friends at the gym. A few years later, his friends approached him with an invitation to go for a 5 kilometer Fun Run. It sounded like an interesting proposition to him so he agreed. That was his introduction to running and he found that he had quite a liking for it. Apart from it being a fun experience, he found it a good cardio vascular sport.
“One of the best parts about running is that you don’t need much equipment. A good pair of sports shoes is enough for you to hop on the road and have a nice, enjoyable run. It turned out to be a good experience and I continue with it to this day,” he says.
It was a gradual process but as his conditioning improved, he found himself going for 10-kilometre runs. From there, he progressed to running half-marathons. He has been averaging three half-marathons a year and plans to run a full 42-kilometre marathon soon.
Parth isn’t like most people when he runs. Each time he puts on his shoes, he is motivated to improve his time. Last year, he ran 21 kilometers in 1 hour 55 minutes, so this year, he is determined to reduce his time to below 1 hour 50 minutes. To him, running is a test of fitness and endurance as a person gets an indication of where they stand based on their time. Having a target helps him expedite the process.
“I don’t run for the sake of running. I have a target in my head that pushes me forward during my run. I constantly look at my watch to see the time and the kilometres that I have passed. Based on this, I monitor my progress and increase or decrease my speed along the way,” says Parth.
It has been a long and eventful journey for Parth. He has changed profoundly from the chubby school kid he once was. Despite a busy schedule, he has ensured his running doesn’t get affected. For others like him, caught in a full-time job, he recommends taking around half an hour out on the weekends or mornings for a run.
His advice is simple. “The important thing is to get started and not sit idle. If you think you can start tomorrow, it will never happen. Once you step out and do it, it will feel good. That feeling is motivation enough to repeat it the day after.”