From the peak of fitness to battling for his life, Milind Parsekar’s health has seen extreme ups and downs. Recollecting his work and fitness background, we get a sneak peek into just how active Milind used to be. “I played football at the national level in 1986 and though it (a career in football) didn’t work out, I tried to keep myself fit by going to the gym,” he says.
However, life had other plans and Milind starting working at Rashtriya Chemicals & Fertilizers. Marriage followed and he lost touch with fitness by the age of 29. “I was a fit child and never had any issues in school. Later, along with my football ambitions, I also lost track of fitness. I relocated to a different area in Mumbai (post marriage) and though I trained youngsters in various sports, I was never as active as I was during my football days.”
It was at the age of 40 that Milind got a wake-up call. Plagued with fitness issues, he visited the doctor for a health check-up. He was surprised when he was told that he had high blood pressure, since he always thought of himself as a fit person. Worse was to follow. “Suddenly, I collapsed after a major stroke. The doctors told me I could have died. I was incredibly lucky to have come out of it.”
He threw more light on how difficult life had become for him post that stroke. “My face became crooked and I was on steroids,” Milind says. But he did not lose hope, returning to fitness after an 11-year gap with a strong will. Starting with early morning walks, he soon returned to playing fourth-division football until a knee injury forced him to give it up.
Introduction to marathon running
One day, a friend and marathon runner asked why he didn’t simply run instead of walking. He explained that he was a high blood pressure patient and couldn’t run. She asked him to meet her trainer and under his guidance, Milind began training again.
“I started my running in November, 2008. I began training and on 14th January, 2009, my trainer handed me his bib and marathon number. That’s how I ran my first marathon without even registering for it. It was 21km, a distance I had not done before.”
“That’s how I started running and I haven’t stopped since. I run almost four marathons a year, only taking a break on Sundays.” Now 49 years old, Milind has been running for 9 years and, with the help of medication, his blood pressure is back to normal.
He elaborates as to how and why the marathon bug bit him. “I wasn’t keen on running marathons at the start. But the fact that it helped me adhere to a schedule and instilled discipline made me stick with it. My wife has been a pillar of support as she has helped me maintain a diet.”
Milind is thankful that running has turned around his life and health. “It has changed my life. It is now a passion for me. I can’t do without it! I have kept in touch with my schedule of waking up at 5 am and hitting the track for practice at 6 am.” And he signs off with this gem. “It’s all in the mind! Seventy percent of it begins with mental fitness whereas the rest is physical. I follow the mantra of ‘Never give up’. I haven’t gotten old yet. Why give up?”