Bhavna Mayur Patel, 52, is a passionate and super-active runner who scored the first rank among women and the 6th rank overall among all runners in the 2018 edition of the 100 days of running. Bhavna enjoys travelling, cooking and reading. A home maker, she has been a strong pillar of support for her family every step of the way. Here’s her story in her own words.

Background and early years

Back in the early 2000s, I made up my mind to lose my excess weight and move towards a fitter and healthier lifestyle. That’s when I began exercising – running up and down the stairs, running on the treadmill and engaging in yoga, going on to lose more than 20 kg weight. I had never been too enthusiastic about sports. My husband was a lawyer, and always encouraged and supported my efforts, joining me in the walks and runs whenever he could. I strictly stuck to home cooked food and did not take up any special diets or cut out any components from my meals. I just stopped taking in fried foods, extra sugar, maida, etc. and included more fruits and vegetables in my food.

My moment of inspiration

One day in 2008, as I was working hard to maintain my weight, I came across the story from one of my husband’s clients who had just returned from a trip to Kailash Mansarovar. He had mentioned that he had begun jogging two years earlier to be in shape for the trip. At the time, I really wanted to visit Kailash Mansarovar myself, and inspired by that story I had just heard, I too began running. What began then as a preparation for a desire I had long held, has now become a daily habit. Running has become such a habit and routine for me that come rain, come Sun, I never miss my morning run, it’s like how the morning cup of tea or coffee is for most people, I have to do it. Helping my husband out with his work, taking care of the kids, managing an entire household by myself could get as busy as it could, and yet I make sure I wake up before 5 am each morning and run a minimum of 8 to 10 km every day, sometimes more. During the 2018 100 days of running event, I began waking up at 2:30-3:am and was out running right away to make sure I ran as much as I could before it got too hot to run or before the rain made it difficult to run anymore.

Spreading the fever

People in the community often tell me that I have been an inspiration to them; a lot of people have taken up running seeing me run. I run marathons sometimes but prefer running freely anytime instead of being bound by time and pace. For me, running is an opportunity to spend time with myself, to feel free and liberated, drown out all the stress and tension that life throws my way. Both my kids (not quite kids anymore though!) – two daughters aged 29 and 22 have also taken up running and yoga, inspired by my journey of transformation. They help me out with organizing my playlist and even taught me to use Strava and Endomondo so I could track my running.

Some advice for other runners

My tips for all the runners out there would be to make up your mind and then stick to what you have decided. If you have decided to run every day, do it. If you have decided to run a specific distance every day, do it. Don’t give up. And more importantly, run for yourself, don’t pay attention to how fast others run or how much you lag behind, it is your effort and sincerity that matters. Let running be a joyful, liberating activity, and not an activity that stresses you out for the rest of the day. If you don’t enjoy doing it, it will be very difficult to make it a part of your every day lives and sooner or later you are bound to give up. Instead, enjoy the run, leave everything else aside.

Your life doesn’t really depend on being the fastest man on the planet, unless you have a cheetah running behind you. So until that happens, take baby steps and have fun in the run. Listen to happy songs, try running with friends or family when you can. Prefer running out on the roads or in the garden to a treadmill but if you really have no choice, a treadmill is fine too. Never say you can’t find time for it, if you really want to do it, you will find the time for it.