Meet Uma Maheshvari, Associate Director – Biz Talent and Organization Development at Mindtree. In her role as a T&OD practitioner for over 11 years, she consults Business groups within Mindtree to understand their business realities, critical challenges and attempts to design interventions that addresses the significant needs of the business and its people. While she’s at these challenging and interesting assignments, she has more interesting extensions outside of her profession as well. Read through her journey on how she moved on from an ‘aspiring’ marathon runner to a modern professional marathoner. Catch up as she narrates her experience about preparing for marathons and about the joy of pursuing big dreams and making them happen!
What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running? Specifically running long distances?
A sense of achievement that I could run, which I couldn’t do some time back. Specifically, running long distances requires strategy, stamina to sustain the long running period, capacity to work with your strengths and limitations. So it is like a project wherein I experience highs and lows in the preparation process. And when I successfully accomplish it, it gives me an immense sense of happiness and motivation to set the bars high.
Would you like to share your memories about the first ever marathon you ran? (or your favourite marathon experiences)
I had signed up with Syed, my wellness coach to work on my fitness levels. Soon I decided to participate in marathons as an interesting extension to work on my fitness level. I was no beginner to marathons, I had already participated in 3K & 5K runs about 2 years ago. So this time, in consultation with Syed, I decided to participate in a 10K run. When I began my preparations, I was in for a rude shock. I really couldn’t run even for a short distance as 100 or 200 meters. May be it was because of the lack of exercise since the 2 years. I would end up with severe pain all through my legs, and I thought I was not meant for long distance running. To add to my woes, I was just a month away from the run, and I was in no shape to participate in the 10K. Given my form, many people advised me against taking up this stretched goal of a 10K. In a muddled state of mind, I queried with Syed, “Should I go for it?”. He simply said “If you think you can do it, you will do it”. So that was it. I made up my mind and trained hard, so there was no turning back, of any sorts. We worked at it continuously with a well thought out plan and I was getting better day by day. It was a bright Sunday on 31st January, there I was all geared to attempt the 10K marathon organized by Contours. Initially I was a little scared because my legs take a longer time to warm up. After the initial 10 -15 minutes I started to enjoy it. I was experiencing a sense of rhythm in my running. I didn’t want to stop, so I kept at it. The colorful set up, music and the encouragement all along the way by the organizers was mind blowing. I completed my run clocking in a good 1 hour 50 minutes. I felt really proud of myself to have achieved my goal. Post that, I ran another 10K and I am now training for a 21K marathon in Aug’16.
Describe the training process for a marathon. How do you prepare for it, both mentally and physically?
After my first 10K, I researched on the different marathons organized through the year and picked up the ones I would like to participate. Based on this, a training schedule was chalked out. I practice 3 days a week and also go for mock runs over weekends, to gauge my preparation levels. I try to follow the diet plan prescribed, at times I falter 🙂 but quickly recover. I meditate and explore all forms of exercise with my coach. I avoid stressing or worrying about making it big on the day of the run. I wear a mindset to just enjoy running.
How do you manage time effectively for your practice sessions amidst your personal and professional lives?
Here, I would give the complete credit to Syed for building the discipline in me to train early in the mornings. We put out heads together to carefully plan out our training sessions. Based on my schedule and availability we choose different forms of training – Be it Yoga, flexibility training, leg strengthening exercises, different gate analysis, the static and dynamic stretches or just a casual shuttlecock game in the lush green Cubbon park, it keeps me interested and motivated. Otherwise with my busy schedule it does get difficult at times. I have joined the gym many times earlier only to quit within a short span. So having tried the gym thing, I thought it was better that the gym comes home rather than me getting there. That’s why I choose a personal wellness coach to address my fitness needs in alignment to my personal and professional commitments.
The ‘Day’ of the big race…how do you feel? What prepares you for it?
Having participated in two runs recently, I feel very excited given the fun filled environment at the Marathon events. I also attempt to calm down and stay relaxed; it helps to bring in the focus and to channelize my physical and mental energy towards giving my best performance during the run. As a preparation for the marathon day, I avoid traveling during the week of the run because it might upset my preparation. On the day before the run, I don’t practice. I prefer to visit a spa for some relaxing time. I ensure to sleep early and get at least 8 hours of good sleep. Also, I have been learning & practicing different forms of meditation over the last few months. This has helped me to continue my journey to fitness and to calm me down to a large extent.
What in your opinion is the healthiest habit you posses?And how has zoojoo.be helped you get fitter/healthier?
I drink a lot of water. I have a 500 ml bottle on my desk. I ensure to finish it and walk up to the cooler for a refill every 30 minutes. I challenge my friends on Zoojoo.be and I accept and work on the challenges posted by my friends on Zoojoo.be. The points and the dashboard flashing my feats is very motivating.
The one question we would all love to know the answer from you: What pushes you to keep going when you begin to feel the exhaustion setting in?
Like most of us, I was always worried about losing my health due to the sedentary lifestyle. Every year I get my annual health check-up done and usually I would be very anxious and tensed about what would come up in my reports. So, last year I decided that I will change this and not wait for some health issues to erupt . Also it was worth investing my time, effort and money getting fitter and healthier rather than invest without a choice on medication and hospitalization to fix ill-health issues. So it was a stand to be proactive rather than reactive towards leading a healthy and a happy life of my choice. So, whenever I feel exhaustion setting in, I recall why I started doing all of this. It naturally helps me connect back to my core vision of well-being and I get back on track. Also, I remind myself that I am a person with gigantic ambitions in life, so to achieve them I need my physical, mental and spiritual health intact. So far the going has been good. I get immense support from my family especially my mom, who believes in me, more than myself. My best friends Shanti and Chitra are my staunch pillars who stand by me during my challenging times.
What’s in store for you next?
Once I complete the 21K run in Aug’16, I will train for a full marathon. I intend to compete in TCS Marathon event in Jan’17. Post that, I would attempt to prepare for the Iron Man (Women) Triathlon. Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), consisting of a 3.86 km of swim, 180.25 km of bicycle ride and a marathon of 42.20 km run, raced in that order and without a break. It is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world. In pursuit of this big dream, I have already completed a level 1 course in swimming this summer and I also practice cycling during my current training sessions. I thank Milind Soman, the Pinkathon (a marathon for women) ambassador and an Iron Man champion from whom I learnt about the Iron Man Triathlon, while he addressed us in a session at Mindtree. He has kindled my inspiration to take marathons as a serious sport for fitness.
If you had to share your words for wisdom with all marathon aspirants, what is the one thing you would tell them?
To quote Milind Soman, “the better you practice, the better you will run in the Marathon”. So the magic is in your preparation for the run.
Album from her journey:
Fun times at the 10K marathon organised by Contours:
In a regional newspaper: