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Suma Sampath: The Rise Of a Woman Marathoner

Mar 12, 2018

Suma Sampath: The Rise Of a Woman Marathoner
Suma Sampath: The Rise Of a Woman Marathoner

Suma Sampath: The Rise Of a Woman Marathoner

1. You are an inspirational figure for all aspiring marathon runners in India. Can you tell us a few words about how your journey started?

  • My journey of running started with my enrolment for 10k in an event named Pinkathon (a women-only run in India supporting breast cancer awareness) in April 2013! Having least knowledge about running, I wasn’t confident of myself and 10k seemed unrealistic to me! The previous night of the run, I almost gave up and decided it is not my cup of tea. In the middle of the night my supportive, caring husband who was on an offsite work outside Bangalore, cancelled his work and came home to support me. He came along with me and throughout the run, he was around me to cheer me up & I successfully completed the 10K run
  • Post this run, I never looked back. Instead, I turned unstoppable. This is how I transformed to a long distance runner from a couch potato! 

2. Just for the record and for some extra dose of inspiration, how many marathons have you run till date?

  • I have no count of 5, 10, 15k runs & now these distances have become part of my daily practice runs
  • I have run approximately 50 half marathons (few include 25k, 30k too)
  • I have run 3 full marathons (42.195 KM)
  • My latest achievement is attempting and running the challenging Yercaud Ultra hill run of 50k. Due to the complexity and heat, I had to stop at 42k.

3. Are there any specific challenges that women face when running marathons?

  • Gynaec related issues can be challenging, especially during long-distance runs in organised events (depends on individuals), such as monthly chums, pregnancy etc.,
  • Safety might be an issue(running late evenings or early mornings when dark)
  • I have observed many women who are shy to even try running.

4. You are credited with being an exemplary leader in your managerial role at a leading Fortune 500 MNC. What does it take to actively participate in marathons along with having a fulltime career?

  • If one can turn running into a passion (not just running rather any fitness/wellness activity) then there will not be any excuses for one! In fact, all these activities help in boosting one’s mental & physical health and this, in turn, spikes up productivity at work! Of late, I see many corporate companies supporting yoga/gym for the employees!
  • I always prioritized my daily routine and dedicate a couple of hours each day to my workouts as per the available free slots! I ensured that my these activities do not impact my work targets and I deliver as committed.

Suma Sampath: The Rise Of a Woman Marathoner

5. Can you tell us about your personal life? How important is the role of a supporting or a complementing life partner for marathon runners?

  • Well, personal life is great if we can maintain health & happiness! We may achieve these by maintaining discipline in our day to day activities by being active, eating healthy food, etc
  • To achieve all these things, support from family members plays a key role! In my case, as my husband & I are runners, most of the tasks are dealt and managed together! Also, a complimenting factor is that my son is grown up and is independent and most importantly my parents who live with us provide all possible support for us to achieve all that we want!

6. Is marathon running an activity for specific kinds of people? What should people ask themselves before deciding to take the plunge?

  • India has transformed a lot in the fitness field! Bangalore is now termed as the Runners Capital of India!
  • Humans are made to run by nature! In my opinion, anyone who is not suffering from major ailments can run! If anyone asks me if he/she can run, I always say ‘when I can run anybody can run'!!! (I am a very tiny substance in runners world )
  • When a person chooses to start running, they can start small and later build endurance to get upgraded to long distance running (marathons, ultra, iron man etc.,)

7. Running for a cause versus running for personal achievement - what would you say is the key difference between the two?

  • Circle of influence always matters! Initially, I got into running for my health! Once I was steady, I participated in the events (usually every running event is done for a cause) which makes us runners happy because we meet our fellow runners while at the same time contributing to the cause! There is no difference as such; rather both are needed for a pro runner!

8. Are there any tips you would like to share with marathon running novices?

  • Training & getting the right coaching is advisable if one wants to experience injury-free running and also to sustain for a longer period!
  • Also, I see running as an end product and in the backend, we go through a lot of cross-training activities such as gym workouts, cycling, swimming, yoga etc., which makes our core body strong enough to run in a healthy way!

Suma Sampath: The Rise Of a Woman Marathoner

9. Is there any specific diet that you would recommend to runners?

  • To begin with, a normal diet should suffice; as we progress to long-distance running, balanced diet with more protein, fibre rich food with a good mix of carbohydrates & good fat is required!

10. How do you deal with physical injuries that are a part of a runner's life?

  • Again, getting trained for an injury free running helps any major damages (such as knee injury etc) that may be caused due to running. I underwent 2 days of training & it did help me to run better and safe
  • Also when in unusual pains, it’s advisable to rest well until one gets to normalcy, As running is an addiction too, most often, even when I am unwell, I try to get onto running!

11. What kind of clothing do you think is ideal for marathons? Can you tell us about your personal style with respect to running apparel?

  • The lighter the clothing, the better it is to run. Especially for long distance runs! Also, it is not advisable to try anything new during the events - Be it apparels or shoes or any running accessories!
  • I use dry fit clothing and one shoe size bigger than the other normal shoes of mine; I wear head caps to protect from sweat & sun.

Suma Sampath: The Rise Of a Woman Marathoner

12. Can you recount one of the memorable instances from your marathons that is unforgettable?

  • Anything first time always remains special & permanent! In October 2015, I attempted & completed the first Full Marathon that gave me the tag of a “Marathoner”! Up to 35k, I was very comfortable, but 35-48k was the toughest & I felt like giving up! I always dreamt of the finish line waiting for me and that boosted my mental energy! When I reached the finish point, I had all my runner friends who cheered me, which made me feel even more special!

13. You have run alongside celebrities like Milind Soman. How was the experience?

  • It is an amazing feeling when we get to meet/run with such celebrities! We get loads of inspiration from them & we also feel special!

14. Is there anything you would like to say to the people who admire and root for you?

  • Health is everything. We have 24hours a day, out of which, if we make time of 30mins (min) to 2 hours (max), it can bring in wonders to our lives! Personally, I had all kinds of health issues before I took up running! Everything just vanished & now I hardly take any medicines or visit doctors!

15. What are the other activities are you into?

  • Since my childhood days, whenever I watched Himalayan expeditions on screen, I always questioned, Will I be able to do it! And I felt it would remain a dream that can never be true! However, my current fitness level has made me feel so strong that I have done 3 treks to the Himalayas so far and experienced different kinds and levels of summits! I used to be very allergic to cold weather but today, I have gone out at minus six degrees to watch the breathtaking views of Himalayas! And I have much more to achieve too!

16. Next what?

  • Like in any other field, even in this field there are endless things to achieve. This is true for me as well! This year, I want to attempt 12 hours stadium run (wherein, we need to clock 10 hours of running) 
  • I am keen to explore swimming. I want to learn swimming & attempt a Triathlon (Swimming, Cycling & running)
  • I want to keep all channels open and I look forward to a lot more than I can see right now.