On a mission to cover 100km daily for 100 days, a runner with no training or hi-tech equipment shares life's mantras that could double up as lessons for runners
Samir Singh has completed 94 days of his 100 days challenge. Pics/Tanvi Phondekar
It's a bright but humid morning at Worli seaface. A flock of pigeons, resting on the promenade, suddenly sense motion and swoop up into the sky together. As they clear, a lone man emerges, one leg in a bandage, arms moving in rhythm and eyes set on the road ahead. His running is smooth and quick. This is Samir Singh.
On April 29, Singh, 44, embarked on a new endurance mission: running 100km every day for 100 days; his journey will end on August 6. He is doing this without any organisational backing, trainers, physiotherapists, or dietitians. Recently, he found support in filmmaker Vikram Bhatti and Vandana Bhatti, a brother-sister duo who started a Facebook campaign called The Faith Runner to help his story reach more people. They have started a crowdfunding campaign to gather resources for his recovery post the challenge.
For Singh, as long as God is on his side, he has no fear. "This race has been written in my destiny since birth," he says.
In the middle of his endurance mission, we speak to the ultra marathoner to learn about the principles that guide his mission.
Keep it Satvik
Singh is a vegetarian. He doesn't follow diet or fixed meal plan. Instead, he ensures he eats regularly, snacks through the day and remains hydrated. "I eat Satvik food, made with little salt and turmeric, and no spices. It's what gives me energy," he reveals. A Satvik diet follows Ayurvedic principles with emphasis on seasonal fruits and vegetables, dairy products, whole nuts and grains, and no meat.
Singh's meals are simple — dal and rice, boiled potatoes and lal chana (red gram), with an accompanying vegetable. He loves curd; in the summer, he has it by the bowlful. Among fruits, he prefers apples and avoids bananas and watermelons. His brother cooks for him. Singh believes Satvik food gives him enough energy to run, is healthy for the brain, body and mind and keeps you younger. "In the Bhagwad Gita, it is mentioned that if you eat leftover or spoiled food, it affects your thoughts. Your mind becomes impure," he says.
He believes in snacking through the day and carries around a sachet of dates to eat during breaks while running. The only supplements he takes are whey protein, and energy gel twice a day.
Stick to a routine
Singh follows a daily regimen for his challenge. He breaks his daily run in two parts (60:40), covering 60 to 75km in the first half of the day and the rest in the evening. His routine is simple. He wakes up at 4 am, freshens up and has his breakfast. He runs the whole morning, from 5 am to 1 pm. Then, there's a break for lunch, a nap and bath. At 4 pm, he warms up for an hour, and then runs till 8 pm.
Push yourself harder
"When I started running, my mother told me that if I wanted to do something well, I must improve a bit every day," say Singh. When he started running at the age of 35, he ran a short distance every day; within 50 days, he had run 42km.
When he first started training for a marathon in 2008, he had no knowledge about running. The prize money and his determination to win meant he couldn't sleep, so he would run all night and sleep during the day. When the day of the marathon dawned, he was too tried and couldn't run to his best. "It was a good experience because I met a lot of people and learned about running coaches and trainers from them. I've had many people tell me there are problems with my running. They tell me my weaknesses but not the solutions to them," he says.
On a visit to his home in Kanaheda village, in Madhya Pradesh, his mother told him a story that would become his slogan for life. "She spoke about this man who wanted to build his strength. So, every day, he would lift a calf. The animal grew, as did his strength. When the calf became cow, the man was able to lift the animal with ease. I thought I would apply this theory every day," he shares.
Don't let people put you down
Singh has learned to take criticism in his stride, and doesn't let people's unsolicited advice affect him. When people watch him run, they cannot believe his speed. "They told me I was flying! And that I wouldn't be able to sustain myself at that speed, especially in an ultra marathon," he says. "I push myself because I know my body can handle it."
Focus on your dream
"The desire to run should come from within. If you have that, no matter how broken your body is, you will be able to push yourself," he says. "This body is here to fuel our dreams. If we give our body more attention than our dreams, we won't succeed. People keep asking me, 'Are you hearing your body, and listening to what it's telling you?' We should focus on our dreams, and our bodies will automatically match up to them."
Log on to ketto.org/fundraiser/thefaithrunner
Singh's diet for the 100km x 100days challenge
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