Girish Mallya- On what makes him run

ShikhaRunner Diaries

Imagine the Sahara Desert.
Now imagine running 251 km through it for six days, with sandstorms and overnight runs increasing the possibilities of getting lost.
And to top it all, imagine it to be a self-sustaining run; one where you are responsible for your own survival and for carrying your own necessities.

Sounds impossible, right?
Today, we bring to you an interview of the first Indian, to run the Marathon Des Sables’- a race that has been called the toughest footrace on Earth- ‘Girish Mallya’.
Girish is someone who not only boosts his achievements but also embraces his failures gracefully. He went on to tell us how he miscalculated a few things and couldn’t complete the Ironman Triathlon.

We had the chance of asking him a few questions, so let’s dive in.

What is your first memory as a runner?
It goes back to my childhood, unlike other kids I would happily be a part of both the teams while playing sports like cricket, so that I don’t have to sit on the side waiting for my batting. I always wanted to be on the ground, running and enjoying every moment of being outdoors. I looked for every ‘opportunity’ to run and be active.

A ritual that you follow before beginning a marathon or something that you tell yourself.
Very basic and regular stretches and that’s it. Over the years, I have taught myself and overcome all superstitions.

What are the must-haves in a runners’ kit?
People should try to be a light runner and thus a kit should have as little as possible. And even if one wants to use a watch or a phone, it should only be used for keeping a tab on the timing or monitoring the heart rate.

How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
I have two strengths, one is my mental ability and the other is that I don’t take long to recover, owing to which I can run back-to-back marathons. I can actually convince myself to do anything through the strength of my mind, even if I am struggling with my physical ability.

How does the running culture in India look like to you in 10 years?
I am actually worried. Owing to the social validation and the bragging thing, there is an undue pressure on the runners these days.
In my opinion, India has actually jumped a few steps. Ideally 5k and 10K race should be held and promoted more, instead of half and full marathons.

  A quick rapid-fire

  • Which song is at the top of your list while running?
    I generally run on highways and inside the city, so I avoid listening to music as I need to be really careful.
  • What is your favorite route/city to run?
    I call myself an ‘Urban Commuter Runner’, as instead of using any transport I run on the way back from office.  And being a lover of constant things, I would say that the highway route from my office to home is my favorite.
  • If you could have one post workout meal waiting for you what would it be?
    I am more of a beverage person so- sumatra coffee, a craft beer or a glass of red wine
  • If there are only hot beverages in a marathon, which one will you have?
  • Run in the freezing cold or sweltering heat?
  • What is your preference- Out and back, point to point or loop runs?
    Point to point.
  • That one sport you love after running?
    Is traveling a sport? *laughs*. Swimming.
  • Ever gotten lost, while out on a run?
    Yes, a lot of times and that too without google maps. So, once I ended up running 8 km instead of 5 km.
  • Worst injury?
    Not a major one.
  • A race you would like to relive?
    The Sahara race. To add to it, my aim is to do one race on each continent.

Would you rather-

  • Run a hilly or a flat marathon?
  • Run with or without music?
  • Run as much as you want on the treadmill or only once a week outside?
    Even 5 mins outside is better than anything on the treadmill.
  • Run in the rain or snow?
    I do love running in the rain but I would really like to run in the snow just for the experience.
  • Run alone or with a big group?
  • Run in your favorite outfit every day but only wash it once a week or run in clean clothes that you hate every day?
    It is actually not a possibility to do this in a tropical environment. Though, I did the Sahara run in two pairs of clothing. I used to sleep in one and dip the other one in a tumbler, to get rid of the residue of salts from the day’s run.

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