Shailja S. Sridhar: On What Running Means to Her

ShikhaRunner Diaries

A mother of two, a model and a runner- no, I am not talking about a hypothetical superwoman. This week we bring to you- Shailja Singh Sridhar- a woman who is a wonder in herself. Someone you will instantly fall in love with, owing to her superb energy and positivity. She is a motivation to women of all ages and the running community as a whole.
Talk to her about her kids and her face glows up with a mesmerizing smile. Shailja has a quirky 13-year-old daughter and a cute little 7-year-old son, and when asked if she makes them run, she gleefully replies, “O God!! Do I make my kids run? I try very hard”. She laughingly continues, “They are not very easy to influence, kids. They have a mind of their own, they will do what they want to do. Though, it’s fun to run after them all the time.”
Shailja has always been a sporty person and it was back in 2012, inspired by a few friends, when she ran the first marathon of her life- Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM). There was no looking back, she went on to run in Amsterdam, Boston and various other cities around the world. She recalls the ‘Bay to the Breakers’ as the most fun run she has ever participated in. It is an annual footrace in San Francisco and participants run wearing all kinds of costumes, and at times nothing at all. The race started as a way to uplift the city’s spirit after a disastrous earthquake in 1906, and it still serves the purpose of celebrating life and bringing people together.
Unlike most runners, Shailja breaks the taboo of talking while on a run. Instead, she feels that picking up conversations and enjoying the run with fellow marathoners, is the best way to fully live a marathon. She goes on to say that wearing headphones take away the human aspect of running. And that talking while on a run is a good way to practice controlled breathing.

Read on to laugh with this amazing woman, and know her little secrets that make her one of the best runners in our country-

What is your first memory as a runner?
I remember running to and back from my school when I lived in Lucknow. As an adult, I remember the early morning runs with my friends. Our endless chitchat made time fly.
A ritual that you follow before beginning a marathon or something that you tell yourself?
Always remember to enjoy the run. I keep reminding myself of that fact.
What are the must-haves in a runners’ kit?
A comfortable pair of shoes. And a positive attitude. 🙂
How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?
I tell myself that it’s just a short run. And it will be over before I know it.
How does the running culture in India look like to you in 10 years?
I am hoping that there is an exponential growth in the number of women participants in all sorts of races. The winning time in amateur runners is bound to improve.


  1. What is your favorite route/city to run?
    I enjoy exploring new cities while running. I just love the thrill, and the uncertainty in that is more fun than my dad’s familiar routes.
  2. If you could have one post workout meal waiting for you what would it be?
    Cold fresh fruits.
  3. If there are only hot beverages in a marathon, which one will you have?
    Black coffee! Or a warm pint of Guinness. 🙂
  4. Run in the freezing cold or sweltering heat?
    Heat!!! I’m from India. Not used to very cold weather.
  5. What is your preference- Out and back, point to point or loop runs?
    Out and back works best. No need to worry about transportation back to the starting point. Loops drive me nuts!
  6. That one sport you love after running?
  7. Ever gotten lost, while out on a run?
    Often enough.
  8. Worst injury?
    Been lucky. Nothing more than a few bruises from a fall.
  9. A race you would like to relive?
    Boston Marathon. The enthusiasm and energy of the runners are amazing.

    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?
  • Run in the rain or snow?
  • 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
    Favorite outfit wins!
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