14 May 2024  |   06:11am IST

Running her own race in life

Preyasee Chari has been running ultra marathons in the country and has been clocking impressive timings which is great considering she started running seriously less than 10 years ago
Running her own race in life

The need to find meaning in one's life is very important. Different people try different things in their lives to attach some meaning to it. For Preyasee Chari it came in running ultra long distances.  Now this may not seem that out of the way but she is 53 years old and started running in 2016.

 Like many women in India, she had a job which was a part time assignment with an insurance company which she gave up after marriage. After marriage she said she gave her life to her family and to her two children. In 2008 however she thought of doing some exercise.She started walking which led her to suffer an injury. The doctor advised her against walking. She then took up aerobics because she was very keen on pursuing her goal of being healthy. She did aerobics for three years but then the instructor left for his hometown and that was the end of that. Preyasee remained focused and started going to the gymkhana. In 2014 she said she was inspired by a runner who used to also come to the gym. She said, “I asked myself why I could not do that. When I first started, completing a 400 metres race was endurance. It left me feeling tired  but I was very motivated.” She decided to run 5 kms and started running everyday on the grounds. A friend of hers Angela Naik who was a taekwondo coach was also training on the ground. Preyasee revealed her plans to Angela who said she was a short distance runner and would not be able to run the distances she had in mind. She however helped take things to a different level by sending Preyasee the link to register for the Goa marathon in 2016. She planned to register for the 5 km race but her son said it would be a better idea to run in the 10 km race. She said, “He motivated me  and that was the turning point. I ran the race without stopping and finished it”. In 2016, she increased the distance and competed in the 21 km race in the Goa River marathon. She joined a running group called the Margoa Sussegad runners group and she started running 21 kms. She gained a lot of knowledge about running and by interacting with other members of the club. A doctor  who was also a runner advised her to start focusing on the 42 kms - the full marathon. She tried the marathon for the first time in 2019 at the Mumbai marathon. She said it was a journey that was interesting because it meant running such a huge distance when the common man was not usually able to run even a km. Running such a distance meant having to prepare even off the race course. She focused on consuming only home food.She stayed away from protein powders. She makes protein shakes at home and being natural was her credo. She consumed fish curry rice, vegetables and she smiled and said she was very fond of fish curry and rice. Now she says she has stopped consuming rice for dinner. She now focuses on food that gives her proteins. She says she doesn't like processed food and so she stopped consuming it. She said, “Now I do everything myself. I am not a foodie . When I go out with friends I stay away from oily food. I practise everyday and I run alternate days. I hit the gym everyday,and I practise yoga everyday. My biggest achievement was to come second in my category in a 24-hour stadium run in Mumbai in 2022.” In races in Hyderabad and Bengaluru she came  first in Hyderabad and second in Bengaluru. She came first in Manipal in 2023 and 2024. In the Vadodara full marathon this year she came first in her age category. In the Satara half hill marathon she came second in her age category. She also ran in Belgaum in the 10 km race. She was categorical when she said she was focused on running long distances. She said, “I am focusing on the long run. Start from 42 km. Sometimes I go for 21 km for fun. It is not my focus. I like running in the Ultra-marathons which mean distances of 45, 50, 60 km runs.” She recently participated in a 100 km race in Malnad based in Karnataka. She completed 80 kms and dropped out. Last year she finished 95 kms and could not complete the race.

The psychology behind running an ultra-marathon is very different. It is important to be mentally very strong. She said it is important to maintain focus and to keep an eye on the cutoff times which were very important in such races. She said, “Your mind has to be strong , you need to have endurance and do a lot of exercise. It is not easy. I had a lot of problems. I had the support of my family. My children have grown up and  I am  investing time in myself. My sons support me big time and that helps me. I am now investing my time on myself. I have goals in yoga too, I want to learn some poses but that could affect my running. I will eventually get to that too in time.”   

This year she intends to run in the Comrade marathon in South Africa on June 9. She has a sponsor though she will have to spend some out of her pocket too. When asked if she had any advice for the women of Goa she said it was important that everyone did some exercise. She said she came out for walks and the aerobics and finally running, the surroundings around her had influenced on her. Fitness was very important. She said her message was that it was important to be fit to survive in life. It was possible to do anything and everything in life if one was fit.


Idhar Udhar