If you have been putting off running a marathon for a while and cannot find motivation for it, then Pallavi Kumar’s story might just be the one for you.

An avid trekker, Kumar made it her goal to run a 21 km marathon in 2017. While she had done half marathons in the past, she never thought she would ever run 21 km in one go. And this past November, not only did she run the 21 km Marathon in Delhi but she also raised funds for the cause of organ donation for Mohan Foundation.

Pallavi runs Mohan Foundation, an NGO that focuses on helping people struggling with organ transplant. Over 20 years old, the organisation has saved over 5,000 lives through their efforts.

So what prompted her to take up this task?

“Having a goal in mind and a group of enthusiastic running buddies helped me a great deal to stay focused and discipline.”

While the marathon was in November, Kumar started training under a coach since May. This gave her enough leeway to prepare herself for the marathon day. It is also important for a coach to steer the runner in the right direction mentally. “I’ve been training with Coach Shahank Pundhir. He is a certified running coach, who has run over 45 full/half marathons. He inspired me to push my physical and mental boundaries. Slowly and steadily, I was able to accomplish my goal by finishing the 21 km marathon in 2 hours 32 minutes,” mentioned Kumar.

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Her diet

She told us that her diet excluded all kind of junk food during the time. Her diet mainly consists of whole grains, starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes, lentils, etc. She also ate eggs, chicken, soya, paneer, etc. to get the right amount of protein. “I avoided any fried/junk food and tried to stick to simple home cooked food. Also, I made sure that I ate my meals at the right time, and stay hydrated throughout the day,” she added matter-of-factly.

21km marathon
Pallavi Kumar at the marathon

The training

Kumar trained for 12-14 hours a week and four days of running in a week as part of her training process. But even after such disciplined training schedule, she did face a few challenges. “All my training was in very hot and humid months, which made it quite difficult for a new runner like me. Also, one had to start very early to avoid the sun and heat, this meant running in darkness, which feels very unsafe as you are mostly running at your own pace and therefore very often alone.”

Social life takes a hit

Training to run does take a toll on your personal and social life. On most days you are sleeping very early, either because you have woken up very early to run or because you have to wake up early the next day. You don’t feel like going to a get together as you don’t want to either drink or eat unhealthy food or sleep late. This can be difficult for your family and friends and sometimes get a little sticky.”

“On most days you are sleeping very early, either because you have woken up very early to run or because you have to wake up early the next day”

It obviously needs a lot of dedication and passion to stick to a schedule and maintain a clean slate while following it.

Need for organ donation

Talking about the cause that she ran to raise funds for, Kumar tells us, “In India, lakhs of people are waiting for an organ transplant. Every day, many end stage organ disease patients die waiting for an organ transplant. More people are added to the waiting list than the number of people who are lucky to actually receive an organ. There is an urgent need to bridge this ever widening gap between demand and availability. Moreover, donation of an organ or tissue provides an unparalleled opportunity to give someone a second chance of life.”

She also added, “Every time the family of a deceased person comes forward and gives the nod for organ donation, multiple other lives can be nursed back to health. A single “yes” from the loved ones of the person, who died, can save so many lives. That is how phenomenal this work is. After going through so many ‘no’s, that one single ‘yes’ makes it all worthwhile! That is the beauty of this whole work.”

Coming back to the marathon, she says that her experience was “very thrilling” and made me feel “very exhilarated” at the end of it.

What she has learnt is that marathons or training for them is a great way to discipline oneself, irrespective of the gender. “It also leads to a healthier lifestyle. It is break from the mundane, everyday life. Finishing a marathon gives you a high that is unparalleled,” feels Kumar.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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