Talk to any marathon runner and they will tell you how a marathon experience can be both breathtaking and torturous. Well, long is your journey to crossing the finish line, but does it discourage you? Look no beyond than the ones who crush excuses and go pounding the streets, their journeys might give you a quick hit of motivation. All of 40, Raina Solanki, estimates that she has run multiple competitive races over the last few years.
Raina, who owns a fitness studio in New Delhi, dabbled with exercise in her younger years but didn’t embrace competitive running until she was nearly 35 years. Despite her late start though, she feels her athletic ability has only gotten better with time. “It is a never-ending process that is both satisfying and rewarding,” she says.
Now within the minority of active 30 plus adults, some like Raina, have held on to or even increased their athleticism over the years. At the age of 40, she is reaping rewards beyond a medal at the finish line, to which she laughs. Impressive results might imply that marathon performance isn’t really bound by rigid age limits. But is this simply an exception to a rule, or are dedicated marathoners like Raina truly stretching age boundaries?
“Running gives me the means to challenge myself every day to improve. No matter what goals I look forward to accomplishing, once I reach it I’m able to set a new one and push myself towards the new goal,” she says, who has run approximately 25 half-marathons (21 km) and one full marathon (42 km) so far.
However, the satisfaction from running a marathon has too little to do with the marathon itself. Think about it. Marathons are but a strange concept. You will see hundreds line up to simultaneously run in a circle around streets, and even thousands more come out to cheer them on. Yet when one does it, there is an incredible surge of excitement and energy. The reason? A marathon is beyond just the exercise and the endorphins, it is a big metaphor for life. “Running makes me feel strong, happy and accomplished. It has changed my life, and my preferences have changed. Whatever I am today, whatever I will be tomorrow, running will definitely be an integral part of my life and it has a visible impact. Today, I am 26 kg lighter than 2015 and way more confident,” admits a cheerful Raina, who is merely a footnote to her physical prowess.
They say that race is not always to the swift, but as well as to ones who keep on running. And yet, Raina’s journey cannot be considered exempt from this scrutiny. When she sees a finish line, she intends to cross it, and inspire hundreds and billions. A Pinkathon ambassador since 2017, Raina is a huge advocate that anyone can run and race, no matter their age, insisting that people just need to try. Having run Ladakh Half-Marathon, considered the world’s highest marathon, in September last year, Raina is thankful to herself for making a choice that would impact the rest of her life.
She says, “It feels amazing when people want to change their lifestyle looking at mine and want to incorporate running into theirs. To be someone’s motivation to be healthy and fit gives me happiness beyond words. I will be running all my life to inspire myself and others.” Once a novice to the sport, Raina’s running pursuits have only supported and fueled her professional ventures. Determination, tenacity, and willingness are the key to a few, but not everyone tastes success on the first try. Having run Munich Half-Marathon in September 2017, she has embarked on the country’s most challenging ultra half-marathon, Satara Half-Marathon, in September 2018. She has also run the prestigious Tata Mumbai Marathon, her first 42k, only this year in January.
“I am passionate about running and this is what drives my everyday life. I’m so grateful for everything that running and fitness have given me. Running hasn’t only been a way for me to cope with challenges but now a way of life too. I look at life differently now and some may take it a fad but for me, it is forever,” she signs off. Well, next time when you’re trying to talk yourself into making it to the gym or not blowing off that extra mile or lap, let this feisty marathoner be your fitspo.