Chandra Gopalan: Impossible Doesn’t Exist
At an age, when people are looking at renewing their life after retirement, Chandra Gopalan, an ultramarathoner and a TEDx speaker, at the tender age of 60 is accomplishing the dream of running 200 kms under 48 hours. Clearly not an ordinary feat at her age and that’s why she is our icon for this Women’s Day.
This is not a one time wonder though, she is a veteran of 50 marathons and ultra marathons and after setting around 12 fitness studios across India she is shaping the lives of over 3000 women in India. Her most recent accomplishment is an ultramarathon distance of 200 Kms in 48 hours, 145 km in 36 hours and several 24 hours runs under her belt. Obviously, we were curious and needed inspiration. Here is a little about Chandra Gopalan in her own words;
Does age deter you, We are sure not in the mind but physically and what do you do to overcome it?
No, It does not. Never on the mind. A bit on the body as physically you can slow down ageing but cannot avoid it. The best things are to accept that performance cannot be the same as it used to be but it should not stop one from competing and improving
How and when did you take up running? Some story you would like to share with our readers.
I used to be a member of a popular gym. In the year 2004, they shut down the gym temporarily for renovation. I wanted to keep active, hence I started running. It was my good fortune, that I met a few foreign nationals who were training for a marathon. I started training with them and did my first half marathon in 2005. There has been no looking back since then.
Subsequently, in 2006, I started my own gym chain. I franchised Contours from the U.S. I continue my gym routine avidly along with my run training.
How do you manage work-life, running and home life?
When you are passionate about what you do, everything can be managed easily. Waking up to a couple of hours of physical fitness brightens the rest of my day. I am rarely stressed. I feel super energetic all the time. In fact, weekends get busier than weekdays as our super long Run training happens over weekends. It is an amazing high to train outdoors with friends. When you feel good about yourself, everything else falls into place, doesn’t it?
Any incident that changed your thought process/Life-changing Moment?
I found that most women do not take care of their health and fitness till it is too late. There is a saying “Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live”. This is why I started Contours, which is a gym chain for women. I wish to show them how fitness and good health feels inwardly. It is life changing. When you are fit and in shape, your self-esteem soars You can take on the world on your terms.
Any particular diet which you follow when a race is approaching?
I eat clean all the time. I take care of my body’s nutritional needs. I do not starve my body. I nourish my body with good food. Closer to a race, like all runners, I increase my carbohydrate intake
How do you prepare yourself for the ultra marathon?
An ultramarathon which is a distance bigger than a marathon requires immense physical fitness and mental strength. It needs a huge amount of time invested in training. Training conditions me for the rigours of running distances of 100+ kilometres. This includes night runs too as we need to train our bodies to be active and awake in the night. A mental determination is very essential. There are several times in the Race when the body almost gives up. We train our minds to overcome this and carry on. Strengthening muscles in the gym is part of the training schedule.
Which has been your most difficult marathon/challenge to date?
It was my first 24 hour Run which I did in 2013. It was quite a challenge. The terrain was also tough to run on. Subsequently, I have done several 24 hours run, a 36 hour Run and a 48 hour Run. By then I was conditioned better
Any inspiring words or tips for women who might be considering taking up running.
Listen to your heart and follow your dreams. The word ‘Impossible” does not exist. It is in our minds. Work hard at what you aspire for and the sky is your limit
I had achieved a distance of 203 Kms in my 48 hour Run last year. This year, I am attempting to achieve it in 36 hours. I would also like to do an Intercity run probably Bangalore to Chennai, with my friends.
This is a very inspiring TEDx talk by Chandra Gopalan which you must watch;
Does age define physical fitness? It does maybe, but mental strength and will take over everything. If Chandra Gopalan is not an icon we need to see to believe in that, then we are living in an illusion, my friend. So shun those excuses and put in that workout mode. Stay fit, stay happy, and a very Happy women’s day to all!