Three Generations of Runners

A family of runners has been inspiring people of all ages to take up running, a low-cost fitness routine to stay in shape, especially in these COVID times. CECILIA D’SOUZA spoke to Tanmai D, his father Darshan Jain and his grandfather YS Rajendra Kumar to know more about their running journey.

July 16, 2021

Tanmai D

How did your running journey begin? 

In 2014, during my summer vacations, my father came up to me and asked me to join him on a run. Initially, I did not enjoy running much as there were very few runners in my age group. But once I started training for the Tata Consultancy Services 10K run, I found people of my age and speed and since then, there has been no looking back. 

 What’s it like to run next to your grandfather? 

I often hear people telling me that they don’t have the motivation to get up and go for a run or even exercise, but I don’t have to look for motivation as it’s always been my grandfather. He is like a school kid who is excited to go to school when it comes to running; he keeps his clothes, shoes, hydration and everything ready on the previous day itself. Looking at his enthusiasm, I get excited too. Dad and I tend to miss a few training sessions, but my grandfather has never missed a single training session. 

RobinAge Cover Story - Three Generations of Runners

How do your friends react to the three of you sharing a love for a sport like running? 

Most of my friends are fans of my grandfather. They have all started doing some form of exercise looking at him. In fact, they often say, “If he can do it at that age, so can we.” Many of my friends have forced their parents, and even some grandparents, to take up some form of exercise to stay fit. 

RobinAge Cover Story - Three Generations of Runners
(L) YS Rajendra Kumar, (C) Darshan Jain and (R) Tanmai D
Darshan Jain

How did this trio marathon journey start? 

It all started with the lady in the house, Padmashree, my wife. In 2008, she showed interest in a 5km event that was organised in Bengaluru. She had joined a training programme in the heart of the city that required me to drop her there frequently. Her love for the sport motivated me to join a running group and train to run a 10k. I liked the sport and the group so much that I encouraged my son Tanmai and my dad YS Rajendra Kumar to give it a try. The rest, as they say, is history. 

How many marathons have the three of you run together? 

That would be ten 10km runs, eight half marathons (21.1kms) and one full marathon (42.2kms). 

How do you continue running when one of you has a bad day on the track? 

Even though we train on the same days of the week, we run at our own pace and follow a workout specific to our age and body type, so there’s really no keeping track of each other on the track. But yes, we try to complete the race well within the cut-off time. 

How did it feel when you made it to the India Book of Records for being the only three-generation running group to complete so many running events? 

We were delighted! Not only did we make a unique record, but we also motivated many families to attempt to break it. 

Do you have different fitness, nutritional and training requirements? 

Yes, we do. We were given a structured training regimen that was specific to our goals. As we are in the same family, our food patterns remain the same, however, the nutrition plan is different to cater to our different needs. We worked with a nutritionist to develop these specific plans. 

Could you break down your marathon prep for us? 

All three of us follow a pattern of three days of running, two days of strength training and two days of rest every week. However, our specific workouts vary on running days. My father trains at a pace between 7min 30sec and 8min 30sec per kilometre, while I train at a pace that varies between 6min 30sec and 7min 30sec per kilometre and my son trains at a pace between 5min 45sec and 6min 30sec per kilometre. 

How do you maintain your fitness levels in this current pandemic? 

My father does a few drills, yoga and pranayama. I do a few agility and strength training workouts and my son does strength and conditioning workouts indoors. 

How can someone start running? Can you share some tips? 

To begin with, one needs to start with a few walking sessions. Do this for three weeks with time varying from 30 to 60 minutes. With each of these workouts, there should be a gradual increase in intensity. Use apps like Strava or MapMyRun to track your progress. Try making friends with the same interest as this will help you to be regular. 

From the fourth week onwards, start to jog and when you are tired, try a mix of walking for a few steps and then jogging again. After 10 to 12 weeks, you can attempt to complete your first 10km run. 

What are the best ways to work on speed? 

Interval training and tempo runs help improve speed. 

What tips would you give newcomers? 

For long-distance running, always follow a structured training plan under the guidance of a coach or a senior runner. Have patience and be regular with your workouts. 

RobinAge Cover Story - Three Generations of Runners
YS Rajendra Kumar

When did you start running? 

I started running at the age of 74 years. My son, Darshan, knew I was into fitness as he has seen me practise yoga asanas and pranayama for over 20 years. Initially, I struggled with my running, but my regularity and persistence paid dividends. Running is a good sport; it is not a fad that comes and goes with time. It is worth investing your time and energy into it. 

How does running help your body? 

Now at 81, I have been running for the last seven years and this has brought about physiological and psychological changes. Even small health issues like colds and coughs have vanished due to my continued running activity. 

What do you tell youngsters who come to you for advice? 

Be regular in your training, follow good food habits and take adequate rest on all days.


List 5 ways of staying fit.

Want more exciting content like you see here?
Sign up now for RobinAge's FREE email newsletter
Want more exciting content like you see here?
Sign up now for RobinAge's FREE email newsletter
View a Sample Print Edition
Please fill in the form below to view a sample print edition
View a Sample Print Edition
Please fill in the form below to view a sample print edition

Powered by WhatsApp Chat

× How can I help you?