Image Credit: www.theindependent.co.uk
Don’t worry. You’re not his first victim, and you certainly won’t be his last. From diet to life mantras, we delve into the wonder runner that is Fauja Singh. Did I also mention that he is 104 years old?
Fauja in a Nutshell
Born on 1st April 1911 in British India, Fauja Singh had a perchance for being a late bloomer; he only developed the ability to walk at the age of five. 84 years later, he would again demonstrate his late blooming streak by kick-starting his journey with international marathons.
Since then, he has gone on to complete nine more marathons, including the London Marathon, Canadian Waterfront Marathon and the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM). If that isn’t already impressive enough, he upped the ante by beating his very first SCMM timing at age 89 (6:54). His timing is now 5:40, at age 92.
He is also the UK record holder for the 200m, 400m, 800m and 3000m timings for his age group – a feat he had achieved in one fell swoop.
Fauja was later awarded the British Empire Medal in 2015 for his services to sport and charity, completing a whole slew of accolades and accomplishments in a relatively short period, considering how most people his age will probably be complaining of aches in their joints.
“What makes the man dubbed ‘Turbaned Tornado’ tick?” you may ask. Fauja offers valuable advice.
Fauja attributes his vegetarianism as one of the many factors shaping him into who he is today, although many of us love our meat products too much to give it up. Fortunately, he also has more neutral advice regarding general food consumption.
In an interview, Fauja mused that “more people in the world die of overeating than from starvation”. He eats a little of everything and stops when he knows he can eat a bit more.
“I am not a greedy man, and it reflects in how and what I eat,” he added. Fauja finds harmony in striking a balance in his diet, and it is a very practical piece of advice that we can all take. Previous articles also stress the importance of diet in a runner’s performance.
For the record, Fauja’s diet includes dal, phulka (roti/chapati), milk, yoghurt, and green vegetables. On his cheat day, Fauja doesn’t mind a milkshake at McDonalds (half a glass) and about two to three French fries.
“Many elderly people remain seated during those 4 hours, and both their legs and mine tire. But by nightfall, my legs have gotten healthier whilst theirs get weaker."
Fauja adopts a more conservative lifestyle, abstaining from smoking and drinking. Instead, his beverage of choice is ginger tea – lots of it. He also goes to bed early and recites his mantra with the name of God. This, he claims, helps him avoid negativity in his mind.
These too, are scientifically proven to help a runner. Sufficient sleep helps the body recover faster, and the absence of smoking and alcohol keeps your bodily functions healthy. Psychological factors have also been discussed, having been found to influence a runner’s attitude during a race.
Fauja turns 105 this year, and although he has retired from competitive running, he is still actively pursuing his passion. Flying to India from England just to participate in the SCMM, Fauja’s determination and active lifestyle despite his age is commendable.
It’s not like he’s immune to the natural regression of the ageing human body. His legs also tire after his daily routine of walking for 4 hours, but as he puts it (in a glass-half-full kind of perspective), “Many elderly people remain seated during those 4 hours, and both their legs and mine tire. But by nightfall, my legs have gotten healthier while theirs get weaker.”
So, what’s your excuse?
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