If retirement is the finishing point for retirement for some, for MV Manmadan it is the starting point for marathon. After 35 years of service, when Manmadan retires today from BSNL (officer grade), there is something new happening in his life – at the age of 60 he will run 60 km and call it quits.
Those who know him personally won't be surprised at all. Because he has been running in all the marathons held in Kochi in the past eight years. For a person like Manmadan who runs 40 km a week, covering 10 km in an hour is child's play.
A man who wants to be different in whatever he does, Manmadan is not planning to sit idle at his house 'Apoorva' on Chilavannur road after his retirement. He is active in chess and arts and cultural programmes.
Manmadan, son of Vijayan Nair and Bhargavi of Kummanom Madhu Nivas, is married to KP Mini, who is office superintendent in BSNL. His son, Ashwin, is an engineer in Canada.
How running became a passion
The blood test he went for when he was 40 encouraged Manmadan to think about doing exercise. Tests showed that he had high cholesterol. Besides, diabetes and high blood pressure too were in the beginning stages.
When the doctor told he that he will have to take medicines all his life, he wasn't willing to take it. So, Manmadan, who doesn't like taking medicines, decided to walk for exercise. In his five months he got new friends too, including Dr Unnikrishnan.
It was Dr Unnikrishnan who encouraged Manmadan to start jogging. When he saw the 70-year-old doctor running with ease, Manmadan too got the confidence to run.
So, encouraged by Dr Unnikrishnan, he started running. Initially it was 100 metres. Slowly, he increased the distance. And, within one year, he started running 5 km a day. That is when the thought about long-distance running
The first marathon
The first marathon that Manmadan took part was eight years ago. It was organized by Kakkanad Info Park. The first hurdle before the 8km marathon was an individual run. When the organizers said that only corporates could take part and a team needs a minimum of seven people including a woman, the then principal general manager PT Mathew (now chief general manager, BSNL, Kerala circle) came to the help of Manmadan.
For the first time he wore the BSNL team's track suit and took part in the run. Manmadan, who used to run 5km daily then, completed the 8km run with much difficulty. But, since then no marathon has taken place in Kochi without Manmadan.
Why run at 60?
With his marathons, Manmadan aims to spread awareness about the importance of exercise to youth who can't even climb two flights of stairs, and the need for street lights.
In Kerala, more than 35,000 people die in car accidents. Most of these accidents occur at places where there are no street lights at night. Street lights help motorists to see the road ahead clearly and pedestrians to walk safely.
As part of the awareness drive, Manmadan and his team will be wearing headlights when they run.
In the evening, after a meeting organised under the aegis of the Ernakulam BSNL sub-regional sports control board, principal general manager T Muralidharan will flag off the marathon. Thirty people have come forward to run with Manmadan.
In the first phase, they will cover the 4km from Manmadan's office to his house at Chilavannur in Kadavanthara. After a high tea for his colleagues and rest, he will start the second stage. They will take the Maravanthuruthu, Palam Kadavu and Thalayolaparambu and reach Ettumanoor by 5 tomorrow.
Kottayam Runners Group members will join Manmadan from Ettumanoor. He plans to reach the family house at Kummanom Mariathuruthu in Kottayam by 7.30pm. More than the distance to be covered, Manmadan is bothered by loss of sleep.
Manmadan warns that running will do more harm if it is done haphazardly. For the past 20 years, he gets up at 5.30am, brushes his teeth, drinks a litre of water and hits the ground. During any climate, he runs five days a week. 10km is the total distance that he covers. He walks for half-a-kilometre in order to warm up and then start running. Gradually he will increase the speed and when he is about to reach his house he ends it with a half-a-kilometre cooling down walk.
Since he follows this schedule, he doesn't feel any strain to his body. After the run, he spends some time tending to crops that hew grow on the terrace. Once the body cools down, he completes his daily routines and go to the office. Once he returns from the office, he spends his time reading and playing chess online.
Manmadan, who loves home-cooked vegetarian fare, has his dinner at 8pm. Since proper sleep in necessary to maintain good health, he hits the sack at 10pm itself.
Manmadan's two cents
One need to plan to start running. Some are willing to pay any price for track suit but becomes stingy when it comes to a pair of running shoes. Slippers and cheap canvas are not good for running. A good pair of shoes will cost Rs9,000. It is advisable to buy a good pair of shoes. If one is not careful while running, he or she could injure the knees and angles. Never think about running 40km in one go. Start running smaller distances and gradually increase the distance.
If you plan to take up long-distance running, you need to practice daily to cover 6km in 45 minutes. Doing sit-ups, push-ups and yoga will also help a lot.