Running in India: Sunita Godara – an Indian Marathon Legend

In the earlier posts on the series ‘Running in India‘, we took a look at the most popular running groups which are revolutionizing running in India. Carrying on, we meet some of the great runners in India, who have set up the highest standards to look up to. In this interview with Sunita Godara, we will find lots of words of wisdom, built upon years of experience.

Sunita Godara is a marathon legend. She is the 1992 Asian Marathon Champion and Arjuna award winner. She won the gold in the third Asian Marathon Championship in 1992 held at Jakarta, Indonesia. In 1984, she became the national marathon champion for the first time by winning Delhi Marathon and thereafter went on to run the 1985 Boston Marathon (in a time of 3:30). She also holds the record of the most number of marathons run by an Indian women.

Sunita now runs her own NGO – Health Fitness Trust & Health Fitness Society. Sunita is also a yoga and athletic trainer, fitness consultant, speaker on sports sciences, marathon, women and children rights. Here’s our interview with her.

Sunita, where are you currently based?
New Delhi

How many marathons/half marathons have you taken part in? 
76 Full and 121 Half Marathons (in last 25 years 1984-2009).

Personal bests?
2:43:33 in 42.2km (Paris Marathon 1993) and 1hr 16min in 21.1km ( In Italy in the year 1993 and 1hr 16min in India in the year 1991)

What are your favorite running shoes?
Adidas Response and Nike Pegasus

What’s your favorite running route?
Mud Road by the side of Canal. (I practiced in Patiala (Punjab) on the canal Road for two years -1987-89)

What are you thinking about when you run?
During training I plan out the strategy to improve, pep up myself to finish the target, think about the minus points I have and make some resolutions. During the Race I listen to my body, keep calm and just pep up myself and do self motivational talk, think about my best training workouts, best Races.

What kind of races are you planning to do in the coming months?
Presently I go for all half Marathons in Delhi and Mumbai. But during my peak Marathon years I used to do 3-4 Marathons in a year abroad in Europe to learn more and see my caliber and in South East Asian countries to win the Marathons.

What are your long term goals? 
Whatever I wanted to achieve as far as performance goes in Marathon I have done my best with Asian Marathon championship Gold Medal with my PB 2:43:33sec. Now the goal is to promote Running at grass route level with a cause and promote Hobby running through my Marathon Club, become their guide and helpline. I coordinate Indian Top elite Marathoners in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore (Procam) Marathons.

What’s your daily training routine like? 
Now at the age of 50 yrs (I am very young senior veteran) I do 7-10km and 20min yoga stretching. I just do fitness running with slow pace and keep myself fit to finish 21km in 2hrs in the big Races.

But for 23 yrs in my marathon career I did 20km every day (with 1:30min of running 30min of yoga stretching and alternate days 1hr of Gym workout. The training schedule varies every day – LSD (long run), Fartlek, Interval training, Speed workout, Race pace workout and easy day.

What’s your favorite workout? 
Slow-Fast training (Fartlek)

Any running hero / role model? 
Rosa Mota 1988 Olympic Champion (Women).

Are you doing any cross training? What sort of?
Gym and Swimming workouts are the best. At younger age I used to love cycling and dancing!

What are you drinking during a marathon? Water, Gels? Food?
Only plain water till 15km then electrolytes till 42km.

Is stretching important to you?
Yes. It is a must and should be done everyday.

Do you like training alone or with a group?
I love group running.

What’s your focus this year?
Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (Nov 09) and Mumbai Marathon (Jan 2010)

Do you use any supplements? Which ones?
Yes. Electrolytes, Aminoacids, C, E vits and B complex when I am doing more than 10km regularly and 20km on Sundays. Otherwise with less and easy workouts fresh salad, fruits with skimmed milk, curd & Buttermilk is a better choice. With hard training combination of both is required.

So your typical running week like right now?
Hey, Now its very slow and easy 30-40km/week. But I know to be a senior Vet Champ I should do minimum 70km/week.

What do you eat pre-marathon or pre-ultra?
Pre-Marathon I take at least 200calories of complex Carbo ie 2 bananas with a glass of pure juice and continue sipping water till I reach the starting line before the start. Ya, a cup of coffee early morning is my choice!

What are you doing beside running?
 I have my own NGO – Health Fitness Trust & Health Fitness Society
THE TRUST has been a Non Profit Charitable Public NGO operating since 1994 and is registered in New Delhi, under the Charitable and Religious Trusts Act, 1920 of India.

Promotional Activities:

  • TO TAKE UP and execute or participate in all kinds of “Human Development Initiatives & Projects” on behalf of/or with the Governments, NGO’s & other Charitable Trusts/Org and philanthropic individuals.
  • ORGANIZING MASS RUNS with the social cause & Seminars/workshops.
  • Coordinating the fitness activities, road races, youth camps, children fun camps, rock climbing, trekking and yoga training;
  • Operating two Delhi Govt. projects under Health Fitness Society to improve health with life enrichment education/Vocational training of the below poverty line population – especially Children, Women and Senior Citizens.
  • “HEALTH RELATED FITNESS” projects; Promoting “Wellness”.
  • Health Fitness Project/s IS A MISSION FOR US

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