Seshadri Iyer, a 49-year-old runner from Hyderabad, has mentored 200 people in his community to run regularly. This includes 15 kids as well. His passion for running has made him a “running guruji” for all the fellow runners who take inspiration from him every day.
Seshadri Iyer is a regular IT professional, well-settled in his job and living in Hyderabad with a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.
But what makes this man extraordinary is his passion to run and motivate others to come out of their houses to do the same.
Seshadri, fondly called “running guruji” by the runners he encourages and mentors, sticks to a regular schedule and continues to inspire hundreds of others to run regularly too.
What started as an effort to encourage a couple of people to develop this healthy habit, has snowballed into a large community of 200, including adults and children, who run every day.
Thanks to his efforts, Serene County community, where he currently resides, won the award for the ‘Most Active Running Community’ in Hyderabad. “Last year, we won five awards at a running event,” Seshadri quickly adds.
But how did he get all these people out of their homes to run regularly? How did he manage to instil the spirit of running in youngsters who are caught up with video games and electronic gadgets, and their parents who can’t get a break from their hectic lifestyles?
Seshadri has an answer to that. He tried to connect running with people’s day-to-day experiences. “I told them that when you go to a mall you anyway walk for about 2 kms while you shop. So you can easily run about 3 to 4 kms without spending much more effort and time,” he says.
He also advised housewives to run early in the morning so they could finish before their kids woke up. “This way they get their personal time. They can finish running before getting busy with the hectic routine,” he says.
But it’s not just housewives and youngsters that Seshadri has influenced. Little kids in the community flaunt their running shoes too. The youngest runner in his group is just seven years old and is one of the most energetic ones too.
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By creating fun activities around running, Seshadri has managed to get about 15 kids to run 3 kms every day.
“This can’t be forced upon the kids. They should not take it as a burden. That is why I make sure they voluntarily practice running and enjoy it,” he says.
Also, to make sure everyone enjoys the activity, he runs with the slowest runner. “I mostly finish with the last runner. This way they do not get discouraged,” Seshadri says.
And did we mention that he sings too? Yes! This multi-talented and energetic man knows how to liven up running sessions. He has inspired his fellow runners to finish 42 kms in 6 hours on a bright sunny day. And another group to finish 10 kms in 1.5 hours. And he did this while entertaining them with some humming and singing — nothing professional, just some bars off and on to keep their spirits up. He put together a contraption that allowed him to play his harmonica wired to a portable speaker while running too!
To ensure that all the runners get a chance to connect with each other, he has created a group on Telegram messenger. The group members remind each other about the running timings and encourage each other to not skip any running sessions.
Seshadri also makes extra efforts to support fellow runners. He spares some time every Tuesday/Thursday and Saturday to help them run. He catches up on his regular solo runs on other days of the week and helps new runners run on these days. The energetic man also posts several inspirational messages and running tips in the group to keep people motivated.
“I just want people to come out of their houses and run. Doesn’t matter if they are too slow or too fast. What matters is that they are willing to come out and try a healthy practice,” he says.
An early riser, Seshadri wakes up at 5 am to run for about 40 minutes every day. After finishing his regular routine, he cycles to work by 7 am.
Seshadri’s energy is contagious. He has followed an extremely healthy lifestyle ever since he was a kid and this has influenced his family too. It did not come to us as a surprise that his wife and daughters run too.
“I have been running ever since I was 10 years old. My father was a badminton player and always encouraged me to play outdoor games. I guess this is how I got into the habit of running and gradually it became my passion,” says Seshadri.
During his many years of running, he has participated in numerous full and half marathons. He runs long distances every week.
“I think I have lost count of the number of marathons I have run. But I don’t want to put pressure on my fellow runners. I encourage them to run as much as they can without any expectations. It should just be a fun activity,” he says.