Primla Hingorani begins her day early with an aerobics class. Then she heads home for an energy drink. After that, she heads out to do three to four kilometres of brisk walking or jogging. As of December 31st, 2016, she had logged 500 km in 100 days through running, jogging and walking.
Oh, and she also happens to be 72 years old.
Primla, who will be running in the upcoming edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (the senior citizens’ category which is 4.3km), says that she has been running the race since its inception in 2004 and has never missed an edition. Prior to this, she ran in the Dream Run category which is 6 km.
“I have always been fond of running. Even when I was in school and college, I was quite the athlete and would run and walk. This didn’t change after I got married and when my three children were born – I ran with them!” she says with an infectious laugh. Primla says that age has never hindered her quest to be healthy all her life; in fact, in addition to the running and the aerobics, she has also joined a dance class!
Apart from running herself, she has also recruited many of her friends and family to join her in many races. “Even this Sunday, there are 10 of us meeting at the Andheri station to reach the venue at 6.30 a.m. and we are all participating in the seniors’ category,” she says.
Primla also says that she has been able to combine her love for fitness with her passion for charitable work. “A few years ago I ran in the Dream Run category at the Mumbai Marathon with the kids from the Asha Kiran Charitable Trust. Even right now, we help train those children in running, so they can participate in marathons themselves one day,” she notes.
Primla has always loved taking up fitness challenges. Completing 500 km in 100 days was part of a challenge she undertook on behalf of a popular race ‘Pinkathon’, an event that raises awareness about breast cancer. Once she had completed it, she set herself another challenge – she calls this one the ‘Aunty 72 challenge’.
“I am 72 years and I want to cover a distance of 125 km in 25 days. I started this challenge on January 1st and the goal is to cover some amount of the distance every single day. I do a brisk walk but my brisk walk is like jogging.”
And for Primla, no excuse is good enough to stay at home locked away. She especially eschews any mention of age or gender as being a barrier to leading an active life. “I know that there are responsibilities that we women have that can take up time but there are 24 hours in the day. There is nothing wrong in keeping 1-2 hours for yourself. Leave the house, be healthy and go out and meet people,” she advises.
But it’s important to err on the side of caution and not get too carried away. “People have to remember that at the end of the day, they are running for themselves. One shouldn’t overreach. It’s important to listen to the body. And even if one can only walk for 500 metres in the beginning, they should do that. It’s important to keep doing something.”
With three children who are all married and a husband who has retired, Primla sees no need for stopping any time soon, if ever. “I hope to continue like this for as long as I can. I have a few other races in the pipeline this year including the Pinkathon and the DNA iCan Half Marathon. My body is fit. I am very healthy. I can do this!”
Those who make the mistake of telling Primla to slow down do so in vain; the odds are she’s run too far ahead to hear.