Growing up, I loved sports, but running as-an-activity wasn’t one of the things I was into. So, a few years back when I ran a 10k on my own, I injured myself, and that further drove me away from running. When our family welcomed a new member, I got busier with life but, somewhere the desire to revisit running remained.

A chance conversation with a colleague – who had run a marathon – brought forth the understanding that distance-running requires planning and preparation; time and patience; teamwork and motivation. It was clear that I needed a better plan. 

Vibha Training plan was highly recommended. I signed up for the info session. The presentation was impressive on various levels to the engineer in me: The team of experienced coaches and mentors, The science of running, gait analysis, The understanding of physiology, small things like how to tie shoe-laces and many more.

But what came as a pleasant surprise was the mantra of “No-One-Left-Behind”. Vibha lives and breathes that mantra not only in running but also in the wonderful work it does in impacting lives of 2 million+ children in India through education. Through partnerships with NGOs and thousands of volunteers. Through the funds trainees like I would raise, as I go through this wonderful and transformative experience of “learning how to run”.

I signed up for the program right there. 

Throughout these 9 months, I have loved the wonderful way of achieving collective running goals – come what may, singing in the rain while running 10 milers, experienced some of the most beautiful running trails in bay area with wonderful generous co-runners who have become friends, attended house concerts. And of course ran a few half marathons along the way.   

Yes, I got a great running team but I got much-much more than just that….. And so I have decided to remain signed to this cause and continue with this journey as Vibha Striders enter the 10th year of this wonderful program. 

I hope you would join us too! Cheers!!

Ashish Mudgil

What Was My Motivation? Why Vibha Striders?

What motivated me to take up running?

A couple of years ago on my visit back home, during my casual chats with my elderly neighbors, friends and relatives, one of the common complaints I heard was on how most of them suffer from knee pain, hip pain, etc. That was the moment I decided I should do something about it long before it hits me, especially given that a good part of the day is spent sitting at my desktop job. If this could happen to them, relatively active people, it was scary to think where I will be in a couple of decades from now!

I go for regular walks and hikes in addition to doing yoga and consider myself as a moderately active person. So when I was looking into various activities and doing some research on it, I decided that running would be something apt to add to the mix, mainly due to the many health benefits it provides long term like strengthening of muscles and building strong bones to name a few.

Why Vibha?

I realized from one of my recent attempts to self train and run, I didn’t take it seriously or I was just plain ignorant about the importance of different aspects of training that I ended up getting injured. So this time around when I motivated myself to take up running again, I decided that it should be done the proper way, and that’s when I came to know about Vibha’s Striders program through their social media. So my friend and I decided to go check out one of their intro sessions and was quite impressed with their training outline with enough flexibility that I could fit into my busy schedule. I was excited with the turnout they had at that meeting, which had talks from the coaches, mentors and volunteers that made me take the first step. Also, it felt good that we will be adding value to Vibha’s noble cause and core mission of Educate, Empower and Enable.

Training and reaching the goal:

It all started on a wet and beautiful Spring weekend in Saratoga with many fellow trainees in the same boat as I was filled with excitement and anxiety! We were introduced to the very knowledgeable and experienced coaches and the dedicated mentors with whom we would be training with for the next three months to reach our goal. From then onwards we started our practice runs two or three times a week in small groups in some of the beautiful trails and rolling hills that we are blessed to have around in the valley. These practice sessions were held in different locations, making it convenient for people to attend regardless of where they live or work. Those sessions were followed by a longer, entire team run on the weekends.

It is so remarkable how well these training sessions supported newbie runners like me through encouraging motivational talks, how to prevent and deal with injuries, nutrition info, running gear, fun socials, and the tireless volunteers who showed up every session to set up and provide nutrition and enthusiasm at the aid stations and helped make the runs possible and easier on the runners.

And one of the best things was the friendship and bond that we created with our fellow trainees. I started looking forward to every run, no matter how early it was in the mornings! All the hard work and training culminated in the Dream Mile Half Marathon, which felt truly incredible when I crossed the finish line!

So in short, this is me who struggled to run just half a mile to start with on my first day of training but successfully finished the Dream Mile half marathon and was so thrilled afterwards that I trained some more and finished my second half marathon the same year on the iconic Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. I honestly couldn’t have done it without the amazing training with Vibha!

Anitha Arun