Runner seeks happiness after shedding the kilos

Priyank Sharma, who weighed nearly 100kg just a year ago, aims to complete tonight's Sundown Marathon 21.1km race in 21/2 hours. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Priyank Sharma, who weighed nearly 100kg just a year ago, aims to complete tonight's Sundown Marathon 21.1km race in 21/2 hours. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Last December, Priyank Sharma burst into tears after finishing his first half marathon in 3hr 8min. It was the culmination of a journey the 37-year-old embarked on just months before, when he tipped the scales at nearly 100kg.

"I normally consider myself a strong person, but that was the first time I cried in a long while," said the senior vice-president in strategy and planning at a local bank.

"Lots of emotions came out, I felt so proud of myself and thankful to my family for their support."

Exactly a year ago, he was lying on his bed when his wife told him to "get out and run".

While Sharma had not exercised for 10 years before that, he decided on a whim to go for a 4km run.

He completed the run feeling so happy and energised that he started running twice a week, and now runs up to a combined 60km weekly. He weighed 98.7kg last June and lost 26kg by December.

But the journey towards a healthier life was not easy.

When he started, Sharma would get tired every few hundred metres. After every run, his whole body ached, he could not breathe properly and he felt dehydrated.

He said: "The beauty of running is the competition is with myself. Whenever I felt my pace wasn't good, or when I felt bad, it always came back to me that this was about outdoing myself and that has made me continue running."

He made changes to his diet and water intake. Now, he completes two or three 5km runs on weekdays and one 10-20km run during the weekend at East Coast Park or Marina Barrage. He also goes to the gym twice a week.

Sharma has also influenced his mother-in-law and colleagues to start running, while his wife - who is pregnant with their first child - promised to start after giving birth.

Tonight, he is continuing his "pursuit of happiness", as he lines up for the Osim Sundown Marathon's 21.1km race, which he aims to complete in 2hr 30min. His current personal best is 2hr 48min, which he clocked in April.

"When I run, I feel happy and that made me realise it's the one thing I want to do in my life," said Sharma, who aims to complete a full 42.195km marathon later this year and a triathlon by 2022.

"To get my body into a very horrible situation took me 10 years and getting it to a much better place just took a couple of years.

"At the end of the day, it's about having to pace yourself out, it's about longer term. You have many miles going forward, it's not just about the next mile."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2019, with the headline 'Runner seeks happiness after shedding the kilos'. Print Edition | Subscribe