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  • Writer's pictureLt Cdr Bijay Nair (R)

Incredible People

Bijay Nair was a commissioned Naval Officer from the Naval Academy and served for 10 years before taking a voluntary retirement as a Lieutenant Commander.

In this interview with Swetha Amit, Lt Cmdr Nair narrates how interviewing 42 marathoners for his book They INSpire changed his own perspectives in life .

LtCdr Bijay Nair (retd)

Bijay Nair was a commissioned Naval Officer from the Naval Academy and served for 10 years before taking a voluntary retirement as a Lieutenant Commander. Currently working for the National Ship Classification Society as a Marine Surveyor, he is an engineer and an MBA, with a passion for marathoning and writing humour. Though running was a part of his naval academy regime, his tryst with marathon running commenced soon after being diagnosed with thyroid disorder in 2008 with a body weighed over 100 kilos.  In the last eight years he has participated in seven full marathons (42 km), 36 half marathons (21 km) in 13 countries.

Lt Cdr Bijay Nair (retd)

In this interview with Swetha Amit, Lt Cmdr Nair narrates how interviewing 42 marathoners for his book They INSpire changed his own perspectives in life.

They INSpire is a collection of 42 stories of some awe-inspiring individuals who are runners. So what really inspired this book?

Lt Cmdr Nair: One evening in 2015 when I was randomly browsing through Facebook, I came across several runners who posted their updates about the mileages that they had run on that particular day. I then realised that I knew runners who have run humongous distances like 100 km and yet don't share their stories on social media.  It instantly gave me an idea that I should highlight the experiences of such accomplished runners. My first story started as a small snippet about a guy called Mumtaz Quereshi who despite being a busy corporate professional at Tata, managed to find time to run irrespective of his hectic schedules. This story became a big hit on social media and that's how I decided that perhaps I could pen down a book of several such stories of corporate professionals who find time to run and keep fit despite their erratic schedules.   

I chose the title They INSpire as this book was a compilation series of other people and the alphabets 'INS' was a tribute to my Indian Navy background. Since my book consists of stories of people in the corporate world who find time to run despite their busy schedules, I thought this book would inspire other corporate professionals who often complain about not being able to find time to pursue other interests.

Considering that the running community is large, what made you choose these 42 particular individuals as protagonists for your book?

Nair: The first criteria, which I had set while writing this series was to tell people that there are individuals who have taken to running and fitness despite abusing their bodies by excessive smoking or succumbing to a dreadful illness. The second was that all these people covered in the book should personally be known to me so that I could retain the authenticity. For instance, when I asked them questions, I knew for a fact that what they were saying was true. The third criteria was to represent a varied demography of people right from couples, youngsters, senior citizens who took up running post the age of 60 to differently-abled individuals.  The message which I wanted to give through this book was that running is an equal sport where several individuals from varied backgrounds run together.

Today a lot of corporates and banks are associating themselves with marathon events. So why do you think a sport like running has caught the fancy of these organisations as compared to other sports?

Nair: Long distance running is a sport, which unearths the two vital and important aspects of what a corporate looks for in an individual.

One is the limits which the individual places upon himself / herself as a challenge. You see marathon running is not just about running on the race day. It requires immense amount of discipline, planning and preparing a training schedule accordingly. It also involves root cause analysis of your performance and the necessary corrective & preventive actions to be taken to improve your performance further. This is similar to what takes place in an organisation with regards to an individual's performance and increasing productivity.

The second important aspect is that marathon as a sport inculcates that sense of team work and team building for an individual. When you are running a race / training in a group, you are running with several other people from varied backgrounds. You tend to encourage and motivate one another during the run to help in achieving the target which is the finish line of the run / race. This instills the aspect of motivation and team work which are important aspects of the corporate world.

Writing about several awe inspiring individuals cum fellow runners can be quite a riveting experience. So what were your learnings while penning down this book?

Nair: Writing this book was a humbling experience as I got to know these 42 individuals even deeper.  A few of them were my really close friends and hence I knew them very well on a personal level. Though others were good friends as well, I would only meet them on a run and didn't get much of an opportunity to get to know them at a deeper level. Interviewing them for my book enabled me to get to know them better and also appreciate each one of them for their abilities. The women especially have to juggle between several commitments yet still make time for their runs.

What can we expect next from you? Any more books in the pipeline?

Nair: Yes, in fact, I am already working on a few ideas. Since humour is my forte I am trying to write a book on humour which will be a compilation of my blog since the last five years. My condition and criteria for this book is that I should be able to laugh out loud while reading my own book.  I really enjoy writing, keeping people engaged and evoking a response out of them. So I am hoping that this book works. And of course They INSpire-part 2 is on the cards as well which will release after my book on humour stories.

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