Pursuit of Happiness

Taking a giant leap

Ashwini Kapila, MD, Barclays Capital is making big strides towards fitness

Soumik Kar

He had all the makings of an outdoors enthusiast. Ashwini Kapila, MD, Barclays Capital is the son of an Army officer and had spent his childhood moving all over north India — Dehradun, Allahabad, Roorkee, Fatehgarh, Akhnoor and Yol have all been his home at some point. Every 18 months, his father would be posted to a new location, and so, Kapila developed a love for camping or trekking in the mountainous regions.

When he moved to Mumbai for his postgraduation, he was unable to find ways to satisfy his passion for the outdoors, except when he would join his friends — who had access to sporting facilities — for squash. Though Mumbai is ideal for runners, with Marine Drive and Mahalaxmi Race Course offering tracks for public use, Kapila never really liked the sport. 

And it was this dislike that ended up being a punishment. After spending almost 20 years in Mumbai and working through the gruelling schedules of a finance sector job, Kapila, overweight and overdosing on health pills, started to feel fatigued. What’s worse, five years ago, he developed a back problem and wasn’t even able to play with his then-18-months-old daughter. Sure enough, guilt struck, and he realised the need to be fit to give her good company. He shared his concern with his wife, who egged him on to at least start a daily walking routine.

Soon after, Kapila’s doctor guided him to Qi Spine Clinic, Mumbai, which put him on a strict regimen. The clinic not only fixed his back but also encouraged him to push the bar. He asked if he should try running — though he hated the sport, he did always cheer his friends while they ran the marathon. The doctors encouraged the idea and made a plan for him to execute, and in March 2013, he started running, with a dream to one day participate in a marathon. 

Kapila’s efforts paid off, for in January 2014, he ran his first half marathon, clocking a quick 2 hours and 12 minutes. In the year after, on January 18, he again ran the half marathon. And in between these two marathons, he ran a lot: almost 500 km of outdoor runs from Goa’s beaches to Toronto’s suburbs, New York’s Central Park, Tokyo’s streets, Italy’s vineyards and even on the deck of a cruise ship. In fact, the first thing he packs for any travel is his pair of running shoes.

Now 43, Kapila wakes up at 4 am every day and runs for almost an hour from his residence at Lower Parel up to Mahalaxmi Race Course and back. Sometimes, he runs from his home to Altamount road (10 km), Worli sea face (15 km) or NCPA (21 km) and back. Every week, he tries to log about 20-30 km. “Thanks to running, I have been able to get much fitter and feel energetic. I have lost my excess weight over a span of two years,” says Kapila. He has also been able to get his blood pressure to normal and reduce his cholesterol levels. His energy and activity levels have gone back to what they were 20 years ago, when he had just stepped into Mumbai. “Running is very meditative. It ushers in bubbles of positivity and opens up the mind and spirit,” he says.