Long distance runners are very inconspicuous. You can identify a sprinter, or a field athlete by looking at them. Not that you can pin down their discipline at a glance but its apparent that they are athletes. Bulging calves and thick-knotted arms, as opposed to the scrawny limbs of a distance runner.
The sport itself is inconspicuous in a way. A 100m race is over in 10 seconds. Every second is charged up with adrenaline for the viewers. Try watching 10 seconds of a race which lasts over 7200 seconds. You think you need patience to watch that? Think about the patience and fortitude required to run for that long.
The progress in training itself is invisibly incremental. When you run for an hour, its hard to quantify improvement. In high jump you have a distinct mark to clear, in 100m training you can measure progress quicker. In a marathon runner’s training regimen, progress moves forward inconspicuously.
Savio D’Souza is an inconspicuous man. He doesn’t have a swanky office with people answering his phones. He takes calls from one and all and treats each of them with patience and the individual attention each deserves. Because, everyone calling him needs individual attention. Every one has a different running gait, nutritional requirements and physical ailments. He dispenses advice freely on both counts, openly and free of charge.
“My two favourite things in life are running and making other people run” – Savio D’souza.
Born in Goa, Savio hails from Revora, Colvale. He completed his schooling from St. Joseph High School, Arpora. From childhood itself, Savio had a keen interest in long distance running. He started running cross country races, of around 10km and then he moved his way up the distance. Developing his interest into a passionate profession he ran the marathon from 1984-88, having been the national champion during that time.
National champion from 1984-1988. Four years in a row.
Some of Savio’s major achievements are as follows:
¨ First represented India in 1984 at Singapore International Marathon
¨ Achieved the 13th rank in 1985 and 9th rank in 1986 at the Hongkong International Marathon
¨ Winner of Pune international marathon
¨ Ranked 1st in India and 3rd internationally in 1984
¨ Ranked 1st at the international level in 1985
¨ Recipient of the Chatrapati Shivaji award for the Most Outstanding Sports Person in athletics by the Maharashtra Government
Savio D’Souza moved up from the 5,000 metre to the 10,000 and did a bit of cross-country running before graduating to the marathon. “The urge to complete the ultimate distance in competitive running is challenging,” he said. D’Souza, 57, runs the half-marathon but to act more as a pace setter for his trainees, rather than trying to win.
However, this year he hopes to compete in the Delhi Half Marathon. And he hopes to win, in the veteran category.
Savio is a full time coach to athletes and sportspersons in other disciplines. He is also a private fitness trainer and trains people of different backgrounds and sports. Savio helps create a unique network of runners. “It’s fun to run together. Running buddies support and help each other to keep going. And importantly, when you know someone is waiting for you, you are less likely to skip the run!”, says D’souza.
He has trained several national level athletes for various athletic events. Harsh Mankad, Manisha Malhotra and Mahesh Bhupathi are some of the few international stars that swear by his training methods. Savio’s training methods help to usher in a culture of fitness, self reliance, and positivity by changing lifestyles.
So what motivates Savio to make a difference? Having been one of the best runners in the world, he has experienced what few people do, the feeling of flying through a marathon. A runner’s high is a real thing and Savio has the empathy to share that feeling with fellow human beings. His unique training methods, ability to build a unique network of runners and customized training and individual attention to all are some of the traits that set Savio in a class apart from the other coaches.
Says Savio, “All runners new or old, fast or slow, have the same decision to make again and again – Get up, and get out there on the road. Many a times a nagging voice in the mind keeps saying, “Let’s have a rest day today, it won’t matter. That’s the voice we have to fight off first.”
Hectic lifestyles among the people in Mumbai leading to decline in health and Increasing consciousness among the people to improve their health are some of the factors that have contributed to the increasing popularity of long distance running in India today. A marathon is the most accessible sport and one of the best ways to keep fit. Marathon running has now become a status symbol amongst the city’s rich and famous.
Savio has trained a number of street kids of Mumbai, free of cost. He had also been appointed head coach by the BCDAAA to train kids all over Mumbai. Provides employment opportunities to the underprivileged by appointing them as his assistants. Has combined his profession with his passion. Has produced scores of marathoners in the city who swear by his training methods. Savio is responsible for introducing a large number of people to athletics.
“Patience, hard work and love for sports is what has let my dream come true as I always wanted to represent India internationally” – Savio D’Souza
After talking to Savio sir, my perspective on distance running changed dramatically. In the next six months after conversing with him, I trained accordingly and improved my marathon timing of 2 years back by one hour. Under his guidance, I hope to crack 2:30 someday. As long as he keeps sparking that in people, the country will move towards better fitness as a whole. And that is what fuels him.