Lieutenant Commander Bijay Nair - Active War Deployments
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Lieutenant Commander Bijay Nair - Talks about Serving the Country, His Passion for Running and Everything in Between

Mohit Raj

In Conversation with Lieutenant Commander Bijay Nair


Many people feel Armed Forces are either about war or living luxurious lives during peacetime. Those who are related to defence personnel or know some of them have learned that there’s much more to life even during the ‘luxurious’ life.

Every 2nd or 3rd year they have to shift bases. You cry when you get away from a friend or have to go to a different place because the ration store you get your groceries from is closed. These heroes have to switch cities, states and sometimes even the country. And sometimes it’s just too much to handle. You are reluctant to wake up at 9 am but these stars are doing their physical exercises at 6. That’s the reason they are healthier than most of the ‘civilians’, not just because they are in the defence forces.

It doesn’t matter how fit you are running 89kms is still an arduous task which might even seem implausible to many. But as retired Lieutenant Commander Bijay Nair says- Mind commands you, the body just follows. If you have the grit and determination it’s still possible. He completed the Comrade Run- an 89km marathon in South Africa- after once touching 108 kgs on the weighing machine.

As expected from an armed forces officer, Bijay was supreme fit once upon a time. However, once he retired from the Indian Navy a hectic work schedule, erratic food habits and erratic thyroid made him lose his battle to self. He became, as they call in defence, OV – a term for overweight, in 2008.

He was initially supposed to serve 7 years in the Navy but being a decorated officer and doing his post-graduation helped him extend it to 10. He had an option of 4 more years but in his words- ‘not exercising that option looked more practical’. He had a house and family in Mumbai and he would have to move to another new place so he decided to stay.

A corporate professional post his retirement from defence services, Bijay suffered from Hypothyroid and became 108 kgs heavy. Bijay says once you are a civilian, setting routine becomes difficult. He was asked to pick an endurance sport to get back in shape and running looked the easiest to him back then as ‘unlike other games you just had to put your shoes on’. Moreover, he also knew the taste of running, having participated in the first-ever Tata Marathon in 2004.

He says the time he spent in the Naval academy helped, but it’s not easy to train for 3-5 months for just 1 marathon. Running made him more disciplined towards life and his body. He started training and in over a decade he has run around a dozen full marathons (42 kms) and scores of half-marathons (21km) in over 13 countries.

He says, “Running is an equal sport, where both a CEO as well as the helper runs. Running identifies you by running and not by your designation. Running is pure joy.”

While running, he met tons of different runners with varied backgrounds and decided to write a book depicting their journeys. He said those runners where not Sachin Tendulkars, they were the common people who were great examples of what sheer determination could do to your life and he wanted to bring the stories out.

He started with blogs on social media before compiling those stories to write a book named ‘#TheyINSpire’. He said he wanted everyone, especially the corporate people, to read the book so they could stop giving excuses and ‘create’ time for their fitness.

Bijay said that it has become really difficult to train nowadays as he has to travel every other day to different places because of his work commitments. However, he doesn’t let it become his excuse, one can develop any habit or thought or behavior he/she considers desirable or necessary.