Now she is running instead of puffing a cigarette. For, running gives her a greater kick and stimulates her entire body and mind than smoking. So much so that it helped her give up her 26-year addiction to the ciggy about two-and-a-half years ago.
“I realised that I get a high out of running, than what the endorphins gave me when I smoked and my craze for smoking just slipped off. Such is the power of running. To share this joy and help others quit the dangerous and dirty addiction, I have ventured out on a solo campaign,” said the 47-year-old.
“Research shows that one gets addicted to smoking due to the release of endorphins and the resulting ‘high’ in the brain. The very same chemicals are released in the brain when you go for a long run.”
After launching her campaign, 'Take a Breath of Fresh Air -India Run to Quit Smoking' in Hyderabad in August, Kripa set foot in Bangalore, Mysore and Chennai. She is in Kochi to throw light on the power of running and help people rid the habit.
From Gold Souk, where the campaign was launched at 3 am on Sunday, Kripa ran all the way to Fort Kochi and was back at the starting point by 9.30 am after covering 42.2 km with seven members of Soles of Kochi, her sole sponsor.
“The response is tremendous. Kochi has been the most receptive of the lot and above 40 persons joined us at various laps. I was surprised to see people who have never run in their life join me,” she said.
She has also visited colleges and corporates in the city as part of her personal outreach module. “I got a good response at Cusat and TCS. The TCS lent a whole lot of support and so was the Customs Commissioner,” she said.
Going back to smoking days, she says she got hooked to the habit when she was in college in Mumbai. She kept off it temporarily when she had her two daughters now in their twenties, call it a mother’s motivation. “Cigarette is a good friend whatever be your mood- happy, sad, angry or calm. But after I took to running, short stretches at first which graduated to marathons, I discovered that running gave a higher ‘high’ which was supported by de-addiction experts and doctors. You need to build that endurance and stamina and it will take time,” she said.
When quizzed on how she took to running, she said it happened by chance when she accompanied her cousin who was training for a marathon. “The more I ran the more stimulating it was and the feel good factor was so good that the need for a fag never arose and fear of withdrawal symptoms vanished,” Kripa said.
She adds that one should not react angrily to children addicted to smoking, for they will do it on the sly, only counselling and tender ways will help.
Kripa who is on the look out for sponsors has been participating in marathons held in cities to spread the message and running her heart out for the cause. She has completed five full marathons.
Her next stop is Goa after which she plans to run her way to Mumbai and Puducherry.