K. V. Vinoj wears 3 hats in his role as the Assistant Vice President Branch Network Management, Product Development & Institutional Banking at NDB Bank. Vinoj is responsible for heading the branch network at the NDB Bank which consists of 108 branches, overseeing 900 staff members. Vinoj oversees the team developing new products for the bank and he also heads the team handling all correspondence with foreign banks and maintaining relationships with these foreign banks. Vinoj certainly has his plate full along with being a devoted husband and father. How does Vinoj have the time to fulfil all his responsibilities? Well, it his commitment to fitness that gives him the energy, the discipline and mental fortitude to win in all aspects of his life. Vinoj is a serial distance runner and competes in international races. Fitness & Sports by chance ran into Vinoj one day, and after hearing his story was convinced that he is an inspiration to all corporate executives to be committed to fitness and enjoy the results and live a healthy fulfilling life.
Fitness & Sports: Tell us about your journey in fitness & sports and how you got into long distance running?
K.V. Vinoj: I played soccer for my school St. Joseph’s College Colombo. I was the team goalkeeper. I started playing soccer when I was 12 and continued playing till I left school. After leaving school I played club soccer. When I started my corporate career at Seylan Bank I played for them as well. I was a College Coloursman and I was selected to represent Sri Lanka in the U-19 tour of Malaysia as the goalkeeper. Sports has always been in my body. After leaving school I had to stop all my sports activities as I was posted in outstation branches. At this time I found my fitness levels were going down. I could not climb a staircase without panting. I then decided to resume my fitness training and I started going to the gym again. This was after a 5 year gap since I last played sports and trained. I joined the Power World gym in early 2000. I then began to train regularly at the gym. During this period I noticed people running on the road for exercise. Even though I was doing weight training I was not fit enough to do a 3km or 5km run. So I began to run on a treadmill. I started running very slowly 1km and then progressed gradually to increase the distance. Then I took to road running. I ran 5km with a lot of effort. While running I met the Colombo City Runners (CCR). I used to see these guys running together and every time I passed I used to wave at them. One day one of the CCR guys came over to me and asked if I would like to join them and I said yes. This was about 3 years back. That is how I got into long distance running. As of now I would say I am a serial runner. I run almost 4 times a week, covering a distance of 8km to 10km in each run. Saturdays and Sundays are my long runs where I cover 12km to 14km in each run. If I don’t run I feel terrible. My work takes me to a lot of outstation branches because I look after all 108 branches of NDB bank. When I have to go on my branch visits, the first thing that goes into my packing list is my running shoes and running kit. I have run in Jaffna, Mannar, Trinco, Tissamaharama to name a few places. In the morning I wake up at 4.30am and by 5.30am I am out running. The days I don’t run I am at the gym doing a workout. Currently I train all 7 days of the week but I hope to take a day’s rest eventually to give my body a chance to rest.
F&S: What are your achievements in running?
KVV: Running for me is a form of meditation. When I get onto the road I am on my own and my head is free. I think of what I need to accomplish in the work environment. In terms of achievement I have competed in 3 different half marathons in Colombo, Penang and Singapore. Competing in these half marathons has not been easy for me but I have somehow persevered and completed all of them.
F&S: How do you find the time to train with your busy corporate schedule?
KVV: I have heard people complain of lack of time to train especially higher up in the corporate ladder but for me it has not been difficult. I get up very early around 4.30am every day. By 6.15am I am in the office. The days I run I start running around 6.30am in the morning from the office. I do my 8km around Colombo. Then I come back to office, shower and get ready for work. The days I do my gym workout I do the same routine, I come to office after dropping my kids at school and my wife at work and do my workout at the gym in the office. I am indeed fortunate to have all these facilities for my workout at NDB bank. Even on Saturdays and Sundays I wake up early as 4.30am and go for a run. I believe you can always find time to workout. It is about how you programme yourself on that particular day. Since running for me is more like brushing my teeth or combing my hair , so I always find time to run. Through proper time management I am able to fulfil all my roles in all the areas of my life and I enjoy my life very much.
F&S : Describe your training routine and how does your gym routine help you in your runs?
KVV: I have been lifting weights ever since I started going to the gym. Now the routine I follow in the gym is Crossfit. I am experiencing firsthand the benefits Crossfit has for a runner. Crossfit improves your endurance as well as power to improve your speed. I do 4 days of running and 3 days of Crossfit.
I have just got into cycling as well. On Sundays I do a little bit of cycling and then I start running. So after I cycle I rack my bike and begin running. I cycle about 25km followed by a 10km run. My wife also joins me on the weekends. When I run she cycles and gives me water and all the nourishments. On Sundays we cycle together before my run.
My crossfit routine consists of deadlifts, box jumps, clean and jerks, burpees, jack knives, kettlebells, one arm dumbbell lifts, stair running, push ups, pull ups and fast running on the walking track outside NDB. My gym routine takes a maximum of 45 minutes. It is not very long but it is intense and effective. Right now I workout on all 7 days and I have been doing this for the last 4 years but I am going to start taking a day’s rest to help me recover as I am 45 years old so I need to take my age into consideration and train smart.
F&S: How does being fit add value to your personal and professional life?
KVV: The corporate world is very competitive and things are very stressful at times, so like I said earlier running for me is a form of meditation. When I start running I have a clear mind so when I come back to office I am fresh and energized to start the day. My children see me as a guy who keeps fit. My son plays soccer for school and my daughter attends a soccer academy on Saturdays. We are all Manchester United fans. My wife and my kids are all very active, my wife joins me on her bike when I go on my runs and on Sundays we both cycle together.Both of us look forward to that Sunday. We get everything ready on Saturday night and go to bed early. I believe wholeheartedly that a family that trains together stays together.
F&S: The corporate world has a persona of a work hard party hard culture, how do you manage to get plenty of rest and the right nutrients to live a healthy lifestyle?
KVV: Well I don’t drink or smoke and that is a promise I have made to my Mother and one I will always keep. I go out and join my colleagues in all the social gatherings and have a good time without drinking or smoking. There is no harm going out with friends and colleagues and having fun as long as you are able to look after yourself. I don’t stay out too late so I get at least 6 to 7 hours of sleep. With regard to food I am not very particular with what I eat but I control the quantities. I eat anything and everything but I control the portion size of my meals.
The ideal Saturday night for me would be at home watching the Premier League with my family. We start watching from 5.30pm till 10.30pm. On Sundays we do the same thing. On Friday night if there are no social obligations I am enjoying the evening with my family.
F&S: How supportive is the organization you work for towards promoting fitness & sports amongst its cadre?
KVV: The entire staff at the NDB bank have access to a well-equipped gym which can match any five star hotel in Colombo. We have 2 very good fitness instructors around the clock. The gym is also open on Saturdays. I have been in the bank for the last 14 years and I have seen more and more people take up a gym routine now more than ever. I see a lot of youngsters working out in the evenings and in the mornings. For the last 14 years I have not used any other gym because I have all the workout equipment I need at our gym in the bank. The NDB bank encourages the staff to workout and keep fit. The bank encourages sports as well. We have an athletics team, cricket team, badminton team, rugger team and basketball team which all perform very well in the Mercantile Tourna ments. The bank has provided us with flexi hours so this helps us achieve a good work life balance which is important for enjoying life.
F&S: What advice do you have for young executives who are keen to continue their passion for fitness & sports?
KVV:I think it is never too late to get into fitness whether you are young or old. Fitness is not about looking good but more about you living a healthy and enjoyable life. For me being healthy is the primary motive to working out and keeping fit. Exercising definitely reduces the stress levels and helps you be more productive in all areas of your life. My advice for any young guy is that whether you have access to a gym or not it does not matter because you can invest in a good pair of running shoes and go for a walk or run. If you can afford a gym membership then do it. Think of it as an investment in yourself. What you would pay for a doctor put it instead into your fitness goals. That way you will stay healthy and have fun. If you want to go out with your friends that is fine as long as you do things in moderation. I do not encourage smoking because even in a very small quantity that is simply bad for your health and those around you. I advocate enjoying life and being responsible for yourself and those around you. Being committed to fitness will help you find a good balance in life which leads to enjoyment and fulfilment.