Prabhdeep Sidhu

Learning to run — with a little help from new friends

Prabhdeep Sidhu spent most of his life believing he couldn’t run.

As a child growing up in India, Sidhu played a bit of volleyball and soccer, but “never had the stamina” to run much further than a kilometre at a time.

By the time he was in his early 20s, Sidhu was overweight and suffering from health problems, including back pain. He wanted to get moving — but his busy schedule as a post-secondary student made it difficult to join an organized team sport.

Running, it seemed, was the only answer.

“If you want to do a workout, you just get outside your house, just buy a pair of shoes and do a 25-, 30-minute workout and it can fit in your schedule,” says Sidhu, who’s now 26 and works as an Access Transit driver with the City of Saskatoon.

As simple as it sounded, Sidhu didn’t know where to start and so asked friends and family for advice. One of his friends was running in a group coached by Brainsport employee Harvey Weber and connected the two of them.

Weber started Sidhu with a calisthenics program and encouraged Sidhu to do a run-walk program to gradually gain fitness while giving his musculoskeletal system time to build the resiliency required to handle the impact loads associated with running.

Even with the gradual approach, the first runs were hard. “My body was sore and I couldn’t breathe properly sometimes,” Sidhu recalls. But he was determined to stick with it and soon saw benefits. He lost weight, felt more energetic, and met other runners in Saskatoon who cheered him on.

Running became an important outlet for Sidhu to explore the outdoors. While he does most of his runs in east Saskatoon where he lives, his work allows him to constantly scout out new running routes. “When you drive a bus you go to every corner of the city and you see all the time all the trails,” he says.

Harvey Weber (front left) organized an unofficial in-person race with a small group of mostly new Canadians in the spring of 2021.
Harvey Weber (front left) organized an unofficial in-person race with a small group of mostly new Canadians in the spring of 2021. Prabhdeep Sidhu stands back centre.

Sidhu went from not being able to cover a kilometre to running his first 5km race in the spring of 2021. There were no in-person races then because of COVID-19 restrictions, but Weber had 10 free entries into the virtual Saskatchewan Marathon and organized an unofficial in-person race with a small group of mostly new Canadians — including Sidhu and some of Sidhu’s friends. Sidhu had a blast and clocked a time of 25:50.

After taking some time off from running this year while he travelled back to India, Sidhu is now back to running two or three times a week in Saskatoon and hopes to eventually run a 10km race.

“I touch base with Prabhdeep consistently and see him running with (his friends) and new runners along the river often,” Weber says. “I am so glad he has been so dedicated to running because it probably has completely changed his life.”

It’s not only changed Sidhu’s life, but also those of the people around him. Sidhu now encourages others to start running — and, thanks to Weber, has the tools to help them get going.

“My friends, they are facing the same health problems (I was),” Sidhu says. “I tell them to start running … when you see the change in your body, when you feel healthy then you’ll like it, you’ll see this is the right thing to do.”