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Running Resolutions for the New Year

Come New Year and everyone makes resolutions to be better than last year. Since you are making resolutions anyway, how about a few running resolutions this year, asks Nandini Reddy

So it is almost that time of the year when you start thinking about how you can bring a positive change to your life and how the New Year will see a new you. If you are a runner then how about this year we try a few things that might make you a better runner. They may be resolutions that would improve your running or just make you enjoy running a little more this year.

Get the right Shoe

Go out and buy that shoe you have always wanted. The right shoes can make such a huge difference to your running style. Pick the one that is recommended for road running if you train around the city. If you want to run trails the get a different shoe. Speak to a specialist if you have to but get those shoes that you deserve. Make it the first thing on your list of resolutions for the new year.

Do more than run

If you have not worked on your strength training as yet then sign up for at least two days a week of strength training in the new year. If you cannot make it to a gym then try and workout using classic body weight training exercises that will help strengthen your muscles.

Get healthy

Make getting healthy a target instead of losing weight. Concentrate on overall health instead of just the weight. That will help you increase nutrition instead of just cutting calories. Use water as a friend to improve your running efficiency. Try have more meals instead of overloading at a single time.

Spend time with runners

Runners are a huge motivating force and if you are around them you will be more inspired to achieve your running targets for the year. They are also likely to be more enthusiastic about participating in marathons together and will be willing to train with you for the big race.

Make Less Excuses

It will always be too hot or cold or too wet to run. Meetings and routines will take over your day all the time. But try and make less excuses for not going on those runs during the week. Every run counts and every run brings you closer to your goal.

Pick your dream marathon

Aim to run a particular marathon in the year. Train with that goal in mind. Your attitude towards training and nutrition will change automatically. Pick one major marathon that gives you enough time to prepare yourself. Set a challenge to complete this marathon in a given time.

Running is fun. Don’t get too serious about it. Enjoy your runs on training days. Make interesting eating plans and ensure that it becomes a part of your life that you look forward to everyday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Before the Goal Marathon

You have trained for your goal marathon, now how about running a dress rehearsal of what you can expect during the big race, asks Nandini Reddy

You have followed the training plan. You have eaten right. All the gear you need for race day is set. You have broken in your shoes and completed training runs that have set your pace. After you have been through this disciplined process, how about running a mock run to ensure that you are really prepared for the big day?

Explore the Course

If the race is in the same city that you live in then try and take a walk or a slow jog along the course. You can familiarize yourself with all the areas that might need a little more effort to complete. You can also note how you need to distribute your energy and effort. Try and run hard on a few stretches to really understand the strain you might be under on the course. Once your body is familiar with the course it will be easier for you to run the course.

Stay with the familiar

If you have been fueling your runs with a particular brand of energy bars or sports drinks then you will need to stick to the same ones during your race. Your body has adapted to these fuel foods and changing them might cause discomfort rather than help you. Remember to carry these along in your running belt during your mock run so that you can get used to the weight of belt. The idea is to decide what will help you run better so instead of loading up things on the main day, you might as well see how much you really need during your mock race day.

Get the right gear

Gear check is the most important one for any runner. Your shoes need to be comfortable from start to finish of the race. All the wearable gear like your watch, water bottle, phone holder and runners belt should not chaff your skin during the run. Clothes have to be breathable and it is important that you do not feel any discomfort while running in them. If you are wearing a sports bra then include it during your mock run and even your earlier training sessions to check for comfort. Do not try new and fresh gear on the big race day.

The idea is to reach your full potential on the big race day so it is important that you understand all the factors that might affect your run. On race day you can now just lace up and present your best self at your goal marathon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Running after Having a Baby

Getting back to running post-partum is more about head space than physical ability, so how do you get back? Nandini Reddy has a few suggestions. 

After the marathon of being pregnant for 9 months and dealing with a new born, it is hard to find the head space to get back on a running schedule. Once you have recovered physically, you need to also find balance in your head. The journey of post-partum exercise can be a tough one. But if you have the right approach then you can get back to your running schedules faster.

The first thing you need to do is wait for six to eight weeks and then get your doctor’s clearance before you begin your exercise routine.

Body Image

Pregnancy changes your body drastically. Six to eight weeks after the delivery, when your doctor clears you for exercise – ensure that you discuss your goals with your doctor to understand your limits. Respect your body and remember that if you have been a active person before and during your pregnancy – getting back will not be a problem. Pregnancy and labour pushes your body to the extreme – emotionally, mentally and physically. Be mindful of the changes and work with a coach who is aware of this.

Involve your baby

The baby is always a priority in your life. So why not get them involved? You have yoga sessions which have mom and baby sessions. Use a stroller during your run. The added effort to push the stroller along will give you the extra resistance you need. This allows you to keep an eye on your baby and work in interval training routines or even strength training routines along with your runs.

Be flexible on time

Time is a luxury for every mother who is caring for an infant. If you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby you need to create a workout plan that takes into consideration the feeding schedule. There might even be instances where you need to feed your child mid workout or run. Don’t let that bother you too much. Prepare yourself mentally for these breaks and you will be able to achieve your fitness goals and be a good mom.

Rediscover your pace

When you start to run again after your pregnancy, you will probably find yourself putting in more effort and your pace might not be the same. It will feel like your starting all over again. You need not get into marathon’s immediately but you should train with that mindset. Work on increasing your pace and distance every week and you should be back to your pre-pregnancy running pace very quickly.

Work on your core

Your core muscles will weaken during your pregnancy. It is important to concentrate on them, otherwise you will have a future injury in your lower back, legs or hip flexors. Core strength training is extremely important. Try and work with a trainer who will be able to give you the right kind of exercises to strengthen your core. The abdominal wall needs to heal and you need to work on your breathing as well to tighten the core.

Fatigue is a given

Everything about your running style might change after the delivery. Your strides, your muscle strength and even your stamina. Even runners who have run during their pregnancy face these issues. Be cautious and work towards increasing your pace and distance slowly. You will feel fatigued. Ligaments will be more stressed as they also get expanded during the course of the pregnancy. So it is important to understand this and accept that fatigue will be a part of your training to get back.

Pick the right set of exercises

High impact exercises are not a good choice to begin with right after delivery. Running with intensity can also cause your pelvic region to weaken. The pelvic muscles are the weakest after a pregnancy and it is important to strengthen them the right way. Pay attention to this and focus your strengthening exercises on this.

The amount of trouble might seem overwhelming in the beginning. Easing back into exercise takes time and you need to give your body the respect it deserves. Find your rhythm and routine and the new you will find a way to adjust itself to a whole new exercise format.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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The Queen of Indian Track and Field

The legendary runner, P T Usha, loved by millions and an inspiration to all athletes in the 80s, was known as the Payyoli Express. Capt Seshadri profiles the prolific runner. 

Kerala. God’s own country. A land of lush green forests, sprawling backwaters and a pristine coastline. Somewhere along the Malabar Coast of Kerala lies the quiet town of Payyoli. And through this town runs an express. An express that does not run on steam, diesel or electricity. An express, however, that has won 101 gold medals internationally.

Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha better known to India and the world simply as PT Usha, hailing from this little town, earned the title of the “Payyoli Express” through her immortal achievements on the athletics track. Such is her fame and popularity that not just streets but even babies are named after her.

The early 1980s were not a particularly conducive period for Indian athletes, far less a woman. International training facilities and experienced coaches were virtually unknown. Exposure to the world arena was very limited and there was a complete lack of scientific management. In this scenario, Usha started running at the age of 13. As early as in Class VII, she was so quick that she would beat the then District champion. During her training sessions, she would request male athletes to pace for her; however, they never asked her to pace for them, afraid that they might not be able to match her!

Motivation and training, both of which were largely self-developed, were crucial to success even at the National level. There was abundance of talent but no means to channelise it, recalls Usha. To quote her: ““After many years of experience in athletics, I am convinced that what we lack in India is not talent, but the basic, modern and scientific facilities. If we train our young Indian sports talents, nothing, not even Olympic medals, is unachievable.” She dedicates her achievements to her coach and mentor, OM Nambiar who, in 1985, won the Dronacharya Award for his contribution to Indian athletics.

Dwelling on the past, she recalls how she could have made it big in the Los Angeles Olympics if only she had had the opportunity to participate and benefit from more international exposure. Nevertheless, she became the first ever Indian woman to reach an Olympics finals, winning the 400 metres hurdles semi-finals in 1984. She rues the manner in which she lost the bronze by 1/100th of a second, simply because she didn’t lunge at the tape. She was not used to it, simply because she would usually win most of her races by margins of 10 m.

To crown a glorious athletic career, in 2002, after her retirement from active competition, PT Usha strongly felt the need to take sport to the grassroots level and train and share her experience with budding young talent. Hence was conceived the ‘Usha School of Athletics’ focussed on girl athletes who, she firmly believes, have the potential to bring home Olympic golds. Her school has 18 girls, mostly from underprivileged backgrounds, living on the residential campus, schooling during the day and training for over 5 hours every day, in the mornings and evenings. Funding comes purely from individual donations, but that does not deter Usha from pursuing her ambition and goals.

At a time when India was virtually unknown in international athletics, the Payyoli Express stood out as a shining example of what determination and hard work could achieve against all odds. An icon and a living legend, PT Usha swept the 100, 200, and 400 metres, the 400 metres hurdles, and the 4 x 400 metres relay at the 1985 Asian Track and Field Championship in Indonesia, pushing India up from 14th to 4th place in the overall championship list. Usha was honoured the same year with the Padma Shree and Arjuna awards.

The Payyoli Express, who still jogs unfailingly every morning, expresses her anguish at the dropping fitness levels in kids. The best way to get them fit is to organise family games like football, basketball and running, she feels. Dwelling on the bad food habits of today’s children, she talks about how she used to eat large quantities of potatoes for her carb requirement. The how the food in LA during the 1984 Olympics was so bland that she carried a bottle of pickles to add to her food!

When she is not running or training her wards, Usha loves watching movies and to clean and cook. Quite natural to her roots, fish curry is her favourite food. Simplicity personified, humble and humane, PT Usha has etched a name in Indian athletics that will stay in memory for a long time to come.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams

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Nutrition Mistakes Beginner Runners Make

The wrong nutrition can defeat all the efforts you have put in to train for your run, writes Nandini Reddy.

You put in a lot of work on your training. You work on your pace, time and intensity of your run. Yet something seems to be holding you back. It might be more because of your nutrition mistakes than your training efforts. Most beginner runner make these mistakes often. Here is what you might be doing wrong.

Separating Diet and Training

Diet and training go together for runners. But most newbie runners make the mistake of not paying attention to their diet and just focusing on their excel sheet training plans. They start runs on empty without fueling their bodies or they overload themselves after the runs with high-glycemic index foods. They also focus on just the foods they eat after their run and pay little attention to their food in-take for the rest of the day. One cannot expect the desired results if diet is not given importance.

Too many Carbs

In order to fuel their runs, beginner runners tend to overload on carbs. Carbs are important in a runners diet as they are the fuel that drives their muscles but they cannot be the focus. The focus has to be more on vegetables and proteins that deliver the required nutrients to keep runners healthy. Whole foods that are filled with fiber are what runners need. The diet should be comprehensive and should include vegetables, nuts, oils, lean meats, whole grains and fruits. Completely skipping food groups or focusing on just a single food group will cause fatigue that might lead to injury.

Not understanding metabolism

All runners will experience weight loss when they start running. But if you are aiming to lose weight then you need to fuel your body the right way. Eating less and running more will signal the body to slow down its metabolism to conserve energy for the next time you stress your body. This will lead to the opposite effect of what you want to achieve. One can lose weight by eating the right foods in the right quantities.

Too many nutritional supplements

New runners tend to overdo the electrolyte sipping. They even replace water with electrolyte during their runs. Remember that your depleted glycogen levels after a 60 minute run can be replenished after your run through food. If you are running longer then you can use electrolytes to fuel your run to refresh. But that doesn’t mean that you need to sip on electrolytes through the day. Nutritional supplements are available in the form of energy bars and sports drinks, ensure that these do not have added sugars. Electrolytes are not a replacement for water. Drinking more water is required when one takes nutritional supplements and no less.

Caffeine Overdose

Caffeine is known to boost running performance and it also aids in glycogen restoration. But this doesn’t imply that you experiment with caffeine while in training. There is a limit to how much caffeine you can consume and overdoing it will give you gut issues. Caffeine needs to be included on intense training days and on other days try and avoid it.

Train smart and eat right to get the most best results from your training schedule.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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A Run for No Food Waste




South Tamil Nadu will celebrate their Republic Day weekend by running for a cause, with the Nellai Marathon in Tirunelveli on January 28th 2018.  

A run that lets you explore the most scenic and beautiful nature trails in the Tirunelveli region. A run that supports the noble cause of ensuring no food waste. A run that is the largest in South Tamil Nadu. All these are the reasons you should not miss the Nellai Marathon this January.

Every year the Nellai Runners, organize The Nellai Marathon that includes a Half-Marathon (21K), 10K and 5K. The number of runners has been growing every year since the first year, which saw 5000 runners. All runners will be given a special Go Dry Tee which is the perfect running gear this year. If you want to train for the marathon there are training runs happening every Wednesday and Saturday. Check the nellaimarathon.com for more details.

Nellai Runners are a group of running, cycling and fitness enthusiasts who love the outdoors and are passionate about the environment. They organize runs to promote healthy living and fitness and actively organize runs with training assistance through the year.

Meet the runners

The Nellai marathon attracts its own set of experienced and amateur runners. This year we will have ultra runner Ahmed Hanifa joining the crowds of enthusiastic runners. Hanifa is a corporate employee who has grown into a passionate ultra runner who can finish a 50km race with ease. His passion has made him push his limits and even run a full ironman triathlon. His love for running different trails has brought him out to the Nellai marathon this year.

This Year’s Cause – No Food Waste

The proceeds from this year’s run will be supporting a very noble cause -No Food Waste, a Non-profit organization (www.nofoodwaste.in). This organization focuses on delivering surplus foods from Weddings, Parties and other events to the hungry and deprived. The organisation exists across many cities in India and will be launching its newest chapter in Tirunelveli.

What you can do in Tirunelveli

When you have the long weekend, use it to explore and stroll down the shores of the Thamaraibarani River or visit the Kalakaddu Sanctuary or go boating at the glorious Manimuthar Dam. You can also enjoy the glorious Kutralam falls, and celebrate finishing your race with a delicious bite of the famous, Tirunelveli Halwa.

Nellai Marathon is a must visit for running enthusiasts for its unique race route and an enthusiastic set of runners who love to keep everyone motivated to start living healthy.

Click here to register for Nellai Marathon==>>https://goo.gl/gsN8NN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Food for Muscles

Strength training and lifting weights is a great way to build muscle strength, but your diet plays a bigger role says Nandini Reddy

Strength training is an essential part of a good runner’s training schedule. Taking care of your muscles means more than just using weights to build muscle. The one factor that needs attention is your diet. Your diet can play the most critical role in ensuring your muscles are healthy and in a state to support your strenuous running schedules. All foods are not equal so its important to pick the right ones to give your muscles the energy boost they need. There are essential rules to remember while choosing food to build muscle.

The Right Amount of Protein

Protein has the essential nutrients that are required to build muscles and also repair them when they are damaged during training. But you also need to understand that protein needs to be eaten in the right quantity. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, consuming 1.6 gms of protein per kilogram of body weight is ideal for building muscle. Lean meats like eggs, fish and white meat are a great way to add muscle. Supplemental protein shakes break down quickly in your body so they are a great after workout booster.

When do you eat Protein?

Muscles break down whenever you run. Right after a workout your body is better equipped to absorb the nutrition from protein. That doesn’t mean you have to consume something immediately after you workout. You have a 2 hour window within which you can have a meal that will help recover the muscles that have been damaged during the run or workout. While post-workout may be an ideal time to replenish your muscle building proteins, pre-workout meals also have a great impact. Eating a protein rich meal a couple of hours before going in for your workout is also very beneficial. But you need to remember that there is a limit on how much you consume. Eating too much protein in one sitting might only create problems rather than give you a bulky frame. Plan out the protein consumption in advance and spread it out through the day.

Its not all meat

Fueling muscle growth and repair doesn’t mean you have to only indulge in eating meat. There are several vegetables that also help and should be included in your diet. Beetroot, oranges, cantaloupe, panneer, spinach, apples, yogurt and milk are great protein additives to your diet. They give you added nutrients and fuel for muscles to repair better.

No Junk Allowed

Junk is the worst kind of food that one can consume. The extra calories in junk will only make you gain weight. They will not help in muscle development. The goal should always be to eat healthy food. If you need to increase calories to make up for the energy requirements from running, don’t add junk. Eat healthy food otherwise muscle growth will not be adequate and might even be retarded because of lack to the correct nutrition.

Fuel for your runs

Carbohydrates are the most important fuel for your runs. Protein cannot provide adequate energy to keep you going the whole day but carbs can. So along with your protein it is important to give your body the right mix of carbohydrates and fats to prevent deficiencies. Sweet potatoes, brown rice and pumpkins are good carbs to eat along with protein. The carbs get stored as glycogen and will fuel the muscles as they work to help you reach the finish line.

Ensure your calorie intake equals your expenditure. If you lead an active lifestyle then your calorie intake will be higher. If you run and workout daily then you need to fuel these as well. So remember that it is important you give you body adequate protein to build muscles and carbs to fuel those muscles as they work.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Jumping long, aiming high

Michael  Powell, is an Olympian who was a former track and field athlete, and is the holder of the long jump world record. Capt Seshadri profile the phenomenal athlete who was the a brand ambassador for the TSK25 Kolkata 2017

At 77 kilos, he was as light as a feather. He too could float like a butterfly, an attribute that belonged to another legend from his country, although of a different kind of sport.

This is the story of a world beating athlete who rediscovered himself. In April 2013, 17 years after retirement, he was invited to participate in a charity long jump event in Japan. Among the crowd was none other than his former foe, the legendary Carl Lewis. By then 35 kilos heavier than his normal weight, at a hefty 112 kg, and in no way fit to compete, he was disconsolate after faring badly against virtually unknown amateurs. Urged by one of his closest friends and former world triple jump record holder Willie Banks, to train back into shape, stunned by his own lack of fitness and now spurred into action, he returned to his home in California a completely changed man. A mere year and a half later, down to a trim 83 kg, he announced his ambitions of going for the World Masters long jump record. “Fat doesn’t fly and now I’m lighter it is about me getting that masters record,” says he. If he achieves this, he will be the only athlete to hold the World and Masters records in a single event.

This is the story of Mike Powell. The man who broke Bob Beamon’s ‘leap of the century’ by 5 cm, flying through the air to 8.95 m at the 1991 World Championships in Athletics in Tokyo, in the process, pushing ‘King’ Carl to second place. For his stupendous feat, he was rewarded with the James E. Sullivan Award and the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year Award, the same year. In 1992, at Sestriere in Italy, he almost cleared 9m with a jump of 8.99 m, but the record did not stand as it was considered wind aided. However, as the years passed, he had to be satisfied with a silver in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the gold in 1993 and the bronze at the 1995 World Championships in Athletics.

Mike Powell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but moved to study at Edgewood High School in West Covina, California. He went on to attend the University of California, Irvine and later transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Apart from his scholarly pursuits and his athletics career, his feat in basketball is a successful dunk from the free throw line in the 1992-93 Foot Locker Slam Fest! With music as his love and dancing being both his passion and a way of staying fit, he has even been a popular DJ!

Powell, who now coaches budding long jumpers at Academy of Speed in Rancho Cucamonga, California, is a brand ambassador for the TSK25 Kolkata 2017. He has very fond memories of India, the people, their enthusiasm and warmth, also recalling in lighter vein, the warmth of the weather.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams

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How much should you run?

As a runner you need to decide how much you want to run everyday, so whether its a 10k, half or full marathon, here are a few things to remember, writes Nandini Reddy

Every runner wants to achieve his full potential but sometimes over-enthusiasm can lead to running the extra kilometre which will cause injury. So how do you decide when you have reached the optimum distance that is good for you and how do you grow on these distance challenges? Here are a few suggestions of how you can achieve your potential.

Set the goals

The first thing that you need to do is to set goals for your training. If you don’t have a coach and you need assistance then try a running app. When you plan your goals you would need to consider the following:

  1. What distance do you want to achieve?
  2. Your goal – finish a race or finish in a particular time
  3. Number of times a week that you can run
  4. Time you have to train before your big race

Once these are set, its time to set-up your training. That implies that you need to follow a few basic rules to stay injury free and also complete your goals.

Performance Goals

You need to be clear whether you want to achieve a particular performance goal or just finish a race. If you are planning to just finish a race then it really doesn’t matter how many kilometres you run before a race. If you plan to finish at a particular time then you training runs need to include this factor. So if you trying to run a 10k marathon with an aim to achieve sub 60 min timing then you need to do practice runs of at least 7-8kms that are sub 60 mins so that on race day you can achieve your goal.

Quality of the Run

The weekly runs should not be so stressful that you drive yourself to fatigue. If you do that then you are likely to find it difficult to recover. You can even try to include interval training runs so that you can improve your run quality and stamina. If you are training with a coach then try and also bring in some strength training so that your muscles are better equipped to take the stress of the run.

Right Pace

As you keep running you will find your most comfortable pace. You can hold on to this pace if you aren’t too stringent about timing. But if you want to work on timing then the pace needs to be worked on by slowly increasing it during your weekly training runs. If you are slow it doesn’t mean you are a bad runner. Most Ultra-runners take 4-5 hours to finish their races and they have a leisure pace. These runners may not increase their pace if they are asked to run a 5k or 10k because to them, the comfort of the pace is more important than distance. You just need to find your pace and stick to it.

Small Improvements

If you want to advance your distance or pace then you need to do it with caution. Give your body the time to adapt to achieve an increase in pace and distance. If you run 3 times in a week then initially increase your pace during one of these runs. Once you have adapted to the new distance you can even add more running days.

Remember that a healthy runner will finish a race so instead of driving yourself to injury, be smart about how you increase your distance and improve your pace.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

Read more