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The wind of change

The first role model for black and female athletes, Capt Seshadri remembers the stunning achievements of the ‘Tornado’ Wilma Rudolph.

The date was November 12, 1994. The flag of the state of Tennessee flew at half mast as the citizens shed tears at the passing away of child number 20. From a family that had two more siblings. And all of them from a railway porter father who was twice wedded. This is the story of the ‘Tornado’ of the 1960s… the fastest woman on earth.

The Early Years

Wilma Rudolph, the first American woman to win three golds in a single Olympics, was born on June 23, 1940, into a family of indigents. From early childhood, she suffered from various illnesses like pneumonia and scarlet fever, and at the age of 4, contracted infantile paralysis. In the process of recovering from this debilitating disease caused by the polio virus, she was forced to wear a leg brace for the next four years. The following years were a constant trip to Nashville for treatment and massages for her leg, which was supported by an orthopaedic shoe. But this wonder kid, at age 12, broke away from the restrictions and began walking without artificial support.

Back at high school as a tenth grader, Wilma began playing basketball and her rare, natural talent was spotted by Ed Temple, the track and field coach of Tennessee. And so, fourteen year old Wilma signed up for his summer training camp; in a short time, she was winning as many as nine events in a single meet. Even while a high school student, she trained with the Tennessee State University women’s track team, the Tigerbelles, racing and winning amateur athletic events with amazing regularity.

The Olympics

Wilma’s Olympic debut came about in 1956 at Melbourne, where she competed in the 200 metres and collected bronze in the 4×400 metres relay. Some time later, while still a student, she ran the 200 metres at Abilene in the US Olympic track and field trials in a world record time that stood its ground for eight years! Her sprint to fame however, came four years later at the Stadio Olimpico at Rome, where she set the cinder track ablaze with three golds, in the 100 & 200 metres and the 4×100 metre relay, in the process becoming the first American woman to achieve a triple Olympic gold. But the 200 metres still proved her favourite where, although she won gold in the final in 24.0 seconds, she had already set a new Olympic record of 23.2 seconds in the opening heat!

The ‘Tornado’

Wilma Rudolph was one of the first role models for black and female athletes. Her Olympic success is quoted as having given a tremendous boost to women’s participation in track and field events in the United States. The effect of her successes went far beyond her collection of medals; she was instrumental in breaking the gender barrier in a male dominated area of track and field athletics. A sensational achievement in such an era, fighting physical disability, fiscal hardship and a social handicap, proving to the world that in a battle of disability vs determination, the winner is ever predictable.

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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Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Runners require Vitamin D, as its an important nutrient to avoid stress injuries, writes Nandini Reddy

Runners get all their macro nutrients right with the diet they follow. That is easily monitored and the room for error is slim. But in terms of micro-nutrients, despite eating a balanced diet, there might be shortfall, especially of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is particularly important for runners. Having adequate Vitamin D helps one reduce anxiety, strengthen bones and run with better power. It is an important factor in improving overall muscle strength and improved heart health too.

How do you know if you are deficient?

There are certain symptoms that will indicate a lower level of Vitamin D. You might have sore muscles often with pain that doesn’t subside easily. Fever and bone fractures in the ribs, hips, thighs and feet. If you are experiencing these symptoms then testing for Vitamin D is a good idea. A blood test will determine the levels and a physician can give you a temporary medication to amp up the levels of Vitamin D in your body until your natural rhythm sets in. Any medication should be taken under the supervision of a doctor as there are adverse affect to Vitamin D being too high as it can become toxic.

How do we get Vitamin D?

The best known way to get Vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. With at least 30 minutes of exposure to the slanting rays of the sun, the body is able to synthesize Vitamin D. But just spending time in the sun isn’t enough to ensure that you body get enough Vitamin D. Along with sun exposure these inclusions in your diet will increase the Vitamin D – fatty fish, mushrooms and eggs. You also get fortified foods like milk and breakfast cereals but getting the nutrition directly from foods is a better option. These are just sources but to ensure absorption you need to consume magnesium rich foods and high dietary fibre foods, such as nuts, leafy greens, beans, avocado, olive oil, etc.

While you might feel that you are doing enough by running early mornings. You should realise that unless you expose a significant amount of skin without using sunscreens and creams, your body cannot generate adequate Vitamin D. Hence it is important to ensure that the diet also supports in maintaining the required levels.

How does it affect running performance?

As a runner it is important to ensure that you muscles and bones are in top health. If you have inadequate Vitamin D then you might experience the following during your training:

  1. Quick exhaustion
  2. Muscle soreness that lasts for days
  3. Slower recovery
  4. Stress injury on your legs
  5. Nausea from running or any exercise
  6. Bad Immunity to common colds, flu and cough

There is a designated amount of Vitamin D that has be present depending on the persons age which your physician will be able to prescribe.

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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Game. Set. And unmatched.

Capt Seshadri encountered a determined athlete in Madhu Bagri, who only believed in excelling no matter what the odds.

We watch Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal slug it out on the courts. Athletes supreme, fitness and endurance a byword in sport. And yet, even they are falliable, succumbing every once in a while, to mental fatigue and bodily injury. What then of a young woman, born with a disability, facing physical pain and psychological pressure and yet making a mark on the international tennis scene?

Infantile polio confined her to a wheelchair from the tender age of 18 months. Later, at age 11, a spinal surgery kept her in bed for three years. Her family literally gave up on her. But her spirit remained unchained. The indomitable spirit of Madhu Bagri, India’s first international woman wheelchair tennis player. A brave young woman who has faced extreme odds of being born different, into a family who knew next to nothing about coping with her problem, and a sibling with an outright abhorrence of her difference.

Madhu went through school but had to stop after her surgery; much against her desire, the family wanted her to quit studying further. Alone but undaunted, she pursued her studies through distance education and graduated in Commerce, undeniably proud of her academic achievement. Says Madhu: “That phase of my life was akin to waging a world war. Wherein I was at one end and everyone else at the other and the fight was bitter and brutal. Everyone including my family asked me to quit my studies and just accept life as it was. But I never gave up and I fought against all odds to complete my studies and I did so with flying colours.”

The Journey Begins

In her early years, she had always evinced a great deal of interest in sport, unfortunately never having heard about para sports or even imagined physically impaired people being able to indulge in any kind of sporting activity. Still, she used to spend hours in her backyard in Ahmedabad, in a wheelchair, playing badminton, and willing herself to reach the shuttle every time.

Having graduated and wanting to pursue a career, Madhu worked in a few organisations and even tried to venture out on her own in business. However, like her earlier years of study, her career journey too was not a pleasant one. Poor infrastructure, miles of red tape and an indifferent attitude by those around her were major stumbling blocks. The turning point in her life came about in 2012 when she decided to revive her long ignored but still burning passion for sport. It was only after she joined a badminton academy that she realised that there was something called sport for the disabled. She never looked back.

Unstoppable Athlete

Although she had been playing badminton, tennis was her first love and it had been a dream to be able to play the game. A casual question by a coach spurred her to take up wheelchair tennis; within a few months of commencing training, she qualified to play international tournaments. Pramesh Modi, a tennis coach, spotted her ability and the fire in her to excel against odds. Under his tutelage, in a short span of three years, she won the national championship twice. From the time she took up the sport, she has participated in ten international tournaments, finishing second in one of them. In the process, Madhu Bagri has earned the distinction of being the first woman to represent India in a wheelchair tennis tournament for women and also the first to be ranked internationally in ITF wheelchair tennis.

Madhu has quietly lived on her own for the past 14 years or so, preparing to play more tournaments in the coming years. To further strengthen her muscles, she has taken to swimming, under the instruction of her coach. Her inspiration to dream and aim higher stems from the fact that not just differently-abled sports-persons, but even able-bodied people are motivated by her courage, enthusiasm and never say die spirit.  Game, set and match indeed.

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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Ignore the Snooze button

Becoming a morning runner isn’t for everyone, so how do you avoid the snooze button, asks Nandini Reddy

The early morning opportunity to run is considered to be the best time to run by most runners. But are you one of those people who just cannot seem to drag yourself out of bed even after setting 5 blaring alarms. Wondering if you would ever be able to shake the night owl reputation?

If you want to do it, then try here are a few ways in which you can beat back your natural inclination to hit the snooze button.

Take it slow

It won’t happen overnight. You cannot become a morning runner just in a day. If your final goal is to run during the pre-dawn period then first start by getting up at least an hour earlier than normal. Once you are comfortable with this you can progress towards the pre-dawn goal.

Sleep Sleep Sleep

If you want to get up in the morning then you need to get enough sleep. Trying to become a morning runner by getting only 4 hours of shut eye won’t help you one bit. If you get at least 6-7 hours of sleep then you are less likely to hit that snooze button and you won’t be groggy and will be more energetic when you get up early in the morning.

Prep the night before

This will quicken your morning process. Layout your clothes and gear. You can even set you running playlist to go. Fumbling in the dark to gather you things in the morning will end up irritating your partner and giving you a few stumbed toes. This also saves you time in the morning.

Warm Up

When you get up, your body is cold and your muscles will be stiff. So it is very important to warm-up and ensure your muscles are all ready to support your run. Running without a warm-up increases the risk of injury.

Partner Up

If you think you are likely to skip you morning runs because the temptation to hit the snooze button is too heavy then for the first few weeks till your system finds its flow – find a friend who can run with you. If not for yourself, at least you would be up out of fear of disappointing your friend.

Know the weather

It is important to stay warm during pre-dawn runs. Dawn can be chilly as it would have the lowest temperatures of the day. Try and wear clothing that will suitably protect you from the chill and morning dew.

Nutrition

Try and avoid sugary morning meals. Go for a savory  breakfast instead. Even if you need to grab a snack before your morning run, try and pre-prep a small salad of vegetables. The sugary snack will cause an imbalance in your hormones making you more lethargic.

Remember your goals and motivate yourself to ensure that you wake up and create a new habit. Wake up and feel alive.

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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Off Season Training

The biggest marathon season now is done but the off-season might just be the key to better performance writes Nandini Reddy.

So you have spent the last few months running your favourite marathons across the country. In a few you have achieved goal timing and in a few others you raced for the first time. Whether you ran 10k, 21k or a full marathon, you most likely had trained intensely for 4-8 weeks to achieve your goal. So now that the major marathon’s are over, how do you prepare for the next season?

The off season is one of the most critical periods for a marathoner. Here is a step wise method that you can use to be a better marathoner when the next season comes around.

Resist the urge to Run

There will be marathons throughout the year but try and resist running for a few weeks after your big race. If you want to run races then do it closer to the season for the longer distances and run short distances like 5k more often. The urge to run can be heavy but resisting it for a while will do you more good.

Take a break

All marathoners need at least 4-6 weeks of recovery time and rest in order to bring their mind and body back to its healthy state after putting them under stress for the past few months whole racing and prepping for marathons. This time will help heal injuries and also prevent mental and physical burnout. You will also have the time to analyze your previous runs and identify areas of improvement.

Set Fresh goals

Chalk up a new training plan. Your stamina and your body have changed owing to the past training sessions. You have a new level of fitness to achieve now and your timings and training modules need to change accordingly. Bring in a coach on board if you can to make your sessions more useful. Pick a specific set of big races that you want to run in the year and work your training plan leading up to those goals.

Keep Moving

This essentially means that you do not run but you keep moving by picking up another form of exercise. Pick a cross-training or strength training routine. If you need the high of exhaustion then pick a high intensity workout like zumba or pilates.

Rework your nutrition

The off-season is a good time to try a new nutrition plan. You can experiment with the help of a dietitian and see if you can find food combinations that increase your energy levels. You can also try out new recipes and find a whole new nutrition plan that will fuel your training sessions and make you a fitter runner.

Smart athletes have a training plan that will always have a built-in recovery plan. Use the beginning of the off-season to set all this in place so that when you train again you come back stronger and fitter.

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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Marathoner Unlimited

Capt Seshadri shares the story of Paula Jean Radcliffe, marathon runner extraordinaire, who has become the undisputed queen of long distance running. 

Three-time winner of the London Marathon. Three-time New York Marathon champion. Topper at the Chicago Marathon. Current world record holder, with a time that has not been broken in 15 years.  And a world record in the 10k with an astonishing time of 30:21!

Paula Jane Radcliffe, MBE, is an extraordinary Englishwoman, who overcame bouts of asthma and anaemia, to become the undisputed queen of the ultimate long distance run. Born on December 17, 1973 at Cheshire, Paula began her foray into running from the tender age of seven, alongside her father while he trained for his marathons, first as a competitive athlete and later as a hobby, to lose weight after giving up smoking.

Training under Alex Stanton, an experienced and talented coach, Paula, despite her frail frame and relatively small size, first tasted victory as a junior in 1992 at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Boston, despite suffering from what was diagnosed as exercise induced asthma coupled with a history of anaemia. Competing in the Great North Cross Run, Paula defeated the defending champion by 25 seconds, finishing the race in 8 inches of snow.

In 2002, she stepped up her sights to the full marathon, winning the London Marathon on debut, with a record time of 2:18:55. The same year, she literally sprinted across the finish line in 2:17:18 in Chicago, setting a new world record and breaking the existing one by over 90 seconds. Her still standing world record of 2:15:25 was set amidst controversy at the London Marathon of April 2003, the debate being fuelled by the fact that she used two men runners to assist in pacing her. The record was rescinded, but better sense prevailed and the organisers soon had it reinstated.

In London in 2005, Paula was afflicted with a bad stomach cramp, while halfway through the course. In pain and a with horrifying need for a break, Paula had her most embarrassing moment when she had to relieve herself by the roadside, without shelter from the crowd or the cameras.  The iron hearted lady went on to win the event in a world beating time of 2:17:42. A red faced Paula later apologised, but the sporting media went on to describe it as the top running moment in history.

Paula Radcliffe was an unconventional runner who never set limits or timings for the stages of the run. Her mantra was: Run your best as long as you feel good. Why set limits? Why slow down when you are running your best? Probably, the most important lesson marathoners could learn from her is to discard their timing devices and run their hearts out sans stages or limits.

In 2010, she was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame, an honour richly deserved. Paula Radcliffe ended her competitive running career with the London Marathon in 2015, as an athlete supreme, a runner without limits.

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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News Comments (0) |

Run towards a better future: A look at the marathons in India

Over the past few years, marathons have attracted a lot of importance in our country. Even the smaller cities are joining in with the metros to glorify the marathons trend. With the growing consciousness about fitness and good health, running a marathon occupies a prime spot on the wishlist for many. Some in the corporate circles take up the cause diligently and train all year long to perform well at the marathons. We’ve got you a glimpse of some cities as they play host to a marathon.

Read more at:
//economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/62640343.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

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Woman tackles Austin Marathon after surviving ovarian cancer, leukemia, car crash

Even leukemia, breast cancer, ovarian cancer and a car accident can’t stop Austinite Donna Monroe from running.

AUSTIN, Texas — If there’s anything Austin native Donna Monroe can teach you, it’s that if she can run the Austin Marathon, so can you.

At 70 years old, Monroe completed her run Sunday, but it’s not her age that’s the most surprising. Monroe has survived multiple cancers and being struck by a vehicle while out riding bikes with her partner.

Read more: http://www.khou.com/article/news/local/texas/woman-tackles-austin-marathon-after-surviving-ovarian-cancer-leukemia-car-crash/285-520519135

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Eating Right for runners

Marathoner, Dharminder Sharma, talks about the kind of food that is good and bad for the Indian runner.

You can eat whatever you want to, because you are a distance runner so you can digest everything – how many times have we heard this advice from the so-called experts to newly christened long distance runners!

Another statement often heard is that I run long distances so that I can eat whatever I want.

There cannot be two worse statements about diet than these!

Eating right is as important for a long distance runner as it is for anybody else. One can never overstate the importance of eating the right kind of food and food supplements to ensure a life-long injury free running experience. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats take up a major part of our daily diet although fibre, vitamins, minerals and water are also indispensable.

What are carbs?

In India, carbs are generally considered to be wheat and rice and most do not know much about what other foods contain carbs. Fruits, salads, vegetables, nuts, sweets and legumes (daals) all contain carbs.

What are simple and complex carbs?

A general advice given by Dietitians to health conscious individuals and runners is to go for complex carbs rather than simple ones. Without going into the science of the advantages of complex carbs and the disadvantages of the other, a simple listing of the items would help a runner or a fitness enthusiast choose the right diet. The common examples of simple carbs that a runner should avoid or restrict in quantity are white breads, sugar and sugary products like candies, toffees, chocolates (except a small piece of dark chocolate) and mithhai (traditional Indian sweets), fruit juices (especially canned ones), white rice, most bakery products, potato chips and cold drinks, this list is, however, not exhaustive.

The complex and healthy carbs that one should prefer are whole grain breads, chapatis made of whole wheat, Bajra, Ragi and other coarse grains/millet, brown rice, beans, nuts, oats and oatmeal, quinoa, fruits especially less sugary ones like guava, papaya and pineapple, sweet potatoes and leafy greens.

What about protein in diet?

When it comes to proteins, there is a popular myth that only the body builders or hard core gym enthusiasts need to consume proteins. That is not true because our body needs proteins to build muscles that provide the necessary support during runs. Proteins help build the muscles and they are required to recover the muscles after a long strenuous run. Therefore, a runner’s diet requires proteins in good quantities.

A long distance runner under training should have at least 0.8 gm of protein per kg of body weight per day in order to stay injury free. Some of the protein rich ‘foods’ that one can add in daily diet are chicken breast, fish, sunflower seed, almond, quinoa, egg white, low fat cottage cheese (paneer), chick pea (chana), whole lentils (chhilka daal), oat, beans, soya milk, broccoli, brown rice and peas, to name a few.

How do fats help?

Besides, the carbohydrates and proteins, fats take another major part of human diet. We often hear of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats – good are the ones that should be more in quantity. However, often when people get their lipid (fat) profiles checked through blood tests and come across technical terminology, it is little difficult for them to correlate in the laboratory reports as to what are the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ fats. Even if they are able to make out what these are, they often do not have an idea as to how to increase or decrease their levels in our bodies. The best way to increase good fats is to eat the food that naturally contains large quantities of ‘good’ fats.  Some of the ‘foods’ that contain high to very high quantities of these ‘good fats’ are almond, walnut, flaxseed, olive, canola, chia seed, pistachio, fish oil especially cod liver oil.

Never forget the Vitamins & Minerals

One can never over-emphasize the importance of flaxseeds in the daily diet. They are a rich source of natural omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 and B6 and are one of the most nutrient rich foods that also contain protein, dietary fibre, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and selenium. Flaxseeds are low in carbs and therefore, very useful for someone looking to shed weight. They are also good for cardiac health as they lower cholesterol levels and the antioxidants in them slow down the process of aging.

How much fibre is enough?

We often ignore the importance of another ‘food’ in our diet and that is dietary fibre. Some of the above-mentioned foods do contain dietary fibres in large quantities and should form a part of the daily diet no matter whether the person is training or is in the midst of an event. I say this because a lot of literature on the internet advises against eating fibre and protein rich diet the day before the event and in fact advises eating pasta. Since most of the literature is from the perspective of the West, this advice may hold well in that context but my advice to an Indian runner would be to go for the same diet that one is used to eating which may be Roti, Idli, rice, Dosa, etc.

The night before the big race

If you are used to eating Daal, Roti, Kheera, rice and Dahi as your regular diet, there is absolutely no harm eating it the night before the event. There is absolutely no sense going on a hunt the evening before an event for a restaurant that serves pasta if you have gone to a new city to run in an event. Just stick to familiar foods that have worked for you during the training, if they have worked for you so far they would surely work now. Remember, the day before the event or a marathon is not the right time to try a new food in a new city! In fact, eating familiar food will actually prevent the constipation on the morning of your event and save you precious time to enable you to reach the event fresh and in time.

Fitness and a healthy eating has to be a continuous journey and not a time bound target for a runner or a fitness person. I would conclude by giving another important advice – spicy and oily foods the day before the event whether or not you are used to eating them, are an absolute ‘No’!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dharminder Sharma is an Indian Forest Service Officer (IFS) who has been running long distances for more than ten years. He has attended most of the major marathons in India and a few abroad. He has also started many running clubs in the Northern Indian region and organising quality runs for runners is one of his many passions

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