Featured Comments (0) |

The World’s Greatest Distance Runners

Capt Seshadri is looking at the world’s greatest distance runners in the first part of this series we present three of the all time greats.

Great runners have shown the world that challenges diminish against our spirit and endurance. In the first of the series, I am talking about runners who were so fast that they gained nicknames for their speed such as The Flying Finnn and the Czech Locomotive. These three runners have awed the world with their speed, skill and determination as they flew across the tracks to stamp their place in history.

The Flying Finn

Twenty two official world records at various distances between 1500 metres and 20 kilometres. Nine golds and three silvers in twelve events at the Olympics. Undefeated at distances of 800 metres and above for 121 races. And, spanning a 14-year career, unbeaten in cross country events and the 10,000 metres.

A non-conformist, both as an athlete and as a soldier, while the rest of his army colleagues walked, Paavo Johannes Nurmi ran with a rifle on his shoulder and a backpack full of sand. To strengthen his legs, he wore heavy boots and ran behind trains while holding on to the rear bumper.

Having made his international debut in the 1920 Olympics, Nurmi became the first and, to date, the only runner to hold the world record in the mile, the 5000 metres and the 10,000 metres at the same time. Such was his endurance and fortitude that he established world records for the 1500 metres and the 5000 metres within an hour of each other, and even won gold in these events in a space of less than two hours at the 1924 Olympics.  Apparently not satisfied with these achievements, he changed focus to longer distances, breaking the world records for the one hour run and the 25-mile marathon.

The Flying Finn later coached Finnish runners and pursued a career in haberdashery, construction and as a share trader. Nurmi, who would always run with a stopwatch in hand, is recognised for what is known as the “even pace” and credited with making running a major international sport, influencing the running styles of several future generations.

The Czech Locomotive

Working at the Bata factory at the tender age of 16, Emil Zatopek was asked by his manager to run a race against a hundred of his peers. Although initially reluctant to run, he came staggering in at second spot, which eventually drove him to train and excel in the sport. In 1944, a mere four years later, he broke the Czech records for the 2,000, 3,000 and 5,000 metres. In later years, Zátopek became the only athlete to win the 5,000 metres, the 10,000 metres and the marathon in a single Olympics. In fact, his last lap in the 5,000 metres was an astounding 57.5 seconds.

His quite audible wheezing while running earned him the monikers “Emil the Terrible” and the “Czech Locomotive”. While training, weather was never a constraint; snow never deterred him. His unique way of relaxing while running was to gently touch the tip of the thumb with the tip of the index or middle finger; the simple contact ensured that the arms and shoulders remained relaxed.

The Mathematical Finn

This police officer turned athlete employed the technique of the ‘emptying exercise’ of many top runners. This entailed pushing themselves to a total exhaustion or lack of energy level so that their bodies could once again receive more energy, enabling them to repeat their top race performances. At the infamous 1972 Munich Olympics, Lasse Virén won both the 5,000 and the 10,000 metres races. With less than 150 metres to go, Virén caught up with the leading pack after losing about 20 metres owing to getting tangled with other runners. Earlier, with 600 metres to go, Virén had already started an unprecedented lap-and-a-half kick, finally winning in record time.

Lasse Viren had a special running style that worked to his advantage. He ran all the bends very close to the inner edge of the first lane, which spared him tens of metres compared to his main competitors. This metre-saving practice is called ‘bend’ or ‘curve’ mathematics and is advocated even to this day.


The next part of the series will feature more inspirational runners who have motivated generations to take to the tracks.



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

Read more

Motivation Comments (0) |

Half to Fifty

Arun Nair finds his way to the finisher of the The Malnad Ultra, Santosh Neelangattil, to understand what it takes to be an Ultra runner. 

It was Saturday morning when I packed my bags and drove towards Birur, a small town in Chikkamagaluru District of Karnataka. It was a pleasant ride through the national and state highways of rural Karnataka. I have had the opportunity to meet various running groups from South India and I had come to this location without understanding what an Ultra Trail entails. I meet a group of young runners and was pleasantly surprised when they mentioned that they trekked up a hill sometimes to go for a 10k run.

In a day an age when it is fashionable to say, ‘I am a runner”, I met  the unassuming Santosh Neelangattil. He did not look like someone who had completed a 50km race. A few excerpts from our conversation on all things running.

Congratulations on finishing your first Ultra run. How was the experience and how do you feel?
It’s exhilarating. Every kilometer after forty-two km was a milestone, as I was tracing them for the first time. Completing fifty km within the cut-off time and injury free was a significant achievement for me considering the condition of the trail. The experience was entirely different. A trail-run in a coffee estate! When I reached the place, it was dry all around. Rain in the evening changed the conditions altogether. It became slushy and slippery. It was even difficult to walk in some places. From planning for an ultra-run, it became an endurance run. After a while, I had to cross certain stretches by holding on to the coffee plant twigs. It was an unknown terrain as a lot of us were not sure on the depth of those slushy areas. At this point, the run got elevated from an endurance run to an obstacle run, and I was thoroughly enjoying it. It became all the more important for me to complete the run.

So in those tough conditions what kept you going?
It was the fellow runners and the volunteers! The seasoned ultra-runners kept encouraging and were giving bits of advice. The localities were providing unconditional support to all the runners by motivating us. By the way, I forgot to tell you about the leeches.

So how did this journey as a runner start for you?
This feeling of “Can I run?” started in 2006. I realized that I struggled to walk for one kilometer. I got a feeling that there were abnormalities in my health. Then I went through consultations, health check-ups, and supplements. I had to change. That’s when I heard about Sunfeast 10k run 2007. I practiced for it, and then I never missed Sunfeast or TCS run as it’s called now.

I love traveling. It was at this point that I decided to go for run-tour. So, my vacations and business meetings started getting planned around marathons. I have participated in several runs in last ten years – Kochi, Trivandrum, Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Madurai, Coimbatore, Cherrapunjee, Auroville (Pondicherry), Dubai, Australia and Sri Lanka. The beauty of my runs changed from health to the joy of running. My vacations will never be complete with two or three runs if not an event. I would go running on the beaches and explore new places which are otherwise not accessible on a vehicle. It became all the more interesting.

If you were to give a few tips to a new runner, what would you tell them?
‘Stay fit to run fit.’ When I started running, I was looking at finishing faster. That’s when a mentor, coach, and being part of a group helped me a lot. A renowned coach in Karnataka, Kothandapani sir, is my mentor. He just asked me one question, “Do you want to run for just this run or are you planning to run long?” Well, my answer was “I want to run long and run for many years.” I realized slowly that it was important to be fit to run. There was no point in getting injured and stop running. Then there were some outstanding seniors – Arvind, Ganesh, Subbu and the Team Miles Ahead (TMA) group gave me a lot of input on running safely without injuring.

For a typical one hour run, twenty to thirty minutes of warm-up and fifteen to twenty minutes of cool down post run is required. Warm-up and warm-down is something I know most of them miss out. It’s the most annoying part. We tend to get lazy when it is about warm-up as it’s not as exciting as running. My advice is simple, don’t miss your warm-up and warm-down.

For this particular Ultra Run was there any specific training preparation for it?
Longer training! Well, it’s also about conditioning my mind. If I have to advise runners for ultra-run – “If you can run ten km, you can run longer. Know your pace, listen to your body and don’t compete with others. You are your competition. No point in competing against anyone.” Do not experiment with your body unknowingly. Don’t harm your body to the extent that your day-to-day activities are affected. Run for the joy of running.

So when is the next race?
I enjoy my runs, and I know that there is always a new challenge. If you like to hear some numbers, (smiles) – my running app shows that I have completed 4500 km since 2014. Then there are many, that were not tracked. Tracking helps, and it motivates me. If you want me to be specific, my dream is to run Bangalore – Mysore, which is 150 km.

During our casual chat, he told me that there were days when he struggled to finish even 500 meters. There is something that I should personally learn, or maybe a lot of us should learn. As an irregular runner of short distance I know the struggle and it certainly felt good that even seasoned runners were not always motivated to run 10K everyday when they step out of bed.


Arun_Profile Pic


Arun K Nair loves to play cricket, volleyball, and shuttle. He participates in 10k marathons in Chennai and Bangalore and is the author of a crime novel.

Read more

News Comments (0) |

Airtel Delhi Half Marathon sees nearly 35,000 participants despite high pollution levels

The marathon organisers however claim that even though they got a green signal from the Delhi High Court they have done everything from their end to accommodate the best for their runners.

Read more http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/airtel-delhi-half-marathon-high-pollution-level/1/1092616.html

Read more

Motivation Comments (0) |

The North Face Endurance Run

Running is a lifestyle change, marathon runner Vidya Mahalaxmi talks to Nandini Reddy about her finishing The North Face Endurance Challenge this weekend.
The Run 
The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship course engages runners with both scenic views and drastic elevation change. You won’t want to miss out on this trail running event that draws participants ranging from first time racers to elite runners.The North Face Endurance Challenge returns to the Bay Area. Located in the visually stunning Marin Headlands. The run has a 50 Mile, 50K, Full Marathon and Half Marathon, the Marathon Relay, 10K, 5K and a kids run. The total time allotted for completion of the 50 mile run is 14 hours. The weather, in San Francisco during November, is perfect for the run.
The First Bug 
For Bangalore girl, Vidya Mahalaxmi, running has today become a lifestyle. It may have started as a fitness regime after giving birth to her first child, twelve years ago but today it has become a few miles every day. “Running marathons/ half marathons, was never on the cards for me. Growing up, I was told, I had flat feet and running wasn’t going to be easy. I used to swim. But never attempted to run,” reminisces Vidya.
“About eighteen months ago, I started working for Tarlton Properties,Inc., in Construction. My C.E.O., John Tarlton, has been more than an inspiration for me. He is my mentor. He has taken part in RAAM( Race Across America). He biked from the West Coast to the East, in eleven days. He encouraged me to take part in my first Half Marathon, The North Face Endurance Challenge – 2016. Since then, I have taken park in several races, by myself, and also as a pacer with him, in a few races. ( Santa Barbara Endurance Run and Lake Tahoe Ultra Marathon), ” says Vidya.
The Challenge of the Race
This year she ran the Half Marathon at the North Face Endurance Challenge -2017. “Just like other races, before race day, I try to run any where from 10 to 15 miles. The last week, I start to taper, and carb-load,” says Vidya. This race, in particular was interesting in so many ways. The trail, has the most breath-taking views of San Francisco. It is also extremely challenging, with all the elevations with stretches where runners literally bear-crawl. “I overcame a weakness of running in elevation in this race. My favourite part of the race though was running down-hill,” shares Vidya.

After every Race

A post run analysis of her performance is a must for Vidya who is always looking to improve with every race. “I learn something new, after every race. What gear and accessories to wear, what snacks help with your muscle cramps, and how to carry as much water, in the most minimal way, ” notes Vidya.

“Running has changed my perspective of life. I was divorced three years ago, after being married for 11 years, with two kids. My kids are so proud of their mother and running has played a big role in that aspect. Finishing the race, gives me confidence, that can’t be expressed in words,” concludes Vidya Mahalaxmi the newest member of the every growing running community across the world.




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

Training Comments (0) |

How to train for Trail Run

If you love running and nature, chances are that you may love trail running too. Radhika Meganathan explores the process of training for a trail run.

Perhaps the only thing that might top runner’s high is runner’s high at an altitude! Trail running involves running on natural terrain, usually on mountainous hiking trails, and offers many benefits such as less impact on the body, increased variety, and the filling of your senses with natural beauty. From the book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running, to be qualified as a “trail” it should possess:

  1. Natural elements and obstacles (such as winding woods, trees, waterways etc.)
  2. significant ascents and descents (i.e. elevation gain/loss)
  3. Scenic beauty.

So, even a paved car track can be known as a trail if it is located on a beautiful hilly terrain! Nevertheless, a nature trail is completely different from, say, your friendly neighbourhood park, so here is a primer on what you need to know about Train Running 101.

Understand your trail

Firstly, one size does not fit all when it comes to trails. Your training plan should consider altitude, overall elevation change, and course the nature of the trail itself. Is it rocky, mossy, clay soil? Hilly, or flat? Sharp turns or loose gravel? Did you come across it during a holiday (or hear about it from someone) and plan to go there soon? Or, are you lucky enough to live near a nature trail, in which case you can train real time, regularly? Knowing your goals and accessibility options beforehand will tremendously help you in getting a trail-running plan drafted.

Reset your expectations

When you transition from running on flat, concrete surface to dirt and grass, it changes the way you pace and balance yourself, and gives you a set of new challenges. Your trail path will be uneven, gravelly and sticky alternatively, and make you twist and turn more frequently than ever. To prepare to handle all this and avoid injuring yourself, it is essential to train the right way. Both attitude and altitude adjustment is required! Your pace will slow down, so don’t expect to have the same speed as before. Patience and a willingness to relearn is key.

Get appropriate gear

If you plan to run on trails regularly, getting a trail running kit is essential. When you run through non-urban spaces (or middle of the forests!), you don’t want to be stuck without a torch or food, so you may need to consider investing in a bag to carry water, food, or extra layers. Though you can use normal sports shoes to run on a trail, it may be a better idea to invest in special trail running shoes, whose treads offer better grip, safeguard you more effectively from slippery surfaces and have more features to protect you against elements such as rocks and roots.

Self-styled or trail training lessons

There are thousands of trail runners all over the world who run without any professional help, as even the freshest novice can start running after doing proper research and investing in the right gear/footwear. But still, if your trail is not a walk in the park (pun intended) or if you have any physical or mental restrictions that may prevent you from successfully completing a trail run, it may be a good idea to get some expert training, at least in the initial stage.

You can request a consultation at your local gym, or connect with local hiking/mountaineering organisations where you can meet with fellow runners and compare notes and more. You may even sign up with a running buddy or learn about a hitherto unexplored trail for your debut run!


profile pic


A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

Read more

News Comments (0) |

Its Ayana all the way at ADHM

Current woman world athlete of the year Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia clinched gold in her debut race while compatriot Berhanu Legese won the men’s event in the Delhi Half Marathon here on Sunday. Ayana, the world’s leading woman long distance runner on track, clocked one hour, seven minutes and 11 seconds to emerge champion in her maiden half marathon race as Ethiopians ran away with all the three top positions.

Read more at http://www.news18.com/news/sports/delhi-half-marathon-ethiopian-stars-ayana-legese-win-golds-1581351.html

Read more

News Comments (0) |

Kirui and Ayana predict fast times at the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2017

Fast time will be the obvious target of all the top runners at the 13th edition of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon – and the 10th anniversary of Airtel becoming the title sponsor – with 2017 world champions Geoffrey Kirui and Almaz Ayana both looking to make a big impact on the IAAF Gold Label Road Race this coming Sunday (19 November).

Both runners dodged diplomatically around the issue of whether they would beat the existing course records at the traditional pre-race press conference on Thursday, but the pair commented that they were in excellent shape and would not on the start line in Delhi if they were not ready to run well.

The men’s course record is 59: 06 and was set by Ethiopia’s Guye Adola in 2014 while the women’s course record has been standing since 2009 and belongs to Kenya’s Mary Keitany at 1:06.54.

Kirui, who won the men’s marathon at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 this summer, told the gathered media: “If I compare myself to my last appearance here (in 2015), I’m in much better shape and my body has got stronger than before.”

The Kenyan runner was sixth in a high-quality affair two years ago, making a breakthrough that caught the attention of running fans around the world the race, and he set what remains his personal best of 59:38.

“Running the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon is not going to be easy for me because some of my friends and fellow runners here have been running half marathons all the time.

“This is my second time here and I’m ready, but it entirely depends on how I am feeling Sunday. Today I’m feeling good but Sunday maybe a different day,” added Kirui.

Despite his feats over the classic marathon distance this year, which also include a win at the Boston Marathon in April, Kirui has not actually run a competitive half marathon since his outing in Delhi two years ago.

Kirui is also not the fastest man in the field, which may explain his slight reticence on Thursday, as two of his compatriots have run quicker than the course record and under 59 minutes this year. The in-form Jorum Okumbo and Alex Korio ran 58:48 and 58:51 respectively in Copenhagen in September.

Ethiopia’s reigning 10,000m world champion and world record holder Ayana will be making her debut in a half marathon on Sunday, in her first race since the world championships in August.

“After winning the world championships, I have continued my training. There aren’t many good competitions, so I trained hard for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. Even though it’s new territory, it’s running, so I will do my best,” reflected Ayana on Thursday.

“Having said that, while I will look to do well in the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, my focus will remain on track events. I will see how my first half marathon goes and then decide if I want to do another,” she added.

In the women’s race, Ayana will face her compatriot Worknesh Degefa, who is not only the defending champion but also the fastest woman in the field having clocked 66:14 in Prague last year.

“I’m happy to come to India to run because the weather is quite similar to back home, so I love it here. The field is strong, Almaz is like my sister, she is my hero. I’ll be very happy for her if she wins. Almaz is very fast and strong. It will be quite difficult to keep up with her,” added the diminutive Ethiopian.

As the only IAAF Gold Label Road Race in India, the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon can rightly claim to be the nation’s top distance running event.

All the leading runners will also have in their sights first prize cheques of US$27,000 with a total prize money purse (combined men and women) of US$275,000.

Read more

Nutrition Comments (0) |

Fat loading or Carb loading?

It’s a matter of storing glycogen in your muscles before the big event, but if you are wondering which is best option for you, then read on as Radhika Meganathan discusses both approaches here. 

Every runner knows about and dreads hitting the “wall”, which happens when your body is depleted of energy, and energy comes from burning fuel, usually in the form of glycogen. To “load’ is to help your body fill up on its glycogen so that it can use it up for energy and keep you going as you are doing a long distance sport (anything that’s over 2 hours in duration). But what exactly should you load your body with – carbs or fat? Does it even matter?

Before answering this question, let’s first take a look at why glycogen plays a crucial role in the pre-race diet of a runner.

Why is glycogen important?

Let’s say you eat a delicious plate of biriyani or penne pasta. Once all those carbohydrates enter your system, most of it gets stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. It’s like keeping money in a savings account; your body dips into it and you burn and lose energy during a race. So, the idea is to save enough glycogen to last an entire race. So now you have a free pass to eat whatever you want before the race, with no worries about dieting! All within certain reason, of course, as explained in the next part of this article.

What is Carb-Loading?

Simply put, you eat carbs before a race, ideally 3-4 days before the big day. This does not mean you just keep stuffing yourself without any limit. Eat to your satisfaction, not to the point of discomfort. The recommended range is to eat 7-10 grams of carb per kg of your body weight for 3 days before the race. Pasta, rice, bread, pancakes/waffles, chappathi, bananas, baked potatoes (without skin), oatmeal are in the recommended list Vegetables and fruits have carbs too but is best to keep them to a minimum, as they have fibre and too much fibre before a race can derail you with stomach issues!

What is Fat Loading?

Now, glycogen is not the only source of energy your body has access to, it’s just the most easily digestible one! During a marathon, you burn both glycogen and fat. But the body has to work harder to convert fat into fuel, which is why it prefers to burn carbs than fat. Fat encompasses everything from meat to dairy to nutty oils – think bacon fried in butter or eggs sautéed in coconut oil. The one thing that is NOT present in fat loading is carbs, so all grains, fruits and sugars are out of this diet.

Carb Loading vs Fat Loading: Which is best?

There is no right answer to this question, as it is entirely a matter of what you want to do and which option is most suited to your body. From an economic perspective, foods used in carb loading are cheaper and easier to prepare. That said, a diabetic runner will certainly not take to carb-loading in a healthy way, and can benefit from fat loading which has almost zero carb content. If you are not insulin resistant, or if you are following a keto diet, you can certainly opt for fat loading about 9-10 days before the race.

Recent scientific studies have revealed that a fat-heavy diet can work for runners, as it teaches your muscles to be fat burners. So when you are trained to use fat as fuel during a race, glycogen storage is saved up for later use, resulting in an actual delay of “hitting the wall” – this means it can even be avoided completely. It does take a few weeks for your body to adapt to fat loading, so make sure you don’t experiment too close to the D-Day!


profile pic


A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

Read more

Training Comments (0) |

Rest & Recovery during Marathon Training

Runners need to understand the need to rest and recover between training runs. Nandini Reddy talks about the need to rest to avoid injury and over-training syndrome.

There are many different kinds of runners. Everyone has their own schedule of training for marathons. But while most experienced runners do understand the importance of recovery and rest, many of them need to be forced to rest as they tend to be over-enthusiastic to keep training without a break.

Scheduling Rest

When charting out a training plan it is important to have rest days, recovery days, light workout days and heavy workout days. This will help take care of several issues that most runners face including fatigue and injury. Rest should be a scheduled day in a week. Regular and healthy runners need just one day rest in order to recover. New runners might need extra time to recover as their body gets acquainted to the stress of running. Recovery days are different from rest days. Rest days mean doing absolutely no physical workout. Recovery days are days we do alternative workouts that will help stretch and relax the muscles that we have been working. They can include activities like swimming, yoga, static stretches or even a leisure cycle ride. Strength training cannot be counted as recovery day as it required immense effort and does strain the body. But it can be part of your heavy workout day schedule once a week at least.

Refueling on Rest Days

Nutrition is a huge part of training for a marathon. It generally get overlooked by amateur and professional athletes but it should be part of your training plan. Nutrition plays an important role in helping muscles recover faster. Recovery and rest days try an reduce the amount of carbs you have and go for more light meals with fresh food like salads and soups. Hydrate well on rest days also. Don’t leave hydration only for running days. On those days increase your hydration but make it a habit to hydrate well on rest and recovery days as well.

Ice is your friend

Muscle soreness can be recovered to a large extent with ice packs and cold compress treatments. Running can cause inflammation your joints such as ankles, knees, hips and feet. Using ice packs helps in reducing the inflammation and helps in faster recovery.

Massages can be effective

Pro-athletes and newbies all support that massages are a good way to recover. On your rest day you can plan a massage if you are feel you are not able to adequately recover with other methods of rest. There are special muscle relieving massages and it is important to brief your therapist about your reason for it to be more effective.

Following such simple plans can make a huge difference to your endurance as a runner. Whether you choose all or a few rest and recovery methods, you are likely to see the difference. These small changes will have a big effect on your running performance.




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