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Meet Anjali Saraogi

Capt Seshadri speaks to Anjali Saraogi, the youngest Indian woman to complete the oldest marathon in the world

“Women usually undermine themselves. In my opinion, our fears are our greatest limitations. And we should spend more time living with our dreams than our fears.”

A teenaged girl, on the corner of adulthood at age 18, persuaded her mother to participate in a local marathon. The reluctant mother, who felt that she was too old for any kind of strenuous physical activity, let alone run 42 km, finally condescended and, to the surprise of all, finished first. And so began a career in long distance running for Anjali Saraogi, now aged 43 who, with just two years’ running behind her, has set records for herself and become a model for aspiring young runners to follow. At an age when most runners would be hanging their boots on a peg, this wonder woman was firmly tying up her laces.

As a kid, the plump young Anjali did not appear to be running material. While her initiation into running dispelled all her inhibitions and insecurities, the result was a shattering of records. A win at Delhi and a podium finish at the Mumbai Marathons were but baby steps to her astonishing achievements on the world scene. A temporary setback occurred when she was injured while preparing for the Chicago Marathon. Her doctors said: “you will never run again”. A dear friend gifted her a book by Amit Seth titled ‘Dare to Run’. This was to change Anjali’s running mindset forever. Amit, incidentally, was the first Indian to complete the Comrades Marathon, possibly the world’s most gruelling run, in 2009. Quite naturally, there was serious concern about her wellbeing from her husband and her father, but her determination and consistency won their admiration and support.

42.2 km was but a small start for this amazing athlete. All of 43 years, Anjali put everyone’s apprehensions behind as she toiled to complete the 89 km Comrades Marathon, the world’s oldest annual ultra-marathon that is run between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa; the ultimate dream of every marathoner. For her stupendous effort, as the first Indian woman to have achieved this feat, she won the Bill Rowden medal. Her next goal is to improve on her timing and finish the downhill race in the next Comrades Marathon and even to get her daughter to run with her.

The run of Comrades

It was race day 2017 at the Comrades. Anjali had set herself a target of 8:30. On that morning, even as early as 5.30, it was a warm day, with most of the runners being South Africans. By 11 am, with no shade and little breeze and with water points located only every 2.5 km, dehydration began setting in. 70 km done and still 12 to 13 minutes to go before the next water point, Anjali was on the verge of collapse, knowing that only a miracle could come to her aid.

And then it happened. A South African runner, probably as exhausted as she, was running alongside, with a water sachet in hand. He saw her eyes locked on the sachet, and despite his own dire need, passed it on to her to share the life reviving water. A little sporting gesture which, at that moment, transcended every border of nationality, race or gender. Comrades indeed! At 2:08 in the sweltering afternoon, Anjali crossed the finish line in a time of 8:38:23. In an interview, she states: “Mentally embracing that pain before the start is the toughest moment for me. Running the race is easy. The physicality of it has been taken care of in my gruelling training sessions — it’s the psychological aspect of it that really needs to be addressed.”

Anjali draws from her experience to advise other runners. She exhorts them to have belief in their abilities and faith in training. Pushing one’s body to the limits, she says, is paramount, but it must be supplemented with a respect for recovery and sensible nutrition and hydration. Age is never a limiting factor; confidence and faith are what matters. The need for an athletic body to run  successfully, she says, is a myth. In her words, patience, training and focus towards achieving one’s goals are all that are needed.

At Comrades, Anjali Saraogi holds the second best timing among all Indians till date.



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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Foods to avoid as Runner

Runners need specific kind of nutrition to fuel their bodies, so certain foods need to be avoided to avoid discomfort, writes Nandini Reddy

Nutritional missteps can cause complete havoc in your running. Runners have admitted that a clean and less processed diet has helped them fuel better over time. We may be adding high sodium, high sugar and preservatives to our diet without even realizing. Certain foods may also be causing headaches and fatigue but we would still be eating them assuming that they are good for us.

So what you put into your shopping cart on your next trip to the supermarket will make a big difference to your running. Here are a few foods that you can avoid.

Enriched White foods

Most of us have come across foods labelled enriched with vitamins and minerals. Any refined food that is enriched is not a good choice. Enriched means someone sprayed a whole load of artificial nutrients on to the foods. So try leaving out the white rice, maids and other refined oils and grains. If white is not recommended that doesn’t mean you jump onto the enriched ‘brown’ foods wagon. You should be looking for the word ‘whole’ instead. The nutrition from whole grain will keep you full longer and will also reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume everyday without compromising on nutrition.

Beware of packaged foods

Seeing the words – ‘fat free’ or ‘sugar free’ or ‘healthy’ on a package doesn’t mean its right for you. Most packaged food are high in sodium. Even your soups have an amount of ‘added sugar’. If you must eat something sweet then try choosing something that is natural sugars and not added sugars. If you want something more natural then pick a sweet seasonal fruit or go for dried figs or dates.

Food substitutes

You have already been told to substitute your sugar with artificial sweeteners and when people did that they found that they upped their risk of diabetes in many cases. There are substitutes for lactose and you have encountered alternatives for butter on every supermarket shelf. If you have to buy one then check for the amount of trans-fat you might be consuming because in the end you might be better off eating butter than the substitute. Instead of substituting your foods with artificially enhanced ones just try and practice portion control.

Chinese food

Yes we do love our noodles and soups but Chinese food has the highest sodium content. Also most Chinese food uses MSG (Mono-sodium glutamate), an additive that is known to worsen migraines. MSG can also elevate blood pressure and give nasty headaches, especially when you are a runner.

Diet Foods

Everyone is on a fad diet nowadays. Unfortunately most of the people who follow the fads, cheat using worse foods like diet sodas or reduced calorie snacks. These items can have artificial flavours and additives that might cause health issues for runners such as high blood pressure, headaches and even dehydration. If you are craving a chocolate then please have a small piece of dark chocolate instead of a carton of diet soda which won’t take care of your craving.

Frozen Foods

They are convenient and we are busy. But most are high fat, high sodium and low on nutrients. If you must pick frozen foods check the labels at least to see if you are getting something that has some amount of nutrition. Frozen unprocessed meats are good but processed meat that is cured in salt or brine is not a good choice. Look for uncomplicated recipes that opt for the one pot one shot philosophy of cooking if you truly don’t have the time instead of going for frozen meals.

These foods will hinder your performance as a runner because they cause spikes in blood pressure, headaches, mood swings and even fatigue. Its important to avoid foods that might affect your performance so remember to be a smart shopper the next time you are in a supermarket.



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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Taming the Beast

Marathoner, Tarun Walecha, takes another look at the grit, determination and madness it takes to finish marathons.

All that can go wrong at a marathon which I didn’t know about…

A year before when I wrote the prelude to this blog, I had thought to myself that I have learnt all I needed to, made my set of mistakes, even wrote a blog about the same which was well appreciated, and now it would be my year of redemption. As it turns out, I was certainly being overly ambitious.

Having finished five full marathons so far, somehow, I still feel I’m yet to run my first. Last week I was at the starting line again, but this time I was better equipped, better trained, (at least, I thought so) and little bit more confident for sure. I say a little bit because this time I was aiming higher and didn’t want to be complacent. I had ticked all the boxes from the learning last year, be that diet, training schedule, staying injury free and included newer aspects like on course nutrition, flexibility etc.

Unlike last time where I was aiming to finish the run on a moderate pace, this time I was greedy. I had trained harder and had all the reasons to back myself, one of my longest run on Dec 31 which came after 6 days of consecutive half marathon runs under my initiative, ‘Share and Care’ was comfortable and surprisingly speedy. The 28K run on Trail-A-Thon, which I ran a controlled pace but yet was my fastest so far on the course too. I believed that the glory beckoned me and nothing could go wrong, so so I thought.


The race day twists and turns…

On the morning of February 25, a 4:30 start meant I didn’t have much time to sleep the night before. I therefore took it easy the previous day in anticipation and was up at 2:30 am without feeling sleep deprived. As I walked toward the stadium from the parking lot, my mind was only filled with positive thoughts and trust in myself, just a hint of anxiety, nothing nerve wrecking. After a quick chat-up with everyone around, handshakes and wishes exchanged; it was going as per the familiar course. So much that an unannounced staggered start didn’t flutter me a bit, and at 4:35 we trotted across the timing mat.

As I started off, I had the plan distinctively clear in my mind, pace chart, nutrition chart, hydration – all ticking off in my mind. Normally, I run as per my effort and only check later how am I doing and it wasn’t going to be any different this time as well. Moving along I felt comfortable, staying focused on myself I could sense I’m doing well. At 10K mark when I checked, I was 1 min 32 sec ahead of my target time. I felt good as there were no signs of over exertion, stride was good and breathing was in control. I decided to hold on to the effort till my next target. As expected at 20K I was 3 min and 40 sec ahead, which was invigorating as I felt no sign of fatigue or mental exhaustion. When I turned around for my second loop, I didn’t want to let go and wanted to seize the advantage. Trotting along, at 30K mark I was doing well, heart rate in check, pace was descent and now I was 4 min and 9 sec ahead of scheduled time.

Quickly running through calculations in back of my mind like always, I ascertained that even if I was to run the rest of the race at 6:00 min pace I would be home with a Sub 4 finish, and I was immensely thrilled with that outcome.

But the best laid plans always come to naught…

As I reached the 32k mark, I started feeling sluggish. My pace had dropped to 5:55. Going back to my calculations, and accommodating for tiring body I told myself to stick to sub 6 pace. As I moved along I felt my stride getting shorter and every KM mark I could see the pace sliding down. At 38K mark when my Garmin showed 6:19 lap pace with a total time 3:34:53, my mind quickly computed that my desired calculation of Sub 4 wasn’t possible now. With 4.2KM of minimum distance to be run, I would have had to really push myself against the odds. Suddenly the hamstring niggle which surfaced slightly earlier filled my legs with lead and my left leg refused to move. I decided to give it a break and stretch a little before moving on, but as luck would have, I found it tough to get back in rhythm. Was it my body which was breaking, or did my mind gave up on me, I’m yet to figure that out. Slowly I watched each runner whom I had left behind passing by, some acknowledged and egged me but I could only cheer them back and asked to them to move on. This was my battle, and I had to fight it on my terms. I hopped along for next 4k, and somehow gathered strength to run for the last half a km to keep my head high. Timing clock at the finishers gate showed that I was nearly 11 min over 4 hrs as I crossed over and moved towards the holding area. Friends, other finishers, each one of them welcomed me with high fives, hugs and smiles, but somehow I in my heart carried a shade of disappointment.

Will I ever understand how to conquer it?

The race was over, I did fairly well as per many, timing wasn’t that bad either, but what left me unhappy was those last 4 kilometer. I wasn’t supposed to struggle, I was there to run. So what went wrong, that is my biggest mystery. Did I not train enough, or did I give up on myself too soon? In the days to come, pondering over each of the issue, I tried to pinpoint at various probabilities, and evaluated them against myself.

  1. Inadequate training: Going by my training year before where I struggled with niggles now and then, I induced more strength workout in my schedule. One of the reason my hamstring started jarring could yet be due to relatively lesser strength training.
  2. Aggressive target: From my target last year to finish a moderate paced FM to running an aggressive Sub 4, might sound a big leap but my training runs backed me up and somewhere I was hopeful of cracking it.
  3. Over-Nutrition on the course : I had planned to take gels in a tapering pattern of 9k, 8k, 8k, 7k, 7k considering the higher needs as one tires out. Energy boost after first one lured me to change it to 7k from second gel onward. At 30K I did feel nauseated and over fed, so much that I couldn’t have my fifth gel.
  4. Lack of salt intake: Gel at shorter intervals meant lesser time in between, and the first causality of time management was salt caps which I didn’t have after my first 2, and in all had only 3.
  5. Less water consumption: Though my earlier experiences had alarmed me about this, having trained in pleasant weather failed me on understanding my body’s water requirement on the race day.
  6. Rise in temperature: It was an odd situation, adding to the above point, the entire training was done in winters with running the race in spring. The week before the race saw a sudden rise in temperature which showed the damage it can do to your hydro-logical balance.
  7. Running faster than the plan: Since I’ve always run by the effort, on the race day I landed up running a shade faster than the planned pace, was it my undoing? Can’t say yet as my heart rate remained in the control zone and barely touched Zone 5.
  8. Lack of focus: That’s something that may not be the root cause , but can certainly be a reason to deflate the overall effort. To be in ‘the zone’ for 42 km, is something that still has a long way to go, perhaps.
  9. Lack of flexibility: This was another aspect which I targeted after last year’s debacle, worked extensively and consciously, but the awareness only highlighted gray areas; certainly more work needed.
  10. Lack of guidance /knowledge: How much is enough??? I certainly can never judge.

Mind over body…

While this can be your strength, but can work against you as well. For everything that you may cover, this could be a blanket loss. If I did not falter on any of the above, then it has to be this. Was this the reason that I stumbled? Did that one look at my watch at 38K which showed 3:34:53 blow it up? One little back hand calculation and I knew I had practically lost my chance for a Sub 4, and suddenly it didn’t matter anymore.

The mystery that I wished to unravel this time, to decode what it takes to run a marathon, still remains a mystery. After 34 Half marathons, many more equivalent distance runs and 5 attempts at FM, I still have to know what it takes. Lest I forget, I need to reiterate to myself, it is not just two half marathons, it is not just another long run. I don’t know what it is yet, but I will soon.

The beast still stares at me, with a little smirk on its face, but I know we are friendlier now and it’s just a matter of time.


An architect by profession, Tarun Walecha enjoys amateur photography, travelling and is a sports enthusiast. He has been a sportsperson all his life and discovered running at the age of 40 and has since become his fitness mantra. In his 7 year running career he has completed 30 Half Marathons, 4 Full Marathon, and 5 Trail/Ultra Runs. He is also a Pinkathon ambassador and has founded the running group, RunXtreme.

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Potential of the Running Watch

After spending a pretty penny on getting the best in class running watch, are you really using it to its full potential, asks Nandini Reddy

GPS enabled running or fitness watches are a rage now. Runners have said that they have become better runners after they have started using the latest wearable technology. But after paying the big bucks, do we really use them to their full potential? The truth is that most of us don’t. If you use it right, you have a digital running coach right on your wrist and a quick reference to all the statistics you need to reach your goals.

So here are a few ways in which you can maximize the potential of your running watch.

Know your beats per minute

When you first get your watch. Wear it and lie down and relax. You need to record your resting heart rate. Repeat this process for a week, every alternate day so that you have a good average rate as reference. If you are recording 10 beats higher than your resting average beats per minutes on any given day, after your workout then you are over training and its time to slow down. You need to check you resting heart rate every three months to check if there are any changes in your average. Erratic resting heart rate could indicate deeper problems that might need your physicians advice before continuing on a course of exercise.

Mark your MHR

Most training apps will recommend a specific heart rate zone in which you need to train. But before you get there find your maximum heart rate (MHR). Clock in your maximum heart rate and your watch will automatically find your zones for you. It will mark you up for endurance training, recovery training, aerobic training, etc based on your MHR. For example, your endurance training will be about 65-75% of your MHR and your aerobic training will be 90 – 95% of  your MHR. Remember that before you find your MHR, you need to warm up and run up an incline for at least 2 mins. Then you need to run at your maximum speed on a decline. This gives your watch enough information to plan your zones.

Find your zone

You need to use the watch for the purpose you want to achieve with your running. Once you decide whether you want to burn fat, build endurance or work on your anaerobic threshold; you can find the right heart rate training zone. This will help you match up your training sessions accordingly. Once you have picked your zone, set a beeping alert to indicate to you if you are over training.

Record your training

Most of the running apps data can be further used in other apps to get a better idea of how your training in panning out. Find one which can maintain a diary of your activities and important statistics such as resting heart rate, the days workout, MHR, calories burnt and time spent, among others. This will help you change and improve your training plans as you progress. These records will prove useful when you need to share them with a coach or coordinate with a running partner.

Use the Interval Training feature

Use your watch’s interval training feature to build pace and endurance. This will help if you are training alone. Combine high pace with elevated heart rate training and mix up time duration as you go along. You can also check if your watch allows you to create a bespoke interval training plan.

Watch your steps

Did you know that your watch measures the frequency in which your feet strike the ground? It does that because its a way to measure how efficiently you are running. This is measured as metric known as Strike per Minute (SPM). So if you were Mo Farah you would have an SPM upwards of 180 but if you are like everyone else you would be lower than 150. A good runner will always find a good SPM and will stick to it if he hopes to get maximum performance out of his runs.

Benchmark your performance

Run your route, mark your time and catalogue it. A month later run the same route and compare. Benchmark against yourself and you will see how you are performing. Over a period of time you pace will get better and your SPM will improve as well.

BPM is not the only thing you need to watch on your running watch. Use it the right way and it will become your best buddy.



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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Boost your Running Confidence

Having more confidence will change the way you train and run, says Nandini Reddy

Running is a mental game. Not just when you are in a big race but also when you are in training. Countless studies have shown that how you feel will affect your running performance. So if you can train yourself with confidence mantras will you become a better runner? Psychologists seem to believe that you can become a better runner if you can just change the way you think about your training and big race.

Here are a few ways in which you can boost your running confidence

Talk to yourself

Your brain responds to confidence talks. Motivational speakers use this method to inspire audiences and you can do it to yourself as well. If you are feeling a bit low midway during your run then try telling yourself that you will try for another km and then decide if you want to stop and you can keep tricking your brain to sustain you for longer distances that way. Even when you hit the proverbial wall at the last mile of your marathon, self talk is the best way to push yourself to think beyond the pain and exhaustion to cross the finish line.

Stay Confident

It is important to believe that you will achieve your running and training goals. If you start with a defeated attitude then you are less likely to finish you race. Training days are when you need the biggest mental push to get out of bed and do those runs. Being confident that you will clock in those 50kms this week or run 10kms in less that an hour is what will drive you to push your limits. That being said, it is also important not to be over confident. Talk about skills and abilities to reach your best performance instead of bragging about your races. This will help you connect with the right people who will motivate you to do better. Bragging just drives away people.

Visualize your Goal

If you need to make that timing mark to qualify for a big race then visualize yourself achieving that timing goal. For newbie runners visualization of crossing the finish line is a big motivator. Many runners set goals of completing a certain number of kms in a year. Constantly visualizing that goal will help you get out of bed and run everyday and thus improve your running performance.

Believe that you Can

Most new runners or runners who have come back after a long break are unsure of their abilities. The idea is that you need to believe that you have the skills and abilities to become a better runner. Even for a seasoned runner a new track or location can prove challenging. But if you believe that you can reach the finish line then you will easily surmount chaffed skin, screaming knees and dry throats to whiz past the finish line.

Trust your training

You have trained well and the final day is here. Race day brings on a whole new set of insecurities but remember that you need to trust yourself and your training. You have made all the right moves so there really is nothing to fear. You will also be able to navigate the surprises such as a change in weather or change in pace better when you trust yourself.

During every training and race just stay positive because as your race progress and your body starts to feels tired, its your mind that will keep you going.



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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Indian woman, International champion

Remembering an athlete who inspired generations, Anju George, the runner we honour for Women’s Day, by Capt Seshadri.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, with several million posts across social media, it is certainly an occasion to raise a toast to every mother, wife and daughter. Somewhere in the annals of history, however, lie outstanding achievers, whose pages gather dust, glories forgotten.

Born on April 19, 1977, in a small village in Kerala, God’s own country that also produces God’s own athletes, a young woman by the name of Anju Bobby George made history by becoming the first Indian athlete to win a medal in a World Championships. Initiated into athletics by her father, she soon excelled in the sprints and jumps, going on to a podium finish in the National Schools Games. Her initial foray into athletics was in the heptathlon, but it soon became obvious that the jumps were her forte. While the triple jump brought her several medals and even the National record, her favourite event was the long jump. Graduating from gold in the Junior Asian Championship in 1996, Anju broke into the international scene winning medals in several Asian and Commonwealth Games and across continents as far apart as Africa, Europe and Asia.

Her athletics career took a spiral turn upwards with her coming under the wing of Bobby George, a former National triple jump champion turned coach. This remarkable athlete was a Mechanical Engineer, who gave up both his technical and sports careers in 1998, to train Anju. Intensive training, careful planning and sheer toil combined to work magic. From a low rank of 61 in 2001, she shot up the ladder to be ranked 6th by 2003. This was when they both realised that to make a strong mark on the international scene, she needed the exposure. Anju went on to train under the legendary Mike Powell, who worked on her technique and skills and set her two rungs higher in the ladder at number 4 in the world.

Some of her more memorable moments came in 2005 when she won gold at the IAAF World Athletics in Monte Carlo, wresting the medal from Tatyana Kotova of Russia who was stripped of her first place finish. Her personal best of 6.83 metres came at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, but that was still only good enough to earn her fifth place. In recognition of her sporting achievements, in 2002, the Government of India conferred on her prestigious Arjuna Award. Her medal performance at World level in 2003 earned her the nation’s highest sporting honour, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. And, for her outstanding contribution to athletics, she was awarded the Padma Shri, the country’s fourth highest civilian award.

The bonding between athlete and coach was so strong that the couple soon tied the marital knot. Anju is currently the Chairperson of TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) and an Executive Member of the government’s Khelo India project.

Anju Bobby George wrote a new chapter in the history of Indian sports, when she became the first Indian athlete among women and men, winning a bronze at the 2003 World Athletics Championships in Paris. A fitting moment to remember, especially on International Women’s Day.



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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Mind your Running Manners

Have you ever been baffled by the behaviour of a few runners at a marathon, so what qualifies as runners etiquette, asks Nandini Reddy

Many runners are simply unaware of proper etiquette when it comes to running in a large crowd on race day. Irrespective of the size of the marathon, following a code of conduct would help make the run more enjoyable to you and fellow runners. It is also important for your personal safety and the safety of other runners as well.

Here is a simple set of rules that you should consider following at your next race.

Pre- Race

Stand in the right corral – Corrals are assigned based on your pace and race managers assign this based on the details of you have submitted about your previous race. Trying to push you way forward and stand ahead of the line doesn’t help you or the other racers. Your bib will carry the corral number you are assigned to so making a change will cause a confusion before the race starts.

Leave your valuable behind – There are places to drop off your baggage at most big events. But carrying valuables and then troubling race officials is just not done. Tag your bags if you are leaving it in the assigned baggage area. Follow instructions to collect the same to avoid any issues at the finish of the race.

Warm-up – Find a place that is less crowded to do your stretches before the race. Be aware of the people around you  before you stretch and injure someone.

During the Race

Pass on the left – If your race day pace is at its peak and you need to pass runners then ensure you cross runners on their left. The first couple of kilometers on race day will be crowded so be prepared for a slower pace and once the crowd thins you can pick up pace and when you need to pass runners, cross from the left side.

Mid-Race photos – Documenting your big race is a great idea but suddenly stopping dead in your tracks to snap a selfie isn’t. Be aware that there are runners moving at a particular pace behind you and your sudden stop might cause an accident to them. Instead of your coveted photo you might end up with a runner plowing into you and crashing your phone on the road.

Mind the Water stops – If you want to stop for water then move towards the side and slow your pace. If you want to skip the water station then stay towards the middle of the race so that you avoid running into the racers who are slowing down for a drink of water.

Do not litter – Ensure you dispose the water cups, electrolyte bottles and other waste in the assigned disposal areas. Be an environmentally conscious runner and carry your own bottle. If you have to still grab some water at the stations then ensure you dump the cups in the bins and not along the race route.

Be course familiar – All races release the race routes ahead of the big day. Try and get familiar with the start and finish points, turns in the race and a few landmarks that might help you track your progress. Many runners have missed crucial race markers and timing mats at key races and eventually lost making the cut because of this oversight.

Conscious Groups – Many runners are part of running clubs and most of them tend to run together even during a big race. Groups need to remember that they occupy the least amount of space along the course. There are other runners trying to get past who have a better pace and blocking their path isn’t good race day behaviour.

After the race

Cross the finish line – Don’t stop at the finish line to catch you breath. Remember that there are runner behind you equally eager to cross the finish line. You might end up tripping a runner or getting plowed down to the ground by incoming runners. Cross the finish line and slow your pace and stop on the side at a safe distance.

Be orderly – Everyone is exhausted at the end of a big race. Remember to collect your medals. Do not cut the queues for using the bathrooms or collecting your snack/meal.

Always listen to the race marshals. They have more information about the course than you do and if there is a change or emergency they are the people who have the right information to assist you. Enjoy your race day by being aware of your own running space and that of others.



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 4 minute magician

Remembering the legendary 4 minute mile runner, Sir Roger Bannister, Capt Seshadri writes a small tribute to the magical athlete.

RIP Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister, CH, CBE

(23 March 1929 – 3 March 2018)

In today’s extremely competitive sporting world, where records are shattered by the hour, where equipment, gear, facilities, training and diet are dictated by precise science and technology, one record, set nearly six and a half decades ago, still holds relevance and reverence. The four minute mile.

This story, of a doctor and academician with remarkable athletic prowess, begins in 1946 when, at the age of 17, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 4:24:6. An athlete who had started without spikes, had never run on a track and had trained only thrice a week and that too in half hour sessions. Moving forward to 1950, he improved his mile timing to 4:13 and also competed in the 880 yard and 800 metre races, but finishing behind the winner. The young Roger soon realised that if he were to win, he would have to take his training more seriously.

Under the tutelage of coach Franz Stampfl, he combined interval training with block periodisation, fell running and anaerobics. However, being a medical student, his busy schedule at class left him little time for training, very often restricted to 30 to 40 minutes a day, using his lunch break to run. Still, this focus paid rich dividends with a win in a mile race on July 14, 1951 at the AAA Championships in White City, where he raced away towards the tape, watched and cheered by a crowd of 47,000, finishing in 4:07:8.

The 1952 Olympics were a disappointment; in fact, Roger actually contemplated giving up. A new thought then occurred; that of completing the mile in under 4 minutes. While many were dreaming about this and several runners were making unsuccessful attempts, some even reaching as close as 4:02, Bannister intensified his training schedule by including hard intervals.

It was a cloudy day on the 6th of May, 1954, with a forecast of rain and a wind driving across at 40 kmph. This practising doctor, who had been working at the hospital all morning, was seriously considering dropping out of the race that was to happen between the British AAA and Oxford University at the Iffey Road track in Oxford. A track that was soon destined to be recorded in the annals of running history. While the wind finally dropped to a mere breeze, the 3,000 spectators lined the track with bated breath. Roger, having completed his assigned duties at the hospital, picked up his spikes and rubbed graphite on the soles to prevent accumulation of ash from the cinder track. Taking the train from Paddington, he arrived at Oxford, nervous and full of trepidation.

The race finally boiled down to six competitors. BBC Radio provided a live broadcast, anchored by ‘Chariots of Fire’ famed Harold Abrahams. The starting whistle blew sharp at 6:00 pm and the race was on. The first lap was taken in 58 seconds and the lead runner went past the half mile mark in 1:58. With 275 yards to go Roger, realising that his dream was within reach, put in a tremendous kick that saw him running the final lap in under 59 seconds. The roar of the crowd drowned out the announcer’s voice after the words: ladies and gentlemen, first, number 41, RG Bannister with a new meet and track record. A new English native, British National, All-comers, European, British Empire and World record of 3 minutes… the rest was lost in the cheering. The mile had been run in 3:59:4.

On the 50th anniversary of that glorious achievement, the now knighted Sir Roger, in an interview, conceded that the sub 4 minute run was not the most important achievement of his life. Bannister, the neurologist, saw his life’s work with patients in the world of medicine as having given him far greater satisfaction. As the first Chairman of the Sports Council, he used his influence to usher in funding for sports centres and facilities, and as a doctor he was responsible to initiate testing for the use of anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs. Roger Bannister was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011. And on March 3, 2018, the world bid goodbye to this extraordinary athlete and compassionate healer.

Six feet below, but forever under four minutes.



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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Tri crash and burn!

Radhika Meganathan interviews IRONMAN Raghul Trekker, who recently completed the IronMan Challenge in Sri Lanka

A triathlon is an endurance competition that consists of three continuous disciplines. Its most popular form involves swimming, cycling, and running, to be completed in succession within a set time frame. We  talk to RAGHUL TREKKER who recently conquered the Colombo Ironman and is the force behind the scientific training for triathlon aspirants at his fitness studio, TRI CRASH ‘n’ BURN.


How did you get into fitness? I was born and brought up in Chennai, but studied marine engineering in Pune (Incidentally, the idea for the original Ironman Triathlon was suggested by US Navy Commander John Collins!). In my college, it was mandatory to run every morning except on Sundays. It was only for the first three semesters, but that set the pace for my attachment with fitness and exercise. I already was a swimmer and cyclist, so the stage was already set for me.

From the IT industry to triathlons…how did that happen? When I returned to Chennai from Pune after graduation, I joined Polaris. As you probably know, IT jobs are mostly sedentary. I started to actively look for exercising opportunities when I came across Chennai Trekkers Club. CTC introduced me to triathlons and that was it, it all clicked. They conduct triathlons twice a year in and around Chennai, and I trained and participated in all of them. I eventually learned about Ironman and other global races and started travelling and participating in them. Malaysia in 2014 and 2015, Australia and Netherlands in 2017, Columbo in Feb 2018 and I am going to China and South Africa shortly.

Was any triathlon a breeze? There are no easy triathlons! It all involves consistent training and dedication, but I get what you mean. I have to say so far Malaysia was the toughest, because of its hilly and unpredictable terrain. Colombo, relatively, was easier – I finished the 90 km cycling in 2 hrs 32 min, the swimming in 36 minutes 55 sec and the running in 1 hr 48 min 40 sec.


So what triggered you to become a full time triathlete? In 2015, it came to a point where I clearly preferred to race and train than work inside an office. So I took the plunge to follow my passion. It was not an easy decision, but then I have never been the kind of person who will agonize or waver indefinitely. At some point, if you have a passion and vision, you have to make a choice. Once you make it, then you have to do everything necessary – from monetary investment to setting self-paced goals and networking hard – in order to meet your goals.

So how do you train? In general, when it comes to training for a triathlon, consistency is key. You don’t have to train every single day, but you do have to train consistently, say, three or four days a week, and you need to have your own customized schedule to follow. Emergencies happen, you can miss one or two workouts, but you need to be disciplined enough to get back on track in no time.

Do you have a trainer? Everyone needs a trainer! I met my trainer Lucie Zelenkova in Malaysia in 2015. She is a prolific triathlete based in South Africa and she has designed my workout schedule which I follow every day. Yes, it’s possible to have a long-distance coach! We have weekly skype sessions and she sends me workouts and diet charts and is there for me whenever I need her advice.

The question everyone wants an answer to – what do you eat? I eat normal Indian food. But where I differ is in my plating, I don’t fill it with a mountain of white rice! I make sure I eat a well-balanced meal of equal amounts of veggies, protein and carbs in the form of millets. In my opinion, you don’t need to be on any special diet to train for a triathlon. You just need to make healthy food choices and eat good food in the right quantity. Don’t eat junk food, don’t eat too much or too little, and you will do perfectly fine.

Global races are expensive, do you have sponsors? I still fondly remember the time when my past employer Polaris sponsored me to participate my first Ironman triathlon in Malaysia. This year, Running Lab is my sponsor for all my sporting equipment and attire needs. Otherwise, I have to sponsor myself for all other expenses, like travel and accommodation. But that’s how it is. You need to invest in yourself when you are competing in a global scale sport. The more you do, the more chances you have in networking and meeting potential sponsors, runners, trainers. And the experience and exposure is fantastic, so it’s all worth it.

Tri.Crash.Burn is Born

In 2015, 25 Dream Runners asked to train under me and I did it in the mornings and weekends while still working a full time job. I loved the experience and it inspired me to start Try Crash Burn, offering customized and scientific coaching for runners and triathletes. I concentrate only on training for triathlons.

So if I wanted to train for a triathlon can I join?  Yes, but you have to be ready to be trained. For example, I cannot teach you to swim or cycle. You already have to be a swimmer and a cyclist when you sign up for my training. If you are differently-abled, I’d be happy to train you if you have already found your guide runner.

What is the time line for training for a triathlon? If you already know cycling and swimming, then 6 months of intense training is the bare minimum. But one year is a more sustainable and comfortable pace, which you should take if you are not on some unreasonable deadline to participate in a triathlon. In Chennai, the running scene is vibrant, but not many are cyclists and about 98% are non-swimmers. So that’s an unequal balance, and it’s largely a standard status for an Indian triathlete aspirant. First step is to identify which discipline is your weakest and then start training in it.

What advice do you have to those aspiring to be triathletes? Don’t over train, and don’t under train. I don’t recommend any one to train on their own for a triathlon, as risk of injury is higher and you cannot self-correct any errors. If you are serious about being a triathlete, find a qualified trainer who is in sync with your fitness level and goals, and you will be able to achieve your targets in no time.

Raghul Trekker can be contacted at http://www.tricrashnburn.com. His FB page is https://www.facebook.com/tricrashnburn



Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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