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The high jumper who never looked down


This is a story of extreme determination and courage is what defines Mariyappan Thangavelu’s story. Capt Seshadri explores his extraordinary journey.

A chronicle of the extraordinary achievements of an ordinary boy, one of six children, hailing from a little village in Salem District of Tamil Nadu, undaunted by disability, pain and the odds that were stacked against him.

When Life Changed

A little boy, five years of age, while on the way to school, was hit by a drunk truck driver. The huge wheels ran over his little leg, crushing the bones below the knee and making it virtually unusable. This was a child whose labourer father had abandoned the family, which was now dependent for a livelihood on their mother, who earned a paltry 100 rupees a day carrying bricks at construction sites. Fifteen years later, the same young lad who had never considered himself different from anyone else, had completed not just his schooling, but had also graduated in Business Administration.

While in school, he excelled in volleyball; however, his physical instructor, spotting a special ability in him, encouraged him to take to high jumping. Such was his motivation and confidence, that at age 16, he placed second in a high jump competition among a host of able bodied competitors.

The High Jumper 

In 2013, Mariyappan Thangavelu, the young high jumper, was spotted by Mr Satyanarayana, a coach with the Sports  Academy of India for the differently abled who, a couple of years later, took him under his wing and moved him to Bengaluru, for specialised and intensive training. The move proved extremely fruitful. The journey to fame was from Tamil Nadu to Tunisia for the IPC Grand Prix, where he cleared a height of 1.78 metres ( 5 ft 10 in) in the men’s high jump T 42 event, qualifying him for the Rio Paralympics. The young man was apparently not satisfied with this performance. In Rio in 2016, he raised the bar to clear 1.89 metres (6 ft 2 in) to win gold, a feat that had not been achieved since 2004. ‘Master Blaster’ Sachin Tendulkar was so impressed by his performance that he set up a sports fund for his benefit.

Today, Mariyappan remains simple, humble and committed to his roots. Part of his prize money funded a paddy field and a better home for his mother. In his mind he still remains a village boy, seeking the continued affection of his old friends and shunning the formality that comes from such success.

Born: 28 June 1995 in Periavadagampatti village, Salem District, Tamil Nadu.

Achievement: Paralympic Gold – 2016, Padma Shri and Arjuna Awards – 2017.

Headlines: Plans by Aishwarya Dhanush to make a movie on his life.

Aspiration: to complete an MBA soon.

This is the inspiring and exemplary story of Mariyappan Thangavelu. For him, the bar is never too high.



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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Dawn to Dusk – handling the long haul

Well, you might be prepared for the Dawn part but are you sure about the Dusk part? Let us foresee what is awaiting you in the afternoon, writes Raghul Trekker.

If you have already gone through the event information, you are well aware that you are going to cycle in the afternoon. Though this is relatively the coldest time of the year in Chennai, it is better to take precautionary measures to combat the heat. It would be around 30° C to 25° C which is not something to be ignored.

Gear yourself up with proper hydration plan for the cycling leg. Fill two to three bottles of electrolyte mixed with energy drinks. You might need 500 – 750 ml of fluid every hour of cycling. Considering the temperature drop and the reduction in perceived exertion as the dusk falls, you might need less than the above mentioned quantity.

Research says that, the absorption rate of energy drinks is faster when the system already consists of fluid/water in it. So, before you saddle up, it is good to consume an energy drink or at least sip some water to start off with.

There are lots of hydration drinks from different brands available in the market which fall under different categories.

  1. Electrolyte drink with no or minimal energy supply
  2. Energy drink with minimal electrolyte
  3. Energy drink with electrolytes

Out of the above three options, the most suitable drink for this event where you are put to test under the sun, is the one which has energy mixed with electrolytes.

During endurance activities like cycling, we lose 300-400 mg of sodium, 50-75 mg of potassium, 400 mg-600 mg of chloride, 20-30 mg of magnesium. The above values are approximate and may vary from person to person depending on each person’s sweat rate.

An excess of hydration in terms of electrolytes may lead to nausea, diarrhoea or vomiting.

Dehydration without proper replenishment may lead to cramps, muscular spasms, headache, improper functioning of brain and several other problems.

Considering the above factors, it is good to have a hydration plan in place.


Raghul Trekker is the Head Coach at Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn (a unit of Dhaamz Sports & Entertainment Pvt Ltd). A 4-time Ironman coaching more than 100 athletes for the last 3 years. Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn is a team of more than 60 triathletes and runners constantly pushing the limits to better their personal best. You can check out more about them at tricrashnburn.com

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The Queen of Indian Track and Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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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Jumping long, aiming high

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

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

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

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

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

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



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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The Elites at TSK 25k

The TATA Steel Kolkatta 25k will see some formidable elite runners on the track. Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan, profiles two of the top runners who will be running with you this year. 

The top runners in the male and female categories are Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia and Helah Kiprop from Kenya respecitively.

The master of track, road and cross country- Bekele

And now the marathon too!

Kenenisa Bekele was born on June 13, 1982 in Ethiopia, famed for its long distance runners. Starting as a junior in cross country, in 2001, he outran the pack at the IAAF World Junior Cross Country championships, beating the existing time by 33 seconds. He never had to look back. Later the same year, he broke the 3,000 m world junior record in Brussels and won gold at the 15 k road race in the Netherlands, establishing himself as the master on all three surfaces. He dominated the cross country running scene for a full five years, from 2002 to 2006, winning the short and long course events, unmatched by any other runner before or since. His tally of 19 medals in the junior and senior events established him as the true master of cross country.

At the age of 32, when most runners would be contemplating retirement, Kenenisa made his marathon debut in Paris in April 2014, bettering the course record as well as the time for a debut marathon, beating the performances of legends like countryman Gebrselassie and current greats Wanjiru and Tergat.  A persistent Achilles tendon injury forced him out of competition during 2015, but he returned to competition at the 2016 London Marathon. Running at way below 100% fitness, he finished third in a time of 2:06:36 behind Eluid Kipchoge and Stanley Biwott. During this gruelling race, already hampered by injury, his designated pacemakers further added to his woes by using up his drinks at five refreshment stations. In the Berlin Marathon of 2016, he timed in at 2:03:03, the second fastest marathon ever run and a personal best for himself.

The secrets to Kenenisa’s running ability are his long strides, high cadence and superb running style. His acceleration over the last lap is legendary, at times covering the final 400 m in a little over 50 seconds and the last 200 m in as low as 24 seconds. His low weight reinforces the theory of focussing on calorific quality than on quantity. Having been born in a village in the mountains, he also had a natural advantage of practising in a rarefied atmosphere. Bekele had an explosive ‘kick’, the result of fast paced training, consisting of a series of intense runs, broken by short periods of rest. Running hard uphill and recovering on the down slope equipped him with tremendous stamina and endurance.

When not beating the world in marathons, he is busy in Addis Ababa, constructing a hotel and a stadium to help the younger generation of Ethiopians train in world class facilities. Kenenisa now comes to the TS25K Kolkata, as the current world and Olympic record holder over the 5,000m and 10,000 m.

No half measures

21.1 km. 67:39 minutes. 42.2 km. 2:27:29 hours.

Helah Kiprop Jelagat, Kenya’s leading woman distance runner found her calling in road racing after a few attempts on the track. Born on April 7, 1985, she began her training with Italian athletics club GS Valsugana Trentino, winning her first 10 km road race in 2005 in 32:55. Her half marathon debut at Lille in September the same year, saw her finish on the podium, in third place in 74:02. The year 2007 saw her earn successes in the 15 km road race and she won the Tuskys Wareng Cross Country in her home country, Kenya, in 2008.

Kiprop’s performances started improving after 2009, when she clinched a series of road victories, competing in the half marathon and 10k races. 2010 was a year of second place finishes, mainly in Europe, with a personal best of 32:20 in the Odele 10k, while 2011 was a year of almost nil participation.

The Berlin Half Marathon 2012 saw her return to competitive athletics, the year she travelled to South America for the first time for the Bogota Half Marathon. November found her in India for the first time, for the Delhi Half Marathon, in which she finished a close third. The following year, her creditable performances in the Egmond and RAK Half marathons and her win in the Berlin Half Marathon, earned her an invite to her first full marathon in Berlin. She debuted with a time of 2:28:02 which earned her fourth place and kickstarted her foray into the 42.2. The year ended with another visit to India, with a gold in the Kochi Half Marathon.

Her first full marathon came in Seoul, where she ran her best time of 2:27:29, fighting for top spot over the last few kilometres against her rival Ashu Kasim. She is back in India for her third race, the TSK25 Kolkata, this December.

Helah Kiprop is coached by her husband David Marus, who is an acknowledged expert on nutrition and running. Helah’s trains at Iten in Kenya, often spending her off season outside. Her farm provides with her with all her training requirements; she even has her own cow that provides her with milk.



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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Running in the City of Joy

Nandini Reddy, picks out the heritage sites you should spot along the way on your TATA Steel Kolkatta 25k run this weekend.  

The Tata Steel Kolkatta 25k is a fantastic run for the pros but if you also want to enjoy the heritage city then its the perfect route to be on. The run takes you through the heart of the City of Joy where every building and corner could tell you a thousand stories. 

When you begin your run at the High Court Grounds, the first grand landmark you will come upon is the Raj Bhavan, the finest colonial structure which is more than 200 years old. Here is a bit of trivia, did you now that the Raj Bhavan spans an area of around 84,000 sq. ft. and is surrounded by a compound covering an area of 27 acres. Grand isn’t it? For all you cricket lovers, the next landmark to spot is the Eden Gardens. The largest cricket stadium in India and the second largest cricket stadium in the world, this grand space has hosted many an international cricketing battles. With Sourav Ganguly flagging off the race, you have to pay homage to this sporting arena.

After a bit of history and sports, you will enter ‘The Strand‘, a major thoroughfare that runs along the east bank of the Hooghly River. The breathtaking view of the majestic river in the early morning mist is the best way to enjoy the grandeur of nature. As you turn of Strand road you will run past the Hastings Crossing and Kidderpore market. There is a roadside restaurant there as reminder of the British Era, called ‘Panchubabur Dokan’ that might be place you want to sit down in after your race. This area is one of the oldest parts of the city and you can even spend days learning the many stories it harbours.

Your next big landmark that you may not see but will pass is the Kalighat. You are more likely to get a view of the Kalighat station behind which lies the historical Kalighat. Kalighat an old densely populated area of the city—with a history of cultural intermingling with the various foreign incursions into the area over time. From the oldest part to the most posh avenue of the city, Rashbehari Avenue is your next location to spot. It is the prime shopping and aristocratic residential neighbourhood of south Kolkatta.

After you make a U-turn at TollyGunge Golf Club and head back to race to the finish line, there are two grand places you will see – the Victoria Memorial and the grand Maidan. The Victoria Memorial is a large marble building dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria, which now serves as a museum and tourist destination under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture. The last big piece of history that you will pass by , The Maidan. It is a vast stretch of field and home to numerous play grounds, including the Eden Gardens, several football stadiums, and the Kolkata Race Course.

Not every run offers a glimpse into history, so when you have the opportunity at the TATA Steel Kolkatta 25k, enjoy it to the fullest.



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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Steer the Course at Tata Steel Kolkata 25 km

Raghul Trekker gives you the best strategy to approach the Tata Steel Kolkata 25km race. 

The City of Joy presents a unique running event to the running community in India with the TATA Steel Kolkatta 25k marathon to be held on Dec 17, 2017. Here is a course strategy that will help you reach the finish line in good time.

Steer your course right

This time of the year is best suitable for a race at Kolkata. If you haven’t scored your Personal Best for the year yet, this is your best chance. The forecast looks ideal for the race morning with a temperature of 15-20 °C range, mild winds of 6 km/h to cool you down and humidity ideal for running at 58 % approx.

Now that the weather is on your side, it is time you plan your race day strategy in accordance with the race course. Did you know that you can save or lose nearly a minute while navigating yourself on the race course? However, some people lose more than a minute and some lose the podium thereby losing the race literally.

25 km course

7 U-turns, 9 sharp left/right turns and 18 mild curves

10 km course

5 U-turns, 4 sharp left/right turns and 6 mild curves

In a track race, runners run close to the inner most boundary of their lanes or the inner most lane itself in the longer lane-general races like 800 m & above distances. The reason for running closer to the lane boundary is to reduce some distance in comparison to a runner who doesn’t follow this and thereby gaining an advantage. In a 400 metre track, you can cut up to 1 m (=399 m) by running too close to the boundary. If you ever wondered why the commentators would have mentioned that the position of the inner most runner an advantageous one over the others is for the above reason. However, this is only for a track race longer than 400 m because there are separate lanes for 400 m race or below.

Having understood the importance of running close to the inner most boundary, implementing the same concept or the opposite on a road race is very important. Even well comprehended runners, approach the curve from a wrong end and result in running a few extra metre. Knowing the course well can help you plan a shorter race by some 10s/100s of metre than the stipulated 25/10 km.


While running around a U-turn the best thing is to approach it from the longer end, cut close to the inner end at the turn and complete the turn by running towards the outer edge. This is the opposite approach as to what is followed in a track run where the curve is too long. I have noticed some pro runners committing the mistake of running close to inner/shorter end on a U-turn in the expectation of saving some distance. It is important to note here that the deceleration and acceleration of any machine would cause more energy expenditure than while running at a constant speed. This mistake can be noted more in a U-turn or in an acute curve.

Sharp turn

A sharp right/left curve can be made into a mild curve by using the above U-turn type of formula (approaching from outer edge and end up on outer edge after the curve). There will absolutely be no need to decelerate nor accelerate while running a bit longer on a sharp 90 ° angle. The extra distance might be just a metre but the energy saved can make your race rather than breaking the race by deceleration & acceleration which might as well cause cramp or unnecessary excess fatigue.

Mild curve

A mild curve can be classified into two types,

  1. Short mild curve
  2. Long mild curve

Short mild curve: This category is one in which you can see the road straightening after the curve. You can totally ignore curving on this by running straight from outer end to outer end while cutting close to the curve’s inner end.

Long mild curve: In this category, you cannot see the road beyond the curve. This is when you have to run on the inner most end like in a track.

One more important thing is to look at least a 100 metre ahead of you while running. This can help you run diagonally when necessary and avoid crowds of runners at some points of the race.

Now that you have basic ideas on how to reduce distance and/or avoid fatigue & cramps from the above concepts, it is good to look into the map of your race course and chart out a plan.

All the best while steering your ship to victory


Raghul Trekker is the Head Coach at Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn (a unit of Dhaamz Sports & Entertainment Pvt Ltd). A 4-time Ironman coaching more than 100 athletes for the last 3 years. Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn is a team of more than 60 triathletes and runners constantly pushing the limits to better their personal best. You can check out more about them at tricrashnburn.com

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Strength Training for Runners

Radhika Meganathan talks to the assistant secretary of Chennai District Powerlifting Association JYOTSNA JOHN about the importance of strength training for serious runners.

Meet the NSCA certified personal trainer and Olympic weightlifting instructor – Jyotsna John, who founded The Unit in Kotturpuram, in 2012. Since then, she and her team have helped train over 900 people into a better lifestyle through exercise and nutrition counseling. In this exclusive interview, she shares her strength training tips for the avid runner.

How did you get started in strength training?

I have played competitive basketball for 16 years. I started strength training during my high school, as part of fitness regime for the sport. I loved how strong I got and how much better my jumps were when I trained and I haven’t looked back since.

How important is strength training for runners?

Extremely! Running places a lot of stress on the knee joint and the muscles around it. If you don’t have the strength to carry your body over the many miles you have to run both for the long training period and on race day, you will definitely get injured at some point. Strength training will help you avoid this pitfall.

What kinds of strength training programs are available for runners?

With runners, the focus is not on building big muscles or lifting big weights. It’s on building stability through the knees, hips and ankles and increasing their tolerance to distance running. At The Unit, we usually recommend light weights and lots of reps along with plenty of core training to help our runners stay injury free.

How should marathon runners set goals for strength training?

Do shorter runs at faster paces once in a while. It’s a good measure of how strong you’re getting without creating too much stress on your joints.

How does strength training help in recovery after a marathon?

Benefits of strength training are largely indirect. If you’re stronger and more capable of handling the impact of tens of thousands of steps on a hard surface (like the road) at high velocity, then you are likely to need less recovery time.

Are there different ways of strength training for men and women Marathon runners?

Women can tolerate more volume than men. Hence, the only (tiny) difference is, strength training for women usually involves more sets and reps than for men. Otherwise, the exercises and the training itself is the same for both gender. Same group of muscles, same demand on both muscles and joints, why should the training be any different!

Your strength training tips for first time marathon runners?

Balance the amount of time you put into running, with the amount of time you spend strengthening your muscles for the run. Lower your mileage, if needed, till you’re strong enough to do them well. 

What do you most worry about training runners?

Runners are by far the most obsessive, neurotic bunch of people I train. Even in the middle of an injury you can’t tell them to take a break because if you do, they react as if you’re trying to steal their inheritance!

For the runners I have so far trained, their weekly mileage is usually more important to them than their joints and they are for all these reasons more prone to injury than the average person. I’ve always found this amusing, because if you ask any runner why they started running, they’ll tell you it was to get fitter. But the longer they’ve been running, the less they care about health and the more they care about random numbers like mileage, tempo and other such things that look good on paper.

So is this what you’d like to caution long distance runners against strength training?

Yes. Don’t over-train. Somehow runners seem to be particularly susceptible to overtraining. The need to clock miles or put in the time for lifting weights should not outweigh your need to be healthy. Listen to your body and if needed, take days off from training. Rest before you need it and eat enough carbs to keep your muscles fuelled.

Is it better to do the strength training at home or with a trainer?

If you can’t afford professional training, at least do a few sessions with a good trainer and learn the right way to perform your movements. Bad movement patterns can cause injury and wear out the joints. But if you are a serious runner, investing in a good trainer will help you understand exercise technique and prevent injuries.

For training queries, Jyotsna can be contacted at http://jyotsnajohn.in or at The Unit (www.the-unit.in)



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.

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The ‘Late’ Runner – Kip Keino

In our continuing series of legends in distance running, Capt Seshadri talks about the Kenyan distance runner Kipchoge Keino, nicknamed “The Flying Policeman”. 

It was the Mexico Olympics of 1968. A champion middle distance runner, was suffering from gallstones, and had been warned by doctors not to participate, as he might be putting his life at risk. He was not one to pay heed. Running the 10,000 m, suffering from severe exhaustion, he nearly collapsed on the track with just three laps to go and, in the process, disqualified himself by stepping off the track. Pain and disqualification notwithstanding, he stepped back and completed the race. Just two days later, ignoring his pain, he won silver in the 5,000 m, where he finished a mere fifth of a second behind the gold medalist.

Having also qualified on the same evening for the 1,500 m finals, on the day of the finals, after having tried to sleep off his ache and discomfort, he woke up an hour before the event and just about made it to the bus that was leaving for the venue. Stuck in traffic on the way and realising that he would be late for the event, he got off the bus and ran the remaining 3 km to the stadium, carrying his kit with him. Starting his event just 20 minutes or so after reaching the stadium, he raced to the 1,500 m gold, beating the silver medal winner, the then world record holder and title favourite, American Jim Ryun, by an unbelievable 20 m. To this day, it is not clear whether such a large margin has ever been seen between winner and runner in this event at any Olympics. Four years later, at the Munich Olympics, he won the steeplechase gold and the 1,500 m silver, thus winning almost every conceivable middle distance race.

It started here

Kipchoge Hezekiah Keino was born in Kenya on January 17, 1940. His incredible career in international athletics began at the Commonwealth Games in Perth in 1962, where he acquitted himself reasonably well, although he did not win any medals. His quest for gold fructified in 1965, at the All Africa Games where he broke the world record for the 3,000 m by over 6 seconds. Incidentally, he had never competed over that distance before. Later the same year, he shattered Ron Clarke’s 5,000 m world record in a time of 13:42.2.

As a child, Kip Keino went to a school around 4 miles from his home. From the tender age of five, in primary school, till he finished high school, he would run to class every morning, run home for lunch and back to school again, before sprinting home again in the evening. That worked out to an amazing 16 miles a day. And all of it barefoot under a scorching African sun! It is widely believed that Kip Keino was a fitness instructor in the Army and could have possibly trained using calisthenics. Although there very few documented reports about his schedule, some contend that he only ran around 60 or 70 miles a week, even taking off days every now and then.

Kenya’s Kip

Kip’s contribution to Kenyan athletics goes far beyond winning medals for his country. Years later, he remains an inspiration for hundreds of men and women athletes from his country who continue to make and break records in the world arena.

In his home town of Eldoret in Kenya, Kipchoge Keino, ably supported by his wife Phyllis, has established the Lewa Children’s Home, an institution for orphans, and the Kip Keino primary and secondary schools. For his dedication towards working with orphans, he was conferred with Sports Illustrated magazine’s “Sportsmen and Sportswomen of the Year” award in 1987, and characterized as one among “Athletes Who Care”. In 1996, he was inducted into the World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame.



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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