Motivation Comments Off on How I made running my life |

How I made running my life

Bahar Sinha talks about how she made running an intrinsic part of her everyday life and routine. 

Running is a state of being. The feeling of constant motion that takes my weary mind through a myriad of emotions, gorgeous new places and amazing people.

I took to running in my late 30’s and was fascinated by the possibilities it could offer me. A mother of 2 teenage kids, a partner with varied sporting interests and a demanding project manager job did not stop me from chasing my running dreams.

Working out as a couple is a great way to stay connected with each other and ensure we both meet our individual health and fitness goals. It helps us be accountable thus driving us to stick to our workout plan, motivate and be proud of each other. Well, that’s the ideal situation at least but the reality sometimes is very different.

In most cases, the real scenario is that the couples are in different fitness spaces, have different energy levels and varied interests in sport and fitness. With this backdrop, making a joint workout plan successful requires patience, understanding and respect for one another. In my opinion, I think it’s a good thing for couples to have varied interests because it brings about a certain kind of balance.

Most often than not, most couples tend to have a mindset that everything needs to be done together. In the first few years of a relationship, this could be a tenable way to do things, but it hardly works in the long run. We need to be open and acceptable when something is not working so that a change can be made, and both meet their objectives and goals.

For me at home, as a couple we have completely different sporting interests – my partner loves table tennis, badminton, swimming and the gym while I, on the other hand, am passionate about running. In this story, I would like to take you through how I am able to juggle a busy life but still enjoy my running and the support I receive from my partner and family to be able to achieve this.

Taking baby steps into the running world

My start with running was fairly routine – as with most people, I took to running to shed some those extra kilos. Being a mother of 2 especially when they are younger, does not leave you with much time for yourself and all that stress had me out of shape. When you think of getting fit, the first option is usually hitting the gym, but that idea never really motivated me. Instead, running seemed to be an easier option as it was something, I could do at my convenience during the day. Finding a partner to run with was a challenge and my partner enjoyed other sports and had his friends to hang out with.

Getting over the practical challenges in a home with kids

I spent the first few months learning the various techniques with running and just getting used to it. Over time, I got comfortable and that’s when I set my first running goal – a 10K run.

I obviously needed to do a lot of planning on how I fit the training plan into my schedule because I just had a lot of other things in life that needed my priority. Looking at my calendar, I figured the only option I had was the weekend considering my partner would be at home with my kids. That’s how I started running with the Nike Run Club on Saturdays.

As I progressed, I realized that I needed more structure to my running if I wanted to improve – that’s when I joined the Jayanagar Jaguars in the summer of 2013. The training plan involved early morning starts with training on 2 days (Tuesday and Thursday) and long runs on Saturdays. It worked for me considering it was the summer break for the kids and they were at home.

All that changed when school reopened, I needed to come up with a workaround quickly so that I could still make time for my weekday training. My partner (god bless him!) and I came up with a strategy – I would do a pre-prep the previous day, wake up early to pack some lunch for the kids and then head out for training. He would then wake up the kids, get them ready by which time I would be back, and I could see the kids off to school – the teamwork and coordination between us was awesome and helped me smooth over that challenge.

There were times though when I have had to compromise on my training schedule – like when the kids were unwell, or they had an exam, or my partner was travelling. On those days, I made sure I ran around the apartment to compensate for a missed training day. My objective was simple – (a) stage 1: move up from a 10K to a 21K run and (b) stage 2: finish 1 full marathon before I turned 40.

The hardest moments

I was training hard with big dreams and stars in my eyes when all of a sudden life threw me a curveball. My partner had to relocate to Singapore for 2 years which meant I had to manage everything on my own. Now, I’m sure a lot of you have been through something similar or even more challenging so you will understand the emotion of being overwhelmed. My runs were an outlet for those emotions to get through and with every run, I grew stronger and more determined.

To say the weekdays were a challenge is an understatement – getting my kids to understand that they had to get ready by themselves before I was back from my run was quite a task. My daughter was very cooperative, but my son had other ideas (boys, I tell you!). I had to wake up even earlier than usual to get work done at home and then head out for my workout at 5 that went on until 0645. I had the kids give me a missed call around 6 just so that I reassured they are getting ready.

To be honest, I took it one day at a time and profusely thank god if it went smoothly. Over time, things got better – my kids became more adaptable and learnt to get up and be ready on time, but we still had the odd bad days thrown in. For example, I would have planned a speed workout for the day and that’s the day my kids decide to miss the bus – that leaves me driving them 12K in the maddening morning traffic!

Weekends were usually ok but there were hectic ones too like when I would finish a long run (36K – 40K) and then immediately rush for a parent-teacher meeting. Days like this leaves you wishing for your partner to be around but like they say c’est la vie!

During the summer break, we used to visit Singapore to be together again and spend some quality time as a family. Unfortunately, it was around the same that the TCS 10K happens, so I had to train for that.

While there, I had to work remotely, follow my regular training schedule and despite the challenges of being in a new country, I found the time and courage to compete and finish in an ultra-marathon of 64.5KM organized by Tampines Sports Community in Singapore.

The love of a good family (what would we do without them, huh?)

Once I graduated to the 21K distance, I had to travel to multiple cities to participate in different races. These travels were sometimes with my family but a lot of times it was alone – during these times I had the support of my family to look after the kids. I tried as much as it allowed me, to travel only the weekends thus reducing the impact on my schedule for the rest of the week. The reason was because while I was passionate about running, I did not want to miss out on important events in life – family gatherings, parent-teacher meetings, festivals – we all need a balance in life, don’t we?

My family has been my biggest support (as it should be!) so far. They aren’t too much into running but they still attend promotional events with me, do a few 5K runs with me or just be there to cheer me on – makes a huge difference to have them around. I remember one event where we participated as a family (the Alpha league obstacle race) – we had so much during the event and after reliving the fun moments and the follies we made.

In the end

Believe in your dream and it will all work out for you – In this busy life we lead, we must learn to embrace the challenges it poses and find solutions to overcome it. I did and it helped me achieve my dream of completing my first full marathon in Bangalore (October 2016). That was just a start and since then, I did the Pune Ultra (50K) in November 2016, the Singapore International Marathon) in December 2016 and the SCMM in January 2017…and the journey continues.

The struggle may be real but it’s always worth it because running reminds you that it’s not about how badly you want something; it’s about how hard you’re willing to work for it! It doesn’t matter if your goal is to run around your block or to run a marathon, we are all running to push our limits and see how far we can go!

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

As a mother, homemaker and a professional, I find myself running from one role to another with no finish line to it. But when I am literally running there is a FINISH line and it gives me a sense of accomplishment and achievement.

 

 

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Motivation Comments Off on Standing out in a crowd |

Standing out in a crowd

Find out what its like to be the only female participant in an Ironman, as told to Deepthi Velkur by Solonie Pathania, the newest Ironman from Pune.

Gina Carey, a woman of many talents – singer, director, producer famously quoted “A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink”. I do not think a better line captures the spirit and soul of Solonie Pathania, India’s sole female participant at Ironman 2016.

Pune-based Solonie Singh Pathania juggles between being a full-time professional and a passionate amateur triathlete. Her list of accomplishments is quite a read:

  • Ran her first full Ironman in 13hours 49 mins in the process becoming the 3rd Indian woman to ever complete the race.
  • Finished 1st in the women solo event at the Deccan Cliffhanger challenge (34 hours 54 mins covering 643KM between Pune to Goa)
  • Completed 6 triathlons, 1 duathlon, 3 full-marathons, and numerous half-marathons and 10Ks.

In this riveting read, she tells us how she went from running to stay healthy to compete in the Ironman challenge.

FM: You were active growing up but that slowed down during graduation. Why? How did running happen?

Solonie: During graduation being active was never really a priority. I joined college, moved to Pune and there was always something else fun to do. On top of that, I met with an accident that required me to have a knee surgery which made any physical activity difficult.

By mid-2013, I realized I was out of shape and started accompanying my father, a fitness enthusiast, on his early morning walks. Later I started running to shed the extra weight that I had gained over the years.  A few months down the line I heard about a 10K run and signed up along with a few friends and that run somehow turned me into a running fanatic.

FM: When and how did you gain an interest in Triathlons?

Solonie: My progression to triathlons was very natural and organic. After my first 10K, I realized that I enjoyed being outdoors and participating in events that challenged me physically. I heard about a Triathlon race in Pune and found it interesting – so I went ahead and signed up for it. It (the event) was in December 2013 and at the end of it, I fell in love with the sport. The thrill of doing 3 different disciplines (swimming, cycling and running) one after the other excited me. The event had an 800-meter swim, 10K bike ride, and 5Krun. I was pretty relaxed and took my time to complete the race, but I remember having crossed the finish line with a smile. I was euphoric after the race purely because of the amount of fun I had.

FM: Can you please take us through your first Ironman experience in 2016?

Solonie:

The time before the race.

Honestly, nothing can prepare you for the experience of your first Ironman race.

It’s literally the world of unknowns – you’re unsure of how your body will react to new limits, new weather conditions or even how you’d feel the morning of the race.

Kalmar (Sweden) where the Ironman race happened is well known for its windy conditions. The temperature of the water was a lowly 13 degrees that morning which meant we could swim with a wet suit on. The temperature outside though was between 19-22 degrees which was perfect for the bike and run leg.  Unfortunately, I could not train in such conditions back home.

In order to acclimatize ourselves, we arrived in Kalmar a week ahead. That week was filled with nervous excitement as I watched 3000 athletes from the world over cramp themselves into Kalmar. The air was abuzz with energy and good spirits – everyone was talking about the race, exchanging notes and sizing up the competition (in a nice way).

As time passed, the nervousness grew and soon it was ‘RACE DAY’. As we drove to the start point, there was an eerie calm and I felt quite nervous during our final set up. I did everything possible to stay calm and with one final call to my mother back home I was all set.

The race itself.

The event has a wave start where athletes are divided into groups based on their expected finish time for the swim leg. The athletes self-assess the time they will take and accordingly stand in their respective groups – <than 50 mins, 60 mins, etc. I stood in the 1hour 40-minute group as my training average was 1hour 46-minutes.

7 AM and we were off. My nervousness at the start was superseded with this grit to finish the race. The swim leg went well for me, despite challenges like a sudden temperature drop and reduced visibility (< than 100m) owing to the mist. I was thrilled to finish it in 1 hour 37-minutes. I rushed to the transition area, changed and headed to the start of the biking leg (7 mins – pretty good for a first timer).

The bike leg was a challenge – 30 mins into the leg, I realized that I had pushed the wrong button on my watch and paused it. I lost all count of my distance and time. Nevertheless, I trudged on and 50K into the ride, I was feeling great and averaging between 27-29 KMPH. Tragedy struck again – my menstrual cramps kicked in and I was in agonizing pain, my speed dropped to 23 KMPH and I contemplated giving up, but something in me wanted me to push on. At the 80K mark, I took a break and thought – I can’t let a menstrual cramp come in the way of my Ironman dream.

With that thought, I hopped back on the bike and gave it my all. It was difficult, but I managed to complete the ride in 7 hours 12-minutes.

I was still cramping when the run started and with 5 hours ahead of me, I had to re-strategize. I decided to run as fast as I can between aid stations (1.5K apart) and walk through the aid stations (100M long).  Along the way, I met a fellow Indian and asked him how were we with time – he told me that if I ran at this pace, I could be looking at a sub-14-hour finish. That is all I needed to hear to dig my heels deeper and not give in.

The support of the crowd was amazing – people were encouraging and there was so much positivity. People shouting out ‘Go Solonie’ and ‘Go India’ gave me that extra push I needed. When I completed my final loop, I hugged the sweet old man who gave me my 3 colour band which we received at the end of each loop.

At the end of the race.

I had visualized the finish multiple times in my head – but it was nothing compared to actually living it. That moment and those 4 words – “You are an Ironman” resonated in my head. I was filled with relief, excitement and immense pride. I could not have asked for a better first triathlon.

FM: You need to be strong in all 3 disciplines – Swimming, Cycling and running? What was the training you underwent for this massive challenge?

Solonie: Training for the Ironman challenge was tough but luckily, I had the right people supporting and guiding me. I was fortunate enough to meet Dr.Kaustubh Radkar (22-time Ironman finisher) in 2014 at one of the triathlon events and when I decided to do the Ironman, I immediately contacted him, he took me under his wings and I followed what he told me. With a full-time job and a tight weekly schedule, I limited my training to 2-3 hours on weekdays and 4-5 hours on the weekends. I trained 6 days a week and kept 1 day for recovery. The rigorous training program included strength training, nutrition, diet control, and proper recovery. He trained me well in multiple aspects of the race like how to fix a puncture, how to be efficient during transitioning, race day nutrition etc.

FM: You participated in the 2017 Ironman challenge. Where you better prepared this time?

Solonie: I was definitely in a better mental state for my 2nd Ironman race (Australia, December 2017). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my physical state. A few months before the race, I developed a hip injury and had a painful corn on the sole of my foot – these factors made training and the race quite difficult.

Race day was a huge challenge not just for me but for all athletes – the swim leg was canceled owing to a shark sighting that day, on the bike leg there was a massive bushfire which was fueled by hot crosswinds that drove many athletes to give up and on the run leg, the humidity and heat was ridiculously high making it a very exhausting run. Overall, I was glad to cross that finish line in one piece.

FM: With the level of physical and mental toughness needed, how do you train yourself to stay strong during the event?

Solonie: I am convinced that these endurance races are about your mental strength more than your physical ability. When you put your body through so much for a long duration, it is natural to feel aches, pains and stress but pushing on despite that is the mental strength you need.

It isn’t easy – there are days when you wouldn’t want to get up at 5 am, train for 3 hours and then go to work for 9 hours, days when the body is sore from the previous days’ work out or when you’re on your menstrual cycle and have bad cramps. Despite all of these challenges, you still get out there and train – that’s what makes you mentally strong.

You must also factor lifestyle changes needed – a non-existent social life because your life is structured around training schedules, work, sleep deprivation and tiredness. On top of that, you always have these questions – Why am I doing this? Is this the right path for me? Why did I not choose an easier dream? It’s important that you condition your mind to let these thoughts pass. You will have tough days, but you have to train yourself not to mull over this as there will always be a better tomorrow.

Never forget – always listen to what your body is telling you. If you ignore it, you will most definitely suffer the consequences. In addition, I made sure I talked to my coach and friends about any apprehensions as their reassurance helped a long way.

FM: You took part in the 2018 Deccan Cliffhanger race from Pune to Goa? What was it like to take part in a challenge like this one?

Solonie: I had never done an ultra-cycling race before, so I was not sure what to expect or how my body would react. The maximum distance I had ever covered at a stretch was 300K in training. Nevertheless, I signed up for DC 2018 to test myself and see how much further I could go. The race involves cycling for 643K at a stretch and the terrain is very challenging. After a point, everything was an uphill challenge – literally and figuratively as this race tests your physical and mental capabilities equally. With fatigue and sleeplessness chasing you down, it takes everything you have to keep your head clear and banish thoughts of “giving up”. I have never experienced exhaustion like this before, but as they say – the tougher it is, the sweeter is the result. I did the race barely 10 days back, so it still feels a little surreal that I actually cycled non-stop for 34hours 54-minutes and finished first in the women solo riders’ category.

FM: A final question – what does it take for you to be a good triathlete?

Solonie: Consistency, hard work, dedication, discipline, and focus – these 5 things are the perfect blend to be successful in anything we set out to do.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Motivation Comments Off on When running becomes your life |

When running becomes your life

In conversation with Shiv Shankar Kosgi, an operations manager and coach with the Hyderabad Runners Society and an injury-free runner, as Deepthi Velkur discovers.

Shiv Shankar Kosgi prides himself on being an injury-free runner despite being on the road for more than 6 years now. An operations manager and a coach with the Hyderabad Runners Society (HRC) by profession, Shiv has also competed in prestigious runs across the country such as the TMM, AHM, ADHM to name a few. He enjoys his running, focuses on staying injury-free and his immediate goal is competing in the stunning Comrades Marathon 2019.

I had a chance to catch up with Shiv and listen to his story.

FM: How did you take to running? Why?

Shiv: Back in 2008, I started going to the gym to lose weight and to stay generally fit. I moved to Hyderabad from Pune in 2012. At that point, I suddenly had a fascination for running and a friend of mine Steve Nipps introduced me to the Hyderabad Runners. I ran my first half marathon that year and felt elated at the end of the run – I have not looked back ever since. Over time, I started scaling up to longer distances and I have always enjoyed running because for me it is not just about fitness or weight-loss, it gave me much more – it gave me an identity.

FM: Apart from being an avid marathoner, your inclination has always been towards understanding the science behind running and its effects on the human body? How did this interest come about?

Shiv: From the moment I picked up running, it has turned into my passion and that passion for running became my profession eventually. When I noticed the change and the positive impact it had on my physical appearance, mental fitness and the lifestyle change it had brought about, it really fascinated me to explore more about the scientific methods and my approach to training.

FM: There has been a sudden shift in people wanting to stay fit and have especially taken to running? How and why do you think is the reason behind this shift from when you started running in 2012?

Shiv: It’s really great to see a sudden shift in people wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle and the fact that humans are meant to move around and stay active rather than just sit and do a desk job. People have picked up running as a preferred form of fitness activity for various reasons as it is considered to be quite economical for everyone, an activity that can be performed individually, the euphoric feeling you get after every run, helps lose or maintain weight, a sharp mind even as you age, reduces your risk of cancer and finally running adds years to your life.

FM: You have been a coach for the Hyderabad Runners since 2014? How do you go about with your training?

Shiv: I strongly believe in discipline, determination, and dedication in terms of training, because long distance running is an endurance sport and to sustain yourself and be better each day you should follow a systematic training plan and set appropriate goals. Endurance sport is very demanding & taxing on the body. Hence one should give equal importance for recovery and nutrition and always listen to your body signals and never do too much too soon.

FM: What is your strategy to keep runners motivated and be consistent with their training?

Shiv: I have a very simple strategy – connect with trainees regularly, speak about progress and performance, correct them where necessary and make training fun for them.

FM: How do you train your runners to stay injury-free?

Shiv: As I strongly believe in a scientific training approach my recommendation is to always – set a realistic goal, put a training plan in place, follow the training plan, maintain a training log, measure performance at regular intervals, slow down and rest, give nutrition equal importance and do strength training twice a week. Follow this and you will be injury free.

FM: How have you been able to manage coaching as well as the other functions of the running club as an operations manager?

Shiv: Well it was a complete shift of career from an IT job to sports management. Hyderabad runner society (HRS) is mostly driven by volunteers and is a Non-Profit Society. I was the first full-time employee to join HRS when the trend of running was just picking up in India. As an Operations Manager, my job role was not just about coaching but included planning and conducting training programs for runners across various locations by hiring professional athletic trainers. Simultaneously, I manage the yearly events calendar in the planning and execution of events and training runs from end to end.

FM: How do you see Hyderabad runner’s society growing in the coming years?

Shiv: Hyderabad Runners Society is the first running club in India which is registered as a non-profit society and is institutionalized. Today, there are more than 6000 members on google groups and 20K plus followers on social media. Hyderabad Runners have really helped and inspired thousands of people in transforming their lives and following a healthier lifestyle. It has been a great platform for people in many ways, as it has made a positive impact on the residential communities, corporates, institutions, NGO’s etc.

In the past 5 years, the number of runners and running groups has grown dramatically – today there are more than 25 sub-groups within the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and has runners of all age groups and all walks of life. As the trend of fitness grows globally, we will witness a growth in the number of runners and running groups as this will, directly and indirectly, have a positive impact in the society in various ways.

FM: DrPhil Maffetone was the Event Ambassador for the 2016 Hyderabad Marathon. Do you encourage your trainees to follow the Maffetone method of training? If yes, why?

 Shiv: In the current day and age, we have various methods of training to choose from, have access to training coaches and training plans. Even before we discovered Maffetone method of training, we had a mentor and coach Mr Bill Pierce, the Chairperson of Health Sciences department at Furman University, South Carolina, US. He is the author of the training program “Run Less Run Faster” and we have been following his training plans since 2010. Later on, we discovered the Maffetone method and I would encourage people to follow this training method if its suitable for them. MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) training emphasis totally on the Aerobic training which is very good for anyone who wants to pick up running and scale up to long distances because training in aerobic zones prepares runners for the long distance while keeping the heart rates in control and don’t end up burning out.

FM: A final question – do you set yearly targets for yourself in terms of the races you will be a part of and have you been able to achieve it?

Shiv: I always choose which races to run in a calendar year and classify them as ‘A’ race and ‘B’ race. ‘B’ races are part of my training runs and ‘A’ races are the ones where I set goals and achieve my personal best. This way I have been able to achieve my targets.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Motivation Comments Off on Getting Fit with every Run |

Getting Fit with every Run

Pinaak Pande, an investment banker by profession with Northern Trust took to running 4
years ago with a mission to get fit and he speaks to Deepthi Velkur about his journey.

 

“I may not be there yet but I’m closer than I was yesterday”.

Pinaak Pande, an investment banker by profession with Northern Trust took to running 4 years ago with a mission to get fit. He has come a long way since then and as we listen to him talk through his journey, there’s one resonating message he would like for us to focus on – patience is key.

What was the key driver to pick running as your choice of sport?

Sports was always a part of my life – I represented Karnataka and Bangalore University in Baseball and Softball for 5 years. In 2010, I got an offer with an MNC bank and had to work night shifts and sports took a backseat. The long work hours, bad eating habits and inactive lifestyle had me weighing in at 90kgs. In 2014, I ran my first 5k (majja run) at the TCS 10K event and it was hard due to my unhealthy lifestyle. That’s when it hit me – I was unfit! It was a jolt and I decided to do something about it. That’s how I joined a running group and haven’t looked back since.

Given that you have a crazy work schedule. How do you find time to run?

Where there’s a desire, you persevere – that’s my thinking!

The last 4 years was maniac – I used to wrap up my day at the office around 4 AM and then head straight for the training. Despite the madness, I always felt better after my runs and this drove me to make time for my runs.

You did the 12-hour stadium run earlier this year? How did you train for it? Did all go as per plan during the race?

This was my first ultra-run and a very memorable one too. The amount of training I went through during this phase was immense and quite challenging. I trained 7 days a week with one goal in mind – finish the race no matter what. I followed the 2 weeks of high mileage and 1 week of low mileage training plan, focusing on my strength training and cross training. I have had weeks where my weekly mileage was higher than 90kms. My weekdays were pretty much sorted with a recovery swim post the weekly runs.

You can plan everything to a T but things don’t always go as per the plan – exactly what happened to me. It kept raining all day and during the race, it poured for 8 hours making it hard to run especially with the humidity being so high. Unfortunately, I fell short by 5.6 km from the planned target (80kms), clocking 74.4kms at the end of 12 hours.

Nutrition plays a big role in every athlete’s life. How do you plan your nutrition?

I keep it very simple. I have a big bowl of seasonal fruits for my breakfast with 2 glasses of water mixed with jaggery and sattu (natural protein for the body). For lunch, I have a millet-based diet, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds as an evening snack and millet-based food for dinner.

In the recent SPBM event, you were the pacer for the 2hr30mins bus? What has been your experience of being a pacer?

It’s always a great feeling to be a pacer as you are helping the running community achieve their goals.

In this event, I was pacing the 2hr30min bus. I started with a bunch of runners but towards the end, there were about 15 runners who completed with me. As far as I remember most of the runners were doing their debut HM and a couple of them with 3 HM’s under their belt. I completed the race in 2hr29mins7secs just within the target time. The bus I was pacing was filled with conversations around nutrition, hydration and running. It was a comfortable race and I did not face any challenges along the way.

The satisfaction you get when you help other runners achieve their respective goals is immense and hence, I would choose to pace over racing any day at any event. I believe in karma, do good and the good will come looking for you.

Do you wish to take part in a triathlon event in the near future? How are you going about your training? 

Oh yes, I would definitely take part in a triathlon event post a couple of ultra-marathons.  I do include cycling and swimming as part of my cross training workouts. It takes a lot of training to be a successful triathlete. I am strengthening my weaknesses to get better 😉

Being one of the ambassadors for Pinkathon, you obviously have a connection to the cause? Your thoughts on this? 

Pinkathon is about women empowerment and spreading awareness about how important it is to take care of one’s health. According to me, it’s very important for women to focus on their fitness apart from what they do on a given day. I want to ensure that all women take the right steps to stay healthy and fit if they haven’t already. “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”— I believe in this mantra. I am glad that my mentor and Guruji, Milind Soman chose me to be an ambassador for Pinkathon.

You need the right physical and mental strength to run a marathon. How do you stay strong during a race?

I would say you got to be more mentally strong than physical. Running a Marathon is easy but convincing your mind is tough. The battle is between your mind and the body for those 42kms. Your mind will always want to give up after running for a certain distance but being mentally strong is the key to run marathons and ultra-marathons. I train solo most of the days and I train my mind by altering the distance just before I head out for a run. This way you are removing the mental block from your mind.

Do you train with a coach? If yes, how has that benefited you in making you a better runner today?

Yes, I do have a mentor who trains me to be a better person every day. According to me, coaches are there to guide you and without them, certain things are not achievable.

You constantly set new highs for yourself. Where does this motivation come from?

Yes, certainly. I love to push myself and set new highs all the time as I believe you got to constantly challenge yourself no matter how much you have achieved or what challenges you might face. The challenges and my past achievements keep me going and motivate me all the way until the finish line or the end of my goal.

What is the advice you have for anyone who wants to take up an endurance sport like “running”?

Get up at 5 in the morning for a month and head out for a short run/jog and see the difference it makes to your life and you will certainly see a lifestyle change.

What big races do you have insight in the coming year?

 I definitely want to do a 24-hour stadium run and a couple of ultra-marathons in the next calendar year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Motivation Comments Off on Conquering Race Day |

Conquering Race Day

Dharambir Kumar talks about his journey into endurance sports with Anupam Das.
Three years ago because of his sedentary activities he weighed 95kg and was worried about my health, he started to train for long-distance running from 2016, and gradually inducted cycling, yoga & weight training to be fit and now he weighs 72kg with his regular training. He has finished two full marathons and many half marathons in these three years. He has also done Brevet 200,300,400 and 600km cycling in a single session and achieved Super Randoneur (SR) title this year. His dream is to finish an Ironman challenge and he is working towards it.
Dharambir talk about his journey, here is the story he narrated to me.
The Run
I was not sure how my second attempt in the full Marathon at “The Run” would go. Just 4 days before the big race my daughter, Shreyashi was born. Finishing my FM at 4:30:48hrs was a dream and I have dedicated that to my little angel. I am a regular Half Marathon runner with my weekly practice runs & mileages enough to support my body for Half marathons, to such an extent that, you ask me to run a Half Marathon now, I would do. But the Full Marathon is a different beast, which I realised during my first attempt at New Delhi Marathon in Feb 2018.

After completing two FMs and many HMs, I have realised that the effort to run the two formats is different and that should be respected. In order to run an HM, a runner needs to run longer practice runs well in the conversational aerobic zone. The distances should be gradually increased from 25km to 28km, followed by 35km, 38km and 42 km before heading to Race day. This sort of practice helps tune your body, especially the core muscles and vital organs to sustain your effort for a longer duration.

Falling off the Training Bandwagon

Ideally, one should dedicate at least 3 to 4months  at end of summers in India, to practice for a long-distance race. End of summers being preferable in India in view of the extreme heat we face in summer though the days are much longer. I did clock in a good timing but my practice schedule preparing for the race was not well-planned. Post the race also I got busy with my Brevet Rides (200/300/400/600km), which I conquered one after the other to achieve ‘Super Randonneur’ title. These long duration of cycling compromised my target of LSD runs to tune my body and mind for the next full marathon.

I thought I will do at least one 30 or 35km run to acclimatize my body a week before the event, but I couldn’t schedule the same. You might ask me, as I was doing endurance cycling prior to the FM, my body would have been trained and tuned the 42km FM. Cycling and Running are two different kinds of sports and involves endurance capacity of many different muscles of our body in each go, so they need to be trained separately. Running is considered a more vigorous effort workout, therefore our body needs special conditioning prior to the race. Anyway, I planned to give my best on Race Day.

The Race Day

Though I was not confident, I had planned to achieve a sub-5-hour completion for the Full Marathon. I started my run with ease at 5:00 am, I felt my legs were moving freely. ‘The Run’ started from the newly built international cricket stadium in Gomti Nagar extension in Lucknow. I started to enjoy the route (which is a new route for Marathons in Lucknow) and I ran comfortably and completed 21km well under 2 hours. The route was scenic too, most part being on the bank of river Gomti, away from the pollution and urban infrastructure of the city, I was completely absorbed in the beauty.

After crossing 21km mark, I started feeling a little discomfort, as if my body is saying “Enough”. Here is where the training would have helped but I had missed that training. But I continued to run, then after 25km, my right knee started giving me trouble, with pain on every step. I sprayed on a generous amount of Volini spray hoping to alleviate the pain. But after a small duration, the pain would be back and I had to stop again to spray my knee again.

After 29th km, the situation became further worse, as I was facing the Sun, and feeling the heat directly on my face, my discomfort grew. This phase of discomfort continued till 35km, but once I crossed it, I regained my rhythm. Now I had only 7km left, and the one thought that kept me going was the fact that I could be back home to spend time with my new born daughter.

I pushed myself harder at this stage and I do not remember when I crossed the finishing line. The route support was awesome, with hydration and energy points in every 3 to 4km and cycling marshals all throughout the route especially for the full marathon runners, which they require most.

There were times when I thought I would not be able to participate in full marathon this time, as this needs full commitment of body and mind for a long duration starting hours before the race starts, till recovery to be able to take care of my family. But unprecedented help from my runner friends families, office colleagues and their families poured in to support us.

Sometimes even the impossible seems conquerable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Anupam Das is a Faculty of a Superspeciality Medical Institute in Lucknow, UP. He started his journey of fitness from 2017 with Long Distance Running, Cycling, Body Weight cross fit & Yoga.

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Motivation Comments Off on Riding with Bikey Venky |

Riding with Bikey Venky

Venkateswara Rao Navanasi or Bikey Venky as he is popularly known talks about his journey from cyclist to blogger to mentor with Deepthi Velkur.

Venkateswara Rao Navanasi’s giant leaps in the cycling world are more than just being inspirational. They are an adventure that he has been conquering the miles along with his demons makes for a story that you must read.

Cycling has become an integral part of your life, but it was never always the case. How did it all happen?

For starters, I wasn’t the most healthy person out there. I was 20 kilos overweight and suffered from frequent asthma and bronchitis attacks.

In February 2008, months before I was due to become a father, I realized my unhealthy lifestyle could be a bad example for my child. That thought triggered an immediate action and my unborn child served as the motivation for me to live a healthier lifestyle.

Over the next 8 months, I lost 16 kilos by doing 2 things –eating healthier and working out for an hour every day. In October 2008 with the idea of including a workout routine into my daily commute, I picked up a cycle. I commuted 14KM a day and that slowly transformed into longer rides over the weekend. The spirit of freedom had me hooked and without even knowing it, cycling changed my life.

From being a recreational cyclist, you transitioned to road racing. That’s a big leap – what drove you to it?

It’s a funny story – I never imagined racing and always thought it was for professionals.

In December 2010, having just moved to Bangalore, I went to watch a BBCh (Bangalore Bicycling Championships) ITT race in Sarjapur and sat there in wide-eyed wonder as I watched the fancy bikes zoom past. 9 months later, while watching another BBCh race, this time it was the Team Time Trial (TTT), the organizers announced that those who had no teams but were interested in racing could take part in the Individual Time Trials (ITT). I pedalled up to the start line with my fixed gear bike and completed the 20KM race averaging a speed of 33KMPH. Later that evening I was surprised when a friend of mine (Brijesh Nair) called me and said that I had won the race and he collected my medal. It was my first ever medal in life! Later in 2011, when I took part in the Tour of Nilgiris (TFN), I got hooked to racing and the endorphin rush I experience is what brings me back.

You look forward to the Tour of Nilgiris (TFN) every year? Why is it so close to your heart?

TFN came into existence around the same time I started cycling. The TFN started off as a fun ride but turned into an organized race in December 2008.

In 2008, while researching for a new bike on an online forum (Bikeszone), I happened to stumble upon TFN and was fascinated to read about the experiences of the riders. I followed the tour closely and during a TFN after-party, I caught up with a few riders and listening to their stories first hand solidified my resolve to take part in it one day. When my registration for the 2011 event was accepted I was both elated and scared at the same time. The scale of what I was about to attempt dawned on me and I used the nervousness inside of me to inspire me to do well.

To prepare, apart from my daily commute, I started riding for 50KM twice during the week and even longer on weekends. In the 6 months leading up to TFN, I did about 10,000KM and lost 12 kilos.

In my first TFN race, I secured the 11th position out of 90 riders from across the world. I was ecstatic and believed that I was cut out from something more than just being a recreational cyclist. The high it gave me changed my life as a cyclist forever. During the TFN, I had the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life and the camaraderie shared lives with me till today. To me, TFN is special because it challenges me as a rider and of course the views are to die for.

Having raced in multiple events – which race format do you find the most challenging?

My favorite disciple is the ITT and I do share a love-hate relationship with it. It is a race that is called the “race of truth” and rightfully so – it’s just you and your bike going head-on with the elements and the clock.

The ITT is challenging because when you are in the flow, you feel ecstatic but when your mind starts playing up, it is rather an agonizing experience. This year in March, I clocked my personal best average speed of 43kmph for the 33.5km course and the ITT format really helps you gauge your progress.

You seem to love writing as much as you like cycling. What does your blog (www.bvcoaching.in/blog) focus on mainly?

Well, I love riding, writing out my ride reports and sharing them through Bikeszone and my own blog. I always try and share them on race day itself as it’s all fresh in my mind. My blog mainly covers race reports for now, but I intend to publish posts on training and nutrition that could help others in the riding community.

How did the initiative of starting your own racing calendar called BAR (Bangalore Amateur Racing) come about? How many races does it feature in a year?

I have participated in all BBCH races since 2012. It’s a great platform to keep riders motivated, train and stay in shape through the year. The BBCH organizes road and MTB races during alternate months which meant that for us road racers, we had to wait for 2 months between races. Definitely not ideal and we figured we needed more races and that’s how a few of us at Spectrum came up with an idea of starting a new series.

My friend, Venkatachalam from Cleated Warriors team and I went about executing our idea and the first race we organized was a 24KM ITT on 21st July 2013. With the help of stop watches, laptops we ensured the results were released immediately on completion of the race. Our focus is to keep it simple, reduce overheads and organize races at regular intervals. On an average, we do about 10 races per year and charge INR 50 per race per participant.

How and when did your association with spectrum racing start?

In 2011 when I started watching races, I came across this energetic bunch of riders from a team called ‘Spectrum Racing’ and I have also seen them on my regular riding routes. They were a huge inspiration to me in the way that they rode together. Several times I did try keeping pace with them but couldn’t. After several months of riding, I eventually managed to keep up with them and rode most of the tour with them. They were quite impressed with me as I managed to complete the tour with a fixed gear bike and offered for me to join their team.

During this time, I was associated with another team ‘Veloscope’ so getting such an invite is tantamount to poaching in the corporate world. Nevertheless, I was excited at the opportunity, so I consulted my friend Brijesh Nair who set up Veloscope and he encouraged me to go for it. I joined Spectrum Racing in January 2012.

What lead you to start your own coaching site(www.bvcoaching.in)? How does this work?

I have always enjoyed reading, finding new ways to improve myself and sharing knowledge. I used to ride with and mentor a few youngsters and in the process, I shared regular feedback, helped them with race preparations and this became a learning ground for all of us. I enjoyed the process and it helped me develop as well.

Through my blog (www.bvcoaching.in/blog), I had quite a few people asking me questions about training for BBCH, TFN, etc. and I took the opportunity to help in any way I could. For some who wanted more specific advice, I devised training plans for them.

In 2016, I stumbled upon a tool that made training plans and interaction between coaches and trainees easier, but it was fairly expensive. I then decided to start charging for my services and my existing clients were happy with the arrangement and that’s how www.bvcoaching.in started on 1st May 2016.

All the training plans were customized and accessible via the app or website. The trainees could upload their workouts online where I would analyze progress and provide feedback. Communication was predominantly via the tool and emails, but the evaluation was done via phone and Skype. This model enables me to work with athletes from across the globe.

Tour de Friendship 2017 was your first race on the international Platform? How did it go?

My skipper at Spectrum Racing, Dr. Arvind Bhateja, signed me up for the race in 2017 and took care of all logistics as he wanted me to experience racing at a different level.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t do justice to the faith he had in me. I went into the race not being at the top of my game and with a tough cycling field and difficult route, it made for a disappointing race. On the bright side, that race opened my mind to newer challenges and I decided to compete in one international race every year.

With the experience you had at Tour De Friendship, how differently did you handle your next race – the Tour De Bintan?

I went into the Tour De Bintan in possibly the best shape I could be at that time. I trained with a coach for over 5 months leading up to the event. I was better prepared and gave a good account of myself.  The race was a 3-day event with an ITT on the first day, a 140km road race on the second and a 100km road race on the 3rd day in the beautiful Indonesian Resort Island called Bintan. The races are well organized and the first two races act as qualifiers for UCI Grandfondo series finals in the age category.

You had to qualify in the top 20% in your age category (40-44) for the UCI Masters Grandfondo series World Championships? Did you manage to meet your target?

Although I was better prepared, I was still quite a way off the top 20% of the field. I finished just outside the top 20% but overall was a great experience. I came back knowing exactly what I needed to work on to do better the next time I’m there which will be in 2020.

What are the major differences you see racing in India vs overseas?

The level of racing overseas is so high that it can be disheartening as well as inspiring. Most of the riders in the age categories 40-44 and 50-54 have been riding all their life and are way faster than any of us. In India, most of us start quite late in life and it might take us several years to get there but I believe it is possible to be competitive by putting in a lot of work.

The races overseas are meticulously planned, organized well and the level of support received from local authorities is amazing. In India, I have seen such planning in events like the Tour of Glory and Tour of Nilgiris (TFN).

How would you rate your performance over the years?

Overall, fairly satisfying. I won the TFN in Masters category in 2015 and 2016 and this year has been very good. I participated in 10-12 races and won 4 of them.

What races have you planned for 2019?

For 2019, my big goal is Giro De Dolomitti (GDD) in the Italian Alps. It is quite similar to the TFN but on a larger scale. Apart from that, I plan to attend the Tour of Glory, 2Go Masters Championships, BBCH, BAR races and TFN.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Motivation Comments Off on Running Nonstop with Ravi Goenka |

Running Nonstop with Ravi Goenka

A running career that spans over 2 decades, Ravi Goenka, the co-founder of the Jaipur Runners club reminisces his running career with Deepthi Velkur.

“And suddenly you know…it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings”.

For the past 21 years, Ravi Goenka has certainly had several new beginnings. Starting his running career in 1997, he has clocked many a mile and has now moved on to helping others achieve their fitness goals. Ravi lives by the motto, “take it all one day at a time and enjoy the journey”.

When he’s not running, he spends his time managing his several interests in garments, textiles, retail and dairy. He also spends his time being actively involved with a couple of NGOs who focus on providing education for underprivileged kids. Ravi has been a co-founder with the Jaipur Runners Club (JRC) since 2011 and in this conversation, he tells us how he hopes to help runners achieve their goals.

When did you first pick up running and what inspired you to do so?

Sports has always been a part of my life. I have been running for a long time now and I’m addicted. Today, I just can’t live without my run – it really has intertwined itself into my life and I build my day around it. My first run was the Terry Fox run (Dubai) in 1997 and 7 years later I did my first half-marathon in 2004 and a full marathon in 2005.

Running brings about immense benefits to the health and overall development of a person? In what way has it benefited you?

Discipline. Perseverance. Camaraderie. These are 3 key elements that come to mind when someone asks how does running add value to your life.

Discipline in the way you live – running influences everything from the way you eat to the way you plan your day. Running helps build perseverance and makes you believe that no matter how tough the situation is, just stick with it and you will come through a winner. Every runner’s journey is peppered with stories of how a friend helped them during training or a stranger egged them on a tough uphill course or rubbed down a sore muscle on a tough trail. That’s what running brings out in people – a spirit of community and camaraderie.

When did you decide to start Jaipur runners club? What was the main idea behind starting this club?

Prior to 2010, Jaipur didn’t really have a lot of exposure to marathons and there were only a handful of marathoners. Mr.Mukesh Mishra, CEO – Jaipur Marathon (now the AU Bank Jaipur Marathon) and I were in touch and discussed several ideas on how we can improve the runner’s experience at the event.

We realized that runners did not have a platform to practice together and both of us felt the need to create a space where runners could interact, motivate and inspire each other. That’s how the idea of starting a running club – JRC came about. When it started out, it had a very loose structure for a couple of years, but it has gradually evolved over time and today we have a more formalized structure in place.

Do you think joining a running club enriches a runner’s experience? If yes, why?

A running group/club definitely enhances and enriches a runners experience. When you are part of a group they become close buddies and it’s a huge benefit to run along with them. Right from waking each other up in the morning to sharing training tips to motivating and pushing each other during runs plays a major role in motivating and inspiring you to achieve more.

We also try doing a whole lot of things such as organize monthly runs, bringing in motivational speakers and sports nutrition experts to speak to our runners. We also have a few renowned sports doctors on our panel to help fellow runners. Our objective is to give the runners at the club a wholesome enriching running experience.

Your best and worst race so far? Why?

My best race probably was the 100K race in (took me a tad over 12 hours to complete) Dec 2015. I participated in this run to promote Ultrarunning in Jaipur as the concept was fairly insignificant at the time.

I call it my best not because I ran a 100K but because of the atmosphere, it created. There were hundreds of local runners who ran distances between 4 – 42K alongside me and for a lot of them it was their longest distance they had run until that day. We had many more citizens who lined up at Central Park where the run was happening and created such a festive mood.

The SCMM 2015 (my last officially timed run)run wasn’t my worst but rather a most enlightening race.  I was hoping to break the 3hr45min barrier and things were going great until 32 KM mark where I suddenly cramped up. The situation nearly brought me to tears as I had put in hours of hard work, several months of practice and I was maintaining a decent time in training (3hr50min – 4hr). That brought me a moment of realization that chasing personal bests was making me lose the joy of running. I then made the decision to focus on staying fit and enjoying my runs.

Take us through your training regimen and how do you to stay injury-free?

There are 2 key activities I go through the year that are very important to me – yoga and working out at the gym. In addition, I do a fair bit of cross training between sports like cycling, TT, tennis, cricket and swimming. Since I enjoy sports, I try and put in 15-20 a week on that. Before and after any run session, I do a quick warm-up and cooling-down stretches.

I have had running-related injuries and lay-offs a couple of times over the past 2 decades and this has been mainly due to overtraining. However, I ensured proper rest during the injury and I have been able to get back on my feet quicker.

How do you keep your runners at JRC motivated?

Our job is to get them into a regular habit and once done we have seen runners take off and make considerable progress. We are also constantly evolving are plans and programs to keep the runners on their feet through the year. With the advent of social media, there is no dearth for motivation as there are runners scaling new heights every day. In a city like Jaipur, we are seeing a surge in the number of runners who want to do their FM in 2 years’ time from when they started running or wishing to attempt an Ironman challenge.

At JRC, we organize boot camps focusing on overall fitness, building running techniques, challenges like 10KM over 10 days, 100-day challenge and hill training. We also see a very high newcomer participation in our events and that’s encouraging. We also have a lot of mentoring happening with guidance from experienced runners on plans being made for new comers and helping them with customized plans for speed and endurance training.

 

You ran the 72K Jaipur midnight marathon on Independence Day this year as a dedication to the Indian Soldiers. What were your thoughts at the finish line?

I was happy that I managed to finish the 72K run with ease in spite of having certain challenging factors that can take a toll on your body and mind – visibility at night, humid weather conditions and a full working day at office/factory. It was good to see a few young fellow runners from JRC giving me company and through the run kept pushing each other to finish the race.

12 hours of barefoot running saw two members from JRC participate. Briefly talk about the run and how did you cheer them on to the finish line?

We currently have some very strong runners from Jaipur attempting to run long distances and also being successful at it. Although I was not physically present during the run and could not cheer them on,  we were given regular updates on their progress and were being cheered through a virtual medium.

As a director of JRC, what are your future plans for the club?

We gradually and steadily hope to increase the number of runners in Jaipur and at the same time instilling in them a love for fitness. The goal is also to ensure we are able to have each member run long and strong and stay injury-free. The co-founder of JRC Mr Mukesh Mishra is also very dedicated to the cause and we have a very supportive team in place who are always out there to support all events and runners. To top it all, having a team of dedicated volunteers is a big boon in itself.

Do you think you might reconsider your decision to stop running at official events?

 The SCMM 2015 was my the last official event that I ran. My friends call me the “enlightened Baba” who has attained Nirvana after years of this journey. I enjoy running on my own most of the time as this is my “ME” time and also enjoy runs with friends sometimes. I also try and be part of the runs of JRC which gives me an opportunity to interact with fellow runners. I have been running for so long now that I don’t feel the urge to travel anymore for runs. My businesses take a lot out of me and focus is on my work  for now. Hopefully in a few years, if the goal posts change, I would love to travel again to run in different parts of the world.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Motivation Comments Off on Record Breaking Iron(wo)man |

Record Breaking Iron(wo)man

In conversation with Vinolee Ramalingam, the Chennai based Triathlete who has never let any obstacle deter her.

Ironman is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of non-compete to endurance sports, how did you choose to take it up?
ironmanI started out again to get my body and mind into shape. I didn’t have any endurance sports in mind, as I was focused only on swimming. In my city Chennai, there was a triathlon event around that time and My friends and well-wishers pushed me to take up that. That’s how it happened and rest was history, as I was completely into training and participating in it.

Finishing two Ironman’s and setting a new record, how did that happen?
Participating in an Ironman was not for any record, rather it was only for my own self. I needed to see where I am, and how to fit I am. Being a short distance national athlete (100m,200m) and national swimmer, my mind was and is into sports from my childhood. All my dream and my father and brother’s dream was to represent India at an international arena. When I did that, it was kind of exhilarating and I was addicted to it. That’s what is pushing me.

You have now set your sights on the World Championship, how would you be preparing for it?
World championships are always a dream of a triathlete. For it, I got to train harder and smarter. Need twice or thrice the dedication level which I have now to go to that level. I have got my training plans altered to that, have identified my lagging areas, and am now working more on it. Also, we have analyzed the effort which I did for the two Ironmans. With that as a reference, I am looking forward to an improved training.

What advice would you give to a newbie who wants to try an Ironman event?
An Ironman aspirant should have an open strong mind to even choose this event. He /she should have a structured training plan which will help them in concentrating on each of the legs individually. He/she should be very strong in their basics. They may be a good swimmer, but without knowledge of the bike, they will have trouble. A sound mind to accept whatever may come as output, be ready to push through. My motto is “No way out, Push Through”

How has your family viewed this change?
My family have been supporting me from day 1 when I told I am planning to pursue this. They were happy and they started encouraging me on day to day basis. My kid, Vinesh, is so accommodating, he used to sleep in the car when I go for a ride, as my husband drives the car. Without family, I am nothing.

Who is your inspiration or role model?
My dad, Ramalingam, is my inspiration. He was a national medal winner during 1970s in Heptathlon. He decided things on his own and took up sports as his career, stayed as a coach until he retired. He was also the District Sports Officer. He encourages and coaches me and my kid for our events. He is coaching my kid for upcoming kids triathlon.

Do you work with a coach? If yes, what are the benefits? If no, then how do you plan your training?
Yes, I work with my coach, Xavier Coppock of Team TRI Coaching. He has trained many athletes and has made their dream of qualifying for World Championships come true. Working with a coach is always beneficial as they will know the right amount of training for each leg. And they will be on top of your training and will change it accordingly to your positives and negatives. We just got to blindly follow them

Do you follow a special nutrition plan before and during your race? Can you share a few tips about that?
I didn’t follow any specific nutrition plan, but I did mind what I ate. I had included more amount of proteins, enough carbs and minimal fat. I completely avoided all bakery items, aerated drinks. These kept me in shape. And of course loads of water.
The week leading to the race one should be drinking as much water and take more electrolytes to keep them in shape. If we don’t keep ourselves equipped with this, we will end up feeling exhausted during the race.

Plan earlier for the race. Keep adequate gels, salt capsules and electrolyte. Though the organizers will have enough supplementary drinks, it’s always better to carry our own. That way we will be confident during the race and need not fear if the next aid station carries water or not.

They say mental strength is the most important factor for an endurance event. Do you agree and how have you trained yourself to tackle the challenge the race throws at you?
Along with your physical strength, we need to have tremendous mental strength. We will have a lot of delusions and tons of questions, and you will be asked to quit and go to sleep. During the race, I used to talk to myself about my kid, my family and how they will feel happy when I reach the finish line. How they will be happily and patiently waiting on the finish line for me etc. If we have something to concentrate on and think on, then that’s a boon.

How have you changed as a person since you took up the training for the Ironman?
As a person, I started looking at things positively and started being an influencer indirectly and directly for many women, who think life is just to take care of kids and family and not have any kind of aspirations. Life is short, you are your best friend and your body is the only thing which comes with you till the end. My mind is now fresh, am happy because I do what my mind wants me to do. Indirectly I have changed my kid’s life, as he is happily taken sports as part of his day to day life, and is ready to stay fit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Featured, Motivation Comments Off on Managing a Flying Career with Triathlon Training |

Managing a Flying Career with Triathlon Training

Triathlete Akshay Samel speaks to Protima Tiwary about his love for triathlons and his passion for flying and finding time for both.

From learning the most from bad races to running marathons as a hobby while learning to balance a hectic professional life as a pilot, Akshay Samel’s life is full of moments that inspire all those who know him. We caught up with him in between his flying schedule for a quick chat. Excerpts from the interview:

What made you take up running?

I had always been an active child and enjoyed my childhood playing games in the neighbourhood. I was not the boy you’d find busy with videogames; weekends and summer vacations were spent in fields playing a sport. I am not a professional sportsman, in fact professionally I am a pilot. I only run as a hobby and took it up as a means of getting fit.

It was 2005 when I went to watch the Mumbai Marathon, and it is the spirit of this beautiful event that inspired me to take part in the 7km Dream Run in 2006 in the same marathon. It was during this run that I decided to try for a half marathon someday, once I got the time to train for it.

It took me 3 years to make the dream of a half marathon come true (there was a delay as I waited for my Indian Pilots Licence to arrive first) In 2010 I ran my first half marathon. It’s easy to get addicted to the high you feel after running with a community so supportive and enthusiastic about fitness. There was no looking back for me, I signed up for a full marathon soon after and that’s how it all started.

How do you manage to balance your flying schedule with your running schedule?

That truly is a difficult part. When you have a job with an erratic schedule, it does become difficult to plan ahead. Your sleep patterns are also affected by the flying times, and it requires a truckload of willpower to keep going. Thankfully, over the years I have aced self-motivation to stay on track. My biggest motivation to keep going is to challenge myself to see an improvement in each race.

I face a huge challenge when it comes to recovery. Flying means I am working at 7000ft, with dry air and less oxygen, and different pressure cycles. I use compression calves sleeves when flying, and most importantly I have learnt not to be too hard on myself. I don’t chase missed workouts.  I listen to my body and give it enough rest till I feel I am ready to bounce back.

What is your training schedule like?

I don’t really have a schedule unless there is a race that I need to train for. When I train, I believe in quality over quantity. I try to fit in 3 high-intensity workouts of each discipline, but it all depends on the availability of the bike/pool, another reason it gets difficult to follow a training schedule. I swim, I run and I do some high-intensity indoor bike rides to stay on track.

I have trained with a coach once, and I went from a 4hr marathon to 3:31 in 2 years and from a 1:45 half marathon to 1:33.

Was Ironman always the plan? 

Ironman 70.3 in 2013 (Taiwan) happened purely because of  “peer pressure” for lack of a better term, as a couple of us signed up for this race together. The next couple of years were the same as we signed up to enjoy the thrill of the race. There was no structured training plan. In 2016 5 of us decided to register for the Ironman Kalmar (2016) I was a little nervous about this one, especially about cycling for 180km, and thus concentrated on training on the bike.

Ironman happened because of the thrill and joy that our group shared; we enjoyed training together, sharing and executing workouts and encouraging each other to give it our best. We even shared our fears and low points. We all ended up inspiring each other, and that is the best part about the fitness family. It is such an inspirational squad!

What’s been your best race till date?

It has got to be the Ironman Copenhagen. I hadn’t trained for it the way I would have loved to, but I felt strong throughout and enjoyed it even through the pain. The time I took to complete it was 11:03!

What do you feel about bad races?

I think you learn more from your bad races than you do from the good ones. Good races show you that your training was good, but it is the bad races that show you how much more is needed in terms of training as well as your diet. 2 of my biggest learnings from bad races would be –

  1. Rest is important! Your body will tell you when it needs a pause, do not overdo it.
  2. Quality of training is always better than the quantity of training.

How do you keep yourself going during the long races?

I have learnt to motivate myself, and I realised I am quite strong headed that way. Over the years I have learnt to break my marathon into parts, like smaller goals that all help you reach the bigger goal (in this case, the finish line)

How do you maintain a pace?

For me, training a couple of times a week at a faster pace than my set goal pace helps build endurance. Consistent training will help in setting your goal pace and then maintaining it.

Also, you can’t randomly choose a pace, you need a coach to show you how to do it. Because running on an arbitrary pace that you thought was right will only have you undershoot or overshoot your capability.

What do you like most about triathlons?

Triathlon is all about moving ahead, doing better. Triathlon is a lifestyle, and there is no going back when you start planning and managing your time. There’s one thing that I follow, no matter what, something that Jack Reacher once said: Eat when you can and sleep when you can. Wise words to live by.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An Army kid who wishes to travel the world one wellness vacation at a time, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love and life, she is mildly obsessed about travelling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

 

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