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What is a Tempo Run?

You have heard of a tempo run and might have tried it unconsciously also but do you truly understand what it means, asks Nandini Reddy

You must have heard runners discussing using Tempo Run as a strategy for completing grueling marathons. There are a few advocates who swear buy it and a few who stay away from it. But getting it right is most important if you opt for it. Essentially a Temp Run means at you run for a set period of time at a threshold pace. But in order to understand if it works or doesn’t work for you, read on to find out.

Why do you do tempo runs?

It helps the body move faster with getting tired. This helps in reaching your goal times and distance before lactic acid and fatigue take over.

What are the variations in tempo run?

You can opt to do the sustained tempo where you keep a steady pace for 20 mins or you can choose the Tempo Repetitions where you can take short recovery periods of 60-90 seconds. There is also a Tempo Circuit variation that can be used by advanced runners that is beneficial for strength and endurance.

What is the pace of a tempo run?

The pace is what would be best referred to as comfortably hard. It is essentially a pace that you can run at continuously for at least an hour without tiring.

How long is a tempo run?

A typical tempo run lasts for 20 mins and you would cover anywhere from 3-5 kms in that time. You can run longer distances and for a longer period of time if you alter your pace.

What is the heart rate zone for a tempo run?

In a tempo run you need to maintain your heart rate at the Lactate Threshold. A newbie runner would achieve this at 60% of maximum heart rate. The more seasoned runners would reach it at 90% of maximum heart rate.

When do you run temp runs?

Tempo runs are best for training as they help build endurance and are very beneficial for running short races and early training schedules before the half and full marathons.

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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Can you run if you are overweight?

Aerobic exercises like running a great way to lose weight, Radhika Meganathan explores how overweight people can run. 

A high intensity exercise like running burns calories fast and is often touted as a good way to lose those excess inches you want to get rid of desperately. Or maybe you just want to run for the experience of it. But what about the practicality of running when you are overweight? Can you start a running schedule if you are so out of form that you feel breathless just by walking faster?

“The answer to the question is yes, but you cannot start right away,” says Dr Archana Samson, who works as clinical physiotherapist at NHS Wycombe, UK. “You have to first prepare your body for running, to prevent any harm to your joints, or even the heart, if you begin too fast. Preparing is really important, as are discipline, lifestyle change, and your medical history.”

That makes sense, doesn’t it? If you are overweight, chances are that you have not exercised for a while and your joints would be stiff. Here are some steps that you can take, if you want to begin a running regimen from start:

Begin with the right motivation

A lot of overweight people feel that it is too late for them to start running, because it is just too hard. Well, if you want to run a mile right away, then yes, that will be too hard with the current equipment you have in hand – your out-of-form body! Fitness is a skill, just like any other skill like cooking or swimming, and it is unfortunate that most of us feel bad when we cannot instantly become great at something that we see others do easily. Just like how a beginner cannot expect to make an intricate dish on Day 2, it is unreasonable to expect your body to master running at the first attempt itself. Give it the time it needs. Progress, nor perfection must be your beginners’ mantra.

Consultation first, the gear next

“A medical check up along with your physician’s approval is extremely important before starting any fitness regime. The analysis will locate any danger points or bottlenecks you may need to be aware of,” advises Dr Archana. If you are overweight and eager to start running, your doctor will also tell you how to monitor your heart rate and start slowly. Once you get cleared for the sport of running, get a gait analysis done and buy the idea pair of shoes for your body. Invest in compression shirts if your upper body is heavy. For women, a fitness bra is a must-do investment, to avoid stretching and sagging. For added advantage, spend some time on live and research about running basics so that you are familiar with the jargon and practice before you hit the ground (literally).

Start with walking

Start slowly, gently. Walk out of your door and stroll for 10 minutes at any direction. Then walk back. Do this morning and night, every day, preferably on waking up and before going to bed. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so in this way, you also build discipline. On the fourth week, begin the walk-jog method at your own pace. Start with 15 second increments every day. Walk a minute, jog for 15 seconds, walk a minute. Rest a minute. Continue until you feel pleasantly tired. Once you can walk without breathing issues or any pain, you can start trying out a program like Couch2k. If you are looking for a self designed regimen, there are several that are available online for free.

What if you have additional health issues?

A structured, supervised program may be the answer if you have obesity-related issues. Low intensity physiotherapy exercises and gradual progression into a healthy diet are part of initial management when you enlist medical help to tackle associated conditions. “Arthritis, back pain, musculoskeletal and chronic conditions such as heart diseases are often common in overweight persons. In this case, I recommend a drafted program which would include regular supervision, prescription of appropriate physical activity to increase muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, and steps to maintain weight loss under safe and controlled conditions,” says Dr Archana.

What’s your end goal?

If your main objective is to lose weight by running, you must be extra careful. It is shockingly easy for some to put on more weight because aerobic exercises like running and swimming make you hungrier, and they end up eating more, while thinking “Oh but I have done my exercise for the day so it’s okay to eat!”. Weight loss is a science and it is about burning more calories than what you put in, so talk to a nutritionist about calorie counting and the right diet for your running schedule.

“Regardless of why you run, do not let anybody shame or heckle you, and never feel ashamed of your body at any point. You are now running and making a positive lifestyle change, which means you are way ahead of all those who have not taken this step yet,” affirms Dr Archana. So runners, put on some awesome music on your headphones, don your pair of shoes, go at it every day and you will see results very soon. And remember, without proper rest and recovery periods, you can end up in real pain, so make sure you don’t push yourself too hard and do it all too quick.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Running and your respiratory health

 Can you run if you have breathing problems asks Radhika Meghanathan. 
Here’s the truth – you can develop breathing problem at any age, even if you are a seasoned runner. When you run, your muscles need more oxygen than usual, and thus your respiratory system needs to work quickly and more efficiently to deliver this oxygen. If there’s any problem in the airways or the lungs, this delivery will not happen seamlessly and that’s when you find it difficult to breathe. The reasons such problems may be caused, are as follows, from the least serious to most:
  1. Seasonal allergies:

A common symptom of an allergy is the closing up of airways and breathing problems. This is a relatively minor block, since all you need to do is to take care of your allergies. “For those who are allergic to dust or pollen, the solution is very easy. Avoid running outdoors in spring or dusty paths; instead, choose a clean, preferably air-conditioned environment,” advices Dr Thilagavathy, consultant pulmonologist and somnologist at Vijaya Hospital, Chennai.

  1. Exercise-induced breathing issues:

Do you struggle to breathe while you are exercising, but feel fine during other times? In this case, you may have breathing related issues. Unfortunately, there is no instant cure for this, since the causes of this can be three-fold:

  • Being overweight: When you carry extra kilos, it not only puts pressure on your knees and limbs but also on your heart and lungs. The obvious solution to this is to consult your GP and a good nutritionist, to adapt a healthy and sustainable diet that will encourage weight loss. Once your body loses some of its excess fat, you will it easier to run without any breathing issues.
  • Exercise induced Asthma: If you experience shortness of breath and wheezing only while running, then you me suffering from exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Symptoms may also include coughing, fatigue and chest pain. “If you have this condition, it’s not advisable to run,” says Dr Thilagavathy. But those who have normal asthma need not despair. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has published a study that revealed that asthma sufferers can vastly improve their respiratory health by doing 30 minutes of aerobic activity like running, at least thrice a week.
  • Having cardiovascular issues: If you do not have enough oxygen in your blood due to heart disease, there is a high chance that you will experience breathing issues. If it persists, you may have to temporarily halt running and consult your doctor, who may recommend you for pulmonary rehabilitation, which will help you to exercise with less shortness of breath.

    3. Lung Disorders:

What if you are an avid runner but develop some lung or heart issues? “Even if you suffer from chronic lung disorders, if you take the right medication and have it under control, you can even compete at the Olympics!” assures Dr Thilagavathy. “The key is to have a regular exercise schedule. Running will strengthen the breathing muscles if the runner selects the right amount and intensity of the sport. People with lung disease should exercise as much as they can, as long as they clear their fitness routine with their primary care physicians.”

If you want to take care of your lungs, Dr Thilagavathy advises some form of pulmonary care on a regular base. “Do not be scared by the term ‘Pulmonary rehabilitation’, even pranayama comes under it. Anybody can benefit from pulmonary exercises; your physiotherapist can give you the best tips on how to improve your lung capacity, whether you are a runner or not,” she says.

 

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Can a Sprinter run a Marathon?

Deepthi Velkur explores the difference between running a fast sprint and enduring a marathon. 

All running is not equal. Sprinting and marathon running are two very different sports. Sprinters run the 100m, 200m and 400m and long distance running includes the 5km, 10km, half and full marathons. To become a sprinter or a long distance runner, different muscle groups need to be trained in the body and there is a clear distinction between their physical appearances. A sprinter’s body is built for speed and power while the marathoner is built for long and slow endurance. There are other differences that need to be understood to know why a sprinter cannot immediately transition to running marathons and why a marathoner might not enjoy sprinting.

A few of the differences include:

Muscle Structure 

A distance runner has long lean muscles that are elongated which come from longer strides while sprinters have compacted muscles concentration used to increase speed, strength, and power.

A sprinter has highly developed fast twitch muscles, their reflexes are quick and react instantaneously. Neurons fire rapidly throughout the body causing the muscles to contract and relax. This sort of quick exchange of energy can be maintained only for a short distance. It is an anaerobic exercise(large amounts of oxygen) for high-intensity activity and the amount of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) produced in the body increases the lactic acid release which tends to settle in the muscles  as there isn’t enough time to flush it out of the body.

Long distance runner enhances their slow twitch muscles which are key to endurance. They are fired more slowly thus steadily allowing the body to maintain the volume of running. These types of runners are able to have fewer breaks in-between sets, prolonging the development of lactic acid build up. Distance runners also have lactic acid build up, but it takes longer.

Heart Rate

Heart rate is one of the best indicators of exercise intensity between sprinting and running a marathon. Using high intensity during a sprint, your heart rate can reach up to 80 to 90 percent of your maximum and can be sustained only for a short time frame.

For a marathoner, the heart rate is typically between 60 to 70 percent. Some of the elite or experienced marathon runners, increase the intensity level and sustain it at 70 to 80 percent of maximum heart rate.

Training

Sprinters have a higher heart rate for a short period of time and have bulkier muscles as their body can withstand intensive short workouts though they need a long recovery time in-between sets. A sprinter trying to run 800m from 400m distance will have more of using the constricted muscle groups. If a sprinter trains long and hard enough, they can move up to the middle distance running(800m to 1500m) and eventually long distance races. The body needs to adapt itself to relearn and readjust the muscle movement and motions.

Marathoners focus on developing cardio-respiratory fitness, muscular endurance and stamina for running long distances at a set pace and the body are used to various surfaces so the joints are able to withstand more impact at a constant rate.  A distance runner moving down to a shorter race such as the 1500m will have elongated muscles. These runners will have to work to train their muscles to fire quickly and more rapid.

Running a 10km or a marathon for a sprinter seems like a herculean task to achieve but with their perseverance and dedication, a sprinter can run a marathon.

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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Share the Road

Cyclists and Runners constantly face the problem of vehicles disregarding their space, so how do we learn to share the road asks Nandini Reddy.

Civic agencies around the world have demarcated roads with special lanes for cyclists and runners. If you are in Chennai you would have seen the green square and boards urging you to give room to the cyclists. The world standard for motorists is to maintain 400m distance from cyclists when they spot them on the road but how many of us really respect that rule or show consideration to runners and cyclists who are cruising along the roads.

While the worldwide Share the Road campaign has entered its 10th year, in India we still struggle to make people understand why runners and cyclists deserve their big of space on the road. If you have ever tried you have been most probably met with remarks about why runners should stick to parks or cyclists should be on trails. But as a motorist you are responsible for sharing your space with to others on the road.

Why walk, run or cycle?

All over the world people are choosing to walk or cycle to their destinations. Here are a few reasons why?

  • Most use them as a short distance transport till they can reach the public transport hubs.
  • They seem to be faster mode in densely clogged roads
  • More environment friendly
  • Healthier mode of transport
  • Cheaper and more economical mode of transport

If we see walkers, runners of cyclists on the road it is the responsibility of the motorist also to ensure their safety.

How can we Share the Road?

If you want to Share the Road then you need a change of attitude towards pedestrians, runners and cyclists first, so in order to achieve the change we need to

  • Treat cyclists as we do other vehicle drivers
  • Be aware that there are specialized lanes for their safety
  • Do not pass too closely to them
  • Check all your mirrors before turning so that you do not hit cyclists
  • Slow down when they are moving across the road

In general the idea is to be aware and cautious that there are all forms of traffic human and vehicular on the road and they all have equal rights.

Responsibility of Runners and Cyclists

As much as the onus is on the motorists to ensure that they give adequate respect to the space of cyclists and runners, equal caution must be exercised by them also. As a runner or cyclists you need to

  • Respect traffic signals and road marking
  • Be attentive while on the road
  • Do not listen to music on high volume
  • Cyclists should not ride on pavements
  • Cross the roads at designation spaces and when it is safe

The idea is to build a vibrant community that is active and in order to do so it is important that we include all forms of transportation and vehicles.

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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Running for Good health

We explore how running can improve your health and also let you indulge in your passion for the outdoors, writes Nandini Reddy. 

Gyms are a great place for those looking to get in shape but they also come with a limitation of being indoors. Many people dislike being indoors and avoid going to gyms altogether. But if you still want to get healthy outdoors then running is the best option.

We have decided to explore 15 reasons that would motivate you to pick running as your go to way to stay healthy:

  1. Running burns 700-800 calories in an hour as per a study.
  2. Runners live longer than non-runners. This isn’t just an empty claim, there is a whole lot of research behind this. Apparently runners out live non-runners by 20%.
  3. If you live in the big city then running is one thing that you will not need to commute for. That is a big plus for those of you who hate commuting to the gym.
  4. Running releases happy hormones and gives you a high that is equivalent to cannabis as per a study published by Experimental Technology
  5. You get a lot of sun when you run. So you will never run of out of Vitamin D.
  6. You need minimal equipment to run – the most basic being a pair of shoes, shorts and a T-shirt.
  7. There is no restriction on timing, so you can choose to run whenever you want
  8. You can stick to your exercise routine even when you travel because running is an easy exercise to follow anywhere
  9. It gives your heart and lungs a good workout
  10. Its a high impact exercise that has amazing benefits on your bones
  11. You are less likely to fall sick with colds and coughs when you are a runner
  12. It is a very meditative form of exercise that gives you alone time to introspect. Don’t like being alone then its also a great way to socialize with other runners.
  13. Running always lifts your moods. If you are feeling dull or low then a run can always lift your mood.
  14. You have a variety of terrains to run – roads, trains, hills, forests, etc. It never gets boring.
  15. It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete or a newbie, you can always take up running

Whatever you reason just get out and run.

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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How to Prevent Chafing

Radhika Meganathan finds out the hard way that you need to be prepared ahead to deal with chafed skin resulting from running.

Spring in Central Park is magical. Flowers are in full bloom, the air is mild and fresh, and the winding pathways along pretty fountains and interesting landscaping offer the best running experience for novice and experienced alike. And there I was, happily jogging at my own pace when the climate suddenly changes – the sun shone with all its might and the day turned sultry. Oops!

But no problem, I am in New York and I am not going to allow a hot day – bah! I am a Chennaite and I am no stranger to the heat! – to deter me from my afternoon run. So I proceeded, until I became slowly aware of a burning in the area where my inner thighs made contact. In less than half an hour, I was in agony and unable to even step one foot forward. The pain was worse than a toothache!

I had no other choice but to collapse on the grass, and even after resting for an hour, the pain didn’t alleviate. Finally, I had to wobble like a duck to the nearest exit (each step was like walking on burning embers) and hail a taxi to the nearest pharmacy.  All in all, a very costly lesson in Preventing Chafing 101!

What is Chafing?

Repetitive contact between skin and skin, or skin and clothing, can cause painful chafing, which, if untreated, can become an open wound. It’s common for runners to experience chafing on the armpits, groin area or inner thighs, since those body parts create friction when running. You can be especially prone to chafing on a hot and humid day, but really, chafing can occur any time. If your skin is already chafed, here’s what to do:

  1. If you are outside and in agony because of your chafed skin, leave immediately. Do not keep running or walking.
  2. If you are not able to leave immediately, your best bet is to borrow or buy coconut oil or Vaseline and smear it on the offending areas. The idea is to stop the dry chafing, which is the reason behind all the pain. By introducing a lubricant like an oil or Vaseline, you will be able to experience temporary relief until you get home, or make it to the pharmacy.
  3. At the pharmacy, you can opt for a number of remedies, such as anti-chafing ointments. Remember, you need a cooling salve to soothe the burning skin, so clearly ask for the right product for your chafing.
  4. If your chafed skin is inflamed on the verge of breaking out, choose a salve with antibacterial properties. Even diaper rash cream works wonders.
  5. In case the chafed skin is throbbing or bloody, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Preventing chafing

Prevention is always better than cure, so here are some preventive measures to avoid chafing:

  1. Wear clothing that allows optimum movement, lets your skin breathe and absorbs extra moisture. Lycra, Spandex and polyester material do the trick.
  2. Wear compression shorts under your running outfit. Before putting on your shorts, apply a layer of baby powder on your inner thighs and groin. This will prevent friction when you run.
  3. Hydrate. Drinking a lot of water keeps the salt concentration in your sweat minimum. Why is this good news? Because salt irritates skin, especially chafed skin.
  4. Never do a long walk or run in a skirt, especially in hot weather. Naked skin creates the quickest and most painful chafing.
  5. Always carry a small tub of Vaseline whenever you run. You will be glad you did!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Stress Fractures: A runner’s nightmare

Stress fractures can put a serious dent in your passion for running, so what can you do to avoid them, writes Nandini Reddy

Have you ever felt extreme pain in your feet that you had to stop running? It is not a slight discomfort in the shin or a sore muscle, this sort of pain doesn’t let you run even after the usual stretching and short period of rest. This sort of injury may be a stress fracture and you might need to see your medical practitioner immediately. This injury is by far the most frustrating injury for any passionate runner. This is not a soft tissue injury that will repair itself with a week of rest. You need at least 6-8 weeks of rest and there have been even cases that required assisted walking with crutches.

Understanding the stress fracture

Runners can get a stress fracture in a wide variety of region such as the shin bone, the thigh bone, ankles and calf bone. The intensity of the fracture can be low or high. If it is a low risk fracture, then it would heal on its own. This type of fracture usually occurs at the shin or ankle. If you have a high-risk fracture, then a longer period of rest is required. Returning to running is a slower and more cautious process. The areas of these fracture need extra care and heal slowly. But for runners the chances of getting a high-risk fracture are fairly low.

The important thing to keep in mind though is to be aware of the symptoms. A stress fracture typically feels like a localized burning pain on the bone. If you apply pressure on the area, it will hurt and as you run the pain will increase. The muscle around the bone where the stress fracture occurs can feel tight also. You should see an orthopedist if you suspect a stress fracture.

How can you avoid Stress Fractures?

It is important to maintain a good training schedule. If you over train or if your running form is incorrect then you are likely to get a stress fracture. One of the best approaches is to ensure that you do not experience stress fractures is to have your training schedule wetted by a coach. You have to give yourself recovery days. If you experience the first symptoms of a stress fracture, it is best to take some time off and re-organise your training schedule. You can reduce your training schedule by 10 -20 % until you recover fully and then slowly build your mileage on recovery.

If your running form is incorrect for example your stride frequency is off point, then increase your chance of developing a stress fracture. You need to maintain a stride frequency of 180 strides/minute. If you feel pain that you suspect might be stress fracture, then you need to reduce the stride frequency.

Returning to running after recovery

Once you have recovered, you should try and get back with short sessions. You can start with interval training runs in a walk and run combination. Then you can progress to slow jogging and build your distance before you start running again.

Be aware about pains that linger and do not reduce even after proper rest. Return to your doctor if the pain returns.

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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How to reach the next level in Running

Your mind can ensure that you get through your most gruelling runs and workouts, and help you reach the next level, says Nandini Reddy

Strong legs and a solid body are not the only requirements to be a good runner. Every sport requires a strong mind and overcoming a mental challenge can be tougher than physical challenges at times. You mind is the one that will decide if your push harder or give up. That extra set of push-ups and extra km of running happens not because you body is energetic but because your mind refuses to give up.

If you don’t want to throw in the towel, then you need to train your mind with a few tried and tested techniques to reach peak performance.

Visualize

If you know you are about to tackle a tough course or workout then first sit down and visualize the course. Understand the hard parts and imagine yourself pushing through the course. Imagine getting tired and being rejuvenated. You need to get your mind to believe that you are now comfortable while tackling the uncomfortable task. You can coach your mind to deal with discomforts and forget about elements that you cannot control. For example, if the weather changes its not under you control but your attitude to the run despite the weather can be regulated by your mind.

Rewire

Running with intensity isn’t a pleasurable experience. You heart rate is elevated; your lungs are protesting, and your muscles are screaming. When this happens your mind automatically asks you to stop. You start to feel like you are not in shape or don’t have the strength or endurance to take on this challenge. But you can rewire your mind to assess this experience differently. You can drive away the unpleasant thoughts by thinking about the finish line, strengthening your legs and building your stamina.

Feedback

Feedback is an incredible motivation tool that your mind needs, to improve. For one you do not need to look at your GPS watch or attach headphones to your phone that is tracking your run progress. The feedback should come from you mind when you congratulate yourself for crossing check points and remembering to hydrate. Listening to music instead is a great way to relax your mind. Mark off points that you had visualized before the race and mentally pat yourself on your back for your progress.

Divide

Mentally divide and mark the course in your mind. Focus on reaching each mark point instead of aiming straight for the finish line. Mini goals are easier to achieve. You will cross the finish line if you can count your small victories instead of focussing only on crossing the final timing mat.

Memory

If your enthusiasm is flagging mid-run the you need to first recall your previous wins. You have done this before and this is another run like the others is a good thought process to follow instead of telling yourself that you want a break. Tackle steep hills and difficult trails one step at a time. If you have a positive affirmation, even one as simple as ‘I can do this’, repeating it to yourself would be a great way mentally boost your passion.

Mental training techniques can improve your running performance and your ability to tackle tough workouts in a more nuanced way than must focusing on the finish line.

 

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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