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From Marathon to Triathlon

The first recorded triathlon was held in California on September 1974. Since then, it has become a popular sporting challenge around the world. Radhika Meganathan tells how a runner can seamlessly transition into training for a triathlon.

A Triathlon is about mastering three races in one event – running, swimming and cycling. The standard distance in triathlon, also used in the Olympics, is a 1500 metre swim, 40 kilometre bike, and 10 kilometre run. If you are already a runner looking to train for a triathlon, you will have the following questions: How do I train? Where do I start first? What if I don’t know how to swim or bike? Read on for answers.

If you don’t know swimming, your training period for the triathlon just got longer. No worries, you got this. Many people have learned swimming late in their life and have mastered it as a skill and as a sport, so there is no reason why you can’t, too. Since you are going to be training in a professional level, don’t ask for lessons from your best friend! It is advisable to learn swimming from a coach or a registered swimming school in your locality. You need someone to look at your progress, and give you feedback on your form and the correct stroke mechanics.

If you are already a swimmer, now is the time to start practising in open water. Some things that you need to take in consideration are: wave condition, weather, navigation, water temperature, any wild life in the vicinity (and the water!). A wet suit is a good investment if you tend to feel the cold more, though of course you can rent them on a need basis too. If you’re doubtful about swimming in open water, then your best bet is to compete in a race that offers a pool swim. These races are beginner-friendly, and can be a perfect starter practice before you think about doing wilder triathlons.

Again, if you are not familiar with cycling, your training period gets even longer, but definitely it’s doable. In this case, you can ask your best friend to teach you how to cycle. Once you master the basics of balance and riding a bike, just hop on one (you don’t need to invest in a fancy bike) and practice every day. Since speed is one of the goals, you will need a helmet for safety and protection (yours and others!). Buy one that’s structurally sound and fits properly in your head.

Often, runners have difficulty adapting to the equipment of cycling. The inclination to “run” on the bike must be cured! You don’t want to wear out your legs before you get to the running part of the triathlon. The secret is to learn the art of using one set of muscles on the bike and another set for your running.

Yes, this is the part of the triathlon that you already are familiar with. Don’t get over confident though, you still need to practice! Run every day as per your usual routine. Three weeks to a month before D-Day, have dress rehearsals which will help you understand how Race Day is going to be. During the race simulation, concentrate on your pacing strategies and wear the entire gear what you plan to wear for the actual event.

A triathlon is comprised of all aerobic and high-cardio activities, so you may also look into eating the right way to train for it. Diet is crucial in maintaining your fitness while training and during the race, so consult your trainer or a nutritionist.



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

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The Perfect Training Plan for New Marathoners

Finding the right training plan is very simple if you keep these tips in mind, assures Radhika Meganathan

Before the future goals, before the research into ideal diets and comfortable gear, before everything else, comes the training plan, because it’s the only thing that’s going to get you to the finishing line! The good news is, there are a lot of successful, customizable training plans available to even the greenest runner to follow without (too much) hassle. But which one is yours? Here are the factors to be considered while selecting the right training plan for you:

  1. Current fitness level: Be realistic and get a proper and honest analysis of your vital stats and your core speed, since following the wrong plan for your fitness level can lead to injury or worse. A lot of training programs are a mix of small runs, middle distance runs and long runs. Make sure you select plans and charts that are based on finish times and current fitness level, not your goal finish time. If you are an absolute beginner, opt for a novice 5K program that starts with walking and then incorporates running with 1-minute walks.
  2. Work/life schedule: Typically, marathon training plans last between 4-5 months, while half-marathon plans are around three months in length. As much as possible, clear your schedule to fit in this kind of training, failing which you may feel short-changed or under-prepared. If you absolutely cannot commit to this time plan at present, due to any reason, then it may be best to start your marathon training when you can afford to do that.
  3. Type of Race: Choosing a specific type of race will solidly ease you into the habit of running before you begin intense training. A good training plan with include, in a week, one strength training session, cross-training, and 1-3 rest days. If you are training for a specific marathon, get a calendar and work backwards from the start date. Mark all events/obligations that may interrupt your training. This will help you to plan ahead.
  4. Efficacy of the plan: Who created this plan? Do they have accredited qualifications? Look up for favourable reviews and stats on how many have used it; whatever plan you choose must have proven record that it works, so do your homework and carefully scrutinize each leg of the plan. If you are adapting popular plans from online, some inexpensive/free plans that you can follow are Hansons Method, Cool Running and Hal Higdon (Google them!).
  5. Adaptability of the plan: Is it scalable, upping the ante as you get better and better? Is it flexible, allowing you to rejoin seamlessly even if you miss a few sessions? If you have a hectic work schedule, then you need a marathon training plan that doesn’t require you to bow out even you miss one or two sessions. Life is unpredictable and chances are that you might miss out a class or two due to an emergency. See if the plan has a couple of mock or tune-up races during the training period itself, so that you get some real time experience.

Your first marathon will end up being a milestone in your life, so whatever plan you choose, you should make time to do your homework by researching online (and offline), and talking to other, more experienced runners. Doing so will give you an intuitive idea of what your comfort level is and help you determine the perfect training plan for you.



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

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Recovery after a Marathon

If you have just finished a marathon this weekend then you should be focusing on how to recover your body before embarking on your next training session, writes Nandini Reddy.

Soreness after running any marathon is unavoidable  and it can last from one to three days and sometimes even a week depending on how experienced a marathoner you are. There are several steps that you can take to ease your discomfort and head to a faster recovery.

Move Around

As opposed to the popular belief that you need to stretch to relive your muscles after a marathon, most coaches advice that you move around at a slow pace. This sort of movement prevents injury and also relieves swelling of any kind. It is a form of active recovery and is considered to be more beneficial

Elevate your legs

Try and keep you legs elevated to avoid blood pooling. The simplest way is to prop up a few pillows below your feet. If not you can also lie at a 90 degree angle against the wall with your legs propped up. This is a position that even elite marathoners swear by. This should be repeated for the whole week after the race for about 10 – 15 minutes a day.

Cold shower or ice bath

If you are up for it an ice bath or a cold shower will certainly help relieve niggling muscle aches. It is a bit tough to do but it prevents blood pooling in the legs and also relieves sore muscles. This is purely based on the fact that you can withstand something that cold.

Stay off the booze

One celebratory drink is alright but too much alcohol into a body that is already recovering is not a good idea. At least for a week after your marathon try and ease off on the drinking so that your body can recover faster.

Massage and stretches

Get a massage or do your stretches preferably from the day after or even later if you have severe soreness. Don’t rush into stretching your muscles because you might end up causing injuries.

Give it time

Running a marathon is a highly stressful event for your body. Give it the time it needs to recover and consult with your coach before you start training again. Mentally you might feel ready but you need to respect your body and give it the time it needs to recover.

Cross Train

A week after your marathon try and cross train using low impact exercises so that your muscles can heal better and run short distances for about 30 minutes to test the waters. You can always get back to full fledged training once you are completely recovered.

Racing season means running multiple races and that means recovery should be as good as well. Let your body lead you instead of your ambition.



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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Goal Setting and Mental Preparation for New Runners

Are you a debut marathoner? Your success is mostly determined by two crucial factors, says Radhika Meganathan, to set you up for your first marathon

In a research conducted by Staffordshire University (UK) on 700 ultra-marathoners, study results revealed that mental strength accounted for 14% of their success rate. It’s a fairly huge percentage to depend on to get you through the last few miles. Fortunately, the mind can be trained just like the body. however, as the mind is not a muscle, you need to employ a different technique to help it understand and embrace a debut marathon running training.

If you are excited about running your first marathon, consider setting ‘SMART‘ goals:
Specific – Rather attempting to win, aim to complete a 2 km run within 15 minutes by the end of this month.
Measurable – Use apps and equipment like stopwatch or a GPS unit to measure your progress.
Achievable – Instead of, say, a tough trail run, start with your local half marathon and take it from there. You don’t want to burn out too early.
Realistic – Both sport and endurance need realistic time to develop and excel. Have sensible goals like improving your running time by minutes,
Time – Set a proper time limit for your goals. ‘When I do this marathon, my running time must have improved by 10 minutes’ is a great time goal.

As Ken Larscheid, owner of Running Lab quotes in Detroit Free Press, the race doesn’t really start until the last two miles, and that is when the mental strength comes into play. Here are some tips to get your mind revved for the race ahead:

1. Get your inner dialogue right: The voice inside our head determines our determination in holding on till the end. For a debut runner, this means being positive not just on race day, but throughout the training period.

2. Address your fears: Fear is good, because it cautions you in advance. If you are scared about anything, just air it out with your trainer. Talk to experienced marathoners and get their insider tips on what their most concerns were and how they tackled them.

3. Familiarise with The Wall: Most fear the wall or “bonking”, with good reason. Your training will give you the confidence and ability to face any bad patch, so just make sure you are pro-active in addressing all possible slip ups that can occur during a debut marathon run.

4. Have your own ritual: Try developing your own ‘mantra’, i.e., finding your unique way to block your mind against a negative mood – a special song, or use counting, just anything, really, to pull your focus away from bad thoughts.

5. Be in the present: You need to be in the present to train well, because only stress lives in the future and you want to avoid that. When you focus on the now. Winning is about performance, not destination, so train in the present, because that’s the only thing that is in your control.

Remember, if this is your first marathon, just finishing it from start to end is a worthy goal by itself. For now, concentrate on building your experience and endurance, and your speed and techniques will automatically improve over the course of time.



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

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How to train for Trail Run

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

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

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

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

Understand your trail

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

Reset your expectations

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

Get appropriate gear

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

Self-styled or trail training lessons

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

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


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

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Rest & Recovery during Marathon Training

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

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

Scheduling Rest

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

Refueling on Rest Days

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

Ice is your friend

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

Massages can be effective

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

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




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

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Running at High Altitude

Running a marathon is a challenge by itself but running the same 42.2km at high altitude is an even greater challenge. Nandini Reddy gives you a few training tips if you want to run a high altitude marathon. 

Any marathon that is run at 5000ft height or above is considered to be a high altitude marathon. One needs to understand the process of acclimatization at these heights. If you are used to running in the plains where you have 100% oxygen, running at high altitudes means you will be running with a deficit of 30% oxygen, which can get progressively lower as you gain altitude.

Your Body in High Altitude

The Ladakh Marathon is one of the most sought after high altitude runs in India. Unlike other marathon’s you will need to arrive at least one week ahead to acclimatize to the weather and oxygen levels. High altitude sickness is occurs when your body does not adjust to the altitude due to lack of oxygen. The air is likely to be rarefied and thin so it is important to arrive before and spend a few days getting used to physical activity in that environment. Short runs and treks will help adjust faster. First time runners need to first run 7km and 10km distances in high altitude before attempting half and full marathons.

Strategy to run at High Altitude

The best strategy for transitioning to high-altitude running depends on  acclimatization time, your age and fitness level.

  • A basic high-altitude nutrition plan should place a strong emphasis on hydration. Water is essential for enabling red blood cells to circulate oxygen in the lungs and the dry air in high altitudes can be leave your dehydrated very quickly.
  • It is also important to follow a low-fat diet whenever you’re training at altitude, as there’s some evidence the body doesn’t digest fat as efficiently at higher elevations.
  • Try incremental training in terms of gaining height. If you are to run at 7000ft then don’t try to fly straight to that height and attempt to acclimatize. Land at a lower height and gain height over the week of training.
  • Avoid smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol as they are worsen breathing

The Upside

There are many benefits to exercising and running in high altitudes. There is a increase in red blood cells at high altitude which means more oxygen is delivered to your body which helps in improving stamina, muscle strength and reducing body fat percentage. These effects will last for about 15 – 20 days once you return to low altitude but the longer your train in high altitude, the longer these effects will last.

High-altitude athletes aren’t born, they’re made so if you can train right then running at high altitude will be a breeze.




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 in Humid Climates

Runners in tropical countries can relate to this everyday. Running in humid climate comes with its own set of challenges, Nandini Reddy talks about how to be prepared for it. 

What happens in humid weather

A 2012 study by Nour El Helou and other researchers at the Biomedical Research Institute of Sports Epidemiology in France analyzed the performance of almost 1.8 million marathon finishers at major-city marathons over a ten-year period and identified temperature as the strongest environmental factor associated with marathon times.

When you are trying to run in humid weather it is best to check on the relative humidity for the day. Relative humidity refers to the amount of water present in the air. If the figure is high then it means that the chances of sweat evapourating from your body is lesser. Sweat will stay on your skin and you might experience more discomfort because the body cannot cool down as fast. An overheated body can lead to early exhaustion and might increase your timing per km or mile of the run. So it is important to remember that pacing for a marathon in a humid climate might differ from running in cooler weather. You will also need to hydrate better in humid climates as your body needs help cooling down.

How do you train in humid climates?

In order to adapt to the weather you will need at least 2 weeks worth of training. With training you can teach your body to respond better in humid running conditions. As you train more your body will adjust to the weather and you will also find a comfortable pace. In humid climates it is important to drink water before a run and during as well. The body will not only need water but also electrolytes. In most humid climate runs the water stations will also have a salt to help you replenish you lost salt from all the sweating. Clothing should be light and loose so that it doesn’t stick to your body further hampering evapouration.

Your heart rate is another thing that can go up in humid climates. So you need to be watchful if your feeling exhausted. If you are then slow your pace, hydrate a bit more and give yourself a few minutes to recover before hitting the hard running again. Muscle cramps are also more common while running marathons in humid climates. But hydration can take care of them too.

It is also important that you start slow and then ramp up your pace when running in humid conditions so that you give you body enough time to adjust to the weather conditions. Most Asian countries have humid climates so if you are running in any of the marathons across Asia then remember to train right. So whether your running in Singapore, Thailand or India you might encounter humid weather so it better to be prepared for it.




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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Understanding the Ultra-marathon

So now since you have run the full marathon a few times, are you looking to ramp up to the next level of long distance running and are you prepared for it, asks Nandini Reddy

The classic marathon is running a distance of 26.2 miles. But the next level after you have done the marathon a few times is the Ultra-marathon. Each ultra marathon distance varies between 30 – 50 miles. There is really not set rule that it should be a particular distance only. So what is it like to run an ultra marathon?

So if you have decided to give it a go then there are a few things that you need to understand about an ultra-marathon which are different from a marathon.

Trails rather than city runs: Ultra-marathons are more scenic. There are several races organised along trekking trails. The varied terrain gives a full body workout so its necessary that pre-race you work on strengthening your muscles.

Food is a huge factor: Ultra Marathons have breaks where you have to recharge your body with food and energy drinks. Certain events even put out a lavish spread for runners. You need to understand that ultra marathons might last upwards of six hours so fueling your body is a huge portion of the race.

Run slowly: Keeping in mind the distance that needs to be covered. It is recommended that you run slower than normal. It is generally opined that Ultra-marathons are more fun than full marathons because of the pace. The key is to finish the race without collapsing at the end of it. There are no real set standards of time to complete and ultra-marathon so don’t try to race against the clock.

You will find walkers: It is likely that for a few stretches you will find folk walking. During the uphills people are encouraged to walk to conserve their energy to run on the flatter terrains.  You might even come across people using trekking poles on uphill terrain. If you are walking you might make some friends along the way as well.

Training varies: Most ultra runners train much as they would for a marathon, but make the long run a little longer, or run some back-to-backs. Training runs can be shorter for 30 – 35 miles and then you can ramp up with slower paced runs for 40-45 mile runs.

Ultra marathoners are a massive welcoming group of runners so it would be a good deal to try one sometime soon.




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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