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Preparing for the marathon season? Here’s some advice

Deepthi Velkur had a chance to talk to a few runners on how you could prepare for the marathon season. 

For many runners, the desire to run a marathon is all about achieving a personal goal. For others, it could be the desire to push the envelope and see how far they can go with their bodies. Perhaps, a friend talked you into it, or you want to get fitter, or you’re running for a noble cause such as building awareness for a local charity.

Whatever the reason, you need to hold on to it and constantly remind yourself of it often during the months leading up to the marathon season.

Each marathon is a new adventure in itself! Making that overwhelming and sometimes breath-taking decision to run the traditional 42.195 km can not only be quite uplifting but it can also give you the much-needed energy to kick-start your training.

Whether it is your first time preparing for a marathon or one of many, a good overall approach to your mental and physical training is as important as a specific running plan, which can help you be at your best on marathon day.

To help us better understand how you can go about this, we spoke to a few professionals and here’s what they had to say.

Kothandapani KC (fondly called Coach Pani), is a running coach with the PaceMakers running club and a marathon runner himself.

He recommends that for a first-time marathoner, the focus should be on completing the distance comfortably and not worry about speed or timing.

For a seasoned runner though, someone with at least two years of running experience and multiple 10Ks and half-marathons, Coach Panihe recommends the following:

  • Build a training plan 6 months ahead and work backward i.e. 24 weeks, 23 weeks and so on.
  • Run at least 4-5 days a week focussing on one speed workout, one strength workout like uphill runs, one long run, and two easy runs in between.
  • Run your long runs 60-90 secs slower than your target marathon pace and increase your long runs by not more than 10%.
  • Every fourth week cut back your total mileage to 50% to avoid overtraining.
  • Break-down the 6 Months into three parts – base building, converting the base building into speed endurance and race-specific workouts.
  • During long runs, prepare yourself as if you are going to run on race day such as getting your gear ready, waking up early, hydration strategy, pre-snacks etc.
  • Ensure you follow a proper nutrition plan and adequate rest to overcome both physical and mental stress.
  • Always listen to your body. Do not over train – helps minimize the risk of injury. To track this, check your resting heart rate and if it’s on the rise, ease off on the training for a bit.
  • Race at least two Half Marathons during your training period, trying to improve each time so that you get an indication of your progress in training
  • Taper down your training in the last two weeks. Be careful to not fall sick or catch a cold
  • Plan your race day strategy such as at what pace you want to run, hydration points, when to use gels etc. Note: don’t try anything new on race day – stick to the plan!
  • Finally, believe in yourself, believe in your training and think positive. Start the race slow and build the pace gradually. Aim for negative splits.

Sandeep CR, an Ultra-marathon runner and is part of the Mysoorrunners running club shares his advice:

  • Prioritise your races in terms of which race is of top priority, where you want to do well and train accordingly.
  • Build your training slowly. Keep a weekly mileage of 45-55kms which will help you to build endurance.
  • Go on long runs as you need to get used to being on your feet for long hours.
  • Run a few tune-up races before the main race to know where you stand and where you could improve.
  • Keep a close watch on your nutrition intake and give yourself time to recover.
  • 80% of your runs should be at an easy pace and 20% should be tempo or speed work.
  • Slow down your training in the last 2-3 weeks as overtraining will lead to injuries.

Shahana Zuberi, an amateur runner who has run a few half marathons and is part of the Bangalore Fitnesskool running club feels to run a marathon, one should have:

  • Great inner strength.
  • Eating right during the training phase.
  • Focus on building endurance rather than speed.
  • Plan your training well ahead of the race and do not rush into overtraining due to lack of time as that might lead you to injuries.
  • Patience and perseverance will help you achieve your end goal.
  • For running a half marathon in specific, you can work on building speed during the interval and tempo runs and
  • Finally, rest well as your body needs to recover from all the hard training.

So, there you go – you’ve heard it straight from some of the experts – train well, eat right, rest enough and be patient.

These key steps will help you develop a healthier way to run making it more fun, with better results for body, mind, and soul.

I end this article with quite a quote by Paula Radcliffe (three-time London and New York marathon winner) – “In long-distance events, the importance of your mental state in determining the outcome of a race can’t be overestimated.

Something for all of us to reflect on.

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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Run Mumbai Run! – Running Clubs In Mumbai For A Fitter You

Running alone has its perks! But if you want to be a better version of you, a fun way to do it is to explore joining a club, writes Protima Tiwary.

Marathon season is upon us! This can only mean one thing- it’s time to get those sneakers out of their shoe closets, wipe off the dust, tie up those laces and hit the track! Getting ready to run a marathon might seem like a daunting task, especially now that it’s festival season and all that you see around you is excuses. Everyone needs a partner to help balance the chaos of city life, but sometimes even a running buddy doesn’t make the cut. It is precisely for this reason that city-based running clubs are now overfull with enthusiastic members, looking forward to getting fit for the season.

Are you looking to join a running club in the city of Mumbai? Whether it’s enjoying a scenic view of the city skyline on Marine Drive, or making your way through the lanes of Bandra, Mumbai has a running club for you.

Here are some options that can help you on your journey to the finish line.

MUMBAI RUNNERS

What started off as an Instagram community has not only turned into motivation for many, but also into a full fledged website that inspires so many Mumbaikars to join the crew on a weekly basis. This running group meets on Thursdays and Sundays, in different locations around the city. Join them on Instagram here.

https://www.instagram.com/mumbairunners/?hl=en

ADIDAS RUNNERS

Adidas hosts running clubs in Marine Drive and Bandra, and is largely targeted towards the youth of the city. Hosted by Ayesha Billimoria, these morning sessions take you through warm ups, a run and cooling down techniques. Adidas Runners also supports a lot of environmental causes through their runs, and this running club encourages participation from all Mumbaikars. To know more about their running schedule, check out their website here- https://www.adidas.co.in/adidasrunners/

STRIDERS

Striders believes in combating the ill effects of the sedentary corporate life through running. This running club aimed at the regular job-goer targets the corporate lifestyle, and aims at promoting the benefits of running and exercising, especially when a large part of the day is being spent sitting. Other than marathon training and running programs, they also have a fitness training routine which you can sign up for. You can find them all over Mumbai.

https://www.striders.in/

MUMBAI ROAD RUNNERS

A non profit venture, this running group is about having fun while aiming to stay fit. Not only do they organize runs, but also award nights, rock climbing, beach football and a whole bunch of other fun activities that promote emotional health. They organize a half marathon and 10K run on the 1stSunday of every month and a 10 miler on the last Sunday of every month. This group is open to all.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/mumbairunners/about/

RUN INDIA RUN

No matter how old you are, or how busy your schedule is, Run India Run is here to help all those who have found their true calling in running. They organize marathon training sessions all around Mumbai, and are the leading running community in India that also focuses on mental, emotional and spiritual health. This running club takes the help of experts to design training sessions.

http://runindiarun.org.in/

Ready to lace up and get social?

 

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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Making running a habit

Do you have a really hard time waking up, or finding that motivation to run consistently? In this article, Kavita Rajith Nair tells you how she overcame these hurdles and went on to become a morning person!

It only takes 21 continuous days to form a habit – says Stephen Covey in his book – 7 Habits of the Highly Effective People. But how do you get through those 21 days? Is motivation the only factor? How about the habits we have to break first? Not having case studies and with only my experience to go by, I’ll avoid generalities and stick to my tale.

‘SHOWING UP! Is the theme that worked for me’ – making every single session consistently for the next 21 days.

That’s all it takes to make anything a habit be it running, cycling, boxing, music, hitting the gym, sleeping early, waking up early. Literally anything!

Running is the newest habit I have cultivated, which I have sustained for over 2 years now and is no longer considered a habit, as it has become an inseparable part of my life.

Bangalore is a runner’s paradise with easy access to broad traffic-free roads early in the mornings and beautiful weather almost all around the year – it’s no wonder you see runners across the city roads quite frequently. That’s how running became a natural choice for me.

When I decided to give running a shot, it wasn’t because I was a couch potato – I had

Ballroom Dancing, Kickboxing and CrossFit training going on and this helped me shed 7 Kgs. However, despite all of this I just couldn’t get my weight to budge south of 75 kilos. In hindsight, I think just dabbling in each of them and not doing enough of them consistently didn’t help my cause.

Running requires you to be an early morning person. I was someone who would hit the bed late and wake up late as well. As old habits would have it, mornings found be tucked comfortably in bed, until Jayanagar Jaguars (running club) opened up their branch in HSR Layout, just about 500mts from my house.

One morning I mustered enough motivation to SHOW UP on the ground at 5:20 AM. The routine was simple – some warm-up exercises, a couple of kms brisk walk, few drills after returning to the ground, cool down stretches, few core strengthening exercises and wind up. It was done and dusted by 7:00 AM and I was home by 7:05 AM. I still had an hour to go before my alarm would ring on a usual day otherwise and I just earned 60mins additional time to do my stuff – ME TIME!!! I thought I had already started liking it, but yes not a habit yet, as it was just the first day. The strangest thing happened that night, I started yawning at around 8:00 PM and despite my hard attempts to stay awake, I eventually hit the bed at 9:00 PM. That was by far the earliest time ever I had gone off to sleep, probably did it last as a kid.

The next day was a rest day, but despite that, I woke up earlier than usual and slept early too. Then came the running day, I was eager to be on the grounds on time and I SHOWED UP again. After a week, I pulled in my spouse to join me for a trial session, he was sulking initially to wake up, but our welcoming Location Lead, gave us proper guidance for absolute amateur runners like my spouse and myself and also the camaraderie of the warm co-runners, some experienced and some new to the sport like us, drew us to the ground for the next few sessions regularly. And that way, without realising I SHOWED UP again and again until today. It’s been 2 years and 3 months and I SIMPLY SHOW UP, be it at the grounds if in Bangalore or if traveling, I AM UP AND ABOUT on the roads on the scheduled days. To be very candid here, I am not sure when that turned into a habit, as I stopped counting after a few days I think to the extent that even for emergency reasons if I had to miss my running, I was on a complete guilt trip.

Looking back, here are the few things that probably helped me build ‘Running as a habit’:

  1. Decision: Awareness that you need to cultivate a habit is a big thing in itself. 10% of your work is done here.
  2. Choice:The next big thing is to decide what is it that you want to do. This could take a while as you may have to do a bit of introspection to arrive at this, or just go with what your heart tells you one fine morning, or what your best friend suggests, it is an experimentation anyway. Another 5% is done here.
  3. Enjoy: You should like what you have chosen and thoroughly enjoy it. Might be a taste you have to develop but that you should be aware of in the early days as it will most likely make you happier, content, energetic through the day to pull your daily chores and office routines without any additional effort- this gets you to the 40% mark.
  4. Partner-In: Rope in a friend/ family member/ partner/ spouse/ colleague.For me, this was an important step, especially in the initial days one pushes the other and unknowingly you have crossed a week without missing a single session. This takes you to a 50% mark.

The next 50% is the tricky bit, here come the cliched big words like regularity, consistency, determination, persistence and so on. I can share what helped me to bridge the gap of the next 50%.

  1. Note down the changes the new habit has brought in you. E.g. ease of waking up early, longer days for self, more Me-time, less grumpy, sustain more energy through the day and help me have a positive outlook on life itself.
  2. Talk about it to as many as possible.Of course, you risk shooing people away at the very sight of you from afar, but your well-wishers will stick around for you, noticing the change in you and to support you. Talking about your new habit only reassures that you are liking it, you are spreading a word about it, and in a minute way, influencing the people you are speaking to. That in itself is a big motivation.
  3. Set goals. This could be tough, as you are new to the habit, and may be unaware of what goals to set, you can either use our google mom to read blogs and research good articles or pester your coach/ mentor/ guide to help you here. I did the latter of course 🙂
  4. Measure yourself. This could be basis your goals for the habit you chose, but as it’s said, “only if you measure, can you change/control it” so measure! I defined performance for myself in running and then started measuring it. Needless to say, my original obsession with weight was also being measured, but along with it started measuring more meaningful yet simple aspects like BMI, fat%, skeletal mass, water content etc. And trust me, any of these moving in the positive direction is a huge stimulus.
  5. Share your success stories. While your successes will be evident to yourself and people around you, you can choose to share on social media if you are a social media friendly person, or even just talk about them. But having said that, consciously remember to have your head fixed right on your shoulders and not have the successes get to your head. In simple words, ‘Always Be Humble!’

Parting Message: Don’t get overwhelmed by the words Consistency, Dedication, Introspection, which I have used to describe my journey, believe me, this looked scary to me as well, but just remember #21Days and you will enjoy the journey. In our multifaceted daily life as a mother, father, child, caregiver, employee, manager, wife, husband and so on, never forget YOURSELF. Before I say Adieu, I would say have some time to live for yourself.

As an amateur runner, I have shared what helped me to ‘SHOW UP’ on all mornings of the run days and eventually cultivate ‘Running as a Habit’. Am eager to hear from you what helped you!

GUEST COLUMNIST

Kavita, employed with an International Bank had taken up running to stay fit in summer of 2016. Her leisure running has now developed into her passion. She fondly inspires people around her with her enthusiasm, infectious energy and love for running

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Running clubs in Namma Bengaluru!

Running alone has its perks but the quickest and fun way to improve as a runner is to join a running club says Deepthi Velkur

Running is that alone time we need, isn’t it? It’s the ultimate “me” time when you can get away from it all, reflect on life’s important matters, or even push your body to the absolute limit in splendid solitude.

So why on earth would you want to ruin all that by joining a running club and have other people chattering in your ear during a steady run? Also, aren’t running clubs meant for those who take running seriously?

Well, actually, no. Choosing to join a club is one of the best decisions a runner can make, no matter the level. You often see a big improvement in your performance and, more importantly, it provides for enduring memories, experiences and friendships.

We all choose to run for different reasons – some to stay reasonably fit, some to lose weight and others to become competitive runners who want to win races. No matter the reason, being a member of a club can help make your runs even better.

Motivation can be a challenge for some of us when we look out of the window and see a cold, rainy morning but knowing that there will be others to share that experience can often be the difference between you going back to bed and heading out the door.

Over the past few years, Bengaluru has developed a thriving running scene and with running groups in almost every locality, it has never been easier for us to join one.

Famed for its pleasant weather, Bengaluru also boasts some scenic routes and parks that can make any runner happy. Cubbon Park, Lal Bagh, Nandi Hills, GKVK campus, Kanteerava Stadium are a few of the iconic running tracks around the city.

Most people run in smaller groups during the week and weekends are reserved for a bit of strength training and long group runs. Running groups start training very early in the day and last for about 2 – 2.5 hrs and on the long run days might be longer.

Out of the 25 running clubs active in Bengaluru today, let us discover a little more about a few clubs:

Runner’s for Life were the pioneers of the running movement in India and they believe in the philosophy of taking running to places it has never been before. The Fuller Life started by Arvind Krishnan is the parent group of RFL. They started out as a google group of runners’ back in 2005. The group meets once every fortnight. They organize three major running events across the city like the Bangalore Ultra, Kaveri Trail Marathon, and Puma Urban Stampede. They were also the first to launch the country’s first duathlon in 2009. The team grew to a few hundred and so did the scope of their events and the connection they built with the running community. They continue to show efforts in supporting the running community in as many ways as possible.

Soles of Bangalore are the most diverse and active group of amateur and like-minded runners who train in and around HSR Layout, Sarjapur road and Bellandur. Santhosh Jayakumar who is one of the co-founders of the group says running is looked as more of an activity to stay healthy and fit. They help organize group running events in the city on Sundays and events/seminars for amateur runners as well. The group strives to remain inclusive and has grown to about 60+ runners both beginners and experienced runners alike who engage and share their experiences for the joy of running. The group also provides training for people attempting to run marathons, injury prevention methods, organize talks on nutrition and many more.

Jayanagar Jaguars (fondly called JJ’s)is one of the oldest and largest running groups in Bengaluru who believe in their mission to deliver a structured and an affordable training program for all be it a beginner, experienced marathoner or ultra-runners. They uniformly follow the structured training program which focuses on building strength, fitness, and stamina across all their 10 locations. Over the years, more than 3000 runners are benefited through this program crafted carefully by their experienced head coach Pramod Deshpande and the same is implemented by designated captains for each group across their locations. Some of their training programs include training for half and ultra-marathons, TWTK (10weeks to 10k) to run the TCK10k, fitness through running for people who want to stay fit through running and many more.

Pacemakers are a group of 100 spirited and strong-willed long-distance runners both novice and experienced who coach under the leadership and guidance of their Coach Pani- an Ex-IAF athlete. He has many commendable achievements to his credit in various competitive races covering varied distances. The primary objective of this group is to train runners to better their performance and run injury-free by applying the right principles of training. They design a structured program for each athlete keeping in mind their current fitness levels and individual goals. The programs are designed to balance the intensity and volume of workouts which gradually reaches its peak before any event. The group trains at Kanteerva Stadium three times a week in interval training, tempo runs, Fartlek runs. The runners are also required to do strength and cross training workouts independently. The long-run workouts are usually reserved for Saturdays which happen at GKVK.

Runner’s High is a community who want to make running and fitness sports accessible to all irrespective of their background and reach their individual potential in the truest sense. They offer training and coaching to walkers and runners whether novice or advanced. Their training programmes are designed by a team of experienced coaches and sports medicine specialists who are themselves runners of great repute. They also organize various running events in the city. Members who train with them, supporters, patrons and the education efforts the team is involved with form the crux of the Runners High community.

While running clubs and running with others do have their merits, some of us like having that bit of time and space where we don’t have to talk (or listen), where we can go any route or direction we want. Go on that solo run once in a while to give you that sense of freedom.

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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How many Kms should you run a week?

If you are training for a 10k, half marathon or full marathon, there is a minimum number of kms that you need to run every week, writes Nandini Reddy.

Preparing your body before the big race is important to ensure that you have the ability to endure the stress of the race. We always tend to run faster and harder on race day so how can we prepare ourselves to run by working up a good training plan. But many runners in training encounter harsh training plans that have unrealistic distances that they need to run.

But a standard training plan may not work for every one because each person’s strength and endurance level is different. One plan cannot fit everyone so it is important to assess yourself personally and see how you can train to achieve you goal while keeping your own strengths and limitations in mind.

How much should you run?

A standard understanding of training and kms per week for running various race distances is

  • 5k – New Runner (20-25 kms)/ Seasoned Runner (30-40kms)
  • 10k – New Runner (30-35 kms)/ Seasoned Runner (45-60kms)
  • 21k – New Runner (40-45 kms)/ Seasoned Runner (65-75kms)
  • 42k – New Runner (40-50kms)/ Seasoned Runner (80-90 kms)

A few training tips you can follow to determine the right running distance per week for you –

Run more if you are running longer  When you are training for a marathon your weekly training kms target should match the distance you intend to run. You need to achieve your weekly distance in three ways – long run days, fast run days and rest days. The ultimate goal to achieve the distance you intend to achieve in a week but most importantly you need to remember that the pace of your run should be slow to start with and should then progress to higher speeds. So mix up longer and shorter run to achieve the distance. If on any day you feel too tired then don’t push yourself and use that as rest and recovery day. But even if you feel well, it is important to have rest days to ensure that you are in peak health.

Higher goals means more running – Do you want to just finish the race or finish it in a particular time and at a particular pace? If you have higher goals than just finishing the race then you need to alter your weekly distance run to achieve them. You will need to worry about your endurance, sustainability and energy utilization when you want to achieve specific performance goals. The idea is to ensure that you body is able to sustain the elongated periods of running. So the longer your run, the stronger you will get to handle the longer running distances.

Pace is equally important – Running at the same pace all the time is not a good training plan. Interval training and tempo training are great ways to ensure that you experiment with different pace. The body’s running efficiency will improve during these training runs. This will make you a better runner and adapt your body to move comfortably at different paces. This will also help when you are trying to clear the last few miles and your body and muscles are already tired. You will know how to alter your pace to reduce the fatigue effect and complete the race in your goal performance parameters.

Take it slow when you run more – You may have started your first week in training with just 10kms. But as you get stronger your distances will increase. But that doesn’t mean that you run faster to gain distance. Each week you can aim to increase your distance by 10-15%. The body needs to adapt to these extra kms so it is important that you take it slow. Worry more about the quality of your run instead of just the quantity. Your body is under stress from the changes in distance and you need to be aware that you need to take it slow so that it can adapt.

Your body needs attention – Running comes with some discomfort and part of the challenge is to push your body to a new territory of fitness that it has not been in before. But remember that your body will tell you if something is not right. If you feel a sharp pain or a persistent pain then its time to stop and address it. Never run through these pains as it can lead to injury. Your body needs to heal so a rest day is equally important for your training plan. You need to give your body time to adapt to the new running regime and you can do it more efficiently if you pay more attention to the signs your body might be giving you.

Stay injury-free – In order to finish a race you need to be healthy and injury free. If you have over done your training and have ended up being injured, what’s the use of all the training. You need to be aware of your limits and learn to work to peak your performance without breaking your body. If you are running a longer race give priority to sustenance rather than speed. For shorter races you can focus on speed. But whichever way you go remember that you cannot injure yourself.

The real test of your training is on race day and you need to be at the starting line feeling strong and healthy to take on the challenge of the run ahead of you. If you are not training for a race them 10-15 kms are week is a perfect distance to just stay in shape.

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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Gluten-free diet for runners – good or just a fad?

Being Gluten Free is no longer a diet fad and has become a lifestyle change for many, Deepthi Velkur writes about what it means for you to go gluten free.

Gluten-free diets are gaining popularity among the fitness community. The effects of gluten-free diets may not necessarily provide the benefits many athletes hope will give them a competitive edge. Sports nutrition experts believe enhancing nutrition does not mean avoiding gluten – a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Here’s what runners need to know about going gluten-free.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a stretchy protein that is found in grains, especially in wheat. A vast majority of our gluten consumption comes from bread, pasta and baked goods. Other grains that contain gluten are barley, rye, and oats. You’ll also find gluten in ice cream, sweets, processed meats, alcoholic beverages and condiments such as soy sauce.

So should you go gluten-free?

Embracing the gluten-free diet is a medically necessary diet for individuals with celiac disease or related disorders. Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease, where the body starts attacking the lining of the gut when you eat gluten. However, there are several non-celiac athletes who have cut out gluten from their diet and claim to have far fewer intestinal issues when they run, and even say that it enhances their performance.

Now, there’s no medical evidence that proves going gluten-free leads to enhanced running performance, but there is evidence of the potentially harmful effects that gluten can have in some people, for example, gluten can cause inflammation and irritation in the intestinal lining. Statistically speaking, nearly 90% of distance runners suffer from some form of digestive discomfort mostly cramps, diarrhea and bloating during or after exercise – cutting out gluten may help this issue in some runners. Other amateur runners also report they feel less brain fog, less muscle and joint aches, better sleep patterns, and more energy levels when they cut out gluten.

Is the diet workable with the Indian food plan? Yes, says a qualified nutritionist Naini Setalvad “We have many substitutes like bajra, jowar ragi, rajgira, singhada atta, white poha, kurmura and sabudana,” she explains. Food grains such as soy, quinoa, corn flour, millet, arrowroot, amaranth and rice flours all go with the gluten-free diet. Nevertheless, she warns, “If you stop dairy, as an Indian, you would feel less full”.

According to Priya Karkera, a dietitian and nutritionist expert “Milk can be replaced with almond and coconut milk and quinoa, a cereal, can be used to prepare khichdi, upma, and kheer.

Grains are an important food source of carbohydrate, which runners require to boost their training and recovery. Runners going grain-free often develop symptoms of overtraining syndrome, including persistent exhaustion and deteriorating performance.

The final word

If you’re thinking of going gluten-free, the big question is can you manage one? There is no evidence to support that this diet boosts performance. When you cut out a large food group, including food with gluten, your compromising on your health and its nutritional balance. Always consult your doctor or a health professional before changing your diet drastically.

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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Not Another Brick in The Wall

Ever imagined what it would be like to run along the Great Wall of China, well you can says Capt Seshadri.

“Unless you have climbed to the top of the Wall, you cannot say you are a man” – old Chinese saying.

The Great Wall of China is reportedly the only man made structure that is visible to the naked eye from the moon, although it is probably now under intense competition as one of the oldest structures in the world, from the new, mammoth constructions in the Middle East.

Competition is not new to this Wall, having been originally constructed to keep out invaders and raiders. The latest in competition, however, though unwarlike and healthy, is the Great Wall Marathon that is traditionally held on the third Saturday of May, falling on the 19th of this year. Having taken its origin in 1999, with a few hundred runners, this extremely challenging course has, over the years, transformed from a full and half marathon, a 10k and 5 k event, to a combination of the latter two to an 8.5 km ‘fun run’.   

The run isn’t all about fun however, with the participants having to negotiate 5,164 stone steps, several steep ascents and descents and, owing to the old age of the structure, stumble over loose stones and rubble. This portion makes for a virtual addition of 6.4 km to the 42 km course. In fact, there is a stretch where people actually crawl up the steps. Now, every marathon has a phase, generally around the 32nd km or so when the runner literally ‘hits the wall’ of endurance. Here, it may be taken as a little more than literal.

The ‘runnable’ portion of the Great Wall Marathon essentially traverses the Simatai section of the Wall and crosses the Huangya or Yellow Cliff pass. Such is the height and the location, that the best respite for the runners is possibly the breathtaking scenery along the route. But the view is not the only aspect of the marathon that will take one’s breath away. Loose gravel and crumbling steps are compounded by sections overgrown with wild foliage. In sectors where the Wall is not traversable, the course drops to trails alongside. The challenges are many and varied and make extreme physical demands on the participants. The steps, the upward slopes and downward gradients, are typically suited for those athletes who regularly do interval training.    

Every marathon, in its present avatar, to encourage amateur participants and reward completion rather than winning, usually has the final batch timed in at 6 hours. The Great Wall Marathon however, sets a time of 10 hours for completion; such is the difficult nature of the course. On an average, the finisher of 4 hours for a regular marathon will require around 6 hours to finish here. This has not been the least bit of a deterrent to over 2,500 participants from over 50 countries. No wonder then, that the men’s record for this run is 3:25:13 and for the women it is 4:12:42. Henrik Brandt, a Danish runner, who has competed in every edition for the past 18 years says: “Some years they’ve almost killed me; but since this was the first marathon I ever ran, I fell in love with it.”

Of the 1,200 runners entered for Saturday the 19th, around 450 will start the marathon and half-marathon. The rest will run the shorter distance for fun.

All and all, it’s just another brick in the Wall. Or, is it, really?  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Importance of pre-race meal

Raghul Trekker gives you nutritional advice before the most celebrated marathon in India, the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

If you are a marathoner and if you live in India, you wouldn’t want to miss the Tata Mumbai Marathon. It is the most celebrated marathon considering the huge local support from the Government, Police, general public, etc. Also, you get to see some lightening elite runners (probably overtaking you at some point of your run). Many runners peak their training towards this race and target their personal best at this grand stage. The environment makes it possible too.

If it is your target race, you definitely need a proper strategy on your pre-race meal for which, we have to look into some calorie calculation. In general, the calorie expended by a person while running can be approximately measured using body weight and distance run. For sample calculation, I am considering a 65 kg runner

Body weight * distance run ≈ energy expended in calorie

65 kg * 42 km ≈ 2730 calorie

Almost everyone concentrates on their race week carb loading but surprisingly forgets their pre-race meal. It is more important than your race week nutrition. This amount of calorie, on an empty stomach, would all be supplied from the energy reserve which is usually somewhere near 2000 calorie which will be expended when you run a little over 30 km. Does it ring any bell? Yes, I am talking about the wall of a marathon. This is why people bonk between 30 & 35 km mark.

A pre-race meal of 500 calorie is a good way to start a race day with this being 90 min before the race start if it is solid food or 15-30 min before race start if it is liquid food.

Now that we have understood some numbers related to how much is expended and how much is to be consumed, it is time to understand the breakage of consumption in terms of fat and carbs. For a marathon, we can expect finish times of 120 min to 360 min range. With this we can recommend the following (the below calculations are based on heart rate zones)

  1. Fast runners 120-150 min: a high carb pre-race meal with a shot of caffeine. The carbs being a mixture of high GI and low GI.
  2. Intermediate runners 150-200 min: a high carb pre-race meal & little bit of fat. The carbs being low GI.
  • Slow runners 200 min or above: a carb & fat mixed pre-race meal. The carbs being low GI.

Fast runners 120-150 min

Cereals with almond milk, grapes, banana, white bread with jam and other high GI foods. The high GI carbs will provide fast release of energy. A shot of caffeine from coffee, caffeinated salt capsules, caffeinated energy drinks, etc.

Intermediate runners 150-200 min

Fruits like apple, pears, oranges, yoghurt, grainy bread and other low GI foods in combination with cereals, grapes, banana and other high GI foods. The low GI carbs will provide slow release of energy for a prolonged period.

Slow runners 200 min & above

Grainy bread with peanut butter, cheese, avocado, nuts like almonds, pistachio, cashew, groundnuts with almond milk, millets and other fat & carb mixed meal. The fat will supply energy for the slow runners because they will use more of fat while running at low HR zones than the faster runners. So, this fact cannot be overlooked.

Consider the above points and put yourself into one of the categories to suit an apt pre-race meal for your upcoming marathon. Since the race starts at 0540 hrs, I would consume a semi solid pre-race meal at around 0445 hrs after a long 8 hour sleep.

With a little bit of smartness, you can do a lot better

All the best for your PB.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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Nutrition Mistakes Beginner Runners Make

The wrong nutrition can defeat all the efforts you have put in to train for your run, writes Nandini Reddy.

You put in a lot of work on your training. You work on your pace, time and intensity of your run. Yet something seems to be holding you back. It might be more because of your nutrition mistakes than your training efforts. Most beginner runner make these mistakes often. Here is what you might be doing wrong.

Separating Diet and Training

Diet and training go together for runners. But most newbie runners make the mistake of not paying attention to their diet and just focusing on their excel sheet training plans. They start runs on empty without fueling their bodies or they overload themselves after the runs with high-glycemic index foods. They also focus on just the foods they eat after their run and pay little attention to their food in-take for the rest of the day. One cannot expect the desired results if diet is not given importance.

Too many Carbs

In order to fuel their runs, beginner runners tend to overload on carbs. Carbs are important in a runners diet as they are the fuel that drives their muscles but they cannot be the focus. The focus has to be more on vegetables and proteins that deliver the required nutrients to keep runners healthy. Whole foods that are filled with fiber are what runners need. The diet should be comprehensive and should include vegetables, nuts, oils, lean meats, whole grains and fruits. Completely skipping food groups or focusing on just a single food group will cause fatigue that might lead to injury.

Not understanding metabolism

All runners will experience weight loss when they start running. But if you are aiming to lose weight then you need to fuel your body the right way. Eating less and running more will signal the body to slow down its metabolism to conserve energy for the next time you stress your body. This will lead to the opposite effect of what you want to achieve. One can lose weight by eating the right foods in the right quantities.

Too many nutritional supplements

New runners tend to overdo the electrolyte sipping. They even replace water with electrolyte during their runs. Remember that your depleted glycogen levels after a 60 minute run can be replenished after your run through food. If you are running longer then you can use electrolytes to fuel your run to refresh. But that doesn’t mean that you need to sip on electrolytes through the day. Nutritional supplements are available in the form of energy bars and sports drinks, ensure that these do not have added sugars. Electrolytes are not a replacement for water. Drinking more water is required when one takes nutritional supplements and no less.

Caffeine Overdose

Caffeine is known to boost running performance and it also aids in glycogen restoration. But this doesn’t imply that you experiment with caffeine while in training. There is a limit to how much caffeine you can consume and overdoing it will give you gut issues. Caffeine needs to be included on intense training days and on other days try and avoid it.

Train smart and eat right to get the most best results from your training schedule.

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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