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A Regular Guy To Your Friendly Neighbourhood Ironman!

Protima Tiwary learns how Abhishek Avhad started as a regular guy and became an Ironman in just two years.

Abhishek Avhad gave himself a simple challenge in July 2016, a challenge that changed his entire life. Two years and an IronMan later, Abhishek talks all about it to the Finisher Magazine.

Your journey as a runner started only in 2016. What made you start?

I only started running in July 2016 because I was a football player in Junior College, and my smoking habit was ruining my fitness and game for me. I led a normal student life, complete with studies, sports and parties. I was also studying for my CA certification, which meant that my schedule demanded a lot out of me.

I still remember that time when I smoked an entire pack of cigarettes in an hour! I think that was the turning point for me. I woke up the next morning with my insides burning and decided to fix this by throwing away any remaining smokes that I might have lying around.

But of course, this was just the first step. I only took up running when I got my first job at one of the Big 4 accounting firms. A colleague who was a regular runner spoke about his love for running and suggested I give it a try too. Just out of curiosity, I agreed. He helped me chose a 10K race, set a target, and basically guided me towards my first race. I owe the start of my running journey to him.

How has life changed for you since then?

I have made more friends in the last 2 years of running, swimming and cycling than I did in my entire college life! I love the fitness fraternity because of the people that it attracts. It’s a positive space that inspires and empowers people to lead a fit lifestyle. So much has changed in my life in the last 2 years, but I guess the main change is in my spending habits. What I spent on parties is now being spent on nutrition and race entries.

As a runner, what is the one quality that defines you?

I’d say my enthusiasm stands out. If I am in a race I will push people to go hard, I will high-five every kid who’s out there to cheer for us. I will hand over my own nutrition if someone needs it more. I guess this is also why I love pacing the most.

Can you tell us about your best and worst races?

My worst race has to be the Ladakh Marathon, my first full marathon and also the first time I travelled to that altitude. I had just quit my job and was serving my notice period, because of which I landed 3 days before the race. I didn’t get much time to acclimatize. Breath-taking now made complete and literal sense as my lungs screamed for oxygen as I ran the full marathon. There were only 140 of us, so there were times when I was running alone and mental strength was needed more than ever. After the 30km mark, I got mild AMS (mountain sickness) and had to walk the remaining distance. My timing was over 7 hours. It was my first and only DNF. I learnt so much though- I learnt patience, the importance of mental strength and never to underestimate a race. It’s better to be over prepared and over cautious than to take it lightly. This was a 7 hour punishment for me that left me with valuable lessons for life.

My best race was no doubt the Ironman triathlon in Sweden. I loved the positivity and support that everyone showed at the race.

What pushed you to do the Ironman? What was the experience like? 

Ironman was never on my mind. I couldn’t even swim, and I had barely every cycled more than 20km at a stretch. But things changed for me when I heard of Milind Soman finishing the race in July 2015. That was when I had heard of Ironman for the first time, to be honest. I read more about it, and it stayed on my mind when I started running. 2 months into running and I decided one day I wanted to own that title too, I wanted to cross that red carpet.

With this thought, I participated in triathlons (completed 8 so far) rather than opting for pure marathons. Till date, my personal best marathon timings is in an Ironman.

The actual race can be extremely intimidating, I won’t deny that. It’s a task to swim with 2000 participants, all raring to cross you in the water. But the support and cheering is really empowering, and you find yourself smiling through all of it. The crowd support made this my favorite race till date.

You might not like endurance sports in general, but you will love race day at the Ironman! It’s an experience filled with adventure that will evolve you into a disciplined person.

They say consistency is key – but how do you build this consistent pace that they talk about?
There are no shortcuts. Consistency is built by showing up. A session missed is a day gone, and in the grander scheme of things, it matters. As far as training is concerned, add free weight workouts to build strength. Work on your core post a run, do upper body workouts after a swimming session and do the lower body exercises after cycling. You need to maintain a balance between endurance and strength training to ace the race.

No race is perfect. Any moment you’d like to share with us where you thought things were going downhill? How did you overcome that?

There will always be circumstances out of your control. It’s your choice how you wish to respond.

I remember during the Ironman I got cramps within the first 25minutes of the race. I was stranded in the middle of the Baltic Sea, with the first cramp I had got in a year! I had cramps in the first half an hour of a 16hr race, of course, I was concerned. But then the mind kicked in. I knew that salt eases cramping, so I took huge gulps of the sea water and carried on! That decision saved my race, and guess what? I also got a very good swim timing.

A marathon is a combination of mental and physical strength- any tips you’d like to share with us on how to stay strong during a race?

Physical training will prepare you only to a point, beyond which you need your mind to control your body. Focus on building your mental strength too! Do focus building exercises in your free time, or even at your workstation!

I stopped training with music. It might distract you from the pain during runs, but it doesn’t work the mind. Even in the Ironman, there is a clear rule stating no use of headphones throughout the race.

I also started doing training runs of 15 km in 800 metres loops on the street instead of running from place A to B. My 200 km rides were on a 7 km patch of road going round and round. Even my training swims were done in a small 25-meter crowded pool, taking turns every 30 seconds. It’s devastating mentally, but it sharpens the mind and makes the race day seem like a piece of cake.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m racing the Deccan Cliffhanger which is a 640 km ultra-cycle race between Pune and Goa, with a 32-hour cut-off. I also aim to qualify for Boston in 2020.

Apart from running, I plan to write a book for absolute beginner triathletes from a strictly Indian perspective, where I will talk about basics like getting started, buying your first bike, choosing a race, balancing your demanding work-life with your triathlon journey, etc. A prelude has already been in circulation and has received very promising reviews.

I also have a small triathlon group who I coach and have frequent meetings to talk about the sport in general. I would love to help people get into the sport and continue to be a participant throughout!

Follow him on Instagram herehttps://www.instagram.com/calves.of.steel/

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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Endurance and the Indian runner

Seasoned runner Ajit Thandur, talks about endurance sports in India and how the love for them has evolved.

Endurance sport in India, especially in the realm of amateurs or recreational runners/bikers/swimmers started out really small in terms of numbers nearly about two decades ago. But this scenario has drastically changed in current times as we have witnessed a surge in the number of people that are taking to endurance sport.

I was amazed looking at the statistics of the first edition of the Mumbai Marathon in 2004 – there were only 17 women and 99 men finishers in the Full Marathon race. 13 years later, in 2017, that number has grown exponentially to 400 women and 4250 men finishers. While the percentage growth itself is quite mind-numbing, what is even more amazing is that the number of amateur or recreational runners has really shot up as well, as people put a lot more focus on good health and fitness.

Activities such as these have over the years continuously influenced more and more people to take on some form of physical activity to improve their overall well-being and good health.

For a beginner, it can get quite daunting at first – this is where a running club or a group helps. By joining one of these clubs, a beginner can get the right level of support, better training, encouraged to push themselves further and to develop their stamina and endurance more efficiently.

It’s only a matter of time before the beginner starts thinking of competing in races – peer pressure plays a large part here. Suddenly, you find yourself losing sight of the actual purpose you started the activity for but instead you now focus on comparing yourself with fellow runners and pushing yourself to improve distance, speed and with it your timing. Now, while improvement itself is good, the urge to be as good or better than someone else especially for an amateur sportsperson is not a healthy trend.

Most of us amateur endurance sports enthusiasts would in most cases have taken to endurance sports to shed a few extra kilos. As a consequence, we would have followed a very commonly touted advice of “eat less, burn more”. It is very essential at this stage for an amateur to understand that each individual is made differently and we all have different physical, metabolic and genetic capabilities.

First, the term “eat less, burn more” is very misleading. While burn more refers to exercise, eat less is a very ambiguous expression. The key here is to figure what to eat less of – I will cover this piece in my next article on nutrition.

Keeping in mind our end goal of “weight-loss” and looking for fast results, a lot of amateurs push themselves to the limit and inevitably fall into the “speed” trap. I have seen enthusiasts push themselves during their practice runs instead of doing so only on race days.

This begs the question – is pushing yourself to the limit wrong? Well, the truth is, for an amateur endurance sports person, it can be very wrong.

I would like to draw attention to Dr. Philip Maffetone’s, 180 Formula. https://philmaffetone.com/180-formula/.

I urge each one of you reading this article to visit the link above and understand the importance of doing all your endurance workouts at a heart rate of 180 – (your age). I shall briefly touch upon the principle and science behind it here.

There are aerobic muscles (called so because these muscles use oxygen and your own body fat for energy) and anaerobic muscles (called so because they don’t use oxygen but only glycogen (sugar) stored in your liver and muscle cells).

Logically thinking about it, we should be using more of our aerobic muscles, right? Because they use your own body fat for energy and that is what you desire.

It is important to understand that aerobic muscles work most efficiently at lower heart rates and is calculated as 180 – (your age). For example, if you are 40 years of age it will be 180 – 40 = 140 Beats per Minute (BPM).

At heart rates beyond this threshold, your aerobic muscles function less efficiently and the anaerobic muscles take over. Therefore, it is important to function at your optimum heart rate level so that you expend the fat in your body and not use the anaerobic muscles. The glycogen stores in the anaerobic muscles last no more than 2 and a half minutes at heart rates higher than the threshold aerobic heart rate.

Another advantage of aerobic training is that over a period of time (this may be anywhere from 3 months to a whole year depending on the individual) your pace, speed and performance efficiency improve at that same threshold aerobic heart rate. This helps your body become fat adapted and it starts to use and rely on your body fat and not sugars to generate energy for that activity. Excess sugars or carbohydrates is what made us fat in the first place and that is exactly what we need to avoid.

Let me reiterate that just one read of what I have written here isn’t enough for you understand the principle behind this thoroughly. I urge you all to read the link I have provided above on the 180 Formula and also listen to this wonderful interview on Heart Rate Training, Nutrition and Recovery (https://youtu.be/_TPrenWWK9U) between Dr. Philip Maffetone and marathoner (Floris Gierman) who completed the Boston Marathon in 2 hours and 44 mins.

Enjoy your sport, stay injury free and achieve your goals, but in the process be mindful of overtraining and burning out.

GUEST COLUMNIST

Ajit Thandur is an entrepreneur and amateur endurance runner/swimmer based in Mysuru taking a keen interest in injury-free training and nutrition. He also conducts Thonnur Swimathon, Tri Thonnur and a run race Chamundi Hill Challenge in Mysuru.

 

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The exciting times of Running

An IT professional who found his passion in running, Deepthi Velkur talks to ultra-marathoner, Sandeep CR. 

Sandeep CR, a software professional has had a lifelong fascination with sport and in specific running. He is associated with the running club “Mysoorunners” for the past 4 years and shares his experiences. From a very young age, he has been an active sports enthusiast and has represented both school and college across multiple sporting events. Over the past 10 years, Sandeep has trained his focus on long-distance running graduating from 10K runs to Half-Marathons to Full-Marathons and eventually covering Ultra-Marathons as well.

Just looking at Sandeep’s running achievements is motivation enough for someone like me to get going and notch a few marathons myself. A snapshot of his running credits are: the 80K Malnad Ultra, the 80K Vagamon Ultra, the 60K Ooty Ultra, the 50K Javadhu Hills Ultra, 8 Full-Marathons, 25+ Half-Marathons and not to mention the countless 10K runs – wow! What an impressive running resume.

For Sandeep though, running is just one of his areas of interest. In his pursuit of staying fit, he also dabbles in cycling, swimming and bouldering. A keen reader and an avid wildlife enthusiast, Sandeep volunteers his time with a few NGOs with the aim of conserving wildlife.

My conversation with Sandeep was extremely interesting and I just had to share some excerpts from that discussion.

How long have been into long-distance running and did it happen by chance or was it something you’ve always wanted to do?

As with most things in life, we all need some motivation to kickstart a new habit. For me, it was the realization that I was gaining weight pretty fast. Early in my professional career (about 8 years ago), my weight had jumped up from 68kgs to 78kgs in just about 24 months. This had me worried and pushed me to take up long-distance running. I’m used to doing shorter distances during my time at school and college, but never beyond a 10K.

Having taken the decision, I gathered the courage to run a Half-Marathon in 2010 and haven’t looked back since.

Which has been your best race for you personally in terms of timing and personal achievement?

I have done a few half-marathons under 1hr:40mins and a few full-marathons too in good time; but, the most gratifying experience in terms of running was the Malnad Ultra in 2017, which was my first 80K run.

Why was I pleased with it, you ask?Well, the entire process of training for it, training right and executing it on race day is something that gave me a lot of pleasure. Timing-wise, I finished my run in 11 hours which is pretty slow by any standards, but, the experience is what I cherish.

Do you set targets of how many races you would run at the start of the year and do you set out in accomplishing them?

I don’t race often enough. I do a maximum of three races a year. I have my races spaced out months apart so I get enough time to recover, train and then race again. My partner and myself run around 75 to 80km per week almost all through the year. The level of intensity differs as we get closer to the race day. 

How does your typical training day look like and where and how many days in a week do you train?

I train for about 5 days a week. I have been an ardent follower of the Maffetone method for the past 3 years. So all my runs are within the MAF heart rate which is 180- age. It has helped stay injury free and run longer. 

Could you give us some insight into the running group you are associated with -Mysoorunners? How did you become a part of this group and when? 

Mysoorunners is a fun-filled group. We have people from all walks of life associated with the group. The group was formed in 2014 by Ajit Thandur to get all runners from Mysore in one place and I have been a member since its inception. The best thing about this group is that it is non-competitive and it doesn’t matter what distance you run, you can be an absolute beginner or an experienced runner – we share the feeling of belongingness and treat everybody as one and enjoy great camaraderie.

Mysoorunners are the hospitality partners for the Tri Thonnur event. How has your association been with them?

I have been associated with Tri Thonnur as a volunteer/participant since its inception in 2013. It’s been great to see the event grow from being an outing for few like-minded folks to being one of the sought after races in the triathlon circuit across India. Typically we volunteer to ensure proper crowd management.

Which has been your latest run and the upcoming event your training for currently? Could you please share your experience\learnings from running the event and what changes would you like to incorporate in your upcoming run?

My last event was the Ooty Ultra, a road race of 60K which I managed to finish in 9 hours. There were occasions during the race where I sort of got into a negative mindset which resulted in spending a lot of time at aid stations and walking when I could have run. I realized I wasted close to half an hour with these distractions. I would like to be mindful of these things in my future races. 

How do you better yourself as a runner and motivate yourself and people around you?

It takes a lot of hours of running for someone to become an average runner as it is a continuous learning process. That in itself is a great motivating factor for me as you strive to get better each day.

What plans do you have for the future?

We are living in exciting times. The ultra-marathon scene in India is just starting out and I am sure there will be great races coming up in the future. Personally, I would like to run a 100 miler before I turn 35 which is 5 years from now. Also, I hope to complete the ‘Comrades Ultra’ something in the near future.

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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Running your first 10k – Part 2

In the second part, a detailed training plan is presented by write Coach Pramod Deshpande to help you achieve your dream of running your first 10k.

The Training Phase

Endurance running is more than just “running itself”, as it also comprises of supplementary exercises like core, stretching, plyometrics and strength building exercises. Additionally, sticking to a nutrition plan and having proper time for rest and recovery are critical factors. Let us discuss these aspects a little more in detail.

Training plan

Here is a suggestive plan giving you an idea of how you could gradually increase the intensity of your workouts and mileage, include strength training and gym, stretching and core exercises etc. Following the below schedule will help you complete your 10K. This is more of a generic program and a better way is for you to get a customized program that suits your fitness levels and health parameters.

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 Basic warm-up exercises – only walking – finish with stretching and a couple of sets of core exercises
Rest 30 mins walk Rest 30 mins walk Rest 45 mins walk Rest
2 Basic warm-up exercises – only walking – finish with running drills, stretching and a couple of sets of core exercises
Rest 35 mins walk Rest 35 mins walk Rest 55 mins walk Rest
3 Basic warm-up exercises – only walking – finish with dynamic plyometric moves e.g. jumping jacks, one leg hopping, both legs hopping for 10 minutes followed by drills, stretching and a couple of sets of core exercises
Rest 45 mins walk Rest 45 mins walk Rest 60 mins walk Rest
4 Mix jogging and walking. Add one day of the gym for basic strength training. Don’t forget the pre and post run routines. Get a massage to relax.
Rest 45 mins walk & jog GYM 45 mins walk & jog Rest 60 mins walk & jog Massage
5 With each workout gradually reduce walking and increase jogging. Continue with gym and pre and post run routines.
Rest 55 mins Walk & Jog GYM 55 mins Walk & Jog Rest 70 mins Walk & Jog Rest
6 By now you should be able to jog 50% of the time. Focus on jogging continuously. Speed is not important. Continue the gym and the pre and post run routines.
Rest 55 mins Walk & Jog GYM 55 minutes Jog Rest 80 mins Walk & Jog Rest
7 Target to jog 60% of the time. Do not worry about speed, try continuous jogging. On weekends, ensure you complete the time, even if you are completely tired, this will be the longest jog before the race. Do not miss the Gym and the pre and post run exercise routines.
Rest 55 mins Jog GYM 55 mins Jog Rest 90 mins Walk & Jog Rest
8 Repetition workouts, do not walk in a repetition of 10 or 15 minutes, you have a 45 sec rest after each repetition. Do not miss the Gym and the pre and post run exercise routines. Get a full body massage after the workout.
Rest Run 10 mins – 45 sec recovery (Repeat 4 times) GYM Run 15 mins – 45 sec recovery (Repeat 3 times) Rest 80 mins Jog Massage
9 Same as week 8. Last week of gym, strength and plyometric exercise. Continue with stretches.
Rest Run 10 mins – 45 sec recovery (Repeat 4 times) Rest Run 15 mins – 45 sec recovery (Repeat 3 times) Rest 40 mins Jog Rest
10 Workout same as last week, mileage is less. Continue stretches. Get proper rest
Rest 35 minutes jog Rest 35 minutes jog Rest Race

Rest & Recovery

This is the most neglected part of your preparation. Once you start your training, in all anxiety to achieve results, you are likely to push yourself to the maximum and fail to add a rest day. But, unless you recover from the fatigue of your previous workout, starting the next day’s workout is counterproductive. A recovery gap of 24 hours between your workouts is extremely important.

You will see advanced athletes doing workouts daily and elite athletes doing workouts twice a day but they are tuned to take such loads and also manage adequate rest.

Do not do any work out on rest days. Typically, with these types of workloads, you will require additional sleep which is another facet of recovery. A 7-8-hour sleep routine is essential.

Event Day

You will be ready physically and mentally for the event only if you factor in all the aspects of preparation, training, nutrition with sufficient rest and recovery days.

Some key aspects to keep in mind for the race day is to

First, Completion- Do not focus on timing rather push yourself to complete the race as a lot of time and effort has gone into preparing yourself for the race. Factors such as speed, finish time, doing better than the person next to you can be given focus on your next race and you need to prepare for them accordingly.

Second, the golden rule of endurance running, nothing new on race day- Your pace during the race (no matter who overtakes you), running gear, food, and hydration before, during and after the race should be exactly the same as it has been during the training phase.

Lastly, Look Back – once all the euphoria subsides, look back from where you started, how dedicated was your preparation, how many sacrifices you made along the way. Then, consider what you achieved during this time – improvement in fitness parameters, a finisher medal that you have completed your 10K run, the discipline, and patience you learned along the way, the amazing new friends you made …. The list will be very long – savor it and be proud before you start thinking about your next target.

Happy Running!

GUEST COLUMNIST

A reputed coach and mentor for the Jayanagar Jaguars and a technology innovation head with a leading MNC who over the past 4 years has trained more than 2500 athletes complete Half-Marathons, Full-Marathons and Ultra-Marathons

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Boost Your Brain Power

Mental training exercises that you need to add to your daily athletic routine, writes Protima Tiwary.

Ask any athlete what motivates him to wake up every morning and keeps him going through the day, and his answer will be “discipline” Self-motivated people will brave blood, sweat and tears to reach their goal, and none of this would work without discipline. So how does one learn discipline? Is it something we are born with? Is it something you can learn later in life? God forbid, is it too late to learn discipline in life?

Thankfully, discipline can be learnt, but do not accept results overnight. Just like the physical body takes week, months and sometimes even years to transform, the mind needs its time too. The mind imbibes so much on a daily basis, removing distractions to inculcate discipline seems like an intimidating task to many. With a little hard work, a few months is all you need to grow into a self-motivated, disciplined individual yourself.

How? It’s simple. All you need to do is exercise your mind. Yes, there are exercises that help train your mind into becoming stronger. Note these down carefully, because these exercises can be done at any given point of the day.

Start your day with Meditation

10 minutes before you start your day is all that you need to meditate successfully. Meditation is said to be the strongest of all the willpower workouts, and for good reason. With only 10 minutes a day, your brain will be able to focus better, and you will be less stressed and more energetic to deal with the day. To get started, sign up for some meditation podcasts or Youtube channels that will guide you through the process.

Remember, it will take you some time to train your mind to focus to meditate, but as it is with physical exercises, your mind too needs patience to build strength. Give it time.

Use your opposite hand

Your brain is wired to use your dominant hand. When you try using your opposite hand, your brain will spring into action since it is a completely new activity that it is not used to. You will find yourself to be more alert and focussed. This, using your opposite hand will require willpower.

To get started, sit down with a pen and notebook for 20-30 minutes during your workday.

Treat this as your me-time and you will find yourself looking forward to this experience daily!

Do Cross Lateral movements

The idea is to get your brain to be more alert. Lift your left knee and touch it with your left elbow 5 times, then do the same thing now with the right side. Then, lift your left knee and touch it with your right elbow 5 times, then switch sides again. When you do this, the left and right hemispheres of your brain are being worked together, causing your mind to be more alert.

Cross stimulate your senses

Keep your brain alert by engaging multiple senses like sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. Doing so stimulates new neural activity throughout the brain. Some ways to do this would be to learn a musical instrument, learn to cook something new, read a new book, or even try a new exercise.

Correct your breathing

Inefficient breathing patterns not only affect your brain concentration power but also interfere in your exercises. Inefficient breathing limits oxygen to your brain. By correcting your breathing, you improve your concentration and focus, and even boost learning and IQ!

Here’s what you have to do – place one hand on your stomach, inhale slowly through your nose. You will notice that your abdomen expands while you inhale. Now exhale slowly (for around 5 seconds) and feel your abdominal muscles collapsing. Practice this for 5 minutes daily.

Other things that will contribute to a healthy mind include keeping a check on your savings and spending, keeping a food diary (food affects mood, and knowing what you’re putting into your body will help you decide how to train your mind to feel!) correcting your posture whenever you can (posture affects body language which in turn affects your emotional health) Carry around something tempting whenever you feel like testing yourself, see if you can resist it. This slowly contributes to mental strength too. Eat healthily, drink plenty of water. Also, take care of the vocabulary that you use (use positive words and avoid negative words and thoughts.) Last but not the least, learn to be grateful for what you have.

Whether you are running a marathon or lifting heavy or playing a sport, you need a strong mind to see you till the finish line. Without a strong mind, the body is nothing. Time to train your mind along with your body to be stronger, faster and more efficient. If you could build mental toughness that could help you overcome any obstacle and come out on the other side intact, you would have a positive outlook and a boatload of confidence in life, isn’t it?

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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Finishing the Tri Thonnur with Ajit Thandur

Deepthi Velkur in conversation with Ajit Thandur, a triathlete who is the founder of the Mysoorunners and the organiser for the Tri Thonnur.

The moment we hear “triathlon” often what comes to mind is a hard-core challenge like the grueling Ironman, a race consisting of a 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km bike and 46.20 km run. But, on the contrary, this fun sport isn’t just for extreme endurance athletes. A triathlon includes short races spread across 3 disciplines (swimming, cycling, and running) that makes the challenge more engaging and fun.

The 3 most common triathlon races and distance are:

  • Super Sprint – 400m swim / 10km bike / 2.5km run
  • Sprint – 750m swim / 20km bike / 5km run
  • Olympic – 1,500m swim / 40km bike / 10km run

Ajit Thandur, a property developer in Mysuru has always been a fitness fanatic and keeps fit by hitting the gym, swimming and doing 5K runs. In 2008, after his first ever 21K Midnight Marathon in Bengaluru he took to running seriously competing in several half and full marathons. Building on this experience, he ran his first Ultra run in 2016 – a 50K run from Mandya to Mysuru and he quickly followed that up with a 12-hour stadium run covering 82 km.

An ex-triathlete himself, he had to cut back owing to a nasty cycling accident a few years ago but continues to swim at least 5 km a week alongside his regular running schedule. Ajit is a minimalist runner relying primarily on Vibrams and thoroughly enjoys running barefoot when in a stadium. He is the founder of the Mysoorunners – a running group in Mysuru that encourages running and living a healthy lifestyle. He also organizes events like the Tri Thonnur (triathlon event), Thonnur Swimathon and the Chamundi Hill Challenge (a running event) every year.

I spoke with him to find out about their upcoming event The Tri Thonnur on September 9, 2018 organised by Enduro Events owned by the man himself.

Enduro has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2009 – it must fill you with a lot of pride and joy. How would you describe the journey so far?

It all started with a passion for endurance sports and it is still the passion that keeps it going. Years ago, as a small group, we used to swim in the Thonnur Lake and we wanted to share the joy and experience of the amazing Thonnur Lake with everyone and not just ourselves. That’s how the first edition of Tri Thonnur came into being in 2013 which saw 30 participants.

With each passing year, have you seen the participant count increasing? If yes, how are you working on creating more awareness and getting people to participate?

The participant count for sure has been on the rise year after year. We build awareness through our Facebook page. Apart from that, the discussions and exchange of notes that happen on social media amongst like-minded people is what helps us in spreading the message across.

So far, you have 3 amazing challenges – the Swimathon, the Tri Thonnur, and the Chamundi Hill Challenge. Do you envision adding any other challenges/events / courses to your calendar?

We do plan on adding longer distance challenges to the existing three races. But we have no plans to add new races as of now.

2018 is your 6th edition to the Tri Thonnur challenge – how has this event evolved since it started? What kind of changes have been made since it started?

This event started 6 years ago and we had 30 participants attend who came to know of the event through word of mouth. In the inaugural event, we held the the Olympic distance. Today, we have included the Sprint, Olympic and Half Iron distances with close to 300 triathletes coming from all over the country.

Tri Thonnur has gained the reputation of being the best open water triathlon in India and also the stepping stone for future Ironman aspirants as an ideal first time open water experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of location for the triathlon – why Thonnur?

Thonnur Lake is an amazing water body with clean waters and is extremely safe.

When organizing an event of such scale, you need a lot of planning. When did you start planning the 2018 race and how did you go about it?

We start working on the race a good four months in advance. Our base is Mysuru and Thonnur is a good 40kms away. We need to work on statutory permissions from government agencies, decide on the swim location based on best roads for bicycling, running and sort out the logistics as well.

Part of the challenge – the bike leg is an “open to traffic” leg. How do you take care of participant safety?

Where ever required we seek help from the police to set up barricades to slow/control traffic at junctions. We also have volunteers traversing the bike/run routes on bikes to make sure everything is going smoothly. They do intimate the medical support team in times of emergency or accidents. Sparsh Hospitals, Bengaluru has been our backbone med-support team for 4 years now.

You have a young and passionate team but to manage an event such as this, you will need volunteer help as well. Is this easy to come by? Do you run any campaign to encourage people to help?

Volunteers come from our Mysuru based run group Mysoorunners and ultimate frisbee team Girgitlae. We also appoint paid volunteers from the local village because they are well aware of the routes and the people.

Putting together all the learning from the past 5 editions of the Tri Thonnur – what advice do you have for the 2018 participants on the course?

For many, this may be their first open water experience. My advice to them is to look ahead after every 10 strokes or so to be sure you are heading in the right direction which is indicated by the marker buoys. Also, be careful with the traffic on the roads and do not speed on your bikes when passing through villages. On the run leg, always run against traffic.

What kind of challenges did you face in setting this event up?

The major challenge is with logistics, due to the distance of Thonnur being 40kms away from Mysuru.

 

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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Featured Comments (0) |

Speed for Runners

Guest Columnist and runner, Anjana Mohan, talks about how you must consider building your running goals keeping in mind other facets of your life.

Chasing a time target presents fantastic opportunities to push oneself to new limits, train muscles to work hard and sustain mental effort. Improvements in speed offer immense satisfaction and accomplishment. It can become addictive and spawn a pursuit of personal bests (measured as timing). These self-evolutionary goals undoubtedly bring joy and benefits. However, I submit that the pursuit of speed is fundamentally competitive (even if it is only with oneself) and therefore poses great risks.

The simplest manifestation is the effect of both achievement and failure. The goal-driven nature of speed creates an obligatory ending once the target is achieved, or sometimes when it has failed. Continuity has to be artificially created. The endorphin high of success can only be sustained by setting new competitive goals, which will plateau over time to cause frustrations, or injury when ambition reaches past ability.

Culture of Speed

The culture of speed is ignorant of the unique nature of individual bodies, minds, and lives. We compete against others or the clock as absolutes. We consider performance in isolation rather than placing it in balance within the context of our daily lives, physiology, emotions, and efforts. We superficially correlate speed with mental fortitude disregarding many factors.

Even when a runner “competes with oneself” they are ultimately dialoguing with their own ego. Competition can bring out one’s best but also insidiously normalizes feeding and sustaining some vanity. This spiritual corrosion restrains runners from discovering their depth. The fastest runs lose the meditative beauty of time collapsing to yield to the aliveness and energy of every moment. Interval training is sweatily self-absorbed. Bob Marley said, “Some people feel the rain and some just get wet”. Running offers room for both and its best value is when it can be woven into the network of the various facets of your life.

Although both competition and goals can be set iteratively and repeatedly over the life of a leisure athlete, they are fragile and vulnerable to many fatal forces.  Running endures maturely when balanced to fold into a fitness strategy for one’s life. While speed may be a useful measure of how well you are pushing yourself, letting it dominate your running can destroy its own fundamental foundations. Consider balancing effort and pleasure. Redefine a new personal best “joy” within the changing context of your life.

Timings and medals are easy metrics. There aren’t easy ways to measure success by the criteria of whether or not a habit will sustain over a human lifetime. We are conditioned to seek bursts of brilliance or intermediate intensities (endorphins and dopamine). But long-distance running’s most powerful lesson is the opposite ‐ the slow, sustained spirit. Serotonin and oxytocin associated with falling in love can come from running, enjoying the trail and company. The meditative aliveness that becomes a part of your personality has more to offer your spiritual growth than any podium, PB time or prize. The seduction of speed should remain subservient to the enduring desire to keep on running.

*The views expressed herewith reflect her personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of any group*

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Anjana started running in the U.S. in 2007 and has helped mentor many from the couch to half marathon. She is passionate about empowering women through running and now runs in Bangalore with Jayanagar Jaguars

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12 weeks to stronger cycling

Getting better at cycling takes time, effort and planning, so how can you become a stronger cyclist asks Nandini Reddy.

Becoming a better cyclist means you need to get better at communicating with your muscles. Cyclists who are able to perfect the link between their brain and their muscles are the strongest ones. Training will increase the voluntary actions of your muscles and make cycling easier for you. There will be greater muscle activation and improved endurance and you will find yourself cycling easily over long distances.

Sustained cycling is an activity that doesn’t come naturally so it’s important that you train your muscles to be activated during this process. You can maintain speed over a longer period of time before fatigue hits your muscles.

Practice Practice Practice

A beginner cyclist will be able to activate about 30-50% of his muscles during the first few weeks of training. The idea is to increase the number of muscles activated in order to improve your endurance. A world-class cyclist will be able to activate anywhere between 80-90% of his muscles. Even if you don’t reach that high number a good range to aim for is 50-70%.

The best way to start activating your muscles is to do quick up-hill rides. The duration should be between 30-45 seconds. This sort of demand on your muscles will require you to utilize maximum power and you will start activating your dormant muscles as well.

As you practice more these hill rides will become easier and then you can move to increasing the duration in order to enhance your endurance. The idea is to develop your muscles to endure the long distance rides.

12 weeks to power cycling

The idea of following a 12 week programme is to ensure that your muscle fibres are activated. The activated muscles should also be strengthened. The intensity of the workout should be balanced with duration to ensure endurance during the long race.

Before you start any ride ensure you are adequately warmed up. The idea is to start intense and slowly reduce the intensity, recover and restart the cycle for a longer duration. This would prepare you to become a more powerful cyclist by the end of the training period.

Week 1 – 30 sec sprint rides uphill – 2 min active recovery – 4 times

Week 2 – 30 sec sprint rides uphill – 1 min active recovery – 4 times

Week 3 – 30 sec sprint rides uphill  – 1 min active recovery – 6 times

Week 4 – Active recovery – Flat surface cycling

Week 5 – 1 min sprint rides uphill – 2 min active recovery – 6 times

Week 6 –  1 min sprint rides uphill – 2 min active recovery – 8 times

Week 7 –  1 min sprint rides uphill – 1 min active recovery – 8 times

Week 8 – Active recovery – Flat surface cycling or 1 min hill rides

Week 9 – 3 min intense rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 3 times

Week 10 –  3 min intense rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 4 times

Week 11 –  3 min intense rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 6 times

Week 12 –  3 min comfortable rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 3 times

After the 12th week you can change the intensity and duration to improve your endurance. Have fun riding.

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 does a Senior runner prepare for a Duathlon

Senior runners are experimenting with all forms of endurance sports and the Duathlon is another amazing event to consider, writes Deepthi Velkur.

Swim-Bike-Run races or the Triathlon are challenging and fun, but what happens if you can’t (or don’t enjoy) swimming?

Does that mean you miss out? Definitely not, the answer lies in Duathlon.

Duathlon is often scoffed at for being triathlon’s poor cousin. However, if like me, you’re addicted to running and cycling but dread that swim leg, then the run-bike-run could be the challenge for you.

The classic duathlon challenge involves a 10K run, 44K bike, and 5K run. There is also the Ultra Duathlon that has a 20K run, 77K bike, and 10K run.

While getting through the initial run and bike challenge seem straightforward enough, it is the last run (5K) that kills you and make your legs feel like jelly, though this can be avoided with proper training.

To get the most out of your training please make sure you follow a customized program. Runners who are senior in age need to be cautious and have race-specific training plans. This approach is necessary as over time the wear and tear of the body,  as well as adaption to multiple forms of past training, make the body’s response to new training a lot slower.

As a senior runner, your years of training and racing have helped you understand your body better. Use this knowledge to make amendments and build a good training plan.

Your training plan should include 3 – 4 sessions a week of threshold and muscle training while other days must include strength or cross training. Senior runners should exercise caution when running fast as they are more susceptible to injury due to the loss of muscle and tissue elasticity.

Here are some top training tips when preparing for a duathlon:

Keep it simple: Make sure you have the basics – a bike, water bottle, helmet and a good pair of running shoes. Do make sure they are in good working condition.

Build up your training intensity gradually: Always ensure your training intensity increases gradually because a sudden change can lead to injury. Follow the 80:20 rule – 80% at an easy and conservational pace and 20% at a moderate to high intensity.

Pace yourself: Just like with your training pace yourself through each obstacle – run the first leg at a comfortable place, build intensity with the bike and finish with a flourish in your last run.

Practice transitions: You can lose a lot of time transitioning from your run to a bike to a run again. The key here is repetition. Practice by setting up a mini transition area that is safe and has marked entry and exit lines. Post a warm-up, set a timer each time you run in, change shoes, put on your helmet and run out to mount your bike and again back to the run mode. This helps you to better understand what went well and what changes are needed with respect to your last transition. Aim to get quicker with each session.

Run first, then bike: Incorporate brick sessions as part of the training program – these include a short, sharp run right after your bike ride. This way your legs get used to this transition of getting off a bike and then doing a fast run. Once you’re done with 4-8 weeks of base training, the short bursts off the bike are excellent for building muscle memory ahead of your race day. Try doing a run before a bike ride instead so you know how exactly it would feel to ride after running on race day.

Whether we like it or not our body never ceases to change through aging. You must factor in these changes as you customize your training approach.

That said, make sure you have fun, stay in the moment and enjoy yourself!

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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