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Three Reasons to Hire a Running Coach

If you have ever wondered whether you should invest in coaching, Radhika Meganathan in the article below will help you take an informed decision.

Running may be one of the cheapest and easily accessible sport ever because apart from good running shoes, there are practically no expenses involved. Plus, what is there to train about it? That’s what most people think, but Jo, coach at The Unit weight training studio in Kotturpuram (Chennai), disagrees. “A running coach will optimize your performance and also help you to avoid injuries. That’s why they can be invaluable,” she says.

Regardless of whether you run as a hobby or a serious passion, if you ever wondered whether you should you invest in a running coach, we present to you three reasons why you should consider hiring one!

When you face a roadblock and need a push in the right direction…

When you are stalled, a coach can absolutely get you on track. Srimathi Vardhan who lives in Manhattan says, “I started running in 2016 and did my first 10k in Chennai when I had been there for my vacation. I trained for it throughout my vacation and finished the race in 56 minutes.  But I didn’t know much about pre- and post-run stretches and ended up hurting myself after my first half marathon in 2017. So I talked to my friend who referred me to this virtual coach, who created a training plan specific to my needs. Using this plan, I trained diligently and achieved several personal best timings in 4 mile, 5 mile, 10k and 13.1 mile races. “

You are an experienced runner and feeling bored or unmotivated…

Sure you have conquered a few marathons and are quite confident of yourself and your stats. Well, you may not know it, but a coach can help you surpass your current record to hitherto unimagined heights! A lot of experienced runners get their advice and tips from running buddies and are part of clubs and quite understandably miss out on having a trained professional oversee their progress. If you have not noticed any new development in your running for a long time, and if you find yourself stuck in a rut, then you should definitely opt for a running coach, one who can help you set new and thrilling goals and help you get there.

You are new to running and you want to put your best foot forward, literally….

We get it, you just started running, you are not sure about your running stats and you want to get miles ahead without any margin for error… or you may not be so sure of your posture or pacing, and you’d like to have some professional help. Whatever your reason is, go for it if you can afford it… and let it be noted that it is practically a win-win situation, and might very well turn out to be a small investment for a long time of running with minimum injuries!

The truth is that when you opt for coaching, there is very little that can go wrong. Coaches are equipped to instruct runners of all levels on managing different training loads and help them avoid common training errors, such as wrong posture, wrong pacing, inadequate recovery time etc. Of course you can learn all these stuff by yourself at some point, sure, but if you can afford it and you have had enough of running without supervision, then you’re better off saving time (and minimizing injury risks) by opting for a running coach.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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It’s never too late to start running!

Deepthi Velkur catches up with senior runner, Rajendra Kumar from Bengaluru on how he fell in love with running. 

Running is not a sport reserved only for the young and elite but rather an all-inclusive lifetime sport that challenges you from the moment you start  and all you have to do to get started is have the will to put one foot in front of the other for miles.

The growing phenomenon of senior citizens taking to running is evidence enough that it’s never too late to start running and talking to them you will see that they have all good things to say about how they’ve improved their physical and mental health.

One such gentleman I spoke to is Y.S. Rajendra Kumar, a retired Assistant General Manager who was with State Bank of India for nearly four decades.  An inspiring individual to youngsters and old people alike, he took to running at the age of 74 years in the year 2014. I was curious to know from him, how running became a passion at the age of 74. These are the excerpts of our conversation.

What motivated you to take up running at an age where most people put their legs up and relax?

Prior to me taking up running, I have always kept myself physically active over the years by doing yoga as well as taking long daily walks with my wife to the temple. In one of my discussions at home, my son suggested that I take up running and join his club “Jayanagar Jaguars”. The thought appealed to me; I started in 2014 and here I am 4 years later still enjoying every run.

Can you tell us from your experience what kind of changes running has brought into your life?

Before I took to running, the winter season was quite challenging for me. I used to suffer from a cold and chest congestion but that has now completely vanished since I started running. The bigger impact that running has brought to me is a more pleasant psychological change and cheerful attitude that I can attribute to my experience in running alongside the youngsters in the group.

To encourage more senior citizens to run, how should they start their process?

I would think that there are 2 primary steps that need to be in place:

  • Following a structured training program and
  • The able guidance of a coach providing them with the required direction to follow the training program.

There is a growing number of senior people who are running marathons around the world. What is your take on this growing phenomenon?

With the amount of information available online and the increased awareness among seniors on the benefits of running, this phenomenon does not surprise me. I welcome it and think that we as a society should be more open and encouraging to senior people taking to running.

In terms of your runs so far, how many 10k’s and half marathons have you completed?

Since my first competitive run in December 2014, I have completed ten 10K runs and six half-marathons until now. I am also proud of the fact that I have been able to achieve a podium finish in 2 of the runs –Ajmera Thump 10K (3rd place) with a timing of 1:13:47 in December, 2014 and TCS World10K (3rd place) with a timing of 1:05:58 in May, 2017. Some of other running courses I have completed are: Scotia Bank Calgary Run (Canada)10K, Spirit Of Wipro 10K, SCMM Half Marathon, Bengaluru 10K Challenge, Bengaluru Half Marathon, Chamundi Hill Challenge Mysuru 10K, Celebration Mysore Half Marathon and the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

That’s quite an impressive list and hopefully this will encourage other senior citizens to take up running as well. In your group of runners, is there a large percentage of people over the age of 60?

Not quite – in a group of over 600 signed runners, training across ten locations in Bengaluru, we are four runners above the age of 60 years.We are hopeful that other senior citizens will soon take to running as the benefits definitely outweigh the initial challenges that they will face.

In terms of your training sessions, can you give us some insight into your weekly running schedule?

We are currently in the middle of getting ready for our next half-marathon and our training schedule includes running 3 times a week with a mileage of 25K – 30K per week. Also, there are specific drills and exercises that we go through under the guidance of our very experienced coach, Pramod Deshpande and this helps us get stronger and stay injury-free.

To complement your training schedule have you made any dietary changes since you took to running?

Yes; I have made some dietary changes to boost strength and stay healthy. I have increased my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables while avoiding fried, oily foods and minimizing my intake of sweets. Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is paramount to supplement my training and overall running activity.

I have also learnt that your entire family is into running. That is quite an achievement, how did that happen?

Yes, it is true that as a family we all love running. It all started out with my daughter-in-law, Padmashree; she has long been into running and over time introduced my son Darshan to the sport. With the growing enthusiasm of seeing my daughter-in-law and son involved, my grandson Tanmai soon joined the running group.

During mid-September 2014 at the age of 74, my son suggested that I join him as well. While it did appeal to me, I was hesitant at first but decided to give it a shot. In the beginning, I found it a little difficult to run. However, I persisted and my continued efforts with proper guidance and encouragement enabled me to develop a passion for running.

Today, as a family we collectively participate in certain important running events through the year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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The Runner who talks to God

The name Fauja Singh is an inspiration to senior runners the world over, Capt Seshadri takes a look at this remarkable runner.

An 89 year old Punjabi man in London, wishing to train for a marathon, landed up at Redbridge, Essex, probably in deference to the formal attire of the country of his residence, dressed in a three piece suit, much to the bemusement of his coach. To further add to the trainer’s surprise, the bearded and turbaned old man confessed that he thought the marathon was run over 26 km and not miles. Not that it mattered at all. His training began in complete earnestness and dedication. The outcome? In 2003, at age 92, he completed the London Marathon in 6:02 and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 5:40.

This is the saga of Fauja Singh, a name that must now be familiar to every marathon runner across every continent. This was the same person who, born on April 1, 1911, in the village of Beas near Jalandhar, the sports goods capital of India, struggled to walk on his weak and scrawny legs until the age of five. One hundred years later, the very same ‘old’ lad set eight world age group records in a single day at the Ontario Masters Association Invitational Meet: 100 m in 23:14; 200 m in 52:23; 400 m in 2:13:48; 800m in 5:32:18; 1500 m in 11:27: 18; the metric mile in 11:53:45, the 3000 m in 24:52:47 and the 5000 m in 49:57:39. A series of events that no professional athlete would dream of attempting even at the peak of his career!

Where most master athletes would take weeks to recover from such a strenuous ordeal, just three days later, on October 16, 2011, Fauja Singh scripted history as the first centenarian to complete a full 26.2 miler, running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8:11:06. Sadly, this amazing feat never made it to the Guinness Book of Records, since he had no birth certificate to prove his age, despite a passport confirmation of his date of birth.

Even though he was undeterred by age and never laid low through injury, this living legend decided to call it quits from competitive running after the Hong Kong Marathon on February 24, 2013, where he completed the 10K in 1:32:28, a timing which is just outside the qualifying limit of 1:30 set for the Tata World 10k, and meant for runners who would qualify as his great grandchildren! The proud moment of his running career was when he carried the Olympic torch in July 2012. The retired Fauja now runs for pleasure, health and charitable causes. Fauja Singh was honoured with the British Empire Medal in 2015, for his outstanding contribution to sports and charity.

The 52 kg, vegetarian Sikh attributes his longevity, stamina and outstanding fitness to his non-meat diet comprising roti, dal, vegetables and curd. Good hydration with plenty of water and ginger tea, early sleep, an abhorrence towards smoking and alcohol, and a professed diet of love and respect from the world around him, keep him going strong. His take on running successful marathons at such an advanced age: “The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for the last 6 miles, I run while talking to God”.

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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The Conqueror of the Everest – Part 1

In a two-part series, Deepthi Velkur connects with the Indian Woman who completed the Everest Marathon, Deepa Bhat.

Not so long ago, the start line for an ultra-marathon was only headed by the elite runners. When we speak of it today, there are hundreds of regular runners flocking to take part in a variety of endurance race challenges much beyond the 42k distance. They want to push their boundaries and achieve a dream that was reserved for the elite athletes in the yesteryear’s. Today, Bengaluru’s Deepa Bhat is one such aspiring Indian woman.

Deepa Bhat, is a 41 year old Ultrarunner, Triathlete, Scuba Diver, High altitude trekker, Creative chef, and a mother of two teenage boys. Building a career in the e-learning space, Deepa is also a running coach at the Cult Fitness centre, Bengaluru.

Running gives her the much cherished ‘Me time’, a feeling of bliss and helps keep her focused to achieve her goals year after year. Meticulously planning to balance all aspects of her life-family, career, and fitness have helped her strive and become one of the top runners in the country. This year she became the first Indian woman to have completed the world’s highest running event-The Everest Ultra marathon along with Taher Merchant. Having completed the 72k Kardungla challenge together last year, they decided to take on the challenge of participating in next high altitude race- The Everest Marathon.

We speak to her to find out more about how she conquered her dream of running The Everest Ultra -Marathon.

To conquer Mt. Everest is a dream for most people, to conquer it running is beyond our wildest dreams. What pushed you to take on this challenge(The Everest Ultra Marathon) and what was it like to be on top of the world?

I feel I have a strong connection with the mountains. Something about working hard towards accomplishing a goal and being in the wilderness, surrounded by breathtaking nature just appeals to me. I felt it for the first time when I was just 20 years old, my first High altitude climb to Sar Pass Trek in Himachal Pradesh. The force only got stronger from there on. Having completed the 72k Kardungla Challenge in Ladakh last year and being a podium finisher there, achieving the next high altitude run -The Everest Ultra Marathon became my goal. With sub-zero temperatures and snow in the evening, made it hard but went through the night without a break to finish the circuit in 19hours 50mins and 40sec.

What other Ultra races have you run in the past where you have made it to the podium?

A few of the ultra races that I have run and achieved a podium finish include:

  • 2nd runner-up at Khardungla challenge-72k
  • Winner at stadium run, Bangalore-86km
  • Winner at Jawadhu hills ultra-marathon-75km
  • 1st runner-up at the Half Iron Man-1.9k swim, 90k cycle and 21k run
  • 2nd runner-up at the Spirit of Wipro challenge-10k
  • 1st runner-up at the IDBI spice coast-42.2k

What were your goals before the start of the race and how thrilled were you on achieving them?

Unlike other ultras, where one drives to the start line with fresh legs, I had to trek for 11 days from Lukla (2860m) to the Everest Base camp(5364m). That meant 4-6 hours of walking on any given day over various terrains, including steep hills, high suspension bridges, and rocky paths. The trail is as tough and challenging as they come. Despite the trek being so tiring and difficult, my mission was bigger than just reaching the EBC. My mantra was to take one day at a time because overthinking can dilute the joy. The Everest Extreme Ultra Marathon wasn’t just another adventure race. Honestly, the magnitude of the achievement has sunk in only after all the love I received once I was back home.

What inhibitions or roadblocks did you face within yourself and from people back home before starting out on this adventure?

There were no roadblocks that i faced from anyone. Though I must agree, it involved a lot of planning, working from home and of course, I had to figure out the finances too. At times, people around me had more confidence in me than I had in myself and I’m truly blessed for that. Whenever I prepare for a race, be it a 10k or an Ultra, I do not have an iota of a doubt if I should or shouldn’t take part in the race. I do my research, train well, and prepare both mind and body for the big day. On the race day, I never forget to thank God for bringing me to the start line. During the race, I listen to my body (never push beyond what I can), because races will come and go, but I am precious.

Please tell us more about the Ultra Marathon?

Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa summited the Everest on May 29, 1953. A competition is held every year on the same day and this started from the year 2013 to commemorate the event. The Extreme Ultra-Everest marathon is considered the world’s highest running event, which also includes half and full marathons. The Extreme Ultra starts at EBC and goes through five Himalayan passes.

There were around 200 runners and high altitude trekkers from 30 different countries across the world. I chose to run the 60k of ultra-running bliss. The undulating terrain, the rarefied air, cold winds, the moraines, steep inclines just make this race all the more challenging. The day temperatures were -1degrees while the night seemed like -30degrees. A mock race is organized a day before the actual race to check if the entire path is clear for runners.

In the next part we will learn about how Deepa equipped herself to run this challenging course. 

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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Better your Run Timing

Whatever distance you are running, as a runner you always want to better your time, writes Deepthi Velkur.

Short or long distance runners always focus on improving time to give their performance an extra edge. You can better your running time with simple changes listed here and thus make your runs more gratifying with a reduced risk of injury.

Tweak your running technique

Changes in your running style make a world of difference to your efficiency, timing and injury risk. Follow simple techniques like running tall with the body leaning slightly forward, striking the ground between your heel and forefoot, swinging arms back and forth at a 90-degree angle, loosening up your shoulders and holding up your chest to maximize the oxygen intake.

Stride Turnover

Increase your cadence with shorter strides. Try and land 180 times a minute with your feet landing below your body. If your falling behind, strive on improving your cadence by 5% each time till you reach the target of 180.

Speed bursts Incorporate speed drills into your routine such as fartlek, interval and tempo workouts. Alternating between fast and slow runs and variations in the distance covered with each run aids in strengthening your muscles and improve your running time and efficiency. Plan one long run per week at a pace up to 75 percent of your race pace. Mix it up by adding short, fast runs, done at race speed, and intervals during the week. A hill workout also builds strength and endurance thereby increasing your timing.

Get Uncomfortable Do not be scared of getting uncomfortable. When you are first picking up your pace your whole body will burn and your lungs will be screaming for you to stop. You will have more lactic acid build up and might feel fatigued. It may be a strange feeling to experience but as you practice the stress of the sensation will be replaced by happiness.

Strength Training Once or twice a week of strength training that includes exercises like burpees, squats, single-leg dead-lifts, lunges, and planks. Body weight exercises, involving 10-20 reps per set, are effective, but 4-6 reps per set with heavy weights are better for improving speed.

Watch your diet Running helps burn calories and it is essential to follow a good nutritious diet that includes complex carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables, good fats and protein. This assists in increasing glycogen stores and builds muscle mass that will help you pick up your running pace.

Good running shoes Getting too much out of your running shoe is not advisable as they begin to lose their cushioning and stability, affecting both your gait and cause injury. It is recommended to change your running shoes every 400 to 800 km depending on the surface you run and wear and tear of the shoe.

Adequate rest Rest is critical to your recovery and prevention of injury. Taking a complete day off in the week helps your muscles to build and repair themselves.  Running with strained muscles means that you will not be able to push your body beyond a limit and you might also tire faster.

Hill Training Running on slopes is a great way to build strength. Find a fairly steep climb that will give you at least a 50 -100 m uninterrupted stretch. Run hard and fast uphill and walk down slowly. Repeat at least 5 times to start with and then increase the repetitions and number of days.

It is possible to shave off the seconds, and eventually the minutes from your finish timing. Train smart and run hard and you should definitely better your race timings.

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 on Vacation

Running is an active way to relax and recharge while on a vacation and with a little effort you can fit this into your vacation schedule, writes Deepthi Velkur

For most of us,  we remember a vacation by looking at pictures taken, stamped passports or even the odd souvenir that we bring back home. For a runner, however, it invokes memories of a dashing waterfall or maybe the lazy cows at sunrise or the serenity of a deserted beach.

Follow these five tips to run during a vacation and you are guaranteed to keep up with training and even get some insider tips from locals on where to eat, shop and play.

Start your day with a run – Getting your run done first thing in the morning of your vacation is a great way to start the day as it ensures you don’t push it out for later and also helps free up your day. Also, you will be less dodging to do as you avoid the crowds and you can check out the area much before the hoard of tourists arrives.

Research and map your running route – Do a little research on running routes close to your hotel as you will be able to map your run stress-free. Using technology can be a great way of identifying a few local favorites at your vacation spot. If you don’t find the time to do some research, just head out for a run and see where your feet take you. This forces you to pay attention to streets and landmarks and other intimate things that otherwise you might miss.

Packing Right – When packing for a vacation, drawing up a packing list will ensure that you don’t find yourself without your running must-haves. Ensure that you carry running gear that is suited for any weather type to help you avoid missing out on your run.

Stay Safe – This should be your primary objective – avoid narrow and busy roads, neighborhoods that appear unsafe and always carry your phone, money and the hotel business card just in case you do get lost. Also, checking in with the hotel concierge or some friendly locals is a good way to identify if your route is safe.

Let Loose and Explore – A key tip to running on your vacation is “forget about mileage”. The focus should not be on distance, pace and intensity; instead, focus on the sights, sounds and everything exciting the new environment has to offer.

There are heaps of benefits to run on a vacation but please ensure you follow the tips and add to your holiday experience.

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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Worst Mistakes to make during a Ride

Be it an amateur or a seasoned cyclist, there is a lot to bear in mind before you start out on your cycle ride, writes Deepthi Velkur.

While riding a cycle might seem simple, it can get complicated and dangerous as you cover more distance\terrains on the ride. Here are a few simple fixes to make your ride safe and enjoyable.

Saddle height

To get the right placement of the saddle during a cycle ride, ensure the saddle is at your hip crest. Adjust the seat accordingly to keep it pointing straight and not tilted up or down. While on the saddle, you should comfortably reach the handlebars and toes touching the ground on both sides.

Carry spares or tools

Before you take off on a cycle ride, it’s essential to do a pre-ride inspection and carry along minimum equipment such as Tyre levers, mini pump, spare tubes, patches(instant stick on type), and multi-tool with chain link extractor.

Fueling your ride

Do not wait until a point where your body is completely drained of energy. Drink every 20mins or so throughout the cycle ride to ensure your constantly fueled. Don’t eat\ drink too much as you end up feeling sick. Plan well ahead to have food\drink in reserve and fuel yourself regularly so you don’t run the risk of bonking.

Over gearing

Gears improve the efficiency of power over different terrains. Maintain a cadence of 70-90rpm on flat roads. Shift to easier gears for climbs and harder gears for going downhill. Riding in a higher gear with low cadence uses fast twitch muscles that make your muscle fibre tire out easily. If your off on a long cycle ride, using a lower gear with higher cadence activates the lower twitch muscles which is more beneficial and promotes greater endurance.

Riding too far, too soon

Aiming high is good but knowing your ability and riding within those limits is important. Don’t blow your confidence by riding too much too soon. Steady and consistent training is where you find yourself progressing forward than hammering it from the start.

Poor bike maintenance

Doing regular checks on the cycle is a good practice. Pay attention to brakes, handlebars, gears, and tyres. Regular cleaning of the bike and lubricating of the chain is a must. Also, servicing at regular intervals keeps the bike in excellent condition.

Suitable Clothing

Before you start your cycle ride, check the weather forecast for the entire duration of your ride. In cold weather conditions, layering up helps you to stay warm. Dress light with just a pair of shorts and a shirt in humid\warm conditions. Do carry a windproof\waterproof layer at all times as it will come of use in hilly terrains with a drastic change in elevation and rain storms.

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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Training Day Diet

Your diet plays a big role on training days and becomes the deciding factor on how intensely you can train, writes Nandini Reddy

Training days before the big marathon race are the toughest on our bodies. Apart from water, we need to fuel our bodies with the right kind of nutrition in order to make the most of these days. The intensity of the run and the duration of your training run will correspond to a certain number of calories that you will burn. So that means that you need to replenish your calories accordingly.

If you are in training your calorie breakdown would be

  • 70% of calories used will be from Carbohydrates
  • 20% of calories used will be from Fats
  • Remaining will be from proteins

Keeping this in mind you need to split fueling your body into the day before the training, a pre-training snack and a post-training snack or meal.

Day before Training

The idea is to increase the energy stores or glycogen stores so that you are adequately fueled to handle an intense session of running. The choice of carbohydrates should be the complex variety. Pick whole grains, high fibre vegetables, dals and yogurt. You can snack on high water-content fruits in between such as apples, oranges, water melons, etc. The idea is to ensure that you body gets a power-packed nutritional meal instead of just carb-loading.  Also don’t experiment too much with foods. Stick to a normal routine diet that is easy on your stomach.

Pre-Training Snack

A carb-rich snack just before you start you race is good idea. A peanut butter sandwich is a great choice for a pre-race meal. You can also have a fruit smoothie which would pack your stomach and also give you plenty of nutritive energy boosters. Eggs and whole grain cereals are also a good option for a pre-race meal or snack. The idea here is to eat something healthy but light so that you feel energetic during your run and not uncomfortable. If you want to have something to boost your energy during the race then bananas and almonds make the best snack options that are easy to carry.

Post-Training Meal

Ideally you should eat within an hour of finishing your training. The post-training meal should have more protein content and less carbohydrate content. If you cannot eat a big meal, start with snack like yogurt and fruits or a whey protein drink. You also need to replace lost fluids at this time so its a good time to chug down that bottle of water. If you are having a nutritious meal then you do not need an electrolyte post your training.

Never use running as an excuse to binge on unhealthy foods that are high in calories. Eating right will give you more energy to have intense and longer training sessions rather than simple energy bursts that will make you feel dull after the high comes down.

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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The Accidental Cyclist

Our Guest Columnist, Super Randonneur Satheesh Tawker talks about his motivation to keep bettering the quality of every ride.

My entry into cycling was accidental. I had gone to my cousin’s home and saw my nephew’s cycle gathering dust and casually asked him if I could borrow it. He immediately obliged and there started my cycling journey. Cycling is something that I feel gives me my space and “me” time during the solo rides that I do. The other motivation is that I like to test myself on my endurance levels with each event and see how far I can go. This has pushed me to better myself as a cyclist with each challenge I take up. Recently I completed my second 200 km and 300 km events, having done similar events in 2017. Each ride is different when it comes to experience and to put it simply I would call each ride nothing short of awesome.

Training for a ride

Having started in such a casual manner, I have never formally trained or followed a specific schedule to get better at my passion. I have always worked out to stay fit, first at The Unit and now with the Quad. Being fit and strong overall has helped with cycling as well. Nutrition is something that I have started focusing on in the last two months with a specific focus on the quantity of food I eat and the balance between proteins and carbs in every meal. My nutritionist gets a daily food log of everything I eat – down to the last morsel and suggests changes to the same. Being conscious has helped me drop about 6 kgs in the last two months with little effort. Before that I was a believer in the statement that I have worked out today so I am entitled to eat what I want. I don’t think I will propagate that philosophy anymore.

On becoming a Super Randonneur

Recently, I have earned the title of Super Randonneur. This title is bestowed to a rider who completes a series of brevets ( 200, 300, 400, and 600 KM) in the same year. Each ride has a specific time frame for completion and the rider has to complete the ride within this stipulated time. There are various control points during each ride and rider has to reach all control points within the stipulated time frames.

I became aware of such a challenge only after a year of cycling. When I learnt the details I was excited and wanted to get that title. I rode regularly and covered at least 40 to 50 km on alternate days and a minimum 100km on weekends. Fitness levels were taken care of as I used to workout in a boot camp three days a week. I also took training at ProBikers for basic repairs such as changing tyres and tubes of my cycle and addressing minor issues that could happen during the ride. The clincher was me being able to find a riding partner who matched my wavelength and my pace and we have partnered for all the rides. We used to do a recce of the route a week before to figure out places to eat, rest, etc and planned the ride well in advance, taking into account the chances of unforeseen incidents that could occur. It would suffice to say it was a lot of planning, a perfect riding partner, sleep management, mind over body, hydration, nutrition and enjoying the ride, that mattered more than the outcome of the race. This attitude helped me become a Super Randonneur today.

My next Big Challenge
My target for this year is to complete a 1000km ride.  The mind over body and sleep management part will definitely play a big role . In all probability its unlikely I will not find a partner for the ride and that would mean riding alone for the entire stretch which will be tough. So currently I am doing a lot of solo riding to get used to that possibility. Hopefully, should be able to make it .

What keeps me going?

I believe that nothing is impossible. When I did my first ride never did I imagine I would come so far in my cycling journey! Ability to manage challenges on your own , learning that beyond a point it’s mind over body, learning to trust yourself, being aware of your limits, trusting your ride partner, taking it one km at a time and to keep pushing no matter what are some of the lessons I have learnt which is applicable even in my day to day life. The family, especially the wife reacted really bad to my cycling. She was convinced that endurance was not my game and I should stick to 100km max. I had to get a full physical done ,multiple cardiologist opinions to certify that I am fit, in order to get her approval for my 600km last year. Despite that she was present at the halfway point to see for herself whether I was fine . She still disapproves of my long rides but with less force than what it was before.

I had tried my hand at running and did a 10km run but running does not give me a high as cycling does . But then have my eyes set on a full marathon in the next one year. I enjoy scuba diving if you would call that an endurance sport and have dived in many locations across the world with my son.

A word for Newbie Riders

For a Newbie I would advise them to take it in stages starting with small rides and gradually increasing the distance and getting to understand how their body responds to various ride conditions and speeds. A good night’s sleep is a must. They would also need to focus on their fitness levels if they plan to do consistent long rides. I have always tried to be helpful to other riders in the group and have always helped and guided anyone who asks for it. There are professional coaches for riders who want to up their game.

Being consistent is the most important thing for riding and if you are consistent then nothing can stop you from achieving the impossible.

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

A banker by profession who recently quit the corporate world to appreciate life a bit more.Scuba diving and the outdoors are where he feels at home if he isn’t cycling.

 

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