Featured Comments (0) |

What began as ‘Fun’ turned to ‘Passion’

Deepthi Velkur talks to Shahana Zuberi who was inspired by a line she read once that said “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you”

Once considered an extreme sport for athletes, the marathon has become a popular phenomenon in the last decade. Without any limits of age and preparation, people gather from all over the world to run a marathon. The most important part of a race is to cross the finish line and that does not depend on how long one takes to complete the race. Shahana Zuberi a doctor in biology from LMU, Munich and a veteran marathoner couldn’t agree with this more.

Shahana took up running for fun 3 years ago and that quickly transformed into a passion. She started her journey as a runner by taking part in different long-distance races such as 10km races and half marathons. While juggling her time between taking care of her little son and managing a Multi Sports activity center for young enthusiasts between the age group 2.5 to 8 years, she never misses out on her own run.

She has taken part in several long-distance races – countless 10k’s and 4 half marathons which included Bangalore Marathon, Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, and Tata Mumbai Marathon. Her personal best timing at 10k was 66:24 mins and half marathon was 2 hours 33 mins. A veteran at the TCS world 10K, she has taken up the challenge to pace 80mins bus as a pacer for the first time. She is part of the 19 member women pacer squadron. This year her goal of being a pacer is to create high energy and motivation among the members of her bus by helping them achieve their best with strength and grace. She also feels running with a pacer is very helpful since the pacers are aware of the route well and strategize\plan the race according to the elevation which helps to keep up with the energy levels until the finish line.

I caught up with Shahana to understand what keeps her running.


How long have you been running?

I have been running regularly since last 3 years. I run at least thrice a week and on an average of 35-40 Km per week. I enjoy running and ensure I keep all my long runs, at the pace that it ends strongly. This keeps me motivated and always look forward to my next long run.

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running? Specifically running long distances?

Running long distance always gives me a sense of achievement. After running a certain distance, we go into a trance where nothing else matters except reaching the finish line. During the easy long runs, I plan my day and strategize on how I need to finish the race. This makes me well prepared for the run.

Have you calculated how many kms you have accumulated in all your years of running?

In the last two years, I have accumulated a total of 1500 kms.

Which was your most memorable run ever? What was your favorite part?

My best run was Spirit of Wipro, 2016. This was my first run after proper training and I performed better than expected considering it was a very tough terrain.

How do you prevent yourself from getting injured with all the running you do?

It is important to remain injury free to enjoy the runs. I ensure on doing a proper warm up and cool down after the runs. Stretching is very important after run workouts. Don’t go overboard with your running. I run only thrice a week and rest of the days I do strength training. Foam rolling is another way to keep your muscles relaxed.

Being a part of the first all-woman pacer squad in the TCS world 10k marathon, what was your goal?

My goal will be to get my bus on target time to the finish line and keep everyone motivated all through the race.  

How many times have you run the TCS marathon? What brings you to run this marathon every year?

TCS World 10k is a prestigious international event. People from all over India come for open 10K and many elite runners participate in this run. This will be my third time. It has a beautiful route running through the center of the city. It feels pretty much like a city tour.

You being a veteran marathon runner, what health\safety advice would you give a fresher?

Advice will be to start slow and train well. Take care of your food habits. It is important to eat nutritious food and involve strength workout in your training.

When it comes to training, what is your schedule like? How do you break down running and strength training in preparation for a marathon?

I run thrice a week and it comprises of interval runs, tempo and long distance running. The remaining part of the week, I do strength training and any light workout like walking, swimming or cycling.

What is your special diet plan before a run? Care to share a few tips?

Well, at least an hour before the run, you can eat bread and a peanut butter sandwich. I like to eat a banana. Few dates and handful of dry fruits are good too. One should include a lot of proteins and carbohydrate in their diet. A day before the race my standard food is Aloo paratha.

During a run, what do you think about? Are you thinking about the next km, your body, or something that’s inspiring you—what is that?

During the race, I only think about the finish line. But normally as I said before, during easy runs, my mind keeps working wherein I plan my day, work and lots of other thoughts keep racing through my head.

Have you seen yourself evolve over the years of running? How would you say you’ve grown as a runner?

Yes, I have definitely evolved a lot as a runner and also as a person. My pace has improved, able to strategize better before and during the run, there has been a boost in my endurance level due to running consistently. In my personal life, running has helped improve my overall patience and also lead a disciplined life.

Shahana leaves us with these inspiring words, “Keep pushing yourself harder with a never say die attitude and you will see success come your way.”

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.

Read more

Nutrition Comments (0) |

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.

Read more

Featured Comments (0) |

The Elites at the TCS World 10k

Come Sunday, May 27, around 25,000 runners in Bengaluru will put on their running gear and line up at the Kanteerava Stadium in the heart of the city to participate in the TCS World 10k, Capt Seshadri profiles the elites at the big race.

Champions with disabilities, senior citizens and fun loving majja runners will run a shorter distance, while the 10k will see an Open category, with qualifying standards for participation and, of course, the stars of the event, the elite runners in the World 10k.

Leading this last category in the men’s section will be 27 year old Kenyan, Alex Oliotiptip Korio, defending champion, with a last year’s time of 28:12. He has a personal best of 58:51 in the half marathon, set in Copenhagen in September last year, a city that seems to be his favourite, where in September 2016, he blazed the roads with a timing of 27:37 in the 10k.

Korio will have to put up a good fight to ward off fellow countryman Geoffrey Kipsong Kamworor, younger by two years and with a string of impressive runs as well. A half marathon time of 58:54 in the UAE and a 10k time of 27:44 in Bengaluru in May 2014, are certain indications of a highly competitive event.

The women’s field will be led by Netsanet Gudeta, a 26 year old Ethiopian, with a best 10k timing of 31:35 set at Ottawa exactly a year ago. Gudeta arrives in Bengaluru on the back of a half marathon 1:06:11 at Valencia in March this year, breaking the world record for the ‘women only’ half marathon.

Among the Indian elite runners are the current course record holder Suresh Kumar, with 29:49 set in May 2015. Challenging him would be Srinu, local favourite AB Belliappa and Shankar Man Thapa, all podium finishers at the Tata Mumbai Marathon in January this year. Defending champion Saigeetha Naik with 36:01 leads the women’s field that is filled with other star studded names like Monica Athare, Sanjivani Yadav and India’s first Olympic finalist after 32 years, Lalita Babar.

Those hoping for cool weather in Bengaluru, may have their prayers answered, but one can surely expect some pyrotechnics on the track.

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.

 

 

Read more

Training Comments (0) |

Cool It Down

A cool down is as essential as a warm-up for any athletic exercise, says Deepthi Velkur.

The warm-up and cool down before and after a workout are just as important as the workout itself.  While the key purpose of warming up is to prepare the body and mind for intense activity, cooling down plays a very different role. A complete cool-down of the body helps in a smooth shift from exercise back to a state of relaxation. Many individuals dismiss cool down as time-consuming or simply trivial, not realizing that it is essential to prevent injury.

To dive deeper into this phenomenon, let us be aware of some of the notable stresses that occur during and after each workout

DOMS

During an intense workout, we put our body through a lot of stress. Tendons, Muscle fibers, ligaments get stressed and waste products fill up within the body. A good cool down aids in an easy repair process by relieving the effects caused due to a delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS (sometimes referred to as post-exercise muscle soreness).This soreness is usually experienced the day after a tough workout due to people having a lay-off from exercise or at the start of a new exercise regime.

Muscle Tears

During a workout, tiny tears named micro tears develop within the muscle fibers causing swelling of the muscle tissues which in turn apply pressure on the nerve endings resulting in pain.

Blood Pooling

The heart pumps large quantities of blood to the working muscles that carries both oxygen and nutrients required for the repair process of all the muscles that were worked during the exercise. When we abruptly stop exercising, the muscles no longer contracts and pushes the blood back to the heart along with waste products like lactic acid which remain in the muscles, causing swelling and pain. This process is termed as “blood pooling.”

What cooling down does for you:

  • Steadily lowers heart rate.
  • Circulate blood and oxygen to muscles thereby restoring them to their normal state before the workout.
  • Reduce the risk of blood pooling
  • Removes waste products such as lactic acid from the muscles that builds up during exercise.
  • Lessens muscle soreness.

How to go about cooling down:

Primarily, a cool down can last for 3-10 minutes and includes a gentle jog, decreasing speed gradually to a walk followed by light static stretching and refueling. It is very essential that all muscle groups are stretched at the end of a workout. To cool down after jogging, a brisk walk for 2-3 minutes followed by gradually tapering the pace to a stroll is good. At this point, standing stretches facilitate in increasing the range of motion in the leg muscles. Seated stretches improve flexibility through the whole body and promote relaxation.

A workout comprising of strength training requires a total body stretching to increase the range of motion in the joints that were worked during the exercise. One needs to be particularly careful to stretch the joints as well. Stretches must be focused on the particular muscle group that you have worked out. Mild movements and stretching will benefit your cool down process and keep the body healthy.

So do your body a favor.  Take time to warm up, progress gradually into the workout and cool down when you’re done being physically active.

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.

Read more

Training Comments (0) |

The Olympic task of Cross-Country Skiing

Cross Country Skiing is a sport that is given little attention in India, yet during the Winter Olympics 2018 we had an athlete who took up the challenge, writes Nandini Reddy.

Early this year one lone Indian qualified to participate in the Winter Olympics Cross-Country Skiing Event. Jagdish Singh competed in the Men’s 15km freestyle cross-country skiing event. Finishing in 43 minutes, Singh placed a 103rd but opened a lot of minds to the possibilities of the sport.

One of the founding sports of the Winter Olympic Games which originated in the Nordic nation, has two styles that are adopted by various athletes – classic and skating. Today cross-country skiing is considered one of the best full body workouts. While the sport hasn’t seen much patronage in India, it is a great one to consider if you are an avid endurance athlete.

The major benefits of this high endurance sport include:

  • Full body workout: Skiing combines both lower and upper body and requires you to constantly push and pull your muscles. You create movement to move through the terrain and you require every muscle to be actively involved in order to maintain balance and coordination.
  • High Calorie Burner: This is the only exercise format in which you can burn more than 1000 calories in an hour.
  • Functional training: The movements that are required to be made for cross country skiing improve the normal functionality of your body. This will help you gain more mobility during everyday work.
  • Endurance builder: It is an aerobic fitness exercise that boosts your endurance limits. Skiers are 40% fitter than the other physically fit individuals. The uniqueness to their fitness and endurance levels is because of the full body workout from the activity.
  • Relieves Stress: The entire sport is in the outdoors in beautiful terrain. The tranquility from watching the landscapes slip by as you navigate through the course is incomparable.
  • Cardiovascular health: Skiers hearts pump blood more efficiently owing to the nature of the workout. Many skiers have reported lower resting heart rates when they are training for cross country skiing events. The Olympians have reported a resting heart rate of 40, as compared to a normal individual whose heart rate would average around 65.
  • Faster Metabolism: Skiing improves your metabolic rate and thus help you burn more calories. Moving the whole body to move across the course increases the energy consumed and also quicken the metabolic rate of the body.
  • Low Impact activity: Since the exercise is more poised on balance, you are engaging your core and not over-stressing any one part of your body. Thus, it doesn’t hurt the joints and muscles.
  • Reduces Lactic Acid: During any strenuous physical activity lactic acid builds up in the muscles and can result in severe cramping. But cross-country skiing helps prep the body to take on strenuous exercise by reducing the lactic acid build-up in the muscles.

Lastly this is a great way to connect with nature and if you enjoy the outdoors then it’s a perfect sport for you to try.

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.

Read more

Training Comments (1) |

HIIT – Is it right for you?

The newest darling of fitness enthusiasts, HIIT, is it beneficial or not for your fitness regime, asks Deepthi Velkur

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) a term that has been thrown around by fitness enthusiasts over the past few years. Essentially, it involves repetitions of short bursts of intense, ‘maximum effort’ exercise, like sprinting. The periods of burst activity last from anywhere between 20 to 40 seconds.

Why you should try HIIT?

As fit individuals, we all strive to be healthier and be fitter. When it comes to getting fitter, factors like cardiovascular ability, core strength and fat loss are crucial elements.

  • Cardiovascular ability refers to strength of your heart. It is very important for reaching and maximizing your fitness potential.
  • Core strength helps in having better balance, keeps the body aligned and helps to recover from injury faster.
  • Low body fat means you have peak performance in running, flexibility and agility.

Just doing cardio helps to achieve cardiovascular strengthening, fat loss as well as better core strength. But doing only cardio can lead to muscle loss. For those of you who have done cardio, it only gets repetitive and boring over time. The alternative to this is HIIT. It aids in bettering cardiovascular strengthening, assist in fat loss and bolster core strength without compromising muscle mass, and not taking up a lot of your time. For runners, cyclists, triathletes and other endurance athletes it is important to maintain muscle strength and mass as it supports them during long distance events.

How does HIIT build endurance?

If you want to build endurance in a short period of time, then you need to consider the following:

1) Heart rate (how many times your heart beats per minute)

2) Stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped per heartbeat)

3) Heart contractility (the forcefulness of each actual contraction of your heart muscle)

While the terms might sound a bit technical, these are the ones that determines your overall endurance. As each of these variables increase, your blood gets more oxygenated and your muscles also receive more oxygen. So, the heart is the primary component for building endurance through HIIT.

Sculpting your physique and increasing metabolic rate is a fabulous effect of internal training. By working out at your top level of exertion, you burn more calories in a short space of time than other workouts. Sound’s simple? Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as it sounds!

If you are an absolute beginner to exercising, then this high intensity method might not be suitable. You need to put in at least 3 weeks of proper training before graduating to interval training to avoid injury.

The Benefits

  • Increased Metabolism and Stamina
  • Time saver sessions – 3 sessions/week of 15-20 mins is sufficient.
  • Anywhere – HIIT sessions use your own body weight and hence can be done at any convenient place.
  • Preserves muscle mass and leads to an increase in cardiovascular efficiency as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid.
  • Improved performance and endurance.

HIIT Routines

Designing the right interval training routine can be sophisticated or casual. Elite athletes can choose to visit sports performance labs to have blood lactate and exercise metabolism tests done to determine the best interval training routine. Remember that interval training is extremely demanding on the heart, lungs and muscles, and it’s important to have an OK from your physician before you start. It is recommended that you consult an athletic trainer, coach or personal trainer to get a HIIT program designed to meet your fitness goals.

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.

Read more

Nutrition Comments (0) |

Summer Foods for Runners

Summer is the time for runners to indulge in food, thus making it the best season for runners, writes Nandini Reddy

Hot and humid weather is always a big deterrent for runners. As the sun bears down, there is one
aspect that runners do love about the summer – the ability to indulge in summer foods. Getting
dehydrated and exhausted in the summer is easy. We get the freshest fruits and vegetables to
indulge in every summer and these help in lowering the core temperature and refuelling our bodies.
Refreshing the body doesn’t need electrolyte drinks, tabs, powders and pricey bottled drinks during
the summers because of the availability of fresh foods in abundance.
Sweat doesn’t just remove water from the body but also essentials nutrients. So, it is important to
eat the right kind of foods in the summer. Generally hot weather tends to kill appetite and its very
important to ensure that you get adequate nutrition. Even if don’t feel like indulging in a heavy meal
of protein and carbs, you should include the below foods.

Fruits
Summer brings a whole host fruits – watermelons, mangoes, strawberries and plums. Watermelon is
the best fruit for ensuring that you hydrate and regain your nutrients. Lycopene content in the fruit
helps in preventing sun damage to the skin cell. Plums help in improving the immune system and
prevents summer diseases. For runners it’s a great fruit for ensuring a healthy gut. While mangoes
need to be consumed in moderation, this fruit is rich in selenium and iron, thus making it a very
important addition to a runner’s diet.

Vegetables
The vegetables with high water content such as cucumber, zucchini and all the gourds, make for
great summer foods. The foods are good for digestion, replenish lost nutrients and helps in purifying
the blood. All the vegetables have a cooling effect on the body and help reduce the core
temperature. Leafy vegetables like Spinach and Amaranth are good to fight off the ill effects of
summer.

Smoothies
The berries in the summer are perfect for summer smoothies. You can combine strawberry with
yogurt or almond milk to create a nutritious smoothie that makes for a great post-run drink. The
popular mango lassi is also a perfect drink to beat the summer heat. Dark chocolate is also a great
addition to your smoothies. This is the best food to quell hunger pangs and it packs a whole lot of
nutrition.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are the best as they provide the right nutrition that you need to
rehydrate and fuel your body for your running training during the summer.

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.

Read more

Featured Comments (1) |

Too Much Too Soon

Our Guest Columnist, Tarun Walecha, shares his thoughts on staying injury free.

Running is the new golf as they say, and it certainly is as it has reached the corridors of corporate power today. But not before having made its impact on society, in general. The reason to this is simple, running isn’t all about power, or networking. It is far more than that, it touches you in many ways, be that your lifestyle, your ability to analyse and understand day to day situation, self-discipline, strong will and much more…so much more. One of the prime benefits which we start it all with, our fitness, that later becomes just a collateral. I’m carefully using the word collateral which by no measure means insignificant. There’s still more that running brings into ones life, new friends for one (and hoard of them, actually), lot’s running gear(mostly free 😊), a bit of travel for the events, not to miss the adulation (PBs et al) and the least preferred of them all….Injuries.

Is it all too much too soon?

Well, there can be a write up on each one of the issues, but we shall focus on injuries this time. Most of us who start running do not have a great history of sports. Well I said most, cause most often those with some sports background also fall in this category as they restart this regime after a fair amount of downtime. Those who restart this journey after a gap in the sporting activities, and for someone to start altogether fresh, running does expose us to certain amount of risk of injuries. Having said that, I can very confidently say that it’s not running that is the cause of the injuries though it does become the medium. It is like blaming a car for an accident and absolving or ignoring the role of the one who drives it. Let us understand what’s the reason for the injuries….and let’s understand when is it too much, too soon.

Roadblocks we encounter

One starts running with an aim of staying fit, and the limited available knowledge is a natural course of things to unfold. As we chart this journey, we encounter various roadblocks, inability to improve the speed, or cover longer distance, lack of disciplined routine and of course, a schedule to follow. While we seek these answers through various friends, runners, running coaches, online portals etc what we also start learning about is PBs, Podium finishes, and everything else that comes with it.  This is exactly where the “Too much Too soon” syndrome sets in. What started as a hobby, breaks through the realm of passion and before we realise it becomes an obsession. Suddenly learning takes a back seat, improving becomes the main criteria! Running for fitness seems basic, and getting a podium finish becomes the main driver. It’s this shift of focus that makes us ignore our limitations and push beyond the boundaries. Having said that what is life within the confines of limitations, and who would get better if one does not push the boundaries. But there’s a thin line there, a very thin line which only we can define for ourselves.

Misjudging your boundaries

There will always be a friend egging you to run faster, or a coach pushing you for a stiff target, and at times even a runner who silently is clocking better time than you but becomes the cynosure of your eyes and all you wanna do is get ahead of him/her. In a situation like this, more often than not, we misjudge ourselves, our training, our strength and our weakness. And even when we maintain our sanity, running as a regime does have its own wear and tear on our body. Our muscles are going to tire, our mind and body is going to get fatigued. But let’s not forget, no two individuals can be alike and this is a scientific fact. What we deal with is something similar, but beyond the biological or physical sphere. With a given physical and biological background, an individual still have too many variables to deal with, such as, a day job, daily routine, personal stress, amount of rest, one’s own willingness, mental strength and the list goes on. What we need to understand is that each one of these variables has a role to play for the way we perform. So, before we begin to compete with someone, we need to look within and know what’s good for us. It is this ignorance which leads to pushing the boundaries beyond the realm of reality and becomes the main reason for injuries.

Lessons Learnt

I started running about 8 years back with hardly any friends in running and bare minimum social media exposure. I consider this a blessing in disguise, cause the learning came in slow, but that slow did good to me. I won’t say I didn’t have my tryst with injuries, it’s a given as all the pounding is bound to show up some way or the other. Fortunately for me it has just been stress accumulation, incorrect or over training which lead to what one may define as pre-injury state. Each time it left a lesson behind, a sign to know if it was too much for me.

What we all need to understand is how to deal with it, but before that we must know, when to push further and when to back out. Only when you dive into a deep sea you will get pearls but where to dive and how to dive is the key. Of course, there’s a recourse through medical intervention, physiotherapy, proper guidance, etc. if one does fall into the trap or gets injured, but those we can deal in another article at another time. For now if I was to sum up my intent for this blog, I would say the following.

  1. Know your limits, make incremental changes and remember how Rome was built…😊.
  2. Understand your strength, and seek guidance when needed.
  3. Push your boundaries, but don’t be over ambitious.
  4. It’s important to understand your muscular anatomy and what it takes to run.
  5. Learn it the right way, correct form is the key to injury free and efficient running.
  6. Last but not the least, You are your own competitor, no one else.

Don’t let someone else becomes your bench mark… an inspiration, yes… a competitor, no. Learn to do this for yourself and not for others, let’s not fall in the trap and succumb to “Too Much Too Soon”.

GUEST COLUMNIST 

An architect by profession, Tarun Walecha enjoys amateur photography, travelling and is a sports enthusiast. He has been a sportsperson all his life and discovered running at the age of 40 and has since become his fitness mantra. In his 7 year running career he has completed 30 Half Marathons, 4 Full Marathon, and 5 Trail/Ultra Runs. He is also a Pinkathon ambassador and has founded the running group, RunXtreme.

Read more

Featured Comments (1) |

Run long, live short?

Do long distance runners have a shorter life? Capt Seshadri attempts to explore this theory, based on research and experiments and from dialogues with doctors with experience in accompanying marathon runners in major events.

In the fall season of the year 490 BC, Pheidippides, a Greek messenger, ran a distance of 26 miles non-stop from Marathon to Athens, to announce the defeat of the Persians at the battle of Marathon, in which he himself had just fought. Having shouted out “nenikēkamen”, (we have won), he collapsed and died on the spot.

Centuries later, the death of Jim Fixx, author of “The complete book of running”, probably triggered the debate on the issue of health versus harm. Reports from across the world state that till date, 36 marathon runners have suffered a fate similar to that of the ancient Greek. The age range was between 18 and 70, thus averaging close to 44. Almost half of these deaths occurred either during the run or within 24 hours of the event. So, is there a connection between long distance running and heart attacks? The arguments for and against, both purportedly with solid data to back them, are conflicting but hardly convincing.

Heart + Running

It is a universally established fact that the cause of coronary failure is a build up of plaque in the arteries. So, does distance running help build up plaque, or prevent it? Argument # 1 suggests that extreme distance running can harm rather than protect the heart. This is based on a study of 8 runners over a period of 140 days, running a daily cross country stretch of 42 km, with a one day break each week. After the first 24 hours, the runners were subjected to tests to determine plaque build up. At the end of the race, it was found that their systolic blood pressure, (the number on the top) had decreased and the ‘good cholesterol’ was higher. However, having checked their previous medical records, for those with a history of heart issues, the plaque build up was higher. These findings seem to suggest that distance running is not necessarily protective but could even be harmful in the long run. Conflicting, or confusing?

Marathon runners of all ages around the globe, participate enthusiastically, quite often either ignoring or not being aware of previous cardiovascular deterioration. On the flip side, it would be silly to assume that all marathon runners are physically fit and are therefore immune to cardiac disease.

Understanding the heart

Argument # 2 takes a somewhat different pitch. It says: If we sampled 50 men running 3,510 marathons over the course of three decades, will their heart health suffer or improve? These were experienced runners, most of them with over a quarter of a century of training, with some even having run for half a century. The mix was eclectic, with some having commenced running from school days and others trying to work out the effects of sedentary lifestyles, smoking and indulging in junk food. On an average, they ran around 50 km a week. When these 50 were scanned, 30% had no sign of plaque, 40% had mild amounts and the remaining 20% were the worrisome lot.

The findings were quite chaotic to say the least. More marathons did not mean more plaque, as did less running not indicating any difference. This led to the conclusion that extreme running had little or no impact on heart disease, but reinforced the fact that a history of smoking and cholesterol led to greater plaque deposits even after years of running.

Added to this is a third dimension. According to recent studies, different versions of atherosclerosis, the technical name for plaque build up, could be benign or harmful, and could affect active and sedentary people, thus debunking both negative and positive schools of thought on distance running and heart disease. This ‘halfway home’ theory seems to suggest that long years of distance running neither improves nor deteriorates heart health. There is no clinching evidence to prove that running causes any direct changes in the heart. The conclusion would probably be that all kinds of running would help keep arteries clear of harmful matter. However, running does not provide immunity to those with a history of bad lifestyle, especially smoking and junk food. In the words of Dr Roberts, an experienced researcher, “You can’t just outrun your past”!

So, run to your heart’s content. Run for your lives.

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.

Read more