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Meet a young runner – Samir Zafar

Running is fever that can catch you young, Nandini Reddy caught up with 6 year old Samir Zafar who completed a 5km race. 

Samir Zafar, was one of the youngest runners at the recently concluded Madurai Marathon. For a 6 year old to take on such an arduous task of completing 5kms is indeed commendable. Talking to Samir was a pleasure because to him the run was something fun and he truly didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. A child whose days are filled with school, skating and cricket, Samir ventured into this new fitness event with equal enthusiasm and curiosity.

When asked what had inspired him to run the marathon, he said, “I just wanted to run.” It was as simple a motivation as that. Most adults run for a purpose – goal timings, fitness and even challenges. But Samir decided that he just wanted to run because it seemed like something he should try.

Watching your parents is what really gets one into fitness. Samir’s parents are both enthusiasts who ran the Madurai Marathon this year and this inspiration got him on board as well. Marathon usually requires training. Most of us employ virtual coaches, carry energy drinks and even train for months ahead. When asked if Samir underwent any sort of training or practice runs, he seemed puzzled and said, “No. But I do go to the park all the time with daddy.” It seemed rather matter-of-fact that being an active child he didn’t seem to understand the purpose of training. His physical activities on a daily basis helped carry him through the course.

The 5km race may be the easiest one to attempt as an adult but for a 6 year old with yet to develop muscles, it can be a formidable task. Samir did agree that it was a bit difficult to complete the course but he was so glad that he finished it. It was the first time he ran with such a big group of people and felt rather important to be participating alongside adults. “It felt very nice to run with such a big group of people,” quipped Samir with a broad smile.

Samir is all set to run his second 5km and in the future he might even make it to the 10km category with ease. But until then little runners like him continue to inspire us all to be fit and have fun while doing it.



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

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Tata Mumbai Marathon Routes

Are you running the Tata Mumbai Marathon (TMM) this weekend? Then make note of the routes you will explore on your run.

Full Marathon (Amateur & Elite) Routes

Please note that the amateur full marathon differs from the elite full marathon in terms of timing. The amateur race begins at 5:40am while the elite race begins at 7:10am. The start point for both is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT).

You will be running past the iconic Wankhede Stadium for cricket, the glorious Sea Link Bridge, the much-revered Siddhi Vinayak Temple and the Mahalaxmi Race Course before finishing again at CSMT.

The elites running this year include Solomon Deksisa, Chele Dechasa, Bornes Kitur and Amane Gobena to name a few.





Half Marathon & 10K Routes


The Half Marathon starts at 5:40am at Worli Diary. The route loops around the glorious Sea link bridge before finishing at the iconic CSMT.


The 10k route is a loop starting and finishing at CSMT, starting at 6:10am. The race route takes you past the Flora Fountain, Wankhede Stadium before turning and going by Charni Station before finishing at CSMT again.





Dream Run, Senior Run & Champions with Disability Routes

The Dream run route of approximately 6kms, starts at CSMT at 8:20am, loops at the Princess street flyover and finishes opposite to the Metro Big Cinemas.

The Senior Citizens route is a 4.3km run which begins at 7:25am at CSMT and finishes at the Metro Big Cinemas.

The Champions with Disability Run begins at CSMT at 7:45am and ends at MG Road covering a distance of 1.5kms.



Please note that all routes will be vehicle free and parking free so you need to plan your travel to and from the race.

The TMM is one of the most coveted marathons in India. So for all of you who have the opportunity to be part of it, run, enjoy and set new records.









Information courtesy Procamrunning

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Your first marathon

If you started this year with a resolution to run your first marathon then here is a plan on how you can get off the couch and reach the finish line, writes Nandini Reddy

With so many friends around you running marathons, it is quite natural that you would also be bitten by the bug to run your first marathon. To begin with let us start with a half marathon and work towards finishing the 21 km mark before heading off to the 42 km chequered flag.

So how from the point you get off your couch to the crossing the finish line you wonder? Well if you train and eat in a committed fashion then you should be able to run your first half marathon in 14 weeks. It doesn’t really matter if you are new to running or you are coming back after a long break, if you have the will to stick to a training programme then you will be race-ready within a few weeks.

Getting started

Firstly, try and work out a realistic plan. You can schedule yourself to running for 4 days a week. You can start by walking first and then slowly graduate to jogging, interval training and then full-fledged running. The idea is to ease your body and mind into a training schedule that will keep you happy and not too fatigued. The idea is to build your endurance in the first 4 weeks and over-stress your body. The run/walk strategy is totally acceptable in the first few weeks. Don’t beat yourself up. Get into the mindset that you are here to finish the race and not compete for a goal time. It is your first marathon so finishing a race is vital.

Training Plans

The key to any good training is to mix-up your workouts and ensure that you stay interested and the schedule doesn’t become monotonous. You can add some strength training and cross-training also to help develop your muscles. Here are a few suggestions :

Run/Walk: This is a form of interval training where you run for 1 minute and walk for another minute. This will help you run longer. As you progress you can decrease the walking interval timing and increase the running interval timing.

Brisk Walks: In the beginning of your training programme keep a day for just brisk walking. This helps improve your fitness levels. It also boosts confidence because you won’t feel out of breath during these training days.

Cross-Training: It is vital to impact two days of cross-training. You can choose between cycling, swimming , yoga or martial arts. The idea is to build your muscles and prevent injuries from excessive stress on your body due to running. You can add body weight training to your routine as well with squats, lunges, push-ups, planks and dead-lifts.

Tempo Runs: These runs are important to build your speed. You should run these at a harder pace than normal. The idea is to push your pace a bit higher than last week. When you do your tempo runs, start off at a comfortable pace, then build up to a higher pace and then cool down with a kilometre of a running at a slow pace.

Sample Plan

Here is a suggested sample plan on how you can build up your distances for running every week.

Week 1: Try the run/walk – 3 kms

Week 2: Run/Walk – 3 kms with the addition of Cross Training

Week 3: Run/Walk or Brisk Walk – 5 kms with the addition of Body weight training

Week 4: Tempo Run – 3 – 5 kms

Week 5: Tempo Run 5- 8 kms with a 40 min Cross Training session once a week

Week 6: Tempo Run 5- 8 kms with 30 min body weight training session once a week

Week 7: Run/Walk or Brisk walk – 8 kms and Tempo Run – 5 Kms with 40 mins of Cross training/ week

Week 8: Run/Walk – 12 kms and Tempo Run – 8 kms with 40 mins of body weight training/week

Week 9: Tempo Run – 15 kms with 45 minutes of Cross Training/ week

Week 10: Tempo Run – 15 kms with 45 minutes of body weight training/ week

Week 11: Tempo Run – 16 kms and Run/ Walk – 18 kms

Week 12: Cross Training – 45 minutes and Run/Walk – 18 kms

Week 13: Tempo Run – 20 kms with 45 minutes of body weight training

Week 14: Tempo Run – 20 kms with 45 minutes of Cross Training

The training plans every week will have to include 2 days of rest.

This is just a suggestion on what you can follow. But remember that you need to listen to your body. If something hurts and doesn’t feel right you need to learn to stop, see a doctor or a coach. The idea is to train to make your body feel better and not worse.

Enjoy your training runs and look forward to the exhilaration of crossing the finish line.



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 Perfect Training Plan for New Marathoners

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

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

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

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



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

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What you need after a Race?

Your recovery can be sped up if you eat and drink the right food after a race, writes Nandini Reddy

Food is fuel and it is extremely important to plan what you eat post run as much as the pre-run meal. The first most important thing to remember after a race is to re-hydrate. Running long distances can put a strain on your kidneys so it is important to re-hydrate to prevent any injury. Another great way to re-hydrate is with milk or soy milk, not smoothies which are thicker.

Replenish your energy stores

Tough workouts like long distance running tend to deplete the glycogen stores in your body. Glycogen is what gives you energy. So to ensure that these energy stores are replenished ensure that you eat a good amount of protein and carbohydrates after your race.

Quick Snack

For days after the run you might feel a bit fatigued. You can get over this with a small snack that you can pack and have in-between your meals. Pack a snack of fresh fruits and cheese, they will both instantly refresh and energize you.


Eggs are rich in Omega 3 and it can help in reducing heart rate and aid recovery after an endurance activity. Mountain climbers, trekkers, triathletes and elite runners consume eggs as part of their regular diets. During recovery, eggs can play a great role in helping you recover faster.

Whey Protein

Bring back the whey protein from day 3 after your run. This will help you in building back the weakened muscles and you will also be able to get back to your training programme again. But ensure that you watch the sugars in these drinks. If you haven’t used whey protein before then don’t try it now.


Yes you can have a pizza! Opt for a pizza with a lot of vegetables and low processed meat (as it has too much salt). A thin crust pizza will give you the right nutrition and energy that you need to recover.

So if you just finished a marathon and you are training for the next one, then remember that recovery is crucial and important if you want to keep running injury free.



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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Recovery after a Marathon

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

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

Move Around

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

Elevate your legs

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

Cold shower or ice bath

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

Stay off the booze

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

Massage and stretches

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

Give it time

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

Cross Train

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

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



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

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Pacing Strategy – TWCM Dec ‘17

With nearly 22000 runners participating, in the TWCM, it is time to take a quick dive into the planning of your race.

The race is going to be a lot technical with North East monsoon blowing heavy winds. Hopefully, the below helps you plan your pacing strategy.

The first 5 km of the race is the same for each race category.

The first 2 km is towards the north of the city (towards Madhya Kailash). The wind is going to be at its best. If you are at the middle of the pack, you might find some advantage closely running behind others. If you are at the front, it is best not to fight the wind, only to find yourself burnt out half way through the course.

2nd km to 5th km: you are going to enjoy the course mainly because of the wind. By this time, even if you were behind the lead pack, the crowd would be scattered by then and you can peacefully run through. Remember to run this part faster by some 15-20 second than your target pace in min/km.

10 km Course

5th km to 7th km: the winds are going to be fairly neutral, however you will get an advantage of 5-10 s/km while running west (towards Velachery) and a disadvantage of 5-10 s/km while running east (towards Holiday Inn).

7th to 9th km: you should have the best split of your race. The adrenaline should be high as you get closer to the finish line. The last km of the race is going to be against winds. However, the final km is going to be in a narrow stretch with the buildings obscuring the gust to an extent.

HM course

5th to 8th km: the winds are going to be fairly neutral, however you will get an advantage of 5-10 s/km while running west (towards Velachery) and a disadvantage of 5-10 s/km while running east (towards Holiday Inn). It will be ideal to stick around your target race pace during this 3 km stretch.

8th to 12th km: you are going to have the best split of your race. If you don’t utilize the tail winds (winds that push you from behind) in this stretch, you are going to miss your PB. Just enjoy running this part of the course but don’t forget to consume your gel and electrolyte.

12th to 18th km: you are going to run through the Pallikaranai marsh land, a stenchful area. Don’t forget to cover your face using a cloth. If possible wear your coolers, you are not going to like the insect attack. This part of the course can mentally affect your race.

If you can endure the stench for the first 5 min, you will get accustomed to it in the rest of this stretch. The wind is going to be similar to the 5th to 8th km stretch although the advantage (towards Pallikaranai) and disadvantage (towards Thoraipakkam) will be around 10 s/km.

The last 3 km are going to be against head wind. You would probably be running 15-20 s/km slower than your target pace but don’t fret because you would have gained a lot in the initial part of your race if you were smart enough to utilize it.


FM course

From 5th to 7th km: the winds are going to be fairly neutral, however you will get an advantage of 5 s/km. The 8th km is going to be fast for you with tail winds and the 9th km will suck a lot of energy from you. From 9th km to 11th km, you will have to conserve some energy by slowing down 5 s/km.

From 11th to 15th and 21st to 27th, these stretches constituting 10 km are going to very fast with good tail winds. Not to forget your hydration and energy gels or ultra-butter.

You guys are going to run twice through the Pallikaranai Marsh lands, which will constitute 12 km totally. Throughout this stretch you might need to cover your face and wear coolers to escape the insect attack.

From 15th to 18th km and 33rd to 36th km, you might get a slight advantage of 5 to 10 s/km but similarly you will have the same as disadvantage on 18th km to 21st km and 36th to 39th km stretches.

The toughest time of your race is going to be between 27th & 33rd km and between 39th km & finish where the head winds are going to drain you of energy from your already tired body. Use all the aid stations and stock yourself up with some energy gels or ultra-butter.

Plan your hydration and energy intake well in advance. A well-planned pace and hydration strategy is a half-completed race. All the best for the weekend. Bring your Personal Best.



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

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Goal Setting and Mental Preparation for New Runners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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Along the Spice Coast

Ramesh Kartha, the race director of the Spice Coast Marathon talks about the just concluded race this year. 

In the land of endless greenery, a special marathon that meanders through the streets of Kochi through all the historical locations of the Muziris. Ramesh Kartha, Boston Marathon Finisher and race director shares his thoughts about the race.

There is a unique feature about the Spice Coast Marathon, where you have designed it to pass 42 monuments, how did this idea come about?
The idea of 42km with 42 landmarks came about while thinking of a unique way to bring our race to runners. Kochi has a rich heritage of many hundreds of years. There are artifacts of many cultures that can be seen all over this place within a small geographical area. That’s why we thought of the idea of a “running tourist” who might get a different perspective of both Kochi and running while doing it.

The Spice Coast Marathon has also gained fame for being a Boston qualifier, but this year with a change in course the runners didn’t get the opportunity to qualify? What changed?
We had two strong reasons for recommending a course change this year. We had some bad patches in the previous courses with respecting lighting and road conditions. We also have Kochi Municipal Corporation as our active partner this year and they preferred the race being conducted more towards the city to engage more people and sights.

The race also is one of the few without prize money so do you attract elite runners despite this?
Since we do not have any prize money for our event, we hardly see any “elite” runners in the conventional sense. However, we would like to think of every runner as an elite, hence we welcome runners of all ages and abilities.While many of our local runners are repeat participants for obvious reasons, we also have loyal supporters from outside Kerala and abroad who have participated in every edition.

What best course timing did you see this year?
The full marathon saw the best time of 3:14 hrs and the half marathon had a best time of 1:16 hrs which are very impressive.

Why should this race be on every runner’s yearly running schedule?
This is purely a runner’s event. We celebrate road running in its purest form. You can see the passionate team from Soles of Cochin doing everything we can to make this a long-cherished experience for every runner. The volunteers are excellent, the cheering zones by the Depart of Tourism are enthralling and the sights of the historic Kochi are breathtaking and of course, the medal 🙂

As a Boston Finisher yourself, how challenging is the Spice Coast in comparison?
Spice Coast course is challenging due to the location it’s in – the humid Kochi. While November weather in Kochi is reasonably cool, the humidity can still be high and challenging. The course is quite flat, so it can be fast if the weather cooperates.

Lessons from this year that you would like the share.
Our biggest single-most challenge this year was the course finalization that got dragged into the final week with all discussions and approvals with the authorities. We plan to start the process early next year, even though a possibility of any last minute changes can’t be ruled out. Overall, the feedback we received about the event this year has been mainly positive.

For every passionate runner the Spice Coast Marathon is a must finish at least once in a lifetime. But once you run it, you just might come back every year.



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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