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Preparing for the marathon season? Here’s some advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something for all of us to reflect on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Learn the Secrets of running from Coach Pani

From running apps to training guides, it’s never been easier to get started or take your running to the next level. Maybe its time you start working out with a running coach says Deepthi Velkur

It’s safe to say that running is having its moment in the sun. More and more people have taken up running or participating in running events than ever before.

As the attractiveness of running grows, so does the availability of online resources that help people get started and get better. But, using these resources effectively is quite a daunting task and maybe it’s time to follow the lead of more than six million people who work out with running coaches.

So, what exactly, does a running coach do? And what are they supposed to help with?

To help us understand this better, I spoke with Mr. Kothandapani K.C (or “Coach Pani” as he is fondly called) who is associated with the PaceMakers running group and has been their head coach since 2012. Coach Pani spends his time training long-distance runners for 10k, Half and Full Marathon events and under his leadership and guidance, several of them have been podium finishers at events across the country.

An Indian Air Force veteran with 21 years of service, Coach Pani started off as a middle-distance runner and won several medals at the Air Force Athletic Championships across 800m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, 5000m, and the 10000m.  Furthermore, he represented the IAF at the inter-services cross country championship multiple times and later on transitioned into running full marathons and before he left the air force he had to his credit a sub-3-hour finish running at 42.195km.

His list of achievements is quite eye-catching: completing five out of six world marathon majors (exception being London which he will complete in 2019), finished within the Top 4 at the Mumbai marathon (senior’s run) three years in a row (2016 – 18) and took part in all 11 editions of the TCS World 10K run and won on 9 occasions.

Here are a few pieces from the interview:

To start off, how did PaceMakers start and how did you get associated with the group?

In early 2012, a group of Bengaluru-based runners called 12M12M planned on running one marathon a month and trained at the University of Agriculture Sciences (GKVK).

Six months later, the group realized that something wasn’t right as there were several injuries and fatigue was a huge factor. They made the decision to bring in an experienced coach who could help with putting in place a structured training plan.

Considering my training experience with the Nike Run Club (NRC) and my personal running experience with the IAF, the 12M12M group considered me the right man for the job. They approached my friend Thomas Bobby Philip who also trained with me at the NRC and he was instrumental in convincing me to take up the challenge.

That is how I started coaching with them and later on creating the running group – PaceMakers.

So, how long have you been coaching at the PaceMakers and what changes have you brought about?

Well, I have been coaching the PaceMakers since 2012. At the start, I used to train the 12M12M group for two days at GKVK and two days at the Bhagmane Tech Park.

It was designed this way so that people staying close-by could join the group and train with us.

We used to train thrice a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays with Saturdays dedicated for long runs. The training plan which ran from 5 AM to 7:30 AM included one interval run, one tempo/uphill run every alternate week and one long run. On days when we have the long runs, it might go beyond 7:30 AM.

One of the first changes I brought in was to drive punctuality for all sessions. Second, I made a basic change of having runners bring a water bottle only for long runs. Third, I introduced variety such as interval, tempo, Fartlek and uphill runs in the training.

I also ensured that all workouts start with a proper warm up followed by dynamic drills and cooling down with some stretching exercises. This was a critical element as the 12M12M group suffered injuries in the past because of a lack of this.

How many people does your running group have and how do you categorize them?

At present, we are about 100 members and we have runners of all levels – beginners wanting to achieve a personal goal to intermediate runners yearning to take part in short distance competitions to professional runners.

With our intermediate runners, they are taught to take the load of strenuous workouts like interval and endurance runs to build strength and confidence. Once they are comfortable with these workouts and gained experience, they are trained for half and full marathons using longer runs that last for more than three hours.

The workouts obviously differ according to the type of run being prepared for – correct? Can you please elaborate on each of them?

Yes, they do differ. For instance, when training for a 10K run, I concentrate on the intensity of workouts with shorter distances building the anaerobic energy system and at the same time not compromising on the aerobic capacity. For half and full marathon distances, the emphasis is more on building the aerobic energy system without compromising on speed.

Considering the varied group of runners, building customized plans must be challenge. How do you handle this?

Of course, the challenge is very real in dealing with this, but I look at several factors when building a plan. For starters, looking at their current fitness level and past workouts, I group them and create a group training plan – the senior most in the group functions as the leader to bring the group together and complete the workouts. This approach also motivates the slow runners in the group to push themselves to achieve group objectives. Secondly, to achieve individual goals, I set a target for them based on their individual fitness level and use competitions to gauge their performances and make required modifications for further improvement.

PaceMakers are believed to be a group that trains with a purpose of running injury free. How do you go about achieving this?

We follow a few standard rules – before any session, we warm up well by including 20 minutes of slow jogging/running. We then move on to 10-15 minutes of dynamic running drills, followed by 2 to 4 strides of 100 meters.

Post the workout, we do a cool-down run for 10 mins with 2km run as that will bring your body temperature back to normal and also flush out any lactic acid build up in the muscle. We then end the workout session with 20-30 minutes of static strengthening and stretching exercises.

No one can guarantee injury free running considering the several biomechanical factors involved but if you follow this routine for every workout, your running injuries can be minimized.

I also recommend toning down your training after every 3 weeks to let your body recover and avoid overtraining.

The military training you received while serving with the IAF helped you become a middle-distance runner and later on to long distance running. What elements from your service days have you brought into your coaching style?

The first thing I brought in was the discipline to get up early and be on time for the training at 5 AM. Secondly, the camaraderie – spirit of teamwork and finally, the training methods and the knowledge gained during my IAF days.

What motivates you about what you do at PaceMakers?

My group consists of men and women from different walks of life – defense personnel, retired personnel (some older than 70) doctors, engineers, IT professionals, businessmen, and students.

Despite their busy schedule at work and home, they are very passionate about running and wake up early every day to start training. Since I also train with them it motivates them to give their best.

When you have such a lovely family like the PaceMakers and you see their passion, it gives me immense pleasure to be associated with such people and give them back whatever possible I can.

Under your leadership and guidance, the runners have made a mark for themselves in achieving their personal best in various events. How do you feel about that?

When my runners achieve their personal best performance, it gives me immense satisfaction that I was instrumental in bringing about some change in them. I teach them to believe in their self, feel confident and motivate them further to achieve even bigger goals.

What is the one thing you tell your trainees?

Be consistent– not just in running but in whatever you do in life. Do that and the rest will automatically follow.

What are your future plans for this group?

My future plans for the group are to see more and more people take up running or any form of exercise to keep themselves healthy.

I also want to see more people from my group qualify and participate in major marathons around the world such as the Boston, New York, Berlin, London or Tokyo and also take up ultra-running. For me, Boston is very special as it has a rich history of 122 years and for an amateur runner, this is like qualifying for the Olympics.

That was Coach Pani with some very interesting points and the key takeaways from that interview are:

  1. Be disciplined,
  2. Don’t forget your warm up before and cooling down after any workout– the key to preventing injuries and
  3. Be consistent.

A good coach is successful when they accomplish one thing: helping their trainees in achieving their goals. This thought is what drives Coach Pani every day.

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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What to eat when training for a marathon

Wondering what to eat during your marathon training cycle? Getting your training diet spot on will help you go that extra mile says our Guest Columnist, Shailja Sridhar.

The commitment needed to train for a marathon usually means that you will be running a lot more regularly and the mileage increasing with each run. It also means that you need extra rest and nutrition to recover from all that training you undergo.

Achieving your Ideal Race weight

Most often, you are not at an ideal racing weight and it becomes all the more important to watch what you eat and how much you consume during the training cycle so you get that optimum balance and do not gain weight.

Losing too much weight has an adverse effect on your ability to manage your training runs. It is good to have a fair idea of the weight you want to lose and build a training plan and the nutrition required to achieve your goal. At first, check your current weight and calculate the ideal racing weight you want to be at. This helps in tracking how many calories you burn during your workouts to get a daily minimum calorie count. One should realize that creating too much of a calorie deficit can harm the performance and recovery.

Fulfilling your nutrition needs during training

There are some general guidelines you need to keep in mind during the training cycle to ensure you fulfill your nutrition needs and also feel energized for the training sessions. Now is the best time to try out different foods and other supplements to understand how your body adapts to new foods and plan accordingly for the race day.

A high protein breakfast with some carbs on the days of training would be a good start. That third slice of toast might be good on the long run days but should be avoided as part of your regular diet as carbohydrates tend to get stored as fat in our body if not utilized properly.

There are various sources of protein which could be a part of your diet. Eggs, amaranth, peanuts and oats are all good sources of protein. Adding a handful of nuts and seeds (like chia, hemp, sunflower or flax) to the bowl of oats or amaranth porridge is a good way to increase the protein intake. The best way is to closely watch your diet and plan the meals right from the start of your training cycle so it becomes a becomes a habit eventually.

 

It can be very tempting to indulge in junk food cravings especially after a run but one should realize that it is not really a good idea to do that very often. You don’t really burn that many calories while running because your body gets efficient over time.

An average runner burns about 100 calories per mile of running and it does not depend on the speed of the run. It can vary a little depending on the current weight but not too much. The empty calories in junk food will neither help in recovery nor will they be good for you in the long run.

Timing your food intake

Another essential part of training is to time your food intake and most people tend to ignore it. There is a 30-minute window after a workout when your body is very receptive to replenishment of its glycogen reserves and consuming some simple carbs and proteins will aid recovery for your next workout. The electrolytes we lose during the workout also need to be replaced else you end up getting a headache or experience excessive fatigue. I have often suffered dehydration headaches as I failed to replenish my body with lost electrolytes post my workout session. You experience this more in cooler climates where you don’t feel the exhaustion after a run or aware of the extent of the loss.

A healthy diet with lots of green vegetables and fruits is necessary for our long-term goals. We need good fats and enough protein to aid muscle recovery and carbs to fuel our long runs.

The use of commercial products is not necessary but certainly more convenient to manage the post workout nutrition and recovery. There are various options available with varying levels of protein and carbs but choosing one that suits your needs is important. It is always good to be picky when choosing supplements. We should always be picky about things we are putting in our bodies. Eating high-quality real food is essential and do not only rely on sports nutrition supplements to fulfill your dietary requirements. Nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, and veggies are better for us as they are a part of a complete wholesome meal plan which keeps us feeling full for longer and reduces hunger pangs and food cravings.

My personal diet plan

Fruits with seeds and strawberry yogurt

Mixed Greens tossed with apples, nuts, olives with lemon honey dressing

 

Chicken, veggies, greens and millets.

 

 

 

My food habits are not the best but I try to eat clean most of the time. My breakfast is usually two or three egg omelette with some peanut butter toast or a ragi dosa with chutney and fruits. Oats/lentils savoury pancakes is another regular favourite breakfast item. Sometimes I like a nice hot oats porridge with nuts, berries and pomegranate seeds to sweeten it. I eat a huge bowl of seasonal fruits with my breakfast without fail. Hot cooked breakfast is usually a given for me.

I have a few different recipes of salads that I make regularly for my between the meals snack and they contain a good mixture of soaked, occasionally sprouted and boiled lentils, and lots of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds to add taste. I am constantly hungry and it is important to fill myself with something that I like which satisfies my hunger cravings and provides the nutrition I need. Carrot and cucumber sticks are another regular snack with some dip or hummus or cream cheese if want to indulgence a little.

Half my plate is usually veggies or salad during mealtimes and it wasn’t easy when I started but it has become a habit with time. Veggies, salads, lentils, soup and some meat occasionally are my main meals while training for a marathon.

Few pointers to keep in mind while training for a marathon:

  • Make a plan for nutrition along with the training plan and stick to it. Please remember that good nutritious meals are an essential part of training.
  • Check your weight regularly and keep track of the changes. Get a blood test done to ensure that there are no deficiencies.
  • Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, lentils, and grains usually have everything we need to fulfill our body’s requirements.
  • Use sports nutrition during the training to get the body used to it for the race day. Good idea to experiment in the training stages so that there are no nasty surprises later.
  • Protein and carbs are essential for recovery and the ratio depends on the weight and the goals of training. High protein diet is good for muscle recovery but a good store for carbohydrates is necessary for the endurance runs.
  • Junk food has to be strictly controlled and monitored. An occasional treat is acceptable but as long as the calories are taken into account when planning your meals.
  • Use sports drinks and electrolyte-rich drinks after a workout to recover quickly for the next day. There are lots of options available in the market and it is good to check the nutritional information on the label in detail before consuming them.

Fuelling options a day before and on race day

I usually have a very sensitive stomach so I keep it very simple before the marathon. I try to stay extra hydrated for a few days before the run. Heavy breakfast on the day before the race, a carb-rich lunch (usually bland pasta) and a light dinner consisting of soup and a light salad or just a dinner roll work best for me. Not everyone is the same and I have runner friends who eat a proper carb-rich meal for dinner too and manage pretty well. Marathon day breakfast is a bagel or toast with some peanut butter and some black coffee. I carry a banana to the start line to eat about half an hour before the run starts.

Wholesome natural meals are always a good idea and mindfulness helps in several ways. The rules of good nutrition remain the same for everyone and it makes a big difference in the way your body responds to the increased training load. Having a constant check on your weight and paying attention to your meals helps us see those changes you want to see in your body.

It is always good to start slow and make gradual changes to move towards the kind of diet you need and soon eating healthier meals becomes a habit. Try not to compare with others because each person is different and there is no single ideal diet you could follow. It might seem difficult to keep track of so many things at first and follow the training plan but it gets a lot easier with practice.

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Shailja is a mother of 2 kids and a part time model for a sustainable brand close to her heart called www.kinche.com. She’s either running after the kids or running to stay sane.

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Run to Finish

The right mental boost can get you across every finish line, writes Nandini Reddy.

Being in a corral full of enthusiastic runners with the announcer calling time and music blaring and flags swinging, it’s only natural that you get pumped up and rush right out at a faster pace than you planned earlier. The swift start can hold for a while but you will tire out and eventually miss your goal time or even give up before the finish line. So is there a more efficient way to run?

Yes, there is. Instead of bursting out of the gates you should run conservatively. Save your energy for the end and the last few miles will not seem as impossible as they do. So here is what you need to do in order to finish strong.

Set the Pace

The idea is to start at an easy pace and then speed up. As a rough guideline start at a pace that is 30 seconds slower than usual and then build up to your goal time. The longer the distance the more time you can reduce from your initial distance. As you slowly increase the speed your confidence builds. Going out too fast may cause you will hit fatigue fast as well.

Turn it Up

Break the distance into parts. Set a particular pace target for each part. The idea is the run the last few km at an even pace. Splitting the running distance is a great way to approach the course and finishing each section will boost your confidence level and take you across the final finish line with ease.

Push the Boundaries

Practice the splits during your training runs. You can always make up the lost seconds in the first few split parts towards the end. Gaining a couple of seconds in the last few km will put you back on track to finish in your goal timing. For example, if you are 25 seconds off during the first km then you need to make up by 2 seconds for every mile after to compensate.

Run Better

You should ideally be able to talk comfortably when you are running. That is the right pace you need to be running at. If you are running out of breath or unable to talk comfortably then your pace is all wrong.

Gradually build your confidence during the training runs and be more prudent about how you use your energy.

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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Should you listen to music during a run?

There is an impact from listening to music during your run, so should you or shouldn’t you, asks Nandini Reddy.

Science supports listening to music while you run. But there are several pros and cons that you need to consider before pumping up the jam. Music can be a huge motivator especially when you need to keep motivation up. But let us consider two kinds of people – those who don’t listen to music and those who do.

Don’t Listen to Music

Runners who used to run with music have now stopped because of the constant irritation and distraction of the headphones. For some people the music works more as a barrier than an enhancement as it diverts their attention from their body. A lot of runners even consider it a safety hazard as we don’t pay attention to the ambient noises that might be important for our safety. Trail runners do not use music and they want to enjoy being part of nature.

Breathing

We need to focus on our breathing while we run. Runners should have a deep breathing technique that involves diaphragmatic breathing. When your mind is distracted by music it is less likely that you will focus on your breathing. That means you switch to breathing from your chest. This sort of shallow breathing limits the delivery and circulation of oxygen.

The pain of Earphones

There are earphones that are particularly built for running. But despite all the design enhancements earphone can be an irritation and a distraction. The time runners spend in adjusting and setting the earphones in a comfortable position distracts them from the task of running.

In Favour of Music

There is a science behind using music to enhance your running performance. Research has shown that music increases concentration and provides ongoing motivation. Runners have also said that it feels like less effort when they run to music. They are also able to maintain a comfortable tempo when the right kind of music is played. Fast paced and motivating music is the key to a positive run.

A list of the pros of running with music

  • Pumps you up for your runs
  • Sets a consistent tempo
  • Runs feel easier
  • Motivated to run more
  • Positive Influence on mood

While we consider the pros we also need to consider the cons

  • Might not help you get the right pace for your race
  • Distraction from headphones
  • Unsafe as it blocks out your surrounding noise
  • Disconnects you from nature
  • Might undermine the benefits of the running experience

Music or no music – whichever you choose just enjoy your run.

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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Running and Giving

Guest Columnist Tarun Walecha talks about how running introduced him to sharing his passion with others and supporting them. 

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”…Winston Churchill

Our lives are a constant evolution driven by our experiences and our passion. Our circumstances drive us, and our intent keeps firing up the desire to evolve into the individual we see ourselves as. Running happened to me in the similar course of life, though I must admit I had no clue of where it would take me eventually. An extension of fitness regime would go on to become a pivoted gear of my thought process and being, was something I could not even fathom even in my most lateral imagination.

RUNXTREME: The beginning

When I started running in 2011, often I was left for the want of company. Therefore, either I had to run solo or drive up long distance for a tiny run that I could manage. Facebook groups weren’t as prevalent, and those available weren’t as active. Four years of hopping around, running with various groups and partners I wasn’t able to find a steady, bankable and invigorating company. That is when, along with some like minded running buddies I thought of forming a running group of our own, we called it RUNXTREME and we wanted it to be the first source of any running related information a new runner may need. We wanted it to be easily reachable source for every aspiring runner… for all the hand holding they may need,  abate their anxieties, run along when they need and share all one can, so they could move up the ladder fast and not meander in the path.

RUNXTREME is in its fourth year already, needless to say I’m more that happy about the way it has evolved as a group. Not just for others, but it has also been instrumental in giving me a direction of where I want my life to be, and how running can be a driving force for the same. In 2016, while I was going through a turbulent phase, embroiled in the labyrinth of my thoughts, trying to find a purposeful headway with running.

Share & Care

I discovered Share & Care. As a part of that initiative, I decided to run 7 Half Marathons distance runs, on 7 consecutive days, in different parts of Delhi NCR. The aim was not to prove my physical prowess, but to create awareness for fitness and raise support for budding athletes from marginalised section of society. The support I got from the entire running community was overwhelming and only compelled me to repeat the same in 2017 in a bigger way. While that journey continues to be evolved as does my search for the way forward, a chance encounter with kids cycling on a Sunday morning, incited the thought of pushing the envelope. Instead of waiting for an annual extravaganza I wanted to do this year long.

A little bit of prodding my own thoughts and looking around took me to NAZ FOUNDATION (INDIA) TRUST, where I got to spend some time with the children they train, not only to become sports person but better, confident and self-assured individual through the medium of sports. What matters is that it doesn’t just end at a park game for the kids, over period of time NAZ FOUNDATION has actually formed a national level league for these kids. A Net Ball tournament which happens at district level, then state and eventually culminates into a national level competition. This entire journey from playing in their backyards to the expanse of a sports arena can itself widen their perspective to life, let alone the confidence and trust in themselves that they gain. Whether they turn up to be national sports champions or not becomes secondary against the new life that this entire process opens up to them. This seemed to be a logical progression where our group could foresee an integration and join them to be a part of this inspiring journey.

Running Charity

With the support of my fellow team mates, and the entire RUNXTRME community, we have decided to make their dream ours, and support NAZ FAOUNDATION in this endeavour. As we head into the running season, with the biggest run of the country ADHM approaching us, we would be raising funds for them so that could move ahead on this path unencumbered. With the help of friends and acquaintances, whom we shall urge to contribute towards this, it’s not the money that we will be offering…it’s a belief that we will reinstate, it’s courage to dream that we will instill.

I wish, hope and believe, this step towards supporting NAZ FOUNDATION at ADHM would only be a beginning of many more dreams to be realized.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

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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.

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Not Another Brick in The Wall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Motivation Comments (2) |

Leadership Lessons from a Marathon

Marathon’s do more than just test your endurance, they give you valuable leadership lessons writes Nandini Reddy

Everyone takes to marathon running for different reasons. Some do it for health purposes, some for passion and some for the challenge they offer. But if you pay closer attention you will realise that it offers you important leadership lessons that you can apply back to your team and business.

Here are the five leadership lessons every marathon teaches you

Determination to execute an idea

Your decision to run a marathon most of the time happens out of the blue. Many runners start from zero at the beginning of a year and end up cracking goal timings by the year end marathon. This achievement usually has relentless training and a methodical plan. In a professional context this applies to executing projects and ideas. Methodical planning, goal-setting and time management are qualities you learn on the running track and can be applied to your work. Focus on the plan and commitment to achieving goals can also be replicated in a work situation.

Step wise approach

When you start training, you begin with a run walk combination and then slowly progress to running short distances then running for a longer time and then finally to running a fully marathon. This step wise approach helps you reach the ambitious goal of completing the distance of 42kms. This same logic applies to teamwork on projects in the office which requires a step-by-step approach to measure progress.

Encouraging others

When you trying to finish such a competitive and high endurance event, encouragement goes a long way. During marathons shouts of encouragement from spectators along the way and even fellow runners can boost your energy when you are struggling along the course and help you cross the finish line. In a corporate environment people spend more time pulling each other down rather than encouraging each other. Only when we mutually encourage each other’s progress can we build a positive work environment.

Avoiding Burnout

Runners know the importance of rest and recovery in between their rigorous training sessions. Injury can lead to frustration. Similarly, in a work situation if we need to achieve our goals for a project you cannot over stress your team and expect high quality work. You need recovery breaks that energise the team and as a runner you will understand the importance of these breaks.

Achieve and Repeat

Its never enough to run a single marathon. Every time you cross the finish line you will be itching to run the next. Marathoners hardly ever say that they never want to run another marathon. Even as they are receiving their medals for completing a marathon, their mind is already planning for the next one. This attitude is important at work and that sort of motivation keeps the creative juices of your team flowing and always ready to take on challenges at work.

Finally, if runners didn’t have fun they would never run. The same applies to your work, if you and your team have fun on the job you are less likely to have attrition and will achieve better results on each project.

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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