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Off Season Training

The biggest marathon season now is done but the off-season might just be the key to better performance writes Nandini Reddy.

So you have spent the last few months running your favourite marathons across the country. In a few you have achieved goal timing and in a few others you raced for the first time. Whether you ran 10k, 21k or a full marathon, you most likely had trained intensely for 4-8 weeks to achieve your goal. So now that the major marathon’s are over, how do you prepare for the next season?

The off season is one of the most critical periods for a marathoner. Here is a step wise method that you can use to be a better marathoner when the next season comes around.

Resist the urge to Run

There will be marathons throughout the year but try and resist running for a few weeks after your big race. If you want to run races then do it closer to the season for the longer distances and run short distances like 5k more often. The urge to run can be heavy but resisting it for a while will do you more good.

Take a break

All marathoners need at least 4-6 weeks of recovery time and rest in order to bring their mind and body back to its healthy state after putting them under stress for the past few months whole racing and prepping for marathons. This time will help heal injuries and also prevent mental and physical burnout. You will also have the time to analyze your previous runs and identify areas of improvement.

Set Fresh goals

Chalk up a new training plan. Your stamina and your body have changed owing to the past training sessions. You have a new level of fitness to achieve now and your timings and training modules need to change accordingly. Bring in a coach on board if you can to make your sessions more useful. Pick a specific set of big races that you want to run in the year and work your training plan leading up to those goals.

Keep Moving

This essentially means that you do not run but you keep moving by picking up another form of exercise. Pick a cross-training or strength training routine. If you need the high of exhaustion then pick a high intensity workout like zumba or pilates.

Rework your nutrition

The off-season is a good time to try a new nutrition plan. You can experiment with the help of a dietitian and see if you can find food combinations that increase your energy levels. You can also try out new recipes and find a whole new nutrition plan that will fuel your training sessions and make you a fitter runner.

Smart athletes have a training plan that will always have a built-in recovery plan. Use the beginning of the off-season to set all this in place so that when you train again you come back stronger and fitter.

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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Marathoner Unlimited

Capt Seshadri shares the story of Paula Jean Radcliffe, marathon runner extraordinaire, who has become the undisputed queen of long distance running. 

Three-time winner of the London Marathon. Three-time New York Marathon champion. Topper at the Chicago Marathon. Current world record holder, with a time that has not been broken in 15 years.  And a world record in the 10k with an astonishing time of 30:21!

Paula Jane Radcliffe, MBE, is an extraordinary Englishwoman, who overcame bouts of asthma and anaemia, to become the undisputed queen of the ultimate long distance run. Born on December 17, 1973 at Cheshire, Paula began her foray into running from the tender age of seven, alongside her father while he trained for his marathons, first as a competitive athlete and later as a hobby, to lose weight after giving up smoking.

Training under Alex Stanton, an experienced and talented coach, Paula, despite her frail frame and relatively small size, first tasted victory as a junior in 1992 at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Boston, despite suffering from what was diagnosed as exercise induced asthma coupled with a history of anaemia. Competing in the Great North Cross Run, Paula defeated the defending champion by 25 seconds, finishing the race in 8 inches of snow.

In 2002, she stepped up her sights to the full marathon, winning the London Marathon on debut, with a record time of 2:18:55. The same year, she literally sprinted across the finish line in 2:17:18 in Chicago, setting a new world record and breaking the existing one by over 90 seconds. Her still standing world record of 2:15:25 was set amidst controversy at the London Marathon of April 2003, the debate being fuelled by the fact that she used two men runners to assist in pacing her. The record was rescinded, but better sense prevailed and the organisers soon had it reinstated.

In London in 2005, Paula was afflicted with a bad stomach cramp, while halfway through the course. In pain and a with horrifying need for a break, Paula had her most embarrassing moment when she had to relieve herself by the roadside, without shelter from the crowd or the cameras.  The iron hearted lady went on to win the event in a world beating time of 2:17:42. A red faced Paula later apologised, but the sporting media went on to describe it as the top running moment in history.

Paula Radcliffe was an unconventional runner who never set limits or timings for the stages of the run. Her mantra was: Run your best as long as you feel good. Why set limits? Why slow down when you are running your best? Probably, the most important lesson marathoners could learn from her is to discard their timing devices and run their hearts out sans stages or limits.

In 2010, she was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame, an honour richly deserved. Paula Radcliffe ended her competitive running career with the London Marathon in 2015, as an athlete supreme, a runner without limits.

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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Is Running Good for Children?

If your kid loves to run, or if you want to encourage your child to be a runner, read on to know about safe running practices for kids, says Radhika Meganathan

There is no doubt that regular exercise and an active lifestyle is good for kids. It’s easier for them to learn good habits when they are young, and what’s more, kids are natural runners. Running fortifies bones, musculo-lumbar co-ordination, and toughens muscles and tendons. Most importantly, it is fun. So little wonder that your little one loves to run!

Still, we should not forget that children’s bodies are not fully developed and they need special attention if they want to indulge in running as a dedicated sport. The Journal of Athletic Training mentions in one of its articles that:

  1. Children absorb the impact of running less effectively than adults. Less absorption means bigger impact to bones, joints, and soft tissue – all pointing to higher risk of injury.
  2. Kids bodies’ have not learned to acclimatize or climate control, so they won’t take to running in extreme heat or cold as well as adults do.
  3. Kids lumbar and hand-eye co-ordination is not as well developed as adults, especially in the beginning of their running phase.

So – should you train the little champ in your life? Or is it too risky? If your kid is already an enthusiastic runner, how much training is good for them? And what if they lose interest as they reach teenage or adulthood?

In general, medical opinion seems to be that runners under the age of 16 should not participate in any event longer than a 10K. That actually leaves plenty of distance for those little feet to cover! When young kids are concerned, the focus should be on enjoyment, rather than rigor or intensity. Here are some tips to get your kid run without missing all the fun:

  1. Get your child involved in running-related games, rather that straight line running. Opt for speed training, which will help them well into adulthood.
  2. Vary the running. Get your kid to sprint, hurdle, do track work and even cross country! This way, they will develop as an all-round runner.
  3. One size does not fit all. Some kids are active in the day, some in the evening, some can get going for hours while some get tired very easily. Figure out what works for your kid and let them practice around that.
  4. Kids being kids, might not remember to do the right warming up exercises, or drink enough water during running. Make sure they get trained in these pre- and post-run techniques as well.
  5. If there is a running club in their school, get your kid enrolled in the program. Your kid will get to run with his friends, under the supervision of the school coach who will make sure your kid follow the right running routines.

In case you really find a winning spark in your kid and they are also equally passionate about running, the best way forward would be to let them train under a qualified Athletics coach.

Can your child race?

For most marathons, the minimum age is usually between 16 -18. If your kid is younger, the you can include them in the fun runs or family run categories that range from 1km to 5km. There is also the option of introducing them to marathons through kid events like – Kidathons. If your child is just starting off but if a decent runner then use this reference guidelines to plan your races.

Under 4 years old – 400 m

Age 5-6 – 800 m

Age 7-8 – 1-3 km

Age 9-15 – 3- 5 km

Age 16+ – 5- 10km

Do not worry that your kid might lose interest later in running. The main objective now must be to imbibe in your kid the habit of physical activity a regular routine, giving them a solid foundation that they carry it well into their adult life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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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Kilometre cubed

Juggling two of the toughest mental and physical challenges, Ranjith Vijayan has demonstrated the power of the human will. Capt Seshadri shares his fascinating story. 

A few years ago, before mobiles took over the gaming world, one could spot young and old alike, in any place at any time, twirling their hands around a six coloured cube, the brainchild of Hungarian professor and inventor Erno Rubik. Competitions galore have been held to see who could solve it fastest, who could break the puzzle blindfolded and many such innovative variations to make the solving tougher and more interesting.

But a probably lesser known fact is that there is a Guinness record featuring who can solve the Rubik cube the maximum number of times while running a marathon. While the elite runners of the world complete the gruelling 42.2 km in just over 2 hours, amateur runners place themselves in various pace categories, with some of the elder participants completing in up to 6 hours. And as if the mere running and completion weren’t effort enough by themselves, the Rubik cube solving marathoner has to complete the race in under 5 hours. And all the while, she or he has to be constantly solving the puzzle as quickly as possible.

The official world record holder for this unique feat is held by New Zealander Blair Williamson, who accurately turned the colours 254 times. Now, an athlete from another continent, our own Asia and quite close to home, is making valiant attempts to break this record. Ranjith, a runner from Singapore, could be spotted during the Tata Mumbai Marathon this January 21, with a Rubik cube in hand and a mini camera strapped to his chest to record his feat. His professorial look, augmented by a beard, probably disguised his athletic prowess; but his goal was clear: break the record.

Ranjith came to the finish line well within the stipulated five hours. In his estimation, he solved the puzzle 262 times, a feat which he reiterates he has achieved during practice runs. However, the world has to wait for the Guinness officials to read the images from his camera and count the number of times he solved the cube.

Whether he actually broke the record, time and the record books will inform us. But the fact will remain that he was the only runner in the Mumbai Marathon who attempted this feat. Of the 45,000 runners, few would know this fact; of the thousands of spectators who lined the streets to cheer the participants, even fewer might have noticed his hands constantly twisting the little cube.

While the athletes who won the events received well deserved accolades and publicity for their stupendous effort, the little known Ranjith deserves recognition for what he set to achieve. When there is no one to compete against, that is when the true spirit of the sportsman comes to the fore, to set personal objectives and to breach borders.

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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Slow down to speed up

Runners tend to train too hard and too often and that may not lead to the results you want, writes Nandini Reddy.

If you have ever seen elite athletes training the first thing you might notice is that they don’t run fast. In fact if you did accompany them on their training days you might even be able to keep up. If you think it isn’t possible then you haven’t been introduced to the benefits of low intensity training for marathons.

Why do runners need to train slow?

The answer is rather simple really. Runners run a whole lot more and when its training season before marathon season then they run nearly everyday. So imagine running at your full pace capability every day – what do you think would happen? You are more likely to burnout than get a better race timing. Increasing your average weekly mileage is more important than running faster. You are also less likely to burnout or be injured if you focus on number of kilometres run rather than how fast you run.

How do you distribute the intensity of your runs?

In an ideal situation, you need to run 3 moderate paced runs, one medium intensity run and 1 high intensity run in a week. The moderate paced runs should focus on distance and you need to ensure you make most of your weekly target kms in those runs. The high intensity run is about pacing and timing. Even if you run a short distance focus on on consistent pace.

If you were to measure the intensity of a standard runner, you will see that they never do low intensity runs. Most of their runs are distributed between medium to high intensity which means you are driving yourself to fatigue rather quickly. Elite runners run at low intensity nearly 80% of their training time and only run in high intensity for 10% of their training time.

So how can you control your run intensity?

Whether you are running in a group or alone there are ample wearable devices that you can use to monitor your runs.

Find a Coach

If you are serious about becoming a strong runner then signing up with a coach till you find your flow is a good idea. They will bring in a discipline into your training plans and will hold your accountable. Technically the coach doesn’t have to run with you. You can also have a virtual relationship where you get guidelines and report back on progress with statistics.

Heart Rate based plans

Try to plan your runs according to the heart rate training zones. Any good running coach can give you the basics of how this plan works and with your wearable devices (most of which monitor heart rate to a decent degree of accuracy) you can track your training intensity.

Monitor your work

Using the wearable devices and running apps, monitor your work. You can compare your before and after using these tools effectively. Most running apps store your runs indefinitely until you choose to delete them so they make for a great way to reference you performance as you train.

So if you have been pushing yourself to achieve your goal times everyday then you need to stop and re-evaluate your training program and also rest your over-stressed muscles.

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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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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Is Running for Everyone?

Radhika Meganathan on why running may not work for everyone and how you can still run despite all your misgivings.

Here’s the bad news. Running is not for everyone.

It’s not for those who just don’t to do the hard work. Running requires a certain passion and dedication, and if you are not willing to put in the effort, running is not for you.

It’s not for those who lead such hectic lives that they find it too much troublesome to plan a regular training schedule.

And, regrettably, running may not for those who have a physical ailment like severe joint issues, respiratory problems or heart disease.

The good news is, most people can run if they can make time and space for it in their lives. A lot of amateur runners have some fears about taking up running for the first time. In this article, we will debunk certain myths and misconceptions related to running:

I am too sore after running: One of the common mistakes beginner runners do is to go too fast in their eagerness to master the sport. Often, they take up running after decades long sedentary behavior, forgetting that it will take our body a minimum of three months to even up to a year to get used to a fitness sport like running. Hence, soreness should not be a reason to quit running! You need to work with the idea that it will get better with time. Take rest days as much as you need. At least in beginning, run on softer surfaces. Warm up and cool down longer but within two minutes of running. Take care of your soreness by soaking your feet in Epson salt bath or placing ice packs on your sore joints.

I have stiff joints and I’m scared running will damage my knees. This is a common misconception. Running does NOT wear out your knees. In fact, research has proven that runners have less risk of hip and knee problems, mostly because of their lower body weight. Running also helps cartilage to grow, not wear it out, and actually can protect you from arthritis. If you have any doubts, talk to a qualified physiotherapist in your locality.

I cannot afford high end running gear. You don’t need to have fancy or state of the art gear to start running! Running is one of the most affordable sport and all you need is a pair of good (not branded or expensive) shoes to get started.

I don’t have a good running track or park in my neighbourhood. This is where the treadmill comes into play – you can run on it within the comfort of your home or closest gym. You can also try running in the streets during early hours of the day. And if you are serious about running, we highly recommend you put in that extra effort a few times a week, get up a little early and travel via your own or public transportation to the locality that does have a good running track or park.

I am too old to run. No, you are not. Fauja Singh used to run in his early age but had quit it. After moving to UK, he started running again – after a break of 65 years. He first took part in the London marathon at age 90, and he again ran the same marathon at age 101 and finished in 7 hours 49 minutes! You are restricted by only your attitude and your fears, so work on them and you can start running.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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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Importance of pre-race meal

Raghul Trekker gives you nutritional advice before the most celebrated marathon in India, the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

If you are a marathoner and if you live in India, you wouldn’t want to miss the Tata Mumbai Marathon. It is the most celebrated marathon considering the huge local support from the Government, Police, general public, etc. Also, you get to see some lightening elite runners (probably overtaking you at some point of your run). Many runners peak their training towards this race and target their personal best at this grand stage. The environment makes it possible too.

If it is your target race, you definitely need a proper strategy on your pre-race meal for which, we have to look into some calorie calculation. In general, the calorie expended by a person while running can be approximately measured using body weight and distance run. For sample calculation, I am considering a 65 kg runner

Body weight * distance run ≈ energy expended in calorie

65 kg * 42 km ≈ 2730 calorie

Almost everyone concentrates on their race week carb loading but surprisingly forgets their pre-race meal. It is more important than your race week nutrition. This amount of calorie, on an empty stomach, would all be supplied from the energy reserve which is usually somewhere near 2000 calorie which will be expended when you run a little over 30 km. Does it ring any bell? Yes, I am talking about the wall of a marathon. This is why people bonk between 30 & 35 km mark.

A pre-race meal of 500 calorie is a good way to start a race day with this being 90 min before the race start if it is solid food or 15-30 min before race start if it is liquid food.

Now that we have understood some numbers related to how much is expended and how much is to be consumed, it is time to understand the breakage of consumption in terms of fat and carbs. For a marathon, we can expect finish times of 120 min to 360 min range. With this we can recommend the following (the below calculations are based on heart rate zones)

  1. Fast runners 120-150 min: a high carb pre-race meal with a shot of caffeine. The carbs being a mixture of high GI and low GI.
  2. Intermediate runners 150-200 min: a high carb pre-race meal & little bit of fat. The carbs being low GI.
  • Slow runners 200 min or above: a carb & fat mixed pre-race meal. The carbs being low GI.

Fast runners 120-150 min

Cereals with almond milk, grapes, banana, white bread with jam and other high GI foods. The high GI carbs will provide fast release of energy. A shot of caffeine from coffee, caffeinated salt capsules, caffeinated energy drinks, etc.

Intermediate runners 150-200 min

Fruits like apple, pears, oranges, yoghurt, grainy bread and other low GI foods in combination with cereals, grapes, banana and other high GI foods. The low GI carbs will provide slow release of energy for a prolonged period.

Slow runners 200 min & above

Grainy bread with peanut butter, cheese, avocado, nuts like almonds, pistachio, cashew, groundnuts with almond milk, millets and other fat & carb mixed meal. The fat will supply energy for the slow runners because they will use more of fat while running at low HR zones than the faster runners. So, this fact cannot be overlooked.

Consider the above points and put yourself into one of the categories to suit an apt pre-race meal for your upcoming marathon. Since the race starts at 0540 hrs, I would consume a semi solid pre-race meal at around 0445 hrs after a long 8 hour sleep.

With a little bit of smartness, you can do a lot better

All the best for your PB.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raghul Trekker is the Head Coach at Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn (a unit of Dhaamz Sports & Entertainment Pvt Ltd). 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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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.

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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