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Conquering the Mumbai Marathon

The 15 time Mumbai Full Marathon finisher Girish Mallya talks to Protima Tiwary about what it takes to tackle the most prestigious marathon circuit in the country. 

When you meet Girish Mallya, you see a jovial, humble and super fit man, all of 42, with the energy that will put a 25-year-old to shame. We sit down to talk to him about his passion- running- because it is no secret that running to him is as important as breathing air. In fact, he has run the Mumbai Marathon 15 times till date! Aside from being a professional runner, Girish works in the publishing industry, and is fondly known to many as a mentor and friend. Finisher Magazine caught up with Girish Mallya to know more about the science of running, with the aim to inspire all those who’re gearing up for marathon season.

When did you run your first marathon?

My first race ever was the full marathon, in the first edition of the Mumbai Marathon in 2004.

What made you take up running professionally?

I have been running since the age of 15. My earliest recollection of running would be of completing 3km-5km runs thrice a week on a jogging track in Colaba Woods (Mumbai) This inspired me to take part in all the long distance races in India that were being held back then (sadly not too many) I also took part in adventure marathons. I slowly moved on to ultra-marathons but the game changer was the Marathon Des Sables, arguably one the toughest foot races on earth. The transition from being an amateur runner to a professional one happened in 2013 when I was preparing for the Marathon Des Sables Race and hoping to be the first Indian national to successfully complete this race.

This placed me in a professional category, and I received the support of many corporate firms who sponsored my runs, and I also diversified into giving motivational and fitness related talks at Corporate firms.

What has been the highlight of your marathon career?

It most definitely has to be the Marathon Des Sables (MDS) race in Morocco in 2013.

As a runner, what is the one quality that defines you?

It’s the ability to keep charging ahead, to never give up. Even if I am having a bad run day during a race, I power on and end up surprising myself. Giving up is never an option, not in a race, not in life.

What have you learnt from your best and worst races?

Best races teach you so much, but it is the bad ones that teach you even more. Best races will show you how strong you really are, and how to maximise your strengths. Bad races are important too. I have learnt an important life lesson in my bad races, and it is that failure is important. Bad races have taught me how to deal with failure. They have shown me how failure is a stepping stone towards success, and you need to keep on charging ahead to rebuild yourself. Running teaches you to believe in yourself.

 You’ve been running the Mumbai Marathon since its inception. You have now completed it 15 times! How has this marathon changed in the last few years?

It’s improved with each passing year! Initially, it used to start at 7:30 am, and today for the non-elite runners it starts at 5:40 am. I think that is a huge improvement. Even the size of the marathon has grown. From three-digit number of finishers to over 3000 finishers today, the participants have increased exponentially. It speaks volumes about the quality and management of the race.

Has your training changed in the last 15 years?

For me running is pure pleasure. I really do not run scientifically or train specifically. You’ll find me running an average of 50km per week, with 4 runs a week, all year round. Running is my stress buster, it calms me down when I am angry, and it makes me feel positive and invincible. I actually have withdrawals symptoms if I miss out on my run even for a week.

They say consistency is key. But how do you maintain this consistent pace throughout a run?

In running, a consistent pace is more about discipline than anything else. It’s about not pushing unreasonably and maintaining heart rate consistency, throughout your training runs. So that you can train your body to run better without pushing your HR. That is true endurance for me. You need to train at getting disciplined. You might have the energy to run fast, but you need the discipline to keep the energy in control in order to finish the race. This comes with practice of course.

What are the other training methods that you use to stay fit?

Strength building and core conditioning are important for a runner. I rely on free hand exercises and cross training to keep up overall strength levels.

How do you suggest training for the upcoming Mumbai Marathon?

I recommend you start with choosing your races carefully. You must aim at gradual improvement and distance and time. Choose from 10k, 21k or 42k and then start training with a certified trainer, a running group or even enroll for an online training program if that suits you because professional training will give you an insight into the technicalities that are required to run a marathon. With the help of certified experts, you can build a training program that suits your fitness levels.  If budget is a constraint, check out marathon training with Halhigdon that provides various training programs based on your fitness levels and timing goals.

How does one manage training in this corporate world, with “lack of time” bringing us all down? Where do we find the motivation from?

If it is important to you, you will be able to manage time for training! Just like you have time to eat or sleep, you need time for exercise too, it isn’t optional at all! Of course, schedules can get hectic and it isn’t always possible to enjoy a long run or intense gym session, but there are simple things that can make life easier. For example, choose a gym that’s close to your house. That way distance won’t get you lazy! Also, use public transport instead of personal transport (only if it is a practical option) as this ensures you walk around a small distance daily.  If budget isn’t a constraint, get a personal trainer who motivates you to get to the gym daily! Join a running group to stay motivated. Also, enjoy a workout that you like. Don’t join a gym because that’s the only way of getting fit. Do something that you love, and you will see that it is easier for you to motivate yourself. Try your hand at swimming, cycling, or try your hand at a sport like badminton, tennis, cricket etc. Experiment, and find something that doesn’t seem like you’re making an extra effort.

What’s your favorite track to run on?

I am an urban commuter, and urban roads are my favourite tracks.

How do you overcome negative thoughts while running a race?

Marathons don’t always go perfectly well, and negative thoughts do cross your mind once in a while. When the going gets tough, I usually find that the challenges have made the run interesting. I thrive on adversities, I take it one kilometre at a time but I complete the race. Never give up!

A marathon is a combination of mental and physical strength- any tips you’d like to share with us on how to stay strong during the race?

If you train hard and smart, that is more than half the job done. Before the race, sit down to review your strength and limitations, and mentally plan how to run the race (set your time, set distance milestones on your tracker) Also have a backup plan ready if in case things don’t go right; you might suffer a cramp or weather might not suit you, etc.  Go prepared, that’s all.

Leaves you inspired, doesn’t he? Follow @girishmallya on Twitter to know more about his experiences with life, the corporate world and running.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An Army kid who wishes to travel the world one wellness vacation at a time, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love and life, she is mildly obsessed about traveling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

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Picking between Nike and Adidas

Deepthi Velkur took to comparing two great running shoes to find out which one works best for you.

Finding the best-fitting running shoe among the innumerable choices at our local sports stores isn’t easy at all. To ensure you walk out a happy customer, you need to make sure the shoe fits properly from heel to toe and that it feels comfortable with your regular running stride.

All major sporting goods manufacturers from Nike to Adidas to Puma have spent millions in money and research time perfecting the running shoe and still continue to do so. It took Nike engineers, chemists and designers nearly 2 years before the company could release its Air VaporMax in February 2017. The shoe has an exaggerated bubble on the bottom paired with a sleek Flyknit upper, a combo that Nike claims results in the “most flexible Air Max ever.” How well does the VaporMax deliver on Nike’s promise of the “running on air” sensation from a functional standpoint – we will dive into that a little later in this article.

Adidas on the other hand had introduced its own big innovation in bouncy soles, the Boost cushioning platform and has become one of the company’s signature products – the Ultra Boost line of running shoes features a sock-like knit upper paired with a squishy, springy sole.

The rival shoes are so well-matched that they raise an inevitable conundrum for shoppers: Which one is better?

We set out to answer the question—and created a short checklist that makes a pretty good guide for rating any pair of running sneakers. The criteria include stats that affect performance, such as weight, but also things that matter to the average consumer, like price and the ease of adjusting the laces.

Fit

The Nike VaporMax is extremely lightweight and super flexible that gives you a custom fit feel and does not limit your natural movements. The shoe tends to be a little narrow but run true to size length wise.

The Ultra Boost boasts a Primeknit upper that provides for a customized fit for runners with narrow feet, however there have been concerns that the rigid frame can be a sloppy fit especially during fast paced runs.

Upper Comfort: The Flyknit material used on the VaporMax has more stretch to it which is welcome, given the somewhat constricting shape of the midfoot. This material gives the shoe that extra comfort, making it breathable and light weight. The Adidas primeknit material is flashy and non-abrasive but it is also hot and constricting. Also, the primeknit material gets waterlogged easily.

Stability: Adidas released the Ultra Boost with a staggering 27mm of Boost midsole which is unsupported by any material of a higher durometer. The effect is a slightly sloppy feel and you don’t feel like your feet are completely locked down but overall it does offer a comfortable and softer ride.

Nike on the other hand uses its Flywire system that holds your foot firmly in place and compresses your foot evenly. The traditional midsole is absent and the Flyknit upper sits directly on top of the Air bag.

Traction and Durability: The outsole of the VaporMax uses a durable rubber and also comes with extra rubber around the unit to help support it. The Ultra Boost, on the other hand, comes with a much more conventional sole and can be worn anywhere comfortably. The outsole of the Ultra Boost is made of continental rubber which helps in its durability and traction.

Underfoot Comfort: The VaporMax has a very bouncy ride and it does take some time getting used to. You also get the feeling on walking on stilts given its thick AirMax units. The Ultra Boost on the other hand is smooth and comfortable.

Price: The Ultra Boost is priced at INR 18,999 (https://www.adidas.co.in/) and the VaporMax at INR 18,995 (https://www.nike.com/in/en_gb/). Prices may vary basis the color and the model chosen.

Final thoughts – As much as the VaporMax might win from a style perspective, it probably won’t match up to the performance of the Adidas Ultra Boost. The numerous marathons won by the Boost clearly suggest a more effective performance platform than the Air.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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The First 2 hours after a Marathon

What to do and not to do right after finishing a marathon, writes Nandini Reddy.

Celebrate because you just finished a marathon, one of the best endurance challenges. Once you cross the finish line there are a few essential things you need to do in order to ensure that you do not hate yourself for running the marathon. It is best to have a game plan for recovery ready so that you are not regretting running the race tomorrow.

Don’t collapse to the floor

It might seem like an appealing idea to just drop to ground once you are across the finish line because legs must already be feeling like lead. But if you do not do that you will be doing yourself an enormous favour. When you just sit down or lie down once the race finishes you risk stiffening or pulling your muscle. As tempting as it might be, try and resist the urge until you have finished stretching. The best way to recover is slowly waking around the finisher’s holding area as it helps clear the excessive lactic acid that has build up in your muscles during the race.

Also since your body was working in the maximum heart rate zone, its never a good idea to abruptly stop because this will cause blood pooling in your legs and your blood pressure is also likely to drop. You will most likely feel dizzy or light-headed.

Drink, Drink, Drink – only Water

The moment you finish the race, your top priority should be to re-hydrate yourself. You can use running salts tablets also an active way to recover along with water. The amount of fluid you need depends on the length of the race, the weather conditions and how much fluid you drank during the race. If you want to know if you are hydrated well then just go for the old urine colour test. If your urine is dark yellow then you are dehydrated.

Stretch it out

Do static stretches that focus on your quads, hamstrings and calf muscles. Hold the stretches for 6 long inhales and exhales. These stretches will promote better blood flow and help recover your muscles quickly. You are less likely to experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) if you stretch well.

Get rid of the sweaty clothes

Your clothes will be soaked in sweat post the race. If you have someone meeting you at the finish line, ask them to carry a t-shirt for you. The cold sweat evapourating off your body might reduce your body temperature quickly and cause you to catch chill. Apart from that you might not make for great company in your sweaty clothes.

Use compression socks

Compression socks might look dorky but they are great for preventing blood pooling in your legs. Wear the socks up to the knees and you can keep them on for the rest of the day. Take them off while going to bed at night.  They are great to prevent swelling and reduce lactic acid built-up.

Don’t load the fats

While you run your stomach is the last place that gets blood supply as its not working at the time, so avoid fatty food that needs more effort to digest right after the race. The key for recovery is to get carbs into your body within 60 mins of finishing the race. You can try liquid carbs like a chocolate milkshake or a fruit juice instead of trying to chow down a sandwich. Also within two hours of finishing the race you need to have protein. It may be in the form of a whey protein drink instead of a steak.

Ice Bath

Once you are back home, give yourself a cold or ice water bath depending on the weather you were running in. You can add epsom salts and soak you feet to relieve the stress. This will help relax your muscles and prevent any further damage.

Listen to your body over the next few days and do not stress or strain it. Take light walks to ensure that you keep moving and don’t dedicate yourself to the couch but high intensity exercises can be avoided.

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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Controversy over Marathons and Hearts

There has been a long debate on how the heart is affected by marathon running, Nandini Reddy talks about the research that allays fears. 

Exercise is suggested as a good way to improve the health of your heart and lungs. But there has always been a debate about how much exercise one should do. Experts cannot agree on what is the right amount of exercise and each of them seems to have a different opinion. Running is one of the easiest exercises to start for people who want to get off the couch and get fit. But there is a divided opinion on how running affects your heart. One group feels running has no lasting effect on a healthy heart but another group things heart damage is linked to running.

What does the research say?

But instead of opinions if we look at research, you will find that when runners finish a marathon there is a certain level of stress that is visible in the heart muscles that is reversed after rest and the effect is only temporary. While runners who train regularly have a lower incidence of this effect, the new runners who attempt to run marathons without proper training seem to show higher levels of such stress.

The research was expanded to see how the heart function is changed for marathon runners. Marathon running is a high endurance activity that keeps the heart in the zone of 60-70% of their maximum heart rate for an extended period of time. This means that the heart needs to work at higher levels for a longer period of time but if the runners is trained their is no lasting effect of the stress the heart takes. If a runner doesn’t rest adequately after a marathon race then the effects of the stress cannot be reversed fully and there might be a last affect on how the heart functions.

So what can you do?

  • Draw up a training plan with a coach
  • Do not attempt a marathon unprepared
  • Take care of your health first, you can always finish the next marathon
  • Adequate rest is important after a training session and a marathon
  • Get regular health checks if you have a weak heart or a history of heart conditions in the family

The Conclusion

People with lower fitness levels should not attempt marathons without proper training. Even if your heart is in good condition, taking on an endurance activity without adequate preparation is not a good idea. With training, coaching and monitored fitness sessions one can run a marathon with ease and recover as well. But running marathons without preparation is never a good idea.

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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Challenge of Running Alone

Things to keep in mind when you run solo, by Radhika Meganathan

Runners run alone for several reasons. Perhaps your life schedule requires you to run at weird, ungodly hours. You may not have runner friends, or your town may not have a running club to socialize. Or, plainly speaking, you may not want another person to disrupt your running zen state of mind.

Whatever it is, you have decided to run solo and you may be wondering whether you will run into any roadblocks in the process. That’s why we have tabulated the four key factors you have to consider while running alone.

Safety

Every runner is responsible for their own safety, and for good reason: it is best to be safe than sorry. Your running attire must consist of a bright element in it that can be easily seen from a distance. Take enough water so that you do not end up dehydrated. Always carry an id, some money and have your mobile fully-charged. install an app like BSafe which, on the command of a single button, will broadcast an SOS call with your location details to your contacts.

In case you have a set running routine and do not want to carry your mobile with you, check out Bugle, where you log in your route and how long you will be gone: if you are not back on time, it sends out an alarm to your contacts.

If you are exploring a new route, get a map; if no map is available, practice common sense and carry a portable safety kit with you that includes a torch, match sticks, a small knife or a pepper spray. And if you plan to run regularly in new places, it is a good idea to invest in self defense classes – it’s a skill that will help you not just during running but throughout your life.

Accountability and efficacy

Ah, discipline.  If you have discipline issues, running solo may prove to be your nemesis. To avoid missing runs, have a to do list where you can tick off the days you train. Having a visual list like this that you can hold in your hand, helps you to be accountable for your goals. Set a reward system for yourself, with short term consequences if you do not honour your own commitment. Slacked off on the pacing today? No dessert. Ran an extra sprint? Buy yourself a nice cuppa.

When going solo, runners usually run at a constant pace. Hence, interval training can be quickly forgotten in a solo run unless you make a conscious decision to incorporate it into your routine. Use your watch timer to run a certain distance within a specific time period.

Boredom

Whether you love to run alone or with company, you should train in the way that you are most comfortable with. Even if you love your own company, running solo can get a little boring. Which is why ear phones are the best companion for solo runners!

Get a good mp3 player and load it with your fav songs and podcasts. Do not use your mobile as a ipod, it drains precious power which you may need later if you end up in a tight situation. You can even listen to the audio version of your favorite books and catch up on your reading during your run! If you can manage it, call a friend/family member and chat away to glory, it’s three birds in one stone, you get to run, be fit and keep in touch with your loved ones.

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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