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Summer Running

As the temperature rises, its important for runners to learn to stay cool so that they can keep running during the hot summer months, writes Nandini Reddy.

Summer is a great time to run but it can also be a huge challenge. Sweating and hydration are the key factors most runners need to watch out for. Dehydration is a danger that runners in tropical climates need to watch out for. Walking in the sun might seem like a challenge if you live in coastal cities because the humidity spikes during the summer months. But if you do want to keep running and not loose your running grove then here are a few tips to help you run during summer.

Water, Water and more Water

You have to up your fluid intake during the summer months. You need to hydrate before you run, carry a bottle while you run and then hydrate again after you finish your run. The sweating might need you to replenish your body with electrolytes post the run. If you don’t like carrying water bottles then you can chart a circuitous route and keep a couple of bottles at different points.

Early mornings are best

This is the coolest time during summer. Even the evenings can be stuffy so the morning is the best time to run. Since the sun rises early, becoming a morning runner will not interfere with the rest of your day. You can also enjoy the outdoors without having to fight off the ill effects of heat.

Run in the shade

If you can find a path that is shaded with trees or near a water source, it would make for a great running course as a trail will be less hotter. If you can avoid running on a road you should because asphalt heats up fast. Find a park or a trail, or if you live near a beach then its the best place to run.

Wear thinner clothes

Cotton might seem better for the summer, but it won’t help while you run. Breathable synthetic athletic wear is a better choice to keep you cool while you run. Choose light colours and not dark ones that will absorb more heat. Reflective colours are the best as they will keep you cooler.

Cool Down well

After you finish you run, try to cool down with water and ice. You can also consider cooling your body before you start the run because it will help you improve your running performance. If you cool down before you run during summer, it takes longer for your core temperature to rise and thus helps in improving your running performance.

Sunscreen & Hats

Remember to wear hats and put on the sunscreen because it won’t make much sense to enjoy a run and not worry about sun damage. You can burnt if you are not careful and if you cover your head, you will feel less fatigued. Use visor hats that are made from breathable mesh rather than skull caps that will make you feel hotter.

You do not have to stay indoors just because its summer. If you choose the right time, right gear and drink water, summer can be a very enjoyable month for running.

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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Calm your pre-race nerves

Being nervous ahead of a big race is perfectly normal, here are a few tips from Nandini Reddy to breath easy. 

You will be anxious before the big race. You want to give it your best and you want meet your performance goals. It is perfect fine to feel a bit queasy before the race. But don’t let the anxiety affect your performance. Here are a few things you can do to calm your nerves and run your best race.-

Follow a pre-race routine

Every runner like you is anxious to get to the starting line and race forward the moment the flag drops, but this can be a bit disconcerting to most people. So don’t get into the starting line frenzy if its not your scene. Do your stretches and warm yourself up for the race. Do not get into a panic by watching other runners, instead try to feed off the positive energy from runners around you.

Breathe

When you are stressed deep breathing can calm you down. If you are getting jittery then step back to an area that is less crowded, close your eyes and take in deep breaths. You can also follow the yoga technique of alternating your breathing between your nostrils. This will make your gut feel better.This will get your primed to focus on your race.

Plug those Ears

Sometimes its always better to cut out the white noise around you during a race. Plug in your favourite music and sink into your own space of calmness. A lot of runners dislike listening to music but for many it has a calming effect and helps them focus better. Music can also lift your mood and make the run more fun.

Visualize your goal

Fear of failure is what causes most of the anxiety. You need to visualise that you will reach the finish line and in the goal performance times you have set for yourself.  A good attitude will build confidence and you are more likely to finish the race.

You can’t control everything

There are factors you cannot control like the weather for example. If it rains on race day then it rains. There is nothing you can do about it so why should you stress. Other runners, weather patterns and even the course difficulty are not points that you can control so let it go and enjoy the race for what its worth. You certainly will feel more rewarded.

Remember that you trained to finish the race and not psych yourself out. Always remember that you can better your performance with every race.

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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Recovery for Senior Runners

Senior runners often battle fatigue more often than their younger counterparts, so what kind of recovery can help, asks Nandini Reddy.

For any runner if the body is allowed ample rest and nutrition then it recovers more effectively. Older runners will experience greater damage to their muscles when they have finished a half or full marathon. The extended recovery time should be accounted for in the training itself.

The Rest Period

The rule of thumb for senior runners is 1 week of recovery for every 10k run. For a full marathon it is important to get a full 4 weeks of recovery with little or no strain on the body. The light recovery exercises can include stretches, body weight training and walking. If you have run a full or half marathon, try not to do any sort of exercise for the first week. After that you can start working on light exercises that utilize your body weight and are low intensity. After the recovery period is finished you can also consider adding weight training to ensure that your muscles are strengthened.

The Nutrition Factor

There can be no recovery without nutrition. In the early recovery phase, pay more attention to carbohydrates and proteins. These will help you recover faster as the glycogen is required for your muscles to rebuild and repair damage.

Sleep Factor

Sleep is an important recovery component and getting at least 6 hours of sleep is mandatory if you are in the recovery period. Your muscles have the maximum recovery while you sleep and your body recovery tends to slow down if you do not sleep well. So remember getting that shut eye might just be the one factor that you are missing in your recovery routine.

Use a Coach

Sometimes our ambition might get ahead of us so it is important to have a coach who can monitor progress and give suggestions of exercises and running schedules that are suitable for your age and body condition. Even if you have run world famous marathons, the idea is to re-adapt your training to your current body and age. So its important to have a coach or at least be part of group so that you get tips on recovery and training runs.

While these are broad guidelines to recovery for senior runners, you need to remember that you should always listen to your body. If you need more time than your running partner then take it. There is no wisdom in causing further damage because of inadequate recovery.

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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Run long, live short?

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

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

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

Heart + Running

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

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

Understanding the heart

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Do more…. Start Running

Race Director V P Senthil speaks to Radhika Meganathan about the origin, progress and of the pioneering running club of its kind, Chennai Runners

The Chennai Runners, or “CR” as they call themselves, can be called as pioneers in starting and maintaining the only volunteer-led running organisation in the country, along with an annual marathon that raises money for charities and sees thousands of runners participating. Some of the chapters even go beyond running, by incorporate varied disciplines such as strength training, cycling, swimming and even yoga in their schedules. Over to VP Senthil as he gives us the inside scoop on what makes Chennai Runners a great club to be a part of:

The genesis… Chennai Runners started when Harishankar, Ram Vishwanathan and Vidyut, three friends passionate about running, decided to wake up early and run together! This was during the time when there was no social media or fancy apps, so they literally called each other, met up at a place and just ran together. From that beginning, now Chennai Runners has thousands of members and is the only club of its kind, run entirely by volunteers, for runners and by runners.

Where do you run?…. We first started running in the roads of Alwarpet and then Besant Nagar, a small group of people making use of early mornings to run. On Sundays, we ran in Anna university campus and pretty soon we branched out to all other parts of the city. Right now we are 18 national chapters, with 9 more in waiting list, and we are expanding so quickly that we have to put a cap on people taking part in our annual marathon! I think it is due to our core values and personal commitment that Chennai Runners has so far achieved all its goals without compromising anything.

How does Chennai Runners function?…. If you want to join us, you can just go to the nearest chapter of CRA, give their contact details and join the next scheduled run. Each chapter has its own calendar. Each chapter also has its own moderators and Whatsapp groups, through which members can keep in touch. Local heads and moderators are nominated and organically selected based on their dependability and participation level in running events. They make sure that newbies get oriented properly, and all safety precautions are being communicated and followed thoroughly.

Is it all free?… Yes! Chennai Runners is completely free to join and participate. Browse our website and select your neighbourhood, and it’s as easy as showing up at the venue. Of course you are welcome to contribute during fund raising sprints and marathons, but by and large, CRA exists because of its members – who range from all walks of life – selflessly donate and volunteer their time. My role as Race Director, which to plan, check and arrange for routes for all runs, is also voluntary. My IT business may be my bread and butter, but my passion is Chennai Runners.

Wipro Chennai Marathon…  We have successfully organised the mammoth Chennai Marathon every year since 2012. Wipro has been our title sponsor from the first year of establishing (2012), with Kotak lending strong support. Last year MRF joined our family. In general our sponsors have all been value-based rather than commercial based. Every year we raise funds for various charities, and this year we are targeting 2 crores. Though everyone volunteers their time, Chennai Runners is a registered organisation with many national chapters. We fraternise with the other chapters, such as Mumbai runners and Bangalore runners, and meet up annually to discuss scope of improvement.

Roadblocks/challenges… Of course we face many, in fact we have come to be prepared to anticipate them in any given year. Just on the day of a run, some unfortunate incident may happen, in which case it is my responsibility to make sure the right decision is taken.

One time, we came to know that public service exam centers for that year were all located in our designated route! Yet another year we had to postpone our runs due to our former CM’s death and the floods. Apart from these unexpected incidents, a general concern is that every year runners are increasing but the roads remain the same! Legal permissions need to be sorted out during every run, giving top priority not to disrupt public life and sentiment. But to be fair, these kinds of logistical issues will happen in a huge scale event like ours so we make allowances for them. Our motto is there are no problems, only solutions.

Most interesting incident… I have to say it happened a couple of years back, at TVK Bridge near Malar hospital. The run is scheduled at 5am, and I am doing a check at 3am when we find that the bridge route is barricaded with buffaloes! They were huge and menacing, and there was no way we could shoo them with a stick. There was an old man lying in a cot nearby and we sought his advice, and he replied weakly: “I am lying here because I am unable to move after being attacked by the buffaloes. My family went to get help and are not back yet!”

Amazed, we arranged for medical help for him and then somehow we found a box of crackers, and scared away the buffaloes. That was one weird night!”

Upcoming events…

  • The Annual running festival is happening in Nehru stadium in Chennai, with sprints, 12 hour runs, live bands and many other features. It’s usually held during the first week of July every year, but this year, it’s happening in June.
  • MMM or May Midday Madness is a run that’s schedule during noon on the last Sunday of May. Since it happens in midday heat, it is only open to experienced runners by invite.
  • There is also a plan of having a midnight run this September in Chennai. For more details, please visit http://www.chennairunners.com/calender

To become a member of Chennai Runners, register at http://www.chennairunners.com/membership/registration.php

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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Running during pregnancy

Is it advisable to run when you are carrying? Radhika Meganathan looks for the right answer to this important question.

Runners , especially passionate runners, do not like to be restricted from practising their favourite sport, but there comes a time when it may become necessary to at least tone down a bit, if not give it up temporarily. Injury is one reason for doing so. Another happier reason would be pregnancy.

When you are expecting, your body undergoes a lot of physical and hormonal changes, which may require you to alter your running schedule. But first of all, can you run at this time? Is it safe?

The answer is not black and white. It all depends on your body condition, your pregnancy scans and your doctor’s approval.

– If tests and scans reveal any issues with your pregnancy, you cannot run or do any kind of exercise during this time
– If you are healthy but not a runner, then it is generally not recommended to start running at this time. However, if you are keen to, you can do so under supervision.
– If you are healthy and already an experienced runner, then you can run
Dr Parimalam Ramanathan, Gynecologist at London Harley Street Women and Fertility Centre, Perungudi (www.lhschennai.com) says: “If the pregnant woman is already an experienced runner, then she can keep running, provided she follows some extra caution. Pregnant women are recommended at least 20-30 minutes of daily exercise. However, I wouldn’t recommend running as a daily activity for women in their last trimester, simply because it might give them more discomfort. Gait and balance becomes more difficult as girth increases, and the spine takes the weight of the growing baby, so it is best not to run when you are in the third trimester of your pregnancy.”

She explains further: “Sometimes, even in the first three months of pregnancy it may be a risk to do intense cardio; if the runner slips or falls, it might pose unnecessary stress on both the baby and the mother to be. Best to wait until and after delivery to start a new sport or fitness regime! Walking is gentler and safer during these months, especially if you have high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.”

Dr Parimalam encourages women who are actively trying to get pregnant, either naturally or through methods like IVF, to keep running. “In fact, a body made fit and supple through exercise is more prepared for the experience of pregnancy and delivery, so women who are trying to conceive can benefit from running as a cardio exercise,” she added.
Pregnant and want to run? Follow these steps:

1. If you are new to running, start gently. Warm up by stretching for 10 min, walk for 5 minutes, then jog slowly for 5 minutes, and cool down by walking for 5-10 minutes.
2. Even if you are an experienced runner, at this time, do not run in a new route. Stick to your familiar routes. If you are vacationing, it is okay to run in a new route as long as it is safe.
3. Avoid hilly terrains or routes with swift bends and turns. Parks are best during your pregnancy, as they have even ground and are crowded.
4. Avoid running in isolated areas. Run with a partner, as much as possible. Always carry a fully charged mobile with you.
5. Pregnant women overheat easily, so avoid running in hot or humid weather. Do not forget to take a water bottle with you. Keep sipping before, during and after your run.
6. Dress appropriately in loose, comfortable clothes. Pregnancy often results in swollen feet, so wear the right size shoes. Opt for adjustable sports bra that can accommodate your increasing breasts.
7. If you experience dizziness, pain or bleeding, stop immediately and seek help.

Running is a wonderful fitness activity and great to control stress, so enjoy your runs as along as you are comfortable.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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Nine days a week – Part 2

In this concluding piece, Capt Seshadri talks about Meb’s fitness and training mantras. 

Meb Keflezighi is an unusual athlete. Born in Eritea, one of the poorest countries in the African continent, migrated to Italy as a young boy and pursued his education in the United States. And, apart from being a world beating marathoner, is a complete family man, autobiographer, motivational speaker, businessman and above all, a wonderful human being.

Meb the athlete, breaks from tradition, and the shattering of pre-conceived notions of what a runner should be or ought to do, begin with his training. He trains over nine day cycles, vis a vis the usual weekly routine followed by most athletes around the world. He insists that this permits him maximum concentration, interspersed with the right periods of rest and recuperation. Quick, high intensity runs, intervals of rest, distance running and cross training help him build speed, stamina and strength. Core strength, running in rarified atmospheres and a high protein diet topped with large servings of fruit are the secret of his continued success over such a long period of time.

Meb the motivational speaker has, under his belt, over a hundred clinics on running and even on retail programs. He is a voracious orator, holding his audience spellbound with topics as far ranging as diet and nutrition, injury prevention and recovery, while bringing to the fore, his world class experience and diverse and colourful early life as examples.

For older runners, he has certain mantras which are both unique and effective. He believes it is never too late to begin or to continue running. While most coaches talk about age being only a number, Meb advises older runners to recognise their age and the limits it brings along, advocating adjustments, both in training and nutrition and to listen to their body talk. Not about numbers and miles run, but about consistency within boundaries.

Cross training must be an essential part of the daily exercise cycle, combining easy runs with short, harsh sessions on the elliptical. When it comes to nutrition, this running guru recommends a diet that offers a nice balance between weight and energy, while putting in enough calories to recover immediately after a training session. Warming up and warming down, stretching before and after running are a must for those flaccid or tired muscles. And never, ever overdo the schedule. Waiting for a day or two, he believes, is so much better than spending weeks on recovery from injury due to over exertion. So, right training cycles and methods, proper nutrition and listening to one’s body are the final mantras for longevity in running, especially long distance events. With these, age does remain a number.

Meb Keflezighi will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most talked about and chronicled athletes in distance running history. While training to qualify for the Rio Olympics at age 40, he quipped: “I used to get anxious before races, but at this stage I have nothing more to prove. I was thinking if I make the Olympic team at 40, wonderful; and if not, I’ve been blessed to have the career I’ve had.”

Post retirement, if such a thing is possible for this age-defying athlete, Meb looks forward to an almost full time career in public speaking, to meeting runners from different and diverse backgrounds and to render yeoman service to his foundation that works with kids to promote fitness and well-being.

A truly fitting legacy from a living legend!

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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Natural Ways to Boost Energy

When you are feeling sluggish, its hard to find the motivation to be healthy, so Nandini Reddy has a few suggestions to boost your energy naturally

Microwave meals and binge watching TV seem to be the perfect thing to do when you are feeling sluggish. Honestly that is just going to prolong the feeling rather than help you energize. It happens to all of us where we feel like we are running on empty and there seems to be no end to our to-do list. But there are some amazing ways in which you can recharge your batteries and be back to your energizer bunny personality.

Go to Sleep

Keep your phones and electronics devices outside your room, switch off your Wi-Fi and go to sleep. Melatonin production is important to get a good nights rest and electronic blue screens tend to hinder melatonin production. Get uninterrupted 8 hours of rest and your body will repair itself naturally and leave you feeling fresh in the morning.

Go Green

Have a fresh green salad or a green smoothie or any leafy green vegetables of your choice as a soup. The nutrients from the greens will recharge your body. You can also add a Super Food like Spirulina into your diet. You will notice a marked difference in your energy levels

Get some sun

Sunlight can naturally recharge your body. Sunshine helps in Seratonin production – which happens to be the bodies happy hormones. If you have a job that keeps you inside an air-conditioned office then try and take small breaks every two hours and walk out on to the balcony or the parking lot and it will help stretch out your muscles and get some Vitamin D as well. If you can wake up early and take a slow paced walk to absorb the early morning rays of the sun.

Eat well

One of the biggest reasons you might find yourself sluggish could be because of the lack of nutrients like Vitamin B and enough fibre and complex carbohydrates. You need to add eggs, oats, brown rice and sweet potato to your diet to ensure that you never run low on energy because of the wrong kind of food.

Snack a little

Use the mid-morning and late afternoon to grab an energizing snack. It could be a cup of chickpeas, millet based granola bars or fresh berries. The idea is to ensure that you energy meter doesn’t dip low and drive you into a lethargic pace. These small snack refuels will certainly help keep you energized.

The timing, combination and consistency of doing these things will keep your energy levels up. So remember to work the into your daily routine and diet.

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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Dealing with ‘Mom Guilt’

The real issue preventing mom’s from running isn’t fitness or time, its Mother’s Guilt, says Nandini Reddy

Mothers tend to plan their days around their children. It doesn’t matter if you are a working mother or a stay-at-home mother, you will be burdened with mom-guilt every time you take time out to yourself. If you were to poll a 100 mothers who were runners and have stopped or slowed down now, most of them would tell you they stopped because they felt guilty about taking time off for themselves.

So what prevents you from taking the time?

If you really want to find alone time to run then early mornings are the best. The family is asleep and you have enough time to train. But there is also the issue of safety and getting enough hours of sleep. While the struggle is real there are options. If you want to start running, try running in your apartment building. Running in circles may be better than not running at all. After you gain confidence then you can hit the road if you live in a safe neighbourhood or alternatively drive to a location that has a good population of runners. You can also consider running on a treadmill on days that you cannot get outside to run. But its important to ensure that your guilt doesn’t become your excuse to stop running.

Plan ahead with your partner

If you are serious about using running as your fitness regime then you need to get your family involved. Lay out a schedule and ensure that your partner is aware of it so that he can step in when you need the time to run. New moms can use the babies sleep timing to sneak in a run. Ensure that you family or partner are around to watch the baby for an hour and prep whatever they need to handle the situation while you run to your happy place.

Use the weekends

Weekends can be used for evening runs. You can also involve your kids in an interval style so that you can get enough exercise and your children will enjoy it as well. You can also train for longer hours and let you children sleep in. The idea here is to enjoy yourself and not keep thinking that your house is burning down without you.

Embrace your runner persona

I heard someone say that you become a better runner when you become a mother and a better mother when you become a runner. It is important that you embrace different aspects of your personality. You need to accept that you are a mother and a runner and neither roles needs to be compromised. You will be happier and more prepared to take on challenges when you embrace the different parts of your life instead of ignoring one for the other.

Taking time to run is not selfish. All moms deserve to have time to dedicate to their fitness.

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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