Motivation Comments Off on When running becomes your life |

When running becomes your life

In conversation with Shiv Shankar Kosgi, an operations manager and coach with the Hyderabad Runners Society and an injury-free runner, as Deepthi Velkur discovers.

Shiv Shankar Kosgi prides himself on being an injury-free runner despite being on the road for more than 6 years now. An operations manager and a coach with the Hyderabad Runners Society (HRC) by profession, Shiv has also competed in prestigious runs across the country such as the TMM, AHM, ADHM to name a few. He enjoys his running, focuses on staying injury-free and his immediate goal is competing in the stunning Comrades Marathon 2019.

I had a chance to catch up with Shiv and listen to his story.

FM: How did you take to running? Why?

Shiv: Back in 2008, I started going to the gym to lose weight and to stay generally fit. I moved to Hyderabad from Pune in 2012. At that point, I suddenly had a fascination for running and a friend of mine Steve Nipps introduced me to the Hyderabad Runners. I ran my first half marathon that year and felt elated at the end of the run – I have not looked back ever since. Over time, I started scaling up to longer distances and I have always enjoyed running because for me it is not just about fitness or weight-loss, it gave me much more – it gave me an identity.

FM: Apart from being an avid marathoner, your inclination has always been towards understanding the science behind running and its effects on the human body? How did this interest come about?

Shiv: From the moment I picked up running, it has turned into my passion and that passion for running became my profession eventually. When I noticed the change and the positive impact it had on my physical appearance, mental fitness and the lifestyle change it had brought about, it really fascinated me to explore more about the scientific methods and my approach to training.

FM: There has been a sudden shift in people wanting to stay fit and have especially taken to running? How and why do you think is the reason behind this shift from when you started running in 2012?

Shiv: It’s really great to see a sudden shift in people wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle and the fact that humans are meant to move around and stay active rather than just sit and do a desk job. People have picked up running as a preferred form of fitness activity for various reasons as it is considered to be quite economical for everyone, an activity that can be performed individually, the euphoric feeling you get after every run, helps lose or maintain weight, a sharp mind even as you age, reduces your risk of cancer and finally running adds years to your life.

FM: You have been a coach for the Hyderabad Runners since 2014? How do you go about with your training?

Shiv: I strongly believe in discipline, determination, and dedication in terms of training, because long distance running is an endurance sport and to sustain yourself and be better each day you should follow a systematic training plan and set appropriate goals. Endurance sport is very demanding & taxing on the body. Hence one should give equal importance for recovery and nutrition and always listen to your body signals and never do too much too soon.

FM: What is your strategy to keep runners motivated and be consistent with their training?

Shiv: I have a very simple strategy – connect with trainees regularly, speak about progress and performance, correct them where necessary and make training fun for them.

FM: How do you train your runners to stay injury-free?

Shiv: As I strongly believe in a scientific training approach my recommendation is to always – set a realistic goal, put a training plan in place, follow the training plan, maintain a training log, measure performance at regular intervals, slow down and rest, give nutrition equal importance and do strength training twice a week. Follow this and you will be injury free.

FM: How have you been able to manage coaching as well as the other functions of the running club as an operations manager?

Shiv: Well it was a complete shift of career from an IT job to sports management. Hyderabad runner society (HRS) is mostly driven by volunteers and is a Non-Profit Society. I was the first full-time employee to join HRS when the trend of running was just picking up in India. As an Operations Manager, my job role was not just about coaching but included planning and conducting training programs for runners across various locations by hiring professional athletic trainers. Simultaneously, I manage the yearly events calendar in the planning and execution of events and training runs from end to end.

FM: How do you see Hyderabad runner’s society growing in the coming years?

Shiv: Hyderabad Runners Society is the first running club in India which is registered as a non-profit society and is institutionalized. Today, there are more than 6000 members on google groups and 20K plus followers on social media. Hyderabad Runners have really helped and inspired thousands of people in transforming their lives and following a healthier lifestyle. It has been a great platform for people in many ways, as it has made a positive impact on the residential communities, corporates, institutions, NGO’s etc.

In the past 5 years, the number of runners and running groups has grown dramatically – today there are more than 25 sub-groups within the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and has runners of all age groups and all walks of life. As the trend of fitness grows globally, we will witness a growth in the number of runners and running groups as this will, directly and indirectly, have a positive impact in the society in various ways.

FM: DrPhil Maffetone was the Event Ambassador for the 2016 Hyderabad Marathon. Do you encourage your trainees to follow the Maffetone method of training? If yes, why?

 Shiv: In the current day and age, we have various methods of training to choose from, have access to training coaches and training plans. Even before we discovered Maffetone method of training, we had a mentor and coach Mr Bill Pierce, the Chairperson of Health Sciences department at Furman University, South Carolina, US. He is the author of the training program “Run Less Run Faster” and we have been following his training plans since 2010. Later on, we discovered the Maffetone method and I would encourage people to follow this training method if its suitable for them. MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) training emphasis totally on the Aerobic training which is very good for anyone who wants to pick up running and scale up to long distances because training in aerobic zones prepares runners for the long distance while keeping the heart rates in control and don’t end up burning out.

FM: A final question – do you set yearly targets for yourself in terms of the races you will be a part of and have you been able to achieve it?

Shiv: I always choose which races to run in a calendar year and classify them as ‘A’ race and ‘B’ race. ‘B’ races are part of my training runs and ‘A’ races are the ones where I set goals and achieve my personal best. This way I have been able to achieve my targets.

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.

Read more

Featured Comments Off on Taking it one step at a time! |

Taking it one step at a time!

Anirudh Inani took to running, cycling and trekking to stay fit, a journey that eventually became a passion. In this conversation with Deepthi Velkur, he tells his story.

Passion. Determination. Dream big. You live only once. These are not just some fancy adjectives or phrases thrown around in Anirudh Inani’s world. These are the mottos he has chosen to live by every day.

An entrepreneur by profession, Anirudh Inani’s passion lies in running, trekking and cycling.

Anirudh’s pursuit is to be able to finish at least 40 events across running, cycling and triathlons before he turns 40. He has it all in his sights – taking part in the Olympic triathlon, competing in Ultra events, scaling the highest mountains and conquering every trek.

Ambitious and daunting it certainly is, but he is taking it one step at a time and is currently working on improving his timing for a full marathon and move on from that.

I caught up with Anirudh on what drives this passion and this is what he had to say.

When did you discover your love for fitness and how did your weight-loss program with Truweight impact your outlook to life?

I discovered my love for fitness after I started running and cycling simultaneously many years ago. The Truweight program has phenomenally changed me and my outlook towards life – I have never been fitter, more confident and more energetic after I lost my weight.

Did running happen by chance or was it a conscious decision and a means to stay fit?

At one point in time, I was so heavy that it was very difficult for me to even jog for 100 metres. I had no stamina and was running out of breath while running. I started running to lose weight but eventually discovered that I really enjoyed the high I used to get post my runs. Over time, I worked on increasing the distance of my runs and the rest followed.

Being a businessman, managing your time well is of utmost importance. How do you bring in fitness into your busy schedule?

It’s definitely not an easy task managing a business, running a family and trying to stay fit at the same time. However, I feel that if you’re passionate about something, you will find a way to manage it all and prioritize. Fitness rejuvenates my soul. It’s food for my soul.

What keeps you motivated to stay fit and push forward?

I’m fortunate to have a great set of friends who are into fitness and health conscious too. When you are surrounded by such people, you automatically feel motivated. We always discuss events happening around the country/ world and what needs to be our next goal to achieve and this drive keeps me going to keep myself fit. 

What is it about trekking that appealed to you? How often do you trek and where?

Mountains have always fascinated me and I’m a mountain lover. When I was doing my management studies in Mumbai, I went for a 2- day trek to the Western Ghats with a friend of mine who was already a passionate trekker. Trekking was not so popular and most of the people were scared thinking it’s not safe. I was mesmerized by that trek so much that after completion of my management studies, the first thing I did was to enroll for my first Himalayan trekking expedition in 2003. My parents were very apprehensive as well but eventually convinced them. There was no looking back since then. I made sure I do at least one Himalayan trek every year. Also, in the same way, I have encouraged a lot of my friends into trekking so they get to experience the thrill and joy of going on treks and this, in turn, has made them passionate trekkers too.

How many events across running and cycling have you been a part of till date?

Well, I used to run small distances every day as a part of my fitness routine and commute on a cycle to the park and back where I used to run.

I wasn’t confident of completing marathons. The maximum I could think of running was 10k but a friend of mine encouraged me to take the plunge and I registered for my first half marathon in Hyderabad, just a day before the event. The terrain was tough and quite challenging too. I did take the plunge not knowing if I would complete my run but after I started the race and seeing the energy of the people around, that pushed me to complete the race successfully in a decent time which gave me a real high and boosted my confidence. Since then I’ve done about 5 half marathons, a dozen 10K’s and one triathlon.

On the cycling front, I have done a couple of 100 km rides, Ladakh cycling expedition of around 350 Km in the mountains of Ladakh. A cycling expedition from Hyderabad to Rajahmundry which is a distance of about 700 Km, passing through a very scenic route of forests and mountains. After my Ladakh cycling expedition, I decided to upgrade my cycle to an advanced geared bike which I still have as my prized possession.

Cycling or running? Which of the two gives you the real high after an event?

Though I love cycling more, it’s difficult to compare between both. I feel elated post my runs and when I achieve the goal I had set for myself. Whereas with respect to cycling, I simply enjoy the entire journey of cycling and I just grasp every moment. It is a different experience altogether to discover a new place on a cycle.

What is the kind of training regimen you follow with respect to cycling and running?

Running thrice a week in the morning with alternate day strength training and circuit training for 3-4 days a week in the evening.

I still have to work on my flexibility as it’s a crucial part of any fitness regime.

Sundays are for long rides if there’s no running event planned.

What measures do you take to better yourself as a runner/cyclist? 

I read a lot about techniques of running, attending workshops and keeping in touch with different running groups which help me in gaining further knowledge.

Any particular race(s) in mind that you wish to complete, be it running or cycling in 2019?

I intend to do quite a few trails runs and countryside cycling events. I also intend to do Tour of Nilgiris cycling event in 2019.

 

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.

Read more

Featured Comments Off on A world of Marathons |

A world of Marathons

Ever met someone who wants to run and see the world? Deepthi Velkur had an opportunity to speak the man himself, Upendra Tripathi.

A senior management Leader with a leading Semi-Conductor company, Upendra Tripathi((aka Upen) has achieved running accolades in 3 years what most of us will probably not achieve in our lifetime.

With the right mix of will, passion and hard work, he has run in various events across the country and across 3 continents in a very short span.

Besides running, he is a keen wildlife photographer and enjoys trekking and cycling as well.

“Mirror Mirror on the wall, I’ll always get up after I fall. And whether I run, walk or have to crawl, I’ll set my goals and achieve them all” – Chris Butler.

With that inspiring quote in mind, let’s talk to Upen and have him share his driving force so that we may be inspired as well.

FM: Fitness has always been your top priority. So, when did running really happen? Why?

Upen:I have always enjoyed sport and fitness from childhood. Growing up, I played football, volleyball, badminton, cricket and swam a fair bit too. Obviously, with the responsibilities of being an adult, sports took a backstage though I gave fitness a fair shot by being a regular gym goer.

3 years ago on my way home from a late night movie, I saw a bunch of runners competing in the Midnight Marathon and that really inspired me. At the gym, I was used to running 3-5K but running outside is a completely different experience. I remember that Saturday morning in Oct 2015 – the chill Bangalore air, a bit of fog and an outside view (not the best in Whitefield). My breathing was heavy as I made my way through the meandering streets but I was ecstatic. I remember vividly thinking, “maybe I can see Bangalore just running around!”.

I covered close to 8K that day and thought this was ok, I can do the same thing tomorrow. I was mistaken and how!I woke up the next morning to excruciating pain all over my body, but the child-like enthusiasm got the better of the pain and I ran 4K that day. Best decision ever!

FM: You completed all the 6 World Major Marathons, The Comrades Ultra and innumerable half, full and Ultra marathons in less than 3? What was the motivation behind achieving this?

Upen: The one thing that I’m proud of  is my resilience. If I choose to do something, I stick with it and try to do everything I can to succeed.

I remember my first 10K run at KTM  in 2015– I met so many runners who finished the race in half the time I took. That got me thinking – was my current training inadequate? While at that point I gave myself the benefit of doubt considering it was only 3 weeks since I started running, I decided that I need formal training with a coach.

The first person I turned to was our neighbourhood coach Dharmendra Kumar (aka “Dharma”) and training with him gave me an opportunity to meet some amazing runners.

I participated in several 10K and 21K runs and with my confidence in place, I ran my first full marathon in July 2016 (Cherrapunji, Meghalaya).

At this time, I was reading a book by Hal Higdon that spoke about doubling your mar
athon runs and boosting endurance. It fascinated me and I was enthralled by the idea of mileage, long distances, and repetition.

Pace alone wasn’t my poison – “a combination of right race pace and appropriate long distance”was!

After having run the Berlin, Tokyo and Chicago World Majors, I decided I needed a change of training strategy and decided to work with the brilliant coach Brijesh Gajera (aka BG) who is the coach for the “Ashva Running Club”. It was another good decision and his focused training has not just helped me run faster and farther than before but also gave my confidence a real boost.

With my new found zeal and help from my friend Gauri Jayaram, I registered for the remaining 3 majors.

Having completed my last major (the Boston marathon) this year, I wanted more. I decided to run 90K at the Comrades Ultra (South Africa) in June 2018 after a recommendation from my friend Divya Vasishta who did it in 2017.

For me, the love of running and racking up the miles has been the biggest motivation. On top of that, when you get your finisher medal it really gives you such a sense of personal achievement.

FM: When did your association with Ashva Running club start? How has joining this club assisted you in achieving your running targets?

Upen: It was in Feb 2017 (during the Tokyo World major), that I had a chat with coach Pani sir on how can I step up my training. He recommended Brijesh Gajera (BG) who trained under Pani sir for 8+ years.

On my return from Tokyo, I spoke with Gurmeet Bhalla (my running partner ) who has inspired me in so many ways and together we met with BG and that’s how we started running with Ashva Running Club (ARC).

BG apart from being an accomplished runner himself is an extremely intelligent coach. He first does a holistic assessment of each runner’s needs, capabilities and then prepares an individual training plan.

For me, he devised a plan basis my statistics, my targets and also to ensure I run injury-free. He added specific warm-up drills, individual schedules for each day, recovery plans and cool-down drills. Furthermore, he recommended weight and functional training at the gym as well as proper nutrition to aid my training plan.

With the right plan, the right focus from a coach and your determination, achieving your goals is no longer impossible.

FM: You ran the Boston Marathon and Comrades Ultra Marathon this year with less than two months to spare? How did you plan your training and did it differ for both?

Upen: Training for both the races was a constant challenge for me.

For Boston Marathon, I wanted to target a better race pace which required me to focus on intense speed workouts like intervals and long tempos, whereas for the Comrades Ultra (90K) my training needed long distance runs, high mileage and slow pace.

My coach devised a plan – he made the Boston marathon one of my long training runs for the Comrades Ultra and made me focus on mileage with a 10s slower pace than my FM race pace (5:20)for my ultra-run. This worked really well as I ran the Boston Major at a slower pace, which worked well for me at the Comrades Ultra.

FM: The right physical and mental strength is required to run a marathon? Any tips you’d like to share on how to stay strong during a race?

Upen: Running a marathon is a mind game. A healthy person has enough physical strength to run 42.195 KM as long as their mind is ready to handle the stress.

I have run all types of distances from 100mts to 90 KM at varied pace and different terrains. Nothing is easy. After finishing around 80% distance of the race no matter the distance, you are exhausted and the remaining 20% of the distance is all in the mind.

Running is an experience. What works for one may not work for another. You have got to practice and try a few techniques to know what works best for you. I do however have a few guidelines for sure to stay strong during a race.

  • Train hard for your run for at least several weeks or months as needed.
  • Pace your training so that you don’t burn-out before race day or week.
  • Eat, hydrate and sleep well. Make this your routine and it works wonders.
  • Enjoy the race! Do a proper warm-up, start slow and slowly pick up the pace.
  • Hydrate regularly through the course. Ensure you eat some solid food too.
  • Remind yourself – you trained well, you’re rested and you are enjoying your race.

Follow this and trust me, you will finish the race strong and you will be extremely happy with your performance.

FM: Having had the experience of running in high altitudes, technical terrains, trail running, and Ultra
running? Which course do you find the most challenging and why?

Upen: Every terrain brings its own challenges. I have run at Ladakh, Khardung-La, Comrades, World Majors, Malnad and almost all big city marathons in India – they all have challenges that you need to train for.

I would suggest reading the race catalogue, going through the website and talking with runners who have done the course before – all of these help in preparing a mental course map for yourself.

There are some conditions like steep uphill, downhill, trail course that you can train for but there are some extreme conditions like low oxygen, extreme cold, unplanned snowfall or rain, extreme heat on race day that can catch you off guard. This is where the mental map and preparedness helps.

I think among all the races I have run, the Khardunga-la Ultra was the most challenging. 32K continuous uphill, 40K continuous downhill, freezing temperatures, running at an altitude of 5370M, low oxygen levels – just a few bumps along with an otherwise gorgeous course. Obstacles aside, this run is an experience that stays with you forever.

FM: Can you please give us a glimpse into your regular training week?

Upen: My regular training week is 4 running days and 3 weight / functional training days. I usually split it down like:

  • Monday – Lower body exercises at the gym (1hr)
  • Tuesday – Fast Tempo of 10-15K run
  • Wednesday – Upper body exercises at the gym (1hr)
  • Thursday – Intervals / Fartlek or slow Tempo of 10-15K run
  • Friday – Functional training / Yoga / Circuit training at the gym (1hr) or rest
  • Saturday – Long run of 20-30K
  • Sunday – Recovery slow run of 8-10K

Depending on which race I target, the training plan is tweaked for that period.

FM: 25 marathons in 28 months? Phew! That’s quite an accomplishment? Tell us all about it?  

Upen: As part of my training, I maintained on an average a weekly mileage of 70K. After my first full marathon, I had this thought of converting one long distance training run into a full marathon event which in turn would take care of my hydration as well. This essentially meant I ran one full marathon a month, except between March and July as there are very few FM events in India and I possibly could not travel out of India every month either due to my personal commitments. I handle the runs in a way that I’m not pushing myself at all the events except a couple of events a year to where I plan to finish strong and the rest are treated as training runs. This approach gives me enough time to recover from my previous runs and not overstrain myself. I’d like to enjoy my runs and have fun along the way and stay stress-free.


FM: What are the three most vital things to keep in mind while training for a major running event?

Upen:

  • There is no substitute for training. One needs to train hard to race easy
  • Proper taper plan, eating, hydrating and resting well
  • Building a mental map of the course and mentally preparing for its challenges

FM: The Ultimate running goal you have set for yourself in the coming years?

Upen: I want to run for the next 30 years.

 

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.

Read more

Featured, Motivation Comments Off on How to consistently click miles every week |

How to consistently click miles every week

With an insatiable appetite for running, Divya Vasishta has quite a story to tell. In this conversation with Deepthi Velkur, she explains what drives her passion.

“The mountains are calling and I must go” – John Muir (Naturalist and Preservationist).

Probably one of the most compelling quotes that says it all for many outdoor lovers and definitely apt for our guest today – Divya Vasishta.

Divya hails from Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, a scenic mountain town, so it’s no wonder that her runs always seem to take her to the hills.

She is by no means a career runner – running happened by accident 5 years ago and she juggles a busy corporate life (quality head with a US-based organization) with her undying passion for running and the mountains.

Her running timeline might be short but she has covered the spectrum – countless 10Ks, Half-Marathons, Full-Marathons, Trail Running and also Ultra runs.

We had ourselves a tête-à-tête and I was fascinated by her story. Read on and chances are you will be too.

FM: It’s been 5 years since you started running, what inspired you to pick up such a tough endurance sport?

Divya: I never liked running on a treadmill but I had to for a long time as I spent quite a few years in Canada and the severe winters made it hard to run outdoors. A few years later though, I moved to California famed for its gorgeous weather and scenery, I started to head out for my runs every day for about 30 mins.

After having spent 10 years out of the country, we decided to move back to Bangalore. It was definitely a huge change for me. The weekends seemed empty with nowhere to go camping, no hills to climb, no trails to walk on and I ended up running longer durations inside my housing layout.

Initially, it started out as an aimless activity until a friend suggested that I participate in a 10k run back in 2013 to begin with, which I did and the experience of the race was enthralling. That paved the way forward and I have never looked back since. For the first two years, the focus was to improve my timings and then later on, I focused on building and testing my endurance and this became a vicious cycle with no end.

No distance ever seemed enough for me initially. I was curious to see how much further I could go and fast forward 3 years, I have run a maximum distance of 100K in 14 hours 20 minutes in the Bangalore Ultra. I also completed the Khardung La Challenge in Leh (the world’s highest Ultra marathon at 17582 feet) a distance of 72K.

Since 2013, I have completed 13 Ultra events and countless half and full marathons. I always enjoyed runs that are challenging with a sole purpose of finishing them comfortably and maintaining a constant pace. I personally prefer the quieter and smaller events and always look forward to trying new routes with new organisers.

The first 2 years of my running life took me to different locales but it was always the hills that kept calling and brought me a kind of peace that I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Having discovered running in the hills, I have completed events in Ooty, Munnar, Manipur, Leh, Manali (Solang Sky running – being the toughest so far) as well as Shimla.  This year, I became the 3rdfemale runner from India to run the Everest marathon.

I haven’t limited myself just to running in the hills obviously – I enjoy running in California and completed the Big Sur marathon which is considered a beautiful run but very challenging owing to the weather conditions. I have also completed a 143.9K run during the 24-hour Bangalore stadium run last year.

FM: Fascinating and amazing to see what you have achieved in 5 years. Prior to 2013, what kind of sports where you in to?

Divya: I have always been an active and outdoorsy person. Back in school, I loved running on the tracks and tried my hand at different sports like field and track events, basketball, hockey and mini marathons. With college and the initial few years of working, these activities took a backseat. Post marriage, my partner and myself started going on short treks in our free time. Hitting the gym became a part of my daily routine. In 2006, step aerobics fascinated me and quickly became one of my favourite activity. We (my partner and myself) had done a few treks of which the Machu Picchu, few in Alaska and the Everest Base Camp clearly were my favourites. Between 2010-13, I appointed a personal trainer and he used to set up various routines for me and then it was only in 2013, that I started running.

FM: That explains the ease with which you have acclimatized yourself to ultra-running.  This is me being curious – how was your lifestyle prior and how has that changed since you started running?

Divya: In terms of routine, not much has changed in my life. I have always been disciplined in everything I do. Early rising, timely intake of food and hitting the bed early has been my routine for the longest time. Food habits have changed for the better. For instance, I used to eat a lot of processed food and that has completely stopped now. I prefer eating fresh home-cooked meals and drinking natural juices. 

FM: Managing your professional, personal as well passion for running takes a lot out of a person. How do you manage this and what do you do to unwind?

Divya: I really didn’t have to make a lot of compromises. I started running when I was well-settled at work. There was no need to commute to work daily and work related travel was manageable too and was a part of my routine life. Both my husband and myself are morning people. I just had to wake up a little earlier so I could clear up any work-related emails and then head out for my morning run. While travelling, it becomes a bit hard to manage my runs so I make sure to manage expectations during those days and plan my work and running accordingly. And I never forget to pack my running shoes wherever I go.

Running is relaxing for me, but a spa appointment for a deep tissue massage and foot reflexology is a reward for myself (smiles).

FM: To be able to clock 9455Km in such a short time is astounding. Did you imagine you would have achieved this in less than 5 years? Do you set at a yearly target for yourself?

Divya: I was never interested in numbers, like setting up a monthly or yearly target. What I do is set myself a mileage target of 60K every week and try to achieve it on most days. My tally seems very less in comparison to other Ultra runners. But I feel, if I run a lot (especially training runs), I’ll probably start disliking running so I run the tracks I enjoy. Sometimes a training run of 35K stresses me but at the same time I enjoy running a 100K event.

FM: Another mind-boggling statistic is the fact that you have a podium finish in greater than 50% of the events you have participated? What are the 3 key factors that help you achieve this?

Divya: You are right. Out of 55 events, I’ve had about 27 podiums wins. I would say – It just happened. Though I’ve had podiums in the open category too but most of them have been in 45+ age category, so being a veteran probably led to this and I see it as an advantage. I really don’t run with a competitive mind.

FM: Congratulations on finishing the Comrades marathon last year – such a fascinating run especially given its origins. What interested you in taking part in this event?

Divya: Curiosity, I think. I wanted to see why runners are so crazy about this run and I guess I did find my answer. It’s a run with an amazing aura. I finished the race which is approximately a 89KM run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. It is considered the World’s Largest and one of the oldest Ultra-marathons, which was first held in 1921. The race has very strict cut-off time of 12hours and I managed to finish it in 11 hrs and 42 minutes. 

FM: Obviously, your training program for this run would have been different from your normal training. Can you please share a few snippets into the differences?

Divya: One needs to be diligent and disciplined in preparing for any targeted run, especially a run as challenging as this with strict cut-off points. It only tends to increase the pressure which may lead to unnecessary stress.

My goal was just to finish the run within the cut-off time and with that in mind, I prepared my own training plan and stayed within my normal weekly mileage, with an exception of 2 or 3 weeks where I exceeded it. I also added hill runs to my routine, almost every weekend and most of the events I went to were in the hilly terrains which got me stepping out of my regular running route. Being the only female from Bangalore to participate in this event that year, I had to look for a group running this event. The drive to the location for the training runs was quite far from my place and that led me to start driving in India, which I dislike doing, especially during the dark, early morning hours. I don’t remember missing a single run as per my calendar.

FM: So, where is your next big run and what plans do you have for the next few months?

Divya: A 100 miler in a decent time for sure.

 

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.

Read more

Events, Featured Comments Off on Running in the beautiful Chamundi Hills |

Running in the beautiful Chamundi Hills

Deepthi Velkur talks to Ajit Thandur on his experience of organising the Chamundi Hill Challenge and why is it an exciting course for runners.

MYSOORUNNERS were the proud hosts of the Chamundi Hill Challenge 2018, an exciting race that gives you a good experience of up and downhill asphalted roads, winding forest trails, uneven cobbled tracks and steps.

The Chamundi Hill Challenge organized by Enduro events, saw its 4thedition this year and the man behind this is Ajit Thandur. This run includes varying distances of 5k, 10k and 21k.

We got talking to Ajit on his experience of organizing this event and why he thinks this is an event that you must take part in.

The Chamundi Hill Challenge appears to be quite a favorite course? What in your opinion draws runners to it?

The course is not just a regular hill run – it offers a ton of variety during the run. It includes nearly 300 metres of centuries old uneven granite steps and cobbled stones, a 3.5km jungle trail and asphalted road.

One of the points we stress on when someone registers is to enjoy the course. This is a beautiful course and by no stretch of imagination, is it a personal best course.

2018 saw the 4thedition of this exciting run – what kind of enrollment increases have you seen year-on-year?

When we started off, we saw nearly 250 runners in the 1st edition. This year (our 4thedition), we saw over 450 runners. Numbers can be better but the fact remains, it’s a tough course!

What lessons have Enduro Events learnt over the past years that will help you make this event even more popular?

Experience has taught us that we need better management of various aspects involved in organising such a race:

+) Frequency of aid stations depending on the kind of race and course.

+) Ideal needs for each aid station depending on its location.

+) Logistics such as having volunteers on wheels to keep vigil on participants,   accidents, injury to inform the medical team.

+) Efficient waste management to make sure we don’t leave any inorganic waste anywhere on the course.

There are some more aspects but hard to list out the more minute ones.

In terms of promoting the event – apart from social media, do you run any other promotional activities?

Not as far as Chamundi Hill Challenge goes. We only rely on social media.

Only for Tri Thonnur, another event organized by us, we do have weekend swim sessions in the Thonnur Lake. That’s because there are many first timers for open water swims each year.


Organizing an event of such scale requires a lot of a planning, coordination and
governance. Can you please provide your view on how Enduro events goes about setting this up?

There are mainly two factors in organising any sporting event, especially when we utilise public properties such as roads, parks, stadiums, lakes etc.

The first is to seek permissions from various government bodies such as the City Corporation, Police (both Law and Order, Traffic), Public Works Department etc.

This invariably takes time since there are so many offices to coordinate with. So we start work on these aspects a few months prior to the event.
The second is our own internal planning:

  • Routes (choosing the best depending on road conditions, advice from Traffic Police etc)
  • Number of volunteers required (This includes volunteers driven by passion and paid Volunteers…. strange terminology but it exists.)
  • Number of aid stations required, specific needs there. Quantities of water, hydration drinks, fruits, jaggery, salt, lime, etc.
  • Ideal location for ambulance with Medical support team.
  • Medals, Trophies, T shirts ( all to be designed ordered at least a month ahead).
  • Post-race breakfast/brunch.
  • Appointing MC, public address systems, music, etc.

Who are the key team members involved in making this event happen?

We are a team of 5 – Anil, Vijay, Abhilash, Prajwal, Naveen and myself.

Funding and sponsorship are a challenge for most events – how does Enduro events manage to secure this? Who are your key sponsors?

Sponsorship surely is a key to see such events through. This year we had National Public School as our title sponsors. Sparsh Hospitals, Bangalore have been our medical support team and sponsors for 5 years now. That apart, we have a list of local businesses who support us.

For the 3 runs – Tough 21K, Challenge 10K and Majja 5K, do you have a cap in terms of
enrollment?
 

We don’t have a cap so far. But the need might arise if we see more than 1000 runners. 

You obviously know the course very well – what advice would you like the runners to heed so that they enjoy the course while staying safe?

This is a course to enjoy and not one to achieve a personal best. Challenge 21 is two loops of Tough 10 (actually 10.5k in terms of distance). Each loop is about 6.5k of road, 500 m of steps and cobble stones and 3.5k of jungle trail. So we ask runners to be extremely careful while negotiating the steps and the jungle course.

Video Link of the event: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1itgVXJfpSaESnbmEn3RLeIRjAf8nwvn2/view?usp=drivesdk

 

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.

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Being a runner in a busy world |

Being a runner in a busy world

24 hours never seems enough.How we juggle all facets of our lives and make time to stay fit? Difficult? Not so much, says our guest columnist Sagar Baheti.  

Anything is possible, but you have to believe and you have to fight.”

A famous line quoted by someone (not a runner!) who is familiar with racing and hard work, the indomitable Lance Armstrong. This quote serves as an inspiration no matter what challenges life throws at us.

“I haven’t got the time” is probably the number one reason we give for not running or just doing regular exercise itself.

True, life does get really busy sometimes and everything else in life is always more important, but making your run a priority will probably be one of the best things you’ll ever do for yourself.

For now, put your feet up and take some time to read how you can make time and plan your life around running.

The perfect way to run and live

An ideal day would be to wake up early (6 AM!), get your pre-run nutrition sorted and head out for a warm-up before an intensive session of running kicks in. Post the long-run, spend a few minutes doing a few strengthening exercises and cooling off with some stretching. With the morning workout, all done, have a good nutritious breakfast to supplement the workout and then take a nap or perhaps a sports massage. During the day, have your meals on time and get in the second workout around 5 PM before heading home and hitting the bed by 9 PM to make sure you get at least 8-9 hours of sleep. This needs to be on repeat!

How fantastic it would be if we were paid to live like this, huh? Unfortunately, barring the elites, very few of us can enjoy such luxuries. We cannot follow such a schedule even on a holiday let alone a working day!

The never-ending demands of this competitive world – career, family responsibilities, social obligations, relationships, priorities, the relentless Bangalore traffic – all of these come in the way of the ideal running day.

For me, my top priorities are being available for my family and to support the growth and well-being of those directly or indirectly dependent on me through my business venture.

I always keep these two priorities in mind when I look at a training run or an event and decide if I want to do it or not. When making a choice, it is important that your priorities are clear and you know where fitness fits into your life. With this clear mindset, you will be able to run with the right perspective in mind.

Ideas to make a runner out of you

I took a shot at drawing up a few ideas that will help you start running or continue running despite the myriad of responsibilities we are all laden with.

+) Make short-term goals. Write it down like your own weekly plan. It’s often easier to plan for the short-term and factor in your schedule and responsibilities.

+) Be flexible. It’s ok if you did a workout in the evening instead of a morning when you have an emergency meeting or you’ve had a late night. It’s also alright to have two run days back to back if you’ve had to miss one for whatever reason. It’s better to do this than miss it completely.

+) Don’t overdo it.Working out twice a day is ok if not done too frequently. If you are training for a specific event and have some mileage planned for the week, you can see how to fit it into your schedule and run twice in one day to get more miles.

+) Be prepared.Carry your running gear with you at all times. I keep it in my car. If I get a time window at work where it’s possible to get out for an hour, I go for a quick run. I know people who do the same when they take kids to classes and use the waiting time to get their runs.

+) Clear it out in the morning. Getting it done first thing in the morning is a great advantage. Starting your day early would mean that the pressure of making time for your run in the midst of a busy day is not on your mind.

+) Don’t procrastinate.Don’t give in to the thought of, “I’ll start fresh next week and follow my schedule”. If you’ve missed a few workouts, but on a comparatively free day you consider skipping it so that you can start it right the following week, then reconsider. It’s better to get even one run that week than none.

+) Use the best option available.Running on a treadmill is a great option for travellers. I travel for more than a hundred days a year and use treadmills at hotels whenever possible.

These are some of the things that I do to be consistent and make the best of what I have, never for once forgetting my priorities. This also helps me stay stress-free during my non-running phases as well as helping my come back to running when my other priorities are sorted.

Small things you could do to staying fit –

+) Always take the stairs – this is a quick workout on a busy day.

+) Walk around with strap-on leg weights at home.

+) Plug in a workout during an outing. For eg: use a pedal boat on a lake, get a swim in at the hotel.

Consistency and focus are two weapons that will take your forward, not just with running or fitness but anything in life.

Enjoy your runs and keep at it. Life is an outcome of the choices we make.

 

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Sagar Baheti, an amateur runner and cyclist from Bangalore who runs a successful import and export stone business and in 2017 was the first ever visually impaired runner from India to successfully complete the Boston marathon.

Read more

Featured, Motivation Comments Off on Meet the 22-time Ironman from Pune |

Meet the 22-time Ironman from Pune

Protima Tiwary catches up with the man who finished his first Ironman in under 12 hours, Kaustubh Radkar.

India’s first Ironman, Fastest Indian of the Year, 22 Ironman Finisher title holder, swimming champion and an inspiration to many, Kaustubh Radkar says he lives for the Ironman World Championships. We caught up with him for a quick chat about what keeps him going for those 17 hours.

What made you opt for the Ironman?

I grew up as a swimmer, with 1995-2000 being my best years where I was the Indian National Champion in various events. In 2001 I won a swimming scholarship and made my way to the United States of America. I kept at it for a couple of years before ending my swimming career. Now see, I was used to extremely high levels of fitness. I had to replace my swimming training with something else, and I realised running was the easiest way to do it. Since I was a long distance swimmer, I also opted for long distance running. I ran my first NYC Marathon in 2016 and have never looked back since then.

But being an Ironman finisher at 22 championships, people forget that I am a runner too, and only treat me as an Ironman athlete. I am not complaining though! Ironman has been my passion for over ten years now. It’s been the reason I wake up with a purpose.

So what you’re saying is…you’re not just a marathoner, you’re an Ironman! What has been the highlight of your ironman career?

With 22 Ironman championships under my belt, I have a bunch of high moments that define my career. I could go on and on, but the top ones would be the time when I finished my FIRST Ironman in 11 hours 41 minutes in Arizona. 29th March 2015, Port Elizabeth, South Africa is also special since it was the day I completed Ironman in all 6 continents. Another one would be qualifying for and finishing the Ironman World Championships at Kona.

Marathons don’t always go perfectly. Any moment you’d like to share with us where you thought things were going downhill? How did you overcome that?

I had just finished Ironman Wisconsin on September 9th, 2017 and was at the start line of the coveted Berlin Marathon in just 2 weeks!  The first 23-25kms went right on pace, and then things started to fall apart.

Having enough racing experience, I was able to cool off and managed to finish the Berlin Marathon in 3 hrs 26 mins.  When things go wrong, it always comes down to what happens in your mind.  Having a mantra for this time helps a lot; it has certainly helped me and my trainees.  “Mind Over Matter” is what we chant when things are not looking too good.

What did you learn from your worst and best races?

Ironman is all about discipline and consistency, and you have to put in a lot of hard work. You might have enjoyed the best race and might be supremely talented and strong, but each Ironman is a different experience and you cannot let go of hard work. From my best races, I have learnt humility and discipline. One race does not define you- a fact that I keep sharing with my trainees.

From my worst races, I have learnt how staying positive is the difference between giving up and finding a way to solve a problem and finish a race.  It’s very easy to be down on yourself after a bad race, and how you react is what separates the great from the average.

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

Willpower! If you were to ask my family, my willpower has defined me throughout my life.

They say consistency is key – but how do you build this consistent pace that they talk about?

We all have goals when it comes to running. We want to run faster or run at consistent paces throughout workouts and races.  As runners, we dedicate time every week to target speed, tempo, long runs etc. But it’s crucial for longevity to invest time in other aspects such as strength training, core work and of course, diet.

Strength training, flexibility, core work is essential to gain time and endurance, but more importantly to stay injury free. A lot of times people complain they are either stuck at a certain pace or not able to achieve consistency. It’s because the focus has been on running only, and not the diet and strength training.

Could you share your training routine with us?  

As a full-time coach, a lot of my training now happens with trainees all over the country. I run thrice a week (typically Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday) and I also do some indoor bike training every Wednesday. I also hit the gym on Wednesdays and Fridays. Saturdays are for outdoor bike training.
Swimming is my strength, and I do 2 short sessions of 30 mins in the pool on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Fridays are for the long distance swimming sessions.  I also add in a couple of sessions of yoga in my training schedule.

An ultra-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? 

My last Ultramarathon was the Comrades 89.2kms in May 2016.   I ran an 8 hrs 47 mins race that year and ended up as the fastest Indian that year.  If you have trained well, during the training itself you have moments where you face your fears, start questioning yourself and find ways to overcome those.

Ultramarathon training involves setting a strong strategy and then being patient.  Far too often athletes steer away from their plan due to the excitement of the event.  Even at Comrades, I had told myself that the race doesn’t even start till 60kms, that I must be patient.

The Ironman Triathlon organized by the World Triathlon Corporation entails a 3.86-km swim, 180.25-km bicycle ride and a 42.2-km marathon that must be completed within 17 hours. For most of us, simply reading the distances is a daunting task. But for supermen like Kaustubh Radkar, it’s a way of life. Thank you for being such an inspiration to the running and marathon community in India!

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 travelling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

Read more

Training Comments Off on When you goof up your form |

When you goof up your form

Common exercises done with incorrect form can cause more damage than you anticipate, cautions Protima Tiwary.

You’ve decided to get into shape, you are all set to hit the gym, you’ve got your workout gear in place, and you’re all charged up to sweat it out. Great job! Take a pause and congratulate yourself, because it takes a lot of willpower and determination to get started too!

Now that you’re here, we’re sure you’ll be expecting results. It takes time, a lot of hard work, a great diet, and most importantly, the right form, to see the strength in your body grow. If your form is wrong, not only will you struggle to see results, but also increase your chances of injury! While you might have trainers and coaches around you to correct your form, there will be times when you might be alone. Luckily for you, there is a way of checking if you’re doing an exercise right.

Here is a list of some of the most common exercises that people get wrong (even after years of training!) Minimise your chances of injury and maximise results with these form checks:

Planks

Mistake – Dipping hips. The dip in your back is what causes your lower back muscles to hurt.

Correction – Lie down horizontally, then lift your body off the mat in a straight line. Squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips so that your head, hips and heels are all in the same line.

Push Ups

Mistake– Flaring elbows too far away from the body (this causes shoulder injury in the long run), not going down fully, bending the hips up and down instead of the body, forehead touching the ground before the chest,

Correction– Plant your feet together, with your palms almost as wide as your shoulder width. When you push yourself up, only your palms and feet should be touching the floor. Make sure you’re coming up straight. Go down slowly, making your chest reach the floor first.

Bent Over Rows

Mistake– rounding your back, curling your wrists as you pull back the weight, moving your hips (excessively)

Correction– Stand with your feet as wide apart as your shoulders, bend at the knees and bend forward from your hips (like a hinge movement done with knees bent) You will now be at an angle of 45° to the ground. The bar should be below your knees, and your back and neck should be straight. Pull the bar into your lower chest, with the elbows moving into your body, pointing upward.

Overhead Press

Mistake–  gripping the bar wide, not contracting the core, doing a fast up and down movement.

Correction–  Maintain a shoulder grip at the bar, contract your core (and glutes) to maintain a neutral spine, and push your chest out a little. Your elbows should be pointing to the ground (not to the back) When you lift the bar up, move your head slight back while maintain the straight upper body form. Once on top of your head, bring it down slowly till your chest with your elbows pointing straight down.

Hanging Leg Raises

Mistake– swinging of the legs, swinging of the body, lifting legs only halfway.

Correction– Hold on to the bar, and make sure your body isn’t moving. After stabilising yourself, lift your legs as high as you can (keep the legs straight) If you are just starting out, bend your legs and try getting your knees as close to your chest as possible. If you have  a strong core and grip and wish to increase the difficulty level, try touching your toes to the bar that you’re holding (without bending your leg of course)

Bicep Curl

Mistake– swinging the upper body while doing the curls, curling the wrists too, not bringing the weight down fully.

Correction– Focus on using only the biceps. Stand (or sit) straight, place our arms at your side and lock the elbows into your body. Now slowly pull the weight up, and lower it without moving your elbow out of it’s position. In order to keep the forearm out of this movement, leave your wrists a little loose. When you lower the weight, make sure your arm is fully extended.

These exercises are the most common ones that almost everyone does while training, and more often than not the correct form is ignored. The injuries might develop after a long time of doing the exercise in an incorrect form, but why wait for an injury when you can prevent it and learn slowly? Progress is slow, you need to be patient, and if you’ve been working hard and using the correct form, the results are bound to show.

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 travelling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Maffetone Method |

Maffetone Method

Marathoner Ajit Thandur speaks about the Maffetone Method that is aimed at reaching full human potential.

In my previous article titled Endurance and the Indian Runner, I had spoken about how amateur endurance running has so rapidly evolved in India over the last 15 years. The quest for fitness, weight loss, and good health has turned into a quest for speed and better timing, be it in running, bicycling or swimming.

Being an amateur runner and swimmer myself, I have often tried several techniques to improve myself. One method stands apart, I have found the Maffetone Method to be the most effective for me for the following reasons:

  1. You train your body to predominantly use aerobic muscles for energy during the endurance activity. Doing this helps to effectively use your body fat feed energy for the activity. In other words become ‘fat adapted’.
  2. With prolonged 180 Formula-based workouts, people who set out to do some form of endurance exercise for weight loss will benefit immensely.
  3. With this method, you can stay away from injuries due to excessive straining.
  4. Most importantly, as amateurs, we can keep ourselves fresh and agile through the day to work for our living and not feel lethargic or exhausted.

So, what is the Maffetone Method? How does one go about settling into the 180 Formula? How does one track development and be sure the training is right?

The MAF Method is a philosophy developed by Dr. Phil Maffetine over the course of 40 years of scientific research and clinical practice to help individuals of all ages, athletic abilities, physical issues, and personal goals reach their human performance potential.

Maximum Aerobic Function Test or the MAF Test is a key tool to keep track. The concept is simple, straightforward and easy to understand and follow.

How does it work? After determining your Threshold Aerobic Heart Rate, choose a convenient stretch along your favourite running route. Do a warm-up run of about 1KM, then using your HR monitor run 3KM keeping your HR at the Threshold Aerobic Heart Rate and record your pace for the distance.

Note this down. Typically it should look like this.

MAF Test dated:          at Threshold HR of:

Km          Pace

1               6:45

2               6:48

3               6:53

Repeat this test in the same format on the same route once every month. Ideally, you should do this for 6 months, though you might start seeing results as early as 3 months. The results I refer to is you achieving a faster pace at your Threshold Aerobic HR.

A few things to bear in mind:

  • The best way to achieve optimum results through the Maffetone Method / 180 Formula training is to do it alone because each of us have different thresholds.
  • If you’re doing it in as a group, you will tend to stay with the group and not required Heart Rate you need to be at.
  • Do not get upset when you start with this training, as you will not be able to maintain the same pace you have been running so far because you will invariably run at a lower heart rate than you have been running until now.
  • Happiness will dawn on you when your pace starts to get better and better at your constant Threshold Aerobic Heart Rate.
  • Most important of all, be patient!

There are certain factors other than just your pace that can affect your heart rate on certain days. It could be stress, lack of sleep, change in location/weather, lack of hydration, the unsuitable or irregular food you had the previous day. Always remember – 8 hours of sleep, rest and recovery after long runs/rides are of great importance.

What I have covered is a brief insight into the essence and benefits of the Maffetone Method and MAF Test. To know more and understand it even better, please go to this link:

https://philmaffetone.com/maf-test/

In conclusion, the Maffetone method is not a definitive step-by-step process to follow for faster results, instead, it is an approach that if followed well will help us make a healthier version of ourselves.

GUEST COLUMNIST

Ajit Thandur is an entrepreneur and amateur endurance runner/swimmer based in Mysuru taking a keen interest in injury-free training and nutrition. He also conducts Thonnur Swimathon, Tri Thonnur and a run race Chamundi Hill Challenge in Mysuru.

 

Read more