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For the love of running

In conversation with Brijesh Gajera, co-founder of the Ashva Running Club, talks to Deepthi Velkur about his love for running. 

Why do we love to run? It’s tough, it hurts – yet more and more people every day are taking to the roads. I had a chance to talk with Brijesh Gajera and listening to him gave me an insight into the enormous pleasure running can bring – it is, after all, a natural thing to do.

Brijesh is a software engineer by profession and an outdoor enthusiast by passion. In his professional avatar, Brijesh works with Cisco India where he tackles next generation Enterprise Networking Solutions in the hope of building predictability, adaptability, and protection for businesses worldwide.

But, that’s just one side of him – a self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast, Brijesh is a long-distance runner, cyclist, and trekker. He has participated in multiple marathons over the last 10 years, most notable of which is the prestigious Boston Marathon 2018. He has taken part in multi-day cycling tours in the Western Ghats in South India, Indian Himalayas, and Europe. He loves the Himalayas and keeps visiting them for hiking, cycling, and running which, he calls his annual pilgrimages.

As if that wasn’t enough, Brijesh enjoys mentoring and coaching amateur long-distance runners. He is the co-founder and one of the coaches of Ashva Running Club where he trains runners to help them achieve their goals – be it their first 5K/10K/Marathon or specific targets.

“The two important things I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision” – Robyn Davidson.

Let’s read through Brijesh’s first steps as a runner and what influenced him to go from recreational runner to running club co-founder.

Was running a big part of your life growing up?

Actually, no. I used to do the occasional (not more than a couple of times a year maybe) run around the school ground with a friend of mine but that was to get a competitive high as both of us were the toppers in the class and running was our way of settling the debate of who is better J

From the moment I started following athletics in my high school years, I became a huge fan of Haile Gebrselassie. Actually, who is not a fan of his? I always admired his running and that was my regular connection to running in growing up years.

What was the trigger to pick up running and do it so well?

After I moved to Bangalore for work, I used to volunteer for an NGO called Parikrma. When the inaugural Bangalore 10K happened in the year 2008, Parikrma asked its volunteers to run in the event to show solidarity to their cause. I liked the idea and registered for the event. I truly enjoyed training for and running my first 10K. The joy of running took a hold on me. What was supposed to be a one-time affair became a lifetime passion after that event.

Soon 10K was followed by Half and Full Marathons. The haphazard training was replaced by a structured program and all my travel plans started revolving around running.

You have competed in several marathons over the years – did you always plan on it being competitive?

Well, nothing was planned as such and things happened on their own. I generally get driven by a goal or an idea – of experiencing a particular marathon, achieving a target time or volunteering for a cause. Once I choose to run an event, I plan my training and focus on it whole-heartedly.

In the early days of my running, my aim was to simply build endurance and run in various places. Once I was satisfied with my endurance level, I decided to target a particular finish time and worked on speed. When I was reasonably close to the Boston Marathon qualification, I decided to train for it.

In short, my competitive knack comes from the targets I set for myself.

How many races have you participated so far and which has been the most memorable one?

There are a plenty! I have lost the count, or rather never kept it. All my race medals go in an antique trunk in my living room. Roughly there are more than 25 marathon or longer distance races I have participated in till date.

Choosing the most memorable race from so many is quite a task! Of course, my first marathon always tops the list. It was an idyllic setting in Auroville and what I experienced and learned that day about human endurance, psychology and never-say-die spirit is irreplaceable.

Then there is Ladakh Marathon 2017 for the experience and love of mountains, the Boston Marathon 2018 for the weather and sea of runners, The Big Sur Marathon 2018 for the natural beauty and scores of Mumbai Marathons for the crowd support.

 

You are the co-founder and one of the coaches of the running group Ashva, how did this group come into being and how many runners do you have currently?

Somewhere along my personal running journey, I felt that I could share my experience with fellow runners and guide them. My dear friend, Murthy R K, also wanted to get into coaching runners around the same time. In fact, he was already coaching school kids by then. Together we decided to form “Ashva Running Club”.

It’s been more than 2 years now and we have about 75 runners in 3 different locations (Lalbagh, Whitefield, Kanakapura Road) in Bangalore. Apart from that, we also train people remotely.

Do you think joining a running club enriches a runner’s experience? If yes, why?

Totally. Joining a running group has helped my running immensely.

First of all, the camaraderie of a group is a great motivation to get up and go for a run. It helps one to be regular and disciplined. There is also what I call “Running Rituals”, the warm-up and cool-down, which are essentials for injury-free and enjoyable runs. If it is left to our choice, we may avoid these rituals at times and eventually omit it all together, but when you are part of a group, these are religiously followed.

In addition to that, a sensible group can also help you avoid the excesses – too much or too less of training.

Describe the training process that you follow at Ashva?

Everything revolves around the trainee, to begin with. Every person comes with a particular goal in mind and we try to understand the goal and help the person to be on a path to achieve it.

We focus on injury prevention, strengthening, and conditioning. We maintain a healthy mix of speed, tempo and long runs in our training program.

What we try to strive at Ashva is BALANCE, not just in your running in particular but in your life in general. Balance in your physical and mental states, balance in your professional and personal life, balance in your running and non-running worlds. We encourage and help people to achieve the balance of exercise, nutrition and rest. We, in fact, urge our runners to take breaks from running from time to time for rejuvenation.

We believe all these elements come together to build a healthy runner and human being.

How do keep your runners motivated?

By a mix of continuity and variety. The continuity keeps one connected, the variety keeps one excited. Running Rituals, I talked about earlier are a permanent part of our training. We do not compromise on them. We go to different locations to train to give them a different look and feel. We also encourage them to participate in new events and explore new places on their own.

What are the top three things you do to prevent running injury-free?

Warm-up and Cool-down: No two ways about this – it is a must every time you decide to take a run.

Yoga: We believe that yoga is a fun and engaging way to work on flexibility and strength and we have regular sessions of yoga in our training.

Cross-Training and Breaks: Cycling and Swimming are effective ways to avoid injuries and burn-out. And so are breaks – in fact, frequent and small breaks are rarely understood and a highly underrated device for injury-prevention!

You participated in the Mera Terah Run last year and completed 13 half-marathons in 13 days – can you please describe the emotions before, during and after this most challenging event?

I have been participating in the Mera Terah Run (MTR) for last 4 years, and it is going to be 5th this year.

Though the thought of running 13 marathons in 13 days in 13 different places with overnight travel sounds daunting, one thing we must understand is that running is just a medium for MTR to achieve their mission. The cause we choose for MTR is the utmost priority. Running is in fact lot of fun in MTR because there is no pressure to finish under a certain time, there is no finish line and medal or certificate per se and you get to meet so many different people and run with them that it feels like a festival.

Before the MTR starts, we spend a lot of time planning the logistics and coordinating with our friends in various places to make sure we have good experience traveling and running in those places. The last 3-4 runs of the whole campaign are slightly difficult given the accumulated fatigue of running and travel. But the group bonhomie and the collective purpose keep us all excited for the whole duration of the yatra as we call it.

Being a passionate traveler as well, I am sure you have run in some exotic locations – can you please name a few?

My heart always goes with the Himalayas, Pedong/Kalimpong in Darjeeling, Leh in Ladakh, Manali Solang in Himachal, Garhwal in Uttarakhand – these are my personal favorites. Another favorite is Western Ghats – Malnad, Mahabaleshwar, and Ooty.

Diu on West Coast of India also makes to my list. Outside India, I loved the Big Sur Marathon route a lot.

What are the future goals for Ashva and yourself?

We would like to see Ashva Running Club building a healthy and active community. I read somewhere once that running makes people smarter. If that is true, I would like to see our trainees achieve the balance and also be able to coach themselves eventually and help their fellow runners with their knowledge.

For myself, I would like to see Ashva achieve its goal J That is my biggest goal. Of course, I would like to continue running. As of now, I am focusing on training for a 90KM trail marathon early next year. I plan to focus on ultra-marathons for some time and also visit exotic places in the process.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

 

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Boost Your Brain Power

Mental training exercises that you need to add to your daily athletic routine, writes Protima Tiwary.

Ask any athlete what motivates him to wake up every morning and keeps him going through the day, and his answer will be “discipline” Self-motivated people will brave blood, sweat and tears to reach their goal, and none of this would work without discipline. So how does one learn discipline? Is it something we are born with? Is it something you can learn later in life? God forbid, is it too late to learn discipline in life?

Thankfully, discipline can be learnt, but do not accept results overnight. Just like the physical body takes week, months and sometimes even years to transform, the mind needs its time too. The mind imbibes so much on a daily basis, removing distractions to inculcate discipline seems like an intimidating task to many. With a little hard work, a few months is all you need to grow into a self-motivated, disciplined individual yourself.

How? It’s simple. All you need to do is exercise your mind. Yes, there are exercises that help train your mind into becoming stronger. Note these down carefully, because these exercises can be done at any given point of the day.

Start your day with Meditation

10 minutes before you start your day is all that you need to meditate successfully. Meditation is said to be the strongest of all the willpower workouts, and for good reason. With only 10 minutes a day, your brain will be able to focus better, and you will be less stressed and more energetic to deal with the day. To get started, sign up for some meditation podcasts or Youtube channels that will guide you through the process.

Remember, it will take you some time to train your mind to focus to meditate, but as it is with physical exercises, your mind too needs patience to build strength. Give it time.

Use your opposite hand

Your brain is wired to use your dominant hand. When you try using your opposite hand, your brain will spring into action since it is a completely new activity that it is not used to. You will find yourself to be more alert and focussed. This, using your opposite hand will require willpower.

To get started, sit down with a pen and notebook for 20-30 minutes during your workday.

Treat this as your me-time and you will find yourself looking forward to this experience daily!

Do Cross Lateral movements

The idea is to get your brain to be more alert. Lift your left knee and touch it with your left elbow 5 times, then do the same thing now with the right side. Then, lift your left knee and touch it with your right elbow 5 times, then switch sides again. When you do this, the left and right hemispheres of your brain are being worked together, causing your mind to be more alert.

Cross stimulate your senses

Keep your brain alert by engaging multiple senses like sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. Doing so stimulates new neural activity throughout the brain. Some ways to do this would be to learn a musical instrument, learn to cook something new, read a new book, or even try a new exercise.

Correct your breathing

Inefficient breathing patterns not only affect your brain concentration power but also interfere in your exercises. Inefficient breathing limits oxygen to your brain. By correcting your breathing, you improve your concentration and focus, and even boost learning and IQ!

Here’s what you have to do – place one hand on your stomach, inhale slowly through your nose. You will notice that your abdomen expands while you inhale. Now exhale slowly (for around 5 seconds) and feel your abdominal muscles collapsing. Practice this for 5 minutes daily.

Other things that will contribute to a healthy mind include keeping a check on your savings and spending, keeping a food diary (food affects mood, and knowing what you’re putting into your body will help you decide how to train your mind to feel!) correcting your posture whenever you can (posture affects body language which in turn affects your emotional health) Carry around something tempting whenever you feel like testing yourself, see if you can resist it. This slowly contributes to mental strength too. Eat healthily, drink plenty of water. Also, take care of the vocabulary that you use (use positive words and avoid negative words and thoughts.) Last but not the least, learn to be grateful for what you have.

Whether you are running a marathon or lifting heavy or playing a sport, you need a strong mind to see you till the finish line. Without a strong mind, the body is nothing. Time to train your mind along with your body to be stronger, faster and more efficient. If you could build mental toughness that could help you overcome any obstacle and come out on the other side intact, you would have a positive outlook and a boatload of confidence in life, isn’t it?

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.

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Running at 46

How this Fit Mom, Smita Kulkarni is inspiring young ones to get fit, writes Protima Tiwary.

At a very early age, Smita Kulkarni faced the unpleasant shock of menopause. Not prepared to deal with this at the young age of 37, it took her a lot of mental strength to overcome the body changes that would follow. Hereditary conditions and family history also had her testing for other health scares. Today, at the young age of 46, Smita Kulkarni runs half and full marathons with ease and is a source of inspiration to so many young women all around her.

We sat down for a little tête-à-tête and found out how fitness changed the life of this leggy beauty.

Was fitness a major part of your childhood?
I come from a family of foodies, but active ones at that. Everyone I knew was either playing a sport, or practicing yoga, or was involved in an outdoor activity. As a child I would play a lot of cricket with the boys, kabaddi and volleyball in school and practice yoga with my father which I won’t deny,  I used to detest back then.

How did fitness become such a major part of your lifestyle?

Fitness became a part of my lifestyle only in 1999. I had gained a few unwanted pounds while traveling with my husband on a ship, and I knew it was time to get in shape. I started walking a lot and started with basic bodyweight training exercises. I used to read a lot about fitness too and started doing the HIIT workouts at home.

My son was born in 2003, and I got back to training soon after. I concentrated on weight training and was really enjoying the journey when in 2009 the unthinkable happened. I had hit premature menopause at the age of 37.

It was hereditary, and I was put on Hormone Replacement Therapy to avoid the side effects of menopause (osteoporosis, strokes, weight gain) But now we had another problem- it’s a well-known fact that HRT is known to cause certain types of cancer (breasts and ovarian) and there was a history of breast cancer in my family (my mother is a survivor) I had to discontinue HRT, and that is when I put in all my energy, both physical and mental, into fitness. I started running, and soon got addicted to this “me-time.”

Smita Kulkarni- a mother, a runner, a baker, a wife, a homemaker- how has your ecosystem adapted to your fit lifestyle?

My family and loved ones have been a great support. I am extremely blessed to have a husband who is very supportive of my running and other fitness activities, and it’s an added bonus that he believes in staying fit too. My son is a football player and has accompanied me for a lot of runs and has also done a couple of 10K races with me. We are a food-loving family but everything is done in moderation.

What is your nutrition like today? How do you train? 

I do a couple of Full Marathons, a few Half Marathons and 10k races throughout the year. For this, I train with Dr. Kaustubh Radkar who is a 20-time Ironman. We train 3-4 times a week, and two days are dedicated to the gym for strength and functional training. I also practice yoga every day.

As far as the diet is concerned, I have never believed in any of the fad diets, I’m too much of a foodie for that!

I just believe in eating in moderation and I try to stay off junk food, aerated water, and sweets as much as possible. And even if I do indulge I see to it that I burn it off the next day. Only if I am training for a specific race do I take extra care of what I am eating.

What has been your best race in terms of performance?

No one race comes to mind because there are so many! But if I had to pick, I’d choose the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2014 where at the age of 42 I finished in 2 hours 4 minutes WITHOUT any training. Then came the sub 2 hours half marathon at ADHM (Delhi), then the Full Marathon at IDBI Delhi. Lastly, my first international World Major Marathon in Berlin was extremely enjoyable, and of course, memorable.

How do you keep yourself motivated to continue training and running?

I have my Radstrong team and my PuneRoadrunners group to thank for all the inspiration and motivation that they have provided me with. Plus knowing that there are others who are supporting my journey and getting inspired by what I do, I am motivated to wake up each day and train even harder.

How has running shaped you up as a person?

Running has shaped my life for the better, without any doubt. There has been a physical, mental and emotional transformation. I have become so much more disciplined, I think that has been the biggest change which has affected everything else in my life. I wake up at 4:00 am and go to sleep by 10:00 pm! I have a schedule in place, I have wonderful people who support each other and I have made amazing friends on this journey. I also think I am better equipped to deal with stress now. My perfect stress buster involves me lacing up and going out for a run!

Are there any races that are close to your heart?

So many of them, but I guess it’s a tough one between the Berlin and Delhi Marathons where I ran a steady, strong race with consistent splits throughout, with no walking at all.

Could you share any myths that you’d like to bust when it comes to fitness?

Yes, there are a couple that comes to mind, the first one being that running is bad for your knees. Honestly, as long as you do a total body strength workout at least twice a week you will reduce your chances of getting injured and will enhance your running experience.

The second one is that doing crunches will get you a flat tummy. No, it’s the planks, a good core workout and sensible eating that will get you flat abs.

She sits calmly as she answers our questions, that image of perfection with her dark, curly hair, kohl-lined eyes and red pout, with no idea of the extent to which she has inspired us today. Here is a woman who shows how age is just a number, and if you believe in love, there is nothing that will bring you down. More power to you Smita! Keep inspiring.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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Healthy eating during your rest days

How you spend your rest days is equally important as how you would spend your training days – especially when it comes to eating, asks Deepthi Velkur.

In order to achieve optimal results, planning your meals around your workouts is essential and on your rest days, fuelling your body with the required nutrients needed for repair and muscle growth is paramount. How and what you eat has a huge impact on your overall recovery from the previous day’s work out and also impacts your performance on training the next day.

There are more ways than one to achieve this and it mostly comes down to individual goals, but following a few key principles helps:

Do not cut back on calorie intake: While many think they need to watch their calorie intake during rest days, it is not necessarily so. A proper intake of nutrients is essential as this is the time when the most recovery and adaptation happen.

A steady supply of calories through the day: People usually tend to start their day with a light breakfast followed by lunch and end with a heavy dinner. This does no good because energy depletes as the day progresses making us more susceptible to a breakdown. Hence, spacing out your calorie intake through the day is the best approach. Additionally, eating fresh fruit and some nuts in between meals will balance it out.

Balance your macros: For a strong recovery, you need macronutrients such as protein, fibre, and carbs and micronutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, and iron. Intake of whole foods like your meat, vegetables, and fruits are also essential in replenishing your body. Ensure you fill half your plate up with fresh veggies, fruits, and whole grains to bring a balance in your meal. A serving of high quality-protein topped with un-saturated fat ensures you are getting fatty acids which also aids in the recovery process.

No to eating junk food: You probably thought you will finish that leftover slice of pizza for breakfast but remember all that saturated fat will do you no good in your recovery process. A rest day does not mean you overindulge in your favourite cheat food.
Food rich in lean protein, complex carbs and healthy fats should be your go-to food options on these days.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate: You may notice that you do not feel as thirsty as compared to your training days. However, it is important to be mindful of your water intake to prevent dehydration.

Choose anti-inflammatory foods: While you’re giving your muscles and joints time to heal on your off days, filling up on anti-oxidant rich food such as pecans, blueberries, cranberries and maybe even dark chocolate help your body gear up for the next day’s work out as they all have anti-inflammatory properties.

If you’re serious about staying fit and seeing results from your training days, eating right matters. Additionally, monitor your results and make dietary changes from time to time to derive the best out of your workouts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Speed for Runners

Guest Columnist and runner, Anjana Mohan, talks about how you must consider building your running goals keeping in mind other facets of your life.

Chasing a time target presents fantastic opportunities to push oneself to new limits, train muscles to work hard and sustain mental effort. Improvements in speed offer immense satisfaction and accomplishment. It can become addictive and spawn a pursuit of personal bests (measured as timing). These self-evolutionary goals undoubtedly bring joy and benefits. However, I submit that the pursuit of speed is fundamentally competitive (even if it is only with oneself) and therefore poses great risks.

The simplest manifestation is the effect of both achievement and failure. The goal-driven nature of speed creates an obligatory ending once the target is achieved, or sometimes when it has failed. Continuity has to be artificially created. The endorphin high of success can only be sustained by setting new competitive goals, which will plateau over time to cause frustrations, or injury when ambition reaches past ability.

Culture of Speed

The culture of speed is ignorant of the unique nature of individual bodies, minds, and lives. We compete against others or the clock as absolutes. We consider performance in isolation rather than placing it in balance within the context of our daily lives, physiology, emotions, and efforts. We superficially correlate speed with mental fortitude disregarding many factors.

Even when a runner “competes with oneself” they are ultimately dialoguing with their own ego. Competition can bring out one’s best but also insidiously normalizes feeding and sustaining some vanity. This spiritual corrosion restrains runners from discovering their depth. The fastest runs lose the meditative beauty of time collapsing to yield to the aliveness and energy of every moment. Interval training is sweatily self-absorbed. Bob Marley said, “Some people feel the rain and some just get wet”. Running offers room for both and its best value is when it can be woven into the network of the various facets of your life.

Although both competition and goals can be set iteratively and repeatedly over the life of a leisure athlete, they are fragile and vulnerable to many fatal forces.  Running endures maturely when balanced to fold into a fitness strategy for one’s life. While speed may be a useful measure of how well you are pushing yourself, letting it dominate your running can destroy its own fundamental foundations. Consider balancing effort and pleasure. Redefine a new personal best “joy” within the changing context of your life.

Timings and medals are easy metrics. There aren’t easy ways to measure success by the criteria of whether or not a habit will sustain over a human lifetime. We are conditioned to seek bursts of brilliance or intermediate intensities (endorphins and dopamine). But long-distance running’s most powerful lesson is the opposite ‐ the slow, sustained spirit. Serotonin and oxytocin associated with falling in love can come from running, enjoying the trail and company. The meditative aliveness that becomes a part of your personality has more to offer your spiritual growth than any podium, PB time or prize. The seduction of speed should remain subservient to the enduring desire to keep on running.

*The views expressed herewith reflect her personal views and do not necessarily represent the views of any group*

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Anjana started running in the U.S. in 2007 and has helped mentor many from the couch to half marathon. She is passionate about empowering women through running and now runs in Bangalore with Jayanagar Jaguars

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Making a comeback into running after a break

All set to make a comeback after a long break? How can you do that asks Deepthi Velkur

A significant number of runners are faced with this situation and in all likelihood, it has or could happen to you as well. You begin running, push yourself to train better and faster, set new PB’s with each run and you seemed to have gained the courage to dream of the impossible.

Then suddenly all breaks loose and one fine day you stop running. It could be due to an injury, major life changes, illness or just don’t feel up for it. All those years of consistent training, being fit, gains on your mileage and overall confidence just seem to have quickly vanished as they materialized. With no continuous activity, your body loses blood volume and your lactate threshold decreases after a point. It is always easier for runners who have been training long and hard to slip back into running as opposed to a novice runner.

The ease of getting back into running also depends on various aspects like the duration of your break, level of fitness before the break, severity of illness/injuries and some form of physical activity done during the break.

So, how do you get moving again after being sidelined for a while? Here are a few guidelines to follow that will help you ease back into running –

Start at your current level- Focus on not running too far and hard just yet as it might lead to injuries and pain. If you’re not going by any training schedule, ensure to track your mileage and keep your runs at a conservational pace for the initial 6-8 weeks. In the beginning, avoid running two days at a stretch and include a rest day or cross train in between runs and maintain your overall weekly mileage of 10% per week. Remember to run slower, reduce mileage, allowing rest and recovery days.

Here’s a brief about how you could get back to training and at what level of intensity –

1 week or less         – Start from where you left off

Up to 10 days          – Run at 70% of previous mileage

15 to 30 days           – Run at 60% of previous mileage

30 days to 3 months – Run at 50% of previous mileage

3 months                  – Start from scratch

Build Endurance – There is no fool-proof formula to know of how much conditioning you lost as everyone responds differently to training stimulus. The maximum aerobic capacity that you might have lost post your break is –

  • Up to 5 to 7 percent of VO2max after two weeks.
  • Up to 20 percent of VO2max after two months.
  • Up to 30 to 50 percent of VO2max after three months

Strength training will help you handle running longer distances if done properly and assists in building strength in your glutes and lower ab area. Include sitting and lying down exercises, add drills that mimic components of running such as Glute push-off drill, Midfoot strike with forward lean, and cadence drill. These drills help in building your overall endurance.

Identify and resolve your running glitches – Getting back to training is probably your best time to re-evaluate your previous training sessions and make the required amendments. Most importantly listen to your body and if you notice anything different, act on it immediately to get back on track.

Cross Train: Runners must incorporate activities like cycling, swimming, weight training, jogging, walking, Pilates, and yoga into their training schedule. It builds cardiovascular strength, fitness, promotes recovery and reduces wear and tear of the body.

Set small realistic goals: We must come to terms with the fact that it will take us time to get back to the performance level we were at. By putting pressure on yourself, you’re causing more harm to your body than good. By setting smaller goals and meeting them will only boost your confidence. It becomes easier if you have a goal like training for a specific event, else start off running a distance of 5k. As you go, you build endurance, speed, and intensity of running thereby making it more fun again.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Run and bare it

Capt Seshadri looks at Barefoot world champion athletes who have made barefoot running a trend that has made a powerful comeback.

When it comes to a choice between shoes and no shoes, barefoot runners over the years have given their shod competitors a run for their money. In Rome, in 1960, a long distance runner, finding that the official footwear supplier had run out of shoes of his size and that those supplied to him were too tight for comfort, decided to run the marathon without them. And hit pay dirt. Four years later, in Tokyo, Abebe Bikila, the legendary Ethiopian athlete, successfully defended his title, this time running in shoes, and in the process, set a new world record.

Barely four months ago, on April 28, 2018, the world bid adieu to another barefoot running legend, Michael ‘Bruce’ Tulloh. In the early ‘60s, Bruce was a sensation, regularly winning European and international cross-country championships. Two decades later, his twin teenaged daughters set age records for running. Naturally, they also ran barefoot. Tulloh, who turned later in life to teaching biology, ran a grueling 4,600 km across North America, from LA to NY, in just 64 days. He appeared to have counted his paces since this arduous run was captured in his book titled ‘Four Million Footsteps’.

Bihar, in India, produces sportspersons from as varied disciplines as athletics, hockey and archery, but there is one great long-distance runner who represented the country in the ’76 Montreal Olympics, running the marathon barefoot in a surprising time of 2:15:58. His best marathon effort though was in 1978 in Jalandhar, where he timed 2:12:00, a national record unbroken to this day. In the 42.2 at Montreal, Shivnath Singh was in the van for 32 km, ahead of legends like Bill Rodgers and Lasse Viren. Finally, his finish at # 11 out of 72 participants, was an extremely credible performance at the time for an Indian athlete.

Barefoot running is not the exclusive preserve of the male. As a school student at the age of seven, Tegla Loroupe, born in the rift valley area of Kenya, ran 10 km to school and back every day. This early training led to her winning several half and full marathons while garnering gold in the 10,000 metres in the Goodwill Games in 1994 and 1998. Tegla, after retirement, was selected to champion the cause of ‘refugee athletes’ as the organiser of the Refugee Team for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

One of the most famous barefoot women athletes gained notoriety for a different reason, although subsequent investigations absolved her of all fault. Zola Budd, born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, migrated to England to escape the apartheid ban, driven by the fact that her world record of 15:01:83 in the 5,000 metres at age 17 went unrecognised. A year later, representing Great Britain, Zola erased her record with a performance of 14:48:07. Her claim to infamy came with her multiple collisions with Mary Decker, leaving Mary out of the competition and a tearful Zola finishing seventh.

While 27,000 km of running, including 50 + marathons qualifies Rick Roeber as one of the most prominent barefoot runners of this era, the real ‘godfather’ of the unshod foot is Ken Bob Saxton of Seattle, who has a century and more of marathons under his soles. And, running barefoot for charity, Ms. Rae Heim covered over 3,000 km across America to raise funds to provide shoes to needy children under the banner of Soles4Souls.

Ultimately, it’s a long road to run on. Whether for glory or for a cause.

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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Seniors Comments (0) |

How does a Senior runner prepare for a Duathlon

Senior runners are experimenting with all forms of endurance sports and the Duathlon is another amazing event to consider, writes Deepthi Velkur.

Swim-Bike-Run races or the Triathlon are challenging and fun, but what happens if you can’t (or don’t enjoy) swimming?

Does that mean you miss out? Definitely not, the answer lies in Duathlon.

Duathlon is often scoffed at for being triathlon’s poor cousin. However, if like me, you’re addicted to running and cycling but dread that swim leg, then the run-bike-run could be the challenge for you.

The classic duathlon challenge involves a 10K run, 44K bike, and 5K run. There is also the Ultra Duathlon that has a 20K run, 77K bike, and 10K run.

While getting through the initial run and bike challenge seem straightforward enough, it is the last run (5K) that kills you and make your legs feel like jelly, though this can be avoided with proper training.

To get the most out of your training please make sure you follow a customized program. Runners who are senior in age need to be cautious and have race-specific training plans. This approach is necessary as over time the wear and tear of the body,  as well as adaption to multiple forms of past training, make the body’s response to new training a lot slower.

As a senior runner, your years of training and racing have helped you understand your body better. Use this knowledge to make amendments and build a good training plan.

Your training plan should include 3 – 4 sessions a week of threshold and muscle training while other days must include strength or cross training. Senior runners should exercise caution when running fast as they are more susceptible to injury due to the loss of muscle and tissue elasticity.

Here are some top training tips when preparing for a duathlon:

Keep it simple: Make sure you have the basics – a bike, water bottle, helmet and a good pair of running shoes. Do make sure they are in good working condition.

Build up your training intensity gradually: Always ensure your training intensity increases gradually because a sudden change can lead to injury. Follow the 80:20 rule – 80% at an easy and conservational pace and 20% at a moderate to high intensity.

Pace yourself: Just like with your training pace yourself through each obstacle – run the first leg at a comfortable place, build intensity with the bike and finish with a flourish in your last run.

Practice transitions: You can lose a lot of time transitioning from your run to a bike to a run again. The key here is repetition. Practice by setting up a mini transition area that is safe and has marked entry and exit lines. Post a warm-up, set a timer each time you run in, change shoes, put on your helmet and run out to mount your bike and again back to the run mode. This helps you to better understand what went well and what changes are needed with respect to your last transition. Aim to get quicker with each session.

Run first, then bike: Incorporate brick sessions as part of the training program – these include a short, sharp run right after your bike ride. This way your legs get used to this transition of getting off a bike and then doing a fast run. Once you’re done with 4-8 weeks of base training, the short bursts off the bike are excellent for building muscle memory ahead of your race day. Try doing a run before a bike ride instead so you know how exactly it would feel to ride after running on race day.

Whether we like it or not our body never ceases to change through aging. You must factor in these changes as you customize your training approach.

That said, make sure you have fun, stay in the moment and enjoy yourself!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Gear Comments (0) |

Run Comfortably with Compression Tights

Deepthi Velkur takes a look at Skins Women’s Dnamic Compression Long Tights to see how comfortable they will be for runners.

Running like all other aerobic activities is much more comfortable when you have clothing that keeps you properly ventilated or in damp and wet conditions like we have  – slightly insulated and dry.

Running clothing gear includes pants, tights, shorts, shirts, vests, and jackets. The weather outside determines what combination you need to wear to stay comfortable on your road and trail runs.

The key points we should keep in mind are:

  • For warm days, the gear should help absorb moisture, keep you cool and protect you from the sun’s rays.
  • For cooler and rainy days consider wearing pants or tights as this will keep you insulated and dry.

One such running clothing item that has made a huge splash are compression tights.

Runners across the world have embraced it whole-heartedly as these tights wrap around your body cozily. The snug fit ensures minimal muscle vibration due to the constant pounding while running thereby providing that extra support for a runner to perform better.

While selecting a pair of compression pants for yourself, look for one that uses gradient compression as it provides just the right amount of surface pressure to facilitate circulation and deliver proper oxygen supply to the muscles.

In this review, I would like to focus on the Skins Women Dnamic compression long tights.

From being the first of its kind in compression sportswear, these full-length tights from Skins bring together their gradient compression technology with special seams and panels to cover your most active lower body muscles such as the calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

Product features:

  • Engineered with gradient compression
  • 75% Nylon and 25% Elastane
  • Good moisture and temperature management with UPF 50+
  • Elasticated waistband
  • Seamless feel
  • Amazing design

Compression clothes work wonders for me and I use them quite often during my workouts and on my long runs. They feel extremely light on you, making you feel comfortable, improves performance and making you feel less tired at the end of a hard training day or run. The new look of the Skins compression tights is impressive. The mesh on the sides help improves breathability. I can definitely feel a lot more compression in this model as opposed to their previous models.

These tights are available on www.amazon.in and come in all sizes from XS to XL. The price varies basis the chosen size with S, M, L and XL retailing at INR 5000 (average price). It is noteworthy that the XS size is fairly expensive at INR 11,200. All these prices include import and delivery charges.

There has been a tremendous improvement to how compression tights are built today and the Skins company are constantly upgrading their products to give a more supported compression and snug feel. If you haven’t tried them yet, the time is now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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