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Nine days a week – Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A truly fitting legacy from a living legend!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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When Does Running get Easier?

Running is an easy sport to get into but is incredibly demanding, so when will you fall in love with running, asks Nandini Reddy

Running is a rewarding cardiovascular activity that is easy to take up. That is a the reason that so many people give running a shot at least once in their lives. There are marathons scheduled, practically every weekend and each of them sees nearly 50% of new runners registering just so that they can also experience what their runner friends have been talking about. But many beginners become disenchanted very quickly because they feel running is a lot harder to do than they anticipated. We need to remember that like all physical activity, running is demanding and requires consistency. You are more likely to feel miserable in the first few weeks of running than experiencing running highs. What new runners also need to consider is that running highs do not happen all the time even for experienced runners, even they are likely to feel miserable after a run.

So how long does it really take before you feel good about running?

Each runner is unique and when running starts to feel good for you depends on the point your started. Here are a few question you need to answer first

  • Are you overweight and did you start running to lose weight?
  • How fit were you when you started running?
  • Did you have your doctor’s approval before you started running?
  • At what age did you start running?
  • How consistent have you been while running?

A relatively active person should be able to adapt to the rigor of running fairly quickly. A sedentary runner shouldn’t expect to become Mo Farah after 10 runs. If you are in your 20s or 30s and at a healthy weight then within 3 weeks you will find your running high based on the fact that you are consistent. If you are starting after your 40s you will take longer to adapt and you need more time to orient your body to the stress of running. Overweight runners will also need more time because there is more to lift and each strike puts more pressure on your knees and ankles.

So if you want to stick to running and get good at it, then you need to follow a few rules,

Be Realistic – Remember that you are starting a high impact exercise and your body needs time to adapt. As you train it will get easier. You also need time to run faster and cover more distance so give yourself the time you need to increase your strength and stamina.

Start Slow – Try and get a coach to give you a training plan. Digital coaches will also work, so you can start by following app based training programs. Try and include cross training into your routine so that your muscles will be better prepared to handle the strain of running. Try interval training methods like a run-walk routine to begin with.

Always Warm-up – Never run cold. You should always warm up before you start you run. This helps prevent injury and will also make it easier to run. Once your heart rate is elevated and your muscles are warmed up, you will feel more comfortable during your run.

Remember to Cool Down – Make it a habit to cool down. Stretch or walk to ensure that you muscles relax and the lactic acid that has built up, dissipates. It is also good for recovery and new runners should make it a habit to cool down irrespective of the the distance they have run.

Find an experienced partner – Tagging along with an experienced runner with give you motivation and incentive to stick to your training programme. You may not run as fast or as long as they can but you will get some very useful tips on pacing that will help you run more comfortably.

The idea is to be consistent and motivate to stick it out for the first few weeks that it takes to cross the threshold to become comfortable as a runner.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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From Dawn to Dusk

Neville J Bilimoria, athlete extraordinaire and founder of Dawn2Dusk marathon, who recently received “PRIDE OF INDIA” Award from ECL Narasimham, the Governor of Telengana and Andhra Pradesh, speaks to Radhika Meganathan.

“It was an honour to receive the Pride of India award along with 21 other sports personalities including Arjuna Awardees, during the inauguration of Indian Institute of Sports Medicine,” Neville says, who has completed 57 marathons in 7 years with the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018. His brain child Dawn2Dusk is very popular in Chennai and offers an exciting opportunity for amateur and experienced athletes to train, compete and win.

A national champion in rowing and the only Indian athlete attempting the Chennai-Vijayawada-Chennai race for the 4th time, Neville cites rowing as the foundation for his passion for endurance sports. He cycles every morning from Madhya Kailash area up to ECR toll booth. His running ground is the Adyar boat area, as it offers him the peace and quiet he needs. He mixes up his training with yoga every day as he feels that stretches are most important.  He trains himself.

“If you are disciplined and have clear goals you can be your own trainer. The beauty of training in endurance sports like cycling or running is that you don’t really need to financially invest in it continuously,” he opines. “If your focus is complete, you will automatically take the pains to keep you updated in what’s needed for you to keep your body in optimum condition. This way, you become the inspiration for everyone around you, including strangers.”

Neville does not eat any special diet but has only one rule that he follows diligently when it comes to food – not to overeat during the days he does not train. “It’s easy to overeat during endurance training, and you don’t want that because it interferes with your performance. That’s why it’s important to hydrate well before any training,” he says. “I make sure I drink up to 3-4 litres of water every day. If your body is well hydrated, it will have no space to overeat!”

While many know Neville as an avid marathoner and founder of Dawn2Dusk, few are aware that he is a senior partner and managing director at an organization that provides immigration services to Indians wanting to move or work abroad. We ask him how he manages to balance a challenging full-time career and a training routine that demands him to be consistent, and he answers: “Time management, pure and simple.”

That’s his first and foremost advice for young and mature beginners who want to take up endurance sports like running or cycling. “You must have good time management skills if you want to train in any passion, be it sports or any other discipline, otherwise life has a way of interfering in your plans and swallowing it all up!” he says. “Here’s a tip – pretend that each minute of your time is money, then you will be pushed to spending it wisely on the right stuff.”

Apart from local and national events, Neville participates in one international race every year, and has been supported by Vummidi Bangaru Jewellers, as the Endurance Ultra athlete for running and cycling. “In addition to organizing organizes the D2D Chennai Marathon, I also take part in the race, running 6 hours and cycling 6 hours. Dawn2Dusk donates its proceeds to a different charity every year and in 2018, the proceeds from the marathon will be donated to the children’s wing at the Adyar Cancer Institute,” he informs.

When asked about the injury risks an athlete faces, he said: “Truth is, any sport has its own risk, sometimes it’s external factors, sometimes your own body may betray you. But if you want to conquer a sport, you just have to do it, without worrying about the risks. Let’s not forget, you can get injured while training in the safety of your home! Just take the usual precautions while training and participating in any sport and live life to your fullest potential.”

While he encourages everyone to take up a sport as a secondary passion in their lives, Neville believes women are more focused and strong in their pursuits. “From what I have seen while mentoring and training young athletes, women certainly aim higher, work as hard and achieve more when it comes to targets,” he says. Who is your best supporter, we ask and Neville answers in a grateful manner. “My best supporter is and always has been my wife. Without her help, I wouldn’t have had the bandwidth to indulge in my passion for sports.”

Neville mentors young and aspiring athletes, and he can be contacted through his website http://nevilleendeavours.com and http://d2dchennaimarathon.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Ready, Steady, Bhaag

The biggest North East Marathon is waiting for you, Bhaag North East Bhaag. 

Guwahati invites you to run the biggest North East Marathon on April 1 – Bhaag North East Bhaag is here. The first international run that will see elite runners standing at the front lines, it is a race that aims to bring out amateur and experienced runners in large numbers.

Runners can register for a times 10k or 21k or just enjoy a day out with a fun run with the family. The runners registered in the 10k and 21k categories will receive a free T-shirt, personalised bibs and timing chips. A total prize money of Rs 60 lakhs are up for grabs for the winners of the elite cateogory. To participate in the elite category participants will need to provide timing certificates of a previous run. For male participants the timing has to be 72 mins or less and for female participants it has to be 90mins or less. There are also age-wise categories that participants can win prizes in.

The 10k run also has a total prize money of Rs 7 lakhs and is open to Indian nationals only. There is a cap of 2000 participants in this category and the age limit is 16 years and above. The fun run and dream run will have three starting times and it is for a distance of 4km. The age limit for these runs is 12 years or older.

Special corral markings are made for all runners so that you can easily find your category on race day.

Action Changes Things

Bhaag North East Bhaag aims to promote a Clean India through the funds raised from the marathon. The North East has always been a forerunner in social cleanliness initiatives. Following their motto of ‘Action Changes Things’, the organisers hope to raise community awareness and institute community led initiatives to promote a Clean India.

A reason to enjoy a run

If you are a fun runner, this marathon has something special for you. All participants can avail a flat 50% discount on groceries in the grocery carnival at the Khanapara ground just after the Run. Grocery retailers will offer discounts on groceries, a 50% discount on groceries for participants of the race is expected to serve as an incentive for people and get them to associate with the cause in large numbers. The entry for the 4km dream run is also at an unprecedented low of Rs 50.

For visiting runners 

If you are a visiting runner and its your first time in Guwahati then you should explore the sprawling city along the Brahmaputra river. If you are a nature lover then you can head to the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary or the Assam State Zoo. You can also visit the famous Kamakya Temple. You can also extend your stay and travel the remaining sister states of the North East. But before you return remember to take back the renowned Assam Tea.

The registration is open to only 20,000 participants so remember to register now.

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Common Mistakes New Marathoners Make

New marathoners (and sometimes even experienced ones) make these common mistakes while training for the big race, writes Nandini Reddy

Training for the big race requires dedication and consistency. Training hard and keeping the checklist on target is the way most new marathoners approach race day. But sometimes small mistakes can tumble plans for reaching goal timing or even the finish line. Check if you are making these errors that might be hampering your running.

Understand running intensity

You need to work in easy days and hard days into your training schedule. The easy days are supposed to be easy runs with slow pace and comfortable timing. You do not have to push your body on all days to achieve goal times. Consider this – on an easy day you can run a 5km training run in 45 mins as opposed to a harder training day where you run a 5km training run in 30 mins. This sort of training will help your body more than pushing unnecessary limits.

Assess your Race pace

You need to be aware of your pace before your race day. Following a race pace is very important and that is what will help you through your course. Race day excitement tends to make runners run a faster pace than they are used to and if you are unaware of what pace is right for you then you will end up tiring yourself out mid race or even cramping.

Don’t wear anything new

Every new race today gives you a T-shirt. It is a great souvenir to have to remember the race by but isn’t the best clothing to wear for race day. Using a well-worn T-shirt is more comfortable than experiencing burns because of rubbing from the new T-shirt. The same goes for shoes and socks. Shoes should never be new for a race and socks also should be ones you have run in paired with the same shoes you are running in for training.

Don’t start fast

With the loud excitement at the starting corral and announcers screaming out instructions, it is natural to have your adrenaline pumping before the start of the race. Letting this excitement create a situation where you race ahead the moment the flag drops might result in disaster. First clear away from the crowds and find  your pace. It is okay to let runners pass you in the first few minutes because you are not going to win the battle of the marathon by racing the first few kilometres.

No plan for race day

You need a pre-race plan. Most half marathoners fail their course because they don’t have a pre-race plan. They do not plan their ride to and from the course or don’t check ahead for parking zones. It is important that you arrive early enough to find a parking space and have time to find your corral. Setting up the race clothing and equipment the night before is a good idea. Use the bathroom, hydrate and get in-line early so that you are not rushing and stressing yourself out.

If these details can be ironed out then you do not have to worry about completing the race. In fact you will be all set to finish the race in goal time.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Meet Anjali Saraogi

Capt Seshadri speaks to Anjali Saraogi, the youngest Indian woman to complete the oldest marathon in the world

“Women usually undermine themselves. In my opinion, our fears are our greatest limitations. And we should spend more time living with our dreams than our fears.”

A teenaged girl, on the corner of adulthood at age 18, persuaded her mother to participate in a local marathon. The reluctant mother, who felt that she was too old for any kind of strenuous physical activity, let alone run 42 km, finally conceded and, to the surprise of all, finished first. And so began a career in long distance running for Anjali Saraogi, now aged 43 who, with just two years’ running behind her, has set records for herself and become a model for aspiring young runners to follow. At an age when most runners would be hanging their boots on a peg, this wonder woman was firmly tying up her laces.

As a kid, the plump young Anjali did not appear to be running material. While her initiation into running dispelled all her inhibitions and insecurities, the result was a shattering of records. A win at Delhi and a podium finish at the Mumbai Marathons were but baby steps to her astonishing achievements on the world scene. A temporary setback occurred when she was injured while preparing for the Chicago Marathon. Her doctors said: “you will never run again”. A dear friend gifted her a book by Amit Seth titled ‘Dare to Run’. This was to change Anjali’s running mindset forever. Amit, incidentally, was the first Indian to complete the Comrades Marathon, possibly the world’s most gruelling run, in 2009. Quite naturally, there was serious concern about her wellbeing from her husband and her father, but her determination and consistency won their admiration and support.

42.2 km was but a small start for this amazing athlete. All of 43 years, Anjali put everyone’s apprehensions behind as she toiled to complete the 89 km Comrades Marathon, the world’s oldest annual ultra-marathon that is run between Durban and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa; the ultimate dream of every marathoner. For her stupendous effort, as the first Indian woman to have achieved this feat, she won the Bill Rowden medal. Her next goal is to improve on her timing and finish the downhill race in the next Comrades Marathon and even to get her daughter to run with her.

The run of Comrades

It was race day 2017 at the Comrades. Anjali had set herself a target of 8:30. On that morning, even as early as 5.30, it was a warm day, with most of the runners being South Africans. By 11 am, with no shade and little breeze and with water points located only every 2.5 km, dehydration began setting in. 70 km done and still 12 to 13 minutes to go before the next water point, Anjali was on the verge of collapse, knowing that only a miracle could come to her aid.

And then it happened. A South African runner, probably as exhausted as she, was running alongside, with a water sachet in hand. He saw her eyes locked on the sachet, and despite his own dire need, passed it on to her to share the life reviving water. A little sporting gesture which, at that moment, transcended every border of nationality, race or gender. Comrades indeed! At 2:08 in the sweltering afternoon, Anjali crossed the finish line in a time of 8:38:23. In an interview, she states: “Mentally embracing that pain before the start is the toughest moment for me. Running the race is easy. The physicality of it has been taken care of in my gruelling training sessions — it’s the psychological aspect of it that really needs to be addressed.”

Anjali draws from her experience to advise other runners. She exhorts them to have belief in their abilities and faith in training. Pushing one’s body to the limits, she says, is paramount, but it must be supplemented with a respect for recovery and sensible nutrition and hydration. Age is never a limiting factor; confidence and faith are what matters. The need for an athletic body to run  successfully, she says, is a myth. In her words, patience, training and focus towards achieving one’s goals are all that are needed.

At Comrades, Anjali Saraogi holds the second best timing among all Indians till date.

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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Foods to avoid as Runner

Runners need specific kind of nutrition to fuel their bodies, so certain foods need to be avoided to avoid discomfort, writes Nandini Reddy

Nutritional missteps can cause complete havoc in your running. Runners have admitted that a clean and less processed diet has helped them fuel better over time. We may be adding high sodium, high sugar and preservatives to our diet without even realizing. Certain foods may also be causing headaches and fatigue but we would still be eating them assuming that they are good for us.

So what you put into your shopping cart on your next trip to the supermarket will make a big difference to your running. Here are a few foods that you can avoid.

Enriched White foods

Most of us have come across foods labelled enriched with vitamins and minerals. Any refined food that is enriched is not a good choice. Enriched means someone sprayed a whole load of artificial nutrients on to the foods. So try leaving out the white rice, maids and other refined oils and grains. If white is not recommended that doesn’t mean you jump onto the enriched ‘brown’ foods wagon. You should be looking for the word ‘whole’ instead. The nutrition from whole grain will keep you full longer and will also reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume everyday without compromising on nutrition.

Beware of packaged foods

Seeing the words – ‘fat free’ or ‘sugar free’ or ‘healthy’ on a package doesn’t mean its right for you. Most packaged food are high in sodium. Even your soups have an amount of ‘added sugar’. If you must eat something sweet then try choosing something that is natural sugars and not added sugars. If you want something more natural then pick a sweet seasonal fruit or go for dried figs or dates.

Food substitutes

You have already been told to substitute your sugar with artificial sweeteners and when people did that they found that they upped their risk of diabetes in many cases. There are substitutes for lactose and you have encountered alternatives for butter on every supermarket shelf. If you have to buy one then check for the amount of trans-fat you might be consuming because in the end you might be better off eating butter than the substitute. Instead of substituting your foods with artificially enhanced ones just try and practice portion control.

Chinese food

Yes we do love our noodles and soups but Chinese food has the highest sodium content. Also most Chinese food uses MSG (Mono-sodium glutamate), an additive that is known to worsen migraines. MSG can also elevate blood pressure and give nasty headaches, especially when you are a runner.

Diet Foods

Everyone is on a fad diet nowadays. Unfortunately most of the people who follow the fads, cheat using worse foods like diet sodas or reduced calorie snacks. These items can have artificial flavours and additives that might cause health issues for runners such as high blood pressure, headaches and even dehydration. If you are craving a chocolate then please have a small piece of dark chocolate instead of a carton of diet soda which won’t take care of your craving.

Frozen Foods

They are convenient and we are busy. But most are high fat, high sodium and low on nutrients. If you must pick frozen foods check the labels at least to see if you are getting something that has some amount of nutrition. Frozen unprocessed meats are good but processed meat that is cured in salt or brine is not a good choice. Look for uncomplicated recipes that opt for the one pot one shot philosophy of cooking if you truly don’t have the time instead of going for frozen meals.

These foods will hinder your performance as a runner because they cause spikes in blood pressure, headaches, mood swings and even fatigue. Its important to avoid foods that might affect your performance so remember to be a smart shopper the next time you are in a supermarket.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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The 4 minute magician

Remembering the legendary 4 minute mile runner, Sir Roger Bannister, Capt Seshadri writes a small tribute to the magical athlete.

RIP Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister, CH, CBE

(23 March 1929 – 3 March 2018)

In today’s extremely competitive sporting world, where records are shattered by the hour, where equipment, gear, facilities, training and diet are dictated by precise science and technology, one record, set nearly six and a half decades ago, still holds relevance and reverence. The four minute mile.

This story, of a doctor and academician with remarkable athletic prowess, begins in 1946 when, at the age of 17, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 4:24:6. An athlete who had started without spikes, had never run on a track and had trained only thrice a week and that too in half hour sessions. Moving forward to 1950, he improved his mile timing to 4:13 and also competed in the 880 yard and 800 metre races, but finishing behind the winner. The young Roger soon realised that if he were to win, he would have to take his training more seriously.

Under the tutelage of coach Franz Stampfl, he combined interval training with block periodisation, fell running and anaerobics. However, being a medical student, his busy schedule at class left him little time for training, very often restricted to 30 to 40 minutes a day, using his lunch break to run. Still, this focus paid rich dividends with a win in a mile race on July 14, 1951 at the AAA Championships in White City, where he raced away towards the tape, watched and cheered by a crowd of 47,000, finishing in 4:07:8.

The 1952 Olympics were a disappointment; in fact, Roger actually contemplated giving up. A new thought then occurred; that of completing the mile in under 4 minutes. While many were dreaming about this and several runners were making unsuccessful attempts, some even reaching as close as 4:02, Bannister intensified his training schedule by including hard intervals.

It was a cloudy day on the 6th of May, 1954, with a forecast of rain and a wind driving across at 40 kmph. This practising doctor, who had been working at the hospital all morning, was seriously considering dropping out of the race that was to happen between the British AAA and Oxford University at the Iffey Road track in Oxford. A track that was soon destined to be recorded in the annals of running history. While the wind finally dropped to a mere breeze, the 3,000 spectators lined the track with bated breath. Roger, having completed his assigned duties at the hospital, picked up his spikes and rubbed graphite on the soles to prevent accumulation of ash from the cinder track. Taking the train from Paddington, he arrived at Oxford, nervous and full of trepidation.

The race finally boiled down to six competitors. BBC Radio provided a live broadcast, anchored by ‘Chariots of Fire’ famed Harold Abrahams. The starting whistle blew sharp at 6:00 pm and the race was on. The first lap was taken in 58 seconds and the lead runner went past the half mile mark in 1:58. With 275 yards to go Roger, realising that his dream was within reach, put in a tremendous kick that saw him running the final lap in under 59 seconds. The roar of the crowd drowned out the announcer’s voice after the words: ladies and gentlemen, first, number 41, RG Bannister with a new meet and track record. A new English native, British National, All-comers, European, British Empire and World record of 3 minutes… the rest was lost in the cheering. The mile had been run in 3:59:4.

On the 50th anniversary of that glorious achievement, the now knighted Sir Roger, in an interview, conceded that the sub 4 minute run was not the most important achievement of his life. Bannister, the neurologist, saw his life’s work with patients in the world of medicine as having given him far greater satisfaction. As the first Chairman of the Sports Council, he used his influence to usher in funding for sports centres and facilities, and as a doctor he was responsible to initiate testing for the use of anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs. Roger Bannister was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2011. And on March 3, 2018, the world bid goodbye to this extraordinary athlete and compassionate healer.

Six feet below, but forever under four minutes.

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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Tri crash and burn!

Radhika Meganathan interviews IRONMAN Raghul Trekker, who recently completed the IronMan Challenge in Sri Lanka

A triathlon is an endurance competition that consists of three continuous disciplines. Its most popular form involves swimming, cycling, and running, to be completed in succession within a set time frame. We  talk to RAGHUL TREKKER who recently conquered the Colombo Ironman and is the force behind the scientific training for triathlon aspirants at his fitness studio, TRI CRASH ‘n’ BURN.

THE BUG

How did you get into fitness? I was born and brought up in Chennai, but studied marine engineering in Pune (Incidentally, the idea for the original Ironman Triathlon was suggested by US Navy Commander John Collins!). In my college, it was mandatory to run every morning except on Sundays. It was only for the first three semesters, but that set the pace for my attachment with fitness and exercise. I already was a swimmer and cyclist, so the stage was already set for me.

From the IT industry to triathlons…how did that happen? When I returned to Chennai from Pune after graduation, I joined Polaris. As you probably know, IT jobs are mostly sedentary. I started to actively look for exercising opportunities when I came across Chennai Trekkers Club. CTC introduced me to triathlons and that was it, it all clicked. They conduct triathlons twice a year in and around Chennai, and I trained and participated in all of them. I eventually learned about Ironman and other global races and started travelling and participating in them. Malaysia in 2014 and 2015, Australia and Netherlands in 2017, Columbo in Feb 2018 and I am going to China and South Africa shortly.

Was any triathlon a breeze? There are no easy triathlons! It all involves consistent training and dedication, but I get what you mean. I have to say so far Malaysia was the toughest, because of its hilly and unpredictable terrain. Colombo, relatively, was easier – I finished the 90 km cycling in 2 hrs 32 min, the swimming in 36 minutes 55 sec and the running in 1 hr 48 min 40 sec.

TRIATHLONS FULL TIME

So what triggered you to become a full time triathlete? In 2015, it came to a point where I clearly preferred to race and train than work inside an office. So I took the plunge to follow my passion. It was not an easy decision, but then I have never been the kind of person who will agonize or waver indefinitely. At some point, if you have a passion and vision, you have to make a choice. Once you make it, then you have to do everything necessary – from monetary investment to setting self-paced goals and networking hard – in order to meet your goals.

So how do you train? In general, when it comes to training for a triathlon, consistency is key. You don’t have to train every single day, but you do have to train consistently, say, three or four days a week, and you need to have your own customized schedule to follow. Emergencies happen, you can miss one or two workouts, but you need to be disciplined enough to get back on track in no time.

Do you have a trainer? Everyone needs a trainer! I met my trainer Lucie Zelenkova in Malaysia in 2015. She is a prolific triathlete based in South Africa and she has designed my workout schedule which I follow every day. Yes, it’s possible to have a long-distance coach! We have weekly skype sessions and she sends me workouts and diet charts and is there for me whenever I need her advice.

The question everyone wants an answer to – what do you eat? I eat normal Indian food. But where I differ is in my plating, I don’t fill it with a mountain of white rice! I make sure I eat a well-balanced meal of equal amounts of veggies, protein and carbs in the form of millets. In my opinion, you don’t need to be on any special diet to train for a triathlon. You just need to make healthy food choices and eat good food in the right quantity. Don’t eat junk food, don’t eat too much or too little, and you will do perfectly fine.

Global races are expensive, do you have sponsors? I still fondly remember the time when my past employer Polaris sponsored me to participate my first Ironman triathlon in Malaysia. This year, Running Lab is my sponsor for all my sporting equipment and attire needs. Otherwise, I have to sponsor myself for all other expenses, like travel and accommodation. But that’s how it is. You need to invest in yourself when you are competing in a global scale sport. The more you do, the more chances you have in networking and meeting potential sponsors, runners, trainers. And the experience and exposure is fantastic, so it’s all worth it.

Tri.Crash.Burn is Born

In 2015, 25 Dream Runners asked to train under me and I did it in the mornings and weekends while still working a full time job. I loved the experience and it inspired me to start Try Crash Burn, offering customized and scientific coaching for runners and triathletes. I concentrate only on training for triathlons.

So if I wanted to train for a triathlon can I join?  Yes, but you have to be ready to be trained. For example, I cannot teach you to swim or cycle. You already have to be a swimmer and a cyclist when you sign up for my training. If you are differently-abled, I’d be happy to train you if you have already found your guide runner.

What is the time line for training for a triathlon? If you already know cycling and swimming, then 6 months of intense training is the bare minimum. But one year is a more sustainable and comfortable pace, which you should take if you are not on some unreasonable deadline to participate in a triathlon. In Chennai, the running scene is vibrant, but not many are cyclists and about 98% are non-swimmers. So that’s an unequal balance, and it’s largely a standard status for an Indian triathlete aspirant. First step is to identify which discipline is your weakest and then start training in it.

What advice do you have to those aspiring to be triathletes? Don’t over train, and don’t under train. I don’t recommend any one to train on their own for a triathlon, as risk of injury is higher and you cannot self-correct any errors. If you are serious about being a triathlete, find a qualified trainer who is in sync with your fitness level and goals, and you will be able to achieve your targets in no time.

Raghul Trekker can be contacted at http://www.tricrashnburn.com. His FB page is https://www.facebook.com/tricrashnburn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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