News Comments Off on IAAF Confers Prestigious ‘Gold Label’ title to TMM |

IAAF Confers Prestigious ‘Gold Label’ title to TMM

Procam International, pioneers of the distance running movement in India, today announced that the 16 th edition of the prestigious Tata Mumbai Marathon has been accorded the ‘Gold Label’ by the International Association of Athletics Federations {IAAF), making it the only Gold label marathon in the country, and join the elite list of marathons in Asia.

Tata Mumbai Marathon is one of the top 10 marathons in the world and with this Gold Label, the event has firmly cemented its position as one of the preferred events world-wide. The US$ 405,000 event will witness in action over 46,000 participants running across six race categories on Sunday, 2d” January 2019.

The IAAF Gold Label is granted to races basis stringent criteria including organizational excellence, world class elite filed representation, prize money for male and female runners, exhaustive medical support system, live television coverage for an enhanced reach of the race, media facilities, timing and qualified personnel to ensure smooth conduct of the event across departments, among others. In addition, it also considers the course measurements, sanitation of the route which includes – safety and quality of the route, restrictions on traffic to allow free movement for runners within the specified time, facilities provided on course for a pleasant running experience for all participants.

Speaking on the occasion Vivek Singh, Joint MD, Procam International, said, “We are honoured to receive the IAAF Gold Label for the Tata Mumbai Marathon. This achievement is symbolic of the collective efforts of a team that works tirelessly for months to ensure a Race Day that we all look forward to. We are thankful to all sponsors, partners, city and civic teams, the Government machinery, media and above all, our runners that make this event a resounding success. It is the Gold in You that shines bright and pushes us all to raise the bar higher, year after year!”

Adilie Sumariwala, Vice-President of Indian Olympic Association and President of Athletics Federation of India, said, “We have been a part of this event since its inception and this is a phenomenal accolade for the Tata Mumbai Marathon. With this added feather in its cap, the Tata Mumbai Marathon joins an illustrious list of gold label marathons in Asia. We are all witnessing the revolution that is taking place in sports in India, especially in track and field, on the international stage; and events such as these have had a huge impact in building the sporting fabric of our country!”

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Standing out in a crowd |

Standing out in a crowd

Find out what its like to be the only female participant in an Ironman, as told to Deepthi Velkur by Solonie Pathania, the newest Ironman from Pune.

Gina Carey, a woman of many talents – singer, director, producer famously quoted “A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink”. I do not think a better line captures the spirit and soul of Solonie Pathania, India’s sole female participant at Ironman 2016.

Pune-based Solonie Singh Pathania juggles between being a full-time professional and a passionate amateur triathlete. Her list of accomplishments is quite a read:

  • Ran her first full Ironman in 13hours 49 mins in the process becoming the 3rd Indian woman to ever complete the race.
  • Finished 1st in the women solo event at the Deccan Cliffhanger challenge (34 hours 54 mins covering 643KM between Pune to Goa)
  • Completed 6 triathlons, 1 duathlon, 3 full-marathons, and numerous half-marathons and 10Ks.

In this riveting read, she tells us how she went from running to stay healthy to compete in the Ironman challenge.

FM: You were active growing up but that slowed down during graduation. Why? How did running happen?

Solonie: During graduation being active was never really a priority. I joined college, moved to Pune and there was always something else fun to do. On top of that, I met with an accident that required me to have a knee surgery which made any physical activity difficult.

By mid-2013, I realized I was out of shape and started accompanying my father, a fitness enthusiast, on his early morning walks. Later I started running to shed the extra weight that I had gained over the years.  A few months down the line I heard about a 10K run and signed up along with a few friends and that run somehow turned me into a running fanatic.

FM: When and how did you gain an interest in Triathlons?

Solonie: My progression to triathlons was very natural and organic. After my first 10K, I realized that I enjoyed being outdoors and participating in events that challenged me physically. I heard about a Triathlon race in Pune and found it interesting – so I went ahead and signed up for it. It (the event) was in December 2013 and at the end of it, I fell in love with the sport. The thrill of doing 3 different disciplines (swimming, cycling and running) one after the other excited me. The event had an 800-meter swim, 10K bike ride, and 5Krun. I was pretty relaxed and took my time to complete the race, but I remember having crossed the finish line with a smile. I was euphoric after the race purely because of the amount of fun I had.

FM: Can you please take us through your first Ironman experience in 2016?

Solonie:

The time before the race.

Honestly, nothing can prepare you for the experience of your first Ironman race.

It’s literally the world of unknowns – you’re unsure of how your body will react to new limits, new weather conditions or even how you’d feel the morning of the race.

Kalmar (Sweden) where the Ironman race happened is well known for its windy conditions. The temperature of the water was a lowly 13 degrees that morning which meant we could swim with a wet suit on. The temperature outside though was between 19-22 degrees which was perfect for the bike and run leg.  Unfortunately, I could not train in such conditions back home.

In order to acclimatize ourselves, we arrived in Kalmar a week ahead. That week was filled with nervous excitement as I watched 3000 athletes from the world over cramp themselves into Kalmar. The air was abuzz with energy and good spirits – everyone was talking about the race, exchanging notes and sizing up the competition (in a nice way).

As time passed, the nervousness grew and soon it was ‘RACE DAY’. As we drove to the start point, there was an eerie calm and I felt quite nervous during our final set up. I did everything possible to stay calm and with one final call to my mother back home I was all set.

The race itself.

The event has a wave start where athletes are divided into groups based on their expected finish time for the swim leg. The athletes self-assess the time they will take and accordingly stand in their respective groups – <than 50 mins, 60 mins, etc. I stood in the 1hour 40-minute group as my training average was 1hour 46-minutes.

7 AM and we were off. My nervousness at the start was superseded with this grit to finish the race. The swim leg went well for me, despite challenges like a sudden temperature drop and reduced visibility (< than 100m) owing to the mist. I was thrilled to finish it in 1 hour 37-minutes. I rushed to the transition area, changed and headed to the start of the biking leg (7 mins – pretty good for a first timer).

The bike leg was a challenge – 30 mins into the leg, I realized that I had pushed the wrong button on my watch and paused it. I lost all count of my distance and time. Nevertheless, I trudged on and 50K into the ride, I was feeling great and averaging between 27-29 KMPH. Tragedy struck again – my menstrual cramps kicked in and I was in agonizing pain, my speed dropped to 23 KMPH and I contemplated giving up, but something in me wanted me to push on. At the 80K mark, I took a break and thought – I can’t let a menstrual cramp come in the way of my Ironman dream.

With that thought, I hopped back on the bike and gave it my all. It was difficult, but I managed to complete the ride in 7 hours 12-minutes.

I was still cramping when the run started and with 5 hours ahead of me, I had to re-strategize. I decided to run as fast as I can between aid stations (1.5K apart) and walk through the aid stations (100M long).  Along the way, I met a fellow Indian and asked him how were we with time – he told me that if I ran at this pace, I could be looking at a sub-14-hour finish. That is all I needed to hear to dig my heels deeper and not give in.

The support of the crowd was amazing – people were encouraging and there was so much positivity. People shouting out ‘Go Solonie’ and ‘Go India’ gave me that extra push I needed. When I completed my final loop, I hugged the sweet old man who gave me my 3 colour band which we received at the end of each loop.

At the end of the race.

I had visualized the finish multiple times in my head – but it was nothing compared to actually living it. That moment and those 4 words – “You are an Ironman” resonated in my head. I was filled with relief, excitement and immense pride. I could not have asked for a better first triathlon.

FM: You need to be strong in all 3 disciplines – Swimming, Cycling and running? What was the training you underwent for this massive challenge?

Solonie: Training for the Ironman challenge was tough but luckily, I had the right people supporting and guiding me. I was fortunate enough to meet Dr.Kaustubh Radkar (22-time Ironman finisher) in 2014 at one of the triathlon events and when I decided to do the Ironman, I immediately contacted him, he took me under his wings and I followed what he told me. With a full-time job and a tight weekly schedule, I limited my training to 2-3 hours on weekdays and 4-5 hours on the weekends. I trained 6 days a week and kept 1 day for recovery. The rigorous training program included strength training, nutrition, diet control, and proper recovery. He trained me well in multiple aspects of the race like how to fix a puncture, how to be efficient during transitioning, race day nutrition etc.

FM: You participated in the 2017 Ironman challenge. Where you better prepared this time?

Solonie: I was definitely in a better mental state for my 2nd Ironman race (Australia, December 2017). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my physical state. A few months before the race, I developed a hip injury and had a painful corn on the sole of my foot – these factors made training and the race quite difficult.

Race day was a huge challenge not just for me but for all athletes – the swim leg was canceled owing to a shark sighting that day, on the bike leg there was a massive bushfire which was fueled by hot crosswinds that drove many athletes to give up and on the run leg, the humidity and heat was ridiculously high making it a very exhausting run. Overall, I was glad to cross that finish line in one piece.

FM: With the level of physical and mental toughness needed, how do you train yourself to stay strong during the event?

Solonie: I am convinced that these endurance races are about your mental strength more than your physical ability. When you put your body through so much for a long duration, it is natural to feel aches, pains and stress but pushing on despite that is the mental strength you need.

It isn’t easy – there are days when you wouldn’t want to get up at 5 am, train for 3 hours and then go to work for 9 hours, days when the body is sore from the previous days’ work out or when you’re on your menstrual cycle and have bad cramps. Despite all of these challenges, you still get out there and train – that’s what makes you mentally strong.

You must also factor lifestyle changes needed – a non-existent social life because your life is structured around training schedules, work, sleep deprivation and tiredness. On top of that, you always have these questions – Why am I doing this? Is this the right path for me? Why did I not choose an easier dream? It’s important that you condition your mind to let these thoughts pass. You will have tough days, but you have to train yourself not to mull over this as there will always be a better tomorrow.

Never forget – always listen to what your body is telling you. If you ignore it, you will most definitely suffer the consequences. In addition, I made sure I talked to my coach and friends about any apprehensions as their reassurance helped a long way.

FM: You took part in the 2018 Deccan Cliffhanger race from Pune to Goa? What was it like to take part in a challenge like this one?

Solonie: I had never done an ultra-cycling race before, so I was not sure what to expect or how my body would react. The maximum distance I had ever covered at a stretch was 300K in training. Nevertheless, I signed up for DC 2018 to test myself and see how much further I could go. The race involves cycling for 643K at a stretch and the terrain is very challenging. After a point, everything was an uphill challenge – literally and figuratively as this race tests your physical and mental capabilities equally. With fatigue and sleeplessness chasing you down, it takes everything you have to keep your head clear and banish thoughts of “giving up”. I have never experienced exhaustion like this before, but as they say – the tougher it is, the sweeter is the result. I did the race barely 10 days back, so it still feels a little surreal that I actually cycled non-stop for 34hours 54-minutes and finished first in the women solo riders’ category.

FM: A final question – what does it take for you to be a good triathlete?

Solonie: Consistency, hard work, dedication, discipline, and focus – these 5 things are the perfect blend to be successful in anything we set out to do.

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 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 Do Miracles happen in Marathons? |

Do Miracles happen in Marathons?

Brijesh Gajera asks a question that is on every runner’s mind, but he is talking about more than just a Christmas miracle.

It wasn’t too long ago when I was on my usual weekend run, I bumped into a fellow runner. We said our hellos and decided to run together while we caught up on our running escapades. He has run quite a few marathons and only a few weeks ago returned from a world major marathon.

That was a big talking point for us – he mentioned that he had trained well for a sub-4-hour finish for a few months leading up to the race, but on race day disaster struck and he suffered from cramps for the last 10K of the race. Despite the setback, he managed to finish the race in 4hours and 10 minutes.

Obviously, I was curious to find out what happened and asked him about it, he told me that he turned up at the start of the race feeling fresh, confident and in the heat of the moment he decided to attempt a 3hour50minute finish!

I was stunned! “Do you believe miracles happen in marathons?” I asked him in disbelief. I guess he was equally in disbelief at my question because he asked me “What do you mean” with an amused look on his face.

I went on to explain that in my long-distance running career spanning over a decade, I have seen many a runner falling prey to the desire of wanting to push themselves higher than what they trained for. They feel fresh, confident, charged up at the start of the marathon and with the race-day euphoria surrounding them, they try and achieve more without being fully ready for it.

Now, don’t get me wrong – optimism is great, it’s what keeps us going day in and day out but to be honest, a marathon can be as punishing and as rewarding at the same time especially when you run ahead of the pace you’ve set for yourself.

Nearly all of us get to the start line full of energy (some bit of nervous energy as well) but with a spring in our step and a will to push forward. A marathon is a game to keep that energy intact for 42.195K – that is what we are supposed to achieve in our training. If you have trained yourself for a particular target for weeks and months, your muscles, tendons, joints, veins, and nerves have synchronized themselves to help you do that. All of a sudden, when you surprise them by changing the target on the D-Day, they will respond to you in the beginning, but the chances are that they will wilt as you approach the finish line.

Let me try and quantify this so that you can get a better understanding.

Let’s say, you have decided to complete the race in a time that is 10 minutes faster than your target time that you have trained for as my fellow runner did. That is roughly 14 seconds per km faster for a 42K course (and I am not even talking about the final 195 meters!). Now, you will be able to maintain this pace for a few kilometers but eventually, you will hit the wall where your legs feel like bricks. This is why coaches stress on following a tried and tested method on race day.

In my personal life, I once experienced something you could call a miracle. I ran the Mumbai Marathon aiming for a 3hour 35minute finish, but I managed to finish it in 3hours 29 minutes and 41 seconds. That translates to me running the race at approximately 7 seconds faster per km. For a large part of the race I maintained a pace which was about 2-3 seconds per km faster and only when I crossed the 36KM mark, I figured why not aim for a new target of 3hour30mins? That’s when I pushed myself harder and literally ran like the wind to achieve even lesser than my new target of 3hours and 30 mins. It felt like an absolute miracle!

A word of CAUTION though: I have run faster races since then, but I have never been able to repeat that kind of improvement over a target since. This is why it is called a M…I…R…A…C…L…E.

To aim for a miracle to happen during a marathon is wishful thinking at best and a recipe for disaster at worst. Often the decision to push yourself harder than what your body has been trained for leads to injury or underperformance and in the aftermath of such a race, it could lead to you doubting your training and even yourself. I’m sure you do not want to be in that mind space ever.

If you are still looking for miracles, what could be more wonderful than following your target plan as best as you can and then achieving the results you strived for? Isn’t it miraculous to achieve the target we’ve planned on achieving in a long time and getting our belief reaffirmed in our training and ourselves?

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Brijesh Gajera is an avid marathoner, aspiring ultra-marathoner and coach at Ashva Running Club.

Read more

Featured Comments Off on The Latest and Best Marathon Training Method |

The Latest and Best Marathon Training Method

Coach Pramod Despande of Jayanagar Jaguars talks about the various methods that runners can consider while training for a marathon.

We have all heard of the age-old adage “practice makes perfect” and while that holds good to this day, practising and training the right way is the key to being successful. In this read, let’s have a look at some of the best training methods out there and how these can be leveraged to help amateur runners like us run better.

The latest and arguably the most successful marathon training method has to be the one developed by Patrick Sang. The evidence of that is the recently delivered World Record time of 2:01:39 (by Eliud Kipchoge at the 2018 Berlin marathon) and also an
unofficial world record of 2:00:25! Takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

To be fair, this training method isn’t suited for mere mortals like us. For that matter, we can’t sustain any of the elite marathoner’s training methods as they are exhaustive and intense – consider their weekly mileage of 200 – 225 km which is equivalent to 3 – 4 weeks of mileage for normal runners.

That leaves you wondering – what is the most suitable training method for amateur marathoners like us and what are the latest methods of training?

Before I can answer that, let’s first understand the evolution of present-day marathon training methods and the training programs.

The Earlier Methods:

Since 1896, when the first competitive marathon was run, many runners and coaches have developed various training methods for competitive elite athletes. The documented plans, however, started with the pioneering work by Arthur Lydiard of New Zealand in the ‘60s, ‘70s and its impact can be witnessed even today through the terminology coined by him e.g. “base building”, “peaking,” etc.

Lydiard’s basic idea was to develop runner’s stamina first and then work on their speed. He divided the whole year into different periods (periodization) with emphasis on specific aspects with respect to each period. The average mileage for marathon-conditioning phase(base training) is of about 160 km, then moving on to the next phases that include ample use of hill training, intervals, and speed training. He suggested the use of gymnastic exercises for the loosening and stretching of muscles but was not in favour of weight training.

Over the years, many coaches developed their methods by modifying Lydiard’s programs, while keeping in line with basic principles, whereas some successful coaches like, Gabriele Rosa, Renato Canova, etc. developed their methods in contrast to Lydiard’s training principles.

For e.g. Renato Canova’s method focusses on speed and raw power during the early phase and moving on to longer threshold/tempo runs towards race day. Gabriele Rosa, on the other hand, swapped speed work with marathon specific workouts.

That being said, the common aspect amongst the 3 programs mentioned above – all produced world-class performances.

Training Methods for Amateur Runners

After the running boom of the 70’s, a large number of amateur athletes started taking up running thus fuelling the demand for programs to train larger groups of non-elite runners to complete their first marathons and subsequently to increase their performances. This gave rise to a whole new area the “marathon training program.” The difference between this program and the elite training program was:

  • Larger group size (elite runners’ groups are very small)
  • Runners with lesser athletic abilities or experience (than elite athletes)
  • The training programs required to be tailored around the life of a runner (the other way around for elite athletes)

Many coaches, ex-runners, doctors, etc. who possessed good management and business skills started to create these programs and training methods. They combined a scientific perspective along with savvy marketing techniques.

Here is a summary of some of the popular methods:

High Mileage Training: These methods established by coaches like Hal Higdon involve a gradual and consistent increase of mileage with a goal to cover a high weekly mileage across 5 days a week.

Hansons’s method: This variation prefers giving equal importance to all runs and not dedicate one day for a long run. The overall mileage in this method tends to be on the higher side. This program also avoids activities other than running as part of the preparation.

Specific training pace method: The start of this method is mostly credited to Jack Daniels, where there is an emphasis on training at specific paces for each workout and has extensive formulas to arrive at precise paces. This method also uses long runs as an important workout with specific paces and variations.

More Intensity, Less Miles: These methods emphasize lesser overall mileage but high-intensity workouts for each session.

  1. Methods like FIRST (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training) by Bill Pierce & Scott Murr that advocates “less is more” theory i.e. running lesser distance but with much higher speed.
  2. Also in the similar methods of CFE by Brian Mc Kenzie, gives more importance to HIIT type of high-intensity exercises and weight-bearing exercises.

Heart Rate Running method – LHR or Low-Intensity high mileage: Some methods also advocate running longer distances at lower heart rates to increase running capability at that heart rate, a prominent evangelist of this method is Dr Phil Maffetone.

The Run Walk Method: Popularized mostly by Jeff Galloway, typically for beginners but many experienced runners have achieved quite great results through this method.

All of the above methods have provided excellent results to many runners but interestingly, they all have contrasting principles and so this creates lots of confusion in a runner’s mind.

How can methods with conflicting principles give great results?

Is there a best method?

Not really – you will find that a lot of runners swear by each of these methods and an equal number doubt them. Typically, a method will be effective for a few years and then a runner’s performance will plateau. Hence, you will need to shift to another method or incorporate some aspects of another method to improve performance.

All these methods are built upon some basic principles e.g. Progress Overload principle, Principle of Specificity, Principle of Periodization, Principle of Reversibility, base mileage built up, etc. and understanding these might be a tad technical for the average runner. Also, all these methods assume a specific fitness level and preparedness. So where does the answer lie?

The answer really lies in the runner and not the method.

Each runner has unique abilities – a combination of genetic makeup, body structure, fitness levels, aerobic base, mileage base, mental makeup, etc. These factors decide which method works best for you. For example – with respect to the genetic abilities, some runners excel with slower and longer workouts, while some others respond well to speed workouts. Along with genetic ability, a runner’s development of various aspects like Aerobic Threshold, Lactic Threshold, Anaerobic Threshold, VO2 Max, etc. will decide the suitability of a method.

All of this brings us to the inevitable question of – ‘Which is the best-suited method for me’?. Again, there is no quick and clear answer and it requires you to take into consideration a lot of factors.

Initially, the best option will be to go with a coach, someone who will tailor a specific training plan for you. A coach has his own assessment about, which method(s) will suit a runner and they will use components of multiple methods to tailor a specific training plan for a runner.

But if you are trying to plan your own training please consider the following aspects before you take a decision.

  • Check the base requirement for preparedness for the plan, e.g. the basic mileage, a PB, etc. and unless you meet all the requirements, please do not start the method
  • Check the total time investment required by the method – it should fit within your lifestyle. Any plan will work only if you follow all aspects of it, including the prescribed rest
  • Figure out if you have access to complete the prescribed type of exercises. For example – if the program emphasizes a lot of hill runs and you don’t have any hills nearby, you will need to make an alternate arrangement
  • Most importantly, make sure the target pace or finish time of a program matches your own goal as each of us have our own individual goal for e.g. choosing a method/program for achieving a sub 3 marathon will not suit you if you are looking to achieve a sub 4.
  • If you have tried some other method earlier and searching for a program to switch, please make sure you ‘unlearn’ aspects from the earlier method.

After considering all the requirements, when you select a method, please consider the following:

  • Be patient with the method you’ve chosen to see progress and achieve results. Typically, a method takes around 4 to 6 months to improve the specific physiological pathway or muscles after which the required improvement is visible to you.
  • Do not switch to another method on the basis of the result of just one race, as many factors influence the result of a race.
  • Having said that, if a particular method is causing some serious injuries or health issues, do not hesitate to re-evaluate the method.
  • Monitor your performance under the method you are following to see if you are plateauing. If yes, it is probably time to move to another method.

After due consideration, irrespective of the method you select, please follow all the workouts and rest prescribed by the method diligently and enjoy your running – the results will come through in the end.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

A reputed coach and mentor for the Jayanagar Jaguars and a technology innovation head with a leading MNC who over the past 4 years has trained more than 2500 athletes complete Half-Marathons, Full-Marathons and Ultra-Marathons

Read more

Seniors Comments Off on The Spunky Ultramarathoner |

The Spunky Ultramarathoner

Protima Tiwary catches up with the feisty Taru Mateti, an ultramarathoner who is a powerhouse of energy even after 50. 

Feisty and well over 50, this powerhouse performer is not only playing the role of a doting mother and loving wife, but also that of a superwoman who competes in ultramarathons under record timing! We caught up with Taru Mateti for a quick chat to see what keeps her going.

What inspired you to take up running?

I have been actively involved in sports all my life. I only took up running at the age of 49 as a form of recreation. I discovered that running gave me joy and a sense of liberation. I started enjoying running enough to make it my passion, so much so that I decided to pursue it wholeheartedly by leaving my job and concentrating on training for marathons. Point being, it was a hobby that turned into a lifestyle.

How did your family react when you told them about your decision to run?

They have been super supportive! Training for an ultra-marathon is more long-term than training for a full marathon. Hence, a bigger buy-in is needed from the family. It is months of consistent and long training, with a string of no weekend outings because of long runs. Fortunately, my husband runs too and my family understands my passion. If we have family commitments, we plan our running days in a way we can set out time for both family and fitness. Deciding to run an ultra is a big commitment and one must consider all factors, the family being the most important one of them. I am grateful for their support.

You’re not just a marathoner, you’re an ultramarathoner! Could you share the greatest moments of your running career? 

The greatest moments have been at my best and worst races. Let me explain.

I had run the Bengaluru full marathon in 2014 undertrained, tired, and with some niggles. I obviously did not get a good timing and realised how important it was to get a mentor who would guide me with my training, nutrition and even recovery.  This race taught me how to be grateful.

I also remember the 100K Pune Ultramarathon where I ran through the day! I was the only woman running the event that day in the 75K/100K/100 miles combined. I finished fifth amongst all men. The runners high was one of a kind.

Another time I paced a friend in Pune Women’s Half Marathon and she got her PB. Her joy at winning reminded me of how humility and gratefulness are 2 of the most important qualities that will see you through life.

Then there was the time I paced my mentor for 61k in his 161k run, and we kept talking throughout the distance. I learnt so much in that knowledge exchange!

Then there was the Fitathon in April 2017 when I was struggling, and my husband, who had been trailing in all runs till then, was going strong. He could have gone ahead, but he ran with me until the end. This race reminded me of the power of love.

How do you deal with bad races?

It is important to go through some bad races too because you have so much to learn from them! I’ve learnt that one needs to set practical targets, and a sustainable training plan and strategy needs to be thought of to support that target. Bad races have also shown me how important it is to eat well, sleep, and go through the regular body and blood tests.

As an ultramarathoner over 50, your training and mental conditioning would be very different, isn’t it?

Definitely! And I am not just over 50 now, I started all of this only when I was 49! My lifestyle before I took up running has made me injury prone, so my recovery time is longer. I also put in fewer runs and miles than others, and keep a check on my speed. I plan my run, yoga, strength training, and rest days carefully, along with my diet and supplements.

I have stopped wearing high heels (I wore them for more than 30 years!) I have altered my eating habits and am conscious of my posture. I am finally working on my spine, hamstrings, feet, glutes, upper body and core like never before!

Could you shed more light on the challenges and advantages that being on the other side of 50 gets along?

It is great to be on the other side of 50 and running as well as working out. All the wealth in the world can’t buy us good health the way working out for fitness can. Growing old is inevitable, but we have just one body and we have to keep it in high maintenance mode.

With age, women do have to deal with a lot of changes, the main being menopause. Learning to adapt to this new way of life is a part of this lifestyle, and being fit does make things better.

Yes, there are challenges too, so it is important to know your limitations. But that doesn’t mean you should stop yourself from learning new things!

If I had to point out one disadvantage, it would be the fact that being on this side of the age scale doesn’t have too many competitors, and anything that a woman this age does is appreciated a lot. Basically, this attitude encourages mediocrity.

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

Running isn’t only about running; you need to take into consideration the consistency in terms of training, diet and recovery. I do yoga/pilates at least three times a week and strength training twice a week. Yoga is important because it helps improve mobility and breathing, while sleep, nutrition and medical health continue to be important. In order to run well, one must train to run well!

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 do not think about how I am running during my run. I give it my best, learn and move on. But I did have a bad phase due to an injury when I couldn’t do any workouts for a month and had to visit the physiotherapist daily. It frustrated me, I remember crying! But I overcame all of it by focussing on doing the upper body exercises that I was allowed to do, and spending time at work and doing a lot of yoga.

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? 

It all boils down to your mental health, isn’t it? Train hard, but also practice self-love. One has to be comfortable in spending time with oneself and nature because most of the runners will find themselves running those long distances alone.

I usually find myself having a conversation with well, myself. Or sometimes I sing! I also count steps, especially when there’s a fuelling stop coming up. I also draft emails, Facebook posts and workout plans in my head while running!

Remember why you started- this will see you through the race, all the way to the finish line. It is difficult to stay motivated, but visualise the goal, why you want it so bad, and be grateful for the effort you’ve put into your training.

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

I will not pick one only,  and would like to say that I am dedicated, self-motivated and hardworking!

Any tips you’d like to leave us with?

It is never too late to start! I started at 49, did my first headstand and L-sits at 53, am learning pilates at the age of 54 and am now trying to master the art of a full split!

Inspirational, to say the least. How many times have we heard “we’re too old for this”? It was a pleasure interviewing Taru Mateti who at an age that people think “is too late” is charging ahead and rightfully earning the title of Marathon Podium Queen with each passing year.

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

Featured Comments Off on Road cycling National Champion – Naveen John – Part 2 |

Road cycling National Champion – Naveen John – Part 2

Deepthi Velkur continues her conversation with Naveen John about his training and his move to competitive cycling in the second part of the story. 

If you haven’t read the first part then click here 

When did you move from being a recreational cyclist to a competitive cyclist?

It was a couple of years after I picked up collegiate cycling. My friends convinced me to sign up for a race and I went full on – got myself a bike, some racing gear and showed up for the race and I finished the race.

During my time racing in the US, it was never competitive. I just went out there to ride and have fun. I enjoyed the training, being part of the racing action and never went in with the mentality of winning. In 2012, when I came back to India, it all changed. I felt like I was on a mission and I decided – I want to try and be the best.

You’re a 3-time Indian Time-Trial (ITT) champion and the country’s first International pro-cyclist? What does it take for someone to achieve this?

Oh! I get asked this question a lot. Every time at the national championships, I have kids come up and ask – what must I do to become a national champion?

My response is simple – ride your age X 10,000 KM and you will give yourself a shot at becoming a national champion.

Not many like that response because it puts the onus back on them. In India, cyclists are just not doing enough work compared to cyclists abroad. I realized this for myself when in 2016 I was in Australia where I rode with a professional team and saw 18-year kids train so much more than I did. It got me thinking, “Am I putting in the kilometres”?

It’s a paradigm shift that we need here in India where the athletes need to put in a lot more work. A few years ago, you did not have to work too hard to become a national champion. If your closest competitor was doing 8,000 KM at the age of 23-24, you only need 9,000 KM to beat him. Today, however, you need at least 25,000 KM to beat me (kinda cheeky, since I lost my National title this year despite that, but always “long game”).

It’s true that the infrastructural challenges we have in our country can be blamed for the bar being so low in our sport but at the base of it – practice, kilometres in the legs and hours spent on the pedals are key.

Do you take assistance from a Coach to train yourself for nationals?

I started off on my own in 2013. I self-coached trying to figure out the answers along the way but I fell short and ended up in 4th place. One of the team supporters then recommended I get a coach.

Getting a coach can be quite a daunting proposition – all of a sudden, you are accountable to someone else and constantly graded. The thought of putting your physical readiness in someone else’s hand is quite a leap.

Fears aside, I started working with my first coach in 2014 and that changed my life and introduced me to a whole new world of scientific training. I’m a pretty adept self-learner and as I was being coached, I also upped my level of understanding of the human body, sport science and training. I have since moved on to my 2nd coach who is based out of Australia.

Training in cycling is a very objective process and working with a coach who guides your physical progression can free up time to work on other areas of improvement that you constantly need to as an athlete. So far, cyclists in India have always moaned about a lack of good coaches but that scenario is changing today.

Our concluding part can be read here.

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 Running and Yoga |

Running and Yoga

Guest Columnist, Pallavi Aga talks about how runners need to do yoga to marry constant movement with eternal calm!

Runners are typically ‘Type A’ personalities (ambitious and highly competitive) and are very conscientious about their personal and professional lives. Perfection and discipline are their second nature. Running is a high adrenaline driven activity and causes an adrenaline rush also known as “The Runner’s high”, which though beneficial at times, does cause stress on the body.

We live in an environment where we are constantly bombarded with signals that keep our sympathetic nervous system (it stimulates the body’s fight-or-flight response) activated. Runners may face a heightened response to this stress, especially when preparing for an event. Terri Guillemets (an author from Arizona) once said, “Give stress wings and let it fly away”.

Yoga has the magical power to reduce stress and activate the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes healing and emotional health. It adds the Yang to the Yin element always found in a runner’s life.

Introducing Yoga into your life.

Runners are initially sceptical of yoga as it’s difficult for them to sit still for prolonged periods as they are used to the constant movement. When I took up running, I was not interested in yoga myself. It was only later on that I realized that the constant use of running muscles led to stiffness and lack of flexibility which was the harbinger of injuries. It was at that point I understood the importance of yoga and decided on practising it. On further thinking, it hit me – yoga is the key to improving flexibility, calming the nervous system and distressing as its effects extended beyond the realm of the physical body.

Yoga has benefited me in so many ways – improving my flexibility, balance, body toning, strengthening my core and improving my breathing technique which in turn has calmed me down immensely.  Today, I continue to practice yoga under the guidance of my guru Umesh Ji.

Why yoga

Flexibility 

Yoga helps in stretching the stiff, tight muscles and lubricates the joints. The increased flexibility leads to ease of movement which is essential in preventing injury and reducing soreness. For example – the reclining and standing pigeon pose is excellent to stretch the iliotibial tract and the deep muscle pyriformis which are common causes of knee and hip pain in runners. The standing pigeon pose also helps in a deep hip stretch as well as adds to the balance and strength. The frog pose is important for a deep groin stretch. The only word of caution here is that never try to force extreme flexibility on yourself because as a runner this can be counterproductive too.

 Warm up

Surya Namaskar can be used as an excellent form of warm up before a long run. It has to be performed dynamically as pre-run static long stretches are not beneficial.

Balance and Proprioception (sometimes described as the ‘6th sense’)

Balance and Proprioception are very important for runners. A body imbalance increases your chances of stumbles and injuries. Having a balanced posture increases strength and also enhances your proprioception abilities. Standing postures like the Tree posture with eyes closed also increase the proprioception and reflexes.

Strength

Yoga is very helpful to build up the strength of unused muscles in the body.  The muscles which are stiff and inflexible become weak and need to be relaxed and lengthened. Eccentric contraction of these muscles builds strength and stability.

Yoga also aids in building the upper body and core strength which is extremely beneficial for runners. Body weight postures utilize the whole body and not only the legs thereby strengthening the upper torso, arms and shoulders. It also increases the muscle tone causing less fatigue and less weight impact on the legs. A simple pose like Downward dog pose utilizes different muscle groups at the same time.

Breathing technique

Yoga involves full command over your breath and breath with movement being an integral part. It promotes deep belly breathing which is beneficial when used during running prevents you from feeling breathlessness. Yogic techniques focus a lot on correct breathing and prevent the rapid, shallow breathing which can lead to oxygen depletion and toxin accumulation.

Complete body workout

Yoga poses involve all muscles and joints of the body in one pose alone. For e.g. the Toes pose stretches the Toes and the plantar fascia helping in the prevention of plantar fasciitis and foot pain.

The deep intrinsic fascia also gets stretched in long static holds which cause structural benefits to the joints. Chakrasana is one such pose which stretches the whole body.

Endocrine and nervous system

Activation of the parasympathetic nervous system calms down the nervous system and brings down the cortisol level. High cortisol levels can cause breakdown of immunity and extreme fatigue and insomnia. Yoga practice makes a runner more mindful of this effect which in turn helps them to be productive in their runs.

Finding your edge

Runners should add yoga to their cross-training practice and they will observe a lot of benefits with the development of a healthy mind and body connection. It’s all about finding your edge and gently pushing into it so as to enjoy the sport rather than causing injuries and stress.

Combining yoga as an element to balance out your running will transform the way you feel, make you more agile and enjoy your running in a whole new way – with so many benefits to boot, it becomes important to include it as part of your cross-training!

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Pallavi Aga is a doctor by profession and an avid follower of eating clean and green with a holistic approach to health and diet. She is actively helping the society towards walking down the path of health through Facebook live events and also with media groups like India Today, Dainik Jagran and Pinkathon.

 

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Getting Fit with every Run |

Getting Fit with every Run

Pinaak Pande, an investment banker by profession with Northern Trust took to running 4
years ago with a mission to get fit and he speaks to Deepthi Velkur about his journey.

 

“I may not be there yet but I’m closer than I was yesterday”.

Pinaak Pande, an investment banker by profession with Northern Trust took to running 4 years ago with a mission to get fit. He has come a long way since then and as we listen to him talk through his journey, there’s one resonating message he would like for us to focus on – patience is key.

What was the key driver to pick running as your choice of sport?

Sports was always a part of my life – I represented Karnataka and Bangalore University in Baseball and Softball for 5 years. In 2010, I got an offer with an MNC bank and had to work night shifts and sports took a backseat. The long work hours, bad eating habits and inactive lifestyle had me weighing in at 90kgs. In 2014, I ran my first 5k (majja run) at the TCS 10K event and it was hard due to my unhealthy lifestyle. That’s when it hit me – I was unfit! It was a jolt and I decided to do something about it. That’s how I joined a running group and haven’t looked back since.

Given that you have a crazy work schedule. How do you find time to run?

Where there’s a desire, you persevere – that’s my thinking!

The last 4 years was maniac – I used to wrap up my day at the office around 4 AM and then head straight for the training. Despite the madness, I always felt better after my runs and this drove me to make time for my runs.

You did the 12-hour stadium run earlier this year? How did you train for it? Did all go as per plan during the race?

This was my first ultra-run and a very memorable one too. The amount of training I went through during this phase was immense and quite challenging. I trained 7 days a week with one goal in mind – finish the race no matter what. I followed the 2 weeks of high mileage and 1 week of low mileage training plan, focusing on my strength training and cross training. I have had weeks where my weekly mileage was higher than 90kms. My weekdays were pretty much sorted with a recovery swim post the weekly runs.

You can plan everything to a T but things don’t always go as per the plan – exactly what happened to me. It kept raining all day and during the race, it poured for 8 hours making it hard to run especially with the humidity being so high. Unfortunately, I fell short by 5.6 km from the planned target (80kms), clocking 74.4kms at the end of 12 hours.

Nutrition plays a big role in every athlete’s life. How do you plan your nutrition?

I keep it very simple. I have a big bowl of seasonal fruits for my breakfast with 2 glasses of water mixed with jaggery and sattu (natural protein for the body). For lunch, I have a millet-based diet, almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds as an evening snack and millet-based food for dinner.

In the recent SPBM event, you were the pacer for the 2hr30mins bus? What has been your experience of being a pacer?

It’s always a great feeling to be a pacer as you are helping the running community achieve their goals.

In this event, I was pacing the 2hr30min bus. I started with a bunch of runners but towards the end, there were about 15 runners who completed with me. As far as I remember most of the runners were doing their debut HM and a couple of them with 3 HM’s under their belt. I completed the race in 2hr29mins7secs just within the target time. The bus I was pacing was filled with conversations around nutrition, hydration and running. It was a comfortable race and I did not face any challenges along the way.

The satisfaction you get when you help other runners achieve their respective goals is immense and hence, I would choose to pace over racing any day at any event. I believe in karma, do good and the good will come looking for you.

Do you wish to take part in a triathlon event in the near future? How are you going about your training? 

Oh yes, I would definitely take part in a triathlon event post a couple of ultra-marathons.  I do include cycling and swimming as part of my cross training workouts. It takes a lot of training to be a successful triathlete. I am strengthening my weaknesses to get better 😉

Being one of the ambassadors for Pinkathon, you obviously have a connection to the cause? Your thoughts on this? 

Pinkathon is about women empowerment and spreading awareness about how important it is to take care of one’s health. According to me, it’s very important for women to focus on their fitness apart from what they do on a given day. I want to ensure that all women take the right steps to stay healthy and fit if they haven’t already. “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live”— I believe in this mantra. I am glad that my mentor and Guruji, Milind Soman chose me to be an ambassador for Pinkathon.

You need the right physical and mental strength to run a marathon. How do you stay strong during a race?

I would say you got to be more mentally strong than physical. Running a Marathon is easy but convincing your mind is tough. The battle is between your mind and the body for those 42kms. Your mind will always want to give up after running for a certain distance but being mentally strong is the key to run marathons and ultra-marathons. I train solo most of the days and I train my mind by altering the distance just before I head out for a run. This way you are removing the mental block from your mind.

Do you train with a coach? If yes, how has that benefited you in making you a better runner today?

Yes, I do have a mentor who trains me to be a better person every day. According to me, coaches are there to guide you and without them, certain things are not achievable.

You constantly set new highs for yourself. Where does this motivation come from?

Yes, certainly. I love to push myself and set new highs all the time as I believe you got to constantly challenge yourself no matter how much you have achieved or what challenges you might face. The challenges and my past achievements keep me going and motivate me all the way until the finish line or the end of my goal.

What is the advice you have for anyone who wants to take up an endurance sport like “running”?

Get up at 5 in the morning for a month and head out for a short run/jog and see the difference it makes to your life and you will certainly see a lifestyle change.

What big races do you have insight in the coming year?

 I definitely want to do a 24-hour stadium run and a couple of ultra-marathons in the next calendar year.

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