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Endurance and the Indian runner

Seasoned runner Ajit Thandur, talks about endurance sports in India and how the love for them has evolved.

Endurance sport in India, especially in the realm of amateurs or recreational runners/bikers/swimmers started out really small in terms of numbers nearly about two decades ago. But this scenario has drastically changed in current times as we have witnessed a surge in the number of people that are taking to endurance sport.

I was amazed looking at the statistics of the first edition of the Mumbai Marathon in 2004 – there were only 17 women and 99 men finishers in the Full Marathon race. 13 years later, in 2017, that number has grown exponentially to 400 women and 4250 men finishers. While the percentage growth itself is quite mind-numbing, what is even more amazing is that the number of amateur or recreational runners has really shot up as well, as people put a lot more focus on good health and fitness.

Activities such as these have over the years continuously influenced more and more people to take on some form of physical activity to improve their overall well-being and good health.

For a beginner, it can get quite daunting at first – this is where a running club or a group helps. By joining one of these clubs, a beginner can get the right level of support, better training, encouraged to push themselves further and to develop their stamina and endurance more efficiently.

It’s only a matter of time before the beginner starts thinking of competing in races – peer pressure plays a large part here. Suddenly, you find yourself losing sight of the actual purpose you started the activity for but instead you now focus on comparing yourself with fellow runners and pushing yourself to improve distance, speed and with it your timing. Now, while improvement itself is good, the urge to be as good or better than someone else especially for an amateur sportsperson is not a healthy trend.

Most of us amateur endurance sports enthusiasts would in most cases have taken to endurance sports to shed a few extra kilos. As a consequence, we would have followed a very commonly touted advice of “eat less, burn more”. It is very essential at this stage for an amateur to understand that each individual is made differently and we all have different physical, metabolic and genetic capabilities.

First, the term “eat less, burn more” is very misleading. While burn more refers to exercise, eat less is a very ambiguous expression. The key here is to figure what to eat less of – I will cover this piece in my next article on nutrition.

Keeping in mind our end goal of “weight-loss” and looking for fast results, a lot of amateurs push themselves to the limit and inevitably fall into the “speed” trap. I have seen enthusiasts push themselves during their practice runs instead of doing so only on race days.

This begs the question – is pushing yourself to the limit wrong? Well, the truth is, for an amateur endurance sports person, it can be very wrong.

I would like to draw attention to Dr. Philip Maffetone’s, 180 Formula. https://philmaffetone.com/180-formula/.

I urge each one of you reading this article to visit the link above and understand the importance of doing all your endurance workouts at a heart rate of 180 – (your age). I shall briefly touch upon the principle and science behind it here.

There are aerobic muscles (called so because these muscles use oxygen and your own body fat for energy) and anaerobic muscles (called so because they don’t use oxygen but only glycogen (sugar) stored in your liver and muscle cells).

Logically thinking about it, we should be using more of our aerobic muscles, right? Because they use your own body fat for energy and that is what you desire.

It is important to understand that aerobic muscles work most efficiently at lower heart rates and is calculated as 180 – (your age). For example, if you are 40 years of age it will be 180 – 40 = 140 Beats per Minute (BPM).

At heart rates beyond this threshold, your aerobic muscles function less efficiently and the anaerobic muscles take over. Therefore, it is important to function at your optimum heart rate level so that you expend the fat in your body and not use the anaerobic muscles. The glycogen stores in the anaerobic muscles last no more than 2 and a half minutes at heart rates higher than the threshold aerobic heart rate.

Another advantage of aerobic training is that over a period of time (this may be anywhere from 3 months to a whole year depending on the individual) your pace, speed and performance efficiency improve at that same threshold aerobic heart rate. This helps your body become fat adapted and it starts to use and rely on your body fat and not sugars to generate energy for that activity. Excess sugars or carbohydrates is what made us fat in the first place and that is exactly what we need to avoid.

Let me reiterate that just one read of what I have written here isn’t enough for you understand the principle behind this thoroughly. I urge you all to read the link I have provided above on the 180 Formula and also listen to this wonderful interview on Heart Rate Training, Nutrition and Recovery (https://youtu.be/_TPrenWWK9U) between Dr. Philip Maffetone and marathoner (Floris Gierman) who completed the Boston Marathon in 2 hours and 44 mins.

Enjoy your sport, stay injury free and achieve your goals, but in the process be mindful of overtraining and burning out.

GUEST COLUMNIST

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

 

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The exciting times of Running

An IT professional who found his passion in running, Deepthi Velkur talks to ultra-marathoner, Sandeep CR. 

Sandeep CR, a software professional has had a lifelong fascination with sport and in specific running. He is associated with the running club “Mysoorunners” for the past 4 years and shares his experiences. From a very young age, he has been an active sports enthusiast and has represented both school and college across multiple sporting events. Over the past 10 years, Sandeep has trained his focus on long-distance running graduating from 10K runs to Half-Marathons to Full-Marathons and eventually covering Ultra-Marathons as well.

Just looking at Sandeep’s running achievements is motivation enough for someone like me to get going and notch a few marathons myself. A snapshot of his running credits are: the 80K Malnad Ultra, the 80K Vagamon Ultra, the 60K Ooty Ultra, the 50K Javadhu Hills Ultra, 8 Full-Marathons, 25+ Half-Marathons and not to mention the countless 10K runs – wow! What an impressive running resume.

For Sandeep though, running is just one of his areas of interest. In his pursuit of staying fit, he also dabbles in cycling, swimming and bouldering. A keen reader and an avid wildlife enthusiast, Sandeep volunteers his time with a few NGOs with the aim of conserving wildlife.

My conversation with Sandeep was extremely interesting and I just had to share some excerpts from that discussion.

How long have been into long-distance running and did it happen by chance or was it something you’ve always wanted to do?

As with most things in life, we all need some motivation to kickstart a new habit. For me, it was the realization that I was gaining weight pretty fast. Early in my professional career (about 8 years ago), my weight had jumped up from 68kgs to 78kgs in just about 24 months. This had me worried and pushed me to take up long-distance running. I’m used to doing shorter distances during my time at school and college, but never beyond a 10K.

Having taken the decision, I gathered the courage to run a Half-Marathon in 2010 and haven’t looked back since.

Which has been your best race for you personally in terms of timing and personal achievement?

I have done a few half-marathons under 1hr:40mins and a few full-marathons too in good time; but, the most gratifying experience in terms of running was the Malnad Ultra in 2017, which was my first 80K run.

Why was I pleased with it, you ask?Well, the entire process of training for it, training right and executing it on race day is something that gave me a lot of pleasure. Timing-wise, I finished my run in 11 hours which is pretty slow by any standards, but, the experience is what I cherish.

Do you set targets of how many races you would run at the start of the year and do you set out in accomplishing them?

I don’t race often enough. I do a maximum of three races a year. I have my races spaced out months apart so I get enough time to recover, train and then race again. My partner and myself run around 75 to 80km per week almost all through the year. The level of intensity differs as we get closer to the race day. 

How does your typical training day look like and where and how many days in a week do you train?

I train for about 5 days a week. I have been an ardent follower of the Maffetone method for the past 3 years. So all my runs are within the MAF heart rate which is 180- age. It has helped stay injury free and run longer. 

Could you give us some insight into the running group you are associated with -Mysoorunners? How did you become a part of this group and when? 

Mysoorunners is a fun-filled group. We have people from all walks of life associated with the group. The group was formed in 2014 by Ajit Thandur to get all runners from Mysore in one place and I have been a member since its inception. The best thing about this group is that it is non-competitive and it doesn’t matter what distance you run, you can be an absolute beginner or an experienced runner – we share the feeling of belongingness and treat everybody as one and enjoy great camaraderie.

Mysoorunners are the hospitality partners for the Tri Thonnur event. How has your association been with them?

I have been associated with Tri Thonnur as a volunteer/participant since its inception in 2013. It’s been great to see the event grow from being an outing for few like-minded folks to being one of the sought after races in the triathlon circuit across India. Typically we volunteer to ensure proper crowd management.

Which has been your latest run and the upcoming event your training for currently? Could you please share your experience\learnings from running the event and what changes would you like to incorporate in your upcoming run?

My last event was the Ooty Ultra, a road race of 60K which I managed to finish in 9 hours. There were occasions during the race where I sort of got into a negative mindset which resulted in spending a lot of time at aid stations and walking when I could have run. I realized I wasted close to half an hour with these distractions. I would like to be mindful of these things in my future races. 

How do you better yourself as a runner and motivate yourself and people around you?

It takes a lot of hours of running for someone to become an average runner as it is a continuous learning process. That in itself is a great motivating factor for me as you strive to get better each day.

What plans do you have for the future?

We are living in exciting times. The ultra-marathon scene in India is just starting out and I am sure there will be great races coming up in the future. Personally, I would like to run a 100 miler before I turn 35 which is 5 years from now. Also, I hope to complete the ‘Comrades Ultra’ something in the near future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

 

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Running your first 10k – Part 2

In the second part, a detailed training plan is presented by write Coach Pramod Deshpande to help you achieve your dream of running your first 10k.

The Training Phase

Endurance running is more than just “running itself”, as it also comprises of supplementary exercises like core, stretching, plyometrics and strength building exercises. Additionally, sticking to a nutrition plan and having proper time for rest and recovery are critical factors. Let us discuss these aspects a little more in detail.

Training plan

Here is a suggestive plan giving you an idea of how you could gradually increase the intensity of your workouts and mileage, include strength training and gym, stretching and core exercises etc. Following the below schedule will help you complete your 10K. This is more of a generic program and a better way is for you to get a customized program that suits your fitness levels and health parameters.

Week Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 Basic warm-up exercises – only walking – finish with stretching and a couple of sets of core exercises
Rest 30 mins walk Rest 30 mins walk Rest 45 mins walk Rest
2 Basic warm-up exercises – only walking – finish with running drills, stretching and a couple of sets of core exercises
Rest 35 mins walk Rest 35 mins walk Rest 55 mins walk Rest
3 Basic warm-up exercises – only walking – finish with dynamic plyometric moves e.g. jumping jacks, one leg hopping, both legs hopping for 10 minutes followed by drills, stretching and a couple of sets of core exercises
Rest 45 mins walk Rest 45 mins walk Rest 60 mins walk Rest
4 Mix jogging and walking. Add one day of the gym for basic strength training. Don’t forget the pre and post run routines. Get a massage to relax.
Rest 45 mins walk & jog GYM 45 mins walk & jog Rest 60 mins walk & jog Massage
5 With each workout gradually reduce walking and increase jogging. Continue with gym and pre and post run routines.
Rest 55 mins Walk & Jog GYM 55 mins Walk & Jog Rest 70 mins Walk & Jog Rest
6 By now you should be able to jog 50% of the time. Focus on jogging continuously. Speed is not important. Continue the gym and the pre and post run routines.
Rest 55 mins Walk & Jog GYM 55 minutes Jog Rest 80 mins Walk & Jog Rest
7 Target to jog 60% of the time. Do not worry about speed, try continuous jogging. On weekends, ensure you complete the time, even if you are completely tired, this will be the longest jog before the race. Do not miss the Gym and the pre and post run exercise routines.
Rest 55 mins Jog GYM 55 mins Jog Rest 90 mins Walk & Jog Rest
8 Repetition workouts, do not walk in a repetition of 10 or 15 minutes, you have a 45 sec rest after each repetition. Do not miss the Gym and the pre and post run exercise routines. Get a full body massage after the workout.
Rest Run 10 mins – 45 sec recovery (Repeat 4 times) GYM Run 15 mins – 45 sec recovery (Repeat 3 times) Rest 80 mins Jog Massage
9 Same as week 8. Last week of gym, strength and plyometric exercise. Continue with stretches.
Rest Run 10 mins – 45 sec recovery (Repeat 4 times) Rest Run 15 mins – 45 sec recovery (Repeat 3 times) Rest 40 mins Jog Rest
10 Workout same as last week, mileage is less. Continue stretches. Get proper rest
Rest 35 minutes jog Rest 35 minutes jog Rest Race

Rest & Recovery

This is the most neglected part of your preparation. Once you start your training, in all anxiety to achieve results, you are likely to push yourself to the maximum and fail to add a rest day. But, unless you recover from the fatigue of your previous workout, starting the next day’s workout is counterproductive. A recovery gap of 24 hours between your workouts is extremely important.

You will see advanced athletes doing workouts daily and elite athletes doing workouts twice a day but they are tuned to take such loads and also manage adequate rest.

Do not do any work out on rest days. Typically, with these types of workloads, you will require additional sleep which is another facet of recovery. A 7-8-hour sleep routine is essential.

Event Day

You will be ready physically and mentally for the event only if you factor in all the aspects of preparation, training, nutrition with sufficient rest and recovery days.

Some key aspects to keep in mind for the race day is to

First, Completion- Do not focus on timing rather push yourself to complete the race as a lot of time and effort has gone into preparing yourself for the race. Factors such as speed, finish time, doing better than the person next to you can be given focus on your next race and you need to prepare for them accordingly.

Second, the golden rule of endurance running, nothing new on race day- Your pace during the race (no matter who overtakes you), running gear, food, and hydration before, during and after the race should be exactly the same as it has been during the training phase.

Lastly, Look Back – once all the euphoria subsides, look back from where you started, how dedicated was your preparation, how many sacrifices you made along the way. Then, consider what you achieved during this time – improvement in fitness parameters, a finisher medal that you have completed your 10K run, the discipline, and patience you learned along the way, the amazing new friends you made …. The list will be very long – savor it and be proud before you start thinking about your next target.

Happy Running!

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

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Running your first 10k – Part 1

Are you considering endurance running as a serious fitness activity? If yes, great decision!, writes Coach Pramod Deshpande. In this two part article learn how you can achieve this dream.

As someone who enjoys running himself, I have to say that endurance running will bring about an extremely positive change in your life while making it an enjoyable and fulfilling journey.

No matter the reason – an influential social media post, well thought out decision to correct some fitness parameters or just the curiosity to try something new, this is an activity for everyone and learning a few aspects of it will help a long way in preparing for it.

Let us start with some basics – the 3 fundamental truths of Endurance running:

  • Current fitness level – Fitness is not like a positive bank balance that you can draw upon at any time. You have to start from the baseline of your current fitness level. All your glory day medals and trophies are of little use if you have not been active in the recent past. We all have that friend who cannot stop talking about his sporting achievements in school and college and we often wonder – if he/she is healthier than I am? Fear, not my dear friends, if he/she has been as inactive as you in the recent past, he/she has very little advantage over you when this journey begins.
  • Patience is name of the game – “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time” – Leo Tolstoy.
    You may be in hurry to post a pic on social media of you taking a bite of the finisher medal of your next big race but your body is going to take its time to prepare itself to cover that distance. So please give enough time for preparation.
  • Perseverance and discipline – You might run fast for the first couple of weeks but that is short lived as your body will start complaining as weeks go by. Do not focus on speed at this juncture but your emphasis should be more on getting out and putting in the mileage day after day as per your training schedule.

Preparation before the start of your journey

Before you get down to training, there are a few things to sort out:

  • Clear your calendar – This is going to be a dedicated preparation and will require changes to your daily routine. Keep aside 90 minutes of your dedicated time (preferably in the mornings) for training minimum thrice a week for the next 10 weeks from the start of this journey.
  • Make a commitment to yourself – You can always find ample reasons to miss that training – but if you stay committed, you can always spare those 90 minutes no matter what the situation might be.
  • Prepare for lifestyle changes: You will see a lot of positive changes in your nutritional discipline, proper sleep and rest patterns – open your arms and embrace it, you’re becoming a healthier version of you!
  • Select a target event – It becomes easier to achieve your goal if you have in mind an event to participate in such as a 10k, to begin with. To give yourself enough time for preparation, choose an event 10 weeks away and always choose a reputed event as the support on the course and other facilities are better.
  • Guidance for preparation – Running is natural to all of us, however, serious preparation for such an event requires proper guidance and monitoring. One of the options where you could receive this guidance would be to join a running club as they have well-designed training modules, the services of an experienced coach and group running is fun. While the other option you have is to select an online program but these programs typically lack personalization, monitoring, and most importantly encouragement when you’re feeling low. A note of caution here, an advice from some runner friend, knowledge nuggets from ‘Google University’ are not really effective ways to prepare and can have serious drawbacks. Be wise in your selection.
  • Running gear – Having the right gear is motivation in itself – always have a dry fit t-shirt, comfortable, light and flexible running shoes, water bottle and exercise mat before you start.
  • Health Checkup – It is always recommended to get a health checkup and get your doctor’s opinion before you start this journey.

Nutrition Discipline

Nutrition planning is more an individual aspect and therefore instead of getting into specific food aspects, let’s talk about ‘Nutrition discipline’, which is essential for endurance running. Doing a lot of trial and error during this training phase will help you find out what suits you best. Here are a few pointers:

Regularity in food intake: Endurance running is a long duration activity and gastric distress (running on an empty stomach) is an important aspect especially during early morning runs. Regular food intake and the right quantity play a major role in setting your body clock for this long duration activity.

  • Fixed time for food intake: Set a timetable for food intake based on your daily routine and stick to it. Have an early dinner so that you digest your food properly and are ready for the morning run.
  • Smaller quantities: Train your body to eat meals every 3 hours as this helps to reduce the quantity of each meal without compromising on nutrition and absorption.

Before the Run: Typically, the training begins in the morning and with an 8-hour gap from your last meal, it is important to eat a snack rich in carbohydrates like a banana or slice of bread with peanut butter as the body will need the energy to run.

During the Run: For workouts that last more than an hour, carry small qualities of some carb-rich snack e.g. couple of groundnut bars, glucose biscuits, dates, jaggery, energy gels etc. It is important to get used to eating during the run.

After the Run: Eating a protein and carb snack within 20 minutes of your exercise gives you the maximum benefit. Carrying your post-run snack with you is best as eating after you get home or after 45 mins is not ideal. You can carry boiled eggs, protein shake, protein bar, an idly with lots of sambar etc.

Hydration: Your general hydration requirement will increase as you will be sweating a lot. Keep a water bottle handy. You can also get hydration from buttermilk, fruit juices, fruits, coconut water etc.

  • Before your run ensure you have water at least half an hour prior to the run.
  • During the run drink whenever you feel thirsty. It is all a matter of practice and you should not worry about the loss of pace due to water stops as dehydration at a later stage will slow you down even more. Adding carbs & salt supplements to the water e.g. Fast & Up, Enerzal, Gatorade or a homemade mix of sugar, salt & lime is a good option.
  • After your run, remember to drink water or water plus supplements immediately after the run. However, you need to continuously hydrate yourself in the first hour of completing the run.

In the next part we have a training plan and much more. Keep reading!

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

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Skechers for me and New Balance for you

Deepthi Velkur compares the Skechers GoRun Ride 7 with the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V4 to see which she likes best.

Every runner knows that the foot hits the ground really hard when you run. When you run the feet and ankles feel the most pressure. The natural rolling of your foot depends on your running style as well as how your running shoe is built.

In order to minimize the impact, different brands have developed their own cushioning technologies. The choices are aplenty and finding the right shoe is quite daunting and confusing, but, we should focus our search down to 3 key areas:

  • Reducing the force during impact
  • Protecting the musculoskeletal system and
  • Conserving energy

In this article, I would like to focus on two models that have used different technologies aimed at offering a smooth run.

I’ll start with the Skechers GoRun Ride 7 – which is a smooth riding lightweight running shoe that offers great cushioning and rebound. Also, the shoe has a breathable and comfortable knit upper that beats most in its class.

They are a slightly rockered shape which helps deliver a smooth transition from landing to toe-off. These are perfect every day running shoes and at 264 grams they feel good through the run.

On the other hand, the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante V4 – named after a beach in Greece, these shoes are a terrific all-around lightweight trainer that has the right balance of a soft cushioned ride and give you a fast-snappy responsive feeling. They are extremely versatile weighing in at 244 grams and can be used for racing 5Ks to marathon distances.

Let’s now do a little comparison between these two and hopefully, that will help you decide on what suits you best.

Fit and Ride

On the GoRun Ride 7, the fit is perfect and true to size. There is a nice mix of softness and bounce and they do equally well while running at an easy clip or speeding up. A word of caution though – it does feel a bit tight when using a sock-liner, so I would suggest buying half a size up in case you like some wiggle room.

The Zante V4 is a sleek, compact and well-designed shoe. It offers a snug fit similar to the Ride 7 and the only noticeable difference is the “No Sew” upper and Hyposkin wrap that locks your foot into the platform, quite well.

Upper

On the GoRun Ride 7, the upper is made up of Knit mesh, inner gusset, and synthetic overlays. It is a simple two-toned breathable upper with a single sew overlay that helps secure your foot. The knitted mesh upper is very comfortable, though it can get slightly warm in humid conditions.

The Zante 4 has a slim upper profile which is relatively pointed and made of engineered mesh, inner sleeve and fused synthetic. The No Sew upper along with the new Hyposkin wrap really holds your foot in place. However, be cautious as lacing up too tightly will cause your foot position to be a bit outward.

Midsole

The GoRun Ride 7 has been upgraded with the new Full-length Flight Gen foam and has a 6 mm heel-to-toe drop. It is light, responsive and mixed with the awesome M Strike (Midfoot Strike) technology which really makes the run smooth.

The midsole of the Zante V4 has a single density Fresh Foam 6 mm heel drop. The Fresh Foam is intended to give a soft yet snappy response but unfortunately, it can’t compete with other outstanding midsole technologies such as the FlightGen in Skechers Performance. The way the shoe is designed, Fresh Foam is holding it back from being a really superior fast trainer.

Outsole

The outsole on the GoRun Ride 7 is a combination of exposed Flight Gen and strategically placed rubber to provide traction and durability. This combination ensures that the shoe grips well on wet surfaces and stays durable.

On the Zante V4, blown rubber is used to provide solid traction and a smooth forefoot landing but unfortunately, without significant flex grooves in the outsole or midsole, the result is a stiff shoe.

Price and Recommendations

The GoRun Ride 7 is light enough, super cushioned for long days and recovery days, but still has some significant snap to it when you want to go fast. The fit is flawless and the shoe disappears on your feet when you run in it. At INR 6,499 (www.amazon.in), I highly recommend getting a pair of these shoes for your daily run.

The Zante V4 provides for an overall decent fit but unfortunately, the midsole Fresh Foam doesn’t offer as much feedback as you would like and that makes for an uncomfortable running experience. It is available on www.jabong.com for INR 6,599.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

 

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Learn the Secrets of running from Coach Pani

From running apps to training guides, it’s never been easier to get started or take your running to the next level. Maybe its time you start working out with a running coach says Deepthi Velkur

It’s safe to say that running is having its moment in the sun. More and more people have taken up running or participating in running events than ever before.

As the attractiveness of running grows, so does the availability of online resources that help people get started and get better. But, using these resources effectively is quite a daunting task and maybe it’s time to follow the lead of more than six million people who work out with running coaches.

So, what exactly, does a running coach do? And what are they supposed to help with?

To help us understand this better, I spoke with Mr. Kothandapani K.C (or “Coach Pani” as he is fondly called) who is associated with the PaceMakers running group and has been their head coach since 2012. Coach Pani spends his time training long-distance runners for 10k, Half and Full Marathon events and under his leadership and guidance, several of them have been podium finishers at events across the country.

An Indian Air Force veteran with 21 years of service, Coach Pani started off as a middle-distance runner and won several medals at the Air Force Athletic Championships across 800m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, 5000m, and the 10000m.  Furthermore, he represented the IAF at the inter-services cross country championship multiple times and later on transitioned into running full marathons and before he left the air force he had to his credit a sub-3-hour finish running at 42.195km.

His list of achievements is quite eye-catching: completing five out of six world marathon majors (exception being London which he will complete in 2019), finished within the Top 4 at the Mumbai marathon (senior’s run) three years in a row (2016 – 18) and took part in all 11 editions of the TCS World 10K run and won on 9 occasions.

Here are a few pieces from the interview:

To start off, how did PaceMakers start and how did you get associated with the group?

In early 2012, a group of Bengaluru-based runners called 12M12M planned on running one marathon a month and trained at the University of Agriculture Sciences (GKVK).

Six months later, the group realized that something wasn’t right as there were several injuries and fatigue was a huge factor. They made the decision to bring in an experienced coach who could help with putting in place a structured training plan.

Considering my training experience with the Nike Run Club (NRC) and my personal running experience with the IAF, the 12M12M group considered me the right man for the job. They approached my friend Thomas Bobby Philip who also trained with me at the NRC and he was instrumental in convincing me to take up the challenge.

That is how I started coaching with them and later on creating the running group – PaceMakers.

So, how long have you been coaching at the PaceMakers and what changes have you brought about?

Well, I have been coaching the PaceMakers since 2012. At the start, I used to train the 12M12M group for two days at GKVK and two days at the Bhagmane Tech Park.

It was designed this way so that people staying close-by could join the group and train with us.

We used to train thrice a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays with Saturdays dedicated for long runs. The training plan which ran from 5 AM to 7:30 AM included one interval run, one tempo/uphill run every alternate week and one long run. On days when we have the long runs, it might go beyond 7:30 AM.

One of the first changes I brought in was to drive punctuality for all sessions. Second, I made a basic change of having runners bring a water bottle only for long runs. Third, I introduced variety such as interval, tempo, Fartlek and uphill runs in the training.

I also ensured that all workouts start with a proper warm up followed by dynamic drills and cooling down with some stretching exercises. This was a critical element as the 12M12M group suffered injuries in the past because of a lack of this.

How many people does your running group have and how do you categorize them?

At present, we are about 100 members and we have runners of all levels – beginners wanting to achieve a personal goal to intermediate runners yearning to take part in short distance competitions to professional runners.

With our intermediate runners, they are taught to take the load of strenuous workouts like interval and endurance runs to build strength and confidence. Once they are comfortable with these workouts and gained experience, they are trained for half and full marathons using longer runs that last for more than three hours.

The workouts obviously differ according to the type of run being prepared for – correct? Can you please elaborate on each of them?

Yes, they do differ. For instance, when training for a 10K run, I concentrate on the intensity of workouts with shorter distances building the anaerobic energy system and at the same time not compromising on the aerobic capacity. For half and full marathon distances, the emphasis is more on building the aerobic energy system without compromising on speed.

Considering the varied group of runners, building customized plans must be challenge. How do you handle this?

Of course, the challenge is very real in dealing with this, but I look at several factors when building a plan. For starters, looking at their current fitness level and past workouts, I group them and create a group training plan – the senior most in the group functions as the leader to bring the group together and complete the workouts. This approach also motivates the slow runners in the group to push themselves to achieve group objectives. Secondly, to achieve individual goals, I set a target for them based on their individual fitness level and use competitions to gauge their performances and make required modifications for further improvement.

PaceMakers are believed to be a group that trains with a purpose of running injury free. How do you go about achieving this?

We follow a few standard rules – before any session, we warm up well by including 20 minutes of slow jogging/running. We then move on to 10-15 minutes of dynamic running drills, followed by 2 to 4 strides of 100 meters.

Post the workout, we do a cool-down run for 10 mins with 2km run as that will bring your body temperature back to normal and also flush out any lactic acid build up in the muscle. We then end the workout session with 20-30 minutes of static strengthening and stretching exercises.

No one can guarantee injury free running considering the several biomechanical factors involved but if you follow this routine for every workout, your running injuries can be minimized.

I also recommend toning down your training after every 3 weeks to let your body recover and avoid overtraining.

The military training you received while serving with the IAF helped you become a middle-distance runner and later on to long distance running. What elements from your service days have you brought into your coaching style?

The first thing I brought in was the discipline to get up early and be on time for the training at 5 AM. Secondly, the camaraderie – spirit of teamwork and finally, the training methods and the knowledge gained during my IAF days.

What motivates you about what you do at PaceMakers?

My group consists of men and women from different walks of life – defense personnel, retired personnel (some older than 70) doctors, engineers, IT professionals, businessmen, and students.

Despite their busy schedule at work and home, they are very passionate about running and wake up early every day to start training. Since I also train with them it motivates them to give their best.

When you have such a lovely family like the PaceMakers and you see their passion, it gives me immense pleasure to be associated with such people and give them back whatever possible I can.

Under your leadership and guidance, the runners have made a mark for themselves in achieving their personal best in various events. How do you feel about that?

When my runners achieve their personal best performance, it gives me immense satisfaction that I was instrumental in bringing about some change in them. I teach them to believe in their self, feel confident and motivate them further to achieve even bigger goals.

What is the one thing you tell your trainees?

Be consistent– not just in running but in whatever you do in life. Do that and the rest will automatically follow.

What are your future plans for this group?

My future plans for the group are to see more and more people take up running or any form of exercise to keep themselves healthy.

I also want to see more people from my group qualify and participate in major marathons around the world such as the Boston, New York, Berlin, London or Tokyo and also take up ultra-running. For me, Boston is very special as it has a rich history of 122 years and for an amateur runner, this is like qualifying for the Olympics.

That was Coach Pani with some very interesting points and the key takeaways from that interview are:

  1. Be disciplined,
  2. Don’t forget your warm up before and cooling down after any workout– the key to preventing injuries and
  3. Be consistent.

A good coach is successful when they accomplish one thing: helping their trainees in achieving their goals. This thought is what drives Coach Pani every day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Training On The Go

How do you train for a race if you’re always on the go? Here are some hotel room workouts that do not require any equipment and will keep you on track, by Protima Tiwary.

Fitness isn’t a seasonal hobby, it is not something you can put away when you’re traveling, or taking a vacation or neck deep in work. Fitness is a lifestyle that trains your mind to accept commitment and discipline before laziness and excuses, it shows you the way towards great physical, mental and emotional health. Being fit isn’t only about looking good. It’s about the focus to be committed towards your fitness routine.

So how does one stick to a regime when they’re stressed with deadlines, or traveling, or on vacation? How does one stick to a plan when they realise their makeshift gym has dumbbells that weigh *gulp* not more than 10kgs?

Athletes all over the world are faced with this dilemma, and it’s after years of trying and testing exercises and fitness regimes, the experts have come up with a list of basic exercises that are all that an athlete needs when he is traveling. If a hotel room is all that you’ve got, here is how you make use of it to give you the best possible workout. You don’t need TRX bands or dumbbells- these bodyweight exercises will see you through.

Jumping Jacks

Easy, light and super convenient, 100 of these should be enough to get your heart pumping. This is just the beginning. Don’t forget to turn off the fan, you might hit your head if you jump up too high!

Burpees

If you’re an athlete, at some point in your training career you might have done these as a punishment. Yes, burpees are those dreaded exercises that have the best of us huffing and puffing by the end of round 1. Guess what? It is now time to embrace them with open arms because burpees are one of the best ways to kickstart your body and get yourselves warmed up!

Squats                 

Once your body is warmed up, nothing better to get your core and glutes activated than with some squats. Open up your leg muscles and get the blood flowing to your quads and inner thighs with different variations of squats – regular squats, wide legged squats and sumo squats.

If you have weights in the room, nothing like it. Maybe hold your traveling bag and do some front squats?

Bulgarian Split Squats

Are you missing leg day at the gym? No need to fret, because you can get in a leg workout in a hotel room, without using any machines! Place one foot on the chair, and go down in a squat. Hold a bag or a lightweight to increase resistance. You will feel the burn on your quads soon, and end up having a killer indoor leg workout!

Push Up

Get your upper body ready with some basic push-ups. Best part? You can always try variations to improve your upper body strength, even on normal training days! Got the hang of the regular push up? How about trying the diamond push up next? Or how about adding a bag on your back and then going in for a quick set? Have you tried the decline push ups yet? Keep your legs on the chair and try your luck!

Tricep Dips

Get creative with furniture! You might not always get a cable or dumbbells to do any tricep curls or overhead extensions, but you can always use that chair at the study table or kitchenette to do those Tricep dips and get your tricep muscles popping.

Plank

Easiest exercise to do practically anywhere and one of the most effective exercises that get major muscle groups activated and working. Your core is of utmost importance no matter what sport you play. Nothing better to train your core than to get a few minutes of planks daily, isn’t it?

De-stress with hotel room yoga

Cool down after a rough day and killer workout with some of your favorite stretches, right in your hotel room! Legs up the wall pose, hip flexor stretch, downward dog, cat-cow pose, spinal twists are all stretches that will help you relax at the end of the workout.

 How many reps should I be doing?

The answer to this depends on your fitness levels. If you want a good strength training and cardio workout, experts recommend going in for a large number of repetitions. If you’re just about starting your fitness routine and do not wish to miss a workout, you can go easy on the reps.

Full body workouts are usually possible without any equipment, even on days when you’re traveling. Don’t let that worry you- ask your trainer to design specific routines based on these simple exercises, and you’ll see how you can enjoy a workout as good as one in the gym.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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12 weeks to stronger cycling

Getting better at cycling takes time, effort and planning, so how can you become a stronger cyclist asks Nandini Reddy.

Becoming a better cyclist means you need to get better at communicating with your muscles. Cyclists who are able to perfect the link between their brain and their muscles are the strongest ones. Training will increase the voluntary actions of your muscles and make cycling easier for you. There will be greater muscle activation and improved endurance and you will find yourself cycling easily over long distances.

Sustained cycling is an activity that doesn’t come naturally so it’s important that you train your muscles to be activated during this process. You can maintain speed over a longer period of time before fatigue hits your muscles.

Practice Practice Practice

A beginner cyclist will be able to activate about 30-50% of his muscles during the first few weeks of training. The idea is to increase the number of muscles activated in order to improve your endurance. A world-class cyclist will be able to activate anywhere between 80-90% of his muscles. Even if you don’t reach that high number a good range to aim for is 50-70%.

The best way to start activating your muscles is to do quick up-hill rides. The duration should be between 30-45 seconds. This sort of demand on your muscles will require you to utilize maximum power and you will start activating your dormant muscles as well.

As you practice more these hill rides will become easier and then you can move to increasing the duration in order to enhance your endurance. The idea is to develop your muscles to endure the long distance rides.

12 weeks to power cycling

The idea of following a 12 week programme is to ensure that your muscle fibres are activated. The activated muscles should also be strengthened. The intensity of the workout should be balanced with duration to ensure endurance during the long race.

Before you start any ride ensure you are adequately warmed up. The idea is to start intense and slowly reduce the intensity, recover and restart the cycle for a longer duration. This would prepare you to become a more powerful cyclist by the end of the training period.

Week 1 – 30 sec sprint rides uphill – 2 min active recovery – 4 times

Week 2 – 30 sec sprint rides uphill – 1 min active recovery – 4 times

Week 3 – 30 sec sprint rides uphill  – 1 min active recovery – 6 times

Week 4 – Active recovery – Flat surface cycling

Week 5 – 1 min sprint rides uphill – 2 min active recovery – 6 times

Week 6 –  1 min sprint rides uphill – 2 min active recovery – 8 times

Week 7 –  1 min sprint rides uphill – 1 min active recovery – 8 times

Week 8 – Active recovery – Flat surface cycling or 1 min hill rides

Week 9 – 3 min intense rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 3 times

Week 10 –  3 min intense rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 4 times

Week 11 –  3 min intense rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 6 times

Week 12 –  3 min comfortable rides uphill – 3 min active recovery – 3 times

After the 12th week you can change the intensity and duration to improve your endurance. Have fun riding.

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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How do you train for a long-distance cycle ride

There’s little that can beat the beautiful simplicity of a bike ride but you need to prepare well so you have a stress-free ride says Deepthi Velkur .  

A good long ride with the fading sun warming your back and the cool wind in your face is probably one of the most gratifying cycling experiences there is.

Amateur and relatively seasoned cyclists alike, dream big of achieving the “century ride”- a distance of 160.9km (or 100 miles). There is nothing quite like the feeling you experience riding through the most scenic locations on two wheels. Despite the tired legs and weary back, you put in that little extra to discover new lanes, explore new places and create new memories on each ride.

As you start preparing for that long-distance ride, I would like to put out a couple of words of caution –be prepared!

Any such endeavour requires you to have great stamina, thorough planning, and strong mental courage. This can be achieved through high-level endurance training (core, flexibility, and muscular strength) as well as building your aerobic and lactic acid capacity that will help tackle those long gruesome rides effectively.

I have a few simple suggestions that will be of help to make the most of your rides.

Set clear goals:I have mentioned this is in several of my articles and I cannot stress the point enough – setting small and realistic milestones always comes in handy in achieving your end goal. It is equally important to re-visit your goals every few weeks and make alterations till you achieve what you’ve set out for.

Training week: For endurance cycling, building your base fitness is important. Your training regimen should include interval training two to three times a week, strength building exercises every other day and stretching post training to improve flexibility and stiffness.

Build your aerobic threshold by going on long rides at a steady and low-intensity pace twice a week. Going the distance is all about endurance and that is in finding an optimal pace – keep your threshold level at approximately 75% of your maximum heart rate. Invest in a good heart rate monitor to get a more precise reading. 

Beat bonking: Start with a good breakfast that includes lots of carbs and less protein especially on training or event days. Carry enough food and water with you on your ride and adjust your intake of food depending on how far out you plan to ride.Eat that little something one hour into your ride and every 30-45mins thereafter. Refueling with a drink or meal containing 1:4 ratio of protein to carbs will speed up recovery by quickly replenishing glycogen stores to avoid the dreaded bonk.

A pair of good padded shorts:  Cycling is fairly a low-intense sport and over the course of 80, 95, 160 kms it is not that your legs will tire out but you will begin to feel every bump on the way through your neck, shoulders, hand, and butt. Investing in a good pair of shorts with lots of padding and by changing your posture and position every now and then, helps relieve you of aches and pains in certain areas of the body. 

Mind over matter:Unfortunately, it is our mind that usually gives up first. Imagine how frustrating it is when you have been riding for a while and covered 1\4thof the distance. Fear not, train well and push negative thoughts away – just focus on the ride ahead. Going on long rides work best with a group of friends as you tend to go faster, conserve energy and focus better.

Divide the distance by two: No matter what distance you’re aiming at covering, the best approach is to divide the distance as two halves. The first half is usually easy and will seem like your spinning along while the second half will have your muscles working hard. During this half, please do not forget to refuel when required. Push yourself harder this time to achieve the best results. 

Watch the winds and foresee trouble: Winds can favor your ride or work against you. If you start out with a tailwind, roll easy and you’ll face with the headwind on your way home. When riding in a group, stay together during headwind stretches as each of you can take turns at the front sheltering the ones behind. Carrying emergency gear on your ride comes handy if you need to fix anything on your bike.

Adding a few of these tips in your preparation will bolster the training and help you achieve a comfortable, satisfying ride. Have fun! 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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