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Preparing for the marathon season? Here’s some advice

Deepthi Velkur had a chance to talk to a few runners on how you could prepare for the marathon season. 

For many runners, the desire to run a marathon is all about achieving a personal goal. For others, it could be the desire to push the envelope and see how far they can go with their bodies. Perhaps, a friend talked you into it, or you want to get fitter, or you’re running for a noble cause such as building awareness for a local charity.

Whatever the reason, you need to hold on to it and constantly remind yourself of it often during the months leading up to the marathon season.

Each marathon is a new adventure in itself! Making that overwhelming and sometimes breath-taking decision to run the traditional 42.195 km can not only be quite uplifting but it can also give you the much-needed energy to kick-start your training.

Whether it is your first time preparing for a marathon or one of many, a good overall approach to your mental and physical training is as important as a specific running plan, which can help you be at your best on marathon day.

To help us better understand how you can go about this, we spoke to a few professionals and here’s what they had to say.

Kothandapani KC (fondly called Coach Pani), is a running coach with the PaceMakers running club and a marathon runner himself.

He recommends that for a first-time marathoner, the focus should be on completing the distance comfortably and not worry about speed or timing.

For a seasoned runnerthough, someone with at least two years of running experience and multiple 10Ks and half-marathons, Coach Panihe recommends the following:

  • Build a training plan 6 months ahead and work backward i.e. 24 weeks, 23 weeks and so on.
  • Run at least 4-5 days a week focussing on one speed workout, one strength workout like uphill runs, one long run, and two easy runs in between.
  • Run your long runs 60-90 secs slower than your target marathon pace and increase your long runs by not more than 10%.
  • Every fourth week cut back your total mileage to 50% to avoid overtraining.
  • Break-down the 6 Months into three parts – base building, converting the base building into speed endurance and race-specific workouts.
  • During long runs, prepare yourself as if you are going to run on race day such as getting your gear ready, waking up early, hydration strategy, pre-snacks etc.
  • Ensure you follow a proper nutrition plan and adequate rest to overcome both physical and mental stress.
  • Always listen to your body. Do not over train – helps minimize the risk of injury. To track this, check your resting heart rate and if it’s on the rise, ease off on the training for a bit.
  • Race at least two Half Marathons during your training period, trying to improve each time so that you get an indication of your progress in training
  • Taper down your training in the last two weeks. Be careful to not fall sick or catch a cold
  • Plan your race day strategy such as at what pace you want to run, hydration points, when to use gels etc. Note: don’t try anything new on race day – stick to the plan!
  • Finally, believe in yourself, believe in your training and think positive. Start the race slow and build the pace gradually. Aim for negative splits.

Sandeep CR, an Ultra-marathon runner and is part of the Mysoorrunners running club shares his advice:

  • Prioritise your races in terms of which race is of top priority, where you want to do well and train accordingly.
  • Build your training slowly. Keep a weekly mileage of 45-55kms which will help you to build endurance.
  • Go on long runs as you need to get used to being on your feet for long hours.
  • Run a few tune-up races before the main race to know where you stand and where you could improve.
  • Keep a close watch on your nutrition intake and give yourself time to recover.
  • 80% of your runs should be at an easy pace and 20% should be tempo or speed work.
  • Slow down your training in the last 2-3 weeks as overtraining will lead to injuries.

Shahana Zuberi, an amateur runner who has run a few half marathons and is part of the Bangalore Fitnesskool running club feels to run a marathon, one should have:

  • Great inner strength.
  • Eating right during the training phase.
  • Focus on building endurance rather than speed.
  • Plan your training well ahead of the race and do not rush into overtraining due to lack of time as that might lead you to injuries.
  • Patience and perseverance will help you achieve your end goal.
  • For running a half marathon in specific, you can work on building speed during the interval and tempo runs and
  • Finally, rest well as your body needs to recover from all the hard training.

So, there you go – you’ve heard it straight from some of the experts – train well, eat right, rest enough and be patient.

These key steps will help you develop a healthier way to run making it more fun, with better results for body, mind, and soul.

I end this article with quite a quote by Paula Radcliffe (three-time London and New York marathon winner) – “In long-distance events, the importance of your mental state in determining the outcome of a race can’t be overestimated.

Something for all of us to reflect on.

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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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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Online vs live coaching – which is better?

A lot of accomplished runners have opted for online coaching. But would that work for everyone? Radhika Meganathan speaks to trainer and marathoner RAGHUL TREKKER about its pros and cons.

If you had thought that ‘live’ is always better than ‘long distance’, think again! Raghul Trekker is in a unique position to speak about the advantages of online coaching, since not only he has a long distance coach who trains him from her home in South Africa, he himself is a long distance coach for over 70 runners spread across the world.

“I met my trainer Lucie Zelenkova, a prolific athlete, in Malaysia in 2015. Since then, she has designed my workout schedule which I follow every day,” says Raghul. They have weekly skype sessions, in which they exchange discussions about his goals and progress reports. His coach sends him regularly customised workouts and diet charts and is available for a call or a skype session I whenever he needs her advice.

After winning Ironman Sri Lanka and other races, Raghul started training aspiring runners. “The website I use is Training Peaks (https://www.trainingpeaks.com) which acts as a platform between users and trainers. The process is very simple. Each runner first has to talk to me by phone so that I understand their goals and expectations, and can make a decision whether I am the right trainer for them. Once I decide to take them on, they will have to create a profile and the training begins.”

Usually runners should have a goal to train for, say, Ironman or an upcoming marathon, because otherwise Raghul cannot draft a fitness schedule to help them become better than their current level. “You can be a newbie or a seasoned athlete, and you can come to me just for a season like 3 months or 6 months training (and many do, which is great, there is no hard and fast rule that you have to train forever!), but you cannot come to me blank. Have a vision and help me help you,” he says.

What are his tips for runners who want to look for the right online coach? “Look up for one who specialises in the event that you’d like to conquer,” says Raghul. “If you are aiming for a triathlon, go for coaches who have experience in that. Make sure your coach is going to design your training schedule specifically for you every week, based on your lifestyle and stats, rather than expecting you to fit yourself in some readymade and generic template. A good coach should be able to know you as a person, not just a runner, and design your workout accordingly.”

Raghul’s customised plans for his runners always include diets, mental preparation tips and terrain tips, among the usual workouts aimed at physical mastery. Some of the things he takes into consideration while designing workouts, are: Current fitness level, past fitness level, past achievements, time they have to commit to workouts every day, every week and their willingness to strive for tougher workouts on an escalating basis. “I log these data regularly, religiously, in every runner’s profile and keep track of their progress. This way, even if the runner has a break and comes back for more training after a few months, or even years, I don’t have any hiccups.”

So, for the million dollar question, what is his opinion about Live vs Long Distance?

“Live coaching can be exciting if you have found a good trainer in your locality, but it is restricted by geographical boundaries,” says Raghul. In live coaching, your trainer cannot be with you all the time, week after week, or oversee your stats and progress every day. Not all trainers are tech savvy and may have to rely on you to feed information and progress reports to them in a tricky verbal or handwritten format, which may or may not be always accurate. And not every town in the world is going to have a great trainer. But almost every town these days does have an internet connection.

“That way, I’d say online coaching is great because one, you get to train under some truly exceptional athletes in the world even if they don’t live in your neck of the woods, and that can be a tremendous confidence booster, not mention a rare and fantastic opportunity. Two, all the stats are recorded, updated and stored online in each runner’s profile and I will have that information in my finger tips to help my students without having to rely on memory or having to start from scratch,” Raghul delivers the verdict.

If you’d like to be trained by Raghul, you can contact him through the website of his fitness studio, TRI CRASH ‘n’ BURN, at http://www.tricrashnburn.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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The Comrades of 2018

He just concluded Comrades Marathon had a lot of surprises this year, writes Nandini Reddy

The 89km Comrades Marathon is the world’s largest and oldest ultra marathon race. The event sees 20,000 runners from 60 countries competing to win the coveted race. The allowed time to finish the race is 11-12 hours and every year at least half the number or more tend to finish the race in the allotted time. Runners who apply for this race have to finish a full marathon within 5 hours to qualify. The race was run for the first time in May 1921. This year’s race’s official distance is 90.18 kms.

This is also an inclusive sport that sees many specially-abled athletes compete. This year, we saw amputee runner Xolani Luvuno pursuing his dream of competing in the Comrades with the help of crutches.  He was given 5 hours extra to complete the course.

The Comrades Marathon of 2018 saw the South African’s dominating the leader boards. Comrade marathon saw South African’s finishing in the top positions with timings of 5:26:34 hours by Bongmusa Mthembu in the first spot in the men’s category and Ann Asworth (6:10:44mins) in the women’s category. Mthembu won his 3rd race this day. Ashworth reclaimed the crown for South Africa this year.

What it takes to cross the finish line?

This world race has a lot of preparation behind the marvelous feats of the runners. It firstly required a lot of stamina to cross the finish line and can be daunting as the hours progress.

  1. Apply Vaseline all over your body to prevent chaffing
  2. Nutrition en-route is important so carry your own supplies
  3. Ensure your shoes are comfortable to prevent toe injuries
  4. Right clothes to prevent rubbing and rashes
  5. Take a bathroom break at regular intervals

Unscrupulous athletes are present in every marathon but if you decide to run the wrong way then you are likely to be served a ban.Entering the race with unverified qualifying times and lying about the qualifying times is the definite way to get yourself banned for life. Improving your seeding through false timings won’t get you very far but every year the Comrade organisers face these situations.

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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Miles, mountains and memories

A look at Ultra runners who attempted the 870 mile Himalaya run, by Capt Seshadri.

This is one of the ultimate trials of endurance and an outstanding example of mind over muscle. It is also a journey through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. And breathtaking, not just to the eye, but to the lungs as well.

The Great Himalaya Trail or the GHT, is an extremely physically taxing and psychologically draining, but rewarding ultra run, with a ‘high’ that transcends all altitudes. 870 miles or 1400 km of grueling track, at times reaching an altitude of 20,000 feet in extreme and often fluctuating weather conditions, icy cold wind, driving snow and a harsh sun that glows with an unearthly light over the mountains. Moreover, rather than a well traversed, official route, the GHT is a set of interconnected smaller, unofficial trails.

A record for this, popularly known as the Fastest Known Time, or FKT, was set by South African Andrew Porter in an astounding time of 28 days, 13 hours and 56 minutes. In an attempt to surpass this zenith of human endurance, 36 year old Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel, 38, set forth on February 28, 2018 from Hilsa in Nepal, with the object of reaching Pashupatinagar on the Indo-Nepal border, in the fastest possible time. The duo followed the same path as Porter, with the same checkpoints, naturally keeping the record in mind.

This 870 mile route includes 230,000 feet of climbing both up and down in the mountains, combining upper and middle level routes often referred to as the Great Himalayan Trail, its high and its cultural routes. The world’s tallest mountains were on view as they toiled on, while passing the base camp of Kanchenjunga, the third tallest mountain in the world. Along the route were several designated checkpoints, starting with Simikot at an early 77 km, through Chharka Bhot at roughly 380 km and the closer to the finish point Tumlingtar, at roughly 1,075 km, with 300 plus km still to go.

The runners had to navigate their paths on their own. No porters, no mules, but with 20 litre Salomon backpacks filled with energy bars, dietary supplements and equipment critical to each of the segments they had to traverse. Six pre-determined resupply points en route would provide short eats and nutritious snacks to keep their energy levels at their peak. For regular relief, basic food and water, they would depend on villages along the route and rest and recuperate in the tea huts that dot the paths. Villagers’ homes and monasteries were their lodgings and Sandes and Griesel heaped praise on the hospitality and warmth of their temporary hosts. Says Ryan: “One of the villages, a spot where we had hoped to get accommodation, was completely deserted. I honestly believe that if we hadn’t come across a monk and monastery that night, we would have frozen to death.”

If it wasn’t the altitude and the shortage of oxygen, it was the chilling danger of frostbite. In spite of adequate clothing and accessories, Ryan and Ryno were exposed to painful chillblains, especially on their fingers, as they had to constantly remove their gloves to read the maps. Finally, after almost a month of body and mind sapping endurance and pressure, a new speed record was set. On March 26, 2018, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel completed the 870 mile GHT in an unbelievable time of 25 days, 3 hours, and 24 minutes, a good three days ahead of the old time set by Andrew Porter.

Every year, several women and men rise above odds and conquer mountains. This conquest however, was of a different nature. It was a conquest by the mind, of its superiority over the body, dictating its terms and winning.

Some more fabulous feats by these wonder athletes

Andrew Porter holds the solo male record for the Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT). He did a North-to-South run in December 2009 and set the record at 61 hours 24 minutes 11 seconds. Not satisfied with this effort, he returned to the venue in end May 2015 and did a solo South-to-North DGT in 45 hours 8 minutes.

Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel hold the men’s group record for the DGT, of 41 hours, 49 minutes, set in March 2014. Ryno held the previous men’s group record of 60 hours 29 minutes set in April 2010, along with teammate Cobus van Zyl.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Half to Fifty

Arun Nair finds his way to the finisher of the The Malnad Ultra, Santosh Neelangattil, to understand what it takes to be an Ultra runner. 

It was Saturday morning when I packed my bags and drove towards Birur, a small town in Chikkamagaluru District of Karnataka. It was a pleasant ride through the national and state highways of rural Karnataka. I have had the opportunity to meet various running groups from South India and I had come to this location without understanding what an Ultra Trail entails. I meet a group of young runners and was pleasantly surprised when they mentioned that they trekked up a hill sometimes to go for a 10k run.

In a day an age when it is fashionable to say, ‘I am a runner”, I met  the unassuming Santosh Neelangattil. He did not look like someone who had completed a 50km race. A few excerpts from our conversation on all things running.

Congratulations on finishing your first Ultra run. How was the experience and how do you feel?
It’s exhilarating. Every kilometer after forty-two km was a milestone, as I was tracing them for the first time. Completing fifty km within the cut-off time and injury free was a significant achievement for me considering the condition of the trail. The experience was entirely different. A trail-run in a coffee estate! When I reached the place, it was dry all around. Rain in the evening changed the conditions altogether. It became slushy and slippery. It was even difficult to walk in some places. From planning for an ultra-run, it became an endurance run. After a while, I had to cross certain stretches by holding on to the coffee plant twigs. It was an unknown terrain as a lot of us were not sure on the depth of those slushy areas. At this point, the run got elevated from an endurance run to an obstacle run, and I was thoroughly enjoying it. It became all the more important for me to complete the run.

So in those tough conditions what kept you going?
It was the fellow runners and the volunteers! The seasoned ultra-runners kept encouraging and were giving bits of advice. The localities were providing unconditional support to all the runners by motivating us. By the way, I forgot to tell you about the leeches.

So how did this journey as a runner start for you?
This feeling of “Can I run?” started in 2006. I realized that I struggled to walk for one kilometer. I got a feeling that there were abnormalities in my health. Then I went through consultations, health check-ups, and supplements. I had to change. That’s when I heard about Sunfeast 10k run 2007. I practiced for it, and then I never missed Sunfeast or TCS run as it’s called now.

I love traveling. It was at this point that I decided to go for run-tour. So, my vacations and business meetings started getting planned around marathons. I have participated in several runs in last ten years – Kochi, Trivandrum, Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Madurai, Coimbatore, Cherrapunjee, Auroville (Pondicherry), Dubai, Australia and Sri Lanka. The beauty of my runs changed from health to the joy of running. My vacations will never be complete with two or three runs if not an event. I would go running on the beaches and explore new places which are otherwise not accessible on a vehicle. It became all the more interesting.

If you were to give a few tips to a new runner, what would you tell them?
‘Stay fit to run fit.’ When I started running, I was looking at finishing faster. That’s when a mentor, coach, and being part of a group helped me a lot. A renowned coach in Karnataka, Kothandapani sir, is my mentor. He just asked me one question, “Do you want to run for just this run or are you planning to run long?” Well, my answer was “I want to run long and run for many years.” I realized slowly that it was important to be fit to run. There was no point in getting injured and stop running. Then there were some outstanding seniors – Arvind, Ganesh, Subbu and the Team Miles Ahead (TMA) group gave me a lot of input on running safely without injuring.

For a typical one hour run, twenty to thirty minutes of warm-up and fifteen to twenty minutes of cool down post run is required. Warm-up and warm-down is something I know most of them miss out. It’s the most annoying part. We tend to get lazy when it is about warm-up as it’s not as exciting as running. My advice is simple, don’t miss your warm-up and warm-down.

For this particular Ultra Run was there any specific training preparation for it?
Longer training! Well, it’s also about conditioning my mind. If I have to advise runners for ultra-run – “If you can run ten km, you can run longer. Know your pace, listen to your body and don’t compete with others. You are your competition. No point in competing against anyone.” Do not experiment with your body unknowingly. Don’t harm your body to the extent that your day-to-day activities are affected. Run for the joy of running.

So when is the next race?
I enjoy my runs, and I know that there is always a new challenge. If you like to hear some numbers, (smiles) – my running app shows that I have completed 4500 km since 2014. Then there are many, that were not tracked. Tracking helps, and it motivates me. If you want me to be specific, my dream is to run Bangalore – Mysore, which is 150 km.

During our casual chat, he told me that there were days when he struggled to finish even 500 meters. There is something that I should personally learn, or maybe a lot of us should learn. As an irregular runner of short distance I know the struggle and it certainly felt good that even seasoned runners were not always motivated to run 10K everyday when they step out of bed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Arun_Profile Pic

 

Arun K Nair loves to play cricket, volleyball, and shuttle. He participates in 10k marathons in Chennai and Bangalore and is the author of a crime novel.

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The North Face Endurance Run

Running is a lifestyle change, marathon runner Vidya Mahalaxmi talks to Nandini Reddy about her finishing The North Face Endurance Challenge this weekend.
The Run 
The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship course engages runners with both scenic views and drastic elevation change. You won’t want to miss out on this trail running event that draws participants ranging from first time racers to elite runners.The North Face Endurance Challenge returns to the Bay Area. Located in the visually stunning Marin Headlands. The run has a 50 Mile, 50K, Full Marathon and Half Marathon, the Marathon Relay, 10K, 5K and a kids run. The total time allotted for completion of the 50 mile run is 14 hours. The weather, in San Francisco during November, is perfect for the run.
The First Bug 
For Bangalore girl, Vidya Mahalaxmi, running has today become a lifestyle. It may have started as a fitness regime after giving birth to her first child, twelve years ago but today it has become a few miles every day. “Running marathons/ half marathons, was never on the cards for me. Growing up, I was told, I had flat feet and running wasn’t going to be easy. I used to swim. But never attempted to run,” reminisces Vidya.
“About eighteen months ago, I started working for Tarlton Properties,Inc., in Construction. My C.E.O., John Tarlton, has been more than an inspiration for me. He is my mentor. He has taken part in RAAM( Race Across America). He biked from the West Coast to the East, in eleven days. He encouraged me to take part in my first Half Marathon, The North Face Endurance Challenge – 2016. Since then, I have taken park in several races, by myself, and also as a pacer with him, in a few races. ( Santa Barbara Endurance Run and Lake Tahoe Ultra Marathon), ” says Vidya.
The Challenge of the Race
This year she ran the Half Marathon at the North Face Endurance Challenge -2017. “Just like other races, before race day, I try to run any where from 10 to 15 miles. The last week, I start to taper, and carb-load,” says Vidya. This race, in particular was interesting in so many ways. The trail, has the most breath-taking views of San Francisco. It is also extremely challenging, with all the elevations with stretches where runners literally bear-crawl. “I overcame a weakness of running in elevation in this race. My favourite part of the race though was running down-hill,” shares Vidya.

After every Race

A post run analysis of her performance is a must for Vidya who is always looking to improve with every race. “I learn something new, after every race. What gear and accessories to wear, what snacks help with your muscle cramps, and how to carry as much water, in the most minimal way, ” notes Vidya.

“Running has changed my perspective of life. I was divorced three years ago, after being married for 11 years, with two kids. My kids are so proud of their mother and running has played a big role in that aspect. Finishing the race, gives me confidence, that can’t be expressed in words,” concludes Vidya Mahalaxmi the newest member of the every growing running community across the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG_20171011_095150

 

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

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The Worlds Toughest Races

These races are known as the one’s you need to run before you die. Nandini Reddy puts together the list of the what are considered to be the toughest races across the world.

Author Tobias Mews,  wrote a book detailing the 50 Races to Run Before you Die, where he put together some of the craziest marathons from across the world that have fascinated runners for years. That book gave rise to a whole generation of ultra runners. Here are a few of my picks from across the world, of races that people are pushing their limits to achieve.

*These races are listed in no particular order*

Three Peaks Race, United Kingdom

This race is only open to 1000 runners each year. It has tough qualification criteria and is very strict about who the allow to participate. It is one of the top races of the fell running calendar and you would be running Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent. The runner would climb 1600m during the course and there are stringent check points where they need to register to continue to the next leg.

For information visit: http://threepeaksrace.org.uk/

Sani Stagger Endurance Race, South Africa

This is an uphill marathon that has areas marked with rather interesting names such as “Haemorrhoid Hill” and “Suicide Bend”. The gradient is fiercely steep and the runners are required to reach the top and then head back down again. The views are considered to be one of the most stunning at the top and with a total ascent of 5300ft and distance of 26.2 miles, this race is a formidable one.

For information visit: http://www.sanistagger.co.za/

Otillo, Sweden

This race though on a flat terrain takes about 8 hours to finish for the fastest runners. Why? Because you need to complete 75 kms of running across the 26 islands of the Stockholm Archipelago and swim for 10 km as well. The twist in the whole race is that it is always run as a two person team and both members need to be within 5km of each other throughout the race. This race has only 120 team sports each year and is a perfect blend of strength, teamwork and stamina.

For more information visit: http://otilloswimrun.com/races/otillo

Ecotrail de Paris, France

With a near 50 miles distance and a 5000ft ascent this race really tests your endurance capacities. Most of the race will have you running in circles around Paris. The final leg of the race involves racing up the 328 steps of the Eiffel Tower to the first level. While it might sound rather simple compared to the hill runs, the race in itself can be quite exhausting without the final task of climbing stairs.

For more information visit: http://traildeparis.com/

Transvulcania, Canary Islands

This is an interesting race to try because you will be running up a volcano. The La Palma region of the Canary Islands is famous for its active volcanoes. This race takes runners around the Taburiente Crater and across two of the volcanic mountains. With an ascent height of nearly 16,000 ft, this race isn’t for everyone with nearly 40% of participants quitting mid way. But this race comes with its own bragging right for the finishers as it is one of the most prestigious mountain races in the world.

For more information visit: http://transvulcania.info/

Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, France

The 103 mile race across western Europe’s highest mountain taking you across three countries – France, Italy and Switzerland. Today it is considered to be the toughest race in the world and hits elevation of 10,000 feet at several stretches. The race starts at Chamonix, France and the runners circle back to this point after a fantastic run across the mountains. It is considered an essential running experience for trail runners from across the world.

For more information: http://utmbmontblanc.com/en/page/1/the-event.html

Marathon des Sables, Morocco

This ultra run happen bang in the middle of the Sahara dessert. The distance is about 150 miles and is run over a period of 6 days. Does it sound too crazy? Well this race has been on since 1986 and every year sees an increase in participation and till today takes the top spot as one of the most famous marathons in the world.

For more information: http://www.marathondessables.com/

The Everest Marathon, Nepal

So someone thought it wasn’t enough of a challenge to climb to the Everest Base Camp so they decided to have a marathon. The participants are expected to be present in Nepal 3 weeks before the race for acclimatization and the race day involves running down from Everest Base Camp at 18,000 ft to Namche Bazaar at 11,000 ft. The route is all downhill with a few extremely steep sections and for a distance of 26.2 miles.

For more information visit: http://everestmarathon.com

Badwater 135, United States of America

The 135 mile Badwater race will take you through the Death Valley in California. The course starts at Badwater Basin in Death Valley, the lowest elevation in North America, and finishes at the end of the road on Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the continental U.S. The participants will ascend 14,600 ft and descend nearly 6,000 ft during the course of the race. The best time for this race in the recent years has been 21 hours.

For more information visit: http://www.badwater.com/event/badwater-135/

Iditrod Trail, Alaska, USA

When all other terrains are covered how could we miss snow. This annual invitational has participants, run, fat bike and ski across the 1,000 mile course. Since the time the race started in 2000, just a few dozen individuals have completed this challenging course. Even to qualify to participate in this race, participants have to finish a 350 mile qualifier event.

For more information visit: http://iditarodtrailinvitational.com/index.php

So did anything catch your fancy enough to see if you can give it a go?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG_20171011_095150

 

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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Understanding the Ultra-marathon

So now since you have run the full marathon a few times, are you looking to ramp up to the next level of long distance running and are you prepared for it, asks Nandini Reddy

The classic marathon is running a distance of 26.2 miles. But the next level after you have done the marathon a few times is the Ultra-marathon. Each ultra marathon distance varies between 30 – 50 miles. There is really not set rule that it should be a particular distance only. So what is it like to run an ultra marathon?

So if you have decided to give it a go then there are a few things that you need to understand about an ultra-marathon which are different from a marathon.

Trails rather than city runs: Ultra-marathons are more scenic. There are several races organised along trekking trails. The varied terrain gives a full body workout so its necessary that pre-race you work on strengthening your muscles.

Food is a huge factor: Ultra Marathons have breaks where you have to recharge your body with food and energy drinks. Certain events even put out a lavish spread for runners. You need to understand that ultra marathons might last upwards of six hours so fueling your body is a huge portion of the race.

Run slowly: Keeping in mind the distance that needs to be covered. It is recommended that you run slower than normal. It is generally opined that Ultra-marathons are more fun than full marathons because of the pace. The key is to finish the race without collapsing at the end of it. There are no real set standards of time to complete and ultra-marathon so don’t try to race against the clock.

You will find walkers: It is likely that for a few stretches you will find folk walking. During the uphills people are encouraged to walk to conserve their energy to run on the flatter terrains.  You might even come across people using trekking poles on uphill terrain. If you are walking you might make some friends along the way as well.

Training varies: Most ultra runners train much as they would for a marathon, but make the long run a little longer, or run some back-to-backs. Training runs can be shorter for 30 – 35 miles and then you can ramp up with slower paced runs for 40-45 mile runs.

Ultra marathoners are a massive welcoming group of runners so it would be a good deal to try one sometime soon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

IMG_20171011_095150

 

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.

Read more