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Dawn to Dusk – handling the long haul

Well, you might be prepared for the Dawn part but are you sure about the Dusk part? Let us foresee what is awaiting you in the afternoon, writes Raghul Trekker.

If you have already gone through the event information, you are well aware that you are going to cycle in the afternoon. Though this is relatively the coldest time of the year in Chennai, it is better to take precautionary measures to combat the heat. It would be around 30° C to 25° C which is not something to be ignored.

Gear yourself up with proper hydration plan for the cycling leg. Fill two to three bottles of electrolyte mixed with energy drinks. You might need 500 – 750 ml of fluid every hour of cycling. Considering the temperature drop and the reduction in perceived exertion as the dusk falls, you might need less than the above mentioned quantity.

Research says that, the absorption rate of energy drinks is faster when the system already consists of fluid/water in it. So, before you saddle up, it is good to consume an energy drink or at least sip some water to start off with.

There are lots of hydration drinks from different brands available in the market which fall under different categories.

  1. Electrolyte drink with no or minimal energy supply
  2. Energy drink with minimal electrolyte
  3. Energy drink with electrolytes

Out of the above three options, the most suitable drink for this event where you are put to test under the sun, is the one which has energy mixed with electrolytes.

During endurance activities like cycling, we lose 300-400 mg of sodium, 50-75 mg of potassium, 400 mg-600 mg of chloride, 20-30 mg of magnesium. The above values are approximate and may vary from person to person depending on each person’s sweat rate.

An excess of hydration in terms of electrolytes may lead to nausea, diarrhoea or vomiting.

Dehydration without proper replenishment may lead to cramps, muscular spasms, headache, improper functioning of brain and several other problems.

Considering the above factors, it is good to have a hydration plan in place.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raghul Trekker is the Head Coach at Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn (a unit of Dhaamz Sports & Entertainment Pvt Ltd). A 4-time Ironman coaching more than 100 athletes for the last 3 years. Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn is a team of more than 60 triathletes and runners constantly pushing the limits to better their personal best. You can check out more about them at tricrashnburn.com

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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

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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

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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 to train for Trail Run

If you love running and nature, chances are that you may love trail running too. Radhika Meganathan explores the process of training for a trail run.

Perhaps the only thing that might top runner’s high is runner’s high at an altitude! Trail running involves running on natural terrain, usually on mountainous hiking trails, and offers many benefits such as less impact on the body, increased variety, and the filling of your senses with natural beauty. From the book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running, to be qualified as a “trail” it should possess:

  1. Natural elements and obstacles (such as winding woods, trees, waterways etc.)
  2. significant ascents and descents (i.e. elevation gain/loss)
  3. Scenic beauty.

So, even a paved car track can be known as a trail if it is located on a beautiful hilly terrain! Nevertheless, a nature trail is completely different from, say, your friendly neighbourhood park, so here is a primer on what you need to know about Train Running 101.

Understand your trail

Firstly, one size does not fit all when it comes to trails. Your training plan should consider altitude, overall elevation change, and course the nature of the trail itself. Is it rocky, mossy, clay soil? Hilly, or flat? Sharp turns or loose gravel? Did you come across it during a holiday (or hear about it from someone) and plan to go there soon? Or, are you lucky enough to live near a nature trail, in which case you can train real time, regularly? Knowing your goals and accessibility options beforehand will tremendously help you in getting a trail-running plan drafted.

Reset your expectations

When you transition from running on flat, concrete surface to dirt and grass, it changes the way you pace and balance yourself, and gives you a set of new challenges. Your trail path will be uneven, gravelly and sticky alternatively, and make you twist and turn more frequently than ever. To prepare to handle all this and avoid injuring yourself, it is essential to train the right way. Both attitude and altitude adjustment is required! Your pace will slow down, so don’t expect to have the same speed as before. Patience and a willingness to relearn is key.

Get appropriate gear

If you plan to run on trails regularly, getting a trail running kit is essential. When you run through non-urban spaces (or middle of the forests!), you don’t want to be stuck without a torch or food, so you may need to consider investing in a bag to carry water, food, or extra layers. Though you can use normal sports shoes to run on a trail, it may be a better idea to invest in special trail running shoes, whose treads offer better grip, safeguard you more effectively from slippery surfaces and have more features to protect you against elements such as rocks and roots.

Self-styled or trail training lessons

There are thousands of trail runners all over the world who run without any professional help, as even the freshest novice can start running after doing proper research and investing in the right gear/footwear. But still, if your trail is not a walk in the park (pun intended) or if you have any physical or mental restrictions that may prevent you from successfully completing a trail run, it may be a good idea to get some expert training, at least in the initial stage.

You can request a consultation at your local gym, or connect with local hiking/mountaineering organisations where you can meet with fellow runners and compare notes and more. You may even sign up with a running buddy or learn about a hitherto unexplored trail for your debut run!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

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Running at High Altitude

Running a marathon is a challenge by itself but running the same 42.2km at high altitude is an even greater challenge. Nandini Reddy gives you a few training tips if you want to run a high altitude marathon. 

Any marathon that is run at 5000ft height or above is considered to be a high altitude marathon. One needs to understand the process of acclimatization at these heights. If you are used to running in the plains where you have 100% oxygen, running at high altitudes means you will be running with a deficit of 30% oxygen, which can get progressively lower as you gain altitude.

Your Body in High Altitude

The Ladakh Marathon is one of the most sought after high altitude runs in India. Unlike other marathon’s you will need to arrive at least one week ahead to acclimatize to the weather and oxygen levels. High altitude sickness is occurs when your body does not adjust to the altitude due to lack of oxygen. The air is likely to be rarefied and thin so it is important to arrive before and spend a few days getting used to physical activity in that environment. Short runs and treks will help adjust faster. First time runners need to first run 7km and 10km distances in high altitude before attempting half and full marathons.

Strategy to run at High Altitude

The best strategy for transitioning to high-altitude running depends on  acclimatization time, your age and fitness level.

  • A basic high-altitude nutrition plan should place a strong emphasis on hydration. Water is essential for enabling red blood cells to circulate oxygen in the lungs and the dry air in high altitudes can be leave your dehydrated very quickly.
  • It is also important to follow a low-fat diet whenever you’re training at altitude, as there’s some evidence the body doesn’t digest fat as efficiently at higher elevations.
  • Try incremental training in terms of gaining height. If you are to run at 7000ft then don’t try to fly straight to that height and attempt to acclimatize. Land at a lower height and gain height over the week of training.
  • Avoid smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol as they are worsen breathing

The Upside

There are many benefits to exercising and running in high altitudes. There is a increase in red blood cells at high altitude which means more oxygen is delivered to your body which helps in improving stamina, muscle strength and reducing body fat percentage. These effects will last for about 15 – 20 days once you return to low altitude but the longer your train in high altitude, the longer these effects will last.

High-altitude athletes aren’t born, they’re made so if you can train right then running at high altitude will be a breeze.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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

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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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