Training Comments Off on Understand the Maffetone Method |

Understand the Maffetone Method

Deepthi Velkur looks into a popular method that runners around the world are adopting to get leaner and fitter.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit” – Aristotle.

I want to get better. I want to be fitter and leaner. I want to train right without feeling drained out or being injured. I’m sure we have all had these thoughts and questions in our head. Is there a way we can actually achieve this?

The answer is – Yes, we can! The reason for you not seeing any improvements, feeling burnt out or prone to injuries is not only a problem with your training, diet or your shoes. It could be your aerobic base or the lack of it. For an athlete to perform well and overall have good health it is important to have a solid aerobic base. This can be achieved by following the Low-Heart rate training also popularly known as the Maffetone Method.

So what is the Maffetone method?

The MAF Method is a philosophy developed over the course of 40 years by Dr Phil Maffetone which helps individuals take charge of their health and reach their performance potential.

The premise of the method says that by developing your Maximum Aerobic Function(MAF) where you improve your aerobic base, become fat adapted, improving your energy levels, losing body fat, improving athletic performance, minimizing injuries and ramp up your performance potential.

It is a style of training where one focusses mainly on their aerobic running using a heart rate formula of 180- your age. “Most people do not develop good aerobic conditioning as it takes time and one needs to be consistent. Such people end up with poor metabolism and aerobic physiology. In order to build your aerobic fitness, you need to make sure the heart rate does not exceed this threshold and by doing that you’re expending the fat for fuel and not sugar. When you run aerobically you tend to feel energized and don’t have the need to nap or require an energy gel to replenish your carb stores.

Most runners tend to use this method during their base training phase by not allowing their heart rate to spike more than this “aerobic maximum”. You can measure this using a heart rate monitor each time you run so that you don’t exceed the limit and stay 0-10 beats below it. Once the heart rate goes beyond this threshold, the aerobic muscles start to function less efficiently and the anaerobic muscles take over. It’s good to note that Aerobic muscles use body fat and oxygen for energy consumption whereas anaerobic muscles use the glycogen stores within the anaerobic muscle cells which do not last more than 2.5 or 3 mins.

Benefits of using the 180 formula

You have to train at a low heart rate in order to build your aerobic base, a relaxed pace where you are able to make easy conversation. Finding the right heart rate is an individual process. After several evaluations of many athletes, Dr Maffetone came up with this formula to determine an optimal heart rate training zone.

The main benefits of using the 180 formula are that your body is trained to burn more of the stored fat for energy consumption. It also enables you to run, cycle or do other activities much faster over a period of time without overtraining. This happens with sustained practice where your body becomes efficient over time to perform faster with better stamina while maintaining the same training heart rate.

Using the Maffetone Method to build endurance

  • Determine your Maximum Aerobic Threshold: Using the 180 formula, figure out your threshold heart rate
  • Keep a heart rate monitor handy: Get yourself a good heart rate monitor which beeps or vibrates indicating your heart rate has spiked above your aerobic threshold.
  • Train right: Phil Maffetone recommends you to run at your threshold aerobic heart rate. By doing that one trains the aerobic muscles to function at its maximum making you run more efficiently and burning the fat to fuel energy instead of having to rely on the anaerobic muscles. Over time your pace increases while keeping your heart rate below the specified threshold. The training plan should be individualized based on the years of experience as a runner. Do not train in groups as each person’s capabilities are different and vary from one person to another.
  • MAF test: It is necessary to track your progress and course correct along the way. This provides you with the required motivation to push and also to make changes were needed. Always start with a warm-up and run a distance of 5 Km at your maximum aerobic heart rate and record it. Repeat this test at the same time and route every month from now to check how you’ve progressed. You should notice a marked improvement in the MAF timings and subsequently in the race timings as well.
  • A warm-up is must: This is a definite deal breaker with respect to this method of doing a 15min warm-up. We tend to slip warm-ups but by doing that you are spiking up your heart rate and it becomes difficult to bring it down. Hence a gentle warm-up will gradually increase your heart rate and you can see good results.
  • Controlled breathing: By breathing through your nose, you can keep your pace and heart rate under control. You might find it a bit hard at the beginning, but it takes time for the results to show and over time becomes easy to run at slower paces.
  • Maintaining running form and cadence: Running at a slow pace tends to affect your posture and cadence and incorporate one or two workouts after the initial 3 months to work on this.

Challenges and pay-offs

While there are huge followers of this method, there are people who disagree with the method of training. The pace you follow in this method is excruciatingly slow leading to boredom and results take time.

Conclusion: The MAF method covers a lifestyle concept encompassing diet, nutrition, exercise and stress management. Results take about 3-4 months to show. Joining a Maffetone facebook group or a running buddy can help immensely and keeps you motivated to push on.

Be patient, repeat it and the results will follow.

You can read about Ajit Thandur‘s and Pallavi Aga‘s experience with the Maffetone Method.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Read more

Featured, Training Comments Off on My experiences with the Maffetone method |

My experiences with the Maffetone method

Pallavi Aga is a Doctor, a Nutritionist and a Lifestyle Management Consultant and the Founder of Mind-Body Wellness Clinic, discussing her experience with the MAF method.

At present, I am pursuing preventive health in the form of nutritional counselling for sports as well as lifestyle diseases. I strongly believe that we should focus on the right nutrition as opposed to dieting fads.

I always considered myself a tad invincible (given that I am a doctor and all) but ever since I crossed 40, I have had a few health scares.

Initially, it was weight issues that bogged me down and then I became borderline diabetic and hypertensive. I obviously did not want to live a life dependent on medications so I took up running in 2015 to get healthy and stay fit.

As time went on, running no longer was just a means to stay fit but it became a passion and started participating in a lot of races. Though my pace had improved, I had low energy levels, injuries started creeping up on me and my weight-loss plan reached a plateau.

Combining my training with medical knowledge

I started reading a lot of research articles in order to see where I went wrong and that was when I came across the Maffetone method. Dr Phil Maffetone recommended a unique method of training in which the aerobic base has to be increased using the formula “180-age”. The more I read about it, the more I was convinced about the integrity of the method. I decided to give it a shot and see if it helped me reach my goal.

The MAF method documents that the major part of your running should be in the MAF heart rate zone and as the body gets adapted, the pace will go up at the same heart rate. As running at this zone utilizes fats as fuel hence the need for carbohydrates will reduce and the muscles will work more efficiently.  This method requires a lot of patience as results take time but I used the slowing of the pace to lay the emphasis on posture and cadence.

Implementing the MAF method

I decided to go with this method 2 years ago and assumed it to be easy. I was so wrong. I realized that my heart rate was reaching levels of 160 and above as opposed to 135 (my recommended Maffetone Heart Rate).

I had to make a few changes like incorporating walk breaks into my run, training on fasting, reduction in my intake of carbohydrates, grains, dairy products and adding good fats in the form of seeds and nuts to my nutrition plan.

The journey

It wasn’t easy getting used to this method. I had to run alone with no music so that I could focus on my cadence and correct my stance into a mid-foot strike. My earlier heel strike led to disturbed posterior chain kinetics which had resulted in a bad hamstring sprain.

Despite not many people believing in this strategy and asking me to run faster and add the pre-run carbs back, I never gave in and carried on with the plan. My biggest challenge was ‘fasted running’ as it made me very giddy and nauseous. During the summer, I worked on this area and trained harder keeping my electrolyte balance and hydration in check.

The effects of the MAF method

This method really worked well for me and I saw an increase in my energy levels. My weight dropped and I felt fitter and full of life. The feeling of totally being drained out went away and I started really enjoying my runs. It was exhilarating to feel free and one with nature. Gradually my pace picked up and I was back to my previous pace with the heart rate under control. My MAF pace is 6:15 now. I hope to improve it further with more dedication.

My experiments

A couple of months before my ADHM event, I wanted to increase my pace. So, I did an experiment of training at a higher pace and adding pre-run carbs before interval, tempo and long runs.

I realized that in less than a month, my immunity levels dropped, I felt bloated and I was tired all the time. My pace went up temporarily but I started falling sick, took me longer to recover and my old hamstring injury started acting up again. Ultimately, I suffered a total set back in my running and lost out on the fun of my runs.

I decided to change back to the MAF method and all was good again. I completed the ADHM with a time of 1hr52mins which was 3mins shy of my PB (1hr49mins) last year. I was able to manage this because I moved back to my low heart rate training 15 days prior. I did a day of pre-marathon carb loading and managed to finish the race comfortably despite my health issues.

The current status

Currently, I do all my training runs at a MAF pace and always keep my heart rate in check. Also, I do all my runs including the long runs (2+ hours) while fasting and I don’t really feel the need to eat immediately. I ensure I stock up on complex carbs and most of my calories come from protein and fat. With my energy levels up, I feel like it’s reversed my ageing.

I don’t participate in a lot of events because for me running is my meditation and I like to do only a few events as the competitive nature stresses me out.

In conclusion, I feel the Maffetone method has been a blessing in my life and has helped me reclaim my health. With the knowledge, I have of this method I am confident that I will run injury free for a long time.

My mantra to life was always “Say No to Medicines”!!

Learn more about the Maffetone Method here.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

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

Read more

Training Comments Off on Why is it necessary to have a training plan? |

Why is it necessary to have a training plan?

Coach Pani, the head coach of the Pacemakers running club talks about why its necessary to follow a training plan.

Training for any endurance event takes an incredible amount of time and dedication. For most of us committing to a time needed for training can seem quite daunting at times. Often, the fear of not being able to dedicate that time to training discourages us to embark on that something new.

Morihei Ueshiba, Osensei ‘Great Teacher’ and founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido once said, “The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body and polish the spirit”.

I draw upon this powerful message to remind us all that we have to carve out time to care for ourselves and kindle our own fire.

Whether it’s your first 5K or a full marathon, the first and foremost step would be to build an ideal training plan that carefully takes into account your personal obligations as well as making the most of every moment of your training. Even a slight imbalance in these two elements can cause negative effects on an athlete’s health, personal life and the race season.

It’s never “a one program fits all” routine as it varies per individual and also every season. The key to a successful training plan is to have one that is specifically tailored to you.

Why do you need a training plan?

  • Gives workouts a new meaning
  • Encourages you to do what is good for you
  • Exposes you to different workouts
  • Puts a lot of emphasis on improvement and
  • Helps you avoid Overtraining (or Undertraining in some cases)

What exactly does a training plan offer?

Taking into account your individual strengths and limitations in relation to your goals, you or your coach can devise a customized plan. By doing this you will achieve 2 things – (a) it will help set the right expectations and (b) help determine the best approach to your training.

  • A training plan gives a runner the instructions and directions on how to scientifically improve stamina, endurance, and speed required to run a particular distance. This can be achieved by following a certain type of workouts step by step which trains the different energy systems and meets the physiological demands required for that distance.
  • It ensures that the runner is progressing in the right direction in achieving their objective without overtraining / injuries by following the “Principles of Training”.
  • Makes sure that a runner is peaking at the right time for Race Day.
  • Motivates a runner to perform better each time when they complete all the workouts as mentioned in the plan.

How are training plans built (10K, HM and FM)?

Once you know what events you want to take part in, it is time to draw up a training plan.

A minimum of 16 Weeks and 24 Weeks of training plan is required to run a 10K, Half Marathon (HM) and Full Marathon (FM) respectively. Here is an overall view of the plans.

16 Weeks Training Cycle for running your first 10K:

  • Base Building (6 Weeks): Work on building your aerobic base to meet the physiological demands for the distance you are training.
  • Strength Workouts (4 Weeks): In addition to your aerobic base building, include hill workouts and resistance training to build strength.
  • Speed Workouts (4 Weeks): Without compromising on the base building and strength workouts, add some anaerobic workouts during this phase of training to improve your speed. But, remember not to start with speed workouts without first building the base and strength phase. Once your body is ready to take the load then add speed workouts and avoid injury.
  • Tapering (1 – 2 Weeks): This is a very crucial period where an Athlete tends to fall ill, immune systems getting affected because of the training load just before race day. During this phase, your workouts should be reduced by 30 to 40 %, but the intensity has to be maintained until the race day.

While devising the training plan include one hard workout followed by one easy workout. In this way, easy workouts can be used as a recovery run, cross training (cycling, swimming) etc.

24 Weeks Training Cycle for running your first HM or FM:

While the steps to be followed remain the same across the training plan (as mentioned above), it’s the duration that varies.

  • Base Building (10 Weeks): As above.
  • Strength Workouts (6 Weeks): As above.
  • Speed Workouts (4 – 6 Weeks): As above.
  • Tapering (2 Weeks): as above.

For an amateur athlete who is looking to finish the race, the amount of time spent running is the most important factor in training. The runner’s focus should be on improving their time gradually to stay on their feet without overtraining and avoiding injury.

Whereas a seasoned athlete should concentrate on the physiological demands required for the distance they train and should mimic the race pace in their workouts.

Athletes who are training for an HM or FM should include one or two 10K and HM races in their training plans respectively to gauge their progress.

Following a structured training plan will help an athlete accomplish their peak performance on race day.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST
Kothandapani KC (aka Coach Pani) is the head coach at the PaceMakers running club and a marathoner himself. He believes that his “biggest strength for success lies in the four D’s -Discipline, Dedication, Determination and Devotion”.

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Riding with Bikey Venky |

Riding with Bikey Venky

Venkateswara Rao Navanasi or Bikey Venky as he is popularly known talks about his journey from cyclist to blogger to mentor with Deepthi Velkur.

Venkateswara Rao Navanasi’s giant leaps in the cycling world are more than just being inspirational. They are an adventure that he has been conquering the miles along with his demons makes for a story that you must read.

Cycling has become an integral part of your life, but it was never always the case. How did it all happen?

For starters, I wasn’t the most healthy person out there. I was 20 kilos overweight and suffered from frequent asthma and bronchitis attacks.

In February 2008, months before I was due to become a father, I realized my unhealthy lifestyle could be a bad example for my child. That thought triggered an immediate action and my unborn child served as the motivation for me to live a healthier lifestyle.

Over the next 8 months, I lost 16 kilos by doing 2 things –eating healthier and working out for an hour every day. In October 2008 with the idea of including a workout routine into my daily commute, I picked up a cycle. I commuted 14KM a day and that slowly transformed into longer rides over the weekend. The spirit of freedom had me hooked and without even knowing it, cycling changed my life.

From being a recreational cyclist, you transitioned to road racing. That’s a big leap – what drove you to it?

It’s a funny story – I never imagined racing and always thought it was for professionals.

In December 2010, having just moved to Bangalore, I went to watch a BBCh (Bangalore Bicycling Championships) ITT race in Sarjapur and sat there in wide-eyed wonder as I watched the fancy bikes zoom past. 9 months later, while watching another BBCh race, this time it was the Team Time Trial (TTT), the organizers announced that those who had no teams but were interested in racing could take part in the Individual Time Trials (ITT). I pedalled up to the start line with my fixed gear bike and completed the 20KM race averaging a speed of 33KMPH. Later that evening I was surprised when a friend of mine (Brijesh Nair) called me and said that I had won the race and he collected my medal. It was my first ever medal in life! Later in 2011, when I took part in the Tour of Nilgiris (TFN), I got hooked to racing and the endorphin rush I experience is what brings me back.

You look forward to the Tour of Nilgiris (TFN) every year? Why is it so close to your heart?

TFN came into existence around the same time I started cycling. The TFN started off as a fun ride but turned into an organized race in December 2008.

In 2008, while researching for a new bike on an online forum (Bikeszone), I happened to stumble upon TFN and was fascinated to read about the experiences of the riders. I followed the tour closely and during a TFN after-party, I caught up with a few riders and listening to their stories first hand solidified my resolve to take part in it one day. When my registration for the 2011 event was accepted I was both elated and scared at the same time. The scale of what I was about to attempt dawned on me and I used the nervousness inside of me to inspire me to do well.

To prepare, apart from my daily commute, I started riding for 50KM twice during the week and even longer on weekends. In the 6 months leading up to TFN, I did about 10,000KM and lost 12 kilos.

In my first TFN race, I secured the 11th position out of 90 riders from across the world. I was ecstatic and believed that I was cut out from something more than just being a recreational cyclist. The high it gave me changed my life as a cyclist forever. During the TFN, I had the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life and the camaraderie shared lives with me till today. To me, TFN is special because it challenges me as a rider and of course the views are to die for.

Having raced in multiple events – which race format do you find the most challenging?

My favorite disciple is the ITT and I do share a love-hate relationship with it. It is a race that is called the “race of truth” and rightfully so – it’s just you and your bike going head-on with the elements and the clock.

The ITT is challenging because when you are in the flow, you feel ecstatic but when your mind starts playing up, it is rather an agonizing experience. This year in March, I clocked my personal best average speed of 43kmph for the 33.5km course and the ITT format really helps you gauge your progress.

You seem to love writing as much as you like cycling. What does your blog (www.bvcoaching.in/blog) focus on mainly?

Well, I love riding, writing out my ride reports and sharing them through Bikeszone and my own blog. I always try and share them on race day itself as it’s all fresh in my mind. My blog mainly covers race reports for now, but I intend to publish posts on training and nutrition that could help others in the riding community.

How did the initiative of starting your own racing calendar called BAR (Bangalore Amateur Racing) come about? How many races does it feature in a year?

I have participated in all BBCH races since 2012. It’s a great platform to keep riders motivated, train and stay in shape through the year. The BBCH organizes road and MTB races during alternate months which meant that for us road racers, we had to wait for 2 months between races. Definitely not ideal and we figured we needed more races and that’s how a few of us at Spectrum came up with an idea of starting a new series.

My friend, Venkatachalam from Cleated Warriors team and I went about executing our idea and the first race we organized was a 24KM ITT on 21st July 2013. With the help of stop watches, laptops we ensured the results were released immediately on completion of the race. Our focus is to keep it simple, reduce overheads and organize races at regular intervals. On an average, we do about 10 races per year and charge INR 50 per race per participant.

How and when did your association with spectrum racing start?

In 2011 when I started watching races, I came across this energetic bunch of riders from a team called ‘Spectrum Racing’ and I have also seen them on my regular riding routes. They were a huge inspiration to me in the way that they rode together. Several times I did try keeping pace with them but couldn’t. After several months of riding, I eventually managed to keep up with them and rode most of the tour with them. They were quite impressed with me as I managed to complete the tour with a fixed gear bike and offered for me to join their team.

During this time, I was associated with another team ‘Veloscope’ so getting such an invite is tantamount to poaching in the corporate world. Nevertheless, I was excited at the opportunity, so I consulted my friend Brijesh Nair who set up Veloscope and he encouraged me to go for it. I joined Spectrum Racing in January 2012.

What lead you to start your own coaching site(www.bvcoaching.in)? How does this work?

I have always enjoyed reading, finding new ways to improve myself and sharing knowledge. I used to ride with and mentor a few youngsters and in the process, I shared regular feedback, helped them with race preparations and this became a learning ground for all of us. I enjoyed the process and it helped me develop as well.

Through my blog (www.bvcoaching.in/blog), I had quite a few people asking me questions about training for BBCH, TFN, etc. and I took the opportunity to help in any way I could. For some who wanted more specific advice, I devised training plans for them.

In 2016, I stumbled upon a tool that made training plans and interaction between coaches and trainees easier, but it was fairly expensive. I then decided to start charging for my services and my existing clients were happy with the arrangement and that’s how www.bvcoaching.in started on 1st May 2016.

All the training plans were customized and accessible via the app or website. The trainees could upload their workouts online where I would analyze progress and provide feedback. Communication was predominantly via the tool and emails, but the evaluation was done via phone and Skype. This model enables me to work with athletes from across the globe.

Tour de Friendship 2017 was your first race on the international Platform? How did it go?

My skipper at Spectrum Racing, Dr. Arvind Bhateja, signed me up for the race in 2017 and took care of all logistics as he wanted me to experience racing at a different level.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t do justice to the faith he had in me. I went into the race not being at the top of my game and with a tough cycling field and difficult route, it made for a disappointing race. On the bright side, that race opened my mind to newer challenges and I decided to compete in one international race every year.

With the experience you had at Tour De Friendship, how differently did you handle your next race – the Tour De Bintan?

I went into the Tour De Bintan in possibly the best shape I could be at that time. I trained with a coach for over 5 months leading up to the event. I was better prepared and gave a good account of myself.  The race was a 3-day event with an ITT on the first day, a 140km road race on the second and a 100km road race on the 3rd day in the beautiful Indonesian Resort Island called Bintan. The races are well organized and the first two races act as qualifiers for UCI Grandfondo series finals in the age category.

You had to qualify in the top 20% in your age category (40-44) for the UCI Masters Grandfondo series World Championships? Did you manage to meet your target?

Although I was better prepared, I was still quite a way off the top 20% of the field. I finished just outside the top 20% but overall was a great experience. I came back knowing exactly what I needed to work on to do better the next time I’m there which will be in 2020.

What are the major differences you see racing in India vs overseas?

The level of racing overseas is so high that it can be disheartening as well as inspiring. Most of the riders in the age categories 40-44 and 50-54 have been riding all their life and are way faster than any of us. In India, most of us start quite late in life and it might take us several years to get there but I believe it is possible to be competitive by putting in a lot of work.

The races overseas are meticulously planned, organized well and the level of support received from local authorities is amazing. In India, I have seen such planning in events like the Tour of Glory and Tour of Nilgiris (TFN).

How would you rate your performance over the years?

Overall, fairly satisfying. I won the TFN in Masters category in 2015 and 2016 and this year has been very good. I participated in 10-12 races and won 4 of them.

What races have you planned for 2019?

For 2019, my big goal is Giro De Dolomitti (GDD) in the Italian Alps. It is quite similar to the TFN but on a larger scale. Apart from that, I plan to attend the Tour of Glory, 2Go Masters Championships, BBCH, BAR races and TFN.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Running Nonstop with Ravi Goenka |

Running Nonstop with Ravi Goenka

A running career that spans over 2 decades, Ravi Goenka, the co-founder of the Jaipur Runners club reminisces his running career with Deepthi Velkur.

“And suddenly you know…it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings”.

For the past 21 years, Ravi Goenka has certainly had several new beginnings. Starting his running career in 1997, he has clocked many a mile and has now moved on to helping others achieve their fitness goals. Ravi lives by the motto, “take it all one day at a time and enjoy the journey”.

When he’s not running, he spends his time managing his several interests in garments, textiles, retail and dairy. He also spends his time being actively involved with a couple of NGOs who focus on providing education for underprivileged kids. Ravi has been a co-founder with the Jaipur Runners Club (JRC) since 2011 and in this conversation, he tells us how he hopes to help runners achieve their goals.

When did you first pick up running and what inspired you to do so?

Sports has always been a part of my life. I have been running for a long time now and I’m addicted. Today, I just can’t live without my run – it really has intertwined itself into my life and I build my day around it. My first run was the Terry Fox run (Dubai) in 1997 and 7 years later I did my first half-marathon in 2004 and a full marathon in 2005.

Running brings about immense benefits to the health and overall development of a person? In what way has it benefited you?

Discipline. Perseverance. Camaraderie. These are 3 key elements that come to mind when someone asks how does running add value to your life.

Discipline in the way you live – running influences everything from the way you eat to the way you plan your day. Running helps build perseverance and makes you believe that no matter how tough the situation is, just stick with it and you will come through a winner. Every runner’s journey is peppered with stories of how a friend helped them during training or a stranger egged them on a tough uphill course or rubbed down a sore muscle on a tough trail. That’s what running brings out in people – a spirit of community and camaraderie.

When did you decide to start Jaipur runners club? What was the main idea behind starting this club?

Prior to 2010, Jaipur didn’t really have a lot of exposure to marathons and there were only a handful of marathoners. Mr.Mukesh Mishra, CEO – Jaipur Marathon (now the AU Bank Jaipur Marathon) and I were in touch and discussed several ideas on how we can improve the runner’s experience at the event.

We realized that runners did not have a platform to practice together and both of us felt the need to create a space where runners could interact, motivate and inspire each other. That’s how the idea of starting a running club – JRC came about. When it started out, it had a very loose structure for a couple of years, but it has gradually evolved over time and today we have a more formalized structure in place.

Do you think joining a running club enriches a runner’s experience? If yes, why?

A running group/club definitely enhances and enriches a runners experience. When you are part of a group they become close buddies and it’s a huge benefit to run along with them. Right from waking each other up in the morning to sharing training tips to motivating and pushing each other during runs plays a major role in motivating and inspiring you to achieve more.

We also try doing a whole lot of things such as organize monthly runs, bringing in motivational speakers and sports nutrition experts to speak to our runners. We also have a few renowned sports doctors on our panel to help fellow runners. Our objective is to give the runners at the club a wholesome enriching running experience.

Your best and worst race so far? Why?

My best race probably was the 100K race in (took me a tad over 12 hours to complete) Dec 2015. I participated in this run to promote Ultrarunning in Jaipur as the concept was fairly insignificant at the time.

I call it my best not because I ran a 100K but because of the atmosphere, it created. There were hundreds of local runners who ran distances between 4 – 42K alongside me and for a lot of them it was their longest distance they had run until that day. We had many more citizens who lined up at Central Park where the run was happening and created such a festive mood.

The SCMM 2015 (my last officially timed run)run wasn’t my worst but rather a most enlightening race.  I was hoping to break the 3hr45min barrier and things were going great until 32 KM mark where I suddenly cramped up. The situation nearly brought me to tears as I had put in hours of hard work, several months of practice and I was maintaining a decent time in training (3hr50min – 4hr). That brought me a moment of realization that chasing personal bests was making me lose the joy of running. I then made the decision to focus on staying fit and enjoying my runs.

Take us through your training regimen and how do you to stay injury-free?

There are 2 key activities I go through the year that are very important to me – yoga and working out at the gym. In addition, I do a fair bit of cross training between sports like cycling, TT, tennis, cricket and swimming. Since I enjoy sports, I try and put in 15-20 a week on that. Before and after any run session, I do a quick warm-up and cooling-down stretches.

I have had running-related injuries and lay-offs a couple of times over the past 2 decades and this has been mainly due to overtraining. However, I ensured proper rest during the injury and I have been able to get back on my feet quicker.

How do you keep your runners at JRC motivated?

Our job is to get them into a regular habit and once done we have seen runners take off and make considerable progress. We are also constantly evolving are plans and programs to keep the runners on their feet through the year. With the advent of social media, there is no dearth for motivation as there are runners scaling new heights every day. In a city like Jaipur, we are seeing a surge in the number of runners who want to do their FM in 2 years’ time from when they started running or wishing to attempt an Ironman challenge.

At JRC, we organize boot camps focusing on overall fitness, building running techniques, challenges like 10KM over 10 days, 100-day challenge and hill training. We also see a very high newcomer participation in our events and that’s encouraging. We also have a lot of mentoring happening with guidance from experienced runners on plans being made for new comers and helping them with customized plans for speed and endurance training.

 

You ran the 72K Jaipur midnight marathon on Independence Day this year as a dedication to the Indian Soldiers. What were your thoughts at the finish line?

I was happy that I managed to finish the 72K run with ease in spite of having certain challenging factors that can take a toll on your body and mind – visibility at night, humid weather conditions and a full working day at office/factory. It was good to see a few young fellow runners from JRC giving me company and through the run kept pushing each other to finish the race.

12 hours of barefoot running saw two members from JRC participate. Briefly talk about the run and how did you cheer them on to the finish line?

We currently have some very strong runners from Jaipur attempting to run long distances and also being successful at it. Although I was not physically present during the run and could not cheer them on,  we were given regular updates on their progress and were being cheered through a virtual medium.

As a director of JRC, what are your future plans for the club?

We gradually and steadily hope to increase the number of runners in Jaipur and at the same time instilling in them a love for fitness. The goal is also to ensure we are able to have each member run long and strong and stay injury-free. The co-founder of JRC Mr Mukesh Mishra is also very dedicated to the cause and we have a very supportive team in place who are always out there to support all events and runners. To top it all, having a team of dedicated volunteers is a big boon in itself.

Do you think you might reconsider your decision to stop running at official events?

 The SCMM 2015 was my the last official event that I ran. My friends call me the “enlightened Baba” who has attained Nirvana after years of this journey. I enjoy running on my own most of the time as this is my “ME” time and also enjoy runs with friends sometimes. I also try and be part of the runs of JRC which gives me an opportunity to interact with fellow runners. I have been running for so long now that I don’t feel the urge to travel anymore for runs. My businesses take a lot out of me and focus is on my work  for now. Hopefully in a few years, if the goal posts change, I would love to travel again to run in different parts of the world.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

Read more

Featured Comments Off on Fit Girl India |

Fit Girl India

Meet Ayesha Billimoria, athlete, the new age fitness icon and one of the leading fitness and nutrition influencers, who speaks to Nandini Reddy about her fitness philosophy.

Ayesha Billimoria is a track athlete, captain of the Adidas Runners in Mumbai and is leading a project, Fitgirl to empower women in athletic sports. Billimoria coaches runners for marathons and this three-time 400m national champion has been keeping her dream alive of running for India in the Olympics for over 15 years.

Ayesha Billimoria’s relationship with sports and fitness started at the age of 11 and from age 14 she has been a professional athlete. Her influence can be seen on the popular social image sharing site, Instagram, where Ayesha commands a formidable following. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.

How young were you when you fell in love with fitness?

I don’t believe in falling in love. Because those who fall in, fall out very quickly. I have enjoyed growing in love with athletics since the age of 11.

You are a powerful fitness influencer, what are the pros and cons of this responsibility

The pros of being a fitness influencer are that we get to touch thousands of hearts in a positive way. Cons – everyone likes to pounce on us for the slightest of tiniest of mistakes.

How have you overcome struggles like injuries? I ask because these are the points were people get most demotivated?

Yes, tons of injuries in my entire 22 years of running professionally and as an amateur. It depends from person to person and what their motivation is. For me it is mega, and that makes me want to wake up every single day with the same passion and energy.

What are your hoping to achieve with Fit Girl India?

A stronger and fitter society. mentally, emotionally and physically.

Do you feel running is empowering as a sport?

100% I think the best gift one can give a child is the gift of running. It not only gives you the confidence but the courage to think for yourself.

Nutrition is the most important factor in fitness. Do you believe that and what is your nutrition mantra?

New age comes with new drama. but no doubts there that good healthy food is essential for good performance and injury recovery. Nonetheless, we still won national medals with basic home food 🙂

How important is it to work with a coach? Is it only for the elites or do amateurs also need them?

MOST IMPORTANT! Just how we need a doctor when we are ill. The same goes for running. Those who try to do it on their own, often fail. I am the best example of that.

You had participated in the 100 days of running challenge – is such a task advisable or is it an extreme form of fitness?

I did not participate in the 100 days of running, I only represent the company that partners with this initiative. It is misguided information on the internet. And no I do not recommend this to anyone. Absurdity in the name of running, is driving this country crazy.

What is your ultimate dream as an athlete

It always and will be to represent India at the Olympic games.

Your words of advice to anyone getting into fitness

Relax and Enjoy it. Life is not a race. Breathe every moment and enjoy the process of physical and mental evolution.

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.

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Record Breaking Iron(wo)man |

Record Breaking Iron(wo)man

In conversation with Vinolee Ramalingam, the Chennai based Triathlete who has never let any obstacle deter her.

Ironman is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of non-compete to endurance sports, how did you choose to take it up?
ironmanI started out again to get my body and mind into shape. I didn’t have any endurance sports in mind, as I was focused only on swimming. In my city Chennai, there was a triathlon event around that time and My friends and well-wishers pushed me to take up that. That’s how it happened and rest was history, as I was completely into training and participating in it.

Finishing two Ironman’s and setting a new record, how did that happen?
Participating in an Ironman was not for any record, rather it was only for my own self. I needed to see where I am, and how to fit I am. Being a short distance national athlete (100m,200m) and national swimmer, my mind was and is into sports from my childhood. All my dream and my father and brother’s dream was to represent India at an international arena. When I did that, it was kind of exhilarating and I was addicted to it. That’s what is pushing me.

You have now set your sights on the World Championship, how would you be preparing for it?
World championships are always a dream of a triathlete. For it, I got to train harder and smarter. Need twice or thrice the dedication level which I have now to go to that level. I have got my training plans altered to that, have identified my lagging areas, and am now working more on it. Also, we have analyzed the effort which I did for the two Ironmans. With that as a reference, I am looking forward to an improved training.

What advice would you give to a newbie who wants to try an Ironman event?
An Ironman aspirant should have an open strong mind to even choose this event. He /she should have a structured training plan which will help them in concentrating on each of the legs individually. He/she should be very strong in their basics. They may be a good swimmer, but without knowledge of the bike, they will have trouble. A sound mind to accept whatever may come as output, be ready to push through. My motto is “No way out, Push Through”

How has your family viewed this change?
My family have been supporting me from day 1 when I told I am planning to pursue this. They were happy and they started encouraging me on day to day basis. My kid, Vinesh, is so accommodating, he used to sleep in the car when I go for a ride, as my husband drives the car. Without family, I am nothing.

Who is your inspiration or role model?
My dad, Ramalingam, is my inspiration. He was a national medal winner during 1970s in Heptathlon. He decided things on his own and took up sports as his career, stayed as a coach until he retired. He was also the District Sports Officer. He encourages and coaches me and my kid for our events. He is coaching my kid for upcoming kids triathlon.

Do you work with a coach? If yes, what are the benefits? If no, then how do you plan your training?
Yes, I work with my coach, Xavier Coppock of Team TRI Coaching. He has trained many athletes and has made their dream of qualifying for World Championships come true. Working with a coach is always beneficial as they will know the right amount of training for each leg. And they will be on top of your training and will change it accordingly to your positives and negatives. We just got to blindly follow them

Do you follow a special nutrition plan before and during your race? Can you share a few tips about that?
I didn’t follow any specific nutrition plan, but I did mind what I ate. I had included more amount of proteins, enough carbs and minimal fat. I completely avoided all bakery items, aerated drinks. These kept me in shape. And of course loads of water.
The week leading to the race one should be drinking as much water and take more electrolytes to keep them in shape. If we don’t keep ourselves equipped with this, we will end up feeling exhausted during the race.

Plan earlier for the race. Keep adequate gels, salt capsules and electrolyte. Though the organizers will have enough supplementary drinks, it’s always better to carry our own. That way we will be confident during the race and need not fear if the next aid station carries water or not.

They say mental strength is the most important factor for an endurance event. Do you agree and how have you trained yourself to tackle the challenge the race throws at you?
Along with your physical strength, we need to have tremendous mental strength. We will have a lot of delusions and tons of questions, and you will be asked to quit and go to sleep. During the race, I used to talk to myself about my kid, my family and how they will feel happy when I reach the finish line. How they will be happily and patiently waiting on the finish line for me etc. If we have something to concentrate on and think on, then that’s a boon.

How have you changed as a person since you took up the training for the Ironman?
As a person, I started looking at things positively and started being an influencer indirectly and directly for many women, who think life is just to take care of kids and family and not have any kind of aspirations. Life is short, you are your best friend and your body is the only thing which comes with you till the end. My mind is now fresh, am happy because I do what my mind wants me to do. Indirectly I have changed my kid’s life, as he is happily taken sports as part of his day to day life, and is ready to stay fit.

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.

Read more

Featured Comments Off on Making time for the things that make you happy! |

Making time for the things that make you happy!

Time is often the most precious commodity in our lives. In this article, Hetal Sonpal talks to Deepthi Velkur on how he manages to find time for his passion, ‘running’.

A dynamic and accomplished business leader with over 20+ years in the IT industry, Hetal Sonpal moves effortlessly from being an angel investor to an advisor for start-ups to an accomplished runner in his own right.

He is also a “Mentor of Change” for Niti Ayog and mentors school children on Innovation programs. He is a motivational speaker and has given speeches at numerous B-schools across the country.

His running journey has seen him complete 14 half-marathons, 4 full-marathons, a 50K Malnad Ultra Trail run and he is a certified Half IRONMAN.

In this conversation, he talks about what motivated him to start running leading up to his Half IRONMAN journey.

With a portfolio of more than 20 start-up companies, I’m sure you’re a very busy man. Yet, you find the time to run – how do you manage that?

“Always find time for the things that make you feel happy to be alive”. I heard this line several years ago and it stuck with me. I think regardless of how busy your life gets when you are passionate about something you automatically make time for it.

For me running is a passion and I rearrange other things I do like another sport, yoga, walking or social commitments to make time for a run.

When I started running 5 years ago, it was the ‘something new’ in my life, an activity to meet and engage with more people. In a matter of 6-8 months, that quickly turned into a serious activity with 3-4 runs a week. Over the past 2 years, I have made some changes to the way I run and train so that I focus on my targeted events for the year.

As you said, you set yearly targets for yourself? What’s the strategy you put in place to plan and achieve these targets?

In general, I target 5-6 events a year. ADHM and TMM are 2 regulars in my yearly race calendar. For the others, I generally try and look for that something new, something unique in an event and if it appeals to me, I add it.

This year, for instance, I did the 50K Malnad Ultra Trail run because going beyond the 42K appealed to me and the fact that it is such a challenging trail run made it a must do for me. I also competed in the Surat night marathon because I had never done a night marathon before.

My plans revolve around the targets I have set for myself that year. For easy runs, I set a time target and for the more challenging ones (e.g.: the Malnad Ultra), I set a target of finishing strong and within the cut-off time. 

Can you please take us through the training plan that helps you week on week prepare for these runs?

I like keeping things simple.

Monday through Saturday, I spend 1-1.5 hours in the gym. This includes a combination of 20-25 mins of cardio, 40-50 mins of core, weights and strength training.  Sunday is dedicated for long runs and the distance varies depending on the event I am preparing for.

I typically follow a 1-month preparation cycle for a Full Marathon and a minimum of 2 weeks for a half marathon.

Your job demands you to travel quite often, how do you fit running into your busy schedule?

A perennial problem with most runners. It is true that my travel schedules do affect my practice but at the same time, it offers me an opportunity to run in a different city under different conditions. It also gives me a chance to meet with other running groups and that helps my networking as well.

I would say that a day trip is more disruptive but if I am staying over, then I can include a run.

Speaking of running groups, you were part of the Gurgaon Road Runners (GRR). How did that help you?

I got to know of the Gurgaon Road Runners(GRR) through their FB page. I was preparing for my first ADHM (Airtel Delhi Half Marathon) in 2013 and they had planned a recce run the weekend before the run. I joined the recce run and GRR helped me a lot in training for my first event- the ADHM. The group was new, so it was easy to fit in and make friends. Siddharth (founder of GRR) is an avid runner and also one of the most disciplined coaches in Gurgaon and his simple approach to running appealed to me.

I was with GRR for about a year to develop my rhythm and technique and after that joined them occasionally for a practice run or a party.

Your first HM run was the ADHM? How did you fare?

The memory of that run is so vivid in my head. I wasn’t nervous but unsure of how I was going to do it. I remember thinking “Don’t stop,  just keep running” – I ran the race non-stop. I did not even have a sip of water which lead to dehydration and that affected my overall pace.

I did a 2hr22min run in my first HM which was quite impressive and got me thinking that I could do better. That thinking was vindicated when I ran my 2ndHM (Corbett run, 2014) in 2hr 05min.    

You have come a long way – from the 2013 ADHM to the Half IRONMAN in 2018. How did you train for something like the Half IRONMAN?

Well, truth be told I only signed up for the event because my friends cajoled me into it. With 3 activities that have their own training needs and demands, an event such as this really puts to test your mental readiness, physical strength as well as endurance. I set myself a training period of 1-month for this event.

In the first part of my training, I focused on cycling. I rented a bike and did a 100K ride with a cycling group from Gurgaon. The total time of 5hr45min was within my expected range and I was ecstatic.

My next objective was swimming. Considering the cold Delhi winters, finding an indoor heated pool was a challenge. Luckily, I managed to find a place, Fitso at the Sun City School in Gurgaon. Despite the water not being as warm as I would have liked, I dived in and finished my target of 55 – 60 laps. I made a huge mistake though – I rode back home with wet socks in chilly weather, resulted in me catching a cold that lasted for more than 2.5 months.

That mistake ruined my plan of doing a swim + cycle the subsequent weekend. As a consolation, I managed a 60 km ride to India Gate and back with two of my cycling buddies. I further accentuated the cold and was down with fever the next day.

The night before the event, I had a tough decision to make. Go ahead despite not being in great shape or withdraw from the event.

With mild fever and severe cold, having to do 38 laps at the Talkatora stadium pool in New Delhi on a cold winter morning was a detterent but I decided to go ahead and give it my best.

Take us through your experience of the event itself?

The Half IRONMAN and IRONMAN are often considered one of the toughest cross-training events in the world with a strict cut-off time of 9 hours. The Half IRONMAN event includes 1.5K swimming, 90K cycling, and 21K running.

On the day of the event, Feb 17th2018, I woke up at 3:30 AM. I got my swimming, running and cycling gear in place and headed to the venue where the event was to begin at 6 AM.

Despite being unwell, the swimming leg of the event went really well for me. I bested my estimated time by 5 mins.

Next was the bike ride which I was quite positive about. We had 9 rounds of 10k each to  be cycled. I was into my 7thround when I suddenly heard a loud noise and realised that my rear tyre was flat. Unlike pro cyclists who have support gear on them, I had none. I had to drag my bike to the start/end point. The event support crew were super-efficient and had me back on the road in a few minutes.

I thought my troubles were over but I was mistaken. 10 metres into the 8thround, my rear tyre gave way again. I went back and the support crew (surprised as they were!) quickly changed the tube again.

I was mid-way into the final round and while I was rueing the hour plus the time lost due to the flat tyre is when I felt that the rear tyre was short of air. I stopped to take a look and ‘lo and behold’ – I had a flat again! (This was quite baffling to the organizers as they acknowledged that amongst 430 participants, I was the only one who had a flat tyre that day- and imagine, having three of them !!)

It left me crestfallen and was on the verge of giving up.  Despite the persistent health issue and the risk of further complicating my cold, I had decided to participate, so having to quit due to a tyre issue, left me flabbergasted.

While dragging my bike for the last 5K, I was just thinking of three words – “Just have faith in yourself ”. I completed the cycling leg and quickly changed for the running leg. As a half-marathoner, my best timing was 1hr50min so having to complete it in 3 hours would be easy. However, with all the energy spent over the past 6 hours, I knew this was going to be challenging. Gathering all my courage and remaining scraps of energy, I ran like a man on a mission and crossed the finish line in a total time of 8hr45mins (within the cut-off time). I did it. I finally became a certified “Half IRONMAN”.

In the End, I would only say this – In a world of opportunities, it is the one who seeks the hardest, gets the best!

What is the next big race your focusing on in 2019?

TMM in Jan 2019, Mumbai. have not planned beyond that, as of now!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

Read more

Featured, Motivation Comments Off on Managing a Flying Career with Triathlon Training |

Managing a Flying Career with Triathlon Training

Triathlete Akshay Samel speaks to Protima Tiwary about his love for triathlons and his passion for flying and finding time for both.

From learning the most from bad races to running marathons as a hobby while learning to balance a hectic professional life as a pilot, Akshay Samel’s life is full of moments that inspire all those who know him. We caught up with him in between his flying schedule for a quick chat. Excerpts from the interview:

What made you take up running?

I had always been an active child and enjoyed my childhood playing games in the neighbourhood. I was not the boy you’d find busy with videogames; weekends and summer vacations were spent in fields playing a sport. I am not a professional sportsman, in fact professionally I am a pilot. I only run as a hobby and took it up as a means of getting fit.

It was 2005 when I went to watch the Mumbai Marathon, and it is the spirit of this beautiful event that inspired me to take part in the 7km Dream Run in 2006 in the same marathon. It was during this run that I decided to try for a half marathon someday, once I got the time to train for it.

It took me 3 years to make the dream of a half marathon come true (there was a delay as I waited for my Indian Pilots Licence to arrive first) In 2010 I ran my first half marathon. It’s easy to get addicted to the high you feel after running with a community so supportive and enthusiastic about fitness. There was no looking back for me, I signed up for a full marathon soon after and that’s how it all started.

How do you manage to balance your flying schedule with your running schedule?

That truly is a difficult part. When you have a job with an erratic schedule, it does become difficult to plan ahead. Your sleep patterns are also affected by the flying times, and it requires a truckload of willpower to keep going. Thankfully, over the years I have aced self-motivation to stay on track. My biggest motivation to keep going is to challenge myself to see an improvement in each race.

I face a huge challenge when it comes to recovery. Flying means I am working at 7000ft, with dry air and less oxygen, and different pressure cycles. I use compression calves sleeves when flying, and most importantly I have learnt not to be too hard on myself. I don’t chase missed workouts.  I listen to my body and give it enough rest till I feel I am ready to bounce back.

What is your training schedule like?

I don’t really have a schedule unless there is a race that I need to train for. When I train, I believe in quality over quantity. I try to fit in 3 high-intensity workouts of each discipline, but it all depends on the availability of the bike/pool, another reason it gets difficult to follow a training schedule. I swim, I run and I do some high-intensity indoor bike rides to stay on track.

I have trained with a coach once, and I went from a 4hr marathon to 3:31 in 2 years and from a 1:45 half marathon to 1:33.

Was Ironman always the plan? 

Ironman 70.3 in 2013 (Taiwan) happened purely because of  “peer pressure” for lack of a better term, as a couple of us signed up for this race together. The next couple of years were the same as we signed up to enjoy the thrill of the race. There was no structured training plan. In 2016 5 of us decided to register for the Ironman Kalmar (2016) I was a little nervous about this one, especially about cycling for 180km, and thus concentrated on training on the bike.

Ironman happened because of the thrill and joy that our group shared; we enjoyed training together, sharing and executing workouts and encouraging each other to give it our best. We even shared our fears and low points. We all ended up inspiring each other, and that is the best part about the fitness family. It is such an inspirational squad!

What’s been your best race till date?

It has got to be the Ironman Copenhagen. I hadn’t trained for it the way I would have loved to, but I felt strong throughout and enjoyed it even through the pain. The time I took to complete it was 11:03!

What do you feel about bad races?

I think you learn more from your bad races than you do from the good ones. Good races show you that your training was good, but it is the bad races that show you how much more is needed in terms of training as well as your diet. 2 of my biggest learnings from bad races would be –

  1. Rest is important! Your body will tell you when it needs a pause, do not overdo it.
  2. Quality of training is always better than the quantity of training.

How do you keep yourself going during the long races?

I have learnt to motivate myself, and I realised I am quite strong headed that way. Over the years I have learnt to break my marathon into parts, like smaller goals that all help you reach the bigger goal (in this case, the finish line)

How do you maintain a pace?

For me, training a couple of times a week at a faster pace than my set goal pace helps build endurance. Consistent training will help in setting your goal pace and then maintaining it.

Also, you can’t randomly choose a pace, you need a coach to show you how to do it. Because running on an arbitrary pace that you thought was right will only have you undershoot or overshoot your capability.

What do you like most about triathlons?

Triathlon is all about moving ahead, doing better. Triathlon is a lifestyle, and there is no going back when you start planning and managing your time. There’s one thing that I follow, no matter what, something that Jack Reacher once said: Eat when you can and sleep when you can. Wise words to live by.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

 

Read more