Events Comments Off on Organizing the Pink City Marathon |

Organizing the Pink City Marathon

In this conversation, Dr. Manoj Soni talks to Deepthi Velkur about the trust and how they went about organizing the Cairn Pink City Half-Marathon.

“Mens sana in corpore sano” – a Latin phrase that translates to “a healthy mind in a healthy body”. Keeping this phrase in mind, the “Anybody Can Run” trust aims to develop a running habit among the rural community of Rajasthan. They plan and organize training camps and events across villages to help build a robust and healthy society.

‘Anybody Can Run’ is a Jaipur based trust set up in 2016 by ace marathoner Dr. Manoj Soni who has been running since 2010 participating in 51 official HMs (including 11 outside India), a few FMs and multiple 10Ks. An ex-banker with multiple leading banks (ICICI, HDFC, HSBC), Dr. Manoj aims to complete 100 HMs by the end of 2020.

In this conversation, Dr. Manoj talks to us about the trust and how they went about organizing the Cairn Pink City Half-Marathon.

FM: By your own admission, you were not the sporting kind in your younger days. What made you choose long-distance running 8 years ago?

Dr. Manoj: In today’s world being healthy is a priority.  To stay healthy, I had to do some kind of physical activity – an easy and convenient way was running. Initially, I started with short distances and through training plus taking part in multiple events, I gradually improved my speed, endurance and the will to achieve more. For most runners, all of these factors will ensure you move on to longer distances such as full marathons and ultimately ultra-marathons.

FM: Running is such a popular way for most people to stay healthy. What benefits does running offer that attracts so many people?

Dr. Manoj: As a form of cardio exercise, running is the most easily accessible and is a straightforward way to get the important benefits of exercise. Since it improves aerobic fitness, running is a great way to help improve cardiovascular health. Furthermore, it improves mental fitness, pulmonary efficiency, enhances immunity, weight loss, increases bone density, joint mobility, and stability.

FM: When did the thought of establishing the Jaipur trust “Anybody Can Run” come about? What is the idea behind starting this trust?

Dr. Manoj: The conceptualization of the idea happened about 4 years ago and we finally established the trust in 2016. The main idea was simple – I always felt that running is the simplest form of endurance exercise and can be done by anyone, anywhere and anytime. Hence the name of the trust – ‘Anybody Can Run’ and the tagline – “Chal Daud!”

FM: You are the main organizer for the Pink city Jaipur Marathon. This being your 3rd edition, have you seen an increase in the number of participants 3 years since its inception?

Dr. Manoj: Oh yes! There has been an incremental increase in the number of participants each passing year. The awareness of taking up running as a part of cardiopulmonary fitness has made both men and women across age categories come out in huge numbers and it’s interesting to see people wanting to experiment with all sorts of distances and paces. This year’s edition saw many international, national and Paralympic runners from 30 different states and 12 countries.

FM: For the 3 runs – Half Marathon, Cool run(10K) and Dream run(5K) do you have a cap in terms of registration for each run?

Dr. Manoj: As of today, we don’t. We are still within manageable numbers for each run but with the numbers growing, there will be a time in the not-so-distant future where we will have to put a cap depending on the venue capacity. At the Cairn Pink City Half Marathon, our utmost priority is runner safety and security which means we also want our runners to enjoy the run apart from the health benefit and competitive running.

FM: What measures do you put in place to ensure that all goes well on race day?

Dr. Manoj: Every good running course needs to have some minimum requirements – an AIMS certified course which is closed to traffic, timed runs, a good dry fit t-shirt, and aid stations all the way that stock the necessary items.

I ensure that all requirements for a race such as the pre-race bib expos, race day, post-race refreshments and the medals are in order.

In addition, all registered participants get a t-shirt, timed bib, medal, certificate, and post-race refreshments. On route – hydration, food, medical and sanitation services were offered. An early bird registered participant also got a customized name T-shirt delivered at their doorstep. Our second edition medal secured a place for a lifetime display at AIMS World Running Museum in Berlin.

There were multiple fitness challenges, in addition to stalls from various running-related firms in the BIB expo. In addition to the race kit, all female participants were given an Indian traditional style Kurti along with a gift voucher from “Rama’s”.

FM: Do you run any promotional activities with respect to promoting the event?

Dr. Manoj: Yes, we do have a number of promotional activities all year around. These are related to training, actual races and cycling events. Some of the activities done:

  • AU Bank Pink City Great Run organized to promote the Cairn PCHM. The run started from the epic Taj Mahal and ended at Hawa Mahal on December 14th, a distance of 250K ran by 3 super athletes.
  • A 750K cycling event organized through the golden triangle in October.

In addition, we do support a lot of social causes especially related to women and children and we are associated with the Swachh Bharat movement. For e.g: we had given 1720 Reebok running shoes to the needy. Along with this, we tied up with Akshaya Patra foundation where every registration meant one free meal for a kid. This ensured thousands of kids will be fed free of cost.

FM: Funding and sponsorship are a challenge for most events – how do you manage to secure this? Who are your key sponsors?

Dr. Manoj: Our event is at par with world standards. What this means is that, be it the race day strategy, pre-race strategy, t-shirts or medals, sponsors are quite willing to be associated with us. Our title partner is Vedanta oil and gas, powered by SBI life insurance and co-powered by Kotak Mahindra Bank. In addition to this, Jaipur Nagar Nigam, Income Tax department and the Rajasthan police also extended their support. Our medical partner was Manipal Medical College who ensured that the runners get the best medical support if needed.

FM: Who are the key team members involved in making this event happen?

Dr. Manoj: The race director of the event is an American investment banker Mr. Roop Betala. He started running at the age of 52 and in five years, he has run a total of 138 marathons across 40 different countries. The running mentor is Tarun Walecha who is a marathoner par excellence and is a great motivator. The brand ambassador of the event was Dr. Leena Baldwa who is a doctor, marathoner, ultra-marathoner and Rajasthan’s first female and India’s second medical practitioner to become an Ironman.

There were female running ambassadors from different states and each one had an inspiring story to share. They all were invited to participate in the event. This is in line with our effort to increase women participation in running events.

Additionally, we had pacers for 21.1K and for 10K categories. All the pacers were spot on as far as the timings were concerned. Pink city runners’ group is a group of like-minded runners with admins like Namit Sharma, Neeraj Parnami and Jinender Soni, where group runs are coordinated and fitness camps are organized in central park free of cost to benefit beginners and get more people motivated to run and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

FM: What advice would you like the runners to heed so that they enjoy the course while staying safe?

Dr. Manoj:

  • Be consistent
  • Choose your race distance appropriately
  • Run the pace you are trained for
  • Take care of your hydration and nutrition



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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Featured Comments Off on Your Excuses are your most valuable assets |

Your Excuses are your most valuable assets

Guest Columnist and Runner, Anjana Mohan talks about how to deal with excuses that prevent you from running.

“I don’t know how”

“I’m too busy”

“I’m not sure my body can take this”

Do you catch yourself finding “reasons” to avoid something challenging? Do you find excuses to resist making the changes in your life that you know you need? Instead of focusing on ways to make things happen we often find ourselves doing the opposite. In each “reason” lies the greatest insight towards becoming the person we ultimately want to be.

James Altucher, an American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur and bestselling author once wrote an interesting article titled, “Ultimate cheat sheet for dealing with excuses”. He points out that the gap between “what I have now” and “what I would like” is exactly all of my excuses. He says that all we need to do is work our way through the excuses. That’s it!

“Either you figure out how to do without it, work around and use alternatives, or simply work to build or create it” – James Altucher.

Here I offer you my learning from Altucher as adapted for the world of running and fitness.

Let’s start with the basics – the four essential steps to beat an excuse:

Step 1: Recognize that your excuse is the limitation that you must work to overcome

Step 2: Ask if you can do without it, or work around it, if not

Step 3: Work incrementally to build or get what you need. If all of that doesn’t work,

Step 4: Ignore the reasons and proceed anyway (the ‘I don’t give a damn’, I’ll do it anyway attitude!).

Now let’s apply these basics to the top 6 fitness excuses we make:

# 1 on the list – I don’t have time (oh come on! Who hasn’t used this one so far? J)

# 2 and a close favourite for the # position is – I’m not a morning person

# 3 and a crowd favourite – the weather isn’t ideal

# 4 I simply can’t afford it at this time (quite a practical issue but there is always an inexpensive alternative)

# 5 I’m too old for this and

# 6 this is one where our inner demons pull us down – I don’t think I am capable of this or my body isn’t cut out for this

Let’s apply the 4-step technique to each and see how that works.

# 1 – I don’t have time

How often do you not have time to take a shower or brush your teeth? Sure, brushing your teeth takes less time than a 30-min run, but there are plenty of 30-min segments that we waste in a day. Can you honestly say that you spend every minute of your day so optimally, that you cannot find a 30-minute segment for a run? Consider that 30 minutes of exercise clears your head and makes the rest of your day more productive than it would have otherwise been

Time is all about perceptions. Being nimble starts in your head. Don’t make a task seem like a huge effort to prepare for. Put on your running shoes and close the front door behind you, that’s it.

Step 1: Recognize that your time is the limitation that you must work to overcome.

Step 2: Can you do without 30 mins of something else you take time for during the day?

Step 3: Can you work in smaller increments ‐ like 5 to 10 mins segments multiple times a day?

How can you work to eke more time out of your day?
It’s never the ideal time to do something that takes you out of your comfort zone, maybe it will be too cold or too wet or too hot. That’s ok. Here’s where you apply Step 4: Ignore your reasons and proceed anyway. Because you learn simply by doing, and the next time you put on your shoes you will automatically adjust yourself to accommodate and improve the experience. But this time around, just leave the house, just go workout and deal with the discomfort. While you work out, you can think about how to improve your next workout experience.

# 2 – I’m not a morning person

Step 1: If this is your reason, your time preference is your limitation to work through.

Step 2: Can you do without? Can you do with less sleep and take naps during the day?

Step 3: Can you carve yourself a different time to work out. If yes, then great, in trying you will find other challenges to work through. If not, the fact that you were not a morning person is now your roadmap to success. Perhaps you need to simply become a morning person for the purpose of fitness alone. If you are successfully working out at other times, and achieving your goals, then not being a morning person is not an issue.

Working to get what you need may mean finding that motivation every morning. Mornings are recommended because the rest of your excuses haven’t been all arranged together by then. By mid‐day or later, many excuses have organized themselves into a mob making the whole effort harder. So, set an alarm clock and just get up when you hear it. No snoozing, no thinking, no leaking energy, you’ve already decided, now just do it.

Successful people don’t usually have the luxury to be morning, night or afternoon people. They simply do whatever it takes, whenever the opportunity is available.

# 3 – The weather isn’t ideal – it’s too cold or too hot or oh my! Looks like rain

Step 1: The weather is hardly ever optimal, so this is a recurring limitation.

Step 2: Can you do without? This may mean forgoing a hair wash after a sweaty workout, the extra time to dry out wet clothes, or the need to feel clean for your afternoon meeting. Perhaps simply doing without the sense of comfort that comes from perfect weather.

Step 3: Can you avoid the weather-related consequences by breaking down your workout –something indoors? Get creative about addressing your reason head-on and conquer it.

Step 4: Forget about the weather and face the consequences. Maybe the outcome is not as you feared after all.

Any time you find yourself using a reason, see if you can recognize a pattern. Have you skipped a workout at least three (3) times before because you found a “reason”?  Three times is enough for you to both recognize the pattern (if you’re being objective), and simultaneously invent a creative way to make “this time” seems unique.
Be objective, if this is the third time, regardless of why you missed the last two chances, use

Step 4: the ‘I don’t give a damn’, I’ll do it anyway attitude.

Just 30 mins and take it cautiously if you need. Your body will remember how to adjust to your “reason”. The extra reward is the feeling of being hardcore, finally working at being who you want to be.

# 4 – I can’t afford it

Step 1: If this is a real limitation, consider how people with very little stay fit.

Step 2: Ask what you can do without or work around not having. Unlike scuba diving, skiing or even biking, which legitimately require some gear, one advantage of running is that you just need shoes. Barefoot advocates preach that even that is optional, with appropriate training. So, the idea that you need to buy tech gear or expensive event registrations is the most permeable and least robust of excuses. You don’t need to “look” like a runner or “dress” like someone who goes to the gym. You simply need to be that person. If that means going out in your scrubs around your house, so be it. There are those who train in combat gear and those who run in sarees. Gear can be an enhancement to convenience and performance, not an excuse for inaction. Sure, if you need to get a prosthetic leg to run, then

Step 3: Work to obtain one or

Step 4: “Don’t give a damn and proceed” anyway, because that’s the best way to develop the motivation to get what you need.

# 5 – I’m too old

Sikh superman Fauja Singh began running at age 89 and is still running today at age 107.

Stanislaw Kowalski only started running (for fun) 16 years ago at age 92, broke records at age 104 and is still running at age 108. No matter how athletic or genetically inclined these men may have been, the ages they began could have easily kept them from running.
Step 1:  Recognize that you are as young as you are ever going to be

Step 2: Work around your age, and better yet, use your life wisdom to be a better athlete

Step 3 & Step 4: Work to build your energy, or simply not worry about your age and give it a shot

# 6 – I’m not capable / My body isn’t meant for this

You can only find what you are capable of by trying it. Humans have the capacity to adapt to situations, survive and thrive through extremes. Casting doubt on your capability, or what your body can or cannot do without even trying is offensive and disrespectful to yourself.

Negativity and positivity are both self-fulfilling prophecies. People redefine their capabilities daily simply by doing.

Step 1: Work to overcome either your capability or your self‐perception

Step 2: Ask if you can do without the sense of physical comfort at all times

Step 3: Work in small increments to build your capability or decrease your need for comfort

Step 4: Forget your perceived capability and just get up and go work out the best you can

People who run with bad form have long given running a bad name. Many use their knees or back as excuses rather than legitimate reasons. If you don’t like running, that’s ok, as long as you have something else that offers the benefits of sustained exercise. If you already have another form of fitness that works for you, then examine what exactly you may be looking for before you begin to apply the steps.

All excuses, whether for fitness or otherwise, map well to this technique. The formula works because it makes us recognize that we are (consciously or unconsciously) choosing our excuses. Once we own these choices, we can opt to engage with our excuses to overcome them.

I conclude with the words of George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, critic, polemicist, and political activist:

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, Make them!”.



Anjana started running in the U.S. in 2007 and has helped mentor many from the couch to half marathon. She is passionate about empowering women through running and now runs in Bangalore with Jayanagar Jaguars

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Motivation Comments Off on Always run prepared |

Always run prepared

Sunil Chainani shares his 15-year running story with Deepthi Velkur and also talks about how he balances his work and passion.

Sunil Chainani, an ex-board member with Fabindia and a board member for several other companies juggles business strategies, investment decisions and board meetings with his passion for running and fitness. He takes some time out to talk to us about his 15-year running story.

FM: You have been a keen squash player for a while now, how did the switch to running happen?

Sunil: I played squash at National, State and club level for many years and totally loved the game. It was quite by accident that I took up running in my mid 40’s and I’m hooked. Once I started running longer distances, I found that running made my body a bit too stiff for a game like a squash. Given that I was well past my prime as a squash player, I decided to make the switch to running and give my best to each run and enjoy it at the same time.

FM: With nearly 15 years of running experience, I’m sure you’ve seen and learned a lot about the sport. Do you think a lot has changed since the time you started?

Sunil: When I started running there were very few runners, no coaches, no smartphones or apps. I trained alone in basic shoes, cotton t-shirts and limited knowledge on training techniques. We did not have a lot of marathon events, so we used to focus on the Mumbai marathon (my group had 70 runners at the 2008 event). I did my first Ultra in 2007 when the thought of anything above an FM was sheer madness and look at it today – we have 48-hour runs!

In 2011, I registered for the Comrades marathon and was the first Bengalurean to attempt this race – I had no coach, no guidance, trained mostly alone and I didn’t know the difference between the Comrades Up and Down run. When I survived the Comrades and got back home, I was treated like a hero for having finished the race but now we look at the colour of the medal.

Today, runners have a plethora of choices – coaches, events, running groups, technology. That’s the change.

All this change has brought about an increased number and superior quality of runners (especially among women). India today is making its presence felt in the running world – 4th largest contingent at Comrades 2019, team and individual medals at the Asia-Oceania 24-hour run recently. Other countries realize that we could soon be a major force in the running world. Hopefully, we will soon have a new national record at the Full Marathon.

I do have a word of advice though for new-age runners – enjoy your run and not just focus on equipment, timing, and personal bests. I run because of the joy I get and the friends I make, and often find that I do well at a race when I am not worried about the timing.

One area that needs to be addressed is the “cowboy” event managers who organize running events for commercial reasons with inadequate race management as this could lead to serious injuries and give the sport a bad name.

FM: You’ve had the experience of running on different terrains – which do you think is the most challenging one and why?

Sunil: As a marathon runner, you need to be prepared for all types of terrain and weather. Be it a trail run or a road run, each presents their own challenges and we need to prepare well. Road races tend to be faster while trail races are usually more scenic.

For me the heat and humidity are a challenge – I sweat a lot, lose a lot of salt and tend to cramp.

The key really is to battle through when your body is telling you to stop – this is where the mental toughness kicks in.

Preparation is paramount – check the route conditions, be prepared for weather changes and always have a fallback strategy in mind.

FM: A marathon never pans out exactly the way you plan it, no? What strategies do you put in place to overcome the challenges in a race?

Sunil: I have a 3-fold plan – break your race into segments – strategize each segment – have a fallback plan. It’s also important to understand how your body is performing that day.

For example, during my Comrades run I walked a fair bit due to cramps at halfway point all the time to check my watch to see that I was within cut off limits. On the other hand, during the 2018 Berlin marathon, I managed to stay run strong for most of the race and hence finished with a better than expected time.

Additionally, I try to stay positive through the race by shouting out to fellow runners as this keeps me in a good mood.

FM: With years of experience as a marathoner, what is your advice to amateur runners?

Sunil: There are some key points to keep in mind

  • Train hard and sensibly
  • Seek expert advice
  • Stick to your plan during a run
  • Choose your runs wisely.
  • Never miss your stretching, strength and cross training sessions.
  • Plan your hydration and nutrition

If you are relaxed and well trained, your PBs will automatically come by. Also, smile, cheer your fellow runners and thank the volunteers. Finally, know your stretch goals and don’t push yourself without proper training.

FM: You have done your fair share of ultra-marathons. What excites you about an ultra-marathon and which one is your favourite?

Sunil: I ran India’s first Ultra in Bangalore in 2007 – at a time when marathons were new to India and we did not know about what was needed to go beyond 42K. The tagline for the event was “It’s tough, are you?” which got me interested and I signed up. That got me hooked. I slowly moved up from 52K in 2007 to 75K in 2008, 100K in 2009 and then the 2011 Comrades.

The Comrades is my favourite Ultra – I went in with the fear that I won’t finish the race but despite bad cramps and bleeding toenails, my determination pulled me through. The joy of crossing the finish line will be an everlasting memory. I also like trail Ultras such as the Bangalore Ultra at Hessarghatta and Malnad.

FM: As an ultramarathoner over 60, your training program (physical and mental) will be different, wouldn’t it? Can you shed some light on your training, please?

Sunil: I believe age is a number and that should apply only to wine and cheese! I have had the good fortune to meet the legendary Fauja Singh, who ran his first marathon at 89 and still runs at the age of 104.

The key is to be regular and consistent with your training.

My grey hair has made me mentally stronger and hence I am often able to push through challenging times in a race. It also has made me wiser in my choice of races thus giving me adequate time for my body to recover.

My typical training week consists of 40-50 K of running, 2 days of cross training (1hour of cardio per session) and supplemented by strength work and stretching.

The 2 things you lose with age are speed and quick recovery from injury. You need more rest between races and need to supplement your running with adequate strength work and cross training.

FM: According to you, what are the three qualities a runner should possess to do well?


  • Self-Discipline – to be regular with your training
  • Determination – to be focused and mentally tough. This requires a strong mind and
  • An ability to challenge oneself – to strive to achieve more and keep learning

FM: You have a rather demanding job being an Ex-board member of Fab India and a board member for several other companies. How do you make time for your running?

Sunil: Anyone who says they have no time to exercise is making a feeble excuse. When I travel, the first thing I pack is my exercise gear and will always find a way to either run or use the gym. Many years ago, very few hotels had gyms, so I carried my skipping rope and, in some cases, where skipping was not possible, I would choose a room on a high floor and run up and down multiple times.

We make too many excuses be it weather, time etc. People running in the London or Boston marathon have to train through winter months. In some countries like Africa and South America, it is often unsafe to run alone but yet these countries produce great athletes.

I personally believe good sportspersons also make much better managers at their workplace and the qualities that stand out are their discipline, focus, goal setting, training and ability to learn and challenge themselves.

Having said that, there is now a slow but visible change happening and I hope we will soon see more senior executives participating in marathons and other sports events.

FM: You were the Team leader for the Indian team at the 24-hour Asia & Oceania championships this year, please take us through your experience of the event?  How did you lead the team to such a great finish?

Sunil: It was a great honour to be selected as the Team Leader for the Indian team for the World 100K in Croatia in September 2018 and the Asia-Oceania 24-hr run in Taipei in December 2018.

Our team went to Taipei with the hope of gaining valuable experience and the most optimistic expectation was that many of our 12 runners would achieve their PB timings. We were in a field of world-class runners from Japan and Australia and strong runners from Mongolia and Taiwan. 15 runners from these countries had a PB better than our top runner Ullas Narayana and 4 teams had totals which were significantly better than our total (for a team event the total of your 3 best runners is counted).

It was a very warm day and most runners suffered in the first 6 to 7 hours and despite a strong performance from Ullas, we were having a tough day. At the 12-hour mark while Ullas had moved to the 8th position almost all the other runners were heading for a below-par performance. Ullas continued to get stronger and at the 17-hour mark had moved into 4th position. At this stage, he built a significant lead over the top runners from Mongolia and Taiwan and this got our team within striking range of these 2 countries. I spoke with our 2nd and 3rd placed runners, Sunil Sharma and Meena about their chance to get us into medal contention. Both of them were in pain and taking long medical breaks, but they got spurred on by the challenge. By the 20th hour, our top 3 runners had brought us almost on par with the 3rd and 4th placed teams – we continued to push these 3 runners and they got stronger. By the 22nd hour, Ullas had moved into 3rd place and the team had also overtaken Mongolia and Taiwan to get into medal contention. Ullas, Sunil, and Meena ran very strong in the last 2 hours and we earned an individual and team bronze- India’s first-ever medals in international Ultra events. Ullas smashed his own national record with a world-class performance. I had goosebumps as I saw the Indian flag go up twice at the awards ceremony.

FM: Apart from juggling a challenging work role, family and your running commitments, what do you do to just relax?

Sunil: I make time for things I enjoy like travel, wildlife, music, good food, and wine. I try to plan a holiday after a marathon in a nice location and if I am travelling then I always carry my running shoes and enjoy exploring new cities running. For me, running is a great way to relax and unwind. Life is too short so make the most of it!



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

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Training Comments Off on Understanding Zone Training |

Understanding Zone Training

Deepthi Velkur discusses the popular training method, Zone training for marathoners.

Have you ever heard about the “zone”? That term has been thrown around fairly causally nowadays but let’s try and understand what it is.

The “zone” is a state of absolute focus that assists athletes across sports to perform at their peak potential. It’s the point when your mind fully processes only the thoughts and visuals needed to help you achieve your goal.

As an athlete, we often have one recurring question – “what’s the optimum training intensity level I need to be at?”.

Let’s try and break that down to understand it better. In training, there are pre-dominantly 3 key variables – Frequency, Duration, and Intensity.

To be able to achieve your best, you need a good training plan and a good training plan needs to have an amalgamation of different workout routines – some with shorter durations but higher intensity, some with longer times but a more relaxed intensity and so on. A mixed bag really and this variation brings about greater performance improvement.

Just so you know, high-intensity workouts are designed to help you improve speed and stamina while lower intensity workouts help achieve better endurance levels and overall toughness.

All of this leads to the next question – “how do I measure the intensity of my training”?

To answer that question,  you first need to know what are training areas or intensity zones.

Intensity zones are the best indicators to show how hard your body is training during a workout.

For each of us, we have a personal resting heart rate, a minimum heart rate, and a maximum heart rate – between these values lie the different heart rate zones that correspond to the intensity of training and the benefits you reap from that training.

These heart rate zones are linked to your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds and the idea behind this type of training is to prepare your aerobic system without having to overstrain your muscular and skeleton systems.

There are different ways to identify your heart rate zones and the simplest one is to define them as percentages of your maximum heart rate.

So, how do you arrive at that magical heart rate zone?

There are various formulas to calculate your maximum heart rate(MHR). The MAF method promotes the 180 – formula in which you subtract your age from 180. You could further add or subtract 5 – 10 based on varying factors such as pregnancy, returning from injury or training competitively (subtracting for the former, adding for the latter).

The different heart-rate zones

There are 5 different heart-rate zones and every training plan can include workouts that cover each of these zones.

Here is a breakdown of what each zone means in terms of your heart rate and the benefits of training in each zone.

Zone 1: <70% of MHR:  This is the low-intensity zone. Training in this zone helps in fast recovery and gets you prepared for training in the higher heart rate zones.

Zone 2: 65 -75% of MHR: This is a light zone primarily aimed at the aerobic base building. It is used for long easy runs and you can hold a conversation with your training partner.  This zone helps in stabilizing your performance levels, improving basic endurance levels, training of fat metabolism and technique optimization. This zone is essential for every runner’s program.

Zone 3: 75-85% of MHR: This is a moderate zone that still keeps you in the aerobic range. It is effective for improving the efficiency of blood circulation in the skeletal muscles and the heart. Training in this zone is also used to stabilize your performance levels as well as training of glycogen metabolism and prepares you for higher intensity workouts.

Zone 4: 85-95% of MHR: This is the zone where the going gets tough, breathing will be difficult and your running in the anaerobic zone. Training at this intensity improves your speed endurance and the body uses carbohydrates as an energy source and you can withstand high levels of lactic acid in your blood for a longer duration.

Zone 5: 95-100% of MHR: In this zone, your heart and respiratory system will be working at their maximum capacity. The lactic acid builds up in the blood at this stage and after a few minutes, you are unable to continue at this intensity.

Each zone serves a purpose, and how much time you spend in each zone depends on your training goals. Intensity zones are used in sports because training at different intensities stresses your body in different ways, leading to different physiological adaptations and resulting in different benefits.  If you’re just starting out or have only been training for some time or returning from injury, you probably shouldn’t train at a high intensity. If you’re a professional athlete, look into incorporating interval training into your training plan for peak performance.

Reaping the benefits of zone training

The biggest hurdle with heart rate training especially for advanced runners is holding back. People often feel they are doing something wrong if they are running at a slow pace – this often leads to frustration. The benefits of this training is to stay consistent, be patient and your pace will automatically improve.

Try and mix different workouts as variety is good, vary the intensity and duration of your training sessions and don’t be stuck running the same distance every time.



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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Motivation Comments Off on 13 podiums, 1 weekend |

13 podiums, 1 weekend

Deepthi Velkur catches up with the PaceMakers who bagged 13 podium finishes across marathons in a single weekend.

As the dawn breaks and the chirping of birds fills the air, there is a rush of feet and the buzz of excited chatter as the runners from the group gather together, heading for the bright sunshine and open roads beckoning them. Left behind are apprehensions and the fading echoes of yesterday’s stress.

The PaceMakers are a running group of spirited long distance (from 10K to Marathon) runners of all abilities –novice to experienced, who train under the leadership and guidance of Coach Pani who strongly believes that the group’s greatest strength is “training as one family”.

The structure, the planning, the determination all came together the weekend of 16th December 2018. As they trudged along and participated in 2 big events – Tata Steel Kolkata Marathon and Thump! Celebration Bangalore Marathon, no one could have predicted the stunning outcome – 13 podium finishes across categories and age-groups.

The secret to their success

Here at the PaceMakers, Coach Pani strongly believes that “the camaraderie shared, planning of strategies to run in groups before a race, pacing other runners to achieve their goals and motivating each other especially, when they are down with injuries or sickness is what keeps us together and achieve success”.

He goes on to add, ” To be very frank and honest we always win more podiums in the Thump Celebration Event which happens in December. It could be because of lesser competition from other running groups, runners prefer to take part in different events conducted across India, running events getting clashed with each other etc. But, I will not take away the credit of my runners who work hard throughout the year to give their best in this event as it is the last Time Trial before the Big Mumbai Marathon which is conducted in the third week of January every year. One thing I will emphasize here is that we have to judge an athlete with the timings they clock in the events provided the distance is accurate no matter the competitions”.

Surpassing their own PBs

To be able to be the best version of yourself in a race, you need to be consistent, focused and self-determined. It works no different here as most of these runners have achieved PB’s in these races. What really makes this group so special is the fact that they train consistently year after year with a realistic goal in mind and working towards it with a structured plan. “Our biggest strength in training is working in groups, motivating each other to give their best in every training run”, adds Coach Pani.

We have some top-notch athletes in our group like Thomas Bobby Philip, Shamala Manmohan, Nanjundappa M etc. who are regular podium winners. But, others work hard to win. It is their consistent training throughout the year and the camaraderie within the group that motivates each one of them to bring out their best. They follow the basics and the principles of training right which makes them a better athlete”.

Leading from the front

Leading by example plays a very important role in motivating runners to come out of their comfort zones and push the boundaries. To this he says, “leading from the front helps not only in winning the podiums but also while training along with them. It motivates them to give their best when some of the younger runners in the group find it difficult to cope with me during the races and training. By training along with me they learn the good things which I have been following throughout my running career”.

Coach Pani finishes off by saying, “When our runners give their PB performance in every race it gives us the satisfaction that our training is going in the right direction and we can achieve more in the near future. It motivates the beginners and newcomers to emulate like their seniors”.

2018 has been a splendid year for the group and they have now set the bar higher moving into the new year and this will only reiterate to them that determination and commitment can go a long way and help them achieve greater success.



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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News Comments Off on Official ‘Race Day Tee’ for TMM 2019 |

Official ‘Race Day Tee’ for TMM 2019

Actress Pooja Hegde and Asian Marathon Champion, Gopi T, unveil the Official ASICS ‘Race Day Tee’ for the TATA Mumbai Marathon 2019.

ASICS and Procam International, today unveiled the official ‘Race Day Tee’ for the 16th edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon. ASICS, the brand globally synonymous with running, celebrates its tenth year as the official ‘Sports Goods Partner’ for Mumbai’s iconic racing event. Actress Pooja Hegde, an avid runner and fitness enthusiast, along with Asian Marathon Champion, and India’s very own, Gopi T, did the unveiling of the 2019 edition of the 2019 Race Day Tee. The unveiling also marked the 30-day countdown to India’s only IAAF Gold Label Marathon. The ASICS ‘Race Day Tee’ is a mark of accomplishment for every full marathoner in the Tata Mumbai Marathon and will be a part of his or her Race Day Kit, along with the race bib.

Commenting on this long standing association and the Race Day T-Shirt unveiling; Rajat Khurana, Managing Director, ASICS India said, “Running is the core of ASICS and it is a constant endeavor of the brand to present shoes with technological advancements that supports the athletes in achieving their running goals and create newer benchmarks in the running segment in India. As global leaders in running, ASICS has been a constant partner for runners across the globe throughout their full and half marathon-journey; through their training program, up until they cross the finish line. We have had a long-standing relationship with the Mumbai Marathon and mark 10 years with this edition as their official ’Sports Goods partner.’ Through this association, we wish to keep enabling athletes and amateur runners to keep pushing themselves to achieve new goals.”

Anil Singh, MD, Procam International said, “We always look forward to associating with brands that embody a zeal for running. Having Asics as a long-standing partner to the event highlights, the brand synergies and the unremitting ethos of #BeBetter. Runners are our biggest stakeholders and each year we work towards enhancing the experience for them. The Ascis ‘Race Day Tee’ acts as a symbol of achievement and is a great way to boost the morale of our marathoners.

While unveiling the t-shirt, actress Pooja Hegde said, “I have always loved the brand ASICS for its high-performance sports gear. It’s an absolute honor to unveil their official Race Day Tee for the most awaited event of the year, the Tata Mumbai Marathon. Each year, ASICS helps every runner participating in the marathon have a comfortable and memorable run. The endurance and hard work each participant puts in for the race day is admirable and I am looking forward to it.”

Speaking about the event, T Gopi said, “Tata Mumbai Marathon is one of the most prestigious marathon events in Asia. It has helped me in many ways to accomplish my athletic journey as a runner. ASICS has played an instrumental role in my journey it has provided me the right kind of gears required for my trainings and regular field practice. The shoes GEL technology used in each of the ASICS shoes gives the right cushioning and is of light weight, comfort aimed to give runners their best performance from start to finish every year. I look forward to participating in the marathon as it gives me a platform to co-learn from fellow runners and achieve new goals.”

The Tata Mumbai Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, 20th January 2019. Participating will be 47,000 runners and we expect more than 2,50,000 spectators, to cheer them forward. The event has become a global showcase of the indomitable sporting spirit of Mumbai.


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Featured Comments Off on Running with a new fervor |

Running with a new fervor

In conversation with Kiran Jeet, a runner who took to the fitness route and gained a new outlook on life.

Kiran Jeet a homemaker in her early 40’s and the proud mother of 2 fantastic boys tells us how running has transformed her as an individual and improved her outlook to life.

FM: Everyone has a story when it comes to how running happened to them. What’s yours?

Kiran: I guess you could say my reason for running followed a typical storyline – wanting to be fit and stay healthy. The year was 2012 and I was tipping the scales at  120kg, I used to struggle to get even mundane, everyday stuff is done and that’s when I decided enough is enough – I need to do something!

Hence, running happened and 6 years on, I am 50kg lighter, fitter than ever before and as healthy as I can be. To me, running is my meditation.

FM: A lot of runners swear by a running coach. Do you share that opinion and what are the benefits of having a coach?

Kiran: I definitely swear by a coach too (smiles away!). During the first 5 years of my running life, I did a lot of it myself through some research and trials, but for the past year now I have been working with a coach. It has been an amazing experience so far – a coach has helped me handle my runs better, stay injury-free, follow a structured training plan, eat right, time for recovery and also helped identify areas of improvement.

FM: How has your training plan changed since you have had a coach?

Kiran: Easy, the main difference between my earlier plan and now is STRUCTURE!

Earlier, it was very haphazard and I just used to run any day of the week with no specific target distance in mind. Today, I follow a plan that includes interval training, tempo runs, speed training, and long runs into my training plan. All of these changes have helped me improve my timings and I feel good about it.

FM: Having a structured plan always seems to work for most runners and I’m glad it’s working for you too. Do you mind sharing a glimpse into your training week, please??

Kiran: As I said before my training plan involves a combination of several running techniques and methods. My training week at a high level is:

Monday               – Rest day

Tuesday               – Speed work out on the track

Wednesday        – Easy recovery run for 50 mins

Thursday              – Medium long run or tempo run depending on the event I’m training for a half marathon or full marathon.

Friday                    – interval training

Saturday              – work on increasing the mileage or hill run

Sunday                 – Long runs

FM: Over the years, you have participated in several events. Do you keep count?

Kiran: In the past 6 years, I have run several half and full marathons across the country. By my estimate, I have completed 15 half-marathons and 4 full marathons so far (the TMM in January 2019 will be my 5th). In addition, I completed my first world major marathon this year in April (The London Marathon).

FM: That’s impressive. In general, do you set a target for yourself on the number of races you do each year or do you play it by ear?

Kiran: No, I do not have a pre-set target in mind every year. I prefer not to compete in every available race but instead focus on a few. For example – I always plan on completing 1 full marathon and 2 – 3 half marathons a year. Anything above that is a bonus.

FM: Fair point – which was your latest run and how did it go from your perspective?

Kiran: The last run I did was the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in October this year. It was quite an eventful start to the race with a lot of runners falling down owing to the poor visibility and early start.

For me personally, it was a fairly decent race – even though I could not better my personal best from last year (1hour 53mins) but with the training and effort I put in my preparation I had a smooth run and completed the race in 1hour 56 mins.

FM: How do you keep yourself motivated Kiran?

Kiran: When I run, I feel calm, collected and at peace. It’s as though I have been transported into this meditative state where all my worries, troubles and tension have been taken away and replaced with the single focus of having fun when I run.

This state of mind is my motivation and what brings me back to the outdoors every single day.

FM: As with every sporting activity, it benefits you not just physically but also helps shape you as an individual. Do you see the changes running has brought about in your personality?

Kiran: I couldn’t agree with you more. The impact running has had on me is immense – I feel like a whole new person. I have undergone not just physical changes but running has helped me become more confident, focused and steadfast.

I have made friends for life with some of the runners I have met along the way and I hope I can keep running for a long time to come and be part of the growing running community.

FM: That’s a beautiful thought Kiran. For the future, do you have any specific goals you want to achieve in your running?

Kiran: Of course I do – my main goal is to compete in the all world major marathons. I really hope with the right level of training, focus, determination from my side and the right kind of support and motivation will help me achieve this goal.

Thank you, Kiran for sharing your thoughts and we wish you the very best for the future.



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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Motivation Comments Off on Not just a Marathoner |

Not just a Marathoner

Protima Tiwary meets Nihal Baig whose race experiences guarantee to give you goosebumps.

“I can’t recall a single day in past 15-18 months, where I was pain-free. But still, I would wake up every morning and give my 100% during the workout. And this is what has transformed me into a better athlete.” Says Nihal Baig who has just returned from Ironman 70.3 that was held in Bahrain. This interview with him was all about mental strength, grit, determination and a lot of goosebumps as he took us through his race experiences.

How did this wonderful journey as a runner begin?

I have a 9-hour desk job, but my real passion lies in running marathons and triathlons. I started running when I was in IIT-B during college where I ran short distances (usually 5K) for 5 years. In IIT-B I enrolled myself under National Sports Organization- Athletics. While I maintained a good record in sports, it was in the final year that I won 5 medals (3 golds, 1 silver, 1 bronze) and I was awarded as the Best Athlete across all IITs.

It is in the last 2 years that I realised I wanted to aim at an Ironman title, so I learnt how to swim, I started cycling, and did my first Triathlon in Sept 2018 with a timing of 4:45:22

You’re not just a marathoner, you’re an IronMan! Could you share some special moments of your running/Triathlon career?

I have a bunch of them, and they go way back to college too!

December, Inter IIT Sports Meet-2013, Guwahati : 5000m race

I was used to running in Mumbai, so the rough terrain in Guwahati had me wrapping up my toes in bandages. I maintained a steady pace and ran all my laps within 85 seconds, but it was the last one where I overtook the one in front of me and beat him by a  second to win the race. I completed this lap in 62 seconds, and with a toe that was bleeding profusely. The cold weather had numbed the pain.

Vasai Virar Half Marathon-2017

I was eyeing the HM PM. My previous best was 1:23:55 and I was aiming for a sub 1:22 I started my race as per my plan, but I hit a wall. With 12km to go, I had to let my mind take over as I kept telling myself that I had to reach my goal, I kept pushing myself, and honestly, it was all in the head. I finished at 1:27:47 but I realised an important thing at this race- that I was capable of overcoming a bad phase as much as I was capable of running through a good one. It improved my self-confidence.

Hyderabad Marathon-2018

I set myself a goal timing of 3:05 (Boston Marathon Qualifying Time) I was recovering from a fibula stress fracture so wasn’t sure if I could do this since the pain kept coming back after every run that I did. The pain was terrible the night before the race, and I had to mentally prepare myself to run the next morning. I ran with muscle sprays and compression socks and 28km into the race my pain vanished. When I reached the 30K mark, I felt this surge of power that had me complete the marathon in 3:03:37.

Ironman 70.3 (8th December 2018) Bahrain

I completed my swimming in 37 minutes and was cycling strongly for 30km when a strong pain in my lower back threatened to take over my performance. I kept pushing, but the strong headwinds after the 60K mark made things even more difficult, and this is when my mental strength really helped me push forward. I managed to reach the finish line and then started to run. I was confident of this part of the race since I am familiar with running. But 4km into the run and my right quads got stiff. I continued slowly. 3.5km before the race ended my calves started cramping. I ran on my toes, ignoring the pain and motivating myself to keep pushing forward. This last 3.5k was the toughest run of my life! I finished with a total time of 4:44:48. I came 5th in my Age Group and was also the best runner in this group.

Wow! That gave us goosebumps. You have learnt so much in these tough races, haven’t you?

Absolutely! Every race has something to teach, there is no good/bad race to be honest. Yes, bad phases do come in at every race, and that’s when your mind needs to take over. Races have taught me to go after my dream. I have learnt the power of the mind, and how mind over matter is how you need to navigate through a race and life.

Consistency is key – how have you build this pace and strength over the years?

My year is divided into 2 phases –

Base and Strength Building: I work on my weaknesses and focus on muscle strengthening workouts. In a week I do 6-8 workouts (2-3 in each discipline), 2 core conditioning workouts and 2 strength training workouts. I focus on bodyweight exercises rather than weights.

Peaking and Racing season: I do 9-10 workouts (3-4 in each discipline and 2 core conditioning workouts. Instead of strength training, I do either stair or hill workouts. This phase also includes a lot of intervals and tempos in each discipline without compromising the endurance. I almost end up doing about 30-35k swimming, 180-200k running and 900-1100k of cycling.

Any tips you’d like to share with us on how to stay strong during the race?

Break the race into parts, and complete the race in smaller goals instead of looking at the finish line. If you are running a triathlon, break in down into swimming-cycling-running and set goals accordingly.

We told you, this one guarantees goosebumps!


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.

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News Comments Off on Santa Marathon |

Santa Marathon

Hundreds of runners dressed in Santa Claus costumes hit the streets in Kosovo’s capital in snowy Pristina on Sunday.

The mini-marathon was to raise money for families in need during the holiday season.

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