Motivation Comments Off on A Cyclist raring to go |

A Cyclist raring to go

Deepthi Velkur talks to an athlete par excellence, Samira Abraham, the national road racing and triathlon champion.

A National Road racing champion, National TT champion, National Triathlon champion, South Asian Triathlon champion and countless club level accolades have not stopped Samira Abraham from yearning for more.

Her goal – develop into a world-class cyclist and race at the international elite level.

FM: For someone who always had a keen interest in sports from a very young age, what was the trigger that made you take up cycling?

Samira: I went to see a BBCH race with a friend in 2016. I wasn’t aware of the racing and cycling community in Bangalore before that. I’m that person who likes to race and not to be on the sidelines and that’s exactly what I did, I raced the next one which was a BBCH criterium. It’s been more racing since then. Two months after I started riding was my first road cycling Nationals which was a valuable experience.

FM: Just 2 years into cycling, you’ve managed to secure two gold medals (Time Trial and mass start) at the 2018 National Road cycling championships. How did you manage that?

Samira: It’s God’s grace. It’s His strength in my weakness. I just did my part of putting to full use what he blessed me with. I absolutely enjoy putting in the work and developing as an athlete. We are all blessed uniquely, and we just have to receive it.

The Double Gold for the TT and road race are really special – I was injured for the large part of 2018 and that was tough. My coach and I focused on working with the situation and getting quality work in. I allowed God to work in my life instead of clutching on to the steering wheel. not fighting it and giving it everything I had.

It turned out way better than I imagined. So, when things don’t go according to your plan, they may end up working out even better, if you allow it.

FM: Do you take assistance from a coach to train yourself? Take us through of how your training week looks like?

Samira: I work with a coach and training is specific to the goals. We work really well together. Excellent communication and trust are crucial.

While I was training for a triathlon, it would be a mix of a swim, bike, run and strength sessions through the week, usually 2-3 sessions in a day. My typical training day went like this:

  • Swim from 5-7 am
  • Bike/run/brick session from 10-12 pm
  • Strength/bike/run from 4-5/6pm

I didn’t have an off day, instead, it would be an active recovery session of swim/ bike/ run. Weekends would have one or two longer sessions a day. The early morning training didn’t suit me at all. Given the training conditions and since I was caught up in getting the work done, it took me a year and a half to say hey, I can’t do this schedule and that my body needed more sleep and changing the sleep cycle is not working. With any kind of training, and even more so when it’s remote coaching, it’s very important to listen to your body. Your coach doesn’t know how your body feels.

I’ve been off the bike for over two months due to an injury which is not yet diagnosed, so currently, my training is to stay positive, be patient, work on mobility and strength. Once I’m healthy and back on my bike, we will revise the race calendar.

FM: What does it take for someone to be as good at the sport so early on?

Samira: A solid foundation, patience, consistency and to enjoy the sport is really important. I’m a strong believer that when you are a kid you should play different sport and not specialize in one too early.

Being in an environment which is conducive to training, regular races, like-minded athletes and people who genuinely want the standard of the sport to improve contribute to developing as an athlete.

In my case, I’ve been training since I was 8 years old, in various sport, so the base has always been there. Track & field and swimming were the constants.

Bangalore has a great cycling community which has helped in my development as a cyclist.

FM: You’ve not only made your mark in cycling but Triathlons too. What piqued your interest in this extreme sport?

Samira: Getting into a human washing machine in open water and try to not get a black eye, jump onto your bike and put down the hammer and run your heart out. What’s not to like in that? :)))

The sport looked interesting and the first race was more of let’s try something new. I love to race, so after the first triathlon, I wanted to race at the National Level and go on from there. I was working towards the 2018 Asian Games since I started the sport. I did get selected but then our team got cancelled.

FM: You prefer doing the Olympic distance (1.5 km swim, 40 km cycling and 10 km run) over any other distance? Why?

Samira: Long course triathlon never appealed to me. I like the speed, intensity and racing format of short course triathlon.

FM: How do you plan and train for both cycling as well as triathlon events?

Samira: I plan my training for the year based on my main races. I was doing both sports till mid-2018. It did take a toll on my body racing both especially since we didn’t have fixed dates for Triathlon National level races. The bike has always been my favourite and in the period of 2 years, it became clear to me that what I love is cycling and I moved purely to cycling.

FM: You went on to win a gold in the women’s category at the Senior National Triathlon Championship at Vizag in March 2018? Take us through your experience of the event?

Samira: It was my first Triathlon National Championship. I was well trained and ready to race. It was a 1.5 km pool swim so there were three to a lane in the pool and the 40 km bike and 10 km run were in a 2.5 km loop. I didn’t have a good swim and was a bit behind but I made up the difference on the bike, for the run, I cramped badly in the beginning. It was just about staying calm and positive and I brought it home on the run.  It felt awesome to win and winning it qualified me to race at the South Asian Championship.

FM: A month later, you were selected to represent India at the ASTC South Asian Triathlon championship? How was it like to participate in your first international event?

Samira: It was awesome! It’s been a childhood dream to represent India and it was so good to win it. It took place in Pokhara, Nepal. We had a lake swim and the bike and run was in a circuit through the town.  I love that as I get to experience new places through the sport.

FM: With the level of physical and mental toughness needed, how do you train yourself to stay strong during the race?

Samira: I’ve never thought of it as a separate element. It’s part of the training for the race. I like training with intent. Every session has a purpose. During the race, keywords help me to remain focused. For triathlon, as there are a lot of changeovers in a race, I run through the race a few times in my head. I really enjoy racing and love pushing myself to the max so it comes naturally.

FM: What role has your family played in achieving what you have today?

Samira: Everything. I’m blessed to have a supportive family. They back me 100 %. My siblings are my biggest fans and likewise. My parents are amazing people with a strong work ethic, combined with always making time for family. My mum has a full-time job but she comes for my main races and is part of my team. My little girl Zoe (her dog) lives with them now since I travel often. Being away from her is the most difficult thing for me, so it’s a blessing that she is well taken care of.

FM: Do you see major challenges/roadblocks of being a professional cyclist and a triathlete in India?

Samira: Yes, there are challenges, especially when it’s an outdoor endurance sport and it’s relatively new. Sometimes it can get overwhelming. I like viewing them as opportunities. It helps to seek out people who have done similar things. A good support system is vital too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Motivation Comments Off on Health, Fitness and Happiness |

Health, Fitness and Happiness

Ajay Singh Sethi a Reebok certified trainer and Barefoot exercise specialist talks to Deepthi Velkur about how he wants to help people live a lifetime of health, fitness and happiness.

“Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune” – Jim Rohn.

Ajay Singh Sethi is hugely inspired by Jim Rohn and believes continuous self-learning helps you achieve greater individual success as well as coach and inspire others.

An MBA graduate from XLRI, Jamshedpur, Ajay traded in his promising corporate life for one that inspires and helps others stay active and healthy.

A Reebok Certified Trainer, Barefoot Exercise Specialist (L2), EBFA USA, Certified Rehab Trainer, Kettle Bell Instructor, 24FIT Master Trainer and a Running Coach to name a few, Ajay hopes to bring Kota on the world map of Ultra Running with his flagship event Chambal Challenge (www.chambalchallenge.com) and take his 24FIT Coach education program nationwide to help people live a lifetime of health, fitness and happiness.

FM: From playing sports at the national level to running, what was the trigger to switch to long-distance running?

Ajay: To be honest, it wasn’t a well-planned or thought out decision. I was hoping to be a professional basketball player but unfortunately, injuries cut that dream short.

With a management degree from XLRI and a promising corporate career with Tata Steel, it appeared that I had my life all sorted out, but I wanted more. I wanted a more dynamic, active engagement with people where I could make a difference.

I decided to make a change – leaving my well-paid job of 8 years behind, I moved to Kota, Rajasthan and started Inshape, a lifestyle-based fitness facility in October 1995.

Building on my many years of hard work and training helped me achieve my dream of playing at the National level, I wanted to give something back and build a sporting culture in the city. Back then, not many people were inclined towards fitness or sports and there was no running culture at all. I used to run a couple of times a week, had a few friends join in and an informal group called Inshape Runner’s Club evolved naturally.

Initially, I promoted running to connect people to fitness as a way of life. With a background in sports, I knew that physical activity creates self-awareness and with effort, we could also remove self-doubt. I soon realized that every time we ran longer distances it was like breaking a mental barrier which got me to train and promote longer distances to make people mentally tough and overcome self-imposed limitations.

Personally, I had no fascination to run long distances but as a coach, I needed to lead by example. As a result, I participated and completed my first SCMM in 2004 along with 6 others from our little group. Since then the SCMM (now TMM) and ADHM have become almost a ritual for us.

FM: You brought about a running culture in Kota, Jaipur. How did you achieve this?

Ajay: Persistence – that was the key. I think if you stick and pursue an idea with a single focus, anything is possible. I didn’t get into running or promote running to get something out of it. Even when a large majority of the people had a different take on running, it didn’t deter me and I kept on pushing and gradually people realized for themselves the benefits running had on them.

FM: What are the highlights of your running career so far?

Ajay: I didn’t get into running for a career or to prove how accomplished a sportsman I am. I think I just ran to make people run and help them discover the joy of being physically active – the distances just followed.

So far, I have completed 18+ official Half and Full Marathons that include ADHM, SCMM and Leh Marathon. The longest distance I have run is 63KM.

I saw running as a community sport rather than a competitive sport. I believe the whole concept of PB and fast finishes in long distance running is nothing more than a self-serving, ego-boosting tool that pushes people in the wrong direction. Running isn’t boxing or wrestling where you win by knocking the other person down. I believe distance running is a sport that breaks down ego and makes a person humble. I promote running as a community sport where everybody wins.

FM: When did you think of opening up your own fitness center-Inshape?

Ajay: Multiple recurring injuries limited my growth as an athlete. After having finished my post-graduation in MBA like most young MBA’s I was aspiring to climb the corporate success ladder until one day when I asked myself this question- What is the one thing I would like to do for the rest of my life even if I didn’t get paid? This changed the direction of my life. I realized that it had to be something to do with fitness and sports.

In 1991, I joined the Corporate Wellness initiative in Tata Steel and became a visiting faculty in Tata Management Development Center talking about exercise and nutrition. The more I learned the clearer it became about what I wanted to do. I could trace back reasons for many of my injuries to the lack of professional help in my early sporting days. There were few gyms but there wasn’t any facility that was training people for lifetime health, fitness and happiness. In 1994, when 2 of my close friends quit and decided to go to the US I decided to go back to my home city Kota and start Inshape. I had a clear purpose ‘to make an appreciable difference in people’s quality of life’.

FM: Take us through the different training programs available at your centre?

Ajay: Our programs are designed in 3 categories i.e. Health, Fitness and Performance.

Health programs are typically designed for individuals with weight and mobility issues. Fitness programs are designed for people who want to be more active and fit. Lastly, people who want to maximize performance i.e. bodybuilding, modelling, body transformation to running a marathon or triathlon. We have a few people who come with very clear and specific goals on what they want to be trained for. We also conduct group classes like Zumba, Step Aerobics, Floor Aerobics, Flexible Strength, Kettlebell, etc. catering to various interests’ groups.

FM: Considering the varied group of trainees, building customized plans must be a challenge. How do you handle this?

Ajay: Being a certified group exercising instructor this was easy. I follow an annual training calendar for my running club members that lasts from March-November. I always design the training keeping in mind the lowest denominator i.e. the newest person in the group. At the start, I put runner’s through a series of assessment runs to determine their current level and based on that I put them into different groups. Those who are regular, get to know their levels as well as paces and then it’s easy to instruct them. I also conduct running clinics from time to time to educate runners about what they are going through. Those who join the running sessions in between get aligned automatically with others who are more experienced. Also, since I promote running as a community sport not many runners come to get a customized training plan or with the objective of pursuing running as a career.

FM: How do you assess to check if you have achieved the results at the end of every program?

Ajay: It’s simple. I believe everything that can be measured can be improved. Tracking various parameters show us if we have been able to deliver the right results.

People in the health program go through body composition assessments and these parameters (fat percentage, BMI, Height-Weight Ratio etc.) can be tracked on weekly basis.

In Fitness Programs, we primarily assess 4 points: Flexibility, Mobility, Strength and Endurance.

In Performance-based programs assessment runs deeper and wider and includes an 8-point screening methodology i.e. Flexibility, Mobility, Stability, Strength, Endurance, Speed, Power and Agility. Each of these parameters can be tested and improved.

FM: How do you ensure your trainees stay injury-free?

Ajay: This is one area where I feel a lot more needs to be done. I try to educate them and train them to be better athletes rather than for a particular race or an event (since most are not professional runners).

I think it has more to do with people than the coach today. Most people want too much too soon and they are in a hurry to run more races or long distances in a short period of time without understanding the principles of adaptation and progression. Those who trust us and listen are the ones who go further and long, others learn the hard way by getting injured.

FM: What according to you makes a good coach/trainer/mentor?

Ajay: The one who practices what he teaches. Formal education is important too but a good coach should continue to learn by self-education and only by applying that can he become knowledgeable. All this goes to waste if you truly don’t care about people. I learned from my mentor Jim Rohn that “people don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.”

FM: How do you keep your runners motivated to show up for training and assist them in achieving their goals?

 Ajay: In my fitness centres as well as the running club I follow a 4-point approach. Inspire, Engage, Connect and Enrich. I inspire people through others results, engage them through goal setting and structured program, connect them with others who are already following the program and lastly enrich them through unique lasting experiences through various events and activities.

FM: What got you to conceptualize an event like Chambal Challenge?

Ajay: Deep within me there always is a desire to go beyond, to do better than my previous best. I believe that this desire is there within everyone. I wanted to challenge people to act on this desire and attempt something they haven’t tried before or are not sure about. The distinct topography of Chambal Valley and the terrain of Mukundra Hills Tiger Reserve gave me a perfect setting to create this event. You put together a road run, a trail run, uphill and downhill into one long run and attach spectacular view of Chambal river, reserve forest, and a bird century, you have Chambal Challenge. Chambal Challenge is a dare to runners to test their skill, strategy as well as attitude. I believe these attributes will help a person go beyond running as well as in life.

FM: What is your message for the amateur runners of today?

Ajay: Run because we are born to run but remember so are we born to lift, shift, push, pull, carry, climb and jump. So why limit yourself when you have unlimited genetic potential.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Featured Comments Off on The Man who made the Devil’s Circuit |

The Man who made the Devil’s Circuit

Protima Tiwary meets Adnan Adeeb, the Devil Slayer, the man behind the toughest obstacle course, the Devil’s Circuit.

As India’s toughest obstacle race makes its way across the country, we caught up with the man spearheading the entire movement as he motivates every participant across India. Finisher Magazine in conversation with Adnan Adeeb, founder of Devils Circuit, India.

What do you prefer- life before or after Devils Circuit?

I spent 19 years in the corporate world, travelling the world as the sales manager for a global IT firm. I enjoyed the security.  Today, life is different. I, along with my team, am responsible to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for runners. Our emotional investment in what we do today is helping us grow our tribe. Regular folks from across fitness spectrums walk over to us after the event to simply express their appreciation and to say ‘thank you’ for giving them the best Sunday of their lives, and it feels amazing to be able to create that kind of impact, and is worth all the effort we put into building each season. Yes, life is definitely more exciting now.

What inspired you to conceptualise Devils Circuit?

In 2011, we saw a huge potential in the space of amateur sports. We also noticed the audience shift from “I will just watch this” to “Let’s try this, let’s be a part of this!”

At Volano Entertainment, we wanted to be at the forefront of this revolution and felt that it was the right time, in 2011, to create India’s coolest, toughest, and largest participative disruptive sports property. With that thought, we introduced Obstacle Running to India in the Devils Circuit. Our first mover’s advantage, combined with constant ongoing innovation, has helped us reach out to millions of people across 8 cities and we continue to harbour thoughts of expanding to more.

What do you aim to achieve with Devil’s Circuit?

I simply want to inspire people. I think there is a huge disservice we do to ourselves and our loved ones when we take our health and fitness lightly. With Devils Circuit, I want participants and spectators alike, to think about life choices, their fitness quotient and give them a benchmark that helps measure their ongoing progress. We want people to understand that formats such as the Devils Circuit give you an idea of how much fun you can have through sports, by being active and being outdoors- it also allows for individuals to set their own goals on how to get stronger, fitter or simply more active through a unique running format.

What keeps you motivated to continue building this community around Devil’s Circuit every year? 

Each member of the tribe of DevilSlayers motivates me to keep making the property bigger and better. The individuals who combat their own issues and come to Devils Circuit are incredible. We have had participation from specially abled people, aged people, grandparents, people from the armed forces, people who have painstakingly fought their weight-related issues to transform themselves, and a lot many more who all have their own stories. All of these motivate me to continue serving this community and looking for ways to make the experience of every single participant exceptional.

What are your thoughts about the fitness industry in India?  

The fitness industry in India is on a huge growth trajectory. I feel the potential of expansion is massive, there is a definite drive both at an individual as well as a corporate level towards a healthier lifestyle that is unprecedented. This is a very exciting time to be a part of this industry and in the coming years, we will see a lot of innovation. If I look at the western world, the kind of gyms, studios, fitness centres that exist is incredible. It is up to us to constantly bring these avenues to our shores. With this in mind, we are in the process of launching our own studios in the coming months.

Do you try all the obstacles? What’s your favourite one? Least favourite? 

Yes, absolutely! I am on my own fitness journey too and I am the fittest I have ever been in my life.  My favourite obstacle is the Brain Freeze. This is the last obstacle on the course where we have participants come down a wet slide into 15 tonnes of ice cubes. It’s a fantastic way to end the race, gives your muscles a great cooling and gives you an organic high which we have also translated into our war cry #Booyah!

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.

 

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Featured Comments Off on Marathon Recovery |

Marathon Recovery

Head Coach of RunGenie, Ranjini Gupta talks about the importance of recovery after the big race.

To run a marathon, and run it well, you need to train for it. A well-rounded training plan will cover key aspects like speed workouts, long runs, strength and conditioning, diet and hydration. You name it you’ve worked on all these aspects. After all the hard work has been done, when you toe the line, it’s your time to put all that you did in training to practice. And you did great! 26.2 miles clocked to perfection. You are elated to wear that finisher medal and flaunt it with pride.

So what next……..

The recovery phrase which is another crucial aspect of training for a marathon.

Many a time, so much impetus is given to training that recovery is overlooked. For some, recovery would mean doing nothing and simply relaxing on the couch while some others would probably get back to their runs even before their bodies have fully recovered. While this may work for a few weeks, with intensity and mileage, niggles appear and before you know it, it grows into a fully blown injury. The key is to understand your body. Each individual is different and responds differently to training as well as recovery. Some recover faster, while some people may take a tad bit longer. Be patient, after all this body has undergone so much to get you to your goal. Now it’s time for you to reciprocate.

In the words of exercise physiologist Dr. Carwyn Sharp, “Recovery following a marathon is critical aspect of any training plan, but despite its importance is often neglected. This need for appropriate recovery for running 26.2miles is obvious with aching muscles and stiff joints after sitting, but athletes also have damage and stresses in many other systems and tissues of the body they may not feel, such as: micro trauma to the bone, ligaments and tendons, depressed immune system, damage to the heart, red blood cells and gastrointestinal system. In order to recover your health, avoid sickness and injury and maintain the gains from months of training, you should employ nutritional, training and passive recovery method in the 2-4weeks following a marathon”.

Recovery tips:

  1. It would be a good idea to do an easy 30 to 40 min run-walk on a day (or max two days) following the race day. The whole idea of this exercise is for you to do a body scan and listen closely to the whispers indicated by the body. There should no pressure of distance or pace in this session.
  2. In the same week, ensure you invest a bit on yourself and go to that physical therapist or chiropractor to get some releases done. You would have given it your all in those last few miles before the finish and there is a good possibility that your biomechanics could have been compromised. A good practitioner would be able to help you take care of little niggles which you might have incurred during the race or felt it during the body scan in your recovery run.
  3. Catch up on the sleep, that you would have lost during the training period. Studies have shown that sleep helps improve an athlete’s performance because growth hormones that stimulate growth and repair of muscles and bones are released during this period. The quality of sleep becomes an important aspect of recovery. Try to hit the bed early as it is believed that hours slept between 10pm to 5am is most beneficial to the body and mind.
  4. Hydration becomes another key factor. Most runners during their training period will take care of the hydration very closely however the same importance needs to be given during the recovery period as well. Your urine is a good indicator of whether you are hydrated or not. A clear to pale yellow indicates you are hydrated while a darker color indicates you are less hydrated.
  5. While it is still alright to indulge a bit post the training season, the more nutritious food you give your body, the faster it will heal and recover for the next season. Clean eating habits and having a balanced meal should be a way of life and not just when you train for races. The key is being consistent at it.
  6. Work on general strength and mobility along with cross training (either cycling and/or swimming) before signing up for the next race or getting into the next season. The off season is a great time to work on these aspects. This will help you stay injury free and give you time to work on those imbalances before the next season. Any improvement in your basal strength level, hip mobility, ankle mobility will directly translate into better timings the coming season.

As mentioned earlier, one size fits all does not work either with training or recovery. You need to be aware and sensitive to the needs of your body. The more prudent you are in taking care of your recovery, the easier it would be for you to get into the new season refreshed and rejuvenated.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Ranjini Gupta is a mother of two and a marathoner who is trying to exploit her potential. She is the head coach at Rungenie Fitness, a fitness consultancy firm.

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Nutrition Comments Off on Fuel your Ride |

Fuel your Ride

Guest Columnist Bikey Venky talks about how you can fuel up so that you have a better ride with better nutrition and hydration.

“Nutrition is a valuable component that can help athletes both protect themselves and improve performance” – Bill Toomey (former Olympic decathlon champion).

The two most important aspects that have an impact on any of your rides are – how you train and how you fuel your ride. While many understand the importance of proper training with gradual buildup of efforts, periodization etc., not many understand the importance of properly fueling their rides.

Fueling for a ride includes both hydration and nutrition. Hydration and nutrition have a big say in the quality of your training or just any riding for that matter. They determine how well you are able to train, recover, or just how you are able to enjoy your ride.

Typically, you would end up burning about 300-600 calories per hour of cycling depending on your body weight, metabolic rate, intensity etc., but we don’t need to replenish all the calories that we burn. At any given point, we have glycogen reserves worth 1200-2000 calories in our bodies. Hence, it is recommended that we refuel our body of about 15-25% of the calories expended per hour. That would mean 90-150 calories per hour assuming you end up burning 600 calories per hour. This roughly translates to about 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour and these carbs can be taken in the form of natural sources like bananas, nuts and dates etc., or energy bars made out of slow release items like sources of carbs like oats and dates etc. While this can be your nutrition during the ride, you might have to load up before the ride if you are attempting a long endurance effort.

When you are going for a ride longer than 2-3 hours, it is advisable to have breakfast before you start your ride. The breakfast should ideally be slow absorbing carbs like oats porridge or a bowl of fresh fruits and nuts. This can be 1-3 hours before your ride start time. Once on the ride, you can supply more fuel at regular intervals (every 15-30mins) in form of your favourite energy bars, peanut bars or bananas. This will ensure that there is a constant source of energy to your body and the energy levels never dip. With the right levels of energy, you are more likely to give your best on the ride and enjoy it more.

For intense efforts like races, a quicker absorbing energy source from gels might come in handy.

During the rides, we not only burn calories but also lose a lot of body fluids and electrolyte balance in the body which can be distorted. The resultant dehydration leads to diminishing performance in riders. To keep the performance levels up, we need to restore the electrolyte balance in the body by adding electrolytes to our hydration bottles and drink regularly on the ride. The rate of hydration depends on person to person and the ride conditions. But, in general, about 600-1000ml of hydration drink per hour is suggested.

It is a good idea to make it a habit to drink water in small quantities at regular intervals like every 15-20 mins. Depending on the intensity of the ride, one can use one or two hydration tabs in a 600ml bottle and look to consume one bottle per hour. Something like the Fast & Up reload hydration tabs have all the necessary electrolytes. There are some riders who prefer more natural sources like common salt, lime, and sugar. Whatever is your source, it is important that the body’s electrolyte balance is restored for the body to recover and get stronger.

In summary:

  • Hydration: About 600ml per hour with electrolytes. Electrolyte sources: Fast & Up Reload tabs, Common Salt & lime with or without sugar/honey.
  • Nutrition: 30-60gms of carbohydrates per hour. Sources: Bananas, Peanut bars, Dates & Nuts, Energy bars, Energy gels etc.
  • Post ride: After a hard ride, having a combination of carbs and protein (in approximately 4:1 ratio) for easy recovery. It can be normal food that you take or milkshakes with fruits like bananas etc.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

Bikey VenkyVenky, more commonly known as BikeyVenky in the cycling community, has been riding for more than 10 years. He loves giving back to the community that helped him become a healthy individual in whatever way he can including help organizing rides, races and mentoring young and old riders alike via BVCoaching.in

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Training Comments Off on The importance of strength training for runners |

The importance of strength training for runners

Guest Columnist Pallavi Aga demonstrates the importance of strength training for runners especially women. 

The world seems to have woken up to the benefits of staying fit and this is quite evident when you look at the increased number of people who have taken to running. There has been a sudden outburst of running events that happen every weekend across the country and we have seen a lot of fitness enthusiasts who have taken to running in a big way.

Unfortunately, as is the case with all sporting activities, there is a dark side to it – sports injuries. This is more common than you think and the best way to minimize the risk is strength training.

Strength training is of paramount importance, especially for people who lead a sedentary lifestyle. Such a lifestyle leads to under-development of the muscles and they may not be firing at an optimal level. With an increase in mileage and overload of training, they begin to experience muscle weakness and instability which ultimately causes muscle strains and sometimes a muscle tear as well. This is because runners neglect one very basic requirement that is muscle strength which can only be built through strength training. Research has shown an 8% increase in running efficiency in people who do regular strength training.

Strength training and women

Strength training is extremely important for women to prevent them from getting osteoporosis because usually after the age of 40 is when the pre-menopause period starts and during this time the bones tend to start weakening. Sarcopenia, i.e. muscle loss also sets in causing various postural imbalances. In fact, there is a myth that strength training should not be done by older women but the benefits you reap with strength training exercises are immense.

Common myths about strength training

  • It makes you bulky
    Strength training helps in reducing body fat and builds lean muscle. Bodybuilders focus on a carbohydrate-rich diet which primarily contributes to the bulky look. If the nutrition is clean and focus is on adequate complex carbs and lean protein with some calorie deficit, then it helps to tone up the physique, giving the lean look.
  • Strength training means lifting heavy-weights
    For people looking at building endurance, the focus should be on doing multiple reps and lifting lighter weights. Compound and complex bodyweight exercises can also be done. This kind of strength training is important during the marathon season for runners.
    However, for muscles to get really strong you need to lift heavy weights with fewer repetitions. The time between reps should be kept lower so as to build leaner and stronger muscles. Use the off-season to train using heavy weights to build the muscles well for the next season.
  • Spot reduction
    This is a complete myth and no amount of crunches, twists or squats will help in spot reduction. If there is a lot of fat, the muscle definition will not show up. The only thing which works is eating clean and staying on a calorie deficit diet. It is the correct amount of carbohydrates, proteins as well as the eating window (how much and which type of macronutrients are consumed before and after a workout) which leads to the reduction of fat.

 Benefits of strength training

  • Helps the muscles become strong and hence less prone to injuries
  • Builds muscle coordination and balance
  • Builds bone strength
  • Body weight strength training helps in building endurance and form.
  • Builds neuromuscular coordination and power
  • Increases running efficiency
  • Prevents muscle loss and osteoporosis
  • Posterior and kinetic chain development

Runners usually put in a lot of mileage and hence cannot have large muscle gains. Runners during the running season should focus on compound movements targeting major muscle groups in a complex manner. They can also look into gaining heavy muscle with strength training during the off – season which helps the running muscles become stronger further helping in building a toned, leaner physique.

Some of my favourite strength training workouts
Below are a few of my favourite weight training exercises that have proved beneficial. To build your own workout, you can focus on one area or multiple areas (upper body, lower body, or core) and create a tailor made circuit. As running itself adds a lot of cardio in the fitness regimen , we do not need a lot of added cardio during the strength training sessions. I would suggest to keep the rest period between the sets less to increase the fat burn and to keep a tempo pace. Rest in between the sets can be utilized to do abs or push-ups to promote the maximum effort.

  • Push-Ups : inclined, declined, hindu push ups, close grip and even using Bosu ball
    Works : chest and core muscles
  • Bent Over Row
    Works: back and core muscles

  • Lat pulldown
    Works: mid-back, posterior shoulder, and rhomboid muscles
  • Planks : all the variations
    Works: core muscles

  • Bulgarian split squat, Single- leg dead lifts, Straight leg Deadlift
    All of these work : hamstrings, glutes, back, and core muscles

  • Lunges
    Works : leg, quads, and glute muscles

  • Squats and sumo squats
    Works: hip, adductors, quads  and glute muscles

  • Shoulder overhead push press
    Works : hamstrings, lower back, core, trapezius, shoulders and arms

Compound movements are the best. Hence always include squats, deadlifts and shoulder overhead push press to your exercise schedule.

Running, as a sport, has to be respected and focus should be on overall fitness and running injury-free. Strength training, yoga and Pilates plays an integral part in running. Foam rolling is a must after a strength training session.

For me, the Mantra to life is – stay fit and enjoy life and hence I want to run injury-free and focus on both strength training as well as yoga.

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.

 

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Motivation Comments Off on Stay fit and Keep Running |

Stay fit and Keep Running

Ranjini Gupta talks to Deepthi Velkur about why being healthy and fit isn’t a fad or a trend. Instead, it’s a lifestyle!

A passion for health and fitness drove Ranjini Gupta to take up long-distance running as a career and today, she’s recognized as one of the most successful amateur runners in India. A mother of two adorable daughters, she has completed numerous 10K runs, half-marathons and full-marathons.

An ACE (American Council of exercise) certified professional as well as a qualified TRX Suspension trainer, Ranjini runs a fitness consultancy firm, ‘Rungenie Fitness’.  With a strong focus on strength and conditioning, Rungenie helps build training plans for clients to reach their full potential. Ranjini runs small group sessions and personal training sessions for runners as well being the fitness coach for the Roots football Academy.

Numerous podium finishes in 10K, HMs and FMs over the past 6 years aside, Ranjini has also completed 3 (Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo) of the 6 world marathons. She has also qualified in the ‘good-for-age’ category and participated as a semi-elite runner at the 2018 Tokyo marathon.

For the future, Ranjini has big goals in mind – complete the remaining 3 world majors (London, New York and Boston) as well as participate in ‘The Comrades Marathon’ which is the world’s largest and oldest ultra-marathon race.

I had a tete-a-tete with Ranjini and here are her thoughts on how it has been so far.

FM: What made you take up running? How has it become “your calling”?

Ranjini: I wrote something a while ago that kind of sums up how my journey began. Here goes,

25th September 2012 – Chennai

A mother of two,

My younger daughter just 9 months new;

To wade away the baby blues,

I took to my running shoes.

What set out as “Mine Exclusive” time,

Grew on me while runners I tried to mime;

Learning the skills and nuances of the sport,

Yes, ‘running’ I began to court.

The euphoria experienced at the finish of a diligently trained race, the camaraderie while training with the team, the awe in my daughters’ eyes acknowledging the exploit of my races, the act of planning and preparing myself mentally and physically…..this is me. This is something I enjoy doing and see it as my calling.

FM: 6 years hence, you’ve grown leaps and bounds and have achieved so much for yourself. What keeps you going for more?

Ranjini: It’s been a wonderful journey so far. Three world majors are done and dusted – Berlin, Chicago and Tokyo, many podiums won and lots of learning in the process of evolving as a runner. In the past 6 years, I’ve seen a fair share of ups and downs. However, what’s kept me going is consistency and deliberate practice. ‘Come what may, lace up and show up’.

FM: Do you train with a coach? Has that benefited you in a big way?

Ranjini: I’m blessed to have a wonderful human being to guide me through this journey – my coach Shri. K.C. Kothandapani. They say, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. It’so important to know what you want from the sport and commit to the discipline it demands. If you have that attitude, the teacher will find you. Under his guidance, I have learnt many nuances of the sport, be it the physical aspect and/or the mental aspect. He leads by example. One needs to simply observe his approach to the sport and life and you end up learning so much. We, the PaceMakers, are truly a blessed bunch of athletes.

FM: To be able to pursue your passion, you need the complete support of your family members? How has your family coped with this change?

Ranjini: All this would never have been possible without the rock in my life – my husband – Shri. Senthilkumar. In fact, when I first told him I was interested in running way back in 2012, he put me on to his friend who was a part of the Dream Runners running group in Chennai. That’s where it all began. Being a nuclear family with very young kids at home it was an uphill task but together, we held our ground. He knew that this made me a happier individual. I made a lot of new friends. My outlook towards life changed. So, it’s worth every sacrifice.

I come from a world where I was questioned as to why I need to run post having two kids and a family, running is bad for your knees, for how long would I be running this way, etc. However, as I managed to cope with running, without compromising on the needs of my family, over the years, I’ve seen a change in the attitudes of the large family members. Now they completely motivate me and support me in my journey.

FM: What kind of training schedules and diet plan do you follow?

Ranjini: I always plan my running calendar well in advance. All the key races are planned and in between the year, I try to do a couple of races as time trials for the main event. My training plan will follow this structure. The beginning of my running calendar, I always train for shorter distances (10km runs). Somewhere mid-year move on to half marathons and I like to peak my running calendar with marathons at the end of the season.

With regards to the diet, I don’t specifically follow any single diet plan. However, I am mindful of what I eat and the portion size of how much I eat. I include a lot of vegetables and fruits in my diet.

FM: The first amateur woman runner from India to have completed the Berlin Marathon. How did you prepare for this race? Describe your experience of the race from start to finish?

Ranjini: Berlin Marathon 2016 was the first world major I did. I diligently trained for this event for 4 months. I was at that time trying to get a Boston qualification time for my age category with a goal of 3:35 in mind. The race, however, went much better than planned and I finished as the first Indian woman to cross the finish line that year. Till date my timing in Berlin Marathon 3:28:58 stands as my personal best for the distance.  Berlin was the first international race, it was an experience by itself. The crowd support and the cheering squads throughout the course, the well laid out hydration stations, the perfect weather conditions, the flat course, the plethora of runners from different countries and it was a first-time experience for me and I enjoyed every bit of it. This race is also very special for me as I had my coach run the distance with me. The body and mind were in sync on that day and by the grace of God and good wishes from family and friends, everything just fell in place.

FM: You qualified for the Boston Marathon. Did you eventually run it?

Ranjini: Though I did qualify for the Boston Marathon 2018 with my Berlin Marathon time, I was unable to run the event as I was battling an injury and was not well trained to give the event my best shot. My registration was done and tickets were booked but I forfeited all of it. To toe, the line without adequate training or when not physically fit is not my type. For me The Boston Marathon is sacrosanct. When I run it, I intend to run it well, not just get a tick off my bucket list.

FM: An ACE-certified fitness coach yourself, what is the specific training plan you follow for amateur runners?

Ranjini: It was my aspiration to someday become capable enough to coach people and help them with their fitness journey. That lead me to pursue my ACE fitness certification and start Rungenie fitness. My forte is strength training. I truly believe that if one is fit, one can play any sport or carry out the routine activities of life more efficiently. Today, I train and help people perform to their potential and achieve their fitness goals be it in running or any other sports. The training plans for my clients are devised based on their fitness requirements and considering the demands of their lifestyle.

FM: How have all these years of running transformed you?

Ranjini: Running to me is freedom. It’s a time when I am in the present and I live the moment. Right from learning how to balance home and my passion, how to plan and prepare my day well in advance, how to inculcate good and clean eating habits, how to prioritize health and wellness, how to take things in your stride, how to be mentally strong – running has taught me this and so much more.

FM: What is your advice to a lot of women out there who haven’t yet taken to leading a fit and healthy lifestyle?

Ranjini: There has been a surge in the number of runners taking up the sport over the years. However, the ratio of men to women is still skewed towards men. My submission to women would be to start prioritizing on your health and well-being. Only a physically and mentally fit lady of the house, could be a cornerstone to the needs of her family. Start with small fitness goals. Make fitness a part of your daily routine. You owe it to yourself. We always mistake doing household chores as exercise. However, we fail to understand that through exercise these same activities of daily life could be done more efficiently. The most common excuse I get to hear when I speak to women is “I don’t have time for all this” …. well, no one does – “You need to make the time”.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Featured Comments Off on Passionate Barefoot Running |

Passionate Barefoot Running

Thomas Bobby Philip approaches his running with passion and challenges himself at every turn to stay inspired, find outs Deepthi Velkur.

Thomas Bobby Philip (aka Bobby) believes that focusing on something that excites you lets you challenge yourself and achieve great things. A wonderful line from Oprah Winfrey comes to mind,

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you”.

Bobby took to running in early 2009 and soon discovered that this was his calling. He hasn’t stopped since, never missing an opportunity to learn, challenge and improve himself in the sport. He believes in sharing this knowledge and he takes great pains to inspire and influence amateur runners in the sport and help them as much as he can.

He is a strong advocate of Barefoot running ever since he took to it in 2012. A certified ChiRunning trainer, Bobby has been organizing regular workshops all over Bangalore and helps runners run efficiently and injury-free.

On a professional front, Bobby has been with Nokia for nearly 10 years and is responsible for Capability Planning and Development.

I had a chance to talk with Bobby on his running story.

FM: How did you catch the running ‘bug’?thomas bobby

Bobby: It was early 2009 and my daughter had her school sports event that she was participating in. To help her prepare for the event, we started running together around my layout.

I’ll be honest – I have never been into sports before this, so I had to take it slow.

Initially, we started off with 200M on day 1, 300M on day 2, 300M twice on day 3 and so on. We gradually progressed and in about 7 days I could see a vast improvement in myself. I didn’t have a proper running shoe at that point and just ran in whatever shambles I was in. That’s the start to my running journey and I have never looked back since.

FM: You graduated from running your first 10k to HM and finally FM in 2 years’ time. How did you go ahead with your training and increase your distance with each event?

Bobby: I realized running was my passion because it gave me immense happiness. I decided to do something about it. The first step – get a good pair of shoes.

At the Nike store, the people introduced me to this club called the Nike Run Club. When I started training there, I was under the guidance of a professional certified coach who introduced me to the concept of warming up, how to run, how to strengthen myself, how to cool down and other basic techniques.

With their proper guidance, I ran my first Sunfeast 10K in 2009. I gradually progressed from a 10K to do my 1st half marathon in Chennai the same year. With 1.5 years of continuous training, I progressed to my first full marathon in 2011 at the SCMM (Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon). I was in no hurry to rush things and took more than a year to gradually build my base miles and physical strength by doing 2 HM’s and many 10k’s. My FM was a success and personally a great achievement too as I finished it in 3hrs 49mins.

FM: How has being part of a running group shaped you as a runner and achieve what you have today?

Bobby: I think what is most important is to train under a coach whether your part of a running group or training alone. This gives you an opportunity to learn the correct method of training, a person you could consult with, learn and get an expert opinion on various training techniques.

I used to train at the Nike Run Club under a certified coach – Mr.Beedu who helped me in a lot of ways and used to train us well. I then joined the PaceMakers where I was and still am under the guidance of a very matured and experienced coach, Kothandapani. He introduced me to the scientific method of training where we are given a training plan and we need to ensure that we followed it to the T. The training plan included a mix of workouts – interval, tempo, hill runs, fartleks. A combination of all of this makes you stronger and a better runner.

Being a part of a running group is great as we train together, support and compete against each other while we continue to learn and benefit from each other’s strengths. That’s the great camaraderie shared when you’re a part of a running group.

FM: Do you think having the right coach/mentor/guide makes all the difference to your training and performance?

Bobby: Yes, Absolutely! In fact, I strongly recommend that everybody trains under a coach/guide/mentor whatever you’d like to call it. It gives a whole new dimension to your running and moulds you as a runner.

FM: You are the first Indian to complete the Boston Marathon barefoot. Why did you choose to run barefoot?

Bobby: In 2012, I transitioned to running barefoot. I personally found that it worked well for me. I did my first 10k barefoot in 2012 followed by my first HM and later a 50K. It was a success to a point where I felt that running with shoes became a discomfort and uneasy.

In 2015, when I decided to run the Boston Marathon, I had to run barefoot as I had no choice as this was the only method I could follow. It made the run difficult due to the harsh weather conditions. I also wanted to show the world that running barefoot is normal as in the western world running barefoot is perceived as something abnormal and new to them. It was a bit of a shock for them to imagine someone walking barefoot and to top it all running barefoot too. I had people come and ask me if I have never worn a shoe before. (chuckles)

Since then whenever I travel internationally, I am barefoot especially when I’m travelling alone.

Its human to be barefoot, in fact, the entire universe is barefoot. It’s just that someone invented a shoe and we are literally bombed with shoes on our feet.

FM: What changes did you make to your training plan to be able to run barefoot?

Bobby: Honestly, there is no specific training plan as such to be followed. But I would say there is a transition process involved to be able to run barefoot. It does take time and you need to be patient as this time period could vary from person to person which could be a few weeks to over a year in some cases.

Every individual is diverse based on their past experience, background, levels of fitness and one needs to identify what works best for them. For e.g. Milind Soman took almost 1.5 years to transition to barefoot running before he did his first HM as he wanted to ensure nothing went wrong in the process, while I know a couple of runners who ran over 20kms barefoot in their very first attempt.

I could have never imagined running barefoot at the first instance. I know for sure I would have got blisters which I was close to getting. I made sure I was gradual in my transitioning process and wanted to slowly add up my barefoot mileage.

A common injury that one might face is the top of the foot pain (TOFP) which causes a slight swelling on the feet and pain in the calves. These are some of the pain areas that the body has to get used to and basic strengthening of the body is also key here.

FM: What variation elements do you add to your training routine to make it wholesome?

Bobby: Firstly, there are a lot of variations in training and secondly, I introduce physical fitness workouts into my training. Apart from these, there are other factors such as nutrition, having a positive attitude and mental strength.  All of these put together is one complete package. I also get regular deep tissue massages and give good recovery time for the body.

FM: You achieved your first podium at the Bangalore Ultra (37.5K) 2010 and have been on the podium ever since? What does it take to be so successful?

Bobby: It’s all about disciplined training and the guidance of a good coach. That’s the differentiating factor.

First, I think it’s very important to train right which helps to minimize the injuries. Second, I had an immense passion for the sport and spent enough time on the sport to train myself regularly and be disciplined than many other runners. I was considered the most disciplined runner at the Nike Run Club too. Hence with proper guidance and a disciplined attitude, I managed to achieve a podium in the veteran category.

FM: Consistency is the key to achieving anything in life. How have you built your pace and strength over the years?

Bobby: I totally agree with the statement. I have been training for over 9 years now and I’ve been extremely disciplined and consistent with my training. I have people ask me how do I manage to be so good – all I have to say is that I started early and we have very few runners who have this sort of experience. But the most important aspect for any runner is to continue with the same level of consistency, discipline and following a correct method of training and you will see yourself becoming better each day.

FM: Who inspires you to keep achieving pushing yourself more and more?

Bobby: Everyone who challenges themselves and competes with themselves to be better than what they were yesterday is where I draw all my inspiration from. My coach has and is still my biggest inspiration/role model. Within our running group, we have a lot of runners who are not as good as me, but I see them working very hard to improve themselves and be better. It’s wonderful to watch and learn from such people.

FM: What are your running goals for 2019?

Bobby: In general, I would like to be consistent in my performance throughout the year. My performances have already hit the peak for e.g. I do an FM under sub-3 hours and I’d like to maintain myself at those levels which is a challenging task in itself. I don’t really set crazy goals for myself. Many people like to do a higher mileage like the ultra-distances. To be frank, I don’t have such aspiration as I prefer more intensity workouts/runs such as the faster 5k, 10k and HM’s and try and do at least one FM in a year.

With respect to the events for 2019, I would like to take part in a lot of Procam events like the TSK, the ADHM which I haven’t done in two years now and maybe one or two cities more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Training, Uncategorized Comments Off on A 5 Minute Warm Up To Improve Running Performance |

A 5 Minute Warm Up To Improve Running Performance

Protima Tiwary takes you through a simple warm-up routine before you start running.

Getting out of bed early in the morning for a run seems like a huge task in itself, and adding a 20-minute warm-up routine before your run makes you want to crawl right back in. Yes, we understand how that feels, and while we know it is tempting to miss out on a warm-up, it can prove to be harmful, even dangerous in the long run. Warm-ups and stretches reduce the chances of injury and also improve performance during the run. They also help combat muscle soreness.

Here’s the good news- you don’t need to spend 20 minutes for a warm-up routine. We are here to show you a warm-up that will take you only 5 minutes and absolutely no equipment. Get out your pen and paper and take notes!

Jumping Jacks

This will help you warm up and get your heart pumping. Do 40 jumping jacks to kickstart your warm-up routine. If you want, you can also time yourself and see how many can you do in a minute.

  1. Stand with your feet wide apart.
  2. Open up your arms and have them extended to your sides
  3. Jump up and bring your feet together. Your arms move together in a “clap” over your head
  4. When you touch the group again, your arms and legs are in the extended position.

High Knees and butt kicks

This movement mimics those in running and will help open up the abdominal, leg and hip muscles. Do 25 each of these.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with arms at your sides.
  2. Now start running in place, but with your knees reaching up to your chest.
  3. After 25 high knees, take a break of 20 seconds
  4. Now start running in place again, but this time with your feet trying to touch your glutes.

Arm circles

This will help activate your chest muscles, deltoids and upper back. Do 10 for each hand.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  2. Lift your arms to shoulder height, with the palms down
  3. Make small circles with your arms, making sure not to bend the elbow

Side stretch

This helps stretch your torso before your run and will help you combat side stitches during your run too.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  2. Bring your arms over your head, and keeping your abdominal muscles tight, lean to the right. Hold for 10 counts.
  3. Now do the same for the left side.
  4. Make sure only the torso is leaning, with your feet grounded firmly.

Hip Rotation

This helps stretch the glutes and lower back. Do these 10 times each in a clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  2. Make a circular motion with your hips. Make sure your feet stay grounded.

Spider Crawl stretch

This will help stretch the hips and leg muscles. Hold this position for 10 counts on each leg.

  1. Lie down in a forward plank pose
  2. Your legs should be shoulder width apart
  3. From the outside, bring your right foot next to your right hand (or till wherever your flexibility allows you to)
  4. Repeat with left leg after holding this for 10 seconds

Inch-walks

This one is for your core, hamstrings and deltoids. Do this 10 times.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  2. Bend down to touch your toes
  3. Now walk your hands out to reach a plank position
  4. Hold for 5 seconds, then walk back with your hands to touch your toes.
  5. Stand up straight

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.

 

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