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.

Read more

Training Comments Off on Here’s How You Prepare Yourself For An Obstacle Race |

Here’s How You Prepare Yourself For An Obstacle Race

Protima Tiwary explores how you need to train if you ever want to tackle an obstacle race.

You have been running marathons this season, and in the excitement of the runner’s high you’ve signed up for an obstacle race. Great going! Now it’s time to train to give this your best shot. It goes without saying- an obstacle race is not the same as a marathon, so if you feel you can make your way to the finish line without training, you’d be mistaken.

Sprinting, climbing ropes, crossing over bars, jumping over pits – obstacle races are all about adventure and adrenaline. Training for them requires mental, emotional and physical training. Once you set your mind to train for this race, here’s what you need to do –

Running

Continue running, but this time change your training and incorporate speed runs, hill climbs, sprints and tempo runs in your routine. An obstacle race is all about the running experience and isn’t about how fast you run.

Cross-fit

Incorporate cross-fit moves into your training regime that will help you conquer the obstacles. Exercises like push ups pull ups, rows and bar hangs are recommended. This basically works on your upper body strength, often a weak spot for runners.

Plyometric training

This will help increase fast-twitch muscle development which will help you with jumps and lateral stops- starts. Exercises like springing with added weights pulling you back, box jumps and butt kicks are recommended.

Mobility Training

Concentrate on flexibility and mobility training that will give you a wider range of movement during the race. These exercises help open up all the joints and muscles that are stiff, thereby improving posture and circulation. Yoga is a fine example of flexibility training.

Strength training

This will help improve the strength in your body that will help you with posture and form, as well as help build power that is required to clear the obstacles. Exercises like bicep curls, shoulder press, chest press, farmers walks, squats and lunges are the basic exercise that can be done to increase strength.

Here is a 6-week schedule that will help you train adequately. Consult a coach or a trainer for specific exercise under this schedule.

Week 1 – Build Stamina

Practice different variations in running, climb stairs, go on brisk walks. Build stamina that will be needed on the race day. The fatigue can get overwhelming on the day of the race, so it is better to go well prepared. You don’t want to be out of breath on the first lap!

Also, start practising yoga.

Week 2- Build Strength

Improve your form and build strength that will be needed to clear the obstacles. Incorporate box jumps, climbing, jump squats, pull ups and push ups in your regime. Ideally, perform high repetitions of bodyweight exercises like pull ups, push ups, squats. This will help build muscular endurance and explosive power.

Week 3- Build Upper Body Strength

Focus on building upper body strength as this will be needed for all those rope climbs and bar crossing that need to be done. Incorporate exercises that focus on your upper body muscles- shoulder press, bench press, bicep curls, tricep dips, lat pull-downs are some primary examples.

Week 4 and 5- Practice

Your training towards the end of this plan will include all the exercise in a rotation. This is the period when you need to better your skill. Functional circuits are the best way to train. Set your pace. Set your goals. Prepare yourself mentally.

Week 6- Go slow

Build on strength, but make sure you do not over-do it! Ease up on the training in the last one week. Give your body a little rest by reducing the intensity of the workout. Eat well, sleep well.  Continue yoga.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on How I made running my life |

How I made running my life

Bahar Sinha talks about how she made running an intrinsic part of her everyday life and routine. 

Running is a state of being. The feeling of constant motion that takes my weary mind through a myriad of emotions, gorgeous new places and amazing people.

I took to running in my late 30’s and was fascinated by the possibilities it could offer me. A mother of 2 teenage kids, a partner with varied sporting interests and a demanding project manager job did not stop me from chasing my running dreams.

Working out as a couple is a great way to stay connected with each other and ensure we both meet our individual health and fitness goals. It helps us be accountable thus driving us to stick to our workout plan, motivate and be proud of each other. Well, that’s the ideal situation at least but the reality sometimes is very different.

In most cases, the real scenario is that the couples are in different fitness spaces, have different energy levels and varied interests in sport and fitness. With this backdrop, making a joint workout plan successful requires patience, understanding and respect for one another. In my opinion, I think it’s a good thing for couples to have varied interests because it brings about a certain kind of balance.

Most often than not, most couples tend to have a mindset that everything needs to be done together. In the first few years of a relationship, this could be a tenable way to do things, but it hardly works in the long run. We need to be open and acceptable when something is not working so that a change can be made, and both meet their objectives and goals.

For me at home, as a couple we have completely different sporting interests – my partner loves table tennis, badminton, swimming and the gym while I, on the other hand, am passionate about running. In this story, I would like to take you through how I am able to juggle a busy life but still enjoy my running and the support I receive from my partner and family to be able to achieve this.

Taking baby steps into the running world

My start with running was fairly routine – as with most people, I took to running to shed some those extra kilos. Being a mother of 2 especially when they are younger, does not leave you with much time for yourself and all that stress had me out of shape. When you think of getting fit, the first option is usually hitting the gym, but that idea never really motivated me. Instead, running seemed to be an easier option as it was something, I could do at my convenience during the day. Finding a partner to run with was a challenge and my partner enjoyed other sports and had his friends to hang out with.

Getting over the practical challenges in a home with kids

I spent the first few months learning the various techniques with running and just getting used to it. Over time, I got comfortable and that’s when I set my first running goal – a 10K run.

I obviously needed to do a lot of planning on how I fit the training plan into my schedule because I just had a lot of other things in life that needed my priority. Looking at my calendar, I figured the only option I had was the weekend considering my partner would be at home with my kids. That’s how I started running with the Nike Run Club on Saturdays.

As I progressed, I realized that I needed more structure to my running if I wanted to improve – that’s when I joined the Jayanagar Jaguars in the summer of 2013. The training plan involved early morning starts with training on 2 days (Tuesday and Thursday) and long runs on Saturdays. It worked for me considering it was the summer break for the kids and they were at home.

All that changed when school reopened, I needed to come up with a workaround quickly so that I could still make time for my weekday training. My partner (god bless him!) and I came up with a strategy – I would do a pre-prep the previous day, wake up early to pack some lunch for the kids and then head out for training. He would then wake up the kids, get them ready by which time I would be back, and I could see the kids off to school – the teamwork and coordination between us was awesome and helped me smooth over that challenge.

There were times though when I have had to compromise on my training schedule – like when the kids were unwell, or they had an exam, or my partner was travelling. On those days, I made sure I ran around the apartment to compensate for a missed training day. My objective was simple – (a) stage 1: move up from a 10K to a 21K run and (b) stage 2: finish 1 full marathon before I turned 40.

The hardest moments

I was training hard with big dreams and stars in my eyes when all of a sudden life threw me a curveball. My partner had to relocate to Singapore for 2 years which meant I had to manage everything on my own. Now, I’m sure a lot of you have been through something similar or even more challenging so you will understand the emotion of being overwhelmed. My runs were an outlet for those emotions to get through and with every run, I grew stronger and more determined.

To say the weekdays were a challenge is an understatement – getting my kids to understand that they had to get ready by themselves before I was back from my run was quite a task. My daughter was very cooperative, but my son had other ideas (boys, I tell you!). I had to wake up even earlier than usual to get work done at home and then head out for my workout at 5 that went on until 0645. I had the kids give me a missed call around 6 just so that I reassured they are getting ready.

To be honest, I took it one day at a time and profusely thank god if it went smoothly. Over time, things got better – my kids became more adaptable and learnt to get up and be ready on time, but we still had the odd bad days thrown in. For example, I would have planned a speed workout for the day and that’s the day my kids decide to miss the bus – that leaves me driving them 12K in the maddening morning traffic!

Weekends were usually ok but there were hectic ones too like when I would finish a long run (36K – 40K) and then immediately rush for a parent-teacher meeting. Days like this leaves you wishing for your partner to be around but like they say c’est la vie!

During the summer break, we used to visit Singapore to be together again and spend some quality time as a family. Unfortunately, it was around the same that the TCS 10K happens, so I had to train for that.

While there, I had to work remotely, follow my regular training schedule and despite the challenges of being in a new country, I found the time and courage to compete and finish in an ultra-marathon of 64.5KM organized by Tampines Sports Community in Singapore.

The love of a good family (what would we do without them, huh?)

Once I graduated to the 21K distance, I had to travel to multiple cities to participate in different races. These travels were sometimes with my family but a lot of times it was alone – during these times I had the support of my family to look after the kids. I tried as much as it allowed me, to travel only the weekends thus reducing the impact on my schedule for the rest of the week. The reason was because while I was passionate about running, I did not want to miss out on important events in life – family gatherings, parent-teacher meetings, festivals – we all need a balance in life, don’t we?

My family has been my biggest support (as it should be!) so far. They aren’t too much into running but they still attend promotional events with me, do a few 5K runs with me or just be there to cheer me on – makes a huge difference to have them around. I remember one event where we participated as a family (the Alpha league obstacle race) – we had so much during the event and after reliving the fun moments and the follies we made.

In the end

Believe in your dream and it will all work out for you – In this busy life we lead, we must learn to embrace the challenges it poses and find solutions to overcome it. I did and it helped me achieve my dream of completing my first full marathon in Bangalore (October 2016). That was just a start and since then, I did the Pune Ultra (50K) in November 2016, the Singapore International Marathon) in December 2016 and the SCMM in January 2017…and the journey continues.

The struggle may be real but it’s always worth it because running reminds you that it’s not about how badly you want something; it’s about how hard you’re willing to work for it! It doesn’t matter if your goal is to run around your block or to run a marathon, we are all running to push our limits and see how far we can go!

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

As a mother, homemaker and a professional, I find myself running from one role to another with no finish line to it. But when I am literally running there is a FINISH line and it gives me a sense of accomplishment and achievement.

 

 

Read more

Featured Comments Off on Strength Training for Runners with Coach Zareen |

Strength Training for Runners with Coach Zareen

Reebok certified core fitness coach, Zareen Siddique demonstrates a few workouts for runners to Protima Tiwary. 

“I am running, why should I be thinking about strength training?” Have you ever found yourself asking this question as a runner? Well, strength training for runners is super important because not only does it help build stronger muscles which are involved in running, but also prevents injuries and helps improve posture, form and eventually, your running performance.

But here’s the thing- runners need a different strength training program than regular gym-goers. Instead of pushing movements like bicep curls, bench press and leg extensions, runners need to focus on building strength in particular muscles that help in maintaining balance and posture, like core and glutes.

I asked Functional Fitness Master Trainer, Yoga and Body Weight Trainer and Diet Coach Zareen Siddique, the face of fitness we have all come to know as @fitwithzareen on Instagram, to tell us some of the important strength building exercises that runners can benefit from. Here is what she had to say.

What got you started on your journey as a professional fitness coach? 

I was always a sports buff, constantly trying out new workouts and working out to be stronger. I took up fitness professionally 5 years ago. I realised it was time to take things to the next level and share the knowledge that I had gathered over the years.

Are you a runner yourself?

I love the outdoors early morning, but I do complete a long run once a week (mostly on weekends) I also practice yoga, callisthenics and free body movements 5 days a week where I clock in 40minutes of a good workout.

 How do you recommend runners should train?

As far as runners are concerned, they need to focus on the core, glutes and back. Here are some exercises I suggest which can be done with light weights.

  1. For the shoulders
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend your arm at the elbow.
  • Keeping your arm bent, move your hand from your shoulder, as if you are marching with your arms bent.
  • Hold weights in your hand to increase resistance.
  1. For the glutes
  • Lie on a mat with your feet on top of a bench. Your feet should be hip to shoulder width apart.
  • Tighten your core and initiate the glute bridge, i.e., push your hips up through the heel while squeezing your glutes. Do not arch your lower back.
  • The top position should have your shoulders and knees in a straight line.
  • Hold for 10 seconds before lowering it. Squeeze your glutes while lowering yourself.
  • Make sure that your core is tightened at all points of this exercise.
  1. For hamstrings
  • Stand with your feet slightly apart. Hold a kettlebell in each hand.
  • Take one leg back and balance yourself on one leg
  • Now bend down (on one leg) without bending your knee. You should feel the stretch on your hamstring.
  1. For the calves and ankles
  • Stand with your feet slightly apart. Now balance yourself on your toes.
  • Squat down without leaning forward, while on your toes.
  • Stand with your feet slight apart.
  • Move your body weight on to your heels and walk.
  • Similarly, move your body weight to your toes and walk.
  1. For the quads (and arms)
  • Stand with your at feet shoulder width
  • Hold a kettlebell in both your hands.
  • Bend down in a squat while holding the kettlebell.
  • While coming up, pull up the kettlebell with both your arms, and bring it to your chest.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

Read more

News Comments Off on IAAF Confers Prestigious ‘Gold Label’ title to TMM |

IAAF Confers Prestigious ‘Gold Label’ title to TMM

Procam International, pioneers of the distance running movement in India, today announced that the 16 th edition of the prestigious Tata Mumbai Marathon has been accorded the ‘Gold Label’ by the International Association of Athletics Federations {IAAF), making it the only Gold label marathon in the country, and join the elite list of marathons in Asia.

Tata Mumbai Marathon is one of the top 10 marathons in the world and with this Gold Label, the event has firmly cemented its position as one of the preferred events world-wide. The US$ 405,000 event will witness in action over 46,000 participants running across six race categories on Sunday, 2d” January 2019.

The IAAF Gold Label is granted to races basis stringent criteria including organizational excellence, world class elite filed representation, prize money for male and female runners, exhaustive medical support system, live television coverage for an enhanced reach of the race, media facilities, timing and qualified personnel to ensure smooth conduct of the event across departments, among others. In addition, it also considers the course measurements, sanitation of the route which includes – safety and quality of the route, restrictions on traffic to allow free movement for runners within the specified time, facilities provided on course for a pleasant running experience for all participants.

Speaking on the occasion Vivek Singh, Joint MD, Procam International, said, “We are honoured to receive the IAAF Gold Label for the Tata Mumbai Marathon. This achievement is symbolic of the collective efforts of a team that works tirelessly for months to ensure a Race Day that we all look forward to. We are thankful to all sponsors, partners, city and civic teams, the Government machinery, media and above all, our runners that make this event a resounding success. It is the Gold in You that shines bright and pushes us all to raise the bar higher, year after year!”

Adilie Sumariwala, Vice-President of Indian Olympic Association and President of Athletics Federation of India, said, “We have been a part of this event since its inception and this is a phenomenal accolade for the Tata Mumbai Marathon. With this added feather in its cap, the Tata Mumbai Marathon joins an illustrious list of gold label marathons in Asia. We are all witnessing the revolution that is taking place in sports in India, especially in track and field, on the international stage; and events such as these have had a huge impact in building the sporting fabric of our country!”

Read more

News Comments Off on 5th Edition of Tata Steel Kolkatta 25k – Dec 16,2018 |

5th Edition of Tata Steel Kolkatta 25k – Dec 16,2018

Countdown to the fifth edition of the world’s only IAAF accredited label race for the 25Km distance, The Tata Steel Kolkata 25K, is turning out to be a movement that will engulf the city with the mantra of fitness. The city is getting ready to witness and take part in one of the most star-studded sporting affairs in the sub-continent on December 16.

In only the second year of its international avatar, the IAAF Label event has stamped its supremacy with registrations closing for the feature 25K race, 5K timed race and the Senior Citizens Run on account of reaching the category ceiling. Participation across these three categories has doubled and the race has firmly established itself on the international sporting calendar.

Registrations for the Ananda Run, 10K and Champions with Disability are open with limited spots available on a first-cum-first-serve basis.

Chanakya Chaudhary, Vice President Corporate Services, Tata Steel Ltd., said, “It has been a privilege to host this running event in Kolkata. Since its debut is 2014, the Tata Steel Kolkata 25 K run has been growing in stature year-on-year and is today the most popular distance running event in eastern India. We thank all runners, fitness enthusiasts and the people of this beautiful City of Joy for their continued support to TSK25. This year we expect an even larger participation.”

World champions & India’s best: The USD 100,000 prize fund event has attracted some of the best distance runners’ from Ethiopia and Kenya. Defending women’s champion Degitu Azimeraw from Ethiopia returns to defend her title and Kenya’s two-time world champion Florence Kiplagat is determined to make a mark, on her maiden visit to Kolkata. If that was not enough, Ethiopia’s Birhanu Legese – two-time former Airtel Delhi Half Marathon champion, will lead the men’s gauntlet.

The field has a very strong contingent of runners from India, as well. In the men’s category Avinash Sable, defending champion and course record holder TSK 25K 2017, with a time of 1:15:17, will lead the way; Kalidas Hirave and the newly crowned Airtel Delhi Half Marathon champion the 21-year old Abhishek Pal complete the troika. In the women’s category India’s only women IAAF Gold Label athlete L. Suriya who is also the defending champion and course record holder TSK 25K 2017, with a time of 1:26:53, will head a team of prodigious runners including Monica Athare and Sudha Singh.

“We are delighted with the way Kolkata has taken to running, to become the first IAAF labelled 25K in the world. It is truly humbling. The event has touched and impacted the city at large on various fronts – philanthropy, change in mindset towards a healthier lifestyle, a chance for our Indian runners to shine on a global platform and an opportunity to witness in action some of the best athletes in the world.  This year with the introduction of the inaugural Vijay Diwas Trophy, we pay tribute to the athletes from the defense forces. Hope 16th December will be a day for all to remember”, said Vivek Singh, Jt. MD. Procam International.

Vijay Diwas Trophy Launched: In a show of solidarity with the Services, for the first-time TSK 25K was privileged to have the whole-hearted participation of the Eastern Command. It is our privilege and honour to have GOC-n-C Eastern Command Lt General M.M Naravane AVSM, SM, VSM launch the prestigious Vijay Diwas Trophy. The Trophy is inspired by the momentous Vijay Smarak and will be a Rolling Trophy. This trophy will be showcased at the Command Headquarters inside Fort William and the winning team members will be presented with the replica of the prestigious trophy.

At the launch of the trophy, Lt General M.M Naravane AVSM, SM, VSM, GOC-n-C Eastern Command said, “The Indian Army has been a pillar of strength for the participative sports movement in India. Eastern Command is proud to host the inaugural Vijay Diwas Trophy, in conjunction with Tata Steel Kolkata 25 Km run on 16 December 2018. The Vijay Diwas trophy, is inspired by the historic military victory of Indian Armed Forces which led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, an event which is commemorated by Indian Armed Forces as Vijay Diwas. Teams from the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, will compete over a 25 Km distance, to win the prestigious Vijay Diwas rolling Trophy.

I also wish to thank TATA Steel for agreeing to host the Cup as a special gesture recognising the valour and sacrifice of the Indian Armed Forces.”

This special category will be contested between the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force with five/six teams from each of the 3 services. Each team will have three-members running the 25K and the aggregate of their individual timings will determine the winner. The top three teams stand to win INR 60,000, INR 42,000 and INR 30,000 respectively. GOC-in-C Eastern Command will felicitate the winners on Race day, with medals and certificates.

Philanthropy Pillar: Philanthropy has always been an integral part of Procam running events and the tradition continues at TSK 25K. Since inception in 2014, the event has raised INR 2.68 crores, till date. For the first time, India Cares Foundation has taken on the mantle of the Official Philanthropy Partner. They bring with them a decade of experience in helping Civil Society Organizations – (CSO) raise funds and awareness for their cause.

Currently, 36 CSOs have registered with ICFN for the event, with 11 companies and 5 Care Champions, raising a total of Rs 37 lakh. These CSO’s represent 8 causes – Education, Skills Development, Disability, Women Empowerment, Health, Women & Children, Environmental Conservation and Community Development. 18 corporate houses have registered to run and have donated INR 38.5 lakhs. Individual donations of INR 4.89 lakh have been received till date, through the India Cares platform.

The most significant aspect at TSK 25K 2018 has been running groups opening up their hearts for fund-raising, thus giving more meaning to their run. Four groups have chosen four causes; in addition, a dozen timed race participants have chosen their separate causes. The strength this will provide to the participating CSOs will resonate year-round, across the country!

Charity and contributions will keep coming till 30 December 2018 at https://icfn.in/TSK25K/ 

Panellists – Philanthropy Pillar

  1. Thomas John – CEO, Antara Foundation, known as the ‘Oasis for troubled mind’ has been dealing with supporting people with mental health issues from the almost 50 years. In this year where we celebrate Vijay Diwas, it is interesting to know that the genesis of Antara was to support mental stress and turbulence that the citizens of Kolkata and the refugees of the wars faced in the 70s era and has grown to a catering to 45000 patients every year
  2. Biju Mathew of Motivation India, that works on providing ‘mobility’ for the persons with disability. Giving them customised wheelchairs, working with partners to set up a ‘wheelchair service network’ in lines with the WHO guidelines. Motivation India has provided over 13,000 customised wheelchairs since 2010.
  3. Prithwish – Vodafone Marketing Head – Eastern India – Founder Kolkata Runners Group

Art for Sport: This initiative has received a tremendous boost as The Oberoi Grand, TSK 25K’s Hospitality Partner, has opened its hallowed corridors to ‘Art for Sport’. The paintings by various artists, who have contributed, are on display at the Oberoi till the New Year. Hotel guests and people of Kolkata, have a rare opportunity to decorate their homes this festive season, while doing their bit in support of a cause.

Police Cup: An event of this stature is not possible without the unstinted support from Kolkata Police. To applaud their sporting spirit, there is a special category within the event, i.e the Police Cup. 20 police teams will be competing in this category.  Each team has 3 members, running the 10km and the team with the fastest aggregate time, will be adjudged the winner. The total prize money for this category is INR 71,000.

For more information about the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K, the event website is: http://tsk25.procamrunning.in

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on Standing out in a crowd |

Standing out in a crowd

Find out what its like to be the only female participant in an Ironman, as told to Deepthi Velkur by Solonie Pathania, the newest Ironman from Pune.

Gina Carey, a woman of many talents – singer, director, producer famously quoted “A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink”. I do not think a better line captures the spirit and soul of Solonie Pathania, India’s sole female participant at Ironman 2016.

Pune-based Solonie Singh Pathania juggles between being a full-time professional and a passionate amateur triathlete. Her list of accomplishments is quite a read:

  • Ran her first full Ironman in 13hours 49 mins in the process becoming the 3rd Indian woman to ever complete the race.
  • Finished 1st in the women solo event at the Deccan Cliffhanger challenge (34 hours 54 mins covering 643KM between Pune to Goa)
  • Completed 6 triathlons, 1 duathlon, 3 full-marathons, and numerous half-marathons and 10Ks.

In this riveting read, she tells us how she went from running to stay healthy to compete in the Ironman challenge.

FM: You were active growing up but that slowed down during graduation. Why? How did running happen?

Solonie: During graduation being active was never really a priority. I joined college, moved to Pune and there was always something else fun to do. On top of that, I met with an accident that required me to have a knee surgery which made any physical activity difficult.

By mid-2013, I realized I was out of shape and started accompanying my father, a fitness enthusiast, on his early morning walks. Later I started running to shed the extra weight that I had gained over the years.  A few months down the line I heard about a 10K run and signed up along with a few friends and that run somehow turned me into a running fanatic.

FM: When and how did you gain an interest in Triathlons?

Solonie: My progression to triathlons was very natural and organic. After my first 10K, I realized that I enjoyed being outdoors and participating in events that challenged me physically. I heard about a Triathlon race in Pune and found it interesting – so I went ahead and signed up for it. It (the event) was in December 2013 and at the end of it, I fell in love with the sport. The thrill of doing 3 different disciplines (swimming, cycling and running) one after the other excited me. The event had an 800-meter swim, 10K bike ride, and 5Krun. I was pretty relaxed and took my time to complete the race, but I remember having crossed the finish line with a smile. I was euphoric after the race purely because of the amount of fun I had.

FM: Can you please take us through your first Ironman experience in 2016?

Solonie:

The time before the race.

Honestly, nothing can prepare you for the experience of your first Ironman race.

It’s literally the world of unknowns – you’re unsure of how your body will react to new limits, new weather conditions or even how you’d feel the morning of the race.

Kalmar (Sweden) where the Ironman race happened is well known for its windy conditions. The temperature of the water was a lowly 13 degrees that morning which meant we could swim with a wet suit on. The temperature outside though was between 19-22 degrees which was perfect for the bike and run leg.  Unfortunately, I could not train in such conditions back home.

In order to acclimatize ourselves, we arrived in Kalmar a week ahead. That week was filled with nervous excitement as I watched 3000 athletes from the world over cramp themselves into Kalmar. The air was abuzz with energy and good spirits – everyone was talking about the race, exchanging notes and sizing up the competition (in a nice way).

As time passed, the nervousness grew and soon it was ‘RACE DAY’. As we drove to the start point, there was an eerie calm and I felt quite nervous during our final set up. I did everything possible to stay calm and with one final call to my mother back home I was all set.

The race itself.

The event has a wave start where athletes are divided into groups based on their expected finish time for the swim leg. The athletes self-assess the time they will take and accordingly stand in their respective groups – <than 50 mins, 60 mins, etc. I stood in the 1hour 40-minute group as my training average was 1hour 46-minutes.

7 AM and we were off. My nervousness at the start was superseded with this grit to finish the race. The swim leg went well for me, despite challenges like a sudden temperature drop and reduced visibility (< than 100m) owing to the mist. I was thrilled to finish it in 1 hour 37-minutes. I rushed to the transition area, changed and headed to the start of the biking leg (7 mins – pretty good for a first timer).

The bike leg was a challenge – 30 mins into the leg, I realized that I had pushed the wrong button on my watch and paused it. I lost all count of my distance and time. Nevertheless, I trudged on and 50K into the ride, I was feeling great and averaging between 27-29 KMPH. Tragedy struck again – my menstrual cramps kicked in and I was in agonizing pain, my speed dropped to 23 KMPH and I contemplated giving up, but something in me wanted me to push on. At the 80K mark, I took a break and thought – I can’t let a menstrual cramp come in the way of my Ironman dream.

With that thought, I hopped back on the bike and gave it my all. It was difficult, but I managed to complete the ride in 7 hours 12-minutes.

I was still cramping when the run started and with 5 hours ahead of me, I had to re-strategize. I decided to run as fast as I can between aid stations (1.5K apart) and walk through the aid stations (100M long).  Along the way, I met a fellow Indian and asked him how were we with time – he told me that if I ran at this pace, I could be looking at a sub-14-hour finish. That is all I needed to hear to dig my heels deeper and not give in.

The support of the crowd was amazing – people were encouraging and there was so much positivity. People shouting out ‘Go Solonie’ and ‘Go India’ gave me that extra push I needed. When I completed my final loop, I hugged the sweet old man who gave me my 3 colour band which we received at the end of each loop.

At the end of the race.

I had visualized the finish multiple times in my head – but it was nothing compared to actually living it. That moment and those 4 words – “You are an Ironman” resonated in my head. I was filled with relief, excitement and immense pride. I could not have asked for a better first triathlon.

FM: You need to be strong in all 3 disciplines – Swimming, Cycling and running? What was the training you underwent for this massive challenge?

Solonie: Training for the Ironman challenge was tough but luckily, I had the right people supporting and guiding me. I was fortunate enough to meet Dr.Kaustubh Radkar (22-time Ironman finisher) in 2014 at one of the triathlon events and when I decided to do the Ironman, I immediately contacted him, he took me under his wings and I followed what he told me. With a full-time job and a tight weekly schedule, I limited my training to 2-3 hours on weekdays and 4-5 hours on the weekends. I trained 6 days a week and kept 1 day for recovery. The rigorous training program included strength training, nutrition, diet control, and proper recovery. He trained me well in multiple aspects of the race like how to fix a puncture, how to be efficient during transitioning, race day nutrition etc.

FM: You participated in the 2017 Ironman challenge. Where you better prepared this time?

Solonie: I was definitely in a better mental state for my 2nd Ironman race (Australia, December 2017). Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my physical state. A few months before the race, I developed a hip injury and had a painful corn on the sole of my foot – these factors made training and the race quite difficult.

Race day was a huge challenge not just for me but for all athletes – the swim leg was canceled owing to a shark sighting that day, on the bike leg there was a massive bushfire which was fueled by hot crosswinds that drove many athletes to give up and on the run leg, the humidity and heat was ridiculously high making it a very exhausting run. Overall, I was glad to cross that finish line in one piece.

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

Solonie: I am convinced that these endurance races are about your mental strength more than your physical ability. When you put your body through so much for a long duration, it is natural to feel aches, pains and stress but pushing on despite that is the mental strength you need.

It isn’t easy – there are days when you wouldn’t want to get up at 5 am, train for 3 hours and then go to work for 9 hours, days when the body is sore from the previous days’ work out or when you’re on your menstrual cycle and have bad cramps. Despite all of these challenges, you still get out there and train – that’s what makes you mentally strong.

You must also factor lifestyle changes needed – a non-existent social life because your life is structured around training schedules, work, sleep deprivation and tiredness. On top of that, you always have these questions – Why am I doing this? Is this the right path for me? Why did I not choose an easier dream? It’s important that you condition your mind to let these thoughts pass. You will have tough days, but you have to train yourself not to mull over this as there will always be a better tomorrow.

Never forget – always listen to what your body is telling you. If you ignore it, you will most definitely suffer the consequences. In addition, I made sure I talked to my coach and friends about any apprehensions as their reassurance helped a long way.

FM: You took part in the 2018 Deccan Cliffhanger race from Pune to Goa? What was it like to take part in a challenge like this one?

Solonie: I had never done an ultra-cycling race before, so I was not sure what to expect or how my body would react. The maximum distance I had ever covered at a stretch was 300K in training. Nevertheless, I signed up for DC 2018 to test myself and see how much further I could go. The race involves cycling for 643K at a stretch and the terrain is very challenging. After a point, everything was an uphill challenge – literally and figuratively as this race tests your physical and mental capabilities equally. With fatigue and sleeplessness chasing you down, it takes everything you have to keep your head clear and banish thoughts of “giving up”. I have never experienced exhaustion like this before, but as they say – the tougher it is, the sweeter is the result. I did the race barely 10 days back, so it still feels a little surreal that I actually cycled non-stop for 34hours 54-minutes and finished first in the women solo riders’ category.

FM: A final question – what does it take for you to be a good triathlete?

Solonie: Consistency, hard work, dedication, discipline, and focus – these 5 things are the perfect blend to be successful in anything we set out to do.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

Read more

Motivation Comments Off on When running becomes your life |

When running becomes your life

In conversation with Shiv Shankar Kosgi, an operations manager and coach with the Hyderabad Runners Society and an injury-free runner, as Deepthi Velkur discovers.

Shiv Shankar Kosgi prides himself on being an injury-free runner despite being on the road for more than 6 years now. An operations manager and a coach with the Hyderabad Runners Society (HRC) by profession, Shiv has also competed in prestigious runs across the country such as the TMM, AHM, ADHM to name a few. He enjoys his running, focuses on staying injury-free and his immediate goal is competing in the stunning Comrades Marathon 2019.

I had a chance to catch up with Shiv and listen to his story.

FM: How did you take to running? Why?

Shiv: Back in 2008, I started going to the gym to lose weight and to stay generally fit. I moved to Hyderabad from Pune in 2012. At that point, I suddenly had a fascination for running and a friend of mine Steve Nipps introduced me to the Hyderabad Runners. I ran my first half marathon that year and felt elated at the end of the run – I have not looked back ever since. Over time, I started scaling up to longer distances and I have always enjoyed running because for me it is not just about fitness or weight-loss, it gave me much more – it gave me an identity.

FM: Apart from being an avid marathoner, your inclination has always been towards understanding the science behind running and its effects on the human body? How did this interest come about?

Shiv: From the moment I picked up running, it has turned into my passion and that passion for running became my profession eventually. When I noticed the change and the positive impact it had on my physical appearance, mental fitness and the lifestyle change it had brought about, it really fascinated me to explore more about the scientific methods and my approach to training.

FM: There has been a sudden shift in people wanting to stay fit and have especially taken to running? How and why do you think is the reason behind this shift from when you started running in 2012?

Shiv: It’s really great to see a sudden shift in people wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle and the fact that humans are meant to move around and stay active rather than just sit and do a desk job. People have picked up running as a preferred form of fitness activity for various reasons as it is considered to be quite economical for everyone, an activity that can be performed individually, the euphoric feeling you get after every run, helps lose or maintain weight, a sharp mind even as you age, reduces your risk of cancer and finally running adds years to your life.

FM: You have been a coach for the Hyderabad Runners since 2014? How do you go about with your training?

Shiv: I strongly believe in discipline, determination, and dedication in terms of training, because long distance running is an endurance sport and to sustain yourself and be better each day you should follow a systematic training plan and set appropriate goals. Endurance sport is very demanding & taxing on the body. Hence one should give equal importance for recovery and nutrition and always listen to your body signals and never do too much too soon.

FM: What is your strategy to keep runners motivated and be consistent with their training?

Shiv: I have a very simple strategy – connect with trainees regularly, speak about progress and performance, correct them where necessary and make training fun for them.

FM: How do you train your runners to stay injury-free?

Shiv: As I strongly believe in a scientific training approach my recommendation is to always – set a realistic goal, put a training plan in place, follow the training plan, maintain a training log, measure performance at regular intervals, slow down and rest, give nutrition equal importance and do strength training twice a week. Follow this and you will be injury free.

FM: How have you been able to manage coaching as well as the other functions of the running club as an operations manager?

Shiv: Well it was a complete shift of career from an IT job to sports management. Hyderabad runner society (HRS) is mostly driven by volunteers and is a Non-Profit Society. I was the first full-time employee to join HRS when the trend of running was just picking up in India. As an Operations Manager, my job role was not just about coaching but included planning and conducting training programs for runners across various locations by hiring professional athletic trainers. Simultaneously, I manage the yearly events calendar in the planning and execution of events and training runs from end to end.

FM: How do you see Hyderabad runner’s society growing in the coming years?

Shiv: Hyderabad Runners Society is the first running club in India which is registered as a non-profit society and is institutionalized. Today, there are more than 6000 members on google groups and 20K plus followers on social media. Hyderabad Runners have really helped and inspired thousands of people in transforming their lives and following a healthier lifestyle. It has been a great platform for people in many ways, as it has made a positive impact on the residential communities, corporates, institutions, NGO’s etc.

In the past 5 years, the number of runners and running groups has grown dramatically – today there are more than 25 sub-groups within the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad and has runners of all age groups and all walks of life. As the trend of fitness grows globally, we will witness a growth in the number of runners and running groups as this will, directly and indirectly, have a positive impact in the society in various ways.

FM: DrPhil Maffetone was the Event Ambassador for the 2016 Hyderabad Marathon. Do you encourage your trainees to follow the Maffetone method of training? If yes, why?

 Shiv: In the current day and age, we have various methods of training to choose from, have access to training coaches and training plans. Even before we discovered Maffetone method of training, we had a mentor and coach Mr Bill Pierce, the Chairperson of Health Sciences department at Furman University, South Carolina, US. He is the author of the training program “Run Less Run Faster” and we have been following his training plans since 2010. Later on, we discovered the Maffetone method and I would encourage people to follow this training method if its suitable for them. MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) training emphasis totally on the Aerobic training which is very good for anyone who wants to pick up running and scale up to long distances because training in aerobic zones prepares runners for the long distance while keeping the heart rates in control and don’t end up burning out.

FM: A final question – do you set yearly targets for yourself in terms of the races you will be a part of and have you been able to achieve it?

Shiv: I always choose which races to run in a calendar year and classify them as ‘A’ race and ‘B’ race. ‘B’ races are part of my training runs and ‘A’ races are the ones where I set goals and achieve my personal best. This way I have been able to achieve my targets.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

Read more

Featured Comments Off on Do Miracles happen in Marathons? |

Do Miracles happen in Marathons?

Brijesh Gajera asks a question that is on every runner’s mind, but he is talking about more than just a Christmas miracle.

It wasn’t too long ago when I was on my usual weekend run, I bumped into a fellow runner. We said our hellos and decided to run together while we caught up on our running escapades. He has run quite a few marathons and only a few weeks ago returned from a world major marathon.

That was a big talking point for us – he mentioned that he had trained well for a sub-4-hour finish for a few months leading up to the race, but on race day disaster struck and he suffered from cramps for the last 10K of the race. Despite the setback, he managed to finish the race in 4hours and 10 minutes.

Obviously, I was curious to find out what happened and asked him about it, he told me that he turned up at the start of the race feeling fresh, confident and in the heat of the moment he decided to attempt a 3hour50minute finish!

I was stunned! “Do you believe miracles happen in marathons?” I asked him in disbelief. I guess he was equally in disbelief at my question because he asked me “What do you mean” with an amused look on his face.

I went on to explain that in my long-distance running career spanning over a decade, I have seen many a runner falling prey to the desire of wanting to push themselves higher than what they trained for. They feel fresh, confident, charged up at the start of the marathon and with the race-day euphoria surrounding them, they try and achieve more without being fully ready for it.

Now, don’t get me wrong – optimism is great, it’s what keeps us going day in and day out but to be honest, a marathon can be as punishing and as rewarding at the same time especially when you run ahead of the pace you’ve set for yourself.

Nearly all of us get to the start line full of energy (some bit of nervous energy as well) but with a spring in our step and a will to push forward. A marathon is a game to keep that energy intact for 42.195K – that is what we are supposed to achieve in our training. If you have trained yourself for a particular target for weeks and months, your muscles, tendons, joints, veins, and nerves have synchronized themselves to help you do that. All of a sudden, when you surprise them by changing the target on the D-Day, they will respond to you in the beginning, but the chances are that they will wilt as you approach the finish line.

Let me try and quantify this so that you can get a better understanding.

Let’s say, you have decided to complete the race in a time that is 10 minutes faster than your target time that you have trained for as my fellow runner did. That is roughly 14 seconds per km faster for a 42K course (and I am not even talking about the final 195 meters!). Now, you will be able to maintain this pace for a few kilometers but eventually, you will hit the wall where your legs feel like bricks. This is why coaches stress on following a tried and tested method on race day.

In my personal life, I once experienced something you could call a miracle. I ran the Mumbai Marathon aiming for a 3hour 35minute finish, but I managed to finish it in 3hours 29 minutes and 41 seconds. That translates to me running the race at approximately 7 seconds faster per km. For a large part of the race I maintained a pace which was about 2-3 seconds per km faster and only when I crossed the 36KM mark, I figured why not aim for a new target of 3hour30mins? That’s when I pushed myself harder and literally ran like the wind to achieve even lesser than my new target of 3hours and 30 mins. It felt like an absolute miracle!

A word of CAUTION though: I have run faster races since then, but I have never been able to repeat that kind of improvement over a target since. This is why it is called a M…I…R…A…C…L…E.

To aim for a miracle to happen during a marathon is wishful thinking at best and a recipe for disaster at worst. Often the decision to push yourself harder than what your body has been trained for leads to injury or underperformance and in the aftermath of such a race, it could lead to you doubting your training and even yourself. I’m sure you do not want to be in that mind space ever.

If you are still looking for miracles, what could be more wonderful than following your target plan as best as you can and then achieving the results you strived for? Isn’t it miraculous to achieve the target we’ve planned on achieving in a long time and getting our belief reaffirmed in our training and ourselves?

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Brijesh Gajera is an avid marathoner, aspiring ultra-marathoner and coach at Ashva Running Club.

Read more