Featured Comments Off on Raja Partha – The Deca Super Randonneur |

Raja Partha – The Deca Super Randonneur

In a candid tete-a-tete, Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan catches up with India’s first and only bike enthusiast to have completed ten Super Randonneurs in one year.

A young engineer from Chennai discovered a passion for cycling after probably not having ridden after his early school days. An air conditioning engineer, who has worked with multinationals in a highly technical sphere in the field, is now an entrepreneur in his own right and has made sacrifices in business and family life in pursuit of his dreams.

FM: So what exactly constitutes a Super Randonneur (SR)?

RP: An SR is a cycling event in which you cover distances of 200, 300, 400 & 600 km in one year. The qualifying timings are 13.5, 20, 27 & 40 hours for each of the distances. The event is conducted by AUDAX, a UK based entity, that franchises it across the world. The annual calendar is from November to October of the following year.

FM: And you did 10 SRs in one year?

RP: (slow smile)… Yes.

FM: Wow! That is a whopping 16,000 km of cycling in one year. More than what a well-used car does in the same period! So what makes your engine run?

RP: (Laughs). Just a need for self-recognition, a sense of personal achievement, nothing based on medals or awards.

FM: So how did it all start?

RP: It started in June 2017, when I decided to accompany a lady friend on a 5 km cycling trip. By the end of the 4th km, I was exhausted and couldn’t go any further, I just gave up. This preyed on my mind so strongly that I wanted to push myself to bigger things. In August, I started out with two friends to do a 100 km trip to Mahabalipuram (56 km from Chennai) and back. The return part was pure hell. I had to keep stopping every now and then. At the end of it, my motivation became stronger and on September 3, I ventured out on ‘Dhatri’, a 100 km ride for a charitable cause. I was doomed to fail again, and quit at Kovalam, after about 65 km or so. This was the final straw and I promised myself that I would stretch my endurance to the limit to complete the distance.

FM: And when did you taste your first success?

RP: I came to know of the Super Randonneur through an organisation called BRM. In November 2017, I finished my first 100 km and the next month I managed 200 km. I also heard of this ace cyclist from Pune who had done a record 8 SRs in a single year, and I decided then and there that I had to break his feat. I even put out messages on social media that I planned to cross 8 SRs in 2018.

FM: That you achieved this stupendous feat is now part of the record books. But how did you actually do it?

RP: In January 2018, I joined the Noida Club team and completed one Super Randonneur in 6 days. This was some kind of world record. I did the event in reverse order, working down from 600 km to 200 km. Between January and October 2018, spread over 45 weeks, I traversed the length and breadth of India, covering 17 cities, in pursuit of my objective. Finally, on October 28, my dream came true. I completed my 10th SR within one year.

FM: What were the highlights of all this cycling across the country? The good and the bad?

RP: The best part was the people, their spontaneous hospitality, help and support. I made several good friends across the country. The organisers were very helpful with travel, accommodation and logistics. A fellow biking enthusiast, Saju Thangappan, was a pillar of strength and support. The elements could be both kind and extremely harsh. I encountered all seasons… rode through heat, dust, cold, wind and rain.

A major setback was on March 17, 2018, when I met with an accident in Bengaluru. I was laid low for one month and at times I felt that I would not be able to recover in time or to regain fitness to complete what I had set out to achieve. By mid-April, the scar on my thigh began to spread all over my leg and sometimes would even ooze liquid. There was a permanent wound for almost seven months. But I decided that this injury would not make me stop. Two doctors, one an injury specialist and the other a dermatologist, helped me immensely in my recovery, with the least amount of medication. To make matters worse, the planning went awry. Even a single missed weekend necessitated careful re-planning of the entire schedule.

(Smiles wryly). But in the end, it all panned out successfully.

FM: What kind of bike and accessories did you use?

RP: I started out with a Firefox MTB but later switched to a Ridley Road bike. I quite liked both, but found the Ridley more suited to my style and my event. As for gear, I never had any specific or special kit. I monitored my schedule on my smartphone and used very basic accessories, more from the safety and comfort point of view than anything else. In fact, I wore sandals most of the time. Many people harbour the misconception that cycling is a costly sport; I beg to disagree. What it needs is just a lot of confidence and self-belief. While accessories are useful, I do not consider them essential for achievement.

FM: What kind of diet and training schedules did you maintain?

RP: Actually, I did not have any specific training calendar, nor did I stick to any kind of special diet. Yes, biking needs a strong core, and I concentrated on core exercises during the week and long- distance cycling on weekends. As for diet, I followed the simple, staple food habits of a typical South Indian. That’s all!

FM: How did you manage family and business commitments?

RP: My working wife and our 8-year-old daughter were not just understanding, but provided unstinted support and encouragement. Nothing could have been possible without this. My business partners were also extremely supportive and looked after all my duties while I was away.

FM: And what next? The Tour de France perhaps?

RP: (Laughs loud). No, certainly not the Tour de France; far from my list of favourites. I also love running and swimming, so a triathlon could very much be in the offing.

FM: One final question. What would your message be for today’s youth?

RP: It’s actually very simple. Do not run behind myths or chase rainbows. Give considerable thought about what you want to achieve and never forget basics. Try out your choices and when you have narrowed down on something, give it your best effort. Understand the difference between being ‘fit’ and being ‘healthy’. This also includes not being carried away by ‘diets’. Each individual has different body constitutions and one must try and understand that in training and in diet, just as in life, there is no ‘one size fits all’!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Motivation Comments Off on Stay Motivated and Run |

Stay Motivated and Run

Hyderabad Runner,Arun Kumar Kaliappan, talks to Deepthi Velkur about his running aspirations and what motivates him to keep running.

Continue running injury-free.

Keep improving.

Run in an exotic, historic, off-beat location.

Simple aspirations define Arun and his love for running. Hailing from a small town called Kadayanallur in Southern Tamil Nadu, Arun a mechanical engineer by profession has been fascinated by running ever since he took to it in 2012. Living in Hyderabad, he is associated with the Hyderabad runners’ group and has an impressive running record.

He has completed the Javadhu Hills Ultra 2 years in a row (2016 – 50K and 2017 – 75K) and the towering Khardungla Challenge – 72K in 2018.  Overseas, he has completed the Niagara Falls FM that starts off in Buffalo (US) and ends at the Horseshoe Falls (Canada) apart from 4 HMs in California. With a PB of 4 hours and 14 mins in the FM and 1 hour and 47 mins in the HM, Arun is constantly looking at improving and bettering his own targets.

At home, he has a fantastic support system with his wife Gomathi Priya also into HMs and a 12-year son (Akhil) who is an active badminton player.

In this conversation, Arun takes us through his running career and what motivates him every day.

FM: How did your journey as a runner begin?

Arun: Like with most working professionals, my job keeps me desk-bound and I yearned to be a lot more active and keep myself fit. With that in mind, I started walking and jogging over the weekends at the KBR Park (Hyderabad). From there, running became a passion and bit by bit, I stuck with it and slowly moved on from being a recreational runner to a marathoner and even an ultra-marathoner.

FM: Which year did you run your first FM and take us through the experience of your first race?

Arun: Prior to my first marathon, I had been running half-marathons for nearly 2 years. It was in 2014 when I had my chance at doing my first full marathon – the Hyderabad Marathon!

I must credit the superb training ecosystem offered by the Hyderabad Runners group that was largely instrumental in me achieving my FM target. I went through a 16-week training program that included – Strength workouts, Interval, Tempo, Hill running workouts and long runs on Sundays. The training was hard and strenuous but along with a group of buddies, we formed a tight-knit training group that all had the same goal in mind – progression to the FM league. This training group really helped motivate one another and we enjoyed it.

The race itself was one of most difficult that I have run, in terms of the weather. The marathon day was hot and humid from the word go, so I was a bit cautious during the first half of the race and kept it consistent during the second half. I completed the race in 4hours and 44 mins – a rather satisfying effort given the conditions and the feeling of accomplishing my first FM was very special.

FM: Hyderabad is a challenging terrain to train on. How do you go about training on such a tough terrain?

Arun: To be completely honest, we don’t really do anything specific to the terrain. We have built our training plan in such a way that it includes the local terrain and the rolling hills as part of our routine whenever we step out for a long run. In fact, we enjoy exploring the tougher routes within Hyderabad like Movie Towers / Jubilee Hills or Banjara Hills on a regular basis.

FM: When did your association with Hyderabad runners society happen? How has it shaped you to be a better runner today?

Arun: My association with Hyderabad Runners started in the year 2012 soon after I took to running. I was initially sceptical as I thought they were a mad bunch of people who go out for a run at unearthly hours. Look at me now – I am also part of the same group!

It is one of the most vibrant and accessible groups out there with a great culture of camaraderie and focus. The group dynamics is what pushed me to experience various events in terms of location and distance. The group has also helped me connect with several other runners– many of them who inspire you and some of them get inspired by you. It is a good feeling both ways.

FM: You were the mentor of “couch to 5K” training program with the Hyderabad runners. What was the main idea behind this program and where you successful with the training at the end?

Arun: It is an amazing program transforming people in hordes every year. The aim and structure of the program are so meticulous that it introduces running and healthy lifestyle to people in the most optimal way – ‘Getting started gradually and Listening to your body as you progress.’

The program was very successful as most of the runners from the group graduated as regular runners and keep at it still. Of course, in any program, there will be some dropouts, as some people are unable to continue due to time constraints or latent health issues.

FM: What qualities does one need to possess to be a good mentor?

Arun: In my view, there are 3 key qualities a good mentor needs to have:

  • Be disciplined
  • Lead from the front and
  • Possess the ability to take everyone with you.

FM: Khardung La challenge(72K) is considered as one of the toughest Ultra-marathons in the world? How and why did you register for this event? Give us a glimpse of your experience at the race?

Arun: Khardungla Challenge 2018 is one of the highlights of my running journey for the sheer amount of dedication and planning it demanded. I had a great bunch of friends (Santosh, Srini, Vish, Harshad and Subham) who took on this challenge along with me. We had valuable inputs from Shailendra Bisht, our co-Hyderabad runner who had done the event the previous year which motivated us to register for the event.

We all trained together for about 3 months and travelled along with our families for the event.

The race was quite eventful. It was a surreal experience to go through the brutal terrain and low oxygen conditions up to the Khardungla Top. The climate and high-altitude conditions did not allow us to get into our usual rhythm anytime during the race. But we kept on pushing each other to finish successfully well within cut-off time – the main thing was that we were all safe and sound at the finish line! Khardungla Challenge will be an everlasting memory for sure!

FM: To take on such tough races, you need to be mentally and physically strong. How do you manage that in a race?

Arun: Training is the mantra. There is no shortcut for race performance other than getting trained properly. Very few people are gifted naturally to pull off remarkable things at a race. But training sincerely for a chosen race always helps…almost always. Even training fails us sometimes…in that case, train harder and smarter!

FM: What is the one characteristic that defines you as a runner?

Arun: In one word – “Tenacity”.

FM: What big races have you planned for the year 2019?

Arun: I have 3 ideas at the moment –

  • The New Delhi Marathon in Feb is the one that I have planned so far
  • Hopefully sign up for an Ultra Run soon and
  • Wishing to do a few World Majors sometime in the near future.

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 experience of competing in the Deccan Cliffhanger Challenge |

The experience of competing in the Deccan Cliffhanger Challenge

Our Guest Columnist, Sagar Baheti talks about his experience of completing the Deccan Cliffhanger Challenge.

 

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

This inspiring line from the former first lady of the United States certainly comes to mind every time I think of the ‘Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF)’.

The ABBF is a non-profit organization that promotes inclusivity through adaptive adventure and sports activities for all people (with and without disability).  They achieve this by creating opportunities for people to come together, experience the adrenaline and camaraderie that only sport has to offer.

The ABBF helped bring me and 7 other fantastic individuals come together so that we could have the privilege of competing in the ‘Deccan Cliffhanger Challenge’  this year and I would love to share my journey on this incredible adventure.

A precursor

The Deccan Cliffhanger challenge is a cycle ride that covers a distance of 643KMS between Pune and Goa and all of it to be done in under 30 hours – simple enough, isn’t it? Hardly, but the gorgeous scenery, verdant greenery, and picturesque locales more than make-up for the challenges this ride has to throw at you.

I was looking forward to the day of the race and also to share this journey with 7 other riders who came from Pune, Mumbai, and Bangalore. Four of us had vision disability (Divyanshu, Sanket, Manasvi, and Sagar) being stokers and four captains (Bharath, Nupur, Kailash and Raju).  Despite the lack of adequate practice, we were all super excited to take part in this ride.

Before the race

November 24, 2018. 04:45 AM

I (and the rest of us) stood giddy with excitement at the start point of the Deccan Cliffhanger ultra-cycling race. I was nervous beyond measure as it was my first tandem cycling event and it mattered a lot to me. But, the excitement of being part of a team trying to attempt such a stupendous task quickly overshadowed my nervousness. We were the only inclusive cycling team in the race and I did not want to let my team down.

Race strategy

Divyanshu and Bharat, the most experienced riders started and the goal was to maintain our speed at 25 kmph and we hoped to achieve this by making quick changeovers.
It was also my first experience of a relay race, which requires you to do your assigned part but also being mentally ready to back-up your team members if need be. The crew and support team play a significant role in making sure that we don’t lose time during changeovers and be alert to handle any unforeseen situations that may come up.

The trail and the terrain

This route can be divided into three parts, 

  1. The toughest of all – maximum elevation
  2. Mostly highway with rolling terrain and
  3. Downhill into Goa with a few small climbs.

The good thing about this course is that the most difficult piece is right up front and you can get done with it when you’re fresh. It is key to maintain a decent pace but also, we needed to be careful that we didn’t push too hard as it is a long race.

For the second part of the race, we had to focus on improving our average speed because this is mostly rolling terrain. However, there is a small challenge – it has to be at night! Your tired muscles aside, the chill of the night makes it really easy for you to fall asleep during the short breaks.

The final leg of the race is mostly downhill which is less demanding but after riding all night, staying on the bike is a challenge itself. As the sun comes out, it makes it even harder but you push on knowing that the endpoint is only a few hours away.

So, how did we do?

Our strategy worked pretty well throughout the race. In the first part, which is the toughest, Nupur and Sanket did especially well despite the steep hills and the sun beating down on them. It was extremely demanding on the legs and it left our bodies severely dehydrated. Divyanshu and Bharat kept the pace up as well and supported Nupur and Sanket. In the second half, Kailash, and Manasvi did a great job while Raju and I kept pushing on to improve our the average speed.

There were times at night when some pairs had to continue longer and we had to make changes in pairs to fill in for each other. Our tired legs and minds wanted to rest and sleep, but we backed each other, the crew motivated us and we also had a speaker held out by one of the crew members playing peppy tracks to keep our spirits high. We held on as a few rested so they could come back in the morning for the last part.

It took a near superhuman effort for us to get through the night part of the race but when we turned off the highway from Belgaum to Goa, there was a sudden burst of energy from us. It was almost like the rising sun had healed our tiring minds and bodies.

With the end point a few hours away, we really pushed on and despite being on track for an under-30 finish, we wanted to achieve our best possible timing. We made some quick changeovers and with each passing kilometre, we felt enthusiastic that we were going to achieve something awesome. We finished in 29hours and 38 mins with Nupur, Sanket, Kailash and our youngest rider Manasvi riding past like they were just getting started! Not a single rider or support crew looked like they had been up for the last 30 hours!

It was finally over and time to celebrate!

In closing

In ultra-cycling and relay racing, the crew and support play an important role. Vaishak, Swamy, Tanya, Nikunj, Sandip, Pavan, Jon and all the drivers who formed the crew and support played an equivalent role in helping us achieve this result. We didn’t have to bother about anything other than riding. Nutrition, bikes and our tempers were all managed perfectly.

I enjoyed every bit of it and was happy to play my part. Like any endurance event, it was mind over body and I think that’s why training your mind is as important if not more as physical training. Being part of a team in an endurance event was new to me and was a great experience.

Tandem cycling is very new in India and we have a long way to go. For many serious solo cyclists, tandem cycling still seems like leisure cycling. It requires coordination between two people and that’s probably more challenging in a race setting. ABBF has been and continues to do a great job in promoting inclusive tandem cycling. And with this achievement, it sure will be taken seriously by all other cycling organisations in India.


So, where do we go from here?

This timing helps our team qualify for the greatest amateur cycling event in the world – RAAM – Race across America. It is a 3000-mile race literally all across America!

Will we go for it? Something for us to ponder about?

GUEST COLUMNIST

Sagar Baheti, an amateur runner and cyclist from Bangalore runs a successful import and export stone business. In 2017, He was the first ever visually impaired runner from India to successfully complete the Boston marathon.

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Featured Comments Off on Understanding Training Cycles |

Understanding Training Cycles

Ajit Thandur talks about training cycles and how to efficiently train in your aerobic zone.

In my previous articles, I wrote about the principles behind the Maffetone Method (180 Formula as it is popularly known as) and another article that provided an insight into the Maximum Aerobic Function Test (or MAF Test for short).

There have been many questions or a fair bit of confusion among amateur runners, bicyclists, and swimmers about how long one continues to do aerobic training? I will list out the kind of typical questions I have been asked and answer them to the best of my ability and understanding.

I must mention here that it is important that one must always bear in mind that each one of us is different in terms of build, capability, body type, metabolism, strength, maximum heart rate, age, and such other factors. So, you must understand the principles behind the Maffetone Method, train, listen to your bodies and figure out what is best for yourself with respect to training, nutrition, hydration, rest and recovery.

These are primarily the typical questions I have been asked and I shall address them in that order.

My speed is too slow if I run at my Threshold Aerobic Heart Rate (TAHR). Is that normal?

Of course, it is. The whole idea is to improve your aerobic base which you have hitherto not done. Over a period of time at your aerobic heart rate, the pace which goes down to maybe even walking in uphill gradients will improve. It needs patience because it could take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to see significant improvement.

On uphill gradients, I literally have to walk!

Well, just allow your aerobic base to build up and your body to get fat adapted. Over time, when that happens your efficiency will go up and you will be able to run even inclines at your TAHR.

How long must I train at my TAHR? Can I do Interval Training and Strength Training?

Building your aerobic base can take 3 to 6 months. During this period it is best to do all runs/rides/swims at your TAHR. Avoid Intervals and Strength training during the base building period since it will be counterproductive.

When can I start Tempo runs, Interval training and Strength training?

After your aerobic base has developed ( which is indicated by your periodic MAF Tests) and reached a  plateau it is a good time to do intervals, tempos or strength workouts. Also, time it according to when your planned race is coming up. Maybe 2 days a week is fine.

Must I do TAHR runs/rides all my life?

It is a very good question and most relevant. It is important to understand that building one’s aerobic base isn’t a one-time procedure. After having achieved an aerobic base and getting our aerobic muscles to efficiently burn fat for energy ( becoming Fat Adapted), it is time to start interval training and strength training and speed work. And then, of course, it is race time.

After the planned race or races are over, it is time for rest and recovery. Once done with rest and recovery, it is again time to build on the aerobic base since at pre-race and race time as a lot of anaerobic effort has been put in.

A word of caution is relevant at this point. Especially in a tropical country like India, all through the year, there are races happening every weekend in all major cities. Please do make your choices of races to provide sufficient time for aerobic base building, race, and recovery to get back to building your aerobic base. Too much racing will adversely affect you with overtraining and injury.

Training, aerobic base building, tempo, interval runs/rides/swims, strength training, race, rest and recovery. This is a repetitive cycle.

It is therefore vital to understand that it isn’t racing time always. Be patient, prepare for a race aerobically, then do tempos, fartleks or intervals and then your race.

After that get back and repeat the same cycle all over again to be a healthy, injury free and a happy athlete. Complete happiness will come from striking a healthy balance between work, career, family, children, socializing, aerobic training, speed, racing, personal bests, rest and recovery.

GUEST COLUMNIST

Ajit Thandur is an entrepreneur and amateur endurance runner/swimmer based in Mysuru taking a keen interest in injury-free training and nutrition. He also conducts Thonnur Swimathon, Tri Thonnur and a run race Chamundi Hill Challenge in Mysuru.

 

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Events Comments Off on Organizing the Pink City Marathon |

Organizing the Pink City Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Manoj:

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

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 Always run prepared |

Always run prepared

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunil: There are some key points to keep in mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunil:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Running with a new fervor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday               – Rest day

Tuesday               – Speed work out on the track

Wednesday        – Easy recovery run for 50 mins

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

Friday                    – interval training

Saturday              – work on increasing the mileage or hill run

Sunday                 – Long runs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FM: How do you keep yourself motivated Kiran?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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.

 

 

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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.

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