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

The Man who made the Devil’s Circuit

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

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

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

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

What inspired you to conceptualise Devils Circuit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your thoughts about the fitness industry in India?  

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

 

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Featured Comments Off on Mary Kom – World Champion Boxer |

Mary Kom – World Champion Boxer

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan touches base with the legendary Mary Kom. Six-time World Champion boxer and lady extraordinaire and the brand ambassador for the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019.

In a crowded press room, Mary Kom saunters in, punching the air and smiling the smile of an unbeatable world champion. No swagger required for this champion of champions; her very presence is awe-inspiring. As questions fly thick and fast, Mary defends them with a deft left hook. Her answers, though, are extremely emotional and thought-provoking.

In her opinion, she has achieved whatever any person would want to; medals too many in number to count, which she modestly and jokingly attributes to her fuzzy brain, laid low from years of being punched in the head. So, what then is her final medal destination? The Olympic gold, obviously, which has eluded her over the past decade. So, what makes her tick?

It is evidently her relentless pursuit of personal satisfaction of giving her all-out effort to achieve the best she possibly can, without the accompanying disappointments of defeat. “I have achieved more than any ordinary person”, she says. “Many people, including my close family, ask me why I want to go further. But there is still a fire in my belly to achieve more and more while I still can”.

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan: What were your reactions when you saw your own biopic?

Mary Kom: Oh, at first, it was so emotional. Most of the picture, except a few scenes about violence in Manipur, was a true depiction of my life. It took me quite a while to move away from it and tell myself that it is a movie after all. But on the whole, I liked it very much.

Capt: You must have made a lot of sacrifices, especially with your family. How did you handle it?

MK: It was truly terrible. I had, at one time, to leave my one-year-old son to get back to boxing.

Mary reiterates that hailing from a small town, and being a woman, it was extremely tough to follow the standards set by her idol, Muhammed Ali. But, despite opposition and discrimination, she managed to climb to the heights that have established her as a living legend in the field of boxing.

A surprise visitor to the meet was a Commonwealth Games gold medallist from her own state of Manipur, way back between 1998 in Kuala Lumpur and 2002 in Manchester, Dingko Singh. After a quick dialogue with him, Mary lapsed into an exhortation to junior boxers to shed their fears and move forward to challenge people like her so that they could move up the ladder to international recognition.

Mary Kom. Living legend. Looking for more!

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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Featured Comments Off on Serod Batochir – The Mongolian Steed |

Serod Batochir – The Mongolian Steed

An athlete par excellence, Capt Seshadri catches up with Serod Batochir, the Mongolian elite runner at the TMM.

From the land of Genghis Khan, where horsemen are probably more likely to be seen than runners, an athlete comes all the way to India to participate in the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019. In an exclusive chat with this potential champion, Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan finds out what drives him to do what he does best – run!

FM: Serod, firstly, let me welcome you warmly to our country. Is this your first marathon in Mumbai?

SB: Thank you. Actually, this is my first visit to India and I am looking forward keenly to compete on Sunday.

FM: Tell us about your best runs. Do you do only the marathons?

SB: My best timing was in 2018 when I ran 4 marathons. I managed 2:08:50 in Fukuoka. I also run the half marathon sometimes and my best finish has been 1:02:10 in 2016 in Maragume, also in Japan.

FM: When did you start running long distance and what motivated you to start?

SB: I was always fond of running and took it up for joy and also to stay fit. I started serious marathon running in 2002, but my chances for competing were very less.

FM: You mean you do not get sponsors in Mongolia?

SB: (shakes his head sadly) Unfortunately, no. Marathon running is not a popular sport in Mongolia. Still, sometimes I get support from some organizations, but much of the time, I spend from my own pocket. It can be costly and one cannot hope to win good prize money in every race, to cover expenses. I am lucky that Tata is looking after my hospitality and local travel.

FM: How did you come to know about the TMM and what induced you to participate?

SB: I have a manager who selects the races I have to run. He saw the news about this TMM and contacted the organisers. With the records of my previous timings, I was able to get an entry into the elite group and so here I am. (Smiles disarmingly).

FM: How many races have you run in your career so far?

SB: 57 marathons.

FM: That’s an unbelievable number.

SB: (modestly) Yes, especially with the poor support that I get. But I keep pushing myself to do better and now I am very close to the world class timings.

FM: What kind of diet do you take? Is there something special about Mongolian food?

SB: I eat a lot of meat, rice and flour. A lot of the meat there is beef, but horsemeat is also very popular. And delicious, apart from being very nutritious.

FM: So that is where your strength and stamina come from?

SB: (Nods and laughs) Possibly.

FM: How do you find the weather in Mumbai compared to your country?

SB: You simply cannot compare the two. Here in Mumbai it is 24 degrees and they say, maybe 21 degrees early in the morning when we are running. In Mongolia, it goes down to minus 30 degrees. But I have run in other countries and climates and have learnt to adapt.

FM: Thank you very much for your time Serod. And looking at your past performances, you must be a serious contender for the championship here. Looking forward to seeing you on the podium on Sunday.

SB: Thank you for your wishes. I hope so too.

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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Featured Comments Off on Devil’s Circuit Tests Your Mind Like Never Before |

Devil’s Circuit Tests Your Mind Like Never Before

Protima Tiwary just completed the toughest obstacle course, the Devil’s circuit and she shares her journey here.

As of 2019, I have been going to the gym for over a year now. Before that, I used to be a runner for almost 2 years, easily clocking in 7 km 4 times a week. I had run a handful of marathons to test my stamina and focus, but I really tested my strength? In hindsight, I feel the answer to this is no because what I did on 20th January 2019 beat all other tests that I had ever taken. This was the day I successfully completed 13 out of 15 obstacles in India’s toughest obstacle race, the Devil’s Circuit.

When I had seen the race registration details in 2018, I gave myself some time to think about it before signing up. Basically what I did was give myself enough time to lose focus and let fear take over my mind, because I did not sign up for the race last year, giving myself the reason that I could never do this. This time around things were different because I signed up without really thinking about what was going to happen. All that I knew was that I had to train and train hard. I had to see if all that gym, diet, discipline and routine was of any good. I signed up knowing this would be the ultimate test of all that I had worked from over the last few years.

After having suffered an injury in October 2017, getting back to the gym in April 2018 had been an intimidating task. I was back to lifting 5 kgs and struggling to maintain form. But over the months I slowly built strength and felt stronger than I ever had before. Signing up for the Devils Circuit required just a few rearrangements in the training plan, with a shift in focus to upper body workouts. I started 2018 with the ability to do zero pull-ups, ended it with the ability to 4 (even 5) at a stretch.

I will be honest, I didn’t let myself think about the fact that I was taking part in India’s toughest obstacle race, because I am aware of what fear does to me. I have lived a large part of my life being anxious and scared of things. This time I wanted to do things differently. The only time I actually gave a thought to the obstacles was when I was a few metres away from them. This in itself is such great progress! Working out trained my mind too, something I realised as I stayed focused on performance.

I balanced myself 15 feet high on a bar

The first obstacle required us to climb 15 feet high and then climb back down. It looked easy from the spectator stand, but I understood the intensity of this obstacle when I was halfway up the actual obstacle!  Going up on top and throwing one leg over the pole to shift your side, and then climbing back down requires a change in your centre of gravity. When this happens 15 feet high up in the air with nothing but your core to keep you stable, and that you happen to be scared of heights… Well, you know how it goes. Panic almost got the better of me. Before I threw my leg over to the other side, I wanted to shut my eyes and cry. I looked down at the mattress 15 feet below me. I said to myself- look, if you fall, you fall 15 feet on to that. You won’t get hurt but it’s better to be in control than give up. By reflex, I tightened my core and threw my leg over the pole at the top. I climbed down, happy at my performance, and jumped the last 6 feet. I ran a couple of meters before turning back to look at the obstacle and cursed loudly in celebration.

After this initial shock and adrenaline rush, I crossed the next couple of hurdles only because I had to. I mean there was no other way about it.

I froze in fear

I would have said no to the fourth one had it not been for people asking me to give it one try. This required you to jump up, hold onto a bar, pull yourself up and roll over to land on top of the obstacle. All of this was happening 12 feet in the air. Not like I had some great core strength or balance or even upper body strength to balance, but I jumped up, had a little support given to me on the back, and before I knew it I was putting my leg on the bar and rolling over to land on top. I celebrated this moment by standing there and just enjoying the view, but I also think I went wrong in doing this because I ended up looking down, got scared of the height, and literally froze on top of the obstacle for a couple of minutes. The height was intimidating.  This time there was no soft mattress to cushion my fall. If I fell, I fell 12 feet on to the ground. It took me 5 minutes to climb down because I was frozen stiff with fear. Once down I ran without looking back.

I crossed monkey bars and hanging tires, only thinking about three things: core conditioning, the centre of gravity and the fact that I had to do the obstacles because there really was no other way out of it.

My favourite obstacles were the ones in water, mostly because I love water and hate heights, which basically meant it was love versus fear for me. I crawled through trenches and did muscle ups in water without much of a problem, plus my body felt more at ease doing these movements.

I conquered a childhood fear  

I am super proud of one particular obstacle- this required us to climb a height of 10 feet and jump into the water which was 4ft deep. As a child, I have been trained to be a swimmer, but one thing they couldn’t get me to do was jump into the pool (even if it meant from the deck of the pool.) While I was climbing onto the top of this particular obstacle, I told myself “ Nope, you’re not waiting here to see what the height is like. You jump because there’s no other way to go back.” I cleared this within seconds. I landed in water prepared for all of it to come rushing up at me. I smiled while doing a muscle up to get out of this pool, proud of myself for having let love win.

I plunged into a pool filled with ice

The last obstacle deserves an elaborate mention only because I feel this is the star of all the obstacles at the race. Sliding into a pool filled with ice does not require anything other than strong grit and determination. Once again I told myself I wouldn’t stop at the top of this obstacle. I climbed up the inclined slope (slipping and getting back up twice) and immediately sat on top of the slide. I was three seconds away from the toughest, coldest slide of my life. When my body hit that ice cold water, the world stopped. My body was in shock. I remember the first emotion being panic. But once again I am extremely proud of the fact that the voice in my head asked me to keep moving, to swim through, do a muscle up even when I couldn’t feel my body and get out. This too took me a few seconds to clear. Once out, I started jogging on the spot to get some life back into my cold, numb body. I know it sounds like a simple slide into ice, but the three seconds before you hit the ice are the toughest- you either regret what you are doing, or are proud of what you have done. I wanted to celebrate all that I had achieved. Yes, I had successfully completed India’s toughest obstacle race.

Here’s what  I learnt

Honestly, this wasn’t only about physical fitness. I knew rope climbing & muscle ups required an immense amount of upper body strength, and I had prepared myself for it. There is still a long way to go, but it felt good to know that I could manage, and if life calls for some really extreme situations, I know I am physically fit enough to get out of them.

More importantly, this was about testing your mental strength. It is so easy to let panic overwhelm you, it is so easy to freeze, it is so easy to give up. I ended this race knowing that giving up or saying “I can’t do this didn’t occur to me even once” The amount of self-awareness and confidence this gives you is not something that I can put into words. All that I really know is that if your mind says you can achieve something, your body makes sure you will do it. This goes for fitness and in life. I woke up the next morning a little sore, a little bruised, but a lot happy.

If you asked me whether I would do this again, I won’t even think twice before saying YES.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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Featured Comments Off on Road cycling National Champion – Naveen John – Part 2 |

Road cycling National Champion – Naveen John – Part 2

Deepthi Velkur continues her conversation with Naveen John about his training and his move to competitive cycling in the second part of the story. 

If you haven’t read the first part then click here 

When did you move from being a recreational cyclist to a competitive cyclist?

It was a couple of years after I picked up collegiate cycling. My friends convinced me to sign up for a race and I went full on – got myself a bike, some racing gear and showed up for the race and I finished the race.

During my time racing in the US, it was never competitive. I just went out there to ride and have fun. I enjoyed the training, being part of the racing action and never went in with the mentality of winning. In 2012, when I came back to India, it all changed. I felt like I was on a mission and I decided – I want to try and be the best.

You’re a 3-time Indian Time-Trial (ITT) champion and the country’s first International pro-cyclist? What does it take for someone to achieve this?

Oh! I get asked this question a lot. Every time at the national championships, I have kids come up and ask – what must I do to become a national champion?

My response is simple – ride your age X 10,000 KM and you will give yourself a shot at becoming a national champion.

Not many like that response because it puts the onus back on them. In India, cyclists are just not doing enough work compared to cyclists abroad. I realized this for myself when in 2016 I was in Australia where I rode with a professional team and saw 18-year kids train so much more than I did. It got me thinking, “Am I putting in the kilometres”?

It’s a paradigm shift that we need here in India where the athletes need to put in a lot more work. A few years ago, you did not have to work too hard to become a national champion. If your closest competitor was doing 8,000 KM at the age of 23-24, you only need 9,000 KM to beat him. Today, however, you need at least 25,000 KM to beat me (kinda cheeky, since I lost my National title this year despite that, but always “long game”).

It’s true that the infrastructural challenges we have in our country can be blamed for the bar being so low in our sport but at the base of it – practice, kilometres in the legs and hours spent on the pedals are key.

Do you take assistance from a Coach to train yourself for nationals?

I started off on my own in 2013. I self-coached trying to figure out the answers along the way but I fell short and ended up in 4th place. One of the team supporters then recommended I get a coach.

Getting a coach can be quite a daunting proposition – all of a sudden, you are accountable to someone else and constantly graded. The thought of putting your physical readiness in someone else’s hand is quite a leap.

Fears aside, I started working with my first coach in 2014 and that changed my life and introduced me to a whole new world of scientific training. I’m a pretty adept self-learner and as I was being coached, I also upped my level of understanding of the human body, sport science and training. I have since moved on to my 2nd coach who is based out of Australia.

Training in cycling is a very objective process and working with a coach who guides your physical progression can free up time to work on other areas of improvement that you constantly need to as an athlete. So far, cyclists in India have always moaned about a lack of good coaches but that scenario is changing today.

Our concluding part can be read here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Training Comments Off on Understand the Maffetone Method |

Understand the Maffetone Method

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

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

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

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

So what is the Maffetone method?

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

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

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

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

Benefits of using the 180 formula

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

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

Using the Maffetone Method to build endurance

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

Challenges and pay-offs

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

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

Be patient, repeat it and the results will follow.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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Motivation Comments Off on Running Nonstop with Ravi Goenka |

Running Nonstop with Ravi Goenka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your best and worst race so far? Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you keep your runners at JRC motivated?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Featured Comments Off on Catching the Marathon Bug |

Catching the Marathon Bug

The late bloomer in running, Guest Columnist Sonali Mahant talks about how she caught the marathon bug. 
I started running at the age of 35. It was like a dream to run a Half Marathon once in my life, it had been on my bucket list for quite sometime. The idea of running non stop for 21.0975 kms seemed challenging and I wanted to win the distance with my ability to endure. During my training process, I was extremely motivated by getting to run on a synthetic running track (400mtrs). With each workout into training, I was thrilled to know what a human body could achieve if trained appropriately under a coach. Finding myself breathless at the end of my workout, used to always push me to do more. I felt much more alive than ever before. And for once there was nothing to hold me back, I felt free and light.
The Half Marathon
I ran my first Half Marathon at IDBI New Delhi Marathon and I stood second in my age category (35-45)with timing of 1:39:47. Someone who wasn’t even running 2kms a day to running a Half Marathon in 2 months was quite a shocker for everyone including myself. Important thing to note, I was regularly strength training and had been dedicated in working out in a Gym for 3 plus years before Running happened to me. But finding out that I’d be able to run this strong was like discovering my love for Outdoors and particularly RUNNING. Oh yes, running long distance is certainly more of a mental challenge than physical. It’s good to experience a mixed bag of emotions all at once and how during those minutes of running everything else seems to freeze. Anyone who runs long distance is mentally stronger not that who don’t aren’t but yes I have always encountered that mind gives up much before the body does.
Always Disciplined
I get to hear from fitness enthusiasts and runners all over the country and especially women who seek inspiration towards a healthier lifestyle. I never break my discipline and extremely dedicated to my workouts and this, in turn, is very inspirational for many. Even when it’s a national holiday or an off for a festival, I start my day with running. I hold a lot of responsibility as everyone around me expects me to be on Podium in every race and break my own records with each run. I post and share as much as possible, only to make everyone aware of how “Health is Wealth” and how making healthy choices can transform their lives. Also, I’m a part of Adidas Runners Delhi where I meet runners from all over and help them with their real-life problems related to running. Interactive sessions always prove helpful as they get to know about the real hustle and glory related to RUNNING.
So far so Good
I have run 6 half marathon’s, 3 in 2017 and 3 in 2018 besides running several 10kms races.
IDBI New Delhi Marathon 2017
Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2017
BSF Run for Martyrs 2017
Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018
IDBI New Delhi Marathon 2018
Airtel Delhi Half Marathon 2018
TCS 10k Bengaluru 2017
Adidas Uprising 2017 10k
but a lot more to do. Now I’m preparing for Tata Mumbai Marathon where I’ll be running a Half Marathon and it’s going to take place on 20th Jan 2019.
Running has changed my life in ways I can’t put into words besides not only making me but feel much younger. I feel like I’ve been detoxed inside out and it’s been a blessing to become a RUNNER.

ABOUT GUEST COLUMNIST

Sonali Mahant is a high energy individual driven with an immense passion for life, relationships, health and self-care who believes that age is just a number and one can start working on their goals the day you get clarity.

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Events Comments Off on The Heptathlon |

The Heptathlon

A young Indian woman, with a humble, rural background has suddenly brought into the limelight, an event, well known but hitherto unheralded. Capt Seshadri takes a look at the challenging Heptathlon. 

In athletics, as in life, only a few parts can be glamorous. The leading running stars are, obviously, the fastest men and women; not that we should take anything away from their efforts. Still, there is glory in events like the marathon, the ultimate test of endurance and stoicism. While track takes centre stage, with the finishing tape in the front of the most august audience, the field events and the throws are an integral part of every athletics competition across the globe. Each one of these needs specialised training, commitment, dedication and a great deal of effort.

Combining all these is an oft-forgotten event, relegated to the sidelines, yet requiring a rare combination of speed, strength and endurance. Seven highly competitive events spread over two days, comprises the heptathlon, a name quite naturally derived from Greek, denoting seven (hepta) athlon (feat). It appears that this is a further take from the once popular pentathlon, and is now contested by both women and men, the former vying for honours outdoors and the latter, indoors. Both, however, are dissimilar in the types of competitions.

When it started

The first women’s heptathlon was reportedly held in 1980 and qualified as an Olympic sport in the 1984 Summer Games.  Today, it is part of the IAAF World Championships, and the IAAF Combined Events Challenge decides who is the women’s heptathlon number one for the year. Points are allotted according to performance in each of the events, in terms of time or distance, with the athlete amassing the most points being the obvious winner.

The first day of the competition comprises the 100 metres hurdles, the high jump, the shot put and the 200 metres. With two sprints, and a field and a throw event each behind them, the women go into the second day with the long jump, the javelin and finally, the 800 metres. Naturally, no individual can be best at everything, so it matters little that the champion athlete should finish on the podium in every event. While one school of thought might recommend that the competitor should be above average in all the events, if not necessarily within a ‘first three’ finish, in reality, each athlete specialises in a few of them and makes calculated compromises in the rest to garner maximum points overall. In effect, the participant actually competes not against the rest of the field, but rather, against the score table, a matrix constructed by an Austrian mathematician, Dr Karl Ulbrich, with points from zero to 1,000 and above for every event.

To score 1,000 points per event, each athlete would be required to perform, on an average, something like this:

110 m hurdles                                   13.85 seconds

High Jump                                              1.82 metres

Shot put                                                 17.07 metres

200 metres                                           23.80 seconds

Long jump                                               6.48 metres

Javelin                                                     57.18 metres

800 metres                                         2:07.83 seconds

Mundane figures, to the normal eye, but to the most competitive athlete, an almost impossible task to accumulate 7,000 points. In fact, the women’s world record has been set at 7,291 points, with the athlete surpassing the 1,000 average in just three of the events, her obvious favourites.

The men’s heptathlon, at first glance, appears to consist of much easier events than those for the women, but the competition is extremely intense and the performances in each, marginal. The men hepathletes compete in the 60 m, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60 m hurdles, pole vault and the 1,000 m, the first four on Day 1 and the remaining on the second day.

And finally, for the super athletes not satisfied with just seven events, there is also a tetradecathlon, a double heptathlon, consisting of 14 events, with seven events each day.

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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