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Training On The Go

How do you train for a race if you’re always on the go? Here are some hotel room workouts that do not require any equipment and will keep you on track, by Protima Tiwary.

Fitness isn’t a seasonal hobby, it is not something you can put away when you’re traveling, or taking a vacation or neck deep in work. Fitness is a lifestyle that trains your mind to accept commitment and discipline before laziness and excuses, it shows you the way towards great physical, mental and emotional health. Being fit isn’t only about looking good. It’s about the focus to be committed towards your fitness routine.

So how does one stick to a regime when they’re stressed with deadlines, or traveling, or on vacation? How does one stick to a plan when they realise their makeshift gym has dumbbells that weigh *gulp* not more than 10kgs?

Athletes all over the world are faced with this dilemma, and it’s after years of trying and testing exercises and fitness regimes, the experts have come up with a list of basic exercises that are all that an athlete needs when he is traveling. If a hotel room is all that you’ve got, here is how you make use of it to give you the best possible workout. You don’t need TRX bands or dumbbells- these bodyweight exercises will see you through.

Jumping Jacks

Easy, light and super convenient, 100 of these should be enough to get your heart pumping. This is just the beginning. Don’t forget to turn off the fan, you might hit your head if you jump up too high!

Burpees

If you’re an athlete, at some point in your training career you might have done these as a punishment. Yes, burpees are those dreaded exercises that have the best of us huffing and puffing by the end of round 1. Guess what? It is now time to embrace them with open arms because burpees are one of the best ways to kickstart your body and get yourselves warmed up!

Squats                 

Once your body is warmed up, nothing better to get your core and glutes activated than with some squats. Open up your leg muscles and get the blood flowing to your quads and inner thighs with different variations of squats – regular squats, wide legged squats and sumo squats.

If you have weights in the room, nothing like it. Maybe hold your traveling bag and do some front squats?

Bulgarian Split Squats

Are you missing leg day at the gym? No need to fret, because you can get in a leg workout in a hotel room, without using any machines! Place one foot on the chair, and go down in a squat. Hold a bag or a lightweight to increase resistance. You will feel the burn on your quads soon, and end up having a killer indoor leg workout!

Push Up

Get your upper body ready with some basic push-ups. Best part? You can always try variations to improve your upper body strength, even on normal training days! Got the hang of the regular push up? How about trying the diamond push up next? Or how about adding a bag on your back and then going in for a quick set? Have you tried the decline push ups yet? Keep your legs on the chair and try your luck!

Tricep Dips

Get creative with furniture! You might not always get a cable or dumbbells to do any tricep curls or overhead extensions, but you can always use that chair at the study table or kitchenette to do those Tricep dips and get your tricep muscles popping.

Plank

Easiest exercise to do practically anywhere and one of the most effective exercises that get major muscle groups activated and working. Your core is of utmost importance no matter what sport you play. Nothing better to train your core than to get a few minutes of planks daily, isn’t it?

De-stress with hotel room yoga

Cool down after a rough day and killer workout with some of your favorite stretches, right in your hotel room! Legs up the wall pose, hip flexor stretch, downward dog, cat-cow pose, spinal twists are all stretches that will help you relax at the end of the workout.

 How many reps should I be doing?

The answer to this depends on your fitness levels. If you want a good strength training and cardio workout, experts recommend going in for a large number of repetitions. If you’re just about starting your fitness routine and do not wish to miss a workout, you can go easy on the reps.

Full body workouts are usually possible without any equipment, even on days when you’re traveling. Don’t let that worry you- ask your trainer to design specific routines based on these simple exercises, and you’ll see how you can enjoy a workout as good as one in the gym.

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 traveling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

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Connect to the Ground

Running barefoot is not just a trend but practised by many elite runners as a habit, writes Capt Seshadri. 

Running a marathon is certainly no walk in the park, more so if you are running barefoot. But for many an athlete, unshod seems to be a preference over wearing shoes, be it a marathon, a cross country event or, for a few, even a sprint!

‘Barefoot’ or ‘natural running’ as it is often termed, ignoring technological and biomedical recommendations, is still practised in some parts of the world, more prominently in Africa and Latin America, rather than in the European or North American continents. The arguments for and against make for interesting reading, although there is no proven evidence to substantiate either view. It is widely believed in some circles that barefoot running, being natural to the human body, brings health benefits. History confirms that all the running before the advent of footwear was done on uncovered soles, most likely, even the first marathon that Pheidippides ran from Athens to Sparta with the news of the victory of the Greeks over the Persians. It also seems logical that the track events before the first Olympics must have been contested barefoot.

Preliminary scientific research suggests that the barefoot runner tends to land on each stride, on the ball of the foot, thereby avoiding stressful impact and repetitive shock of heel landing. This also increases the elasticity of the muscles and protects the adjoining areas like the plantar fascia. The arguments against, are lack of protection against climate and inclement weather, and the possibility of cuts and bruises from uneven running surfaces, resulting in painful injuries and sepsis. Advocates of natural running however, maintain that the shoe could cause and aggravate injuries and stress to knee and ankle joints, especially if not conforming to the specific configuration of the feet of individuals.

Since the late 70s, with much debate surfacing between running barefoot and with shoes on, manufacturers of athletic footwear took cognizance of the pros and cons and began designing running shoes for comfort and injury prevention. One of the cautionary points put across by them was that diabetics, especially, should avoid running barefoot, to prevent complications, while also citing possible bone damage to users.

All this triggered the move towards an intermediary and realistic compromise between running barefoot and running shod. And so came about the hybrid term ‘minimalistic running’, using thin soled and flexible shoes with a minimum of padding, like sandals or moccasins. This could possibly be an evolution of what runners wore for a millennium or more, before the design and development of the modern running shoe. A soft covering that permits the feet to adapt to the contours of the ground, allows for greater flexibility and adjustments to each individual’s peculiar stride or style of running.

Natural running is gaining popularity among the athletic community the world over. In November 2009, the Barefoot Runners Society was formed in the US; soon after, on December 12, 2010, the Barefoot Runners of India Foundation garnered 306 participants for a half marathon in the town of Khargar, near Mumbai. A few medical associations though, warn runners not to transit overnight to the barefoot ideology. Time, training and an understanding of the effect such a transition would have on the muscles involved, should dictate the duration of transition.

So, if the bare necessities of your running lives involve shoes, you might like to think again. Or, even maybe not. Possibly, time will tell.

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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The Conqueror of the Everest -Part 2

In the concluding part, Deepa Bhat talks to Deepthi Velkur about how she prepared for the big day. 

Continuing the conversation with Deepa Bhat, the first Indian woman to complete the Everest Ultra Marathon.

Acclimatization to such high altitudes is key – how did you prepare yourself for this?

The trek was  well planned out, with enough rest days for us to acclimatize to the harsh weather conditions and have some short training runs too to get a feel of how the actual run would be like. In the mountains, the rule is ‘Climb High and Sleep Low’. Hydrate well, sleep better, believe in yourself and altitudes will embrace you.

What type of running gear would you suggest is appropriate to run in such high altitudes?

Layering helps in altitudes. I use a hydration vest and carry my water (3 liters and energy bars, salt tablets). I train the same way too, to minimize the surprises on race day.

Personal safety must be a top priority while running any high altitude terrain. What steps did you take to ensure your safety?

As for this race, until the 23k mark was a familiar route which is the one that we trekked up. Post that we had a Nepali guide who runs along with us to ensure we are on track. I carried along medical supplies, like band-aid and spray, a rain cover, a survival blanket and a night lamp. Taking the soft shell (jacket) was a completely last minute decision and did me good as it kept me safe through the night. In Ultra-running, one cannot calculate everything as there are new learning always.

Not only does physical fitness matter but one needs to be mentally geared up to take on this grueling challenge. How did you prepare yourself?

No matter how hard you train you body, mental training is just as important. If your mind isn’t prepared for what lies ahead, your body won’t be either. During one of my early Ultra running days, my body began experiencing wave after wave of fatigue, my mind quickly followed. Once I fell into this hole, it was tough for me to get back. A minute feels like an hour, a kilometer felt like a ten. I am thankful that I learned how to tackle that early on.

Someone once said I am not ‘Focused and doing too many things.’ Maybe, but I am determined. Confidence and determination have taken me far in life, especially when I am out on the trails. When my body is on the verge of shutting down during a challenging race, my mind is the only thing that keeps me going. ‘Get better than what you were yesterday’ is my only motivation, be it work, home or on trails.

Completing this race at 1:00 am in the darkness of the night has taught me a lot, which I am going to carry with me till the end.

What was the role of your guide and how did he motivate you to stay on track during the entire course?

My guide through this trek was a 17-year-old Nepali guide, reminded me so much of my son Dhruv as both are of the same age. He could speak only Nepali and I couldn’t speak a word of the language. It was going to be one hell of an experience I thought, once he joined me at the 23k mark.

I stuck close to him, watching where he was placing his feet and did exactly that. Sometimes it is best to follow your guide when you are 11hrs into the race and way too tired to even think. Since these guides traverse these paths so often and familiar with the course as well. A couple of coffees and noodle soup at night is all we had but that was the energy booster that got us across the finish line.

My guide was a very quiet and simple lad untouched by technology having a cheerful face and a constant smile who kept motivating me that I could and I must reach the finish line.

Did having a running buddy help you get through this challenging race? What were the most crucial plans Taher and you put in place?

Each one runs their own race. Each of us looks at the race, strategize very differently but all with the same goal – reaching the Finish Line!

The day before the race must have been one of the toughest moments of your life – please tell us what went through your mind?

Sleeping at the base camp is a privilege, that a regular trekker cannot enjoy. They just visit the EBC, take pictures, soak in and return to Gorakshep. Running the Extreme Ultramarathon gives you the opportunity of staying two nights right at the end of the notorious Kumbhu glacier at the end of the icefall.

The morning of 28th May, a day before the race is something that gives me shivers even today. Woke up early to feel the chill air, brushed my teeth with warm water (I always keep a bottle of hot water in my sleeping bag every night) and suddenly started feeling super cold. Rushed into the tent to pull out a warmy to put into my gloves. Minutes later, outside my tent, all I could see was darkness, everything around me had turned black. Before I knew, I was unconscious. Although I could hear everyone around me calling for help, trying to talk to me but was in no state to respond. My oxygen levels dropped to 37 and pressure was low as well. ‘Will I be airlifted, does my marathon end here?’ the only thoughts that ran through my mind. I had suffered from hypothermia.

Thanks to my teammates, emergency care doctors I was back on my feet and by 9:30 am geared up for the mock race in a saree. 30 countries 150 runners, the atmosphere was surreal. One needs to be there to experience the celebration.

What would you take away post this achievement and would you encourage other runners to take on this challenge?

There is a lot that this race has taught me, some good life lessons, that no book, blog or just about anything could have. That’s a secret, I want to keep… shhhh!

To another runner, ‘Run a trail to discover yourself’.

What tips do you have for other extreme marathon runners?

Read my blog and come with me for a run 😉

  • Put your finger on a race – tell yourself, why do you want to do it and how determined are you to take on the challenge.
  • Work religiously on the training plan – there are no shortcuts. What you put in is what you get.
  • Keep your family involved as running an ultra is a family event. You will be spending so much time outside of your home that without them it is not possible.
  • Stay positive – If not for you, no one can run the race for you.

What did you look forward to the most at the finish line?

We don’t conquer the mountains, no one can. Yes, it does humble you as a person of how small and insignificant you are as the finish line is just the beginning…

“You must go on adventures to know where you truly belong!” , says Deepa.

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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The Olympic task of Cross-Country Skiing

Cross Country Skiing is a sport that is given little attention in India, yet during the Winter Olympics 2018 we had an athlete who took up the challenge, writes Nandini Reddy.

Early this year one lone Indian qualified to participate in the Winter Olympics Cross-Country Skiing Event. Jagdish Singh competed in the Men’s 15km freestyle cross-country skiing event. Finishing in 43 minutes, Singh placed a 103rd but opened a lot of minds to the possibilities of the sport.

One of the founding sports of the Winter Olympic Games which originated in the Nordic nation, has two styles that are adopted by various athletes – classic and skating. Today cross-country skiing is considered one of the best full body workouts. While the sport hasn’t seen much patronage in India, it is a great one to consider if you are an avid endurance athlete.

The major benefits of this high endurance sport include:

  • Full body workout: Skiing combines both lower and upper body and requires you to constantly push and pull your muscles. You create movement to move through the terrain and you require every muscle to be actively involved in order to maintain balance and coordination.
  • High Calorie Burner: This is the only exercise format in which you can burn more than 1000 calories in an hour.
  • Functional training: The movements that are required to be made for cross country skiing improve the normal functionality of your body. This will help you gain more mobility during everyday work.
  • Endurance builder: It is an aerobic fitness exercise that boosts your endurance limits. Skiers are 40% fitter than the other physically fit individuals. The uniqueness to their fitness and endurance levels is because of the full body workout from the activity.
  • Relieves Stress: The entire sport is in the outdoors in beautiful terrain. The tranquility from watching the landscapes slip by as you navigate through the course is incomparable.
  • Cardiovascular health: Skiers hearts pump blood more efficiently owing to the nature of the workout. Many skiers have reported lower resting heart rates when they are training for cross country skiing events. The Olympians have reported a resting heart rate of 40, as compared to a normal individual whose heart rate would average around 65.
  • Faster Metabolism: Skiing improves your metabolic rate and thus help you burn more calories. Moving the whole body to move across the course increases the energy consumed and also quicken the metabolic rate of the body.
  • Low Impact activity: Since the exercise is more poised on balance, you are engaging your core and not over-stressing any one part of your body. Thus, it doesn’t hurt the joints and muscles.
  • Reduces Lactic Acid: During any strenuous physical activity lactic acid builds up in the muscles and can result in severe cramping. But cross-country skiing helps prep the body to take on strenuous exercise by reducing the lactic acid build-up in the muscles.

Lastly this is a great way to connect with nature and if you enjoy the outdoors then it’s a perfect sport for you to try.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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