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Taking it one step at a time!

Anirudh Inani took to running, cycling and trekking to stay fit, a journey that eventually became a passion. In this conversation with Deepthi Velkur, he tells his story.

Passion. Determination. Dream big. You live only once. These are not just some fancy adjectives or phrases thrown around in Anirudh Inani’s world. These are the mottos he has chosen to live by every day.

An entrepreneur by profession, Anirudh Inani’s passion lies in running, trekking and cycling.

Anirudh’s pursuit is to be able to finish at least 40 events across running, cycling and triathlons before he turns 40. He has it all in his sights – taking part in the Olympic triathlon, competing in Ultra events, scaling the highest mountains and conquering every trek.

Ambitious and daunting it certainly is, but he is taking it one step at a time and is currently working on improving his timing for a full marathon and move on from that.

I caught up with Anirudh on what drives this passion and this is what he had to say.

When did you discover your love for fitness and how did your weight-loss program with Truweight impact your outlook to life?

I discovered my love for fitness after I started running and cycling simultaneously many years ago. The Truweight program has phenomenally changed me and my outlook towards life – I have never been fitter, more confident and more energetic after I lost my weight.

Did running happen by chance or was it a conscious decision and a means to stay fit?

At one point in time, I was so heavy that it was very difficult for me to even jog for 100 metres. I had no stamina and was running out of breath while running. I started running to lose weight but eventually discovered that I really enjoyed the high I used to get post my runs. Over time, I worked on increasing the distance of my runs and the rest followed.

Being a businessman, managing your time well is of utmost importance. How do you bring in fitness into your busy schedule?

It’s definitely not an easy task managing a business, running a family and trying to stay fit at the same time. However, I feel that if you’re passionate about something, you will find a way to manage it all and prioritize. Fitness rejuvenates my soul. It’s food for my soul.

What keeps you motivated to stay fit and push forward?

I’m fortunate to have a great set of friends who are into fitness and health conscious too. When you are surrounded by such people, you automatically feel motivated. We always discuss events happening around the country/ world and what needs to be our next goal to achieve and this drive keeps me going to keep myself fit. 

What is it about trekking that appealed to you? How often do you trek and where?

Mountains have always fascinated me and I’m a mountain lover. When I was doing my management studies in Mumbai, I went for a 2- day trek to the Western Ghats with a friend of mine who was already a passionate trekker. Trekking was not so popular and most of the people were scared thinking it’s not safe. I was mesmerized by that trek so much that after completion of my management studies, the first thing I did was to enroll for my first Himalayan trekking expedition in 2003. My parents were very apprehensive as well but eventually convinced them. There was no looking back since then. I made sure I do at least one Himalayan trek every year. Also, in the same way, I have encouraged a lot of my friends into trekking so they get to experience the thrill and joy of going on treks and this, in turn, has made them passionate trekkers too.

How many events across running and cycling have you been a part of till date?

Well, I used to run small distances every day as a part of my fitness routine and commute on a cycle to the park and back where I used to run.

I wasn’t confident of completing marathons. The maximum I could think of running was 10k but a friend of mine encouraged me to take the plunge and I registered for my first half marathon in Hyderabad, just a day before the event. The terrain was tough and quite challenging too. I did take the plunge not knowing if I would complete my run but after I started the race and seeing the energy of the people around, that pushed me to complete the race successfully in a decent time which gave me a real high and boosted my confidence. Since then I’ve done about 5 half marathons, a dozen 10K’s and one triathlon.

On the cycling front, I have done a couple of 100 km rides, Ladakh cycling expedition of around 350 Km in the mountains of Ladakh. A cycling expedition from Hyderabad to Rajahmundry which is a distance of about 700 Km, passing through a very scenic route of forests and mountains. After my Ladakh cycling expedition, I decided to upgrade my cycle to an advanced geared bike which I still have as my prized possession.

Cycling or running? Which of the two gives you the real high after an event?

Though I love cycling more, it’s difficult to compare between both. I feel elated post my runs and when I achieve the goal I had set for myself. Whereas with respect to cycling, I simply enjoy the entire journey of cycling and I just grasp every moment. It is a different experience altogether to discover a new place on a cycle.

What is the kind of training regimen you follow with respect to cycling and running?

Running thrice a week in the morning with alternate day strength training and circuit training for 3-4 days a week in the evening.

I still have to work on my flexibility as it’s a crucial part of any fitness regime.

Sundays are for long rides if there’s no running event planned.

What measures do you take to better yourself as a runner/cyclist? 

I read a lot about techniques of running, attending workshops and keeping in touch with different running groups which help me in gaining further knowledge.

Any particular race(s) in mind that you wish to complete, be it running or cycling in 2019?

I intend to do quite a few trails runs and countryside cycling events. I also intend to do Tour of Nilgiris cycling event in 2019.

 

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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A world of Marathons

Ever met someone who wants to run and see the world? Deepthi Velkur had an opportunity to speak the man himself, Upendra Tripathi.

A senior management Leader with a leading Semi-Conductor company, Upendra Tripathi((aka Upen) has achieved running accolades in 3 years what most of us will probably not achieve in our lifetime.

With the right mix of will, passion and hard work, he has run in various events across the country and across 3 continents in a very short span.

Besides running, he is a keen wildlife photographer and enjoys trekking and cycling as well.

“Mirror Mirror on the wall, I’ll always get up after I fall. And whether I run, walk or have to crawl, I’ll set my goals and achieve them all” – Chris Butler.

With that inspiring quote in mind, let’s talk to Upen and have him share his driving force so that we may be inspired as well.

FM: Fitness has always been your top priority. So, when did running really happen? Why?

Upen:I have always enjoyed sport and fitness from childhood. Growing up, I played football, volleyball, badminton, cricket and swam a fair bit too. Obviously, with the responsibilities of being an adult, sports took a backstage though I gave fitness a fair shot by being a regular gym goer.

3 years ago on my way home from a late night movie, I saw a bunch of runners competing in the Midnight Marathon and that really inspired me. At the gym, I was used to running 3-5K but running outside is a completely different experience. I remember that Saturday morning in Oct 2015 – the chill Bangalore air, a bit of fog and an outside view (not the best in Whitefield). My breathing was heavy as I made my way through the meandering streets but I was ecstatic. I remember vividly thinking, “maybe I can see Bangalore just running around!”.

I covered close to 8K that day and thought this was ok, I can do the same thing tomorrow. I was mistaken and how!I woke up the next morning to excruciating pain all over my body, but the child-like enthusiasm got the better of the pain and I ran 4K that day. Best decision ever!

FM: You completed all the 6 World Major Marathons, The Comrades Ultra and innumerable half, full and Ultra marathons in less than 3? What was the motivation behind achieving this?

Upen: The one thing that I’m proud of  is my resilience. If I choose to do something, I stick with it and try to do everything I can to succeed.

I remember my first 10K run at KTM  in 2015– I met so many runners who finished the race in half the time I took. That got me thinking – was my current training inadequate? While at that point I gave myself the benefit of doubt considering it was only 3 weeks since I started running, I decided that I need formal training with a coach.

The first person I turned to was our neighbourhood coach Dharmendra Kumar (aka “Dharma”) and training with him gave me an opportunity to meet some amazing runners.

I participated in several 10K and 21K runs and with my confidence in place, I ran my first full marathon in July 2016 (Cherrapunji, Meghalaya).

At this time, I was reading a book by Hal Higdon that spoke about doubling your mar
athon runs and boosting endurance. It fascinated me and I was enthralled by the idea of mileage, long distances, and repetition.

Pace alone wasn’t my poison – “a combination of right race pace and appropriate long distance”was!

After having run the Berlin, Tokyo and Chicago World Majors, I decided I needed a change of training strategy and decided to work with the brilliant coach Brijesh Gajera (aka BG) who is the coach for the “Ashva Running Club”. It was another good decision and his focused training has not just helped me run faster and farther than before but also gave my confidence a real boost.

With my new found zeal and help from my friend Gauri Jayaram, I registered for the remaining 3 majors.

Having completed my last major (the Boston marathon) this year, I wanted more. I decided to run 90K at the Comrades Ultra (South Africa) in June 2018 after a recommendation from my friend Divya Vasishta who did it in 2017.

For me, the love of running and racking up the miles has been the biggest motivation. On top of that, when you get your finisher medal it really gives you such a sense of personal achievement.

FM: When did your association with Ashva Running club start? How has joining this club assisted you in achieving your running targets?

Upen: It was in Feb 2017 (during the Tokyo World major), that I had a chat with coach Pani sir on how can I step up my training. He recommended Brijesh Gajera (BG) who trained under Pani sir for 8+ years.

On my return from Tokyo, I spoke with Gurmeet Bhalla (my running partner ) who has inspired me in so many ways and together we met with BG and that’s how we started running with Ashva Running Club (ARC).

BG apart from being an accomplished runner himself is an extremely intelligent coach. He first does a holistic assessment of each runner’s needs, capabilities and then prepares an individual training plan.

For me, he devised a plan basis my statistics, my targets and also to ensure I run injury-free. He added specific warm-up drills, individual schedules for each day, recovery plans and cool-down drills. Furthermore, he recommended weight and functional training at the gym as well as proper nutrition to aid my training plan.

With the right plan, the right focus from a coach and your determination, achieving your goals is no longer impossible.

FM: You ran the Boston Marathon and Comrades Ultra Marathon this year with less than two months to spare? How did you plan your training and did it differ for both?

Upen: Training for both the races was a constant challenge for me.

For Boston Marathon, I wanted to target a better race pace which required me to focus on intense speed workouts like intervals and long tempos, whereas for the Comrades Ultra (90K) my training needed long distance runs, high mileage and slow pace.

My coach devised a plan – he made the Boston marathon one of my long training runs for the Comrades Ultra and made me focus on mileage with a 10s slower pace than my FM race pace (5:20)for my ultra-run. This worked really well as I ran the Boston Major at a slower pace, which worked well for me at the Comrades Ultra.

FM: The right physical and mental strength is required to run a marathon? Any tips you’d like to share on how to stay strong during a race?

Upen: Running a marathon is a mind game. A healthy person has enough physical strength to run 42.195 KM as long as their mind is ready to handle the stress.

I have run all types of distances from 100mts to 90 KM at varied pace and different terrains. Nothing is easy. After finishing around 80% distance of the race no matter the distance, you are exhausted and the remaining 20% of the distance is all in the mind.

Running is an experience. What works for one may not work for another. You have got to practice and try a few techniques to know what works best for you. I do however have a few guidelines for sure to stay strong during a race.

  • Train hard for your run for at least several weeks or months as needed.
  • Pace your training so that you don’t burn-out before race day or week.
  • Eat, hydrate and sleep well. Make this your routine and it works wonders.
  • Enjoy the race! Do a proper warm-up, start slow and slowly pick up the pace.
  • Hydrate regularly through the course. Ensure you eat some solid food too.
  • Remind yourself – you trained well, you’re rested and you are enjoying your race.

Follow this and trust me, you will finish the race strong and you will be extremely happy with your performance.

FM: Having had the experience of running in high altitudes, technical terrains, trail running, and Ultra
running? Which course do you find the most challenging and why?

Upen: Every terrain brings its own challenges. I have run at Ladakh, Khardung-La, Comrades, World Majors, Malnad and almost all big city marathons in India – they all have challenges that you need to train for.

I would suggest reading the race catalogue, going through the website and talking with runners who have done the course before – all of these help in preparing a mental course map for yourself.

There are some conditions like steep uphill, downhill, trail course that you can train for but there are some extreme conditions like low oxygen, extreme cold, unplanned snowfall or rain, extreme heat on race day that can catch you off guard. This is where the mental map and preparedness helps.

I think among all the races I have run, the Khardunga-la Ultra was the most challenging. 32K continuous uphill, 40K continuous downhill, freezing temperatures, running at an altitude of 5370M, low oxygen levels – just a few bumps along with an otherwise gorgeous course. Obstacles aside, this run is an experience that stays with you forever.

FM: Can you please give us a glimpse into your regular training week?

Upen: My regular training week is 4 running days and 3 weight / functional training days. I usually split it down like:

  • Monday – Lower body exercises at the gym (1hr)
  • Tuesday – Fast Tempo of 10-15K run
  • Wednesday – Upper body exercises at the gym (1hr)
  • Thursday – Intervals / Fartlek or slow Tempo of 10-15K run
  • Friday – Functional training / Yoga / Circuit training at the gym (1hr) or rest
  • Saturday – Long run of 20-30K
  • Sunday – Recovery slow run of 8-10K

Depending on which race I target, the training plan is tweaked for that period.

FM: 25 marathons in 28 months? Phew! That’s quite an accomplishment? Tell us all about it?  

Upen: As part of my training, I maintained on an average a weekly mileage of 70K. After my first full marathon, I had this thought of converting one long distance training run into a full marathon event which in turn would take care of my hydration as well. This essentially meant I ran one full marathon a month, except between March and July as there are very few FM events in India and I possibly could not travel out of India every month either due to my personal commitments. I handle the runs in a way that I’m not pushing myself at all the events except a couple of events a year to where I plan to finish strong and the rest are treated as training runs. This approach gives me enough time to recover from my previous runs and not overstrain myself. I’d like to enjoy my runs and have fun along the way and stay stress-free.


FM: What are the three most vital things to keep in mind while training for a major running event?

Upen:

  • There is no substitute for training. One needs to train hard to race easy
  • Proper taper plan, eating, hydrating and resting well
  • Building a mental map of the course and mentally preparing for its challenges

FM: The Ultimate running goal you have set for yourself in the coming years?

Upen: I want to run for the next 30 years.

 

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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Impossible is nothing!

Guest Columnist, Kavita Rajith Nair shares her experience of achieving the Sub-2 target at her milestone run of the year-the ADHM.

Every fervent runner usually has a yearly target along with a milestone race or two. While I am still an amateur with my feet striding away for just over 2 years, I set myself a humble goal of completing a Half Marathon in under 2 hours (popularly known as Sub-2), at the start of the training season in March’18. I say ‘humble’ because my coach, Mr. Pramod Deshpande has always had immense belief in me and he said “Dilli abhi door hai. Tu kar legi!” (Translation: Delhi is far away and you will do it!)

Well, by now, you probably guessed I’m talking about the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, ‘ADHM’ as it’s known. While ADHM has been AIMS certified way back, this year it was all the more glorified and achieved the Gold Label from IAAF. That really raised its profile and runners globally and across India wanted to participate in ADHM 2018.

It is sometimes very difficult for a runner to choose which races to run in a year unless you are one of those runners who run races almost every weekend.

How did ADHM happen for me?

I was training for my TCS World 10K 2018 hoping to achieve my personal best (PB) but then I was chosen to be the 75min official pacer this year alongside 19 other women pacers, a first of its kind in history at a world-renowned 10K event.

2019 January was already earmarked as the year for me to debut Full Marathon at the world-famous Tata Mumbai Marathon.

Procam International later publicised their ‘Procam Slam’ with 4 races in the year being the TCS 10K, ADHM, TSK 25K, and TMM FM.  It was kind of a no-brainer since I was anyways doing two of the four races and competing in the ADHM and TSK would ensure I complete the slam and the opportunity to travel to two more cities. Hence, the decision to compete in the ADHM and turn that into my 2018 milestone run with a target of achieving Sub-2.

What it meant to run the ADHM – my milestone run of the year

Simple! I wanted to achieve the Sub-2 target in the ADHM 2018 race. Any race prior was to be my practice runs leading up to D-Day (21stOct 2018).

With that in mind, I started my training with my running club – Jayanagar Jaguars(JJ’s). I enrolled for the program RYFM – Run your First/Finest Marathon (Half Marathon), a program of 16 weeks for which I was nominated as captain based on my race performance and the persistence I displayed the previous season while training for the TCS World 10K. It was intimidating to start with but I managed to find my place, I trained hard and pushed the team harder. I did not miss a single training run for 16 weeks and followed the workout routine to the ‘T’. Apart from fast workouts and tempo runs, I also did my gym workouts and followed the cross-training schedule.

Additionally, I supplemented my workout routine with a high protein diet (despite my dermatologist blaming the high-protein diet for untimely excessive breakouts. I really didn’t care how I looked as I was driven by my goal of achieving a Sub-2 at ADHM!), lots of fruits, vegetables for high fibre, and various nuts and seeds.

I also ensured I got a good night’s rest of at least 7 hours which meant consistently hitting the bed before 9 PM for over 4 months (that regularised my routine to a great extent).

The Race Month

Training is always fun when you have a group you run with, share a joke or two, the traditional combined breakfasts after the Saturday long runs all make the training a lot more pleasurable, despite it being draining at times. At the start of race month, it all became serious suddenly. I started planning for the race day, discussing with my coach and my 5 AM run-buddy.

Eve of race day

The carb loading and electrolytes hydration had started 3 days in advance. The day before the race was pretty busy. I landed in Delhi in the morning hours, headed straight to the JLNS Stadium where JJs had organised an exclusive meet with the event ambassador Sanya Richards Ross – an American-Jamaican former track and field athlete and later headed to the hotel.

The day was spent in getting my running essentials in place and after an early dinner, got some much needed rest.

The…Race Day!

After 16-18 weeks of training, it all finally came down to this one race. Races for me are like the online certification examinations as I always feel butterflies in my tummy.

However, with a good night’s sleep, I woke up feeling unusually peaceful with no anxiety and a great resting Heart Rate of 41BPM.

I did my usual routine of playing some soothing music in the background, had my overnight soaked chia seeds, some black coffee (no sugar) and a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds.

We reached the venue and went straight to the holding area of the allocated gate.

It was a great feeling, I was extremely positive and had a feeling I could achieve my Sub-2 target. While I had the Sub-2 in mind, I was hoping for something in the range of 1hr 53m -54m.

The strategy was not complicated. Since the course was extremely flat, I wanted to maintain a steady pace of 5:20m/km and that would take me to a 1hr 52m timeline. Even with a little buffer, I was still within my target.

Procam had an early start to the race at 5:00 AM as Delhi gets really hot after 7:30 AM. The energy was vibrant with colourful lights, thumping music, the weather was extremely pleasant and no sign of the infamous Delhi smog. The flag off happened at 5:00 AM, and I think after about 45secs – 60secs of the gun time, I crossed the start timing mat. And yes, what a feeling it was!

Two of my friends and I deliberately took it real slow in the 1stKm as the crowd was overwhelming and maintained a pace of 5:46/km pace. It was 26secs slower than my target pace, but I wasn’t worried as I knew I could cover it when the crowd dwindled further in the race. The next 2_5 km was comfortable and I ran alongside my two friends. This continued till the 6th km when one of the friends suddenly said: “Isn’t it amazing how we are running so comfortably at 4:50/km pace?”That was a shocker to me! 4:50/km was easily 30secs faster than my target pace and ran that pace at speed workouts during training runs. I looked at my watch and the current pace was 4:40/km. I slowed down, to come back to my target pace of 5:20/km.

My plan was to maintain the pace between 5:25/km – 5:35/km for about 13kms. I did pull over a couple of times for quick hydration but felt quite okay. Around the 10thKm mark, I did pull over again, gasping for breath and a close friend called out to me and asked me to join him. He kept repeating “K, never pull over, run consistently with me”. I tried to and managed to keep up about 50mts behind him till the 13thkm mark. That’s when I started feeling drained out and my legs felt heavy. I had just completed 2/3rdof the race. My mouth felt dry and tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth. I desperately looked for a hydration station and pulled over at the first one I saw. I had a sip of water and some Enerzal and continued. After which I had to push myself really hard.

I thought I was running well and close to the desired pace, only to see I was touching 6:00/km. I feared I may not achieve a Sub-2. That played negatively and dropped my energy further. At the 15thkm mark, an unknown guy saw me struggling and politely asked me to run with him as he maintained a 5:45/km pace. I did a quick mental math, and figured, that if I sustained that for another 6 km, I will still achieve a Sub-2. I managed a Sub 6:00/km pace from the 15th – 17thKM, but after that, I literally couldn’t run, kept alternating between run-walk for every 100mts. I felt bloated and heavy and couldn’t lift my feet.

With just 3KMS to go, I thought I might not even finish the race! But then as we approached the finish line, the crowd was magnificent, with perky music, pom-poms, chocolates, oranges, homemade chikkis, and energy shots. I stopped looking at my watch and just ran. At that moment, I wanted to finish the race and did not care about my Sub-2 target (my coach will disown me for that), swollen feet, heavy arms, nothing at all! I simply ran as I enjoyed the cheering crowd on either side. I think I might have been at the last hydration station when I heard one of the ladies from the crowd scream, “Come-on Kavita, you are strong, you are headed for a Sub-2!”.  Frankly, I couldn’t believe that it was going to happen, but that one cheer gathered all the leftover energy in me and I ran to the finish line to complete in 1Hr 58mins 39secs. I couldn’t believe I finished my race in Sub-2 timing!

I think I owe it to that unknown lady without whom I wouldn’t have pushed myself to the end as I had given up on my goal.

A few Take-away’s from the race

Although I achieved my target of finishing the race in Sub-2 timing, I have been unable to celebrate my Sub-2, for various reasons –

  1. Guard yourself from Overconfidence:  Under any circumstance. I got overoptimistic about achieving my target easily.
  2. Never give up: The thought of giving up at some point in the race, which was first time ever, in my life, and I detest that it crossed my mind.
  3. Use the watch diligently: It really helps no matter what target/ goal you have set for yourself. I ran the first 6KMS at a pace faster than my HM race pace and that drained me so much that I suffered throughout the rest of the race.
  4. Besmart with your hydration strategy: The mistake I made was that I relied completely on Enerzal/ORS and skipped having any plain water from 3 days prior to the race. This led to me having excessive salt in my body which lead to water retention and thus the bloating and heavy feeling.
  5. Don’t get carried away: with the adrenaline rush you have at the start, the loud peppy music, nice easy course, cool weather and extreme confidence in yourself. The best way is to always be conscious and be on track no matter.

It’s been almost a month since ADHM happened, and I have mixed feelings thinking about it. While I thoroughly enjoyed the training phase, the journey up to the race day, the food at Delhi, shopping, family time but the main thing that took me to Delhi was the ADHM Race and the target for achieving a Sub-2: I am unsure if I rejoice thinking about it?

To all my friends within and outside the running community, I did a great job and achieved my PB and my target Sub-2! But what thoughts run through my mind, is something I can barely pen down.

So that was it, folks, thanks for being with me through my long journey of achieving a Sub-2.

GUEST COLUMNIST

Kavita, employed with an International Bank had taken up running to stay fit in summer of 2016. Her leisure running has now developed into her passion. She fondly inspires people around her with her enthusiasm, infectious energy and love for running

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How to consistently click miles every week

With an insatiable appetite for running, Divya Vasishta has quite a story to tell. In this conversation with Deepthi Velkur, she explains what drives her passion.

“The mountains are calling and I must go” – John Muir (Naturalist and Preservationist).

Probably one of the most compelling quotes that says it all for many outdoor lovers and definitely apt for our guest today – Divya Vasishta.

Divya hails from Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, a scenic mountain town, so it’s no wonder that her runs always seem to take her to the hills.

She is by no means a career runner – running happened by accident 5 years ago and she juggles a busy corporate life (quality head with a US-based organization) with her undying passion for running and the mountains.

Her running timeline might be short but she has covered the spectrum – countless 10Ks, Half-Marathons, Full-Marathons, Trail Running and also Ultra runs.

We had ourselves a tête-à-tête and I was fascinated by her story. Read on and chances are you will be too.

FM: It’s been 5 years since you started running, what inspired you to pick up such a tough endurance sport?

Divya: I never liked running on a treadmill but I had to for a long time as I spent quite a few years in Canada and the severe winters made it hard to run outdoors. A few years later though, I moved to California famed for its gorgeous weather and scenery, I started to head out for my runs every day for about 30 mins.

After having spent 10 years out of the country, we decided to move back to Bangalore. It was definitely a huge change for me. The weekends seemed empty with nowhere to go camping, no hills to climb, no trails to walk on and I ended up running longer durations inside my housing layout.

Initially, it started out as an aimless activity until a friend suggested that I participate in a 10k run back in 2013 to begin with, which I did and the experience of the race was enthralling. That paved the way forward and I have never looked back since. For the first two years, the focus was to improve my timings and then later on, I focused on building and testing my endurance and this became a vicious cycle with no end.

No distance ever seemed enough for me initially. I was curious to see how much further I could go and fast forward 3 years, I have run a maximum distance of 100K in 14 hours 20 minutes in the Bangalore Ultra. I also completed the Khardung La Challenge in Leh (the world’s highest Ultra marathon at 17582 feet) a distance of 72K.

Since 2013, I have completed 13 Ultra events and countless half and full marathons. I always enjoyed runs that are challenging with a sole purpose of finishing them comfortably and maintaining a constant pace. I personally prefer the quieter and smaller events and always look forward to trying new routes with new organisers.

The first 2 years of my running life took me to different locales but it was always the hills that kept calling and brought me a kind of peace that I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Having discovered running in the hills, I have completed events in Ooty, Munnar, Manipur, Leh, Manali (Solang Sky running – being the toughest so far) as well as Shimla.  This year, I became the 3rdfemale runner from India to run the Everest marathon.

I haven’t limited myself just to running in the hills obviously – I enjoy running in California and completed the Big Sur marathon which is considered a beautiful run but very challenging owing to the weather conditions. I have also completed a 143.9K run during the 24-hour Bangalore stadium run last year.

FM: Fascinating and amazing to see what you have achieved in 5 years. Prior to 2013, what kind of sports where you in to?

Divya: I have always been an active and outdoorsy person. Back in school, I loved running on the tracks and tried my hand at different sports like field and track events, basketball, hockey and mini marathons. With college and the initial few years of working, these activities took a backseat. Post marriage, my partner and myself started going on short treks in our free time. Hitting the gym became a part of my daily routine. In 2006, step aerobics fascinated me and quickly became one of my favourite activity. We (my partner and myself) had done a few treks of which the Machu Picchu, few in Alaska and the Everest Base Camp clearly were my favourites. Between 2010-13, I appointed a personal trainer and he used to set up various routines for me and then it was only in 2013, that I started running.

FM: That explains the ease with which you have acclimatized yourself to ultra-running.  This is me being curious – how was your lifestyle prior and how has that changed since you started running?

Divya: In terms of routine, not much has changed in my life. I have always been disciplined in everything I do. Early rising, timely intake of food and hitting the bed early has been my routine for the longest time. Food habits have changed for the better. For instance, I used to eat a lot of processed food and that has completely stopped now. I prefer eating fresh home-cooked meals and drinking natural juices. 

FM: Managing your professional, personal as well passion for running takes a lot out of a person. How do you manage this and what do you do to unwind?

Divya: I really didn’t have to make a lot of compromises. I started running when I was well-settled at work. There was no need to commute to work daily and work related travel was manageable too and was a part of my routine life. Both my husband and myself are morning people. I just had to wake up a little earlier so I could clear up any work-related emails and then head out for my morning run. While travelling, it becomes a bit hard to manage my runs so I make sure to manage expectations during those days and plan my work and running accordingly. And I never forget to pack my running shoes wherever I go.

Running is relaxing for me, but a spa appointment for a deep tissue massage and foot reflexology is a reward for myself (smiles).

FM: To be able to clock 9455Km in such a short time is astounding. Did you imagine you would have achieved this in less than 5 years? Do you set at a yearly target for yourself?

Divya: I was never interested in numbers, like setting up a monthly or yearly target. What I do is set myself a mileage target of 60K every week and try to achieve it on most days. My tally seems very less in comparison to other Ultra runners. But I feel, if I run a lot (especially training runs), I’ll probably start disliking running so I run the tracks I enjoy. Sometimes a training run of 35K stresses me but at the same time I enjoy running a 100K event.

FM: Another mind-boggling statistic is the fact that you have a podium finish in greater than 50% of the events you have participated? What are the 3 key factors that help you achieve this?

Divya: You are right. Out of 55 events, I’ve had about 27 podiums wins. I would say – It just happened. Though I’ve had podiums in the open category too but most of them have been in 45+ age category, so being a veteran probably led to this and I see it as an advantage. I really don’t run with a competitive mind.

FM: Congratulations on finishing the Comrades marathon last year – such a fascinating run especially given its origins. What interested you in taking part in this event?

Divya: Curiosity, I think. I wanted to see why runners are so crazy about this run and I guess I did find my answer. It’s a run with an amazing aura. I finished the race which is approximately a 89KM run from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. It is considered the World’s Largest and one of the oldest Ultra-marathons, which was first held in 1921. The race has very strict cut-off time of 12hours and I managed to finish it in 11 hrs and 42 minutes. 

FM: Obviously, your training program for this run would have been different from your normal training. Can you please share a few snippets into the differences?

Divya: One needs to be diligent and disciplined in preparing for any targeted run, especially a run as challenging as this with strict cut-off points. It only tends to increase the pressure which may lead to unnecessary stress.

My goal was just to finish the run within the cut-off time and with that in mind, I prepared my own training plan and stayed within my normal weekly mileage, with an exception of 2 or 3 weeks where I exceeded it. I also added hill runs to my routine, almost every weekend and most of the events I went to were in the hilly terrains which got me stepping out of my regular running route. Being the only female from Bangalore to participate in this event that year, I had to look for a group running this event. The drive to the location for the training runs was quite far from my place and that led me to start driving in India, which I dislike doing, especially during the dark, early morning hours. I don’t remember missing a single run as per my calendar.

FM: So, where is your next big run and what plans do you have for the next few months?

Divya: A 100 miler in a decent time for sure.

 

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, Motivation Comments Off on Seeing the world one trail at a time |

Seeing the world one trail at a time

Deepthi Velkur talks to the first Indian Woman, Aakriti Verma to have taken part in the World Trail Championship.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

Aakriti Verma certainly wants to live up to this inspiring quote. With a little over four years of running experience, she has already achieved the adulating distinction of being the only Indian woman to take part at the World Trail Championships.

A HR professional with a leading IT firm for the past 6 years, Aakriti uses her national-level swimming experience to cross-train along with the runs. Her focus is not on clocking a heap of miles on a daily basis, instead she sets targets for each run and pushes herself to achieve it.

Apart from competing at the world championships, Aakriti has been a podium finisher in major running events such as Urban Stampede, Malnad Ultra, Jawadhu Hill Ultra, Yercaud Hills Ultra, Bull hill 50k run across the country in distances ranging from 5KM to 100 KM. She is also an Ironman distance triathlon finisher. Phew!

As if that wasn’t energy-sapping enough, she finds time to conduct daily fitness sessions for more than 500 colleagues as well as organizing running events at her organization.

Excerpts from our conversation

HR professional to long-distance enthusiast to being the 1stIndian woman at the IAU Trail World championship, you sure where a lot of hats. How do you manage to keep it all together?

It has never been easy as there is a lot of hard work, sacrifice and discipline behind it. Time management is also the key and you need to manage your time well to excel at work and also make time for your training. So, I prioritize much of my time for work during the weekdays and for training and races on the weekends.

You were a national-level swimmer at school and still use it as part of your fitness regime. How has that helped your transition into long-distance running? 

Swimming is the best sport which involves movement of all the muscles in your body and surely helps to build a lot of stamina. This is definitely the best cross training workout for runners and also helps in my recovery process. I resumed swimming after college to train for my triathlons, though my focus for the last year has been towards running ultra-marathons.

You have been into long-distance running for nearly 4 years now and since the past year, you have focused more on trail running. What piqued your interest into that specific area?

I started off with running 5K and 10K’s and took up long distance running only in last couple of years. Trail running has definitely interested me more as I feel it is more challenging and you spend your time close to nature mostly in the mountains which attracts me to this sport.

Being the first woman to be a part of a 6-member team representing the country at the 2018 IAU Trail World Championship in Spain is a ground-breaking achievement. How did you feel when you heard the news and was there any sort of pressure on you?

It was indeed a proud moment for me to be part of the Indian team. This being my first appearance in an international race, it was a mix of excitement and pressure as I was the only female to represent India in this sport. Hopefully I would be paving the way for lot of other females to build themselves in this sport.

You needed to accumulate 500 ITRA (International Trail running association) points to qualify and be a part of the Indian team at the Trail World Championship. How did you go about achieving that?

To be honest, I wasn’t focusing much on my cotation points. All I did was to participate in most of the trail ultras across India and give my best at every race. The cutoff points for female runners last year was 500 and I was lucky enough to get 530 odd points through my Malnad Ultra.

The world championship course I’m sure was very technical. Can you tell us something more about the course?

The terrain was very technical and it was my first time being on these trails and they are quite different from the trails in India which are rather smooth runnable trails. Most of the sections of the race were uphill and downhill which made it even more challenging. Apart from the technicality, the stiff intermediate cutoffs made the race that much more tough.

In Spain, you had to come off after more than half the race was done. What was the challenge and where do you see as areas you need to work on?

I would have been able to complete the race irrespective of the difficulty and technicality but the stiff intermediate cutoffs were a huge challenge due to which I had to pull off from the race. By spending more time training in such technical trails found mostly in the Himalayan range will definitely help me tackle such courses better.

How many races have you ran in India and overseas? Which has been the most treasured race till date? Why?

I have run more than 29 races across India and one international race. The most treasured race is definitely the Solang Sky Ultra organized by The Hell Race team. This is the only race in India that comes close to the technical trails found in Europe. This race has given me immense learning, helped me overcome my fear of running technical sections along the trail and has enhanced me to train myself better. I was extremely delighted as I was the only female runner to have finished the race within the cutoff time till date.

For trail running in specific, is there a specific training you need to follow as opposed to running a regular marathon?

Yes, there is a vast difference as the training required for trail ultra-running is completely different versus road marathon training. To run trails, you need to spend lot of time running in the mountains, plan your nutrition, hydration, training in high altitudes, running with backpacks etc.

What races do you plan on taking part in for the remaining part of the year?

With the running season almost coming to an end, I am glad that I participated in some new races this year like Solang Sky Ultra, Mawkyrwat Ultra. Next, I plan to run the SRT (Sinhagad-Rajgad-Torna)Ultra and Vagamon Ultrail next year.

Follow Aakriti’s running journey on Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/aakritiverma06/  

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 Being a runner in a busy world |

Being a runner in a busy world

24 hours never seems enough.How we juggle all facets of our lives and make time to stay fit? Difficult? Not so much, says our guest columnist Sagar Baheti.  

Anything is possible, but you have to believe and you have to fight.”

A famous line quoted by someone (not a runner!) who is familiar with racing and hard work, the indomitable Lance Armstrong. This quote serves as an inspiration no matter what challenges life throws at us.

“I haven’t got the time” is probably the number one reason we give for not running or just doing regular exercise itself.

True, life does get really busy sometimes and everything else in life is always more important, but making your run a priority will probably be one of the best things you’ll ever do for yourself.

For now, put your feet up and take some time to read how you can make time and plan your life around running.

The perfect way to run and live

An ideal day would be to wake up early (6 AM!), get your pre-run nutrition sorted and head out for a warm-up before an intensive session of running kicks in. Post the long-run, spend a few minutes doing a few strengthening exercises and cooling off with some stretching. With the morning workout, all done, have a good nutritious breakfast to supplement the workout and then take a nap or perhaps a sports massage. During the day, have your meals on time and get in the second workout around 5 PM before heading home and hitting the bed by 9 PM to make sure you get at least 8-9 hours of sleep. This needs to be on repeat!

How fantastic it would be if we were paid to live like this, huh? Unfortunately, barring the elites, very few of us can enjoy such luxuries. We cannot follow such a schedule even on a holiday let alone a working day!

The never-ending demands of this competitive world – career, family responsibilities, social obligations, relationships, priorities, the relentless Bangalore traffic – all of these come in the way of the ideal running day.

For me, my top priorities are being available for my family and to support the growth and well-being of those directly or indirectly dependent on me through my business venture.

I always keep these two priorities in mind when I look at a training run or an event and decide if I want to do it or not. When making a choice, it is important that your priorities are clear and you know where fitness fits into your life. With this clear mindset, you will be able to run with the right perspective in mind.

Ideas to make a runner out of you

I took a shot at drawing up a few ideas that will help you start running or continue running despite the myriad of responsibilities we are all laden with.

+) Make short-term goals. Write it down like your own weekly plan. It’s often easier to plan for the short-term and factor in your schedule and responsibilities.

+) Be flexible. It’s ok if you did a workout in the evening instead of a morning when you have an emergency meeting or you’ve had a late night. It’s also alright to have two run days back to back if you’ve had to miss one for whatever reason. It’s better to do this than miss it completely.

+) Don’t overdo it.Working out twice a day is ok if not done too frequently. If you are training for a specific event and have some mileage planned for the week, you can see how to fit it into your schedule and run twice in one day to get more miles.

+) Be prepared.Carry your running gear with you at all times. I keep it in my car. If I get a time window at work where it’s possible to get out for an hour, I go for a quick run. I know people who do the same when they take kids to classes and use the waiting time to get their runs.

+) Clear it out in the morning. Getting it done first thing in the morning is a great advantage. Starting your day early would mean that the pressure of making time for your run in the midst of a busy day is not on your mind.

+) Don’t procrastinate.Don’t give in to the thought of, “I’ll start fresh next week and follow my schedule”. If you’ve missed a few workouts, but on a comparatively free day you consider skipping it so that you can start it right the following week, then reconsider. It’s better to get even one run that week than none.

+) Use the best option available.Running on a treadmill is a great option for travellers. I travel for more than a hundred days a year and use treadmills at hotels whenever possible.

These are some of the things that I do to be consistent and make the best of what I have, never for once forgetting my priorities. This also helps me stay stress-free during my non-running phases as well as helping my come back to running when my other priorities are sorted.

Small things you could do to staying fit –

+) Always take the stairs – this is a quick workout on a busy day.

+) Walk around with strap-on leg weights at home.

+) Plug in a workout during an outing. For eg: use a pedal boat on a lake, get a swim in at the hotel.

Consistency and focus are two weapons that will take your forward, not just with running or fitness but anything in life.

Enjoy your runs and keep at it. Life is an outcome of the choices we make.

 

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

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

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Motivation Comments Off on Maffetone Method |

Maffetone Method

Marathoner Ajit Thandur speaks about the Maffetone Method that is aimed at reaching full human potential.

In my previous article titled Endurance and the Indian Runner, I had spoken about how amateur endurance running has so rapidly evolved in India over the last 15 years. The quest for fitness, weight loss, and good health has turned into a quest for speed and better timing, be it in running, bicycling or swimming.

Being an amateur runner and swimmer myself, I have often tried several techniques to improve myself. One method stands apart, I have found the Maffetone Method to be the most effective for me for the following reasons:

  1. You train your body to predominantly use aerobic muscles for energy during the endurance activity. Doing this helps to effectively use your body fat feed energy for the activity. In other words become ‘fat adapted’.
  2. With prolonged 180 Formula-based workouts, people who set out to do some form of endurance exercise for weight loss will benefit immensely.
  3. With this method, you can stay away from injuries due to excessive straining.
  4. Most importantly, as amateurs, we can keep ourselves fresh and agile through the day to work for our living and not feel lethargic or exhausted.

So, what is the Maffetone Method? How does one go about settling into the 180 Formula? How does one track development and be sure the training is right?

The MAF Method is a philosophy developed by Dr. Phil Maffetine over the course of 40 years of scientific research and clinical practice to help individuals of all ages, athletic abilities, physical issues, and personal goals reach their human performance potential.

Maximum Aerobic Function Test or the MAF Test is a key tool to keep track. The concept is simple, straightforward and easy to understand and follow.

How does it work? After determining your Threshold Aerobic Heart Rate, choose a convenient stretch along your favourite running route. Do a warm-up run of about 1KM, then using your HR monitor run 3KM keeping your HR at the Threshold Aerobic Heart Rate and record your pace for the distance.

Note this down. Typically it should look like this.

MAF Test dated:          at Threshold HR of:

Km          Pace

1               6:45

2               6:48

3               6:53

Repeat this test in the same format on the same route once every month. Ideally, you should do this for 6 months, though you might start seeing results as early as 3 months. The results I refer to is you achieving a faster pace at your Threshold Aerobic HR.

A few things to bear in mind:

  • The best way to achieve optimum results through the Maffetone Method / 180 Formula training is to do it alone because each of us have different thresholds.
  • If you’re doing it in as a group, you will tend to stay with the group and not required Heart Rate you need to be at.
  • Do not get upset when you start with this training, as you will not be able to maintain the same pace you have been running so far because you will invariably run at a lower heart rate than you have been running until now.
  • Happiness will dawn on you when your pace starts to get better and better at your constant Threshold Aerobic Heart Rate.
  • Most important of all, be patient!

There are certain factors other than just your pace that can affect your heart rate on certain days. It could be stress, lack of sleep, change in location/weather, lack of hydration, the unsuitable or irregular food you had the previous day. Always remember – 8 hours of sleep, rest and recovery after long runs/rides are of great importance.

What I have covered is a brief insight into the essence and benefits of the Maffetone Method and MAF Test. To know more and understand it even better, please go to this link:

https://philmaffetone.com/maf-test/

In conclusion, the Maffetone method is not a definitive step-by-step process to follow for faster results, instead, it is an approach that if followed well will help us make a healthier version of ourselves.

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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Featured, Motivation Comments Off on Experiencing the BMW Berlin Marathon |

Experiencing the BMW Berlin Marathon

Protima Tiwary talks to Reeti Sahai and Nivedita Samanta about their experience of running with 45,000 that the 2018 BMW Berlin Marathon.

There is a slight chill in the air, fluffy white clouds dot the clear blue canvas that is the Berlin sky, and Brandenburg Gate is buzzing at 7:00 am as the crowd gathers to cheer the runners. There is an electric energy in the air as the runners get ready for the official flag off at the BMW Berlin Marathon 2018. Among the 44,389 runners are Reeti Sahai and Nivedita Samanta, Adidas runners from India.

I caught up with them post their full marathon to find out how the experience was. Excerpts from the interview:

What was it like to run the BMW Berlin Marathon?

Nivedita– The Berlin Marathon is considered to be the fastest course in the world. It is flat, the weather is fabulous in September and the vibe is amazing. The entire city comes out to celebrate. The neighbourhoods were full of excitement, cheering spectators, playing music, cheering you on, handing out water and rooting for you. Words cannot describe the feeling of togetherness, and the motivation it gives you to keep going. The one thing that shocked me was the number of people running the race. Throughout the 42.2km distance, I was surrounded by a sea of bodies as almost 45,000 people came together from all across the world to run this marathon. I was prepared for a crowd, but not something to this extent. It was mentally exhausting because I had to constantly plot the quickest way around the crowds without losing any of the planned water stops.

There is a reason why it is called a World Marathon Major (WMM). The organisation was absolutely perfect. The fact that a new world record was set made it all the more memorable. I am now ready to run my second WMM race, for sure!

Reeti – This one was special in more ways than one. It was my maiden marathon, that too a World Major one! At the age of 40 I was trying my hand at a full marathon, I was prepared mentally and physically. I surprised myself by completing this under 4 hours! A sub 4 hour maiden marathon at the BMW Berlin Marathon at the age of 40, where Kipchoge broke his own world marathon record- you can see how special this one will be for me for the rest of my life. I am so grateful, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

The people of Berlin kept cheering me on, and I felt more confident. I kept visualising the finish line.I continued running, enjoying the energy around me. I felt grateful thinking about the fact that I’m actually living my dream of running a world major as my maiden marathon.

Marathons don’t always go perfectly. Any moment you’d like to share with us where you thought things were going downhill? How did you overcome that?

Nivedita– I am actually pleased to say, for the first time in my running career, that I had a near- perfect race. The only time I’d say I lost focus for a while was at the 40th km, when I lost because of a large number of runners around me. I wanted to go faster but was mentally tired from all the shoving. But that moment of weakness lasted maybe for a minute. I just remember scolding myself for already doing my fastest time ever and for complaining about something I had managed to do for the entire race. I just decided to continue at the same pace instead of going faster. I still finished strong and with a smile.

Reeti– Navigating through the crowds was mentally exhausting, and it took me 15km to find my own space to run. I popped a gel and took a couple of sips of water in my 8th kilometre, relaxed by 10km, and kept talking to myself to stay on track at the same pace. Before I knew it, I had already run 16km. I wanted to get my hands on a water bottle, but the water stops were jammed. Picking up a glass and running wasn’t easy, and I didn’t want to stop because of the crowd at the stops. It was quite frustrating to navigate my way to drink water. I popped my second gel at 16km, found a water station, regained my pace and confidence, and continued with a smile on my face. At the 34th kilometre, I got tired, and the thought of “The Wall” crossed my mind. I had not encountered it yet, but I had heard of it from my marathoner friends. I didn’t want to hit the wall! I took the 4th gel, stopped for some water, and continued (All this while talking to myself) I crossed the Adidas Runners cheering station at the 37th km and they gave me a new burst of energy. 5 more kilometres to go, I could do this! Giving up at this point felt easy, but I knew I had to push myself. My legs were screaming, and I kept saying to myself “pain is temporary. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” At the end of 5km, I wanted to be a marathoner. I was going to do this. When I crossed the Brandenburg gate and saw the finish line 400mt away, I teared up. I was smiling through those tears, and I had achieved my dream. And I was a sub 4 marathoner!

How did you decide to run the Berlin Marathon? How did you train for it?

Nivedita– Running a World Marathon Major has always been on my life goals. So, when I got the chance to run as part of the Adidas Runners team, I was SO excited! My 20-week training period was intense. The primary reason for my focus was that I had never enjoyed a full marathon distance in the previous 5 attempts. When I introspected, I realised that I wasn’t training adequately and was, therefore, falling short of my goals. So, I set several goals –

First goal – Try and finish at least 15 minutes faster from my previous time of 3:55.

Second goal- Enjoy every bit of the training period and the eventual race. Something that I had never accomplished. In my previous full marathons, I’d forget the main reason why I run- because I love to. I needed that joy back in my life. – Be very vigilant with my nutrition.

Specific to training, I’d read the book ‘Advanced Marathoning’ by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas to get more inspiration, as suggested by my friend Satwik Rajani. I took inspiration from the book, and ran 6 days, covering 90km every week, in the famous Delhi summer. I was also very lucky to have support from some of the Adidas Runners Community members and Reeti-my fellow Adidas Woman teammate – we’d wake up at 3 am to start running at 4.30 am on Sundays to cover our mileage.

After several injuries in previous years, I have learnt the importance of strength training. So, in addition to running, I was in the gym doing resistance-training at least 3 times a week. On the days that I had my weekly smaller speed workouts, I’d merge it with upper body and core conditioning. On my goal pace run days, I’d make sure to cool-down with focussed yoga & mobility stretches. At every step, I was super careful about keeping my nutrition products from Unived close. I used 3 different running shoes during the entire training cycle- I used the super light pair of adios for all my speed runs and the Ultraboost Lace-less and Solar Boosts for my other runs. This helped my legs and feet adapt to different levels of cushioning and support was good training.

Regular physio visits, massages and enough sleep were crucial for my recovery. The final piece of the entire training plan was establishing a positive mindset.

Reeti–  I had been running half marathons for 6 years now, and always thought that a full marathon was way too exhausting to even think about. So I never really aimed to train for one. I turned 40 this January and decided I wanted to do my full marathon in my 40th year. A simple wish manifested into a goal, and I called my running coach Ian and told him this news. 4 months were left for the Berlin Marathon, and I was afraid Ian would tell me I was not prepared. To my pleasant surprise, he said “Great! Let’s train for a sub 4 marathon Reeti!” I was so touched by his confidence in me, but I wasn’t sure what that meant in terms of training.

I started receiving my weekly training plans and I started running 4 days a week, and strength-training once a week. Gradually the mileage, intensity and days of training increased. So did the heat and humidity in Delhi. There were mornings I’d question my decision. There were days I didn’t feel like running. I went through emotions I hadn’t experienced. Training in the summer wasn’t easy. I chafed and HOW. I discovered aches and pains in new parts of my body. I slept for 10hours a couple of days a week. I tried to eat as healthy as I could. I had a bare-minimum social life (they thought I’d hit midlife crisis) I visited my sports physician for every minor niggle I had. I got regular massages done. I almost slept at 9 pm if not earlier for these four months. I barely drank alcohol. I had the most amazing set of running friends who are family now. I couldn’t have done this without them. They say a sport has the power to change lives – I can vouch for this.

A marathon is a combination of mental and physical strength- any tips you’d like to share with us on how to stay strong during the race?

Nivedita–  Staying positive is key. No matter what, just visualise that finish line in your brain.

Moreover, preparation is key. It is hard to set lofty goals and try to achieve them with inadequate training. There are no shortcuts and hard work is the only way to succeed. Being a good runner isn’t only about running. You must pay equal attention to cross-training, weight training, eating healthy and getting enough rest. Research about your race. You should know well before you race about the main water/fuelling stops you’ll make. If possible, carry a small water bottle and keep refilling it.

Finally, believe in yourself. It is very easy to start worrying about what people will think about your race. It doesn’t matter what others think. It’s only your opinion and your self-belief that matters.

Reeti– Whether you’re running your maiden marathon or your 10th, 42.195kms is a mental as well as a physical battle. It is your inner voice that helps you – what we are saying to ourselves at any moment will determine how we feel about race day. Talk about wanting to be confident and relaxed, talk about enjoying the day. Use your inner voice in a positive way. Visualize the finish line. Set small goals. Be it 5kms, the next lamp post or 10kms. And focus on that. Smile. Think of all that hard work you have put in. Lastly, do not forget to be grateful.

You can follow the journeys of these superwomen on their Instagram pages.

Nivedita – https://www.instagram.com/nivi.fitrabbits/

Reeti – https://www.instagram.com/thedefaultrunner/

 

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, Motivation Comments (1) |

Making running a habit

Do you have a really hard time waking up, or finding that motivation to run consistently? In this article, Kavita Rajith Nair tells you how she overcame these hurdles and went on to become a morning person!

It only takes 21 continuous days to form a habit – says Stephen Covey in his book – 7 Habits of the Highly Effective People. But how do you get through those 21 days? Is motivation the only factor? How about the habits we have to break first? Not having case studies and with only my experience to go by, I’ll avoid generalities and stick to my tale.

‘SHOWING UP! Is the theme that worked for me’ – making every single session consistently for the next 21 days.

That’s all it takes to make anything a habit be it running, cycling, boxing, music, hitting the gym, sleeping early, waking up early. Literally anything!

Running is the newest habit I have cultivated, which I have sustained for over 2 years now and is no longer considered a habit, as it has become an inseparable part of my life.

Bangalore is a runner’s paradise with easy access to broad traffic-free roads early in the mornings and beautiful weather almost all around the year – it’s no wonder you see runners across the city roads quite frequently. That’s how running became a natural choice for me.

When I decided to give running a shot, it wasn’t because I was a couch potato – I had

Ballroom Dancing, Kickboxing and CrossFit training going on and this helped me shed 7 Kgs. However, despite all of this I just couldn’t get my weight to budge south of 75 kilos. In hindsight, I think just dabbling in each of them and not doing enough of them consistently didn’t help my cause.

Running requires you to be an early morning person. I was someone who would hit the bed late and wake up late as well. As old habits would have it, mornings found be tucked comfortably in bed, until Jayanagar Jaguars (running club) opened up their branch in HSR Layout, just about 500mts from my house.

One morning I mustered enough motivation to SHOW UP on the ground at 5:20 AM. The routine was simple – some warm-up exercises, a couple of kms brisk walk, few drills after returning to the ground, cool down stretches, few core strengthening exercises and wind up. It was done and dusted by 7:00 AM and I was home by 7:05 AM. I still had an hour to go before my alarm would ring on a usual day otherwise and I just earned 60mins additional time to do my stuff – ME TIME!!! I thought I had already started liking it, but yes not a habit yet, as it was just the first day. The strangest thing happened that night, I started yawning at around 8:00 PM and despite my hard attempts to stay awake, I eventually hit the bed at 9:00 PM. That was by far the earliest time ever I had gone off to sleep, probably did it last as a kid.

The next day was a rest day, but despite that, I woke up earlier than usual and slept early too. Then came the running day, I was eager to be on the grounds on time and I SHOWED UP again. After a week, I pulled in my spouse to join me for a trial session, he was sulking initially to wake up, but our welcoming Location Lead, gave us proper guidance for absolute amateur runners like my spouse and myself and also the camaraderie of the warm co-runners, some experienced and some new to the sport like us, drew us to the ground for the next few sessions regularly. And that way, without realising I SHOWED UP again and again until today. It’s been 2 years and 3 months and I SIMPLY SHOW UP, be it at the grounds if in Bangalore or if traveling, I AM UP AND ABOUT on the roads on the scheduled days. To be very candid here, I am not sure when that turned into a habit, as I stopped counting after a few days I think to the extent that even for emergency reasons if I had to miss my running, I was on a complete guilt trip.

Looking back, here are the few things that probably helped me build ‘Running as a habit’:

  1. Decision: Awareness that you need to cultivate a habit is a big thing in itself. 10% of your work is done here.
  2. Choice:The next big thing is to decide what is it that you want to do. This could take a while as you may have to do a bit of introspection to arrive at this, or just go with what your heart tells you one fine morning, or what your best friend suggests, it is an experimentation anyway. Another 5% is done here.
  3. Enjoy: You should like what you have chosen and thoroughly enjoy it. Might be a taste you have to develop but that you should be aware of in the early days as it will most likely make you happier, content, energetic through the day to pull your daily chores and office routines without any additional effort- this gets you to the 40% mark.
  4. Partner-In: Rope in a friend/ family member/ partner/ spouse/ colleague.For me, this was an important step, especially in the initial days one pushes the other and unknowingly you have crossed a week without missing a single session. This takes you to a 50% mark.

The next 50% is the tricky bit, here come the cliched big words like regularity, consistency, determination, persistence and so on. I can share what helped me to bridge the gap of the next 50%.

  1. Note down the changes the new habit has brought in you. E.g. ease of waking up early, longer days for self, more Me-time, less grumpy, sustain more energy through the day and help me have a positive outlook on life itself.
  2. Talk about it to as many as possible.Of course, you risk shooing people away at the very sight of you from afar, but your well-wishers will stick around for you, noticing the change in you and to support you. Talking about your new habit only reassures that you are liking it, you are spreading a word about it, and in a minute way, influencing the people you are speaking to. That in itself is a big motivation.
  3. Set goals. This could be tough, as you are new to the habit, and may be unaware of what goals to set, you can either use our google mom to read blogs and research good articles or pester your coach/ mentor/ guide to help you here. I did the latter of course 🙂
  4. Measure yourself. This could be basis your goals for the habit you chose, but as it’s said, “only if you measure, can you change/control it” so measure! I defined performance for myself in running and then started measuring it. Needless to say, my original obsession with weight was also being measured, but along with it started measuring more meaningful yet simple aspects like BMI, fat%, skeletal mass, water content etc. And trust me, any of these moving in the positive direction is a huge stimulus.
  5. Share your success stories. While your successes will be evident to yourself and people around you, you can choose to share on social media if you are a social media friendly person, or even just talk about them. But having said that, consciously remember to have your head fixed right on your shoulders and not have the successes get to your head. In simple words, ‘Always Be Humble!’

Parting Message: Don’t get overwhelmed by the words Consistency, Dedication, Introspection, which I have used to describe my journey, believe me, this looked scary to me as well, but just remember #21Days and you will enjoy the journey. In our multifaceted daily life as a mother, father, child, caregiver, employee, manager, wife, husband and so on, never forget YOURSELF. Before I say Adieu, I would say have some time to live for yourself.

As an amateur runner, I have shared what helped me to ‘SHOW UP’ on all mornings of the run days and eventually cultivate ‘Running as a Habit’. Am eager to hear from you what helped you!

GUEST COLUMNIST

Kavita, employed with an International Bank had taken up running to stay fit in summer of 2016. Her leisure running has now developed into her passion. She fondly inspires people around her with her enthusiasm, infectious energy and love for running

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