Motivation Comments Off on When running becomes your life |

When running becomes your life

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

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

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

FM: How did you take to running? Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Training Comments Off on Why is it necessary to have a training plan? |

Why is it necessary to have a training plan?

Coach Pani, the head coach of the Pacemakers running club talks about why its necessary to follow a training plan.

Training for any endurance event takes an incredible amount of time and dedication. For most of us committing to a time needed for training can seem quite daunting at times. Often, the fear of not being able to dedicate that time to training discourages us to embark on that something new.

Morihei Ueshiba, Osensei ‘Great Teacher’ and founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido once said, “The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body and polish the spirit”.

I draw upon this powerful message to remind us all that we have to carve out time to care for ourselves and kindle our own fire.

Whether it’s your first 5K or a full marathon, the first and foremost step would be to build an ideal training plan that carefully takes into account your personal obligations as well as making the most of every moment of your training. Even a slight imbalance in these two elements can cause negative effects on an athlete’s health, personal life and the race season.

It’s never “a one program fits all” routine as it varies per individual and also every season. The key to a successful training plan is to have one that is specifically tailored to you.

Why do you need a training plan?

  • Gives workouts a new meaning
  • Encourages you to do what is good for you
  • Exposes you to different workouts
  • Puts a lot of emphasis on improvement and
  • Helps you avoid Overtraining (or Undertraining in some cases)

What exactly does a training plan offer?

Taking into account your individual strengths and limitations in relation to your goals, you or your coach can devise a customized plan. By doing this you will achieve 2 things – (a) it will help set the right expectations and (b) help determine the best approach to your training.

  • A training plan gives a runner the instructions and directions on how to scientifically improve stamina, endurance, and speed required to run a particular distance. This can be achieved by following a certain type of workouts step by step which trains the different energy systems and meets the physiological demands required for that distance.
  • It ensures that the runner is progressing in the right direction in achieving their objective without overtraining / injuries by following the “Principles of Training”.
  • Makes sure that a runner is peaking at the right time for Race Day.
  • Motivates a runner to perform better each time when they complete all the workouts as mentioned in the plan.

How are training plans built (10K, HM and FM)?

Once you know what events you want to take part in, it is time to draw up a training plan.

A minimum of 16 Weeks and 24 Weeks of training plan is required to run a 10K, Half Marathon (HM) and Full Marathon (FM) respectively. Here is an overall view of the plans.

16 Weeks Training Cycle for running your first 10K:

  • Base Building (6 Weeks): Work on building your aerobic base to meet the physiological demands for the distance you are training.
  • Strength Workouts (4 Weeks): In addition to your aerobic base building, include hill workouts and resistance training to build strength.
  • Speed Workouts (4 Weeks): Without compromising on the base building and strength workouts, add some anaerobic workouts during this phase of training to improve your speed. But, remember not to start with speed workouts without first building the base and strength phase. Once your body is ready to take the load then add speed workouts and avoid injury.
  • Tapering (1 – 2 Weeks): This is a very crucial period where an Athlete tends to fall ill, immune systems getting affected because of the training load just before race day. During this phase, your workouts should be reduced by 30 to 40 %, but the intensity has to be maintained until the race day.

While devising the training plan include one hard workout followed by one easy workout. In this way, easy workouts can be used as a recovery run, cross training (cycling, swimming) etc.

24 Weeks Training Cycle for running your first HM or FM:

While the steps to be followed remain the same across the training plan (as mentioned above), it’s the duration that varies.

  • Base Building (10 Weeks): As above.
  • Strength Workouts (6 Weeks): As above.
  • Speed Workouts (4 – 6 Weeks): As above.
  • Tapering (2 Weeks): as above.

For an amateur athlete who is looking to finish the race, the amount of time spent running is the most important factor in training. The runner’s focus should be on improving their time gradually to stay on their feet without overtraining and avoiding injury.

Whereas a seasoned athlete should concentrate on the physiological demands required for the distance they train and should mimic the race pace in their workouts.

Athletes who are training for an HM or FM should include one or two 10K and HM races in their training plans respectively to gauge their progress.

Following a structured training plan will help an athlete accomplish their peak performance on race day.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST
Kothandapani KC (aka Coach Pani) is the head coach at the PaceMakers running club and a marathoner himself. He believes that his “biggest strength for success lies in the four D’s -Discipline, Dedication, Determination and Devotion”.

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Featured Comments Off on For the love of running |

For the love of running

In conversation with Brijesh Gajera, co-founder of the Ashva Running Club, talks to Deepthi Velkur about his love for running. 

Why do we love to run? It’s tough, it hurts – yet more and more people every day are taking to the roads. I had a chance to talk with Brijesh Gajera and listening to him gave me an insight into the enormous pleasure running can bring – it is, after all, a natural thing to do.

Brijesh is a software engineer by profession and an outdoor enthusiast by passion. In his professional avatar, Brijesh works with Cisco India where he tackles next generation Enterprise Networking Solutions in the hope of building predictability, adaptability, and protection for businesses worldwide.

But, that’s just one side of him – a self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast, Brijesh is a long-distance runner, cyclist, and trekker. He has participated in multiple marathons over the last 10 years, most notable of which is the prestigious Boston Marathon 2018. He has taken part in multi-day cycling tours in the Western Ghats in South India, Indian Himalayas, and Europe. He loves the Himalayas and keeps visiting them for hiking, cycling, and running which, he calls his annual pilgrimages.

As if that wasn’t enough, Brijesh enjoys mentoring and coaching amateur long-distance runners. He is the co-founder and one of the coaches of Ashva Running Club where he trains runners to help them achieve their goals – be it their first 5K/10K/Marathon or specific targets.

“The two important things I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be and that the most difficult part of any endeavor is taking the first step, making the first decision” – Robyn Davidson.

Let’s read through Brijesh’s first steps as a runner and what influenced him to go from recreational runner to running club co-founder.

Was running a big part of your life growing up?

Actually, no. I used to do the occasional (not more than a couple of times a year maybe) run around the school ground with a friend of mine but that was to get a competitive high as both of us were the toppers in the class and running was our way of settling the debate of who is better J

From the moment I started following athletics in my high school years, I became a huge fan of Haile Gebrselassie. Actually, who is not a fan of his? I always admired his running and that was my regular connection to running in growing up years.

What was the trigger to pick up running and do it so well?

After I moved to Bangalore for work, I used to volunteer for an NGO called Parikrma. When the inaugural Bangalore 10K happened in the year 2008, Parikrma asked its volunteers to run in the event to show solidarity to their cause. I liked the idea and registered for the event. I truly enjoyed training for and running my first 10K. The joy of running took a hold on me. What was supposed to be a one-time affair became a lifetime passion after that event.

Soon 10K was followed by Half and Full Marathons. The haphazard training was replaced by a structured program and all my travel plans started revolving around running.

You have competed in several marathons over the years – did you always plan on it being competitive?

Well, nothing was planned as such and things happened on their own. I generally get driven by a goal or an idea – of experiencing a particular marathon, achieving a target time or volunteering for a cause. Once I choose to run an event, I plan my training and focus on it whole-heartedly.

In the early days of my running, my aim was to simply build endurance and run in various places. Once I was satisfied with my endurance level, I decided to target a particular finish time and worked on speed. When I was reasonably close to the Boston Marathon qualification, I decided to train for it.

In short, my competitive knack comes from the targets I set for myself.

How many races have you participated so far and which has been the most memorable one?

There are a plenty! I have lost the count, or rather never kept it. All my race medals go in an antique trunk in my living room. Roughly there are more than 25 marathon or longer distance races I have participated in till date.

Choosing the most memorable race from so many is quite a task! Of course, my first marathon always tops the list. It was an idyllic setting in Auroville and what I experienced and learned that day about human endurance, psychology and never-say-die spirit is irreplaceable.

Then there is Ladakh Marathon 2017 for the experience and love of mountains, the Boston Marathon 2018 for the weather and sea of runners, The Big Sur Marathon 2018 for the natural beauty and scores of Mumbai Marathons for the crowd support.

 

You are the co-founder and one of the coaches of the running group Ashva, how did this group come into being and how many runners do you have currently?

Somewhere along my personal running journey, I felt that I could share my experience with fellow runners and guide them. My dear friend, Murthy R K, also wanted to get into coaching runners around the same time. In fact, he was already coaching school kids by then. Together we decided to form “Ashva Running Club”.

It’s been more than 2 years now and we have about 75 runners in 3 different locations (Lalbagh, Whitefield, Kanakapura Road) in Bangalore. Apart from that, we also train people remotely.

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

Totally. Joining a running group has helped my running immensely.

First of all, the camaraderie of a group is a great motivation to get up and go for a run. It helps one to be regular and disciplined. There is also what I call “Running Rituals”, the warm-up and cool-down, which are essentials for injury-free and enjoyable runs. If it is left to our choice, we may avoid these rituals at times and eventually omit it all together, but when you are part of a group, these are religiously followed.

In addition to that, a sensible group can also help you avoid the excesses – too much or too less of training.

Describe the training process that you follow at Ashva?

Everything revolves around the trainee, to begin with. Every person comes with a particular goal in mind and we try to understand the goal and help the person to be on a path to achieve it.

We focus on injury prevention, strengthening, and conditioning. We maintain a healthy mix of speed, tempo and long runs in our training program.

What we try to strive at Ashva is BALANCE, not just in your running in particular but in your life in general. Balance in your physical and mental states, balance in your professional and personal life, balance in your running and non-running worlds. We encourage and help people to achieve the balance of exercise, nutrition and rest. We, in fact, urge our runners to take breaks from running from time to time for rejuvenation.

We believe all these elements come together to build a healthy runner and human being.

How do keep your runners motivated?

By a mix of continuity and variety. The continuity keeps one connected, the variety keeps one excited. Running Rituals, I talked about earlier are a permanent part of our training. We do not compromise on them. We go to different locations to train to give them a different look and feel. We also encourage them to participate in new events and explore new places on their own.

What are the top three things you do to prevent running injury-free?

Warm-up and Cool-down: No two ways about this – it is a must every time you decide to take a run.

Yoga: We believe that yoga is a fun and engaging way to work on flexibility and strength and we have regular sessions of yoga in our training.

Cross-Training and Breaks: Cycling and Swimming are effective ways to avoid injuries and burn-out. And so are breaks – in fact, frequent and small breaks are rarely understood and a highly underrated device for injury-prevention!

You participated in the Mera Terah Run last year and completed 13 half-marathons in 13 days – can you please describe the emotions before, during and after this most challenging event?

I have been participating in the Mera Terah Run (MTR) for last 4 years, and it is going to be 5th this year.

Though the thought of running 13 marathons in 13 days in 13 different places with overnight travel sounds daunting, one thing we must understand is that running is just a medium for MTR to achieve their mission. The cause we choose for MTR is the utmost priority. Running is in fact lot of fun in MTR because there is no pressure to finish under a certain time, there is no finish line and medal or certificate per se and you get to meet so many different people and run with them that it feels like a festival.

Before the MTR starts, we spend a lot of time planning the logistics and coordinating with our friends in various places to make sure we have good experience traveling and running in those places. The last 3-4 runs of the whole campaign are slightly difficult given the accumulated fatigue of running and travel. But the group bonhomie and the collective purpose keep us all excited for the whole duration of the yatra as we call it.

Being a passionate traveler as well, I am sure you have run in some exotic locations – can you please name a few?

My heart always goes with the Himalayas, Pedong/Kalimpong in Darjeeling, Leh in Ladakh, Manali Solang in Himachal, Garhwal in Uttarakhand – these are my personal favorites. Another favorite is Western Ghats – Malnad, Mahabaleshwar, and Ooty.

Diu on West Coast of India also makes to my list. Outside India, I loved the Big Sur Marathon route a lot.

What are the future goals for Ashva and yourself?

We would like to see Ashva Running Club building a healthy and active community. I read somewhere once that running makes people smarter. If that is true, I would like to see our trainees achieve the balance and also be able to coach themselves eventually and help their fellow runners with their knowledge.

For myself, I would like to see Ashva achieve its goal J That is my biggest goal. Of course, I would like to continue running. As of now, I am focusing on training for a 90KM trail marathon early next year. I plan to focus on ultra-marathons for some time and also visit exotic places in the process.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

 

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Featured Comments Off on Learn the Secrets of running from Coach Pani |

Learn the Secrets of running from Coach Pani

From running apps to training guides, it’s never been easier to get started or take your running to the next level. Maybe its time you start working out with a running coach says Deepthi Velkur

It’s safe to say that running is having its moment in the sun. More and more people have taken up running or participating in running events than ever before.

As the attractiveness of running grows, so does the availability of online resources that help people get started and get better. But, using these resources effectively is quite a daunting task and maybe it’s time to follow the lead of more than six million people who work out with running coaches.

So, what exactly, does a running coach do? And what are they supposed to help with?

To help us understand this better, I spoke with Mr. Kothandapani K.C (or “Coach Pani” as he is fondly called) who is associated with the PaceMakers running group and has been their head coach since 2012. Coach Pani spends his time training long-distance runners for 10k, Half and Full Marathon events and under his leadership and guidance, several of them have been podium finishers at events across the country.

An Indian Air Force veteran with 21 years of service, Coach Pani started off as a middle-distance runner and won several medals at the Air Force Athletic Championships across 800m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, 5000m, and the 10000m.  Furthermore, he represented the IAF at the inter-services cross country championship multiple times and later on transitioned into running full marathons and before he left the air force he had to his credit a sub-3-hour finish running at 42.195km.

His list of achievements is quite eye-catching: completing five out of six world marathon majors (exception being London which he will complete in 2019), finished within the Top 4 at the Mumbai marathon (senior’s run) three years in a row (2016 – 18) and took part in all 11 editions of the TCS World 10K run and won on 9 occasions.

Here are a few pieces from the interview:

To start off, how did PaceMakers start and how did you get associated with the group?

In early 2012, a group of Bengaluru-based runners called 12M12M planned on running one marathon a month and trained at the University of Agriculture Sciences (GKVK).

Six months later, the group realized that something wasn’t right as there were several injuries and fatigue was a huge factor. They made the decision to bring in an experienced coach who could help with putting in place a structured training plan.

Considering my training experience with the Nike Run Club (NRC) and my personal running experience with the IAF, the 12M12M group considered me the right man for the job. They approached my friend Thomas Bobby Philip who also trained with me at the NRC and he was instrumental in convincing me to take up the challenge.

That is how I started coaching with them and later on creating the running group – PaceMakers.

So, how long have you been coaching at the PaceMakers and what changes have you brought about?

Well, I have been coaching the PaceMakers since 2012. At the start, I used to train the 12M12M group for two days at GKVK and two days at the Bhagmane Tech Park.

It was designed this way so that people staying close-by could join the group and train with us.

We used to train thrice a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays with Saturdays dedicated for long runs. The training plan which ran from 5 AM to 7:30 AM included one interval run, one tempo/uphill run every alternate week and one long run. On days when we have the long runs, it might go beyond 7:30 AM.

One of the first changes I brought in was to drive punctuality for all sessions. Second, I made a basic change of having runners bring a water bottle only for long runs. Third, I introduced variety such as interval, tempo, Fartlek and uphill runs in the training.

I also ensured that all workouts start with a proper warm up followed by dynamic drills and cooling down with some stretching exercises. This was a critical element as the 12M12M group suffered injuries in the past because of a lack of this.

How many people does your running group have and how do you categorize them?

At present, we are about 100 members and we have runners of all levels – beginners wanting to achieve a personal goal to intermediate runners yearning to take part in short distance competitions to professional runners.

With our intermediate runners, they are taught to take the load of strenuous workouts like interval and endurance runs to build strength and confidence. Once they are comfortable with these workouts and gained experience, they are trained for half and full marathons using longer runs that last for more than three hours.

The workouts obviously differ according to the type of run being prepared for – correct? Can you please elaborate on each of them?

Yes, they do differ. For instance, when training for a 10K run, I concentrate on the intensity of workouts with shorter distances building the anaerobic energy system and at the same time not compromising on the aerobic capacity. For half and full marathon distances, the emphasis is more on building the aerobic energy system without compromising on speed.

Considering the varied group of runners, building customized plans must be challenge. How do you handle this?

Of course, the challenge is very real in dealing with this, but I look at several factors when building a plan. For starters, looking at their current fitness level and past workouts, I group them and create a group training plan – the senior most in the group functions as the leader to bring the group together and complete the workouts. This approach also motivates the slow runners in the group to push themselves to achieve group objectives. Secondly, to achieve individual goals, I set a target for them based on their individual fitness level and use competitions to gauge their performances and make required modifications for further improvement.

PaceMakers are believed to be a group that trains with a purpose of running injury free. How do you go about achieving this?

We follow a few standard rules – before any session, we warm up well by including 20 minutes of slow jogging/running. We then move on to 10-15 minutes of dynamic running drills, followed by 2 to 4 strides of 100 meters.

Post the workout, we do a cool-down run for 10 mins with 2km run as that will bring your body temperature back to normal and also flush out any lactic acid build up in the muscle. We then end the workout session with 20-30 minutes of static strengthening and stretching exercises.

No one can guarantee injury free running considering the several biomechanical factors involved but if you follow this routine for every workout, your running injuries can be minimized.

I also recommend toning down your training after every 3 weeks to let your body recover and avoid overtraining.

The military training you received while serving with the IAF helped you become a middle-distance runner and later on to long distance running. What elements from your service days have you brought into your coaching style?

The first thing I brought in was the discipline to get up early and be on time for the training at 5 AM. Secondly, the camaraderie – spirit of teamwork and finally, the training methods and the knowledge gained during my IAF days.

What motivates you about what you do at PaceMakers?

My group consists of men and women from different walks of life – defense personnel, retired personnel (some older than 70) doctors, engineers, IT professionals, businessmen, and students.

Despite their busy schedule at work and home, they are very passionate about running and wake up early every day to start training. Since I also train with them it motivates them to give their best.

When you have such a lovely family like the PaceMakers and you see their passion, it gives me immense pleasure to be associated with such people and give them back whatever possible I can.

Under your leadership and guidance, the runners have made a mark for themselves in achieving their personal best in various events. How do you feel about that?

When my runners achieve their personal best performance, it gives me immense satisfaction that I was instrumental in bringing about some change in them. I teach them to believe in their self, feel confident and motivate them further to achieve even bigger goals.

What is the one thing you tell your trainees?

Be consistent– not just in running but in whatever you do in life. Do that and the rest will automatically follow.

What are your future plans for this group?

My future plans for the group are to see more and more people take up running or any form of exercise to keep themselves healthy.

I also want to see more people from my group qualify and participate in major marathons around the world such as the Boston, New York, Berlin, London or Tokyo and also take up ultra-running. For me, Boston is very special as it has a rich history of 122 years and for an amateur runner, this is like qualifying for the Olympics.

That was Coach Pani with some very interesting points and the key takeaways from that interview are:

  1. Be disciplined,
  2. Don’t forget your warm up before and cooling down after any workout– the key to preventing injuries and
  3. Be consistent.

A good coach is successful when they accomplish one thing: helping their trainees in achieving their goals. This thought is what drives Coach Pani every day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Featured Comments Off on Learning from Coach Pramod Deshpande |

Learning from Coach Pramod Deshpande

What can the chief coach and mentor of the largest running group in Bengaluru teach you about how to train and prepare for your next marathon? The short answer—absolutely everything! discovers Deepthi Velkur. 

In this interview, we’re going to pick the brain of Mr. Pramod Deshpande, a reputed coach and mentor for the Jayanagar Jaguars and a technology innovation head with a leading MNC who over the past 4 years has trained more than 2500 athletes complete Half-Marathons, Full-Marathons and Ultra-Marathons.

Apart from coaching, he has also managed multiple running events as Race Director notably the Oracle run and in his spare time addresses corporate forums in the city on motivation and staying competitive.

Pramod shares with us his running story and transition from sprinting into a marathon, and how a coach could help achieve your running goal.

To get us started, can you please share with us a little about your personal running background?

My early running life was that of a sprinter and not a long distance runner. I took to running in my school and college days back in Pune. I was a competitive athlete specializing in the 100m sprint in the 80’s all the way through to 1990. Post that until 1994-95, I did a fair share of coaching people for track and field events.

Later on, life happened and I went on to build the professional career that kept me away from competitive sport and coaching. It was in 2010 that I finally got back to running with Jayanagar Jaguars but this time moved on from sprint to covering longer distances – half, full and ultra-marathons.

When I started with Jayanagar Jaguars, it was more of a social running group of 8-10 people with no structured training in place. Fast forward 8 years and today we are a group of 700 runners located across 10 centres in the city all following a standard training program.

Sprinting to marathons – those are the extreme ends of the running spectrum. How did you make that transition?

I’m not a marathon runner per se. Even though my passion lay in sprinting, I had to make a call at some point. As you grow older, sprinting is not a sport you want to associate yourself with as your pace slows down drastically and it takes a significant toll on your mental and physical health. Also, there is only one sprinting event a year for veterans so continuity is a challenge.

In long-distance running, you can still maintain and manage your pace. Given the numerous races across a year, it helps you participate more and therefore be more consistent. From 2010 – 2014, I took part in several marathons being a podium finisher in 3 runs and also won the best debutant award in the city. Having won my fair share of accolades, I moved into full-time coaching in 2014.

When did you first decide to begin coaching?

I started coaching with Jayanagar Jaguars in the year 2014 on my own accord. When I started, we were only around 20-25 people. I was responsible for restructuring the club and putting in place a more formal and structured training program and the results are there for all to see. Today, we see more and more runners wanting to be a part of this club.

Our standardized model is now in place and followed across all our 10 locations in the city. Every individual is given an overall brief about the training program and the training schedule is shared with them right before they kick-start their workout. Additionally, we use our mobile app to handle all our communication around workout and training schedules.

What’s the hardest part about being a running coach?

Honestly, I do not find anything hard being a coach. I like what I do and enjoy the challenges that the job brings.

Your running club has people from a varied age group, different individual goals and varied levels of strength? How is your training plan built to cater to this?

The overall program is obviously customized keeping in mind certain parameters such as strength levels, amateur or seasoned runner as well as individual goals. We typically break down the runners into 7-8 categories (count could vary based on the program need) and we then allocate captains who have been directly trained under my guidance in the ratio of 30:1.

A senior group would typically have 30 members while slower groups are much larger (100 – 150 runners). Each category of runners will have a customized training schedule built for them. I am responsible for training the group captains who in turn will train their respective groups. I create a training schedule and communicate this to the group captains who implement the plan and follow the schedule.

Given the 2 styles of running are different – what elements from your sprinting days have you brought into the world of marathon running?

While sprinting and long distance running are two completely different styles of running, the one constant is how an athlete trains. Parameters such as off-season, on-season and types of workout changes but the overall structure remain the same for both.

The type of workout performed by a sprinter will, of course, vary to that of a marathon runner. A sprinter does not run more than a 5k and requires a little more strength training while a long distance runner is focused on distance and endurance.

Everyone talks about the importance of strength and weight training. What specific workouts do you think help improve marathon running?

There are a few elite runners who do not need strength training but this is few and far between. Majority of us are leisure runners and definitely need to go to a gym to do some strength training. Looking at off or on season as well as which part of the training schedule the runners are in, they will undergo 1-2 days of strength training at the gym.

Apart from the gym-based training, we conduct a twice a year on-ground strength training for runners program that lasts for 2 months. A typical training period will be 90 mins at the most considering time constraints that the most of the runners face. The training day routine will involve running exercises, strength training exercises such as Plyometrics as well as flexibility exercises.

Do you think it is important for a serious runner to have a coach? If yes, what are the benefits of having a coach?

The outside perspective is very important to your running life. Everybody needs a coach to take care of your workout and to build discipline. Look at leading sportsmen around the world, Roger Federer for instance – we all need a coach!

What’s your coaching philosophy?

Trying to get the best out of a person’s ability is what a coach must do. Apart from coaching someone to be the best runner there is, I also try to imbibe the spirit of being a good and responsible citizen.

I would like to take this opportunity to put to rest a misconception that the coach is everything – NO, a coach cannot be a nutritionist, a physiotherapist or a doctor. These are three distinct roles and every athlete needs to have access to them as well.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Training Comments Off on Three Reasons to Hire a Running Coach |

Three Reasons to Hire a Running Coach

If you have ever wondered whether you should invest in coaching, Radhika Meganathan in the article below will help you take an informed decision.

Running may be one of the cheapest and easily accessible sport ever because apart from good running shoes, there are practically no expenses involved. Plus, what is there to train about it? That’s what most people think, but Jo, coach at The Unit weight training studio in Kotturpuram (Chennai), disagrees. “A running coach will optimize your performance and also help you to avoid injuries. That’s why they can be invaluable,” she says.

Regardless of whether you run as a hobby or a serious passion, if you ever wondered whether you should you invest in a running coach, we present to you three reasons why you should consider hiring one!

When you face a roadblock and need a push in the right direction…

When you are stalled, a coach can absolutely get you on track. Srimathi Vardhan who lives in Manhattan says, “I started running in 2016 and did my first 10k in Chennai when I had been there for my vacation. I trained for it throughout my vacation and finished the race in 56 minutes.  But I didn’t know much about pre- and post-run stretches and ended up hurting myself after my first half marathon in 2017. So I talked to my friend who referred me to this virtual coach, who created a training plan specific to my needs. Using this plan, I trained diligently and achieved several personal best timings in 4 mile, 5 mile, 10k and 13.1 mile races. “

You are an experienced runner and feeling bored or unmotivated…

Sure you have conquered a few marathons and are quite confident of yourself and your stats. Well, you may not know it, but a coach can help you surpass your current record to hitherto unimagined heights! A lot of experienced runners get their advice and tips from running buddies and are part of clubs and quite understandably miss out on having a trained professional oversee their progress. If you have not noticed any new development in your running for a long time, and if you find yourself stuck in a rut, then you should definitely opt for a running coach, one who can help you set new and thrilling goals and help you get there.

You are new to running and you want to put your best foot forward, literally….

We get it, you just started running, you are not sure about your running stats and you want to get miles ahead without any margin for error… or you may not be so sure of your posture or pacing, and you’d like to have some professional help. Whatever your reason is, go for it if you can afford it… and let it be noted that it is practically a win-win situation, and might very well turn out to be a small investment for a long time of running with minimum injuries!

The truth is that when you opt for coaching, there is very little that can go wrong. Coaches are equipped to instruct runners of all levels on managing different training loads and help them avoid common training errors, such as wrong posture, wrong pacing, inadequate recovery time etc. Of course you can learn all these stuff by yourself at some point, sure, but if you can afford it and you have had enough of running without supervision, then you’re better off saving time (and minimizing injury risks) by opting for a running coach.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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Training Comments Off on How to Choose a Running Coach |

How to Choose a Running Coach

So what do you have to look for while shopping for a running coach? Radhika Meganathan demystifies the process.

You are excited because you’ve finally decided to up your game and hire a running coach. You have made inquiries at your gym, trawled through reviews online and on social media, and have also listed to recommendations from your friends /running buddies. And now, you have a name. Only, you are not sure how to know if they are the right one for you.

Fear not, we at the Finisher have compiled a template of questions just for you, that you can ask to your shortlisted choices before choosing one of them as your running coach.

BACKGROUND CHECK: What makes them great? What are their qualifications, credentials, accreditation? Are they still running? A non-running profile is not really an issue, a lot of retired athletes and runners offer terrific coaching, but you should be aware of where your coach currently stands in the sport, and whether they have relevance experience training for any specific marathon you are training for.

MODE / NATURE OF COACHING: Is it live, or virtual? If it is an online coaching option, would that work for you? What is your preference, and are you willing to go out of your comfort zone and experiment, or would that be too distracting? Are they willing to connect with you organically, and customise a plan just for you, or will they be selling a pre-packaged regimen to you?

FREQUENCY OF COACHING: Daily, weekly, fortnightly? What about breaks? What if you have to travel or forced to take days off from the coaching? Will they adjust to the changes in your schedule and redraft your training plan accordingly?

VENUE AND ACCESSIBILITY: Does the trainer come to your neighbourhood track, or do you have to go to him? If it’s the latter, do you have to spend on a long commute each time you meet with your coach? It can get surprisingly difficult to make use of a coach when their hours or location is not ideal for you, and if you have a busy lifestyle and cannot find the bandwidth to make it work.

COMMUNICATION STYLE: Did you have a chance to talk with them, either on phone or face to face? This step is important because first impressions are important. How does the person come across to you? Are they encouraging, positive, inspirational?

COACHING PHILOSHOPY: Ask them about their coaching MO, philosophy and ethics. How does it strike you? What do they think of their own coaching, and how do they articulate their ideas and plans for you, and for the sport in general. Do you see yourself being led by them for the next few months, years?

COST OF COACHING: How does the coaching cost? Is it an amount that you can comfortably afford for at least the coming two years? Is the coach clear on what training will be included with the rates? Is it all done with a proper binding contract?

After all the questions given above, comes the most important step: ask for references. A reference who is not your friend (or theirs!) can give you far more objective information. Do the references highlight and demonstrate the magic that you need, from the coach? Is your coach completely aligned to what your specific goals and talents are, and can they be focused enough to get from amateur to amazing?

No matter how highly the coach comes recommended to you, make an effort to talk to their past and current clients, mentees and trainees, and drop in for a trial session before committing to a contract. This will help you in taking a real time decision without blindly relying on your guts or a glowing reference.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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Motivation Comments Off on Best Running Apps |

Best Running Apps

A running app can boost you from the Couch to your first 5k, here is a list of the best apps by Deepthi Velkur

A little extra motivation is required sometimes to get up and start running. It turns out that a little technology is all it takes to boost your fitness drives. These running apps not only track your runs but also motivate and coach you. Whether you’re just starting out as a runner or a seasoned athlete, this list of running apps will assist you with the tools you require to get the most out of your miles.

Human

This running app is best to provide motivation to run and make you more active. This app helps in tracking the time spent in you being active like running, walking, and cycling and also pushes you to reach your “Daily 30,” or 30 minutes of exercise per day. Human compares your data with other nearby users which gives the runner an insight into who’s exercising nearby, so one can see how they rank against their neighbors.

Strava

If you enjoy running in a group, then Strava is the best running app for you. This app is widely popular amongst runners and cyclists. It suits both a causal and a seasoned runner. It comes with an in-depth GPS tracking, works with a variety of GPS devices, and tracks all kinds of metrics and shows your data against other runners in the same route.

MapMyRun

If your unsure of which route to take, this running app gives you innumerable running routes to choose from and there is a comprehensive tracker which records distance, pace, elevation, calories burned, and more for each run. This data integrates with a variety of wearable trackers and the My Fitness Pal app, hence throwing a clear insight into your diet and exercise regime.

Nike + running

This running app was specifically designed for runners to track their runs, photo sharing, and audio coaching. This app goes beyond basic tracking by providing features that assist in motivation and coaching such as cheers from top athletes at the end of a race, built-in photo sharing that overlaps your run stats with a photo from your current route, and top Nike coaches guiding you via audio-based workouts along the way.

Runtastic

This running app keeps your mind occupied while running through the story running feature. You can listen to pod-cast style tracks while running wherein each story is 35-40mins long approximately the time taken for your daily workouts.

Fuel My Run

If you’re a person who runs the half or full marathons, you would require assistance to learn when to start fueling on the run which means ingesting those foil packets of gel. This running app enables you if you’re unsure of when to start taking down your energy chews or gels when to eat, swallow and repeat.

My Run Plan

This app is built for designing a training plan that best suits you. Once you’ve set your running goal and have fed this information, the algorithm will give you a complete guide on how you should train. You can reach out to certified coaches using this app for help with injuries, nutrition and more.

So what’s your favourite running app?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Featured Comments Off on Moving from 10k to a Half Marathon |

Moving from 10k to a Half Marathon

Our guest columnist, seasoned runner, Anjana Mohan talks about how to transition from 10k to a half marathon

Doubling the distance you run poses similar challenges regardless of whether you’re a first time runner, a regular fitness runner, or an ultra-runner returning after a break. The biggest difference between those who have done 21.2km before and those who haven’t is simply the conviction that they can. Structure your training to slowly increase your endurance from 60-100 mins to 120-200 mins of higher heart rate activity. Those with prior experience in any continuous activity for 2-3 hours will find this jump easier than those who have to train for this in slow increments.

There are 5 major components of incremental training:
1. Learning to run longer
2. Training upper body and core muscles to support the longer runs
3. Understanding & serving your nutritional needs
4. Rest, recovery & life balance
5. Building mental toughness and practicing commitment

Many can and do get away with just the first component, allowing the other 4 to play out haphazardly through their preparation. While the first is a minimum, and with 10k training you may have gotten away with considering nothing else, a half marathon necessitates conscious attention to the other four. Training programs typically address the technical fitness components (muscle fitness, endurance), but the runner must self- address the logistical and mental aspects (Scheduling, prioritization and commitment). Nutrition, rest and recovery may or may not be addressed by technical training and require your maturity and body-attentiveness.

Training to run long distances
Training for longer distances can be achieved by running 3 days a week including a weekend long run (10% distance increments per week). While possible to substitute a cardio workout for 1 of 3 weekly runs for the same duration, it is more beneficial to add 45mins of cross training per week like cycling or swimming. Adding 1 to 2 gym sessions for lower body bulk muscles as well as upper body can yield amazing benefits of strength for any athlete and is highly recommended. And finally building and strengthening core muscles is a basic necessity to maintain positive form & avoid injury. Add 10-15 minutes minimum ab-work to runs or gym days as many times per week as possible. Rest is the most overlooked component of training. Plan this mental and physical recovery and muscle building necessity into your life. With anything less than 7-9hrs of unbroken sleep, you will perform sub-par, feel fatigue and be more prone to injury.

Mindfulness running

Runs longer than an hour need re-fueling en-route, and greater attention to protein and carb intake during the week. You should try, practice and experiment with these during each incrementally longer run and incorporate them into your training. Similarly, practicing positive thinking, and actively training your brain to believe that you can complete your distance and working to do so without quitting for each workout are the reps your brain muscle needs to learn to become familiar with that flex.

Runner’s mind- Understanding the end goal

Most runners find that signing up for an event keeps them focused to train towards that target. However, you may enjoy the longer runs and find yourself training towards a sustained higher base mileage that goes long beyond a single race. A structured program will typically have you peak and taper towards the event but as you get about three quarters of the way into your distance, you should consider what you want your post-race running to look like.

Understanding why you run and what you get from running will help you develop your running maturity and balance it with your life priorities. Seek to develop a sense of conviction for your own reason to run – be it for health and fitness, sense of achievement, recognition, competition or just the endorphin joy of each run.

Moving from ten kilometers to a half marathon isn’t about distance, it is about a new threshold of fitness in your life, learning how you want to sustain and fold that into your new normal, and believing in yourself.

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Anjana started running in the U.S. in 2007 and has helped mentor many from couch to half marathon. She is passionate about empowering women through running and now runs in Bangalore with Jayanagar Jaguars

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