Gear Comments Off on Trail Running Shoes to Consider |

Trail Running Shoes to Consider

If you are looking for the perfect shoes for trail running then we have two suggestions for you here, writes Deepthi Velkur.

Tired of running on polluted, crowded streets? The sea of people a bit unnerving? If the answer to the two questions is yes, then trail running is a good idea for you.

Deena Kastor, an eight-time American cross-country champion once quoted, “To me, heaven on earth is exploring on a trail”. As you run through lush green forests, rolling hills and gorgeous plains, heaven certainly is a thought that comes to mind.

Imagine avoiding trees, rocks, branches and boulders instead of people on the street – sounds like fun doesn’t it? Trail running is more engaging, more fun and definitely more scenic. You don’t need heaps of specialized gear to run a trail but there is one thing that will make your run a whole lot easier and safer too – the right kind of footwear.

Difference between a trail running shoe and a road running shoe

The main difference between the two is the traction on the sole. In a trail running shoe, the sole has deeper lugs for a bigger surface area. The upper part is usually knit meshed to avoid debris from entering the shoe. Also, trail shoes generally have a lower offset where the heel height is lower than that of the toe height making it relatively flatter thus providing a stable platform to run on.

Choosing a trail running shoe can be daunting so we’ve taken a shot at providing information on two excellent shoes that could be part of your trail running gear.

Salomon Speedcross 4 CS

This is a trail running shoe that is built for the toughest trails out there. It is designed keeping in mind comfort and protection on the long, challenging runs.

The first thing you notice when you wear them is the reinforced outsole. The outsole is patented Contagrip Wet Traction, the best shoes you can buy for traction which come with deep lugs and soft rubber ensuring durability and providing maximum grip.  It offers more traction against slippery conditions, steep up and downhill terrains. The uppers are water-resistant, reinforced, abrasion-resistant and have an anti-debris mesh that protects debris from entering the shoe. The CS variant (ClimaShield) allows the foot to breathe bringing a quick drying in the forefoot area.

The toggle lacing system and sockliner offer a secure, supportive fit and there is a good level of cushioning around the ankle. On the trails, you will appreciate the cushioning in the footbed and sole.

Underneath, the design and placement of the studs ensure that mud doesn’t clog up thus ensuring a consistent grip. The drop is 10 mm which provides for great cushioning. It also has an enhanced Lightweight Muscle midsole and a molded EVA band which ensures stability in addition to the cushioning.

Features

Weight :297g
Heel Height :33mm
Forefoot Height :22mm
Drop :10mm

Overall, this is a shoe designed for soft, wet and rugged terrains and while expensive (retailing at INR 13,000 on www.amazon.in), they certainly pack a punch in terms of durability and safety. One drawback though – they can’t be used for road running.

Hoka One One Torrent (pronounced “Hoka O-nay O-nay”)

The rather interesting name means “now it is time to fly” in Maori. The torrent is a trail running shoe that is super lightweight, agile, and technical allowing runners to tackle any terrain.

Hoka One One shoes are known for their premium cushioning and the torrent doesn’t disappoint. The midsole provides for a lot of cushioning without comprising on the responsiveness of the shoe. The multidirectional lugs underneath the shoe offer good traction both up and down hill. They offer a lot in terms of breathability ensuring your feet don’t get too hot and sweaty on those long runs.

The Hoka One One Torrent achieves a fine balance between agility and traction at 254g offer one sweet running experience.

Features

  • Weight: 254g (size EU 42)
  • Forefoot height: 18mm
  • Heel height: 23mm
  • Drop: 5mm

Priced at INR 8,100 on www.runnerinn.com, the Hoka One One Torrent is a good investment considering that this can be used for trail runs, road running and other ultra-runs.

In conclusion, both of these shoes are a good investment with the Hoka One One holding a slight advantage as it can be used across trails as well as road runs.

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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Events Comments Off on 10 reasons to run the Jaipur Marathon |

10 reasons to run the Jaipur Marathon

In its 10th year, the AU Bank Jaipur Marathon has grown to become a must run on every serious marathoner’s calendar, Nandini Reddy writes about the marathon that got Jaipur running.

Way back in 2010 the Jaipur Marathon had its first event in a city that was unfamiliar with running long distances. A crowd that was accustomed to running 3-5 kms was suddenly waking up to the challenge of a half marathon distance completely unprepared. While the event had enthusiastic participation, it also gave rise to the Jaipur Runners, running club and many other running groups in the city. Over the years the marathon has grown in distance and numbers and today in its 10th edition it offers a full range of options for all runner categories. You can choose now to register for a full, half and 10k marathon. There is also a fun category where the family can also participate.

The Au Jaipur Marathon has been growing leaps and bounds since its inception and has garnered an overwhelming backing from eminent personalities, audacious army men and policemen, resourceful corporate houses, painstaking sportspersons, devoted NGO’s, schools and colleges. The Maharaja of Jaipur H H Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh is the Youth Ambassador of AU Jaipur Marathon.

 

One of the biggest attractions for many runners has been the scenic route of the Jaipur marathon. The race takes you past some of the most famous landmarks such as Ram Niwas Garden Jaipur, Albert Hall Museum,Kesargarh,Dolls Museum,Tri Murti Circle,Ravindra Manch, Birla Mandir, University of Rajasthan,Kulish Smriti Van, and the World Trade Park, Jaipur and one of the biggest circular park in Asia Jawahar Circle.

Here are the 10 reasons why you should run the Jaipur Marathon

  1. All woman pacer ground in all running categories
  2. A full offering for all runners – FM, HM, 10k and 5k
  3. A scenic route that gives you a great view of all the major monuments of Jaipur
  4. The course is fast with less elevation and no sharp turns
  5. Entertainment and motivation points along the course with music and cheering teams
  6. Professionally managed event with ample aid and water stations
  7. Pleasant weather with no humidity making it the ideal running weather
  8. It is a great marathon to run with the family, as it is safe with plenty of volunteers for assistance
  9. It supports a wide variety of charities so you are not just running for your health but also to support others
  10. After and before race activities in the heritage city is a major attraction.

The AU Jaipur Marathon brings people together to celebrate fitness, health and life along the course. If you are an enthusiastic runner then this is the place you need to be.

Register today to be part of the running festival on Feb 3, 2019. Click here to register. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Featured Comments Off on Installing the Running App |

Installing the Running App

Marathon Runners Riku and Rohini, are a couple who just can’t stop thinking about running.

“If you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop working for it.”

I read this quote on some blog once and the more I think about it, the more relevant it becomes to me. We (Riku and Rohini) are a couple that just can’t stop thinking about running. Running has taken over many aspects of our lives – our weekends, travel, vacations, shopping lists, going out, food – everything has “running” written all over it. When we started out, neither of us imagined that running will play such a big part in our daily lives. When a family runs together that is how much running takes over your daily life. We become “runners” first.

I could never have imagined an “amateur runner” with no professional aspirations defining themselves as a “runner”. We never hear about anyone defining themselves as “I am a footballer” – if you do, you might think they play professionally, at least at club level. But you’ll be surprised to know that “I am a runner” is a common self-description among runners as they think of running as a big part of their identity.

Wonder why?

Simple – the effect and changes that running brings about are immense. To be able to run well, run injury-free and enjoy the sport you will need to make big, big lifestyle changes.

There’s not a day that will go by where you won’t think about running and yourself as a runner – that’s the effect it has. Give running enough time, and you will see that it will slowly change your diet, your sleeping habits, your attitude towards work and life, and of course, it changes your body.

Come to think of it, “Running is like a very well-designed life-coach app – it takes over your life gradually and makes it better”.

In fact, we often joke that taking up running was exactly like installing an app. This app, once installed in our lives, starts asking for a lot of permissions. It wants to change the very basic aspects of who we are – such as when we sleep, what we eat, what we are supposed to find rewarding, what takes up maximum space in our living room, what we should do on weekends, there is just no end it.

Fighting with the Running “App”.

Of course, just like we might with any nosy app, we can deny some of the permissions. For example:

“Hey, Running App, no I am not going to modify my diet for you. I am not going to have a protein shake or start having almonds and bananas every day…”

We can insist:

“No, ice cream is one thing I am not going to give up on.”

Or:

“Beetroot is my sworn enemy in life, no never!”

Or:
“I can never sleep before 11 PM, I am a night owl!”

And so on…

But then the app starts acting cranky. It refuses to perform well. It nags you with popup messages until you give it the permission to modify the setting. You might repeatedly tell the app that I have installed you to make me fit without having to make all these extra changes, but the “app” eventually wins – you will end up giving all the permissions!

“I have lost this battle, but I will win the war” – Anna Kournikova

That’s exactly how I felt when I gave in to everything the running app wanted from me but, I’m not complaining. We love running and everything that it has brought for us as a couple.

Looking back now, it wasn’t easy to get started or even persevere once started. I lead an active life growing up – martial arts, cricket, basketball, running, a lot of fun. Going out to play was not something I had to plan, it just happened, it was an indulgence. In Rohini’s case, it was much the same, she was more the studious one, with a bit of yoga and cricket till her college years.

But, as it happens with most working professionals, you lose touch with that part of your life. You start making compromises by giving up on your “workouts” (now called “workouts” and not “playtime”!), and instead indulge in a lot of “fun” (read, eating!). All that “fun” coupled with a lifetime’s worth of sitting down – at your desk, on the couch, in the car – is a perfect recipe for an unhealthy body and mind.

As a result of all this neglect, your body starts to change slowly. Many accept this and let it be a part of their new self-image – a chubby happy person, postponing all thoughts of health to a later date. But for some of us, who remain at least partly health-conscious, these changes bug us – we feel guilty, we try diets, we occasionally take a break from our sitting to walk around a park or two.

We did the same too. I tried squeezing in runs every week or so but then I indulged in food even more for the extra work done. When play becomes work, then work needs more rewards – it is a bad cycle to be in. I tried gyms, sports, sports apps, forcing myself to do cardio, but there seemed to be no way out – the more you try to get results, the more frustrating it is to not have any, and the easier it is to stop. The real issue, as we realized later, is that most of our activities have a short-term focus – we want results, and fast. As long as we have that myopic view of why we are being active, it is just not sustainable.

These sporadic attempts went on… until one February, a cousin of ours convinced us to sign up for a TCS 10k event. I was not very sold on the idea of paying money to run, but eventually, we all signed up and started “training” for the event, if we can call it that. Suddenly things were different – there was something to target, there was progress to be measured, it was as if the meaning of the workouts had changed – instead of a short-term thing of working out and expecting daily or weekly results – now all the focus on results had been pushed 3-4 months down the line. It is a lot easier to work out regularly when you are not expecting results every week, and facing the disappointments of not seeing those results.

Weekly runs were a part of life now, but it was not yet enjoyable – but, it was doable and that was good enough. After TCS, came longer runs and longer races – running was tough, but the weighing balance was cooperating, fitness levels were increasing. Good enough. Right?
No! The app had been installed. It was starting to ask for permissions!

Jayanagar Jaguars calling.

In one of the longer races, as I struggled through the latter part of it, I noticed a girl visibly less fit than me, running with a lot more ease and comfort. She was running with a group of other runners; all clad in the trademark white tees of the Jayanagar Jaguars. I knew of the JJs, but I had just recently convinced myself that it is ok to pay money to run races! I had no intention of spending money on training runs as well, but something clicked seeing them run. They seemed to be enjoying it, running was not a workout for them – it seemed like the “playtime” of old. Maybe running in a group is the key… I managed to convince Rohini and we decided to give it a try for a season and see. Little did we know that we had just given the Running App a lot more control over our lives! Now, it had another avenue to convince us to do things – on top of guilt and motivation, now there was peer pressure added, for the app to work its magic on us!

Next season we were both enrolled, soon built up a new set of friends, or rather “Run Buddies”, and every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday we had our scheduled “playtime” when we get to go out enjoy, run a bit, of course, and come back feeling really good about ourselves. The JJs are a very eclectic group of runners and we get runners of all levels of fitness coming together, from elites to people just realizing the importance of getting active. It is very rare to find this kind of a group with varying experiences and goals, coming together and supporting each other. Constant fitness and diet chit-chat was a weekly ritual now and as we imbibed the wisdom of veteran runners and people who have achieved major transformations, we all become fitter, faster, better. With no extra effort, or at least, it felt that way! The running app soon had all the permissions it needed, we had stopped fighting with it, and it is functioning smoothly now. Occasionally, there are slip-ups, but we have the support system of fellow runners to get us back on track. It is a great new cycle to be in, where you are always pushed to give your best, and when you don’t, you are gently coaxed back into it.

What we have learned over the last few years is that yes, fitness is a choice, but if you can get out of the “workout” mentality of having to force yourself to do it, that is the first crucial step. You have to figure out a way to enjoy workouts. Running is a social activity which feels like a part of human nature, and there is something about running together that changes you if you let it. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead, install the running app, give it the permissions it needs, and go out to play more!

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNISTS

 

Riku and Rohini, a couple who trains with Jayanagar Jaguars in Bengaluru. Riku works at an EdTech firm and Rohini is a PhD researcher working on Cancer.

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Motivation Comments Off on Stay Motivated and Run |

Stay Motivated and Run

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

Continue running injury-free.

Keep improving.

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

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

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

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

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

FM: How did your journey as a runner begin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arun: In one word – “Tenacity”.

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

Arun: I have 3 ideas at the moment –

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Motivation Comments Off on How I made running my life |

How I made running my life

Bahar Sinha talks about how she made running an intrinsic part of her everyday life and routine. 

Running is a state of being. The feeling of constant motion that takes my weary mind through a myriad of emotions, gorgeous new places and amazing people.

I took to running in my late 30’s and was fascinated by the possibilities it could offer me. A mother of 2 teenage kids, a partner with varied sporting interests and a demanding project manager job did not stop me from chasing my running dreams.

Working out as a couple is a great way to stay connected with each other and ensure we both meet our individual health and fitness goals. It helps us be accountable thus driving us to stick to our workout plan, motivate and be proud of each other. Well, that’s the ideal situation at least but the reality sometimes is very different.

In most cases, the real scenario is that the couples are in different fitness spaces, have different energy levels and varied interests in sport and fitness. With this backdrop, making a joint workout plan successful requires patience, understanding and respect for one another. In my opinion, I think it’s a good thing for couples to have varied interests because it brings about a certain kind of balance.

Most often than not, most couples tend to have a mindset that everything needs to be done together. In the first few years of a relationship, this could be a tenable way to do things, but it hardly works in the long run. We need to be open and acceptable when something is not working so that a change can be made, and both meet their objectives and goals.

For me at home, as a couple we have completely different sporting interests – my partner loves table tennis, badminton, swimming and the gym while I, on the other hand, am passionate about running. In this story, I would like to take you through how I am able to juggle a busy life but still enjoy my running and the support I receive from my partner and family to be able to achieve this.

Taking baby steps into the running world

My start with running was fairly routine – as with most people, I took to running to shed some those extra kilos. Being a mother of 2 especially when they are younger, does not leave you with much time for yourself and all that stress had me out of shape. When you think of getting fit, the first option is usually hitting the gym, but that idea never really motivated me. Instead, running seemed to be an easier option as it was something, I could do at my convenience during the day. Finding a partner to run with was a challenge and my partner enjoyed other sports and had his friends to hang out with.

Getting over the practical challenges in a home with kids

I spent the first few months learning the various techniques with running and just getting used to it. Over time, I got comfortable and that’s when I set my first running goal – a 10K run.

I obviously needed to do a lot of planning on how I fit the training plan into my schedule because I just had a lot of other things in life that needed my priority. Looking at my calendar, I figured the only option I had was the weekend considering my partner would be at home with my kids. That’s how I started running with the Nike Run Club on Saturdays.

As I progressed, I realized that I needed more structure to my running if I wanted to improve – that’s when I joined the Jayanagar Jaguars in the summer of 2013. The training plan involved early morning starts with training on 2 days (Tuesday and Thursday) and long runs on Saturdays. It worked for me considering it was the summer break for the kids and they were at home.

All that changed when school reopened, I needed to come up with a workaround quickly so that I could still make time for my weekday training. My partner (god bless him!) and I came up with a strategy – I would do a pre-prep the previous day, wake up early to pack some lunch for the kids and then head out for training. He would then wake up the kids, get them ready by which time I would be back, and I could see the kids off to school – the teamwork and coordination between us was awesome and helped me smooth over that challenge.

There were times though when I have had to compromise on my training schedule – like when the kids were unwell, or they had an exam, or my partner was travelling. On those days, I made sure I ran around the apartment to compensate for a missed training day. My objective was simple – (a) stage 1: move up from a 10K to a 21K run and (b) stage 2: finish 1 full marathon before I turned 40.

The hardest moments

I was training hard with big dreams and stars in my eyes when all of a sudden life threw me a curveball. My partner had to relocate to Singapore for 2 years which meant I had to manage everything on my own. Now, I’m sure a lot of you have been through something similar or even more challenging so you will understand the emotion of being overwhelmed. My runs were an outlet for those emotions to get through and with every run, I grew stronger and more determined.

To say the weekdays were a challenge is an understatement – getting my kids to understand that they had to get ready by themselves before I was back from my run was quite a task. My daughter was very cooperative, but my son had other ideas (boys, I tell you!). I had to wake up even earlier than usual to get work done at home and then head out for my workout at 5 that went on until 0645. I had the kids give me a missed call around 6 just so that I reassured they are getting ready.

To be honest, I took it one day at a time and profusely thank god if it went smoothly. Over time, things got better – my kids became more adaptable and learnt to get up and be ready on time, but we still had the odd bad days thrown in. For example, I would have planned a speed workout for the day and that’s the day my kids decide to miss the bus – that leaves me driving them 12K in the maddening morning traffic!

Weekends were usually ok but there were hectic ones too like when I would finish a long run (36K – 40K) and then immediately rush for a parent-teacher meeting. Days like this leaves you wishing for your partner to be around but like they say c’est la vie!

During the summer break, we used to visit Singapore to be together again and spend some quality time as a family. Unfortunately, it was around the same that the TCS 10K happens, so I had to train for that.

While there, I had to work remotely, follow my regular training schedule and despite the challenges of being in a new country, I found the time and courage to compete and finish in an ultra-marathon of 64.5KM organized by Tampines Sports Community in Singapore.

The love of a good family (what would we do without them, huh?)

Once I graduated to the 21K distance, I had to travel to multiple cities to participate in different races. These travels were sometimes with my family but a lot of times it was alone – during these times I had the support of my family to look after the kids. I tried as much as it allowed me, to travel only the weekends thus reducing the impact on my schedule for the rest of the week. The reason was because while I was passionate about running, I did not want to miss out on important events in life – family gatherings, parent-teacher meetings, festivals – we all need a balance in life, don’t we?

My family has been my biggest support (as it should be!) so far. They aren’t too much into running but they still attend promotional events with me, do a few 5K runs with me or just be there to cheer me on – makes a huge difference to have them around. I remember one event where we participated as a family (the Alpha league obstacle race) – we had so much during the event and after reliving the fun moments and the follies we made.

In the end

Believe in your dream and it will all work out for you – In this busy life we lead, we must learn to embrace the challenges it poses and find solutions to overcome it. I did and it helped me achieve my dream of completing my first full marathon in Bangalore (October 2016). That was just a start and since then, I did the Pune Ultra (50K) in November 2016, the Singapore International Marathon) in December 2016 and the SCMM in January 2017…and the journey continues.

The struggle may be real but it’s always worth it because running reminds you that it’s not about how badly you want something; it’s about how hard you’re willing to work for it! It doesn’t matter if your goal is to run around your block or to run a marathon, we are all running to push our limits and see how far we can go!

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

As a mother, homemaker and a professional, I find myself running from one role to another with no finish line to it. But when I am literally running there is a FINISH line and it gives me a sense of accomplishment and achievement.

 

 

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Featured Comments Off on Do Miracles happen in Marathons? |

Do Miracles happen in Marathons?

Brijesh Gajera asks a question that is on every runner’s mind, but he is talking about more than just a Christmas miracle.

It wasn’t too long ago when I was on my usual weekend run, I bumped into a fellow runner. We said our hellos and decided to run together while we caught up on our running escapades. He has run quite a few marathons and only a few weeks ago returned from a world major marathon.

That was a big talking point for us – he mentioned that he had trained well for a sub-4-hour finish for a few months leading up to the race, but on race day disaster struck and he suffered from cramps for the last 10K of the race. Despite the setback, he managed to finish the race in 4hours and 10 minutes.

Obviously, I was curious to find out what happened and asked him about it, he told me that he turned up at the start of the race feeling fresh, confident and in the heat of the moment he decided to attempt a 3hour50minute finish!

I was stunned! “Do you believe miracles happen in marathons?” I asked him in disbelief. I guess he was equally in disbelief at my question because he asked me “What do you mean” with an amused look on his face.

I went on to explain that in my long-distance running career spanning over a decade, I have seen many a runner falling prey to the desire of wanting to push themselves higher than what they trained for. They feel fresh, confident, charged up at the start of the marathon and with the race-day euphoria surrounding them, they try and achieve more without being fully ready for it.

Now, don’t get me wrong – optimism is great, it’s what keeps us going day in and day out but to be honest, a marathon can be as punishing and as rewarding at the same time especially when you run ahead of the pace you’ve set for yourself.

Nearly all of us get to the start line full of energy (some bit of nervous energy as well) but with a spring in our step and a will to push forward. A marathon is a game to keep that energy intact for 42.195K – that is what we are supposed to achieve in our training. If you have trained yourself for a particular target for weeks and months, your muscles, tendons, joints, veins, and nerves have synchronized themselves to help you do that. All of a sudden, when you surprise them by changing the target on the D-Day, they will respond to you in the beginning, but the chances are that they will wilt as you approach the finish line.

Let me try and quantify this so that you can get a better understanding.

Let’s say, you have decided to complete the race in a time that is 10 minutes faster than your target time that you have trained for as my fellow runner did. That is roughly 14 seconds per km faster for a 42K course (and I am not even talking about the final 195 meters!). Now, you will be able to maintain this pace for a few kilometers but eventually, you will hit the wall where your legs feel like bricks. This is why coaches stress on following a tried and tested method on race day.

In my personal life, I once experienced something you could call a miracle. I ran the Mumbai Marathon aiming for a 3hour 35minute finish, but I managed to finish it in 3hours 29 minutes and 41 seconds. That translates to me running the race at approximately 7 seconds faster per km. For a large part of the race I maintained a pace which was about 2-3 seconds per km faster and only when I crossed the 36KM mark, I figured why not aim for a new target of 3hour30mins? That’s when I pushed myself harder and literally ran like the wind to achieve even lesser than my new target of 3hours and 30 mins. It felt like an absolute miracle!

A word of CAUTION though: I have run faster races since then, but I have never been able to repeat that kind of improvement over a target since. This is why it is called a M…I…R…A…C…L…E.

To aim for a miracle to happen during a marathon is wishful thinking at best and a recipe for disaster at worst. Often the decision to push yourself harder than what your body has been trained for leads to injury or underperformance and in the aftermath of such a race, it could lead to you doubting your training and even yourself. I’m sure you do not want to be in that mind space ever.

If you are still looking for miracles, what could be more wonderful than following your target plan as best as you can and then achieving the results you strived for? Isn’t it miraculous to achieve the target we’ve planned on achieving in a long time and getting our belief reaffirmed in our training and ourselves?

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Brijesh Gajera is an avid marathoner, aspiring ultra-marathoner and coach at Ashva Running Club.

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Featured Comments Off on The Latest and Best Marathon Training Method |

The Latest and Best Marathon Training Method

Coach Pramod Despande of Jayanagar Jaguars talks about the various methods that runners can consider while training for a marathon.

We have all heard of the age-old adage “practice makes perfect” and while that holds good to this day, practising and training the right way is the key to being successful. In this read, let’s have a look at some of the best training methods out there and how these can be leveraged to help amateur runners like us run better.

The latest and arguably the most successful marathon training method has to be the one developed by Patrick Sang. The evidence of that is the recently delivered World Record time of 2:01:39 (by Eliud Kipchoge at the 2018 Berlin marathon) and also an
unofficial world record of 2:00:25! Takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

To be fair, this training method isn’t suited for mere mortals like us. For that matter, we can’t sustain any of the elite marathoner’s training methods as they are exhaustive and intense – consider their weekly mileage of 200 – 225 km which is equivalent to 3 – 4 weeks of mileage for normal runners.

That leaves you wondering – what is the most suitable training method for amateur marathoners like us and what are the latest methods of training?

Before I can answer that, let’s first understand the evolution of present-day marathon training methods and the training programs.

The Earlier Methods:

Since 1896, when the first competitive marathon was run, many runners and coaches have developed various training methods for competitive elite athletes. The documented plans, however, started with the pioneering work by Arthur Lydiard of New Zealand in the ‘60s, ‘70s and its impact can be witnessed even today through the terminology coined by him e.g. “base building”, “peaking,” etc.

Lydiard’s basic idea was to develop runner’s stamina first and then work on their speed. He divided the whole year into different periods (periodization) with emphasis on specific aspects with respect to each period. The average mileage for marathon-conditioning phase(base training) is of about 160 km, then moving on to the next phases that include ample use of hill training, intervals, and speed training. He suggested the use of gymnastic exercises for the loosening and stretching of muscles but was not in favour of weight training.

Over the years, many coaches developed their methods by modifying Lydiard’s programs, while keeping in line with basic principles, whereas some successful coaches like, Gabriele Rosa, Renato Canova, etc. developed their methods in contrast to Lydiard’s training principles.

For e.g. Renato Canova’s method focusses on speed and raw power during the early phase and moving on to longer threshold/tempo runs towards race day. Gabriele Rosa, on the other hand, swapped speed work with marathon specific workouts.

That being said, the common aspect amongst the 3 programs mentioned above – all produced world-class performances.

Training Methods for Amateur Runners

After the running boom of the 70’s, a large number of amateur athletes started taking up running thus fuelling the demand for programs to train larger groups of non-elite runners to complete their first marathons and subsequently to increase their performances. This gave rise to a whole new area the “marathon training program.” The difference between this program and the elite training program was:

  • Larger group size (elite runners’ groups are very small)
  • Runners with lesser athletic abilities or experience (than elite athletes)
  • The training programs required to be tailored around the life of a runner (the other way around for elite athletes)

Many coaches, ex-runners, doctors, etc. who possessed good management and business skills started to create these programs and training methods. They combined a scientific perspective along with savvy marketing techniques.

Here is a summary of some of the popular methods:

High Mileage Training: These methods established by coaches like Hal Higdon involve a gradual and consistent increase of mileage with a goal to cover a high weekly mileage across 5 days a week.

Hansons’s method: This variation prefers giving equal importance to all runs and not dedicate one day for a long run. The overall mileage in this method tends to be on the higher side. This program also avoids activities other than running as part of the preparation.

Specific training pace method: The start of this method is mostly credited to Jack Daniels, where there is an emphasis on training at specific paces for each workout and has extensive formulas to arrive at precise paces. This method also uses long runs as an important workout with specific paces and variations.

More Intensity, Less Miles: These methods emphasize lesser overall mileage but high-intensity workouts for each session.

  1. Methods like FIRST (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training) by Bill Pierce & Scott Murr that advocates “less is more” theory i.e. running lesser distance but with much higher speed.
  2. Also in the similar methods of CFE by Brian Mc Kenzie, gives more importance to HIIT type of high-intensity exercises and weight-bearing exercises.

Heart Rate Running method – LHR or Low-Intensity high mileage: Some methods also advocate running longer distances at lower heart rates to increase running capability at that heart rate, a prominent evangelist of this method is Dr Phil Maffetone.

The Run Walk Method: Popularized mostly by Jeff Galloway, typically for beginners but many experienced runners have achieved quite great results through this method.

All of the above methods have provided excellent results to many runners but interestingly, they all have contrasting principles and so this creates lots of confusion in a runner’s mind.

How can methods with conflicting principles give great results?

Is there a best method?

Not really – you will find that a lot of runners swear by each of these methods and an equal number doubt them. Typically, a method will be effective for a few years and then a runner’s performance will plateau. Hence, you will need to shift to another method or incorporate some aspects of another method to improve performance.

All these methods are built upon some basic principles e.g. Progress Overload principle, Principle of Specificity, Principle of Periodization, Principle of Reversibility, base mileage built up, etc. and understanding these might be a tad technical for the average runner. Also, all these methods assume a specific fitness level and preparedness. So where does the answer lie?

The answer really lies in the runner and not the method.

Each runner has unique abilities – a combination of genetic makeup, body structure, fitness levels, aerobic base, mileage base, mental makeup, etc. These factors decide which method works best for you. For example – with respect to the genetic abilities, some runners excel with slower and longer workouts, while some others respond well to speed workouts. Along with genetic ability, a runner’s development of various aspects like Aerobic Threshold, Lactic Threshold, Anaerobic Threshold, VO2 Max, etc. will decide the suitability of a method.

All of this brings us to the inevitable question of – ‘Which is the best-suited method for me’?. Again, there is no quick and clear answer and it requires you to take into consideration a lot of factors.

Initially, the best option will be to go with a coach, someone who will tailor a specific training plan for you. A coach has his own assessment about, which method(s) will suit a runner and they will use components of multiple methods to tailor a specific training plan for a runner.

But if you are trying to plan your own training please consider the following aspects before you take a decision.

  • Check the base requirement for preparedness for the plan, e.g. the basic mileage, a PB, etc. and unless you meet all the requirements, please do not start the method
  • Check the total time investment required by the method – it should fit within your lifestyle. Any plan will work only if you follow all aspects of it, including the prescribed rest
  • Figure out if you have access to complete the prescribed type of exercises. For example – if the program emphasizes a lot of hill runs and you don’t have any hills nearby, you will need to make an alternate arrangement
  • Most importantly, make sure the target pace or finish time of a program matches your own goal as each of us have our own individual goal for e.g. choosing a method/program for achieving a sub 3 marathon will not suit you if you are looking to achieve a sub 4.
  • If you have tried some other method earlier and searching for a program to switch, please make sure you ‘unlearn’ aspects from the earlier method.

After considering all the requirements, when you select a method, please consider the following:

  • Be patient with the method you’ve chosen to see progress and achieve results. Typically, a method takes around 4 to 6 months to improve the specific physiological pathway or muscles after which the required improvement is visible to you.
  • Do not switch to another method on the basis of the result of just one race, as many factors influence the result of a race.
  • Having said that, if a particular method is causing some serious injuries or health issues, do not hesitate to re-evaluate the method.
  • Monitor your performance under the method you are following to see if you are plateauing. If yes, it is probably time to move to another method.

After due consideration, irrespective of the method you select, please follow all the workouts and rest prescribed by the method diligently and enjoy your running – the results will come through in the end.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

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

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Motivation Comments Off on Conquering Race Day |

Conquering Race Day

Dharambir Kumar talks about his journey into endurance sports with Anupam Das.
Three years ago because of his sedentary activities he weighed 95kg and was worried about his health, he started to train for long-distance running from 2016, and gradually inducted cycling, yoga & weight training to be fit and now he weighs 72kg with his regular training. He has finished two full marathons and many half marathons in these three years. He has also done Brevet 200,300,400 and 600km cycling in a single session and achieved Super Randoneur (SR) title this year. His dream is to finish an Ironman challenge and he is working towards it.
Dharambir talks about his journey, here is the story he narrated to me.
The Run
I was not sure how my second attempt in the full Marathon at “The Run” would go. Just 4 days before the big race my daughter, Shreyashi was born. Finishing my FM at 4:30:48hrs was a dream and I have dedicated that to my little angel. I am a regular Half Marathon runner with my weekly practice runs & mileages enough to support my body for Half marathons, to such an extent that, you ask me to run a Half Marathon now, I would do. But the Full Marathon is a different beast, which I realised during my first attempt at New Delhi Marathon in Feb 2018.

After completing two FMs and many HMs, I have realised that the effort to run the two formats is different and that should be respected. In order to run an HM, a runner needs to run longer practice runs well in the conversational aerobic zone. The distances should be gradually increased from 25km to 28km, followed by 35km, 38km and 42 km before heading to Race day. This sort of practice helps tune your body, especially the core muscles and vital organs to sustain your effort for a longer duration.

Falling off the Training Bandwagon

Ideally, one should dedicate at least 3 to 4months  at end of summers in India, to practice for a long-distance race. End of summers being preferable in India in view of the extreme heat we face in summer though the days are much longer. I did clock in a good timing but my practice schedule preparing for the race was not well-planned. Post the race also I got busy with my Brevet Rides (200/300/400/600km), which I conquered one after the other to achieve ‘Super Randonneur’ title. These long duration of cycling compromised my target of LSD runs to tune my body and mind for the next full marathon.

I thought I will do at least one 30 or 35km run to acclimatize my body a week before the event, but I couldn’t schedule the same. You might ask me, as I was doing endurance cycling prior to the FM, my body would have been trained and tuned the 42km FM. Cycling and Running are two different kinds of sports and involves endurance capacity of many different muscles of our body in each go, so they need to be trained separately. Running is considered a more vigorous effort workout, therefore our body needs special conditioning prior to the race. Anyway, I planned to give my best on Race Day.

The Race Day

Though I was not confident, I had planned to achieve a sub-5-hour completion for the Full Marathon. I started my run with ease at 5:00 am, I felt my legs were moving freely. ‘The Run’ started from the newly built international cricket stadium in Gomti Nagar extension in Lucknow. I started to enjoy the route (which is a new route for Marathons in Lucknow) and I ran comfortably and completed 21km well under 2 hours. The route was scenic too, most part being on the bank of river Gomti, away from the pollution and urban infrastructure of the city, I was completely absorbed in the beauty.

After crossing 21km mark, I started feeling a little discomfort, as if my body is saying “Enough”. Here is where the training would have helped but I had missed that training. But I continued to run, then after 25km, my right knee started giving me trouble, with pain on every step. I sprayed on a generous amount of Volini spray hoping to alleviate the pain. But after a small duration, the pain would be back and I had to stop again to spray my knee again.

After 29th km, the situation became further worse, as I was facing the Sun, and feeling the heat directly on my face, my discomfort grew. This phase of discomfort continued till 35km, but once I crossed it, I regained my rhythm. Now I had only 7km left, and the one thought that kept me going was the fact that I could be back home to spend time with my new born daughter.

I pushed myself harder at this stage and I do not remember when I crossed the finishing line. The route support was awesome, with hydration and energy points in every 3 to 4km and cycling marshals all throughout the route especially for the full marathon runners, which they require most.

There were times when I thought I would not be able to participate in full marathon this time, as this needs full commitment of body and mind for a long duration starting hours before the race starts, till recovery to be able to take care of my family. But unprecedented help from my runner friends families, office colleagues and their families poured in to support us.

Sometimes even the impossible seems conquerable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Anupam Das is a Faculty of a Superspeciality Medical Institute in Lucknow, UP. He started his journey of fitness from 2017 with Long Distance Running, Cycling, Body Weight cross fit & Yoga.

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Featured, Training Comments Off on My experiences with the Maffetone method |

My experiences with the Maffetone method

Pallavi Aga is a Doctor, a Nutritionist and a Lifestyle Management Consultant and the Founder of Mind-Body Wellness Clinic, discussing her experience with the MAF method.

At present, I am pursuing preventive health in the form of nutritional counselling for sports as well as lifestyle diseases. I strongly believe that we should focus on the right nutrition as opposed to dieting fads.

I always considered myself a tad invincible (given that I am a doctor and all) but ever since I crossed 40, I have had a few health scares.

Initially, it was weight issues that bogged me down and then I became borderline diabetic and hypertensive. I obviously did not want to live a life dependent on medications so I took up running in 2015 to get healthy and stay fit.

As time went on, running no longer was just a means to stay fit but it became a passion and started participating in a lot of races. Though my pace had improved, I had low energy levels, injuries started creeping up on me and my weight-loss plan reached a plateau.

Combining my training with medical knowledge

I started reading a lot of research articles in order to see where I went wrong and that was when I came across the Maffetone method. Dr Phil Maffetone recommended a unique method of training in which the aerobic base has to be increased using the formula “180-age”. The more I read about it, the more I was convinced about the integrity of the method. I decided to give it a shot and see if it helped me reach my goal.

The MAF method documents that the major part of your running should be in the MAF heart rate zone and as the body gets adapted, the pace will go up at the same heart rate. As running at this zone utilizes fats as fuel hence the need for carbohydrates will reduce and the muscles will work more efficiently.  This method requires a lot of patience as results take time but I used the slowing of the pace to lay the emphasis on posture and cadence.

Implementing the MAF method

I decided to go with this method 2 years ago and assumed it to be easy. I was so wrong. I realized that my heart rate was reaching levels of 160 and above as opposed to 135 (my recommended Maffetone Heart Rate).

I had to make a few changes like incorporating walk breaks into my run, training on fasting, reduction in my intake of carbohydrates, grains, dairy products and adding good fats in the form of seeds and nuts to my nutrition plan.

The journey

It wasn’t easy getting used to this method. I had to run alone with no music so that I could focus on my cadence and correct my stance into a mid-foot strike. My earlier heel strike led to disturbed posterior chain kinetics which had resulted in a bad hamstring sprain.

Despite not many people believing in this strategy and asking me to run faster and add the pre-run carbs back, I never gave in and carried on with the plan. My biggest challenge was ‘fasted running’ as it made me very giddy and nauseous. During the summer, I worked on this area and trained harder keeping my electrolyte balance and hydration in check.

The effects of the MAF method

This method really worked well for me and I saw an increase in my energy levels. My weight dropped and I felt fitter and full of life. The feeling of totally being drained out went away and I started really enjoying my runs. It was exhilarating to feel free and one with nature. Gradually my pace picked up and I was back to my previous pace with the heart rate under control. My MAF pace is 6:15 now. I hope to improve it further with more dedication.

My experiments

A couple of months before my ADHM event, I wanted to increase my pace. So, I did an experiment of training at a higher pace and adding pre-run carbs before interval, tempo and long runs.

I realized that in less than a month, my immunity levels dropped, I felt bloated and I was tired all the time. My pace went up temporarily but I started falling sick, took me longer to recover and my old hamstring injury started acting up again. Ultimately, I suffered a total set back in my running and lost out on the fun of my runs.

I decided to change back to the MAF method and all was good again. I completed the ADHM with a time of 1hr52mins which was 3mins shy of my PB (1hr49mins) last year. I was able to manage this because I moved back to my low heart rate training 15 days prior. I did a day of pre-marathon carb loading and managed to finish the race comfortably despite my health issues.

The current status

Currently, I do all my training runs at a MAF pace and always keep my heart rate in check. Also, I do all my runs including the long runs (2+ hours) while fasting and I don’t really feel the need to eat immediately. I ensure I stock up on complex carbs and most of my calories come from protein and fat. With my energy levels up, I feel like it’s reversed my ageing.

I don’t participate in a lot of events because for me running is my meditation and I like to do only a few events as the competitive nature stresses me out.

In conclusion, I feel the Maffetone method has been a blessing in my life and has helped me reclaim my health. With the knowledge, I have of this method I am confident that I will run injury free for a long time.

My mantra to life was always “Say No to Medicines”!!

Learn more about the Maffetone Method here.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Pallavi Aga is a doctor by profession and an avid follower of eating clean and green with a holistic approach to health and diet. She is actively helping the society towards walking down the path of health through Facebook live events and also with media groups like India Today, Dainik Jagran and Pinkathon.

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