Seniors Comments Off on The Spunky Ultramarathoner |

The Spunky Ultramarathoner

Protima Tiwary catches up with the feisty Taru Mateti, an ultramarathoner who is a powerhouse of energy even after 50. 

Feisty and well over 50, this powerhouse performer is not only playing the role of a doting mother and loving wife, but also that of a superwoman who competes in ultramarathons under record timing! We caught up with Taru Mateti for a quick chat to see what keeps her going.

What inspired you to take up running?

I have been actively involved in sports all my life. I only took up running at the age of 49 as a form of recreation. I discovered that running gave me joy and a sense of liberation. I started enjoying running enough to make it my passion, so much so that I decided to pursue it wholeheartedly by leaving my job and concentrating on training for marathons. Point being, it was a hobby that turned into a lifestyle.

How did your family react when you told them about your decision to run?

They have been super supportive! Training for an ultra-marathon is more long-term than training for a full marathon. Hence, a bigger buy-in is needed from the family. It is months of consistent and long training, with a string of no weekend outings because of long runs. Fortunately, my husband runs too and my family understands my passion. If we have family commitments, we plan our running days in a way we can set out time for both family and fitness. Deciding to run an ultra is a big commitment and one must consider all factors, the family being the most important one of them. I am grateful for their support.

You’re not just a marathoner, you’re an ultramarathoner! Could you share the greatest moments of your running career? 

The greatest moments have been at my best and worst races. Let me explain.

I had run the Bengaluru full marathon in 2014 undertrained, tired, and with some niggles. I obviously did not get a good timing and realised how important it was to get a mentor who would guide me with my training, nutrition and even recovery.  This race taught me how to be grateful.

I also remember the 100K Pune Ultramarathon where I ran through the day! I was the only woman running the event that day in the 75K/100K/100 miles combined. I finished fifth amongst all men. The runners high was one of a kind.

Another time I paced a friend in Pune Women’s Half Marathon and she got her PB. Her joy at winning reminded me of how humility and gratefulness are 2 of the most important qualities that will see you through life.

Then there was the time I paced my mentor for 61k in his 161k run, and we kept talking throughout the distance. I learnt so much in that knowledge exchange!

Then there was the Fitathon in April 2017 when I was struggling, and my husband, who had been trailing in all runs till then, was going strong. He could have gone ahead, but he ran with me until the end. This race reminded me of the power of love.

How do you deal with bad races?

It is important to go through some bad races too because you have so much to learn from them! I’ve learnt that one needs to set practical targets, and a sustainable training plan and strategy needs to be thought of to support that target. Bad races have also shown me how important it is to eat well, sleep, and go through the regular body and blood tests.

As an ultramarathoner over 50, your training and mental conditioning would be very different, isn’t it?

Definitely! And I am not just over 50 now, I started all of this only when I was 49! My lifestyle before I took up running has made me injury prone, so my recovery time is longer. I also put in fewer runs and miles than others, and keep a check on my speed. I plan my run, yoga, strength training, and rest days carefully, along with my diet and supplements.

I have stopped wearing high heels (I wore them for more than 30 years!) I have altered my eating habits and am conscious of my posture. I am finally working on my spine, hamstrings, feet, glutes, upper body and core like never before!

Could you shed more light on the challenges and advantages that being on the other side of 50 gets along?

It is great to be on the other side of 50 and running as well as working out. All the wealth in the world can’t buy us good health the way working out for fitness can. Growing old is inevitable, but we have just one body and we have to keep it in high maintenance mode.

With age, women do have to deal with a lot of changes, the main being menopause. Learning to adapt to this new way of life is a part of this lifestyle, and being fit does make things better.

Yes, there are challenges too, so it is important to know your limitations. But that doesn’t mean you should stop yourself from learning new things!

If I had to point out one disadvantage, it would be the fact that being on this side of the age scale doesn’t have too many competitors, and anything that a woman this age does is appreciated a lot. Basically, this attitude encourages mediocrity.

They say consistency is key – but how do you build this consistent pace that they talk about?

Running isn’t only about running; you need to take into consideration the consistency in terms of training, diet and recovery. I do yoga/pilates at least three times a week and strength training twice a week. Yoga is important because it helps improve mobility and breathing, while sleep, nutrition and medical health continue to be important. In order to run well, one must train to run well!

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

I do not think about how I am running during my run. I give it my best, learn and move on. But I did have a bad phase due to an injury when I couldn’t do any workouts for a month and had to visit the physiotherapist daily. It frustrated me, I remember crying! But I overcame all of it by focussing on doing the upper body exercises that I was allowed to do, and spending time at work and doing a lot of yoga.

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

It all boils down to your mental health, isn’t it? Train hard, but also practice self-love. One has to be comfortable in spending time with oneself and nature because most of the runners will find themselves running those long distances alone.

I usually find myself having a conversation with well, myself. Or sometimes I sing! I also count steps, especially when there’s a fuelling stop coming up. I also draft emails, Facebook posts and workout plans in my head while running!

Remember why you started- this will see you through the race, all the way to the finish line. It is difficult to stay motivated, but visualise the goal, why you want it so bad, and be grateful for the effort you’ve put into your training.

As a runner, what is the one quality that defines you?

I will not pick one only,  and would like to say that I am dedicated, self-motivated and hardworking!

Any tips you’d like to leave us with?

It is never too late to start! I started at 49, did my first headstand and L-sits at 53, am learning pilates at the age of 54 and am now trying to master the art of a full split!

Inspirational, to say the least. How many times have we heard “we’re too old for this”? It was a pleasure interviewing Taru Mateti who at an age that people think “is too late” is charging ahead and rightfully earning the title of Marathon Podium Queen with each passing year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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Motivation Comments Off on Running Nonstop with Ravi Goenka |

Running Nonstop with Ravi Goenka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your best and worst race so far? Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you keep your runners at JRC motivated?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Featured, Motivation Comments Off on The No Limits Runner |

The No Limits Runner

Nandini Reddy catches up with Dr NTR Balasubramanian, a person who cannot see a limit decides to try his hand at every endurance event. 
When the list of marathons reads long and tough you know you are talking to a runner who doesn’t even want to think of the limits. From the Satara Hill Marathon to the Devil’s circuit, from trail cycling to ultra-running, Dr NTR Balasubramanian has done it all. Bala is a freelance diabetologist by profession who takes his health very seriously. I caught up with him to understand how he manages to power through all these amazing acts of endurance.
Excerpts from the conversation
When did you start trying your hand at endurance sports?
After self-training for more than a year, I attempted the Wipro Chennai Marathon held in January 2017. I directly had a go at the half marathon skipping the 10 km run. The number of miles I had covered before the event was quite a considerable number that gave me the confidence to sign up for the half marathon in my maiden event. Running Gurus typically advise to taper down the mileage a week prior to the event and rest completely for a couple of days prior to the event. Since I wasn’t looped into the community yet, I didn’t know this and did the exact opposite. I ran 21.1 km by myself the day before the event, primarily to check if I could complete the run on the event day.
Of course, this then led to tight hamstrings and calf muscles on the event day, but despite this, I managed to finish with a decent timing for a novice marathoner.
What motivates you to pursue these endurance activities?
Health is my main motive. This includes both physical and mental health. Endurance athletes need as much mental stamina as physical to complete an event which may extend for up to 24 hours or more. I’ve done a couple of 12-hour events myself. Similar to physical stamina, one’s mental stamina also keeps improving with every event. The better your mental stamina, the better you are able to cope with challenges in daily life.
You seem to have made it a habit to pursue tougher endurance events each time – what special preparation do you do for facing the various challenges at these events?
[Laughs] It’s not my habit! Our bodies are endowed with a gift of getting fitter and fitter as we keep training. Most of the time it’s the mental block which prevents a person from tapping his or her body’s full potential. I keep pushing my limits gradually while training, be it the distance fixed for a long run, the duration held of an iron-man plank, the route length fixed for a ride on my bicycle and so on.

Coaches advise physical preparation for an event in which a few weeks before the event we are advised to split the challenge into half and work our way up to the final challenge. This way the body is given a drill to build up its stamina for the full event on the D-day. Mental preparation is important and starts from the day I register for the event. The mind adapts and gets attuned to the challenge at hand. An interesting fact is that an ultra-marathoner who can do 100 km run cannot cope up with an extra 25 km on a day when he has registered for a 50 km run.

The athlete who crosses the finish line in style will be found limping and difficult to walk on his way back to his home. This is because it all comes down to mental preparation. 
You completed the Satara Hill Marathon, considered to be a challenging hill marathon – your advice for anyone who wants to attempt this course?
Satara Hill Marathon is an event that challenges the athletes’ capacity to climb the hill with a 1000 metre elevation while running the uphill distance of 11 km. Running the same distance downhill also involves endurance and tolerance of your quadriceps. I would advice people attempting this to train on a hill path once a month as part of their training schedule. Flyover runs can mimic a hill run to an extent.
The Malnad Ultra trail is one of the most challenging trails for runners and cyclists, how did you decide to attempt this race? How was the experience?
I am an ardent nature lover and have an affinity for mountainous areas. Malnad Ultra aka the Coorg trail has a tough route and I wanted to take up this challenge. The route is entirely on the non-motorable paths in the hill. The scenery and weather were so tempting that an occasional runner will be found enjoying the experience and taking pictures without being worried about their timing or the possibility of not being able to finish before the cut-off time.
Due to the rains this year, the paths were very uneven and muddy. Luckily, I sweat much less since the weather was cold. The view from the summit at 1200 metres was fascinating. The streams the cut the running path and the sounds of birds signing added to the experience. There were many lakes and a huge one near the 40 km rest area, which is a prime location for clicking pictures. A couple of professional photographers pulled every runner from the track to capture the magical moment. The 50 km race I was participating in was flagged of at 7 am and I completed this in 8 hours 12 minutes with the cut off time being 9 hours. Though we were warned about leaches and snakes I didn’t come across any.
Mental preparedness is the most important factor for any endurance race, you have any special rituals that you follow to prepare your mind before a race?
I announce my participation to my friends and their wishes give me a lot of confidence. I am also a regular yoga practitioner and never attempt a race without a session of yoga pranayaama and meditation the day before the race.
Have you run at any international races? Which ones have been the most challenging?
The only international race I have done is SUNDOWN MARATHON at Singapore in May 2018. My son, who is now working in Singapore, had told me about this event and I was keen to participate as it was a night race. This was a flat track race and I took 5 hours and 14 minutes to complete the 42.195 km
What has been your most memorable race till date? Why?
It will definitely be the Malnad Ultra 2018 50 km. It was my maiden attempt in a trail setting and a wonderful place to do that feat.
With the racing season in full swing now in India, what is next on your race calendar?
I will be running the 42.195 km in the Skechers performance Chennai marathon on Jan 6th 2019. The next big race in the pipeline would be the Everest Ultra marathon on 29th May 2019

 

 

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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Training Comments Off on Preparing for the marathon season? Here’s some advice |

Preparing for the marathon season? Here’s some advice

Deepthi Velkur had a chance to talk to a few runners on how you could prepare for the marathon season. 

For many runners, the desire to run a marathon is all about achieving a personal goal. For others, it could be the desire to push the envelope and see how far they can go with their bodies. Perhaps, a friend talked you into it, or you want to get fitter, or you’re running for a noble cause such as building awareness for a local charity.

Whatever the reason, you need to hold on to it and constantly remind yourself of it often during the months leading up to the marathon season.

Each marathon is a new adventure in itself! Making that overwhelming and sometimes breath-taking decision to run the traditional 42.195 km can not only be quite uplifting but it can also give you the much-needed energy to kick-start your training.

Whether it is your first time preparing for a marathon or one of many, a good overall approach to your mental and physical training is as important as a specific running plan, which can help you be at your best on marathon day.

To help us better understand how you can go about this, we spoke to a few professionals and here’s what they had to say.

Kothandapani KC (fondly called Coach Pani), is a running coach with the PaceMakers running club and a marathon runner himself.

He recommends that for a first-time marathoner, the focus should be on completing the distance comfortably and not worry about speed or timing.

For a seasoned runner though, someone with at least two years of running experience and multiple 10Ks and half-marathons, Coach Panihe recommends the following:

  • Build a training plan 6 months ahead and work backward i.e. 24 weeks, 23 weeks and so on.
  • Run at least 4-5 days a week focussing on one speed workout, one strength workout like uphill runs, one long run, and two easy runs in between.
  • Run your long runs 60-90 secs slower than your target marathon pace and increase your long runs by not more than 10%.
  • Every fourth week cut back your total mileage to 50% to avoid overtraining.
  • Break-down the 6 Months into three parts – base building, converting the base building into speed endurance and race-specific workouts.
  • During long runs, prepare yourself as if you are going to run on race day such as getting your gear ready, waking up early, hydration strategy, pre-snacks etc.
  • Ensure you follow a proper nutrition plan and adequate rest to overcome both physical and mental stress.
  • Always listen to your body. Do not over train – helps minimize the risk of injury. To track this, check your resting heart rate and if it’s on the rise, ease off on the training for a bit.
  • Race at least two Half Marathons during your training period, trying to improve each time so that you get an indication of your progress in training
  • Taper down your training in the last two weeks. Be careful to not fall sick or catch a cold
  • Plan your race day strategy such as at what pace you want to run, hydration points, when to use gels etc. Note: don’t try anything new on race day – stick to the plan!
  • Finally, believe in yourself, believe in your training and think positive. Start the race slow and build the pace gradually. Aim for negative splits.

Sandeep CR, an Ultra-marathon runner and is part of the Mysoorrunners running club shares his advice:

  • Prioritise your races in terms of which race is of top priority, where you want to do well and train accordingly.
  • Build your training slowly. Keep a weekly mileage of 45-55kms which will help you to build endurance.
  • Go on long runs as you need to get used to being on your feet for long hours.
  • Run a few tune-up races before the main race to know where you stand and where you could improve.
  • Keep a close watch on your nutrition intake and give yourself time to recover.
  • 80% of your runs should be at an easy pace and 20% should be tempo or speed work.
  • Slow down your training in the last 2-3 weeks as overtraining will lead to injuries.

Shahana Zuberi, an amateur runner who has run a few half marathons and is part of the Bangalore Fitnesskool running club feels to run a marathon, one should have:

  • Great inner strength.
  • Eating right during the training phase.
  • Focus on building endurance rather than speed.
  • Plan your training well ahead of the race and do not rush into overtraining due to lack of time as that might lead you to injuries.
  • Patience and perseverance will help you achieve your end goal.
  • For running a half marathon in specific, you can work on building speed during the interval and tempo runs and
  • Finally, rest well as your body needs to recover from all the hard training.

So, there you go – you’ve heard it straight from some of the experts – train well, eat right, rest enough and be patient.

These key steps will help you develop a healthier way to run making it more fun, with better results for body, mind, and soul.

I end this article with quite a quote by Paula Radcliffe (three-time London and New York marathon winner) – “In long-distance events, the importance of your mental state in determining the outcome of a race can’t be overestimated.

Something for all of us to reflect on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Featured, Motivation Comments Off on The exciting times of Running |

The exciting times of Running

An IT professional who found his passion in running, Deepthi Velkur talks to ultra-marathoner, Sandeep CR. 

Sandeep CR, a software professional has had a lifelong fascination with sport and in specific running. He is associated with the running club “Mysoorunners” for the past 4 years and shares his experiences. From a very young age, he has been an active sports enthusiast and has represented both school and college across multiple sporting events. Over the past 10 years, Sandeep has trained his focus on long-distance running graduating from 10K runs to Half-Marathons to Full-Marathons and eventually covering Ultra-Marathons as well.

Just looking at Sandeep’s running achievements is motivation enough for someone like me to get going and notch a few marathons myself. A snapshot of his running credits are: the 80K Malnad Ultra, the 80K Vagamon Ultra, the 60K Ooty Ultra, the 50K Javadhu Hills Ultra, 8 Full-Marathons, 25+ Half-Marathons and not to mention the countless 10K runs – wow! What an impressive running resume.

For Sandeep though, running is just one of his areas of interest. In his pursuit of staying fit, he also dabbles in cycling, swimming and bouldering. A keen reader and an avid wildlife enthusiast, Sandeep volunteers his time with a few NGOs with the aim of conserving wildlife.

My conversation with Sandeep was extremely interesting and I just had to share some excerpts from that discussion.

How long have been into long-distance running and did it happen by chance or was it something you’ve always wanted to do?

As with most things in life, we all need some motivation to kickstart a new habit. For me, it was the realization that I was gaining weight pretty fast. Early in my professional career (about 8 years ago), my weight had jumped up from 68kgs to 78kgs in just about 24 months. This had me worried and pushed me to take up long-distance running. I’m used to doing shorter distances during my time at school and college, but never beyond a 10K.

Having taken the decision, I gathered the courage to run a Half-Marathon in 2010 and haven’t looked back since.

Which has been your best race for you personally in terms of timing and personal achievement?

I have done a few half-marathons under 1hr:40mins and a few full-marathons too in good time; but, the most gratifying experience in terms of running was the Malnad Ultra in 2017, which was my first 80K run.

Why was I pleased with it, you ask?Well, the entire process of training for it, training right and executing it on race day is something that gave me a lot of pleasure. Timing-wise, I finished my run in 11 hours which is pretty slow by any standards, but, the experience is what I cherish.

Do you set targets of how many races you would run at the start of the year and do you set out in accomplishing them?

I don’t race often enough. I do a maximum of three races a year. I have my races spaced out months apart so I get enough time to recover, train and then race again. My partner and myself run around 75 to 80km per week almost all through the year. The level of intensity differs as we get closer to the race day. 

How does your typical training day look like and where and how many days in a week do you train?

I train for about 5 days a week. I have been an ardent follower of the Maffetone method for the past 3 years. So all my runs are within the MAF heart rate which is 180- age. It has helped stay injury free and run longer. 

Could you give us some insight into the running group you are associated with -Mysoorunners? How did you become a part of this group and when? 

Mysoorunners is a fun-filled group. We have people from all walks of life associated with the group. The group was formed in 2014 by Ajit Thandur to get all runners from Mysore in one place and I have been a member since its inception. The best thing about this group is that it is non-competitive and it doesn’t matter what distance you run, you can be an absolute beginner or an experienced runner – we share the feeling of belongingness and treat everybody as one and enjoy great camaraderie.

Mysoorunners are the hospitality partners for the Tri Thonnur event. How has your association been with them?

I have been associated with Tri Thonnur as a volunteer/participant since its inception in 2013. It’s been great to see the event grow from being an outing for few like-minded folks to being one of the sought after races in the triathlon circuit across India. Typically we volunteer to ensure proper crowd management.

Which has been your latest run and the upcoming event your training for currently? Could you please share your experience\learnings from running the event and what changes would you like to incorporate in your upcoming run?

My last event was the Ooty Ultra, a road race of 60K which I managed to finish in 9 hours. There were occasions during the race where I sort of got into a negative mindset which resulted in spending a lot of time at aid stations and walking when I could have run. I realized I wasted close to half an hour with these distractions. I would like to be mindful of these things in my future races. 

How do you better yourself as a runner and motivate yourself and people around you?

It takes a lot of hours of running for someone to become an average runner as it is a continuous learning process. That in itself is a great motivating factor for me as you strive to get better each day.

What plans do you have for the future?

We are living in exciting times. The ultra-marathon scene in India is just starting out and I am sure there will be great races coming up in the future. Personally, I would like to run a 100 miler before I turn 35 which is 5 years from now. Also, I hope to complete the ‘Comrades Ultra’ something 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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Featured Comments Off on Online vs live coaching – which is better? |

Online vs live coaching – which is better?

A lot of accomplished runners have opted for online coaching. But would that work for everyone? Radhika Meganathan speaks to trainer and marathoner RAGHUL TREKKER about its pros and cons.

If you had thought that ‘live’ is always better than ‘long distance’, think again! Raghul Trekker is in a unique position to speak about the advantages of online coaching, since not only he has a long distance coach who trains him from her home in South Africa, he himself is a long distance coach for over 70 runners spread across the world.

“I met my trainer Lucie Zelenkova, a prolific athlete, in Malaysia in 2015. Since then, she has designed my workout schedule which I follow every day,” says Raghul. They have weekly skype sessions, in which they exchange discussions about his goals and progress reports. His coach sends him regularly customised workouts and diet charts and is available for a call or a skype session I whenever he needs her advice.

After winning Ironman Sri Lanka and other races, Raghul started training aspiring runners. “The website I use is Training Peaks (https://www.trainingpeaks.com) which acts as a platform between users and trainers. The process is very simple. Each runner first has to talk to me by phone so that I understand their goals and expectations, and can make a decision whether I am the right trainer for them. Once I decide to take them on, they will have to create a profile and the training begins.”

Usually runners should have a goal to train for, say, Ironman or an upcoming marathon, because otherwise Raghul cannot draft a fitness schedule to help them become better than their current level. “You can be a newbie or a seasoned athlete, and you can come to me just for a season like 3 months or 6 months training (and many do, which is great, there is no hard and fast rule that you have to train forever!), but you cannot come to me blank. Have a vision and help me help you,” he says.

What are his tips for runners who want to look for the right online coach? “Look up for one who specialises in the event that you’d like to conquer,” says Raghul. “If you are aiming for a triathlon, go for coaches who have experience in that. Make sure your coach is going to design your training schedule specifically for you every week, based on your lifestyle and stats, rather than expecting you to fit yourself in some readymade and generic template. A good coach should be able to know you as a person, not just a runner, and design your workout accordingly.”

Raghul’s customised plans for his runners always include diets, mental preparation tips and terrain tips, among the usual workouts aimed at physical mastery. Some of the things he takes into consideration while designing workouts, are: Current fitness level, past fitness level, past achievements, time they have to commit to workouts every day, every week and their willingness to strive for tougher workouts on an escalating basis. “I log these data regularly, religiously, in every runner’s profile and keep track of their progress. This way, even if the runner has a break and comes back for more training after a few months, or even years, I don’t have any hiccups.”

So, for the million dollar question, what is his opinion about Live vs Long Distance?

“Live coaching can be exciting if you have found a good trainer in your locality, but it is restricted by geographical boundaries,” says Raghul. In live coaching, your trainer cannot be with you all the time, week after week, or oversee your stats and progress every day. Not all trainers are tech savvy and may have to rely on you to feed information and progress reports to them in a tricky verbal or handwritten format, which may or may not be always accurate. And not every town in the world is going to have a great trainer. But almost every town these days does have an internet connection.

“That way, I’d say online coaching is great because one, you get to train under some truly exceptional athletes in the world even if they don’t live in your neck of the woods, and that can be a tremendous confidence booster, not mention a rare and fantastic opportunity. Two, all the stats are recorded, updated and stored online in each runner’s profile and I will have that information in my finger tips to help my students without having to rely on memory or having to start from scratch,” Raghul delivers the verdict.

If you’d like to be trained by Raghul, you can contact him through the website of his fitness studio, TRI CRASH ‘n’ BURN, at http://www.tricrashnburn.com

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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Events Comments Off on The Comrades of 2018 |

The Comrades of 2018

He just concluded Comrades Marathon had a lot of surprises this year, writes Nandini Reddy

The 89km Comrades Marathon is the world’s largest and oldest ultra marathon race. The event sees 20,000 runners from 60 countries competing to win the coveted race. The allowed time to finish the race is 11-12 hours and every year at least half the number or more tend to finish the race in the allotted time. Runners who apply for this race have to finish a full marathon within 5 hours to qualify. The race was run for the first time in May 1921. This year’s race’s official distance is 90.18 kms.

This is also an inclusive sport that sees many specially-abled athletes compete. This year, we saw amputee runner Xolani Luvuno pursuing his dream of competing in the Comrades with the help of crutches.  He was given 5 hours extra to complete the course.

The Comrades Marathon of 2018 saw the South African’s dominating the leader boards. Comrade marathon saw South African’s finishing in the top positions with timings of 5:26:34 hours by Bongmusa Mthembu in the first spot in the men’s category and Ann Asworth (6:10:44mins) in the women’s category. Mthembu won his 3rd race this day. Ashworth reclaimed the crown for South Africa this year.

What it takes to cross the finish line?

This world race has a lot of preparation behind the marvelous feats of the runners. It firstly required a lot of stamina to cross the finish line and can be daunting as the hours progress.

  1. Apply Vaseline all over your body to prevent chaffing
  2. Nutrition en-route is important so carry your own supplies
  3. Ensure your shoes are comfortable to prevent toe injuries
  4. Right clothes to prevent rubbing and rashes
  5. Take a bathroom break at regular intervals

Unscrupulous athletes are present in every marathon but if you decide to run the wrong way then you are likely to be served a ban.Entering the race with unverified qualifying times and lying about the qualifying times is the definite way to get yourself banned for life. Improving your seeding through false timings won’t get you very far but every year the Comrade organisers face these situations.

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 Miles, mountains and memories |

Miles, mountains and memories

A look at Ultra runners who attempted the 870 mile Himalaya run, by Capt Seshadri.

This is one of the ultimate trials of endurance and an outstanding example of mind over muscle. It is also a journey through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. And breathtaking, not just to the eye, but to the lungs as well.

The Great Himalaya Trail or the GHT, is an extremely physically taxing and psychologically draining, but rewarding ultra run, with a ‘high’ that transcends all altitudes. 870 miles or 1400 km of grueling track, at times reaching an altitude of 20,000 feet in extreme and often fluctuating weather conditions, icy cold wind, driving snow and a harsh sun that glows with an unearthly light over the mountains. Moreover, rather than a well traversed, official route, the GHT is a set of interconnected smaller, unofficial trails.

A record for this, popularly known as the Fastest Known Time, or FKT, was set by South African Andrew Porter in an astounding time of 28 days, 13 hours and 56 minutes. In an attempt to surpass this zenith of human endurance, 36 year old Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel, 38, set forth on February 28, 2018 from Hilsa in Nepal, with the object of reaching Pashupatinagar on the Indo-Nepal border, in the fastest possible time. The duo followed the same path as Porter, with the same checkpoints, naturally keeping the record in mind.

This 870 mile route includes 230,000 feet of climbing both up and down in the mountains, combining upper and middle level routes often referred to as the Great Himalayan Trail, its high and its cultural routes. The world’s tallest mountains were on view as they toiled on, while passing the base camp of Kanchenjunga, the third tallest mountain in the world. Along the route were several designated checkpoints, starting with Simikot at an early 77 km, through Chharka Bhot at roughly 380 km and the closer to the finish point Tumlingtar, at roughly 1,075 km, with 300 plus km still to go.

The runners had to navigate their paths on their own. No porters, no mules, but with 20 litre Salomon backpacks filled with energy bars, dietary supplements and equipment critical to each of the segments they had to traverse. Six pre-determined resupply points en route would provide short eats and nutritious snacks to keep their energy levels at their peak. For regular relief, basic food and water, they would depend on villages along the route and rest and recuperate in the tea huts that dot the paths. Villagers’ homes and monasteries were their lodgings and Sandes and Griesel heaped praise on the hospitality and warmth of their temporary hosts. Says Ryan: “One of the villages, a spot where we had hoped to get accommodation, was completely deserted. I honestly believe that if we hadn’t come across a monk and monastery that night, we would have frozen to death.”

If it wasn’t the altitude and the shortage of oxygen, it was the chilling danger of frostbite. In spite of adequate clothing and accessories, Ryan and Ryno were exposed to painful chillblains, especially on their fingers, as they had to constantly remove their gloves to read the maps. Finally, after almost a month of body and mind sapping endurance and pressure, a new speed record was set. On March 26, 2018, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel completed the 870 mile GHT in an unbelievable time of 25 days, 3 hours, and 24 minutes, a good three days ahead of the old time set by Andrew Porter.

Every year, several women and men rise above odds and conquer mountains. This conquest however, was of a different nature. It was a conquest by the mind, of its superiority over the body, dictating its terms and winning.

Some more fabulous feats by these wonder athletes

Andrew Porter holds the solo male record for the Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT). He did a North-to-South run in December 2009 and set the record at 61 hours 24 minutes 11 seconds. Not satisfied with this effort, he returned to the venue in end May 2015 and did a solo South-to-North DGT in 45 hours 8 minutes.

Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel hold the men’s group record for the DGT, of 41 hours, 49 minutes, set in March 2014. Ryno held the previous men’s group record of 60 hours 29 minutes set in April 2010, along with teammate Cobus van Zyl.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Motivation Comments Off on Half to Fifty |

Half to Fifty

Arun Nair finds his way to the finisher of the The Malnad Ultra, Santosh Neelangattil, to understand what it takes to be an Ultra runner. 

It was Saturday morning when I packed my bags and drove towards Birur, a small town in Chikkamagaluru District of Karnataka. It was a pleasant ride through the national and state highways of rural Karnataka. I have had the opportunity to meet various running groups from South India and I had come to this location without understanding what an Ultra Trail entails. I meet a group of young runners and was pleasantly surprised when they mentioned that they trekked up a hill sometimes to go for a 10k run.

In a day an age when it is fashionable to say, ‘I am a runner”, I met  the unassuming Santosh Neelangattil. He did not look like someone who had completed a 50km race. A few excerpts from our conversation on all things running.

Congratulations on finishing your first Ultra run. How was the experience and how do you feel?
It’s exhilarating. Every kilometer after forty-two km was a milestone, as I was tracing them for the first time. Completing fifty km within the cut-off time and injury free was a significant achievement for me considering the condition of the trail. The experience was entirely different. A trail-run in a coffee estate! When I reached the place, it was dry all around. Rain in the evening changed the conditions altogether. It became slushy and slippery. It was even difficult to walk in some places. From planning for an ultra-run, it became an endurance run. After a while, I had to cross certain stretches by holding on to the coffee plant twigs. It was an unknown terrain as a lot of us were not sure on the depth of those slushy areas. At this point, the run got elevated from an endurance run to an obstacle run, and I was thoroughly enjoying it. It became all the more important for me to complete the run.

So in those tough conditions what kept you going?
It was the fellow runners and the volunteers! The seasoned ultra-runners kept encouraging and were giving bits of advice. The localities were providing unconditional support to all the runners by motivating us. By the way, I forgot to tell you about the leeches.

So how did this journey as a runner start for you?
This feeling of “Can I run?” started in 2006. I realized that I struggled to walk for one kilometer. I got a feeling that there were abnormalities in my health. Then I went through consultations, health check-ups, and supplements. I had to change. That’s when I heard about Sunfeast 10k run 2007. I practiced for it, and then I never missed Sunfeast or TCS run as it’s called now.

I love traveling. It was at this point that I decided to go for run-tour. So, my vacations and business meetings started getting planned around marathons. I have participated in several runs in last ten years – Kochi, Trivandrum, Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Madurai, Coimbatore, Cherrapunjee, Auroville (Pondicherry), Dubai, Australia and Sri Lanka. The beauty of my runs changed from health to the joy of running. My vacations will never be complete with two or three runs if not an event. I would go running on the beaches and explore new places which are otherwise not accessible on a vehicle. It became all the more interesting.

If you were to give a few tips to a new runner, what would you tell them?
‘Stay fit to run fit.’ When I started running, I was looking at finishing faster. That’s when a mentor, coach, and being part of a group helped me a lot. A renowned coach in Karnataka, Kothandapani sir, is my mentor. He just asked me one question, “Do you want to run for just this run or are you planning to run long?” Well, my answer was “I want to run long and run for many years.” I realized slowly that it was important to be fit to run. There was no point in getting injured and stop running. Then there were some outstanding seniors – Arvind, Ganesh, Subbu and the Team Miles Ahead (TMA) group gave me a lot of input on running safely without injuring.

For a typical one hour run, twenty to thirty minutes of warm-up and fifteen to twenty minutes of cool down post run is required. Warm-up and warm-down is something I know most of them miss out. It’s the most annoying part. We tend to get lazy when it is about warm-up as it’s not as exciting as running. My advice is simple, don’t miss your warm-up and warm-down.

For this particular Ultra Run was there any specific training preparation for it?
Longer training! Well, it’s also about conditioning my mind. If I have to advise runners for ultra-run – “If you can run ten km, you can run longer. Know your pace, listen to your body and don’t compete with others. You are your competition. No point in competing against anyone.” Do not experiment with your body unknowingly. Don’t harm your body to the extent that your day-to-day activities are affected. Run for the joy of running.

So when is the next race?
I enjoy my runs, and I know that there is always a new challenge. If you like to hear some numbers, (smiles) – my running app shows that I have completed 4500 km since 2014. Then there are many, that were not tracked. Tracking helps, and it motivates me. If you want me to be specific, my dream is to run Bangalore – Mysore, which is 150 km.

During our casual chat, he told me that there were days when he struggled to finish even 500 meters. There is something that I should personally learn, or maybe a lot of us should learn. As an irregular runner of short distance I know the struggle and it certainly felt good that even seasoned runners were not always motivated to run 10K everyday when they step out of bed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Arun_Profile Pic

 

Arun K Nair loves to play cricket, volleyball, and shuttle. He participates in 10k marathons in Chennai and Bangalore and is the author of a crime novel.

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