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 Comments Off on A world of Marathons |

A world of Marathons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Upen:

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

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

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

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Featured Comments Off on Running in the Sky Together |

Running in the Sky Together

Our duo columnists, Mahalakshmi and Sandeep talk about how they conquered the Solang Sky Ultra, India’s only Sky running event in the Himalayas.

“Never limit where running can take you. I mean that geographically, spiritually, and of course, physically” – Bart Yasso.

I enjoy running – it’s a chance for me to go where my own two feet can carry me (literally).

It’s calming and repetitive. I have also found that the common running tenets of competitiveness, determination, positive thinking are the beliefs that I want to base my life goals on. It seems to me that running does a lot of good for a person and fits into my life quite well.

One of my running journeys took me up into the beautiful Solang valley in Himachal Pradesh that stands at an elevation of 8,400 feet. With the gorgeous Himalayas forming the backdrop, the Solang SkyUltra is India’s only mountain running race and is part of the Hell Race endurance series.

Skyrunning, as it is called is a high-altitude trail run and an extreme sport of mountain running that is run at an altitude of higher than 2000 meters and an incline of greater than 30%. These runs require a lot of technicality in terms of climbing and tackling the narrow trails.

“A wild story of human endeavour and sheer willpower”

This Solang Sky Ultra race has 3 categories – 10KM, 30KM, and 60KM respectively. The gain in elevation varies from 600, 2200m and 3800m for each category respectively. Mahalakshmi Sagar (my partner) and I registered for the 30KM race with a lot of uncertainty in our minds. Staying in Bangalore that is known more for its traffic than its trails, our uncertainty was understandable. Now, we have done our fair share of trail running too – the Turahalli trail as well as Yercaud trails for example but we still felt very apprehensive and unsure of the training that is required to tackle such a run.

Uncertainty and apprehensiveness aside, we decided to go ahead. We registered for the race, booked our accommodations and on the 28th of Sep 2018, Mahalakshmi and I along with two of the best amateur trail runners in India (Sampath and Aakriti) headed out to Chandigarh (our first stop). From there, we hired a taxi to Manali and thanks to the heavy rains our journey turned out to be longer and more exhausting than expected. The treacherous 12-hour drive was made palatable watching the wild, raging but beautiful Beas river making its way down the mountainside.

We arrived at the Solang Ski Resort and took the chance to mingle with a few of the runners who had arrived earlier and after a brief rest, we decided to go for an acclimatization walk on the race route.

During the race briefing, we were informed that the race route had been changed due to bad conditions and we were given thorough instructions regarding cut-offs, aid stations, etc. It was a daunting task to organize such an event under the given circumstances and the organizers had done a marvelous job getting things set up. We were ready to go and could not wait for race day.

RACE DAY! The 30KM leg flagged off at 7.30AM from the Solang Ski Resort and the route went down the Anjani Mahadev Temple road which lead us to our first river crossing of the run. They had created a makeshift bridge of a few planks of wood that enabled us to cross the river Beas leading to the harder section of the course.

Once across the river, the route meandered through tiny picturesque villages and then onto the Leh-Manali Highway which provided us with a bit of tarmac to run on. It was quite an easy climb to Jogini Falls. My Partner and I had decided to run the entire race together but halfway through we realized how unprepared we were for the trail, nevertheless, we were quite happy with the progress we made so far.

Jogini falls was a good climb and we were pretty warmed up by now and set our sights on the run ahead. All of a sudden, the race took us by surprise – it went straight through the falls! Obviously, we were soaked to the bone but we limbered on and set our sights on the remaining 16 to 18 KMS of the run.

Running through the waterfall, we hit the trail again and the trail sort of started winding down. Even though it was a downhill, the terrain was slippery and we could not run at the speed we wanted to. We passed through a village and had an aid station before the next climb.

The next section of the race was the most difficult one. Though only 2KMS, it had an elevation gain of 900+ meters. The terrain was rugged, to say the least. Forget running, even walking on this stretch was tough. We both realized, that this was way tougher than what we had imagined. We got really slow on this part, taking slightly more than 2 hours to complete this climb.

When we reached the top, we realized that we had 2 hours left and chances of us finishing before the cut-off’s seemed very unlikely. Nonetheless, we decided to give it a go, we tried to run hard and fast for the remainder of the race. Even though it was mostly downhill from that point on, we just could not get our speed going as the trail was full of slush.

We crossed a few more streams on our way down and that part of the stretch was the most beautiful. Through the winding trails, we finally came down to a gorge which had to be crossed via a century-old British bridge. It had lost its form and the only thing left was its railings. Volunteers helped us get across to the other side.

On crossing the bridge, we realized that if we did not run hard we might miss cut-offs by a good 10 mins. We kept running till we reached, the Manali-Rohtang highway. From there on, we both had decided to walk as we would not make the cut-offs anyway and instead we talked with the locals around and had an easy finish. Though that was not the ideal way we normally do our races, we thought it was worth it. We both decided then that we will do this race again next year and finish strong.

The 2018 race was unprecedented with the podium finishers getting through the course at some unbelievable speeds and setting new course records. In the 60KM race for men – Tianding Wahlang ended up 1st with a new course record time of 7hrs 12 min and 56 sec. Apart from Tianding, the other top two runners also bettered the previous course record of 9hrs 1min and 49 sec.

In the women’s format, there were the first-ever finishers with Aakriti Verma taking 1st place with a time of 13hrs 49min and 56 sec. In 2nd place with a time of 14hrs 44mins and 48 sec was Arpita Maitra which unfortunately was outside of the cutoff time, nevertheless, it is worth a mention. In the 30KM and 10KM categories, the gentlemen from the Gurkha regiment took home the honors with some exceptional running.

Though treacherous, we think races like Solang SkyUltra should happen more often. We thank the organizers for putting up a wonderful race. We truly appreciate the fact that the likes of Vishwas, Nupur, Ashok and Gaurav of the Hell race team are trying to build a culture wherein the runners are not pampered, they give you a tough race that leaves the runners with a feeling of utter satisfaction when they complete it.

As a parting note – we do not recommend this race to anyone who is not trained enough. Work hard on your fitness, train well and then go ahead.

 

ABOUT GUEST COLUMNISTS

 

Mahalakshmi and Sandeep are techies who have a passion for running. They met and married each other through running. They both constantly strive to achieve balance in their professional, active and personal lives.

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Events Comments Off on Scenic Marathon – Pembrokeshire |

Scenic Marathon – Pembrokeshire

Amid the Coastal Trail Marathon’s, Pembrokeshire is one of the most scenic marathon’s of the UK, that will flag off this Sunday, writes Nandini Reddy.

Pembrokeshire boosts of being the only coastal National Park in Britain. With its jagged cliffs, sandy bays, coastal villages and coves, it promises to offer spectacular views. The course is challenging as well with an undulating terrain that takes one over grassy paths, beach trails and a jagged coastal route. Here you can choose to run a variety of distances ranging from a 10k to a half marathon to a full marathon and then an ultra (55k). This marathon is listed as one of the top 10 ultra marathons in the world. here are some scary climbs on this undulating run, but some epic descents too, and the glorious views of the ocean are guaranteed to take your mind off your jelly legs.

While the finish line is at Little Haven for all, the start lines are staggered along the course. The start times are generally not published and participants are generally given a start window. This is because the route can be a bit narrow at certain points and in order to prevent a bottle neck they use a chipped start, giving preference to elite runners first. The other fun aspect of this run is that you can run with dog. You will be asked to start later than the rest of the group but you are allowed to bring along with dog for the run. The only expectation is that the animal is well-behaved and is on a lead the whole time.

Trail runs like these are not similar to the city marathons because the opportunity to see people or meet support staff will happen only every few kms. Only the 10k participants have one water station which will provide water in cups. The other distances will have to carry their own water containers. The water stations are few and far between but are comprehensive as they provide carbohydrate and salt replenishment options along with spots to refill your water containers. But food at these stations is limited hence participants would need to carry their own.

There is also listed cut off times for participants. Cut offs are along the route; there are no ‘Finish Line’ cut offs. There is also an event prescribed safety kit that you are expected to carry. All participants are notified ahead about the same and it includes mobile phone, cash, first aid, cap, windproof jacket, whistle, foil blanket, head torch, etc. If the runner wants to retire early from the race, they would be allowed to do so at any Checkpoint.

The event does promise an after-party in Little Haven for all the participants, so there is something to look forward to after the run. This is one marathon that is defined as ‘epic’ by runners across the world and is one of the best ultra trail marathons you can experience. Its all happening on April 28 and if you missed it this year there is always next year for which you can start getting prepped.

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 Dawn to Dusk – handling the long haul |

Dawn to Dusk – handling the long haul

Well, you might be prepared for the Dawn part but are you sure about the Dusk part? Let us foresee what is awaiting you in the afternoon, writes Raghul Trekker.

If you have already gone through the event information, you are well aware that you are going to cycle in the afternoon. Though this is relatively the coldest time of the year in Chennai, it is better to take precautionary measures to combat the heat. It would be around 30° C to 25° C which is not something to be ignored.

Gear yourself up with proper hydration plan for the cycling leg. Fill two to three bottles of electrolyte mixed with energy drinks. You might need 500 – 750 ml of fluid every hour of cycling. Considering the temperature drop and the reduction in perceived exertion as the dusk falls, you might need less than the above mentioned quantity.

Research says that, the absorption rate of energy drinks is faster when the system already consists of fluid/water in it. So, before you saddle up, it is good to consume an energy drink or at least sip some water to start off with.

There are lots of hydration drinks from different brands available in the market which fall under different categories.

  1. Electrolyte drink with no or minimal energy supply
  2. Energy drink with minimal electrolyte
  3. Energy drink with electrolytes

Out of the above three options, the most suitable drink for this event where you are put to test under the sun, is the one which has energy mixed with electrolytes.

During endurance activities like cycling, we lose 300-400 mg of sodium, 50-75 mg of potassium, 400 mg-600 mg of chloride, 20-30 mg of magnesium. The above values are approximate and may vary from person to person depending on each person’s sweat rate.

An excess of hydration in terms of electrolytes may lead to nausea, diarrhoea or vomiting.

Dehydration without proper replenishment may lead to cramps, muscular spasms, headache, improper functioning of brain and several other problems.

Considering the above factors, it is good to have a hydration plan in place.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Raghul Trekker is the Head Coach at Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn (a unit of Dhaamz Sports & Entertainment Pvt Ltd). A 4-time Ironman coaching more than 100 athletes for the last 3 years. Tri Crash ‘n’ Burn is a team of more than 60 triathletes and runners constantly pushing the limits to better their personal best. You can check out more about them at tricrashnburn.com

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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

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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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Motivation Comments Off on The North Face Endurance Run |

The North Face Endurance Run

Running is a lifestyle change, marathon runner Vidya Mahalaxmi talks to Nandini Reddy about her finishing The North Face Endurance Challenge this weekend.
The Run 
The North Face Endurance Challenge Championship course engages runners with both scenic views and drastic elevation change. You won’t want to miss out on this trail running event that draws participants ranging from first time racers to elite runners.The North Face Endurance Challenge returns to the Bay Area. Located in the visually stunning Marin Headlands. The run has a 50 Mile, 50K, Full Marathon and Half Marathon, the Marathon Relay, 10K, 5K and a kids run. The total time allotted for completion of the 50 mile run is 14 hours. The weather, in San Francisco during November, is perfect for the run.
The First Bug 
For Bangalore girl, Vidya Mahalaxmi, running has today become a lifestyle. It may have started as a fitness regime after giving birth to her first child, twelve years ago but today it has become a few miles every day. “Running marathons/ half marathons, was never on the cards for me. Growing up, I was told, I had flat feet and running wasn’t going to be easy. I used to swim. But never attempted to run,” reminisces Vidya.
“About eighteen months ago, I started working for Tarlton Properties,Inc., in Construction. My C.E.O., John Tarlton, has been more than an inspiration for me. He is my mentor. He has taken part in RAAM( Race Across America). He biked from the West Coast to the East, in eleven days. He encouraged me to take part in my first Half Marathon, The North Face Endurance Challenge – 2016. Since then, I have taken park in several races, by myself, and also as a pacer with him, in a few races. ( Santa Barbara Endurance Run and Lake Tahoe Ultra Marathon), ” says Vidya.
The Challenge of the Race
This year she ran the Half Marathon at the North Face Endurance Challenge -2017. “Just like other races, before race day, I try to run any where from 10 to 15 miles. The last week, I start to taper, and carb-load,” says Vidya. This race, in particular was interesting in so many ways. The trail, has the most breath-taking views of San Francisco. It is also extremely challenging, with all the elevations with stretches where runners literally bear-crawl. “I overcame a weakness of running in elevation in this race. My favourite part of the race though was running down-hill,” shares Vidya.

After every Race

A post run analysis of her performance is a must for Vidya who is always looking to improve with every race. “I learn something new, after every race. What gear and accessories to wear, what snacks help with your muscle cramps, and how to carry as much water, in the most minimal way, ” notes Vidya.

“Running has changed my perspective of life. I was divorced three years ago, after being married for 11 years, with two kids. My kids are so proud of their mother and running has played a big role in that aspect. Finishing the race, gives me confidence, that can’t be expressed in words,” concludes Vidya Mahalaxmi the newest member of the every growing running community across the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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 How to train for Trail Run |

How to train for Trail Run

If you love running and nature, chances are that you may love trail running too. Radhika Meganathan explores the process of training for a trail run.

Perhaps the only thing that might top runner’s high is runner’s high at an altitude! Trail running involves running on natural terrain, usually on mountainous hiking trails, and offers many benefits such as less impact on the body, increased variety, and the filling of your senses with natural beauty. From the book The Ultimate Guide to Trail Running, to be qualified as a “trail” it should possess:

  1. Natural elements and obstacles (such as winding woods, trees, waterways etc.)
  2. significant ascents and descents (i.e. elevation gain/loss)
  3. Scenic beauty.

So, even a paved car track can be known as a trail if it is located on a beautiful hilly terrain! Nevertheless, a nature trail is completely different from, say, your friendly neighbourhood park, so here is a primer on what you need to know about Train Running 101.

Understand your trail

Firstly, one size does not fit all when it comes to trails. Your training plan should consider altitude, overall elevation change, and course the nature of the trail itself. Is it rocky, mossy, clay soil? Hilly, or flat? Sharp turns or loose gravel? Did you come across it during a holiday (or hear about it from someone) and plan to go there soon? Or, are you lucky enough to live near a nature trail, in which case you can train real time, regularly? Knowing your goals and accessibility options beforehand will tremendously help you in getting a trail-running plan drafted.

Reset your expectations

When you transition from running on flat, concrete surface to dirt and grass, it changes the way you pace and balance yourself, and gives you a set of new challenges. Your trail path will be uneven, gravelly and sticky alternatively, and make you twist and turn more frequently than ever. To prepare to handle all this and avoid injuring yourself, it is essential to train the right way. Both attitude and altitude adjustment is required! Your pace will slow down, so don’t expect to have the same speed as before. Patience and a willingness to relearn is key.

Get appropriate gear

If you plan to run on trails regularly, getting a trail running kit is essential. When you run through non-urban spaces (or middle of the forests!), you don’t want to be stuck without a torch or food, so you may need to consider investing in a bag to carry water, food, or extra layers. Though you can use normal sports shoes to run on a trail, it may be a better idea to invest in special trail running shoes, whose treads offer better grip, safeguard you more effectively from slippery surfaces and have more features to protect you against elements such as rocks and roots.

Self-styled or trail training lessons

There are thousands of trail runners all over the world who run without any professional help, as even the freshest novice can start running after doing proper research and investing in the right gear/footwear. But still, if your trail is not a walk in the park (pun intended) or if you have any physical or mental restrictions that may prevent you from successfully completing a trail run, it may be a good idea to get some expert training, at least in the initial stage.

You can request a consultation at your local gym, or connect with local hiking/mountaineering organisations where you can meet with fellow runners and compare notes and more. You may even sign up with a running buddy or learn about a hitherto unexplored trail for your debut run!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

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Training Comments (2) |

Running at High Altitude

Running a marathon is a challenge by itself but running the same 42.2km at high altitude is an even greater challenge. Nandini Reddy gives you a few training tips if you want to run a high altitude marathon. 

Any marathon that is run at 5000ft height or above is considered to be a high altitude marathon. One needs to understand the process of acclimatization at these heights. If you are used to running in the plains where you have 100% oxygen, running at high altitudes means you will be running with a deficit of 30% oxygen, which can get progressively lower as you gain altitude.

Your Body in High Altitude

The Ladakh Marathon is one of the most sought after high altitude runs in India. Unlike other marathon’s you will need to arrive at least one week ahead to acclimatize to the weather and oxygen levels. High altitude sickness is occurs when your body does not adjust to the altitude due to lack of oxygen. The air is likely to be rarefied and thin so it is important to arrive before and spend a few days getting used to physical activity in that environment. Short runs and treks will help adjust faster. First time runners need to first run 7km and 10km distances in high altitude before attempting half and full marathons.

Strategy to run at High Altitude

The best strategy for transitioning to high-altitude running depends on  acclimatization time, your age and fitness level.

  • A basic high-altitude nutrition plan should place a strong emphasis on hydration. Water is essential for enabling red blood cells to circulate oxygen in the lungs and the dry air in high altitudes can be leave your dehydrated very quickly.
  • It is also important to follow a low-fat diet whenever you’re training at altitude, as there’s some evidence the body doesn’t digest fat as efficiently at higher elevations.
  • Try incremental training in terms of gaining height. If you are to run at 7000ft then don’t try to fly straight to that height and attempt to acclimatize. Land at a lower height and gain height over the week of training.
  • Avoid smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol as they are worsen breathing

The Upside

There are many benefits to exercising and running in high altitudes. There is a increase in red blood cells at high altitude which means more oxygen is delivered to your body which helps in improving stamina, muscle strength and reducing body fat percentage. These effects will last for about 15 – 20 days once you return to low altitude but the longer your train in high altitude, the longer these effects will last.

High-altitude athletes aren’t born, they’re made so if you can train right then running at high altitude will be a breeze.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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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