Posts Tagged ‘running’


July 15, 2015

Distance running is one of the fastest growing sports in India. Be it the quest for a healthy lifestyle, quitting habits like smoking or fighting lifestyle diseases, everyday many people join the bandwagon for their own reasons. For some veterans it is like opium while there are others who think that they will start running but are not able to do it. This blog is targeted at the later half. What do you if you want to start running? First thing that will come to your mind might be buy some good running shoes, fancy running gears and other paraphernalia which might inspire you to go for running. But when we are thinking of these, we are talking about hardware. We often ignore the softer part which is ‘cultivating habit’.

  1. The most important thing is cultivating the habit. Decide to dedicate a particular time period in a day for running. Initially just go for a walk during that time and make sure that it becomes part of your daily routine. Slowly your mind will start accepting the fact that you can manage rest of things in your life with this dedicated time slot for running.
  2. How much should you run? Enthusiasm is often difficult to control. Many beginners overdo it at the start and then feel enervated throughout the day. Understand that running demands energy and your body might not be ready for accepting that kind of energy dissipation rates. So the matra should be ‘slow and steady’. Train your body for that. Initially start with a walk only program and stretch it to run-walk and finally to continuous running.
  3. Which shoes/attires should one use? It is suggested to use attires that dry easily. Dry fit t-shirts and shorts are thus recommended. Many runners also face problems due to chaffing (nipple bleeding and rashes in groin area). It is advisable to apply vaseline at these body parts. For shoes it is always advisable to do a desk study regarding best shoes from different brands. It is a good idea to check pronation for your foot by analysing how your old shoe has worn out. Visit different stores, try out different shoes and buy what seems comfortable to you.         
  4. Hydration and Nutrition: Color of your urine is a good measure of how well hydrated your body is. If color of urine is pale yellow, it indicates that body is dehydrated and you need to increase your water intake. It is advisable to use electrolytes or sports drink or lemon water (both salted and sweet) after the run. Banana is also a good source of potassium and is highly recommended before/during/after run. Recovery of muscles is faster if you eat within 30 minutes of finishing the workout. So carry something that you can have after immediately after workout.
  5. Warm up and Cool down: No matter how active you have been before a workout, but still it is advisable to send a message to your key muscles and tendons that your body is gearing up for workout. Stretches for achilles tendon, hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, IT band, calf, soleus are specially recommended for runners. It is always better to start slow (probably with walking) and slowly increase the speed as your body warms up. After finishing running, stretches for entire body are highly recommended. For warm up and cool down exercises, has some very good videos.
  6. Strength Training for Runners: Strength training plays an important important role in injury prevention and every runners should dedicate at least one day in a week exclusive for strength training. Strengthening of glutes (hip muscles) plays an important role in injury prevention. Hip hikes, glutebridges, lateral leg raises, hip hikes, planks, side planks, push ups, burpees, supermans etc are good strengthening exercises for runner. Myrtl and cannonball routines are also both good options for hip strengthening. Search on you tube for these exercise and routines.
  7. Recovery: It is as important as workout.  Thus before you head towards your next workout, ensure that you have recovered from your previous workout. Though you’ll get a good idea from the feel but still it is a good idea to go for some numeric figures for that. Resting heart rate is a good measure for recovery. It is a good idea to maintain a log of your resting heart rates and any deviations after a hard workout should be addressed by taking some extra time for rest. If you have sore muscles then it is a good idea to do some foam rolling or massage to relax your tight muscles. Foam rolling is one of the most amazing thing I learnt from my coach in the recent past.

Running is a simplest sport but as you get involved, you get totally mired into the beauty it offers in your life. Lace up and feel the awesomeness- All the best.


26.2 (II)

February 2, 2015

It was around July when registrations for SCMM started. Though I had no run days (because of injury) in June but at the same time I had done a 28k run on trails sometime back. So whether to register for a full in Jan or not was a decision taken in a dilemma. Mercury dropped with change in season, but I was still conservative about my pace because of fear of intensifying of pain around my heel. I always use to feel that race day has some magic that helps me (and many others) to bring out the best in me. I had a belief that I need not worry about picking up pace as ‘race day magic’ will be able to manage it.

With this faith I ran CRPF half marathon in October 2014 and managed to finish it in less than 1:45 but I never looked stronger during that run. I realized that ‘race magic’ works only if you have slogged and put in efforts. So I decided to push myself and prepare hard for forthcoming runs. That might have resulted in accentuation of my injury but I was fortunate that did not happen. Sound guidance of my coach Gagan also helped a lot. The gamble paid off in the end. I started pushing my limits during practice runs. I also discovered amazing training partner in Naveen. Both of us travailed in training and in the process both improved. Just a week before ADHM life took another U-turn as it become a bit too busy with a little time for running (training became out question). I had a nice run in ADHM and now the next big run was SCMM.

From a regular runner, I became a ‘Sunday only runner’. Almost on all sundays after ADHM, I did more than 25k except on two occasions (when I did 21k and a week before D-day did a 15k). But almost all my runs were at an easy pace. I referred my blog that I wrote after finishing my first marathon and realized that I should have done a longer run at race pace. So I did that two week before SCMM- a 20 miler in less than 2:45 on Gurgaon Faridabad Road that has some good elevations. Experts might say that it was not a wise decision to run so hard (and long) just a fortnight before race but that run helped me in developing the faith that 3:30 is not impossible and may be targeted. Even I miss it, I will still better my marathon timings.

On race day, there were no butterfly in the stomach and no pre-race anxiety. I reached a bit late and when I entered the holding area, entire lot of runners had gone. The CST building was illuminated with multi-colored lights and it was looking beautiful. I arrived at the start line and the r(f)un started. I was bit faster right from the beginning and the only technique that I used for pacing myself was nasal breathing and thus I used signals when I met fellow runner and did not talk. I achieved my PB for 30K (less than 2:30). It was then the actual marathon started. My left calf and right hamstring started cramping. I tried to stretch a bit on the road but that did not improve the situation much. I even lay down on the road divider and did ‘vrajrasana’ and quad stretch. I was worried but determined. Situation improved after 2-3 km and I again picked up. I am happy that I crossed the dreaded Pedar road stretch without walking. Kilometer marker changed to countdown banners and I finished stronger overtaking many half marathoners who were yet to finish. Just after crossing the finish line met fellow runners and became part of runner’s carnival. I got a message from fellow runners that I finished in 3:46 which was satisfactory timing considering all that yoga that I did en route.

Now the future runs will be to chase the wishlist- a 3:30 finish.





A Run to Remember: Faridabad 10K

September 23, 2014

Injuries had troubled me in recent past because of which I have not raced since April, 2013 (LRG Night Marathon-10K). When most of runners around me were achieving their PBs under perfect running conditions in December 2013, I kept a reign on my speed and paced ADHM for 2:45 finish. I was feeling frustrated because of injury. So after ADHM, I tried everything that could help in healing my injury. Alternate hot/cold compression, pressing inner portion of my index and longest fingers (this really help in alleviating achilles pain-all thanks to Shiba Mehra for telling this technique), soaking my legs in warm water with rock salt mixed in it, icing and foam rolling religiously. I was not running much but concentrated on strengthening exercises. Three exercises that need special mention are as follows:

  1. Holding Glute Bridge (keeping hips squeezed)
  2. Wall Squats:Normal wall squat as well as wall squat with foam roller held between my knees.
  3. Planks:I was holding planks for more than 5 minutes during those days.

Finally, reached a stage where I could think of registering for a race. Faridabad Marathon (actually a 10K) was happening in February. It was a chip timed event so registered for it.

On race day, after reaching event venue, I realized that I probably made a wrong decision. Race was scheduled to start at 8:00 am but with presence of state’s CM and other leaders, it became more of a political event. Runners standing in the holding area were feeling stranded as race could start anytime. But alas! orations by local leaders kept on delaying that moment. That sounded like eternity. After an hour of political rendition finally race was flagged off.

One good thing about most of the ill-managed races in India is that they attract fastest of runners with whom amateurs like me can run. Runners sped like rocket. I went with the flow in first few minutes but later realized that I am going too fast so slowed down a bit. I also wanted to take a leak as standing in holding area on a cold February morning for an hour had made things worst. Race course was through a residential area and there were not many avenues. Some how after taking a decent lead from big crowd of runners found a place to attend to nature’s call. Ah!! That brought a different energy in me. Now I was almost flying, overtook few more runners and finally joined a pack that was running at a pace that was in my comfort zone. Those guys had a very smooth stride- nice leg lift, beautiful hip extension, soft forefoot landing. A treat for eyes to watch. I believe my form would have improved looking at theirs. Everything was going smooth till the time 10K route merged with that of 3K and 5k (another faux pas in that event). Now I was wading in a sea of runners,  moving in zig zag patterns to find my way. Finally crossed the finish line and was lucky enough to get some water (runners who come after some time struggled to do that). I hydrated myself and started stretching when one of the spectator asked me my timings. I was totally unaware about that as I was running without timing device trusting that chip will divulge these details after the run. Anyhow I asked him time at that moment. It was 9:54 am. Later I checked out from friend’s running app’s log that the race gun time was 9:15 am. That gave me an idea that my timing would be on lower side of 40 minutes.

Race results were out. Alas! my result was not there. Later I followed up with the technical partner providing timing support and got my timing. It was 00:38:12- my personal best for 10K.

Overall it was poorly organized event but given a chance, I would not mind participating in such ill-managed races as long I get a chance to run in company of fast runners (with whom I can keep pace 😉 )

Nose Breathing and Running

July 31, 2014

I use to breathe through nose during my morning runs till I got involved into timed distance running. Recently I read a book titled ‘The Hindu-Yogi Science of Breath’ by Yogi Ramacharaka in which a lot of stress was being given on breathing through nose. So I thought of getting back to my old way of breathing. But this time I was conscious about my breathing even when I was not running and that ensured I am breathing through nose most of the times.

I started this experiment with a 2 hr road run in hot and humid weather of Delhi on 31st June in which I managed 21.66 km and felt strong till the end. I pulled out couple of other runs in July, longest of which was a 28 km (27.45 km according my GPS) trail run for which I took around 2 hr 40 minutes. Weather throughout the month was quite challenging but still I managed 100+ km. I loved the new breathing technique so much that I have never eschewed it during entire month and even used it for a high intensity step up workout.

Although it slowed me a little bit (15-20 s/km) but I think that it has helped me to run longer without fatigue. Rather I feel energized even after long runs. I have started breathing deeper. Nasal track become so clear after the run and breathing become so effortless. I have become so use to this feeling that I start feeling obstructions in the breathing system if I skip workouts for two consecutive days. Another advantage of this experiment is that I have started snoring less (wife’s feedback)

I wonder if it is my over enthusiasm about this experiment that me making me feel good or is it all real. I would like to hear from other fellow runners.

Crash Boom Bang

April 11, 2013

After finishing Mawana half marathon in less than 100 minutes, I had a discussion with my running buddy- Sandeep Srivastava and he suggested me to focus on training and later go for a under 90 minutes half or for a 3:45 full marathon. So I decided to concentrate on training without paying much attention to the events being organized all around.

March had a perfect weather for running – neither too hot nor too cold and I logged more than 90 miles with an average pace of less than 9 miles per hour and a climb of more than 4000 ft. It was also a month when I could hear news about running events being organized all around. To resist participating in running events and concentrating on training is like saying no to your favorite food when hunger pangs are troubling you the most. Few of my other running buddies participated in a HM which I shunned with a heavy heart in order to concentrate on training. And then another event popped up – a night marathon to be organized in Gurgaon. I knew that I was not prepared enough to achieve my HM/FM targets. I saw that there was a 10k run in that event. I decided to take a break from long runs and go for a shorter faster midnight run. I took it as a training run and testing my body for faster runs in major events.

A week before the run I started concentrating more on stretching and went for short runs of 3-5 km. On 6th April which was the race day- I did 3 km in the morning along with good stretching. I finished my office came back home a bit early, had a short power nap of around 30 minutes and got ready for my first timed 10k. I made sure that I keep myself hydrated throughout the day and kept on having water at regular intervals.

When I reached near holding area, there were very few persons. I collected my bib and started observing fellow runners. Some were stretching while some were busy sipping energy gels or getting themselves clicked. Some of them were pestered by their children with all sort of demands. There was some delay in the start and the race started at 10:00pm instead of 9:30pm which was the scheduled time for start.

With all the training that I had done and through my previous running experience I was confident that I can run 10K with a decent speed so I decided to shun the timing device and follow my instincts by trying to run as fast as possible. I got a lead right in the beginning under the street light and then I entered a darker patch where nothing was visible which slowed me a bit. Certain things that were mentioned on the event website were present while others were missing. The race supposed to be on a moon lit night on traffic free gurgaon roads but moon was conspicuous by its absence and thank god there was traffic. Head-light of moving vehicles showed the way to runners on the otherwise darker roads. At around 2 km mark I met Rahul Verghese: Man who has played a catalytic role in popularizing long distance running in India especially NCR region. Never though that I’ll meet him first time on a run in this manner. I slowed down a bit, greeted him and had some chat with him. There were some runners who overtook me during this time. I bade good bye to Rahul and picked up the pace again. I overtook the runners shortly except for one white fellow who if I am not wrong was Shaun Mills. Running in evening was difficult in comparison to running in morning. I could feel some pain in my stomach but that eased out as the race progressed. There were water stations at regular intervals but I generally do not hydrate while running and thus did not took advantage of any of them. At around 5 km mark Arun Kumar (he was winner of 10K run) overtook me asking if there is anyone else ahead of me. At around 6 km there was a u-turn. At the u-turn I looked back and was not able to see anyone which meant that I was much ahead of other fellows. Neither I was able to see Arun. That is one disadvantage of night running- you are not able to see runner moving ahead of you, hook on to them to pick up your pace. So I kept running without trying to change my pace. Time passed by and I reached finish line where my wife hugged me and told me that I was second. I congratulated Arun who took just 37 minutes to finish 10k. I sat down and did a bit of stretching- gulped two three bottles of water, had some bananas. The organizers calculated my time and my wife told me that its 42 minutes.

Just like my first half and full marathon – a 10k become a memorable, unlogged run where I kept guessing my finish time at the finish line. I am still waiting for the timing certificate to make me believe – ‘Yesssss! I did it’.