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Author Archives: Rohini

About Rohini

When inspired by the beautiful flow of words, I write.

The Fast and the Curious

Welcome, fellow runners and readers-yet-to-be-captivated-by-running, to the sequel to my running journey which began last year with a bang.

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The high of running the HM at TMM 2018, in my very first year of running was soon wearing off, and I was about to get myself into a tornado called Speed Training! In a way, I am really glad I did it this way – long distance training in sweet comfortable pace first, because I still needed to get my body and mind in sync with running – base building as they call it 😜. However, it is in these last 4 months that I finally learned the *importance* of body strengthening. Gone were the days when all you needed to run was a pair of shoes and running clothes. No longer a beginner here. To sustain running with improvisations each time, and to stay injury-free, it was really crucial to get the core, quads, glutes, calves and even the little toes real strong. I couldn’t avoid it anymore and decided to dive into the world of dumbbells and barbells 🏋🏻‍ (utterly scared of those!).

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Rewiring  the Muscles!

Post TMM, we (JJs) started off a month of strengthening routines coupled with small warm up runs. We were back on the mud doing our lunges, burpees, push-ups (yep, another intimidating exercise which I managed to….oops, getting ahead of myself here!) and explosive movements that got me dog-tired in just an hour. I used to reminisce the HM training days-the long beautiful runs ..sigh… Had to wait until July to restart that. Back then, hours of running brought in only calf stiffness for me once in a while, but this made the whole body ache, and how! Luckily, I had my old runner gang for company and my very own spirited confidante – who always merrily said- “Oh, it’s a good kind of pain to experience!” Anyway, exposure to the soil microflora got me sick and I missed couple of the workouts which affected the start of the speed training season. I felt I lost my stamina and maybe even willpower 🙄. But there was hope, coz, namma Bengaluru city was buzzing to prepare for the TCS World 10k – the country’s famous short distance race. The race that started my running journey! It was a very special one and I was totally looking forward to it.

We began our training with a carefully structured plan by our Coach Pramod, who has taken many beginner runners to the finish line faster than they expected, and experienced ones to the podium🙂. I started believing in the power of training last season but I highly doubted my own ability to get upgrade my speed level. The training runs included short and long speed workouts that tired me to such a great extent that I had to be coaxed into going back by my “sole-mate” 😇😬. Luckily, we are all filled with tiny powerhouses within each cell, called as Mitochondria, that helps us give those bursts as well as recover from it.

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Burst and Recover!

I found that running my fastest (short bursts of speed) isn’t sustainable even to a meagre distance of 1km. This required my muscles to be stronger than before. I took the Gym training seriously (no more excuses) and for over 2 months worked with good dedication. We also included regular practice of Yoga and that I feel has added great value to my speed training. We even gave up our fun badminton games for 3 full months to make time for the gym and speed work and of course, to avoid any random niggles. I was curious to know how am I going to go from running a 10k at 70 minutes to attempting one at 60 minutes. Yep, that was Riku’s…ahem.. my target time. I guess I was getting into a comfortable zone with running, not caring about what speed I ran with. It’s kind of a paradox – one should be able to enjoy running and also try to push one’s limit. The pushing part is never easy. Fortunately for me, curiosity didn’t kill the cat this time 😼😹. I was getting really interested to know how fast can I run. With relatively stronger muscles, I peaked well in my training and even though I wasn’t close to my target pace, I was really happy with the improvement.

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Happy miles!

Alongside, Riku’s running story was also unfolding  – there he was keeping ‘unrealistic’ goals and training hard for them as well, and part of my job was to keep up his spirits and help him stay on the journey, just as part of his job was to keep me going 😊. There were times when workouts would have been missed and runs would have been slower if not for the steady stream of positive energy we directed at each other. This is why I believe it is important to get your spouse or partner or a good friend into running as well, if you are really into it – it converts some of the tedium of training into ‘quality time’, as some JJs like to say 🤗. There were even times when I had to pace him on a bicycle for a full 10k on the TCS route to match his target pace, even though it was supposed to be a day I was running as well (12km fast finish!). Pacing done, I was then ordered to go running to finish my own mileage while he went off to rest up and have breakfast.. Baaaahhhhh 😪😑… I told myself I’m a strong and determined runner, no complaining there!

Anyway, to illustrate how strength-building works, let us go back to the push-ups story 🙂 – I was gradually able to move up to 5 push-ups in good form! Woohoo! Why is being able to do push-ups such a big deal anyway? It’s a form of exercise that mainly utilises the muscles of the chest, arms and shoulders. Why was I so curious about it? Coz I have been hearing so much about push-ups challenges and the boys I know do it with ease whereas many girls struggle to do it. When I tried it for the first time, I could hardly lift my own body weight! I used to lay flat on my yoga mat and just glare at Riku for doing it cooly! Anyways, that was the past (15 push-ups now, Yo! 😎) and I’ll get to the point I’m trying to make here. The best part about body strengthening is that you realise that there are so many muscles in the body that you hardly gave attention to and they are all weak, stiff and meek. With good care and nurturing, they get well oiled and are able to do things once you thought was unimaginable!! And there is no age limit to start or restart body strengthening. However, studies clearly show that a fit body (not to be read as a highly muscular bulged body) helps in overall good health and slows down ageing. No wonder all these runners look barely their actual age. I know a 50+ JJs runner who looks over a decade younger than his age and many runner-moms who can easily pass off as college going gals.

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Push-ups for a selfie!😛

Moving back to the TCS 10k training, as we entered May, things got heated up- thanks to the weather and the excitement. As usual, we loaded up on our nitrates (bloody beets!) and carbs before the race. This time we also got some of our close friends into running their first race which brought back good old memories of our own. As the race day inched closer, our running group, Jayanagar Jaguars, were hugely involved in making the race a real special one. Three of our running rockstars were part of the world’s first ever all-women pacer team. Few of us also got a personal interaction with the Grand slam champion, Mary Pierce who was the event ambassador. Excitement was in the air throughout. A day before the race, all of us got together to take our group photo with our new running tees. Only then did I realise, 500+ of our community are running TCS 10k! Wow! Thats over four times the JJ runners who ran TMM together. So, it was going to be a smile-fest throughout, and constant doses of energy and support to keep us pushing throughout 😬🤗.

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The JJs Battalion!

On the eve of the race, Riku and I did our usual tradition of watching an inspiring running related movie (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, this time) to get those nerves pumped up with steel followed by an early meal and a good night’s sleep! We reached on time at the Venue on the D-day and soon entered into our line-up sections, warming up slowly to get the heart and the muscles ready.

As the clock hit 5.30 am, the first group of fast runners sprang out. It was amazing to watch their perfect form literally glide over the track and out into the roads. I had a bit of a crowded start but managed to pick up a good pace surprising myself in the initial 2kms. This was the speed that I had imagined in the beginning of my training and never quite reached there until that moment! Everything was going perfect till the 4th km came by. This time curiosity almost got the cat out of breath! Why is it that I lose my focus and speed at the mid distances? Did I start too fast? Or was I dehydrated? Many questions hovered over the familiar route that was slowly getting laced with humidity. Maybe I would be able to answer some of those questions, further along in my running journey – but for now this aspect of how my body reacts is a mystery 🤔🧐.

Luckily, due to the familiarity, both with the 10k distance and the course, I was able to get my drifting mind back into the race and the thumping feet of thousands of runners soon got me into picking up my pace. I knew then I wasn’t going to hit the 60 mins mark, but I also started getting doubts of hitting 65 (which was my previous best during training). My mantra then was the carefully studied route details by Riku – he had chalked out exactly where the downhills came – those are my favourites! My mood lifts up and my body goes into a dance-zen-smile-run mode ☺. I took advantage of that and ran faster when the terrain changed to my advantage. A potential sub-64 was soon blooming in my hopes, and I was into my 8th km that was led into by my favourite stretch of the Vidhana Soudha road. With just 2 more to go, I was able to pick up speed surprisingly with not much effort. Was that the 2nd wind? Hmm… Curiouser and curiouser! How did my muscles recover 😲?! Where did the exhaustion vanish?!

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Perfect shot at my favourite spot in the route with one of my fav fellow runner!

Enter 9th km and DISASTER STRUCK!! – I was literally thrown out of track!. A turning popped up along with a speed breaker and loads of runners getting their sprinting phase ready. In that hazy moment, I tripped over and scraped my knees. Luckily, I was able to keep cool and judge fast the extent of it – Verdict? Most likely it was only a superficial wound and my prized knees were alright. Three super kind runners (whoever you were, I am extremely moved by your gesture, thank you!) helped me get up and all I could tell them is that they ought to continue running coz its the 9th km!!! Runners are extremely compassionate, in addition to being people with great attitude and superpowers (my Coach keeps teleporting at all the required places 🤩)! If only I could go back and thank them again for their gesture. Coach saw me too and encouraged me to take it easy and be conservative. At that moment, I wasn’t at all behind my adjusted target time or pace. All I thought was to get to the finish line as quickly as possible and into the arms of my sole-mate. With my arteries pumping adrenaline and newly styled tights with knee-slashes, I started sprinting up to the finish line. I almost hallucinated Riku cheering me up and shouting my name towards the end and that gave me the energy to give a final push to seal my run to a strong 62 minutes finish!

I was in a daze when I crossed the timing mat and I stumbled into Deepesh (fellow JJs runner and high energy bubble)  who helped me catch my breath. I walked down the stadium entrance in search of my people amidst beaming finishers with all their swagger, all the nerves now converted to jubilation. It took a few moments to find Riku and he immediately opened his arms for our congratulatory hug. He had finished super strong in 52 minutes! Such a proud moment for us. He had worked so hard for this which in turn inspired me to push myself. My eyes welled up for no good reason (mostly embarrassment for tripping over 😪😛!) and I blurted that I fell down. I could see his face immediately convert the huge smile into a concerned gasp after seeing my torn tights with bright crimson patches. After a few minutes of consolation, I traipsed over to the medical camp and got my wound checked and dressed up. All was good. No serious damage done.

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Celebratory pose!

Time to get back to the party🎉🎉! We caught up with our runner-familia along with their friends to share stories of our speedfest! Following that was the celebratory traditional JJs breakfast party which we enjoyed and chatted up spiritedly with our fellow runners, all gleaming after their newly minted PB’s🎖! This was very different from the TMM Half marathon after party. No one was tired… bringing back the memories of my last TCS 10k. I remember falling into my bed and waking up very late in the noon. There were so many positive changes in my stamina and strength after this year of taking up running and the focus on holistic fitness and nutrition. It is time to conclude my very first year of running and all the adventures it brought into our lives. I am extremely grateful to my husband, Riku and our amazing family for the enthusiasm and support. Come any race, there’s always an eager bunch to gather around and participate. It is this infectious enthusiasm that charmed and challenged me to change my lifestyle and outlook. I am also equally grateful to my amazing Coach and running buddies at JJs who have exponentially charged up the enthusiasm coupled with perfect training sessions that made all the achievements possible.

So, what comes next? Of course, we will keep running and I want to stay curious about how much I can push my body and still enjoy the process. We also would love to get more people curious about running/fitness and get them to experience adrenaline and endorphins flowing down their veins 😊!

Stay Fast, Stay Curious, Stay Fit – everything is possible! Happy Running! 🙂

Some tips and lessons learnt this season:

  1. Strength, Strength and Strength: It is immensely vital to get the body strong if one wants a considerable amount of improvement. Working on strengthening different muscle groups along with a good amount of Yoga has helped us to better our running performance.
  2. Nutrition: We noticed a slight increase in our body weight initially due to the reduction in our weekly mileage. It took us few weeks to alter our diet to suit the new training regimen. We also started experimenting on rice alternatives and discovered the amazing millets.
  3. Watching the pace: With all the interval and speed workouts, we had very specific pace targets. So, learned to keep an eye on the watch and a check on the pace. It is a bit strenuous to keep a track of the numbers but it all helps, come #Raceday! 😎

Be limitless, Be fearless!

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Posted by on June 23, 2018 in Fitness, Running

 

First Year of Running: Halfway to a Marathon

A “marathon” post to commemorate the experience of a Half Marathon!

I feel incredibly privileged to have been a part of the 44000+ runner community at the Asia’s largest running event – Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018. Never imagined myself to be a runner but then got into this exhilarating ‘sport’ or rather ‘way of life’ serendipitously! They say that running completely changes you as a person and it is definitely true. All you need is a good pair of shoes and you can just take off! The journey started last March, when my highly active husband and brothers decided to run the TCS World 10k. I just went along with them, innocent about the drastic change that was about to happen to us! Thus, the training began and I started to realise that it would take a lot of time for me to actually enjoy running! During the initial two months, I struggled with my breathing and couldn’t will myself to run beyond the 2 km mark. I went out of breath within 200 metres and had to walk to get my rhythm back. From there it has been a long journey to be able to not only run with ease, but also dare to run in a saree ☺😄!

With Milind Soman

Pinkathon Training Run, with Mr. Running, Milind Soman 😄

Luckily, Riku and Soumya (who are both passionate runners) were always there to motivate me. They all made running sound and look very easy. I was getting easily frustrated with my lack  of finding that ease and ‘runner’s high’. With the TCS 10k around the corner and realising that I did not train for a long run, one day, Riku decided to pace me into running a continuous 10k. I know it was a very slow run for him even though it was completely challenging and scary run for me. I felt proud and tired after taking 1hr and 27 minutes to finish 10km. But, come TCS 10k and things changed! The whole atmosphere that day was unbelievable and I was able to easily push myself to a strong finish at 1 hr and 11 minutes. Watching all the runners around me and overall high energy levels propelled me into a different zone. I finally got my runner’s high and there was no turning back since then. Oh, one more thing – that started our collection of those beautiful finisher medals that you can display proudly to show off all the happy miles you’ve put in😅!

First race – TCS 10k Bengaluru 2017 🏅🏅

The next few months, I watched Riku do longer runs and I went into a slow phase, running once or twice a week. We did a couple of 10k runs with family and friends which was enjoyable. Life was going well and I was content with my running miles. I was able to put in some memorable runs in UK during my short stay for research at the University of Liverpool.  Running in the Scouseland got me hooked on the feeling, high on believing that I’m falling in love with running 😍❤😬…

Refreshing run at Sefton Park, Liverpool 😇

Meanwhile, back at home, Riku found a running event in Shimla by Running & Living. We decided to do a run-vacay with family. The stud boys, Riku and Rithu did a staggering 25k up in the beautiful hilly terrain of Shimla, whereas, Soumya, Amith and me ran an enjoyable 13k. I would say that it was my most beautiful run ever – I literally swayed and danced my way down the slopes with majestic trees on one side and gigantic mountains on the other side. There were uphills too, but, one could always walk them up 😉. The fresh air of Shimla coupled with the aromas of the forest was simply an experience that I just can’t articulate. Kudos to Rahul Verghese and Running & Living team for arranging this amazing run. Oh, by the way, before the run, we did a couple of treks too, got lost in the misty wilderness of Taradevi mountain and got attacked by a leech party. Nevertheless, that’s when I realised that I’m not only deeply in love with an incredible runner (Riku) but also beginning to have fond feelings for running itself!

Running & Living (& Trekking!) in Shimla

Life was going good and again, one day, Riku, who after a full marathon (this guy doesn’t seem to be stopping!!), comes to me and says that there is this huge run called the Mumbai Marathon which is the biggest running event in the whole of Asia. I looked up and saw that there were only two categories in it – Half and Full Marathon. So, I had two options ahead of me- be the support team to my husband or run a HM! I wasn’t sure if I was ready to step up from 10km to 21.1km. After days of contemplation, I registered for the Half marathon with just a small meek voice in my brain telling me that I could do it.  Next question: How to go about the training then? I didn’t have to worry much. Riku, again, did all the hard work and the research!

Random motivational quote 💪

Enter, Jayanagar Jaguars, fondly called as JJs – Bengaluru’s oldest running community spearheaded by a passionate and imperious coach, Pramod Deshpande. We joined the group which had about 150+ enthusiastic highly trained and casual runners prepping for TMM and other 200+ energetic runners who trained along with us. The training was for 12 weeks and my monthly mileage (I knew all the running jargon by then 😅!) suddenly grew almost 3 fold.

Jayanagar Jaguars TMM Winter Session

I had my own share of energy loss, injuries, muscle tightness, soreness, etc. that made me learn more about my own body working tirelessly to keep me running. When the training began, I found myself tired for the first 2-3 weeks, poor eater you see. I increased my protein intake (eggs, chicken, fish, pulses, etc) supplemented with carbs, good fats, F & V, and nuts; all of which helped me build my endurance and stamina. Each run was challenging and fun, now that I had a gang of 10+ runners running along with me  in my sub-group. In addition to the running, focus was also given to body strengthening for the first time. Well, now that I look back, it was naive of me to just keep running without trying to get my body strong for it. Core exercises and weight training helped me to run stronger during the training runs. Also, I learnt that the post run routine such as stretching, icing, and rolling the muscles should never be ignored just like the pre-run warm up. I figured what worked best for me as a pre-run snack (6 pre-soaked almonds and 3 bananas) and pre-race nutrition meals (broken brown rice, oats, poha, nuts, beetroot, sweet potato, potatoes, etc). For the TCS run and races after that, it was only the race day that felt important but during the training runs with JJs, I realised it’s the whole process that gives you the satisfaction and not just getting a desired time by giving your best on the race day. Perspective. The running community is one filled with individuals who work extremely hard, juggling both work and running; and with an amazing attitude towards life and people. They are eager to give advice and help fellow runners based on their experiences. It is something that I strongly felt to always be a part of. As we inched closer to TMM, the weekend runs became longer and more challenging.

JJs all set for TMM 2018!

TMM was supposed to be my first Half Marathon but then during the training came a special run called Bengaluru Thump Run where as per our training schedule, we needed to test our HM distance. I ran comfortably after the right advice from Riku (start comfortably slow and then finish strong). I didn’t know how much my long distance pace should be so that I avoid burning out. Taking inputs from the previous runs, I set out a pace and decided to target a sub-3 HM. This run was also special in a way that I was able to give away my habit of  listening to music during races (coach hates it and is willing to stop you in between to tug the wires off 😝). Of course, coach was right as ever – turns out running is about getting in sync with one’s body and surroundings. I realised that drowning all that with music wouldn’t do justice to our experience of being “one with the run”! I was able to finish strong at 2 hrs and 43 minutes.

That’s it, I did it! Conquered the 13.1 miles.

This run along with 3 other 20k+ runs gave me enough confidence to believe that I can finish a half marathon.

Thump Half Marathon 2017 – My first HM! 🏅🏅

With one week left to TMM, everyone around was getting excited to embrace the marathon of the year! Strangely, I didn’t have the butterflies in my stomach that used to hover during the TCS time… perhaps the walnuts did their job of reducing the pre-race jitters! Thank you, Dr. Ryan Fernandes. We had well tapered and loaded on beet juice and other carbs. When Riku asked for my race target, I said I didn’t have any as I just wanted to run a strong HM and I did it during the Thump Run. So, my target was already achieved and I could enjoy TMM aiming for a similar time. He insisted I aim for a better time since he believed I could run at a faster pace than what I’m used to. I took up this challenge with a practical back up plan and imagined a 2:30 finish – which is 13 min faster than my personal best (PB)! Getting to finish at that time would require me to run the entire 21.1k at the pace at which I ran my TCS 10k!!! It was a challenging task, but I felt I was up for it. My back up plan was to finish by 2:40. Riku again advised me to go with a 2:30 pacer (he always gives the best running tips!) so that I can focus more on my form than constantly checking my pace. I decided to get into the 2:30 bus which was to be paced by an enthusiastic runner, Kartik. That was it. Take it easy and just keep running. I believed that I was capable of doing it and the TMM theme song imbibed that further.

“Soch liya toh mumkin hai, Nikal pado toh mumkin hai”!

“If  you have thought about it, it is possible. All you need to do is just get out and make it possible”!

The powerful theme song of TMM 2018

As we entered the city, the feeling of something huge about to happen sunk in and all of us JJs were excited about the race. We set out together as early 4AM to board the local train to a mid point from where the local bus ferried us to the holding area. Watching thousands of runners assembling at the holding area gave me goosebumps. This was definitely much bigger than imagined! Munching a handful of raisins, I walked towards the start line with my pacer group and we heard the loud cheer  of all the runners starting the run with high energy levels! This was it! The cool Mumbai breeze whizzing across was a sign that it was going to be fantastic!

Journey to the Start Line

With the sea on one side and the city on the other side, the 12000+ HM runners set out with racing hearts, huge smiles and determined minds. I held on to Kartik’s group as we chanted “Ganpati bappa moriya” and ran steadily towards the sealink. My focus was on maintaining my form and heart rate (under 180). Focusing on Kartik’s 2:30 flag helped a lot. He kept chatting with us, making sure everyone was comfortable. It really didn’t feel tough at all. At around the 3k mark, we entered the famous sealink and there was a pleasant breeze blowing at us. It felt really good and I looked around trying to get a glimpse of the sea but it was too dark. Suddenly, out of nowhere, doubts crept in – if I could do it, can I run 21k at this pace, why couldn’t I been happy with just running 10k’s, etc. I tried to brush off the mental cobwebs, thinking about my target and of course, Riku’s words of inspiration. He has always believed in me and I know I can trust him 🙂… Back to the race, I caught up closer to Kartik, who was chatting away spiritedly with a fellow runner. We did a Mexican wave and I felt the energy levels surge up. I had my first salt cap at 5k and held on to the water bottle for little sips every 4-5 minutes. Then came a beautiful downhill – I love it when I get to switch off and let gravity take me along. Gives a feeling of being extremely light and l let go of everything.

The 10k mark came by too soon after that. There was no panting, no slowing down and I didn’t feel any major energy depletion. There was a nagging dull pain on my back which I get sometimes on long runs – nothing that I hadn’t experienced before. I tried to relax my back and shoulder while maintaining the pace. While doing all that, I heard a familiar voice shout out my name. It was my partner in crime, Riku, running the full marathon in the opposite road. I was so elated and cheered him back. Nothing beats that feeling of your loved one shouting for you amidst the crowd when you are in the conservatory phase of the race. It brought the smile back on my then resolute sweaty face.  He always waits for me to give a big hug after every race and this time I was going to miss that as he was doing the grand old full marathon!

Always waiting patiently for the celebratory hug! 🤗🤗

After a km or two, just when my mind started playing the usual tricks to make me walk a bit, Kartik announced that we’d take a 15 sec walk break since we were on the Peddar road. We were already there! The famous Peddar road uphill with a 40m elevation that everybody had been talking about! To be honest, it wasn’t that scary a hill. Our coach had trained us well to tackle them with all those hill training sessions. It is all relative, I guess! Like Riku seriously told me, the strategy of the TMM is to magically increase the Peddar road incline only on the FM return loop! I also realised we were around the 15k mark and it was time to take another salt pill. The nape of my neck was getting heated which I tried to cool down by pouring water. It felt extremely refreshing against the Mumbai humidity and rising temperature. This was also when I witnessed the support of the Mumbai locals. They were all out of their homes on an early Sunday morning. Little kids were offering us chocolates, jaggery, oranges, bananas, etc, along with their cheering parents. I’m sure all the runners, including me, felt awesome getting pampered by the Mumbaikars. Even the Police force were out there cheering us. We cheered them back for their support.

Favourite placard by the TMM 2018 cheer squad! ❤🤩

As we entered the city, the sea faded off and it was time to start changing the gears. The finish line was near and I slowly tried to increase my speed after the 18th km. I was surprised that I still had energy to do so in spite of running faster than my usual training run pace. The last 3 km was a negative split and as the finish line approached, I tried to get into a sprint. There were a lot of runners finishing around the same time, I weaved through them and finally crossed the line at 2 hours 30 minutes and 14 seconds!!

I did it!!

For a moment, I just couldn’t believe it and tears welled up in my eyes. I looked around in search of my husband. But then, I realised he was still running his marathon. He is always there when I finish, waiting with open arms for a hug that seals my strong finish. I had to keep moving on and was given a towel branded with the TMM logo. Wow! That’s a wonderful memorabilia! I found few of my fellow JJs runners, each gleaming with happiness over their newly acquired PBs. Everyone was in a festive mood.

It was over.

The tough training for 3 months ended on such a high! We slowly parted after chatting up and stretching our prized muscles who did a wonderful job! Walking around Mumbai streets with the beautiful finisher medal around our necks gave us all instant celebrity status with the local residents, who made us feel super special. The support that this city gives to its annual runners is commendable. I wish other cities followed the same and this would encourage more individuals like me to take up running.

Conquered a half and a full marathon with style! #PowerCouple😎

With that the first major running season ends. No doubt about it being tough and challenging, but it opened up a whole new world. A new season awaits now, with new goals, new challenges and a lot more fun! And I certainly can’t imagine a life without running. What next for me? A few more half marathons and then, maybe, I will start my full marathon training 😅😬. And some day, I would love to run an Ultra marathon and even run across different terrains from mountains to beaches! It will be a long road, but I will have plenty of good company!

Some tips and pointers I picked up along the way:

  1. How to start running: Start slow if you are new to running. I started with running 15 minutes a day – 2 or 3 times a week. It doesn’t matter how much or how fast you can run. Just will yourself to run and focus on your breathing/form.Putting in the miles per week is very important for a half marathon/full marathon training.
    There are multiple articles, blogs and books on running that will help you understand about running the right way:
    a. Runners World is a good place to start exploring.
    b. Born to Run is a wonderful book to get you to enjoy running with special insights from the famous running tribe, Raramuri Indians.
    c. Chi Running is a great technique to adopt if you are serious about running and want to run injury-free in the long run. Danny Dryer’s book is the go-to resource for learning the methods, but if you are in Bangalore you can reach out to Thomas Bobby Philip, our very own running guru, for tips and motivation!
    d. Join a running page like the Bangalore Runners and Mumbai Road Runners, to always be in touch with the sport and the enthusiasts.
  2. Timing your run: Early morning runs are the best coz it brings you so much time for the day and feel really good with all the endorphins pumping through you all day. Also, in our country, it’s always good to run before the heat sets in!
  3. Cross-training: Try to alternate runs with other activities like cycling, swimming, body strengthening, etc. which will make it fun and get you to run better.
  4. Nutrition: Give equal importance to nutrition requirements. If you are feeling exhausted hours after a run, it means you need to increase your calorie intake. See what works best for you and include all the healthy foods. Running has helped us to greatly reduce our junk food intake. We have become more conscious of what we eat now that we want our bodies working perfectly for all kinds of runs.
  5. Cadence: Focus on getting a high cadence while running coz it will reduce the chances of injuries. Amateur runners usually have a cadence of 160-170 steps per minutes whereas Elite runners hit a cadence of over 180 steps and some even get over 200 at their fastest speed.
  6. Heart rate and breathing: Getting a heart rate monitor will help condition the heart to beat efficiently while running. It is very easy to get the heart pumping furiously, but the challenge is to run better with a low heart rate. Anyway, having a high heart rate will immediately force you to slow down (true experience). Anytime my heart rate hits 170+, my speed automatically comes down. Now, I’m trying a new method of heart rate training called the MAF method for a better control during runs. Coming on breathing, I started off with only nose breathing and soon got out of breath. Running consumes a lot of oxygen since the muscles require them to perform the repetitive movements. Breathing with both the nose and mouth allows more oxygen to circulate to the muscles. It takes a while to get used to the technique but once acclimatised you’ll wonder how it was so difficult for you initially! Deep abdominal breaths while running are the best and the toughest to achieve. Take your time to enjoy how your body adapts to running.
  7. Running injuries: There are all kinds of injuries that are bound to happen to runners since it’s a repetitive motion. Dont get bogged down and learn to identify the difference between tired muscles and an injury. Side stitches happen to almost everyone and I figured out that it mostly occurs when I’m not hydrated enough before a run. I ease them out by taking deep breaths and sometimes even gently massaging the area. Like I said earlier, a good warm up pre-run and stretching routine post-run would go a long way to help prevent injuries. Using an ice bag on my joints and injured areas along with wearing compression socks has helped me recover well post my runs. Also, roll out the stiff muscles using fingers, tennis ball/massage ball or that torture machine called the foam roller😰. It’s only human to feel lazy post races with cravings to just fall asleep but, trust me, you will be able to walk normally and get back to running if you do all the stretches! Running has helped us learn about our anatomy/physiology and we always feel privileged that we have all the mechanisms perfectly set within us to be able to run.
  8. Benefits of running: I don’t have to elaborate on this. I admit I’m a bit (a lot!) biased, but it comes with scientific evidence. In a nutshell, running gets you stronger, prevents age related issues and wards off many non-communicable disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, etc. It is quite paradoxical as to how it works coz runners are people who make a conscious effort in maintaining a healthy lifestyle coz otherwise one just can’t sustain running. Psychologically, running gives you a sense of euphoria, inner peace, and determination to face any hurdle that life throws your way.
  9. Ill-effects of running: I’m afraid there aren’t any. If you run the right way and take care of your nutrition, you should be good. Be aware of miscreants such as stray dogs and harassers during the early morning runs. Always try your best to run in a well lit area or with a running partner/group.
  10. Last point that I want to talk about are the myths and negativity often associated with physical activity, especially for girls, that I had to face and explain to many. Running is a healthy activity and does not make you anorexic. Poor lifestyle and eating choices does that. ‘Why does anyone have to run? It’s such a strain to the body’ – NO! It is not. Smoking cigarettes is, having a sedentary lifestyle is, eating a lot of sugar/junk food is, just not paying attention to health is – these are strains to the body. But any activity we take up to counter our sedentary lives is not a strain, but medicine for the body. ‘Are you running to lose weight?’ NO! But some might and it’s a perfect way to lose weight. Running slowly for longer distance has been scientifically proven to increase fat metabolism. Running tones your body frame and make you stronger. So ignore all the negativity, cross-train your mind to focus on the positives and the joy of running and most importantly, find people who enjoy it as much. And then put on your shoes, and into the cool morning you go. Nikal pado to mumkin hai. It will be another great day!

Happy Running!

Another random motivational quote, not that you need it now!

 

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2018 in Fitness, Running

 

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Book Review: The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

The Selfish GeneThe Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

Rating: 5 of 5 stars   Review by: Rohini

Selfish gene is the story of evolution and animal behaviour written in an almost impeccable style by Dawkins through the language of genes.

With advances in biology, we definitely need to employ this outlook towards understanding why and how does an organism evolve from a single-celled free living entity to merged symbiotic establishments eventually giving rise to complex multicellular organisms. It is all the course of the ‘selfish gene’ trying to survive in this dynamic, highly selective world. In fact, every animal/plant behaviour can be reasoned out through their underlying genes.

Dawkins’ analogies are simply wonderful when he explains such a slow complex phenomenon of evolution. This book has definitely given me a different perspective in analysing and comprehending the link between species development and genes per se. A must-read for those who want to know the mystery of how and why many of us are here in this planet.

All the world’s a stage, And all the beings merely players – the story, however, is being directed and narrated by the Genes!

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Book Reviews, Books

 

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Wandering in Sleep…

As the eyes closed,
the dreams began to envelope;
The innocence exposed,
not a chance to elope.
The foggy thoughts began to rise,
While the dancing flame of qualms
Rendered the mind to surmise,
The tranquility of the soul’s psalms.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Creative, Poetry, Thoughts

 

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