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Foods to avoid as Runner

Runners need specific kind of nutrition to fuel their bodies, so certain foods need to be avoided to avoid discomfort, writes Nandini Reddy

Nutritional missteps can cause complete havoc in your running. Runners have admitted that a clean and less processed diet has helped them fuel better over time. We may be adding high sodium, high sugar and preservatives to our diet without even realizing. Certain foods may also be causing headaches and fatigue but we would still be eating them assuming that they are good for us.

So what you put into your shopping cart on your next trip to the supermarket will make a big difference to your running. Here are a few foods that you can avoid.

Enriched White foods

Most of us have come across foods labelled enriched with vitamins and minerals. Any refined food that is enriched is not a good choice. Enriched means someone sprayed a whole load of artificial nutrients on to the foods. So try leaving out the white rice, maids and other refined oils and grains. If white is not recommended that doesn’t mean you jump onto the enriched ‘brown’ foods wagon. You should be looking for the word ‘whole’ instead. The nutrition from whole grain will keep you full longer and will also reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume everyday without compromising on nutrition.

Beware of packaged foods

Seeing the words – ‘fat free’ or ‘sugar free’ or ‘healthy’ on a package doesn’t mean its right for you. Most packaged food are high in sodium. Even your soups have an amount of ‘added sugar’. If you must eat something sweet then try choosing something that is natural sugars and not added sugars. If you want something more natural then pick a sweet seasonal fruit or go for dried figs or dates.

Food substitutes

You have already been told to substitute your sugar with artificial sweeteners and when people did that they found that they upped their risk of diabetes in many cases. There are substitutes for lactose and you have encountered alternatives for butter on every supermarket shelf. If you have to buy one then check for the amount of trans-fat you might be consuming because in the end you might be better off eating butter than the substitute. Instead of substituting your foods with artificially enhanced ones just try and practice portion control.

Chinese food

Yes we do love our noodles and soups but Chinese food has the highest sodium content. Also most Chinese food uses MSG (Mono-sodium glutamate), an additive that is known to worsen migraines. MSG can also elevate blood pressure and give nasty headaches, especially when you are a runner.

Diet Foods

Everyone is on a fad diet nowadays. Unfortunately most of the people who follow the fads, cheat using worse foods like diet sodas or reduced calorie snacks. These items can have artificial flavours and additives that might cause health issues for runners such as high blood pressure, headaches and even dehydration. If you are craving a chocolate then please have a small piece of dark chocolate instead of a carton of diet soda which won’t take care of your craving.

Frozen Foods

They are convenient and we are busy. But most are high fat, high sodium and low on nutrients. If you must pick frozen foods check the labels at least to see if you are getting something that has some amount of nutrition. Frozen unprocessed meats are good but processed meat that is cured in salt or brine is not a good choice. Look for uncomplicated recipes that opt for the one pot one shot philosophy of cooking if you truly don’t have the time instead of going for frozen meals.

These foods will hinder your performance as a runner because they cause spikes in blood pressure, headaches, mood swings and even fatigue. Its important to avoid foods that might affect your performance so remember to be a smart shopper the next time you are in a supermarket.

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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Going Non-Diary

Lactose Intolerance or becoming vegan, whatever your reason, non-diary products are making their way into your daily diet, says Nandini Reddy.

The diary market has faced many lows since early 2011 because of contamination and accusations of chemical enhancers in cattle feed. This has lead to a wave of people switching to alternative forms of milk including nut milk, grain milk and bean based milk. Fitness enthusiasts looking for alternatives without the fat content of milk and people switching to vegan diets have been the biggest adopters of the alternative milk trend.

Like every good food it is important to understand why their alternative milk forms are good and bad for us. Let us consider the various factors that you would need to weigh in before switching over to a particular milk alternative.

Nutrient Value

Nut milks are power houses of nutrients such as Vitamin E, magnesium, selenium, zinc, pottassium, phosphorous and calcium. They also contain flavonoids which are lower the levels of bad cholesterol.  On the downside nut milk and rice milk are low in protein and calcium and lack Vitamin D and B12 which are essentially found in animal milk.  Soy and Rice milk are also great sources of nutrients and have no saturated fats. They have have anti-oxidants that help in supporting the immune system.

Flavour 

Nut milk definitely taste better than any other milk even diary. Rice milk is bland so it blends well as it does not affect the taste. Soya milk has a specific taste that will grow on you. These milks can be added to most breakfast cereals and can also be had alone. For cooking, coconut milk has always been the favourite but almond and cashew milks are also finding their way into desserts as great alternative to cow milk.

Health Benefits

Alternative milks all have the right nutrient values to promote cardio-vascular health. Blood pressure and cholesterol are lowered because of the magnesium rich composition of these milks. Rice milk helps increase iron and copper in your blood thus boosting red blood cell production, and giving you better oxygenation and vitality. Soy is a good alternative if you want to add more protein but its continued use isn’t recommended for women because of its high phytoestrogen content. Rice milks are very starchy and are not suitable for diabetics.

Cost

Alternative milks are more expensive than cow’s milk. Most of them retail at nearly twice or thrice the cost. Most of them are hard to find and are generally available at specialty stores in big cities. Using online sources and buying in bulk might prove more economical in the long run as the shelf life of sealed packages is from 6 months to one year.

Whether its change in lifestyle or beat an allergy or just for overall health, alternative milks do have a space in our diets.

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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Superfoods for Runners

Get stronger, run longer and slim down with these super foods that work wonders for runners, writes Nandini Reddy

Whenever we hear the word – Superfoods – we always imagine something exotic. But in reality it should imply foods that are high in nutritional value that are powerhouses of energy. These foods are nutritionally superior but also loaded with nutrients that are highly beneficial, especially for endurance athletes.

Runners are expending energy daily and using nutrients that are necessary for our health and vitality. During exercise and throughout the day,  free-radicals are released into our body that need to be ‘neutralized’ by antioxidants. Superfoods are believed to have the power to deliver all these benefits. So what do superfoods really help in –

Boosting metabolism – Superfoods provide fibre and protein in good quantities. These foods will resist starch and break down the extra energy in the body. These foods also help in controlling appetite which makes it easier for people to sustain energy levels and stave away hunger pangs between meals. Beans, lentils and chilies are great foods that help boost metabolism.

Burn fat faster – These foods help in burning fat faster in the body. They are loaded with special oxidants that that promote fat oxidation and thermogenesis, that helps in releasing energy from digestion. This energy released helps power muscles while you run and strength train. The best foods for this are sesame seeds, beef and green tea.

Feel Full – Food that you eat should make you feel full for longer. Eating food hot, psychologically helps us feel fuller than eating cold meals. Foods that help you feel full also work as building blocks and repair your muscles. These proteins will also control your hunger and add the right nutrients that will keep you blood sugar in control. You can eat eggs, thick vegetable soups, potatoes and avocados to gain these benefits.

High Nutrient Value – When you are running you need essential vitamins and nutrients to power your muscles. These vitamins help convert proteins, fats and carbohydrates efficiently into energy. Vitamin C keeps your immune system in good shape. The foods you can eat to get these benefits include lime, peppers, oranges, berries and tomatoes.

Full in anti-oxidants – Foods that are low in calories and rich in anti-oxidants are a great addition to a runners diet. Most of these foods are enriched with Vitamin K that plays a big role in ensuring proper clotting of blood. The foods in this category include greens, beets, lettuce and cabbage.

Water is an essential requirement in any diet. It may not ‘technically’ be  a ‘food’ but without it we cannot survive.  Dehydration is one of the main causes of fatigue and muscular stiffness. Drinking water through the day will increase energy levels, and not to mention the health and vitality of your skin and hair.

Nature is generous and provides us with many nutritional options that can pave the path to greater fitness and health. Superfoods give you the right boost to ensure that you are charged for every run.

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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Nutrition Mistakes Beginner Runners Make

The wrong nutrition can defeat all the efforts you have put in to train for your run, writes Nandini Reddy.

You put in a lot of work on your training. You work on your pace, time and intensity of your run. Yet something seems to be holding you back. It might be more because of your nutrition mistakes than your training efforts. Most beginner runner make these mistakes often. Here is what you might be doing wrong.

Separating Diet and Training

Diet and training go together for runners. But most newbie runners make the mistake of not paying attention to their diet and just focusing on their excel sheet training plans. They start runs on empty without fueling their bodies or they overload themselves after the runs with high-glycemic index foods. They also focus on just the foods they eat after their run and pay little attention to their food in-take for the rest of the day. One cannot expect the desired results if diet is not given importance.

Too many Carbs

In order to fuel their runs, beginner runners tend to overload on carbs. Carbs are important in a runners diet as they are the fuel that drives their muscles but they cannot be the focus. The focus has to be more on vegetables and proteins that deliver the required nutrients to keep runners healthy. Whole foods that are filled with fiber are what runners need. The diet should be comprehensive and should include vegetables, nuts, oils, lean meats, whole grains and fruits. Completely skipping food groups or focusing on just a single food group will cause fatigue that might lead to injury.

Not understanding metabolism

All runners will experience weight loss when they start running. But if you are aiming to lose weight then you need to fuel your body the right way. Eating less and running more will signal the body to slow down its metabolism to conserve energy for the next time you stress your body. This will lead to the opposite effect of what you want to achieve. One can lose weight by eating the right foods in the right quantities.

Too many nutritional supplements

New runners tend to overdo the electrolyte sipping. They even replace water with electrolyte during their runs. Remember that your depleted glycogen levels after a 60 minute run can be replenished after your run through food. If you are running longer then you can use electrolytes to fuel your run to refresh. But that doesn’t mean that you need to sip on electrolytes through the day. Nutritional supplements are available in the form of energy bars and sports drinks, ensure that these do not have added sugars. Electrolytes are not a replacement for water. Drinking more water is required when one takes nutritional supplements and no less.

Caffeine Overdose

Caffeine is known to boost running performance and it also aids in glycogen restoration. But this doesn’t imply that you experiment with caffeine while in training. There is a limit to how much caffeine you can consume and overdoing it will give you gut issues. Caffeine needs to be included on intense training days and on other days try and avoid it.

Train smart and eat right to get the most best results from your training schedule.

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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Food for Muscles

Strength training and lifting weights is a great way to build muscle strength, but your diet plays a bigger role says Nandini Reddy

Strength training is an essential part of a good runner’s training schedule. Taking care of your muscles means more than just using weights to build muscle. The one factor that needs attention is your diet. Your diet can play the most critical role in ensuring your muscles are healthy and in a state to support your strenuous running schedules. All foods are not equal so its important to pick the right ones to give your muscles the energy boost they need. There are essential rules to remember while choosing food to build muscle.

The Right Amount of Protein

Protein has the essential nutrients that are required to build muscles and also repair them when they are damaged during training. But you also need to understand that protein needs to be eaten in the right quantity. According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, consuming 1.6 gms of protein per kilogram of body weight is ideal for building muscle. Lean meats like eggs, fish and white meat are a great way to add muscle. Supplemental protein shakes break down quickly in your body so they are a great after workout booster.

When do you eat Protein?

Muscles break down whenever you run. Right after a workout your body is better equipped to absorb the nutrition from protein. That doesn’t mean you have to consume something immediately after you workout. You have a 2 hour window within which you can have a meal that will help recover the muscles that have been damaged during the run or workout. While post-workout may be an ideal time to replenish your muscle building proteins, pre-workout meals also have a great impact. Eating a protein rich meal a couple of hours before going in for your workout is also very beneficial. But you need to remember that there is a limit on how much you consume. Eating too much protein in one sitting might only create problems rather than give you a bulky frame. Plan out the protein consumption in advance and spread it out through the day.

Its not all meat

Fueling muscle growth and repair doesn’t mean you have to only indulge in eating meat. There are several vegetables that also help and should be included in your diet. Beetroot, oranges, cantaloupe, panneer, spinach, apples, yogurt and milk are great protein additives to your diet. They give you added nutrients and fuel for muscles to repair better.

No Junk Allowed

Junk is the worst kind of food that one can consume. The extra calories in junk will only make you gain weight. They will not help in muscle development. The goal should always be to eat healthy food. If you need to increase calories to make up for the energy requirements from running, don’t add junk. Eat healthy food otherwise muscle growth will not be adequate and might even be retarded because of lack to the correct nutrition.

Fuel for your runs

Carbohydrates are the most important fuel for your runs. Protein cannot provide adequate energy to keep you going the whole day but carbs can. So along with your protein it is important to give your body the right mix of carbohydrates and fats to prevent deficiencies. Sweet potatoes, brown rice and pumpkins are good carbs to eat along with protein. The carbs get stored as glycogen and will fuel the muscles as they work to help you reach the finish line.

Ensure your calorie intake equals your expenditure. If you lead an active lifestyle then your calorie intake will be higher. If you run and workout daily then you need to fuel these as well. So remember that it is important you give you body adequate protein to build muscles and carbs to fuel those muscles as they work.

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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Indulging your Sweet Tooth

Sugar cravings are a normal and indulging in them won’t ruin the benefits of your running if you know what kind to indulge in, says Nandini Reddy.

Sugar has become the one thing every fitness enthusiast avoids. In the recent years there is more literature and advice on why one should not consume sugar but we need to remember that while added sugars are the enemies we do not have to avoid natural sugars that we get from fruits (fructose) and diary (lactose). If you have a sweet tooth and you don’t know what to eat to satisfy that craving then here are a few suggestions.

Raisins

Raisins contain fast working sugars that can supply instant energy to muscles. So they make for a great additive for runners diets. Raisins are said to be as effective as an energy bar and can help maintain endurance levels of runners. A serving suggestion is to have about a quarter cup of raisins for every hour of exercise.

Chocolates

Chocolate’s main ingredient cocoa is loaded with anti-oxidants. Dark chocolate is the way to go if you want to indulge in chocolates. Dark chocolate helps reduce exercise induced stress in muscles. The other varieties of chocolates do not have such benefits so it is best to stick to dark chocolate. The recommended serving suggest is 40 gms.

Bananas

Bananas have all the right sugars to increase your endurance. When had with water, they increase the endurance of runners and cyclists. It also helps in replenishing lost electrolytes and increases energy with its winning amount of carbohydrates. After a run you can add bananas to smoothies or your oatmeal.

Pomegranate Juice

If you want to recover quickly after an exercise session then you don’t have to drink artificial energy drinks, instead opt for pomegranate juice. It increases the potassium in the body and also is a great anti-oxidant. If you training light then 1/2 a cup of juice will do but if you are training rigorously then 1-2 cups per day is recommended.

Baked Apples

A baked apple is a great source of fiber and a single apple can provide 5 gms of fiber along with a 105 calories if left unsweetened. If you would like a little texture then you can add almonds or walnuts. Baked apples provide more protein than a raw apple.

Yogurt Parfait

Yogurt with fruits makes for a great energy snack after a strenuous run. This has the benefits of protein, multi-vitamins and minerals and the satisfaction of eating something sweet. The pro-biotic in yogurt helps keep you gut healthy as well. Ensure you eat only unsweetened yogurt and add fresh fruits to it to get the best benefits. A 1/2 cup of yogurt after a big run is a great way to recover.

Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter is full of fat, protein and fiber. It releases energy in a slow and sustained manner thus making it a great food for runners. A spoonful of peanut butter before you start a run can be a great way to keep your energy level at the optimum levels.

Never keep you diet entirely sugar free. This increases the chances of you eating unhealthy sugar. You will also feel an over lack of energy if you remove sugar completely from your diet. So its better to indulge your sweet tooth the natural way!

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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What you need after a Race?

Your recovery can be sped up if you eat and drink the right food after a race, writes Nandini Reddy

Food is fuel and it is extremely important to plan what you eat post run as much as the pre-run meal. The first most important thing to remember after a race is to re-hydrate. Running long distances can put a strain on your kidneys so it is important to re-hydrate to prevent any injury. Another great way to re-hydrate is with milk or soy milk, not smoothies which are thicker.

Replenish your energy stores

Tough workouts like long distance running tend to deplete the glycogen stores in your body. Glycogen is what gives you energy. So to ensure that these energy stores are replenished ensure that you eat a good amount of protein and carbohydrates after your race.

Quick Snack

For days after the run you might feel a bit fatigued. You can get over this with a small snack that you can pack and have in-between your meals. Pack a snack of fresh fruits and cheese, they will both instantly refresh and energize you.

Eggs

Eggs are rich in Omega 3 and it can help in reducing heart rate and aid recovery after an endurance activity. Mountain climbers, trekkers, triathletes and elite runners consume eggs as part of their regular diets. During recovery, eggs can play a great role in helping you recover faster.

Whey Protein

Bring back the whey protein from day 3 after your run. This will help you in building back the weakened muscles and you will also be able to get back to your training programme again. But ensure that you watch the sugars in these drinks. If you haven’t used whey protein before then don’t try it now.

Pizza

Yes you can have a pizza! Opt for a pizza with a lot of vegetables and low processed meat (as it has too much salt). A thin crust pizza will give you the right nutrition and energy that you need to recover.

So if you just finished a marathon and you are training for the next one, then remember that recovery is crucial and important if you want to keep running injury free.

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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Healthy eating tips for runners

Sowmya Ganesh talks about why runners should know that is food is fuel and eating right alongside training can determine the level of your performance as a runner
Running requires a lot of stamina, and to keep you going, make a few healthy choices that will be rewarding to your body both before and after the run. Here are some healthy eating tips for runners to get you started. When adopted as daily habits, these will do you immense good in the long run.
Eat your veggies
Prioritize vegetables. They are high in nutrients, fiber, and water. They can satisfy your hunger and keep you going for long. It is best to include a portion of veggies in both lunch and dinner everyday to reap the benefits that these natural foods have to offer. Healthy salads with fibre rich veggies and essential fat-rich dressings make for a perfect lunch as the minerals will help in post-run recovery while the fibre will keep you going for long.
Drink healthy fluids
Whether on the track or off, drinking plenty of water is vital to your body’s functioning. Your body requires water to function smoothly, and as a runner it is important to stay well hydrated to avoid the dangerous effects of dehydration. When water gets too boring, you can always switch to a healthy cold pressed juice to help you hydrate. A beet juice, for example, makes for a perfect runners drink as the nitrates in beets help boost performance. Tender coconut water based drinks are ideal too as they help replenish the body of lost electrolytes.
Eating pre-run
What you eat before you start your run determines how well you will be able to enjoy the run. And the amount you consume would depend on how intense your run is. If you feel a burning sense of hunger, a light bite before the run would help, but ideally, most runners prefer running on an empty stomach (if it’s a short run). If the run is going to be more intense, something easily digestible like bananas would help. High fibre and high fat foods take longer to digest and eventually slow you down during your run.
Eating post-run
What you eat after a run would be responsible for the recovery your body needs, and to replenish you. It’s best to eat within 30 to 45 minutes after your run, and fuel up with foods rich in protein such as a fibre rich smoothie to keep you going, preferably based with potassium-rich bananas and nuts – important elements in a runner’s diet, as they help with reducing any inflammation caused by running.  Later, you can have your actual meal which would be a course filled with whole, natural, and real foods.
Take it slow
Eat slowly, calmly, and allow yourself to enjoy your meals. It takes roughly 20 minutes for your brain to receive the signal of “fullness” from your stomach. So if you rush your meals, you eventually end up overeating. And to focus on what you eat, remove distractions such as the television or a smartphone.
Eat what’s real
Processed foods are a straight up ‘no’. They are filled with sugars, preservatives, and fats, and also stripped of all real nutritional content. Stay away from all the junk food as much as possible when shopping for groceries, and choose real, natural foods. These foods are fresh, and whole, and extremely rich in nutritional content. Fresh salads with seasonal produce are a great way to introduce real foods into your body.
These small changes would leave your body being forever grateful to you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sowmya (1)
Sowmya Ganesh’s career path at different stages and today started Coubutu, India’s first subscription based health food and beverage company along with husband Ganesh Krishnan. Starting small with one product and having added a whole range of products spiraling it in to an impressive nutrition brand, successfully transforming people’s lifestyles every single day.

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2006: A new Marathon odyssey in space

Capt. Seshadri Sreenivasan talks about how astronaut Sunita Williams trained for her marathon’s on earth and in space.

Every year, several hundred marathons are held on earth, commemorating the run of Pheidippides to Athens, bearing the news of the historic victory of the Greeks. This, however, is the story of a marathon that was run 354 miles up in space. It is a few years old but the feat still stands as new as of yesterday. Just over a decade ago, the world, and India in particular, celebrated the record breaking feats of an Indian origin lady from Gujarat, idolizing her and making her an icon for posterity. While lesser mortals struggle to walk long distances on land, she walked nonchalantly in space for 7 hours and 31 minutes non-stop, setting a record in the process. Cdr Sunita Williams, Navy Seal, helicopter pilot and astronaut, later Commander of the International Space Station, long distance swimmer, triathlete, marathon runner and achiever extraordinaire. As December approaches, the month in which she first boarded the International Space Station, we pay a special tribute to her grit and determination that marked her journey into space.

Early Start

As a child, Suni was an ardent swimmer, cycling to classes morning and evening, even in the harshest of New York winters. One day, at age 11, along with brother Jay, she suddenly decided to participate in the grueling Boston Marathon Swim, from Boston Light to the aquarium, a distance of 15 miles, braving huge waves and schools of jellyfish, finishing creditably for a chit of girl not even into her teens.

Space was the beginning of her glory years and brought her fame and a fan following from around the globe. But it was hard work all the time. Extra Vehicular Activity, the mundane technical term for spacewalking, was extremely taxing. The exercises to stay fit on the Space Station involved a mini triathlon comprising 25 minutes of cycling, 20 minutes or roughly 2.7 km of running and floating laps, akin to swimming in air, combined with lifting weights, a far cry from the training done on land.

Food for thought

Suni Williams (as she is commonly known) was in a peculiar position, sandwiched between a pure vegetarian father from Gujarat and a meat eating mother from Slovenia. Thus sprang her love for wasabi and an equal craving for sukhadi and pakoda, along with gulab jamun and jalebi. A true blend of Indian food and international spirit.

Her marathon debut was as a junior in high school, when she ran the Boston Marathon with no formal training except for running as a warm up before swimming. Running in old boy high top shoes, her feet were so sore at the halfway mark at Wellesley, that she kicked the shoes off and completed the rest of the race barefoot, completing in just over 5 hours. In later years, at the US Naval Academy, athletics director Ron Harris, himself a world class runner, was to put her through her running paces for future marathons.

The year 2006

Boston marthon in spaceOn December 28, 2006, wearing a Navy T shirt bearing the number 14,000, Cdr Suni Williams strapped herself to a painful harness on a treadmill aboard the International Space Station and ran the marathon in a grueling 4 hours 23 minutes and 10 seconds. Running at an average of 6 miles an hour, while the space station hurtled along at 5 miles per second, she ran the 42.2 miles while the spacecraft traveled an astonishing 121,600 km, almost thrice round the world.

Hers is a life of commitment, focus and discipline and should serve as an example for every athlete around the world. And all these marked by simplicity, humility and a love for mankind.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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