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Marathoner Unlimited

Capt Seshadri shares the story of Paula Jean Radcliffe, marathon runner extraordinaire, who has become the undisputed queen of long distance running. 

Three-time winner of the London Marathon. Three-time New York Marathon champion. Topper at the Chicago Marathon. Current world record holder, with a time that has not been broken in 15 years.  And a world record in the 10k with an astonishing time of 30:21!

Paula Jane Radcliffe, MBE, is an extraordinary Englishwoman, who overcame bouts of asthma and anaemia, to become the undisputed queen of the ultimate long distance run. Born on December 17, 1973 at Cheshire, Paula began her foray into running from the tender age of seven, alongside her father while he trained for his marathons, first as a competitive athlete and later as a hobby, to lose weight after giving up smoking.

Training under Alex Stanton, an experienced and talented coach, Paula, despite her frail frame and relatively small size, first tasted victory as a junior in 1992 at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Boston, despite suffering from what was diagnosed as exercise induced asthma coupled with a history of anaemia. Competing in the Great North Cross Run, Paula defeated the defending champion by 25 seconds, finishing the race in 8 inches of snow.

In 2002, she stepped up her sights to the full marathon, winning the London Marathon on debut, with a record time of 2:18:55. The same year, she literally sprinted across the finish line in 2:17:18 in Chicago, setting a new world record and breaking the existing one by over 90 seconds. Her still standing world record of 2:15:25 was set amidst controversy at the London Marathon of April 2003, the debate being fuelled by the fact that she used two men runners to assist in pacing her. The record was rescinded, but better sense prevailed and the organisers soon had it reinstated.

In London in 2005, Paula was afflicted with a bad stomach cramp, while halfway through the course. In pain and a with horrifying need for a break, Paula had her most embarrassing moment when she had to relieve herself by the roadside, without shelter from the crowd or the cameras.  The iron hearted lady went on to win the event in a world beating time of 2:17:42. A red faced Paula later apologised, but the sporting media went on to describe it as the top running moment in history.

Paula Radcliffe was an unconventional runner who never set limits or timings for the stages of the run. Her mantra was: Run your best as long as you feel good. Why set limits? Why slow down when you are running your best? Probably, the most important lesson marathoners could learn from her is to discard their timing devices and run their hearts out sans stages or limits.

In 2010, she was inducted into the England Athletics Hall of Fame, an honour richly deserved. Paula Radcliffe ended her competitive running career with the London Marathon in 2015, as an athlete supreme, a runner without limits.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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The Journey of running a Marathon

Marathoner Tarun Walecha, talks about his passion for running marathons ahead of the New Delhi Marathon 2018, to be held on Feb 25. 

If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.” – Emil Zatopek

While most of my running friends would relate to the quote above, the ones who have run a marathon would know exactly what the feeling behind the quote is. My tryst with this much sought experience started in the beginning of year 2014, when I first thought of taking this giant leap… though it’s been over three years now when I first stood on the start line of erstwhile SCMM, in my mind I’m still trying to find my feet, and put my claim to be called a marathoner. Having said that,yes I have finished four full marathon so far in as many attempts, and the experience has been overwhelming to say the least….but I feel I’m yet to run a marathon in its glory.

Preparing for the Dream 

I know this could be a debatable stand, end of the day running a marathon is all about finishing it on both your feet, irrespective of finish time, as far it’s within the official cut off. And no, I’m not trying to take away anything from a 6 hour finisher vis-à-vis a sub 3 speedster – what I’m trying to talk about is the journey of dreaming to run a marathon, and then to live that dream, which would be same for most marathoners (if not all).

The first step towards realizing that dream is the 18 weeks of training schedule that one would take up, culminating at the finish line on the D day. Interestingly, this entire experience is not even about just those 18 weeks, running each of your workout and LSD run or finally running those 42.2 km. The experience is about each of the day in those weeks, every thought that passes through your mind each of those morning, each action as you begin to evaluate, each of those evenings that you choose to stay home so as not to miss the training next morning, every new friend that you make while trying to coordinate long runs and most of all, every doubt that crosses your thoughts when you stand at the start line.

Every pain and agony that you’re reminded of when you start your run, every motivational chat with a friend or your self-evolved mantra that comes to your mind which helps you leave those negative thoughts behind, everything you tell yourself when your body is screaming for you to stop and finally the exhilaration that courses through your mind and body when you step across that last timing mat. It is about all that and not mere statistics.

My journey so far

In my four years of this journey so far, starting from the day the seed to run a full marathon was sown in my mind, I have had my own set of experiences. People who would come down on the streets of Mumbai in the wee hours just to clap for strangers, or the ones who would stay on the course for hours just to offer some fruit or drinks to runners. Fellow runners who would just pat you as they pass by on seeing you slowing down or just that scorching sun beating down upon you just when you’re hitting that proverbial wall. Each of these moments has not only been etched in my mind, but it has been imbibed  into me, forever changing me.

Friends who came along and reposed their faith in me to take this leap, coaches and mentors who helped me understand and train and of course, most importantly the labyrinth of thoughts and struggles within which I had no choice but to handle myself. Having done 4 full marathons so far, while I have gathered enough stories of my own and a sizable bag of experiences – what still eludes me is the satisfaction I long for in those 42.2 kilometer, the feeling when perhaps I can proudly claim to be a marathoner.

The fifth leap

In these last four attempts of mine, I have been through struggles, elation, mind games, senses of achievement as well but ironically even experienced failure. One of my biggest take away is that at the end of each of these runs I felt like a different person. Something within me changed, a thought left behind which germinated in the times to come and became a part of my natural thinking process. Perhaps, this is what the experience of marathon running is all about.

In a weeks’ time from now, when I plan to take this leap for the fifth time at the IDBI Federal New Delhi Marathon, I know all my thoughts will come rushing back and each moment would just flash in front of my eyes, my fears, my courage and apprehensions would all dawn upon me at the same time. I still don’t know if I will come out on the top , but I do know this experience will once again enrich me and make a better person to take me further on this journey.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An architect by profession, Tarun Walecha enjoys amateur photography, travelling and is a sports enthusiast. He has been a sportsperson all his life and discovered running at the age of 40 and has since become his fitness mantra. In his 7 year running career he has completed 30 Half Marathons, 4 Full Marathon, and 5 Trail/Ultra Runs. He is also a Pinkathon ambassador and has founded the running group, RunXtreme.

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Beat the Sugar habit

Beating the sugar habit, is tough in a world of processed foods, but a simple plan and a bit of commitment might just help, writes Nandini Reddy. 

Sugar is everywhere today. Even the most innocuous foods have sugar hidden in them. You don’t actually have to eat cookies and cakes to directly consume sugar. Your favourite hot sauce also is loaded with added sugars. The truth is that there is absolutely no health benefit from consuming added sugar. It damages all your diet efforts more than any other indulgence.

It might seem like a task to constantly monitor added sugars in everything that you eat but in the long run it really helps. Consider a few simple steps to remove sugar from your diet or reduce it to the levels that are good to satisfy your sweet tooth and not damage your diet.

Clean out the pantry and drawers

We all have stashed secret snacks in our office drawers and pantries. The first step is to clean out the stock of foods that are high in added sugars. Remember to check all bottled and packaged foods. Read your labels right and ensure that you get rid of the whole stock without exception.

Avoid adding sugar

Try a few days of avoiding sugar. A lot of things will taste bitter and unmanageable but it is a way to discover new tastes. Coffee and tea will be unbearable the first time but you might discover new flavours of tea that do not need sugar and unsweetened expresso might help you recover from tiredness a lot faster than a sugar binge.

Get rid of sugary drinks

Colas, packaged juice, iced teas, bottled frappes and energy drinks all are storehouses of added sugar. Most of the energy drinks and colas also have caffeine and the combination of a caffeine high and a jolt from sugar is comforting when you are stressed. But one moment of deliciousness is not worth year long health troubles.

Look for natural replacements 

There are several natural sweeteners that you can add to different food that might give you a more complex taste. Try adding vanilla extract into your coffee for that touch of sweetness. Avoid sauces in your salads and add caramelized onions instead. Salt tends to intensify the sweetness of pumpkins and fruit so sprinkle a little salt instead.

Kick refined grains

You need to eat carbs but they don’t have to be bleached white. Avoid white processed foods like breads, pastas , cookies and cakes. Your diet benefits from whole and unpolished grains. Get your starch from vegetables and pile on the protein from your beans and peas.

Being on a sugar high can feel wonderful. But breaking the grip of sugar can also be equally satisfying.

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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Is Running Good for Children?

If your kid loves to run, or if you want to encourage your child to be a runner, read on to know about safe running practices for kids, says Radhika Meganathan

There is no doubt that regular exercise and an active lifestyle is good for kids. It’s easier for them to learn good habits when they are young, and what’s more, kids are natural runners. Running fortifies bones, musculo-lumbar co-ordination, and toughens muscles and tendons. Most importantly, it is fun. So little wonder that your little one loves to run!

Still, we should not forget that children’s bodies are not fully developed and they need special attention if they want to indulge in running as a dedicated sport. The Journal of Athletic Training mentions in one of its articles that:

  1. Children absorb the impact of running less effectively than adults. Less absorption means bigger impact to bones, joints, and soft tissue – all pointing to higher risk of injury.
  2. Kids bodies’ have not learned to acclimatize or climate control, so they won’t take to running in extreme heat or cold as well as adults do.
  3. Kids lumbar and hand-eye co-ordination is not as well developed as adults, especially in the beginning of their running phase.

So – should you train the little champ in your life? Or is it too risky? If your kid is already an enthusiastic runner, how much training is good for them? And what if they lose interest as they reach teenage or adulthood?

In general, medical opinion seems to be that runners under the age of 16 should not participate in any event longer than a 10K. That actually leaves plenty of distance for those little feet to cover! When young kids are concerned, the focus should be on enjoyment, rather than rigor or intensity. Here are some tips to get your kid run without missing all the fun:

  1. Get your child involved in running-related games, rather that straight line running. Opt for speed training, which will help them well into adulthood.
  2. Vary the running. Get your kid to sprint, hurdle, do track work and even cross country! This way, they will develop as an all-round runner.
  3. One size does not fit all. Some kids are active in the day, some in the evening, some can get going for hours while some get tired very easily. Figure out what works for your kid and let them practice around that.
  4. Kids being kids, might not remember to do the right warming up exercises, or drink enough water during running. Make sure they get trained in these pre- and post-run techniques as well.
  5. If there is a running club in their school, get your kid enrolled in the program. Your kid will get to run with his friends, under the supervision of the school coach who will make sure your kid follow the right running routines.

In case you really find a winning spark in your kid and they are also equally passionate about running, the best way forward would be to let them train under a qualified Athletics coach.

Can your child race?

For most marathons, the minimum age is usually between 16 -18. If your kid is younger, the you can include them in the fun runs or family run categories that range from 1km to 5km. There is also the option of introducing them to marathons through kid events like – Kidathons. If your child is just starting off but if a decent runner then use this reference guidelines to plan your races.

Under 4 years old – 400 m

Age 5-6 – 800 m

Age 7-8 – 1-3 km

Age 9-15 – 3- 5 km

Age 16+ – 5- 10km

Do not worry that your kid might lose interest later in running. The main objective now must be to imbibe in your kid the habit of physical activity a regular routine, giving them a solid foundation that they carry it well into their adult life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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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Slow down to speed up

Runners tend to train too hard and too often and that may not lead to the results you want, writes Nandini Reddy.

If you have ever seen elite athletes training the first thing you might notice is that they don’t run fast. In fact if you did accompany them on their training days you might even be able to keep up. If you think it isn’t possible then you haven’t been introduced to the benefits of low intensity training for marathons.

Why do runners need to train slow?

The answer is rather simple really. Runners run a whole lot more and when its training season before marathon season then they run nearly everyday. So imagine running at your full pace capability every day – what do you think would happen? You are more likely to burnout than get a better race timing. Increasing your average weekly mileage is more important than running faster. You are also less likely to burnout or be injured if you focus on number of kilometres run rather than how fast you run.

How do you distribute the intensity of your runs?

In an ideal situation, you need to run 3 moderate paced runs, one medium intensity run and 1 high intensity run in a week. The moderate paced runs should focus on distance and you need to ensure you make most of your weekly target kms in those runs. The high intensity run is about pacing and timing. Even if you run a short distance focus on on consistent pace.

If you were to measure the intensity of a standard runner, you will see that they never do low intensity runs. Most of their runs are distributed between medium to high intensity which means you are driving yourself to fatigue rather quickly. Elite runners run at low intensity nearly 80% of their training time and only run in high intensity for 10% of their training time.

So how can you control your run intensity?

Whether you are running in a group or alone there are ample wearable devices that you can use to monitor your runs.

Find a Coach

If you are serious about becoming a strong runner then signing up with a coach till you find your flow is a good idea. They will bring in a discipline into your training plans and will hold your accountable. Technically the coach doesn’t have to run with you. You can also have a virtual relationship where you get guidelines and report back on progress with statistics.

Heart Rate based plans

Try to plan your runs according to the heart rate training zones. Any good running coach can give you the basics of how this plan works and with your wearable devices (most of which monitor heart rate to a decent degree of accuracy) you can track your training intensity.

Monitor your work

Using the wearable devices and running apps, monitor your work. You can compare your before and after using these tools effectively. Most running apps store your runs indefinitely until you choose to delete them so they make for a great way to reference you performance as you train.

So if you have been pushing yourself to achieve your goal times everyday then you need to stop and re-evaluate your training program and also rest your over-stressed muscles.

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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A run for the eco-warrior

The six city SBI Green Marathon is a must run for every green warrior, writes Nandini Reddy. 

Set to be the biggest single branded race in India, the SBI Green Marathon is all set and poised to be one of the most entertaining marathons in the country. The purpose of the run is to celebrate the passion for environmental stability and sustainability and create a better future for generations to come.

Venkatraman Pichumani is the race director for the SBI Green Marathon. A seasoned runner who is a regular half marathoner at the renowned Mumbai marathon, Pichumani is the first Indian to be certified as a Race Director by RRCA with international accreditation.

Staying on track to their commitment, after each event their will be a sustainability report generated which will talk about the various actions taken during the course of the event to minimize the environmental footprint and maximize the social impact. This will be a public document that anyone can access.

The event shall develop and implement a community focused environmental education engagement plan, such plan may include social media posts, emails as well as lectures and presentations to the stakeholders about how running events can minimize the environmental impact.

Special Giveaway

This race is indeed special because of the many giveaways that promote awareness about protecting the environment and motivate everyone to become a green hero. Select participants will receive a special T-shirt made out of plastic by PlasticIndia Foundation. During the launch the organisers revealed the largest T-shirt created from 200,000 plastic bottles, setting a new Guinness World Record. The

T-shirts are made from a special cloth created from 100% recycled plastic bottles. This is definitely a collectible!

The Plantable Bib – yes you heard right, this running bib has a special use after you finish your race. It is especially designed to be planted, ensuring that you continue your commitment to the environments. At the end of the race each participant can take home a sapling that they can nurture and grow as proof of their commitment to have started on their journey for a better and greener Earth.

Race Categories

The serious runners can opt between a timed half marathon (21k) and a 10k race category. For those who want to have a fun run with the family there is a short 2k run and a dream run for beginners for a distance of 5k. If you want to have fun with a crowd then the 2k run might be perfect pick. If you have just started running and want to see how you perform in an actual race environment the the Dream run (5k) is the good place to start.

If you want to check if you are reaching your goal timings then the more serious 21k and 10k should be the ones you need to set your sights on.

Marathon Schedule

Mumbai – Feb 4

Delhi/ Bengaluru – Feb 18

Chennai/Ahmedabad – Feb 25

Chandigarh – Mar 4

If you missed it in a particular city ensure you make it to the next one. You can book you race participation at https://goo.gl/jZ8p9V

A unique race that promises to be a unique experience.

 

 

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When you stop running

Nandini Reddy explores what happens to your fitness and body when you stop running. 

There are many reasons as to why you had to take a break from your running. It could be because of an injury, family commitment, work schedules or just mental fatigue after you have finished your goal marathon. This is perfectly normal for even the most committed runner, a niggling question that stays in your head is about how long you can take this break.

So there are a lot of researchers who decided to study about how long does fitness last once you stop training. The short answer is within a few weeks your lungs and heart show the affects of not training.

What happens to your body

So once you stop cold turkey after being an avid runner then the first two weeks are bliss. Your muscles recover, you feel more relaxes and you still have all the benefits of the training. Once you hit the four week mark the blood volume drops significantly which means your heart is working less harder now. Runners heart are generally working overtime to continuously supply oxygen to those muscles that are constantly under stress. In another four weeks, muscles are all recovered and any minor tissue stress is also rectified. The lungs and heart are working lesser and if you were to even run on a treadmill now you will notice a change in the time it takes for you to be exhausted. Sustaining a hard pace will be a bit difficult and an easy pace will be what you can achieve. Researchers estimated that endurance performance decreases by nearly 25% after four weeks of no exercise.

What happens to your mind

The first two weeks are good for your mental health because you get to recoup from the punishing training schedules and your body also starts to feel more energetic. The niggling aches and pains will disappear over a four week period. But what happens to your mind after that? Running helps in keeping you happy. In fact any form of exercise has the power to increase positivism. When there is a break the first few weeks seem alright but slowly the anxiety starts to set in. Many runners who took long breaks have described as having signs of depression even. A few weeks off running has a positive effect but a prolonged break seems to have only negative effects on the mind.

So can you restart?

The first thing to remember is that you cannot pick up where you left off. Your body has changed and this has to be taken into consideration while drawing up your training plans. If you try to hit the same statistics with a vengeance you run the risk of injury. The first step is to adjust your mind and ease back into a schedule that is low stress. For the first week keep it easy. Do short runs in terms of distance and time. If all is well then go ahead and plan longer runs in the next week. Build up your pace and distance endurance over the next four weeks.

You can stop running. Sometimes you just need a break but remember that when you restart again, it is important that you respect the fact that you took a break and are now ready to begin anew.

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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Become an Eco-friendly Runner

If you love living a sustainable lifestyle then you should probably include it as a practice in your running too, says Nandini Reddy

It always feels wonderful to give back to environment and if you can get fit while doing what you love, then that’s a double advantage. Running can be made sustainable by just following a few simple practices.

Running Clothes

The material of your running wear makes all the difference. Look for a brand that uses sustainable materials and practices to produce their clothing. Organic cotton and hemp are great materials to choose for running wear. There are a few firms that are recycling plastic info fibre to make clothes that are suitable for running. All these clothes are easy to wash and also air dry quickly.

Clean Trails

Whenever you participate in a big race ensure that if you are disposing trash you use a bin and not litter. If you feel that the organiser may not have adequate bins then carry a convenient trash pouch so that you do not litter along the way. You can also volunteer to clean-up the trail post run. If the race venue is far away then try and use public transport systems , car pool or ride a bike. Riding a bike has the added advantage that you can warm-up before your race.

Reusable Equipment

Use reusable bags, bottles and packets while packing your snacks for the run. If you buy packaged energy drinks then ensure you buy from companies that pack in recyclable bottles. If you can use homemade energy bars or granola bars you can reduce the wrapper waste. If you aren’t too keen on making your own energy bars or drinks then look for companies that use sustainable practices to produce and package their products. Carry your own water bottle so that you can avoid using one time use bottles and cups during the race.

Green Training

If you live in a city with a flat terrain and plan to run and out of city marathon that has steep terrains then consider changing your training plan in the same place rather than travel to train. You can use stairways and also find challenging running routes that you can repeatedly use for training. If you need to drive to reach a training location then consider riding a bike instead.

Follow the 3 Rs

Reduce your energy expenditures and material consumption wherever you can. Reuse things as much as possible. Recycle your old gear. Most runs offer their own signature T-shirts and if you have run enough marathons it is likely that your cupboard will be overflowing with the souvenir T-shirts. If you have the option of avoiding the T-shirt then please consider it, you will always have the finisher medal as a souvenir. If you can find a local retailer who will accept and recycle your old clothes and shoes then it is best to give it away to him rather than dump the lot as they are not easily degradable.

Outdoor running has the lowest environmental impact, so if you can make tweaks to the way you run – then you can easily become a sustainable runner.

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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The Mesmerizing AU Bank Jaipur Marathon

This February, run through the vibrant city of Jaipur, is a must on every travelling marathoners list, says Nandini Reddy

The mesmerizing pink city of Jaipur invites runners for the 9th edition of the AU Bank Jaipur marathon on February 4th,2018. One of the most spectacular marathon’s in India, whose flat course tracks through the most scenic routes through Rajasthan’s vibrant capital city.

Run the Spectacular Marathon

The race offers a whole host of options for both elite and amateur runners. The full marathon and half marathon have separate categories for elite runners and amateur runners. The other timed running category is the 10k run. If runners wish to participate in the elite category then they would need to submit valid timing certificates at the time of registration. For participating in the open category, no timing certificates are required. The marathon will start from 3:50am with the Elite Full Marathon category and the final category of the fun runs will begin at 7:30am.

Apart from that for those who want to enjoy the scenic running route and the joyful celebration on race day there are plenty of fun categories such as Joy Run, Dream Run and Youth Run – all covering distances of 6kms.

Trying to set a social message, a different category called ‘Beti Bojh Nahi Hai Run’ for 2 kms has been included. The Senior Citizens Run for 3kms and Wheel Chair Run for 6km finish the categories offered during this year’s Jaipur Marathon.

The runners can enjoy the culture and traditions of Rajasthan as they are showcased along the race route.

Enjoying the Pink City

The Jaipur marathon offers tour packages for registered participants who want to spend time before and after the marathon exploring the delights of the city of Jaipur and the many wonders of Rajasthan. The packages include stays ranging from 2 days to 4 days. They include city tours and special shows that will give you a glimpse of the best of the city and culture.

The Cause

The run is organised by Sanskriti a well-know social organisation that has undertaken several social welfare projects that have created awareness about culture and traditions to the youth. This year the World Trade Park is a partner who is showcasing their world-class property that offers excellent services to business sectors.

Remember to tag yourself on social media with the hashtag #AUBJMRUNNINGHEROES if you are running, volunteering, donating or just cheering the marathon. A run that showcases both the modern and traditional spirit of the city is one you should not miss.

Register Now for AU Bank Jaipur Marathon==>>https://goo.gl/57UHYV

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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