Expert Advice on Nutrition for Runners

Shiny Surendran, the city’s leading sports nutritionist, talks to Radhika Meganathan about what is important for runners to ensure adequate fuelling.

Shiny Surendran wears many hats. Not only is she a certified nutritionist and a published author, she also is the first Indian to be awarded Graduate Diploma in Sports Nutrition from International Olympic Committee, possesses a masters in food service management and is the Chairperson of the Website team of Indian Dietetic Association. Today, she speaks to The Finisher Mag about the kind of foods to eat and avoid when it comes to running

In your opinion, how does an avid runner err in terms of nutrition and eating habits?

I have often noticed that a group which runs together usually has a team breakfast post run. Sometimes with all the group energy, they might eat more than they have expended during the run! Portion control is a good thing to keep in mind if you’d like to maintain your peak running stats.

Some runners overeat carbs and not include enough protein. Another point to ponder is not getting adequate Magnesium and Omega 3 fats. These mistakes can be easily rectified by mindful awareness about nutrition, and more effectively, by consulting a nutritionist who will analyse your body type, health stats and suggest the best diet for you.

What is your recommended power foods for pre or post run?

A fruit milkshake such as apple / banana milkshake (use almond milk if you are lactose intolerant) is great for pre workout / post workout drink. For pre-/post-run meal, keep to complex carbs such as oats or Multi grain porridge mix, with fruits and/or nuts in it. Since most of our climate is tropical, watermelon and pomegranate juice are good for anti oxidants, aids recovery with phyto nutrients. And then there is the affordable and nature’s bounty coconut water which is excellent for hydration plus electrolytes.

What kind of food is best avoided by runners?

I’d have to say, fibre rich foods, raw salads, and sprout salad, especially before a run. Runners should also avoid legumes like peanuts, rajma, white channa, gas producing foods like cabbage. As a general nutritional guideline, athletes are recommended to avoid white sugar, maida, food with artificial colors and flavours. And I recommend avoiding fruit juice, ice cubes made from tap water, raw chutneys or raw salads if you are in a new city for a run. Chances of food poisoning or gastric infection is very high, so be on guard!

What is good for recovery nutrition?

Hydration is very important to replace the salts lost and vital for recovery. I advise runners to drink at least 1 litre of sport drink after the run, especially if you live in a city which is hot and humid. In case you have high sweat loss, it is a good idea to include pickle, papad, and salty seafood dishes which have high levels of sodium.

Recent opinion is that low carb diets like paleo or keto are harmful for runners, since runners need carbs for fueling. Is this true? 

A former colleague and a fitness professional would eat a full south Indian meal 2 hours and run very well at long distance events. Somehow when he implemented the sport nutrition principles of eating 4 hours before the run, did not work well for him. The fullness / satiety helped him run well. He defied all principles of sport nutrition!

The reason I am mentioning this here is to stress that we are not all cut from the same cloth. Body types and their response to carbohydrate rich food are different. Our body has large amounts of fat which could be tapped for energy. People who are insulin sensitive can eat carbs in moderation but the ones with insulin resistance will benefit from Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diets. This will have NO adverse affect on their running efficacy.

You mean, runners do not need carbs at all?

As I always say, everything in moderation. My stance is that carbs are not indispensable, nor is it a bad word. Do consult a certified nutritionist before changing your diet or training, and find out what kind of body type you have. People have varying levels of insulin resistance – the ones who really struggle to lose weight in spite of eating healthy complex carbs and good dose of protein and fibre – they will benefit a lot from LCHF diets. During off season they could try LCHF until they reach ideal weight and then before competition training, they can reload carbs moderately.

 Did you notice anything interesting while training runners or athletes? 

While working in YMCA sports medicine department, I observed physical education students drinking aerated drinks with glucose added to it for that extra boost of energy. Little did they realise, they would have sugar levels crashing after 20-30 minutes. I of course told them to avoid this type of stimulating drinks.

A recreational runner that I knew got severe stomach pain while running. She experimented and found better results with electrol than the commercial sports drinks. My brother’s friend would consume fermented rice mixed with buttermilk every morning and run marvelously well. He was the best runner in school. Simple carbs worked well for him. One needs to experiment to find what suits their body types.

 Can you give some nutrition tips for our runner readers?

  • My first tip would be to eat real food. Not the one that comes in plastic or dripping in additives/sauces, but the food that is closer to what has been made in your home for years. Freshly made, with local ingredients and love and care.
  • Experiment during non-competition days. Figure out what works to optimize your running. Create a template of foods that enhances your running. Stick to it.
  • Pure vegetarians (lacto vegetarians) should consider whey or plant protein options to pep up recovery and build muscle mass
  • Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and B complex, Omega 3 fats are very important. Eat lots of red- and green-coloured locally available greens, such as radish and turnip greens, agathi keerai, drumstick leaves (moringa leaves), spinach, manathakkali, etc which are all excellent source of Magnesium, calcium and iron. Especially if you are a vegetarian who does not eat much vegetables (sadly this is more common than you’d think, many vegetarians consume a lot of carbs at the expense of vegetables) you MUST pay attention to your daily meal plan.

Balance is the key. You don’t have to deny yourself your favorite stuff, just make sure you enjoy all foods in moderation. Do not ape latest trends!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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Gluten-free diet for runners – good or just a fad?

Being Gluten Free is no longer a diet fad and has become a lifestyle change for many, Deepthi Velkur writes about what it means for you to go gluten free.

Gluten-free diets are gaining popularity among the fitness community. The effects of gluten-free diets may not necessarily provide the benefits many athletes hope will give them a competitive edge. Sports nutrition experts believe enhancing nutrition does not mean avoiding gluten – a protein in wheat, rye, and barley. Here’s what runners need to know about going gluten-free.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a stretchy protein that is found in grains, especially in wheat. A vast majority of our gluten consumption comes from bread, pasta and baked goods. Other grains that contain gluten are barley, rye, and oats. You’ll also find gluten in ice cream, sweets, processed meats, alcoholic beverages and condiments such as soy sauce.

So should you go gluten-free?

Embracing the gluten-free diet is a medically necessary diet for individuals with celiac disease or related disorders. Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune disease, where the body starts attacking the lining of the gut when you eat gluten. However, there are several non-celiac athletes who have cut out gluten from their diet and claim to have far fewer intestinal issues when they run, and even say that it enhances their performance.

Now, there’s no medical evidence that proves going gluten-free leads to enhanced running performance, but there is evidence of the potentially harmful effects that gluten can have in some people, for example, gluten can cause inflammation and irritation in the intestinal lining. Statistically speaking, nearly 90% of distance runners suffer from some form of digestive discomfort mostly cramps, diarrhea and bloating during or after exercise – cutting out gluten may help this issue in some runners. Other amateur runners also report they feel less brain fog, less muscle and joint aches, better sleep patterns, and more energy levels when they cut out gluten.

Is the diet workable with the Indian food plan? Yes, says a qualified nutritionist Naini Setalvad “We have many substitutes like bajra, jowar ragi, rajgira, singhada atta, white poha, kurmura and sabudana,” she explains. Food grains such as soy, quinoa, corn flour, millet, arrowroot, amaranth and rice flours all go with the gluten-free diet. Nevertheless, she warns, “If you stop dairy, as an Indian, you would feel less full”.

According to Priya Karkera, a dietitian and nutritionist expert “Milk can be replaced with almond and coconut milk and quinoa, a cereal, can be used to prepare khichdi, upma, and kheer.

Grains are an important food source of carbohydrate, which runners require to boost their training and recovery. Runners going grain-free often develop symptoms of overtraining syndrome, including persistent exhaustion and deteriorating performance.

The final word

If you’re thinking of going gluten-free, the big question is can you manage one? There is no evidence to support that this diet boosts performance. When you cut out a large food group, including food with gluten, your compromising on your health and its nutritional balance. Always consult your doctor or a health professional before changing your diet drastically.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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A Vegetarian Diet for Runners

A well-planned running diet can be very effective even if it doesn’t include animal protein, writes Nandini Reddy

Runners need more calories and optimal nutrition to ensure that they have enough fuel for runs and recovery. All diets need not have animal products and vegetarian diets can be as effective for runners. What one needs to remember that the diet should have vitamins, minerals, fats and protein aside from carbohydrates and fats.

Why you should consider a vegetarian diet?

Vegetarian diets have a high amount of carbs and fibre and are rich in Vitamin C and folate. Runners who are vegetarians also find it easier to maintain a lower body weight thus their joints take less pounding when they run. A well-planned vegetarian diet will have your daily calories and nutrients coming from fruits, vegetables whole grains, nuts, beans, seeds and diary. A runner would need a 2500 calorie well-balanced diet with about 70% of the calories coming from carbohydrates.

Suggested foods

  • In your every day diet ensure that you include enough plant proteins from beans and diary.
  • You can meet your daily protein requirements with protein drink that contain whey.
  • Complex carbs like jowar and bajra release energy slowly and are great for runners.
  • The biggest nutrient that vegetarians lack is Vitamin B12 which is essentially found in animal protein, but you can include fortified soya or rice milk to get your daily requirements.
  • If you like rice, then you might want to switch out polished rice to unpolished rice or red/black rice.
  • Palak or spinach is a great source of Vitamin C and iron, two ingredients that are essential for runner endurance.
  • Curd is a great source of calcium and can be included as a lassi or buttermilk or during lunch.
  • You need to ensure that you have fats in your diet. Olive oil, rice bran oil, avocados and nuts are great sources of fat.
  • Natural fats help lubricate your joints and it is important for runners to have healthy joints.
  • Nut butters are also a great source – you choose between peanut and almond butters. They can be added to smoothies or just spread on toast. If you are creative, then you can make a salad dressing with them.
  • Diary and derivative so milk like paneer are good sources of protein but they have an upper limit of consumption every day. If you are looking at building body mass, then full fat milk should be included.
  • If you are vegan the you can opt for almond milk and rice milk
  • Sprouts make for a great snacking option

Sports nutritionists today are open to planning diets that are vegetarian and cover the protein requirement that is essential for runner endurance.

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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Summer Foods for Runners

Summer is the time for runners to indulge in food, thus making it the best season for runners, writes Nandini Reddy

Hot and humid weather is always a big deterrent for runners. As the sun bears down, there is one
aspect that runners do love about the summer – the ability to indulge in summer foods. Getting
dehydrated and exhausted in the summer is easy. We get the freshest fruits and vegetables to
indulge in every summer and these help in lowering the core temperature and refuelling our bodies.
Refreshing the body doesn’t need electrolyte drinks, tabs, powders and pricey bottled drinks during
the summers because of the availability of fresh foods in abundance.
Sweat doesn’t just remove water from the body but also essentials nutrients. So, it is important to
eat the right kind of foods in the summer. Generally hot weather tends to kill appetite and its very
important to ensure that you get adequate nutrition. Even if don’t feel like indulging in a heavy meal
of protein and carbs, you should include the below foods.

Fruits
Summer brings a whole host fruits – watermelons, mangoes, strawberries and plums. Watermelon is
the best fruit for ensuring that you hydrate and regain your nutrients. Lycopene content in the fruit
helps in preventing sun damage to the skin cell. Plums help in improving the immune system and
prevents summer diseases. For runners it’s a great fruit for ensuring a healthy gut. While mangoes
need to be consumed in moderation, this fruit is rich in selenium and iron, thus making it a very
important addition to a runner’s diet.

Vegetables
The vegetables with high water content such as cucumber, zucchini and all the gourds, make for
great summer foods. The foods are good for digestion, replenish lost nutrients and helps in purifying
the blood. All the vegetables have a cooling effect on the body and help reduce the core
temperature. Leafy vegetables like Spinach and Amaranth are good to fight off the ill effects of
summer.

Smoothies
The berries in the summer are perfect for summer smoothies. You can combine strawberry with
yogurt or almond milk to create a nutritious smoothie that makes for a great post-run drink. The
popular mango lassi is also a perfect drink to beat the summer heat. Dark chocolate is also a great
addition to your smoothies. This is the best food to quell hunger pangs and it packs a whole lot of
nutrition.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are the best as they provide the right nutrition that you need to
rehydrate and fuel your body for your running training during the summer.

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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Recovery for Senior Runners

Senior runners often battle fatigue more often than their younger counterparts, so what kind of recovery can help, asks Nandini Reddy.

For any runner if the body is allowed ample rest and nutrition then it recovers more effectively. Older runners will experience greater damage to their muscles when they have finished a half or full marathon. The extended recovery time should be accounted for in the training itself.

The Rest Period

The rule of thumb for senior runners is 1 week of recovery for every 10k run. For a full marathon it is important to get a full 4 weeks of recovery with little or no strain on the body. The light recovery exercises can include stretches, body weight training and walking. If you have run a full or half marathon, try not to do any sort of exercise for the first week. After that you can start working on light exercises that utilize your body weight and are low intensity. After the recovery period is finished you can also consider adding weight training to ensure that your muscles are strengthened.

The Nutrition Factor

There can be no recovery without nutrition. In the early recovery phase, pay more attention to carbohydrates and proteins. These will help you recover faster as the glycogen is required for your muscles to rebuild and repair damage.

Sleep Factor

Sleep is an important recovery component and getting at least 6 hours of sleep is mandatory if you are in the recovery period. Your muscles have the maximum recovery while you sleep and your body recovery tends to slow down if you do not sleep well. So remember getting that shut eye might just be the one factor that you are missing in your recovery routine.

Use a Coach

Sometimes our ambition might get ahead of us so it is important to have a coach who can monitor progress and give suggestions of exercises and running schedules that are suitable for your age and body condition. Even if you have run world famous marathons, the idea is to re-adapt your training to your current body and age. So its important to have a coach or at least be part of group so that you get tips on recovery and training runs.

While these are broad guidelines to recovery for senior runners, you need to remember that you should always listen to your body. If you need more time than your running partner then take it. There is no wisdom in causing further damage because of inadequate recovery.

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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Fuel for Senior Runners

As we grow older, we gain a new appreciation for our nutrition and our bodies and senior runners need to pay special attention to their diet, says Nandini Reddy

Beyond the age-related health concerns, senior competitive athletes need to be cautious about their nutrition. The competitive drive can be kept alive not by just training but also a diet that is suitable to the body at that particular age. There are few aspects that need to be understood in terms of energy requirements, slower recovery, adequate protein and hydration considerations.

Recovery Nutrition

Post run nutrition becomes very important as you get older. It aids in recovery and recovery is slower as you age so giving it a boost with post-workout nutrition is your best bet. Eating a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein within an hour of your workout is a great idea. Recovery is also enhanced if micro-nutrients are given prominence in your diet. Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Folate, Calcium and Vitamin E are the primary ones that you can include. You can get these from curd, milk, fish, legumes, whole grains and cheese.

Watch your fluids

Kidneys efficiency is reduced as you grow older. Their ability to decrease total body water, regulate salts and sense thirst will be reduced. Sweating also reduces as you grow older. In tropical climates like India, being aware of water intake is important. As a test during training, drinking 150ml of water every 30 mins will indicate how much water you really need on training days. If it is too hot and humid to run outside, training runs indoors might be more beneficial. If you can’t then just take the day off or run before sunrise, because putting pressure on your kidneys would not be the most productive idea.

Know your energy requirements 

When you hit your 60s everything changes in terms of energy requirements and metabolism. For most people activity will decrease with age hence their energy requirements might reduce. But if you are a runner the the amount of calories you require will be different from your younger self. You need to include fibre and fats into your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are the primary need. Fibre rich nutrition sources will also help avoid gut problems. The focus should be on including foods that improve performance. Any good nutritionist will be able to advice you on which performance promoting nutrition is good for you.

Medical Considerations

Older runners need to manage chronic conditions such as cholesterol, sugar levels and blood pressure. While many may be on regular medications, it is also important to ensure that the micro-nutrients are not compromised as a fallout due to the medication. Your doctor will be able to tell give you additions to your diet to ensure that you do not lose key nutrients such as sodium and potassium.

Adapting to training over the years will continuously feed your competitive spirit, so regardless of your age , if you get your nutrition right you will be running strong.

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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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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Taming the Beast

Marathoner, Tarun Walecha, takes another look at the grit, determination and madness it takes to finish marathons.

All that can go wrong at a marathon which I didn’t know about…

A year before when I wrote the prelude to this blog, I had thought to myself that I have learnt all I needed to, made my set of mistakes, even wrote a blog about the same which was well appreciated, and now it would be my year of redemption. As it turns out, I was certainly being overly ambitious.

Having finished five full marathons so far, somehow, I still feel I’m yet to run my first. Last week I was at the starting line again, but this time I was better equipped, better trained, (at least, I thought so) and little bit more confident for sure. I say a little bit because this time I was aiming higher and didn’t want to be complacent. I had ticked all the boxes from the learning last year, be that diet, training schedule, staying injury free and included newer aspects like on course nutrition, flexibility etc.

Unlike last time where I was aiming to finish the run on a moderate pace, this time I was greedy. I had trained harder and had all the reasons to back myself, one of my longest run on Dec 31 which came after 6 days of consecutive half marathon runs under my initiative, ‘Share and Care’ was comfortable and surprisingly speedy. The 28K run on Trail-A-Thon, which I ran a controlled pace but yet was my fastest so far on the course too. I believed that the glory beckoned me and nothing could go wrong, so so I thought.

 

The race day twists and turns…

On the morning of February 25, a 4:30 start meant I didn’t have much time to sleep the night before. I therefore took it easy the previous day in anticipation and was up at 2:30 am without feeling sleep deprived. As I walked toward the stadium from the parking lot, my mind was only filled with positive thoughts and trust in myself, just a hint of anxiety, nothing nerve wrecking. After a quick chat-up with everyone around, handshakes and wishes exchanged; it was going as per the familiar course. So much that an unannounced staggered start didn’t flutter me a bit, and at 4:35 we trotted across the timing mat.

As I started off, I had the plan distinctively clear in my mind, pace chart, nutrition chart, hydration – all ticking off in my mind. Normally, I run as per my effort and only check later how am I doing and it wasn’t going to be any different this time as well. Moving along I felt comfortable, staying focused on myself I could sense I’m doing well. At 10K mark when I checked, I was 1 min 32 sec ahead of my target time. I felt good as there were no signs of over exertion, stride was good and breathing was in control. I decided to hold on to the effort till my next target. As expected at 20K I was 3 min and 40 sec ahead, which was invigorating as I felt no sign of fatigue or mental exhaustion. When I turned around for my second loop, I didn’t want to let go and wanted to seize the advantage. Trotting along, at 30K mark I was doing well, heart rate in check, pace was descent and now I was 4 min and 9 sec ahead of scheduled time.

Quickly running through calculations in back of my mind like always, I ascertained that even if I was to run the rest of the race at 6:00 min pace I would be home with a Sub 4 finish, and I was immensely thrilled with that outcome.

But the best laid plans always come to naught…

As I reached the 32k mark, I started feeling sluggish. My pace had dropped to 5:55. Going back to my calculations, and accommodating for tiring body I told myself to stick to sub 6 pace. As I moved along I felt my stride getting shorter and every KM mark I could see the pace sliding down. At 38K mark when my Garmin showed 6:19 lap pace with a total time 3:34:53, my mind quickly computed that my desired calculation of Sub 4 wasn’t possible now. With 4.2KM of minimum distance to be run, I would have had to really push myself against the odds. Suddenly the hamstring niggle which surfaced slightly earlier filled my legs with lead and my left leg refused to move. I decided to give it a break and stretch a little before moving on, but as luck would have, I found it tough to get back in rhythm. Was it my body which was breaking, or did my mind gave up on me, I’m yet to figure that out. Slowly I watched each runner whom I had left behind passing by, some acknowledged and egged me but I could only cheer them back and asked to them to move on. This was my battle, and I had to fight it on my terms. I hopped along for next 4k, and somehow gathered strength to run for the last half a km to keep my head high. Timing clock at the finishers gate showed that I was nearly 11 min over 4 hrs as I crossed over and moved towards the holding area. Friends, other finishers, each one of them welcomed me with high fives, hugs and smiles, but somehow I in my heart carried a shade of disappointment.

Will I ever understand how to conquer it?

The race was over, I did fairly well as per many, timing wasn’t that bad either, but what left me unhappy was those last 4 kilometer. I wasn’t supposed to struggle, I was there to run. So what went wrong, that is my biggest mystery. Did I not train enough, or did I give up on myself too soon? In the days to come, pondering over each of the issue, I tried to pinpoint at various probabilities, and evaluated them against myself.

  1. Inadequate training: Going by my training year before where I struggled with niggles now and then, I induced more strength workout in my schedule. One of the reason my hamstring started jarring could yet be due to relatively lesser strength training.
  2. Aggressive target: From my target last year to finish a moderate paced FM to running an aggressive Sub 4, might sound a big leap but my training runs backed me up and somewhere I was hopeful of cracking it.
  3. Over-Nutrition on the course : I had planned to take gels in a tapering pattern of 9k, 8k, 8k, 7k, 7k considering the higher needs as one tires out. Energy boost after first one lured me to change it to 7k from second gel onward. At 30K I did feel nauseated and over fed, so much that I couldn’t have my fifth gel.
  4. Lack of salt intake: Gel at shorter intervals meant lesser time in between, and the first causality of time management was salt caps which I didn’t have after my first 2, and in all had only 3.
  5. Less water consumption: Though my earlier experiences had alarmed me about this, having trained in pleasant weather failed me on understanding my body’s water requirement on the race day.
  6. Rise in temperature: It was an odd situation, adding to the above point, the entire training was done in winters with running the race in spring. The week before the race saw a sudden rise in temperature which showed the damage it can do to your hydro-logical balance.
  7. Running faster than the plan: Since I’ve always run by the effort, on the race day I landed up running a shade faster than the planned pace, was it my undoing? Can’t say yet as my heart rate remained in the control zone and barely touched Zone 5.
  8. Lack of focus: That’s something that may not be the root cause , but can certainly be a reason to deflate the overall effort. To be in ‘the zone’ for 42 km, is something that still has a long way to go, perhaps.
  9. Lack of flexibility: This was another aspect which I targeted after last year’s debacle, worked extensively and consciously, but the awareness only highlighted gray areas; certainly more work needed.
  10. Lack of guidance /knowledge: How much is enough??? I certainly can never judge.

Mind over body…

While this can be your strength, but can work against you as well. For everything that you may cover, this could be a blanket loss. If I did not falter on any of the above, then it has to be this. Was this the reason that I stumbled? Did that one look at my watch at 38K which showed 3:34:53 blow it up? One little back hand calculation and I knew I had practically lost my chance for a Sub 4, and suddenly it didn’t matter anymore.

The mystery that I wished to unravel this time, to decode what it takes to run a marathon, still remains a mystery. After 34 Half marathons, many more equivalent distance runs and 5 attempts at FM, I still have to know what it takes. Lest I forget, I need to reiterate to myself, it is not just two half marathons, it is not just another long run. I don’t know what it is yet, but I will soon.

The beast still stares at me, with a little smirk on its face, but I know we are friendlier now and it’s just a matter of time.

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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Rules for losing weight for Runners

Stress, eating on the go, pregnancy and age-related metabolic slowdown can gradually pile on extra pounds, so as a runner how can you lose this weight, asks Nandini Reddy.

Many of us take up running as exercise format to lose weight. But is it really that simple that you run everyday and the pounds just melt away? Maybe not. It takes a bit more that just regular running to regain a body that you once had or a body that you always desired.

Running is a fabulous form of exercise to lose weight, if it’s done right! You might have heard of people losing 20 kgs from running for a year and if you want similar results then here are a few simple strategies that you can adopt.

Understand Calories

While you are trying to lose weight, remember that you also need enough calories to fuel your run. To lose weight you must reduce calories but not so much that you feel starved and fatigued. If you cannot do it on your own then get help from a professional to calculate how many calories you would need everyday. The idea is to burn fat and keep it off. If you lose weight too quickly by reducing calories below a reasonable amount then you will gain it all back very quickly. For women, you might experience menstrual irregularities and poor bone health if you do not have a nutrition rich diet that has the right calorific value.

Be Realistic

Understand your body type as it is crucial for deciding how much weight you really need to lose. For example, a standard chart might indicate that you need to weight 60kgs but owing to your bone structure and body frame size the ideal weight for you might be 70kgs and below that might mean damage to your bones. You have to judge if you are large, medium or small in terms of your frame before you set your goal weight. Get an expert to help you instead of just using generalized online calculators to determine the same. Your age also plays a major role. You cannot lose 10kgs when your are 40 years old in the same manner that you lost them when you were in your 20s.

Fuel Right

A balanced diet that fills your energy stores with the right amount of carbohydrates, fat and protein is important. Check for nutrient deficiencies that might be inhibiting your weight loss. Stay away from processed and refined foods. Remember to make breakfast your highest calorie meal and eat a light dinner and hydrate with plenty of water and not energy drinks. Protein bars and health drinks have a certain amount of sugar. Remember to read the labels before blindly assuming that they would be great meal replacements.

Lift Weights

Resistance training or body weight training will help you lose weight faster. Remember that your metabolism increases if your muscle mass increases. Your bones will also get stronger so overall as a runner you will benefit from adding weights to your weekly routine.

Run Further

Its rather simple, actually – the more you run, the more you burn! If you are running 5kms every morning increase it gradually every week. A study conducted on 120,000 runners showed that those who ran more kms in a week lost more weight, considering all other factors remained the same.

Find a Buddy

You need the motivation sometimes to get out of bed. On all those days that you want to stay in bed, your buddy will pull you out to finish your planned exercise. Remember to choose a person who is leaner and a better runner than you because they are less likely to give up on you.

The bigger goal

If its just weight loss you might give up eventually when you see a few kilos have been knocked off. Pick a race you want to qualify for or a time that you want to beat or even a number of kms you want to clock in a year. The goal will constantly inspire you to keep moving and clocking those kilometres.

If you can follow these rules then you should be leaner and faster before the end of the year.

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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