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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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Kilometre cubed

Juggling two of the toughest mental and physical challenges, Ranjith Vijayan has demonstrated the power of the human will. Capt Seshadri shares his fascinating story. 

A few years ago, before mobiles took over the gaming world, one could spot young and old alike, in any place at any time, twirling their hands around a six coloured cube, the brainchild of Hungarian professor and inventor Erno Rubik. Competitions galore have been held to see who could solve it fastest, who could break the puzzle blindfolded and many such innovative variations to make the solving tougher and more interesting.

But a probably lesser known fact is that there is a Guinness record featuring who can solve the Rubik cube the maximum number of times while running a marathon. While the elite runners of the world complete the gruelling 42.2 km in just over 2 hours, amateur runners place themselves in various pace categories, with some of the elder participants completing in up to 6 hours. And as if the mere running and completion weren’t effort enough by themselves, the Rubik cube solving marathoner has to complete the race in under 5 hours. And all the while, she or he has to be constantly solving the puzzle as quickly as possible.

The official world record holder for this unique feat is held by New Zealander Blair Williamson, who accurately turned the colours 254 times. Now, an athlete from another continent, our own Asia and quite close to home, is making valiant attempts to break this record. Ranjith, a runner from Singapore, could be spotted during the Tata Mumbai Marathon this January 21, with a Rubik cube in hand and a mini camera strapped to his chest to record his feat. His professorial look, augmented by a beard, probably disguised his athletic prowess; but his goal was clear: break the record.

Ranjith came to the finish line well within the stipulated five hours. In his estimation, he solved the puzzle 262 times, a feat which he reiterates he has achieved during practice runs. However, the world has to wait for the Guinness officials to read the images from his camera and count the number of times he solved the cube.

Whether he actually broke the record, time and the record books will inform us. But the fact will remain that he was the only runner in the Mumbai Marathon who attempted this feat. Of the 45,000 runners, few would know this fact; of the thousands of spectators who lined the streets to cheer the participants, even fewer might have noticed his hands constantly twisting the little cube.

While the athletes who won the events received well deserved accolades and publicity for their stupendous effort, the little known Ranjith deserves recognition for what he set to achieve. When there is no one to compete against, that is when the true spirit of the sportsman comes to the fore, to set personal objectives and to breach borders.

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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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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How running affects your muscles

Radhika Meganathan demystifies the relationship between running and muscle building

Runners are often associated with trim, wiry frames. Well, all that running stimulates your body to burn through your diet and the reserve fat in your body, so no wonder a typical runner burns way more calories. Most body builders, though, avoid running like the plague, accusing running to be a muscle destroyer. This claim is not entirely untrue, because running does have a huge impact on your muscles. But what if you want to build muscle yet still run?

What happens to muscles during running? During an intense cardio activity like running, the body constantly burns calories, even after you have stopped running. It not only burns the calories from your regular diet, it also burns through your reserve fat in the body. But when you run too hard or too long, your muscle will become the food if your body does not have many calorie stores of food and fat left.

Thus, if you want to build muscle mass while continuing with your running routine, you have to concentrate on two things: your calorie burning metabolism, and your running distance.

Adjust your diet

You now know why runners are advised to eat hearty! If you do not adapt your diet to your distances, it may lead to constant calorie deficit and your body will not be able to grow muscles from the limited nutrients from your diet. It’s like a vehicle trying to run on an empty tank! That’s why you must closely monitor your diet if you want to run and retain your muscles.

If your goal is to grow muscles, do not run or weight train on an empty stomach. Be especially wary of long training run, since they can deplete your energy reserves and reduce your muscle mass. After a long run, plan for additional carbs and protein. Make sure you eat a regular, balanced diet, one that has equal portions of protein (lean meat, seafood, eggs), complex carbohydrates (brown rice, bananas, sweet potatoes) and vegetables.

Adjust the distances you run

In addition to nutrition, you should pay attention to the amount of distance you cover each week. The right distance is different for everyone, but you definitely should keep in mind that longer distances (also, a more intense running schedule) will burn more calories and will ultimately start utilizing calories from muscle. But what if you love running and do not want to sacrifice either?

Do not despair! The solution is simple. In order to save your muscles, follow a training plan that gives equal importance to endurance and strength training, and also gives you adequate time for recovery.

  • Talk with an expert trainer/runner and arrive at a schedule with a safe number of training sessions per week.
  • Running shorter distances and following a moderate weight-training schedule will help you retain your muscles without sacrificing them to an intense running regime.
  • Reduce your weekly runs’ mileage.
  • Short runs and sprints are the best way forward if you are looking to build muscles.

With the right training, running can work on developing lean muscle. So get started with the right training and nutrition.

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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The relationship between sleep and running

Sleeping well and for the right amount of time can increase your running stamina, writes Nandini Reddy

We live in a hyper active culture that has us on our toes constantly. We have over committed our time an energy to a a ton of obligations. But the most important factor that needs to remain unchanged irrespective of our lifestyle is the number of hours we sleep. You have probably read that you need 8 hours of sleep but it is highly likely that you are clocking in less than 5 hours a night. As a runner, sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise.

Maybe if we understood why we need to sleep then we can be more convinced to actually give it the attention it needs.

Weight Loss

A regular sleep schedule can do wonders for your weight loss efforts. When you get less sleep your hunger hormones run haywire making you carve food at the wrong times or feeling less sated after a meal. All marathoners tend to carb load before a race but if you don’t get enough sleep then the glycogen energy reserves that you need for the race will not build up properly and you will hit the fatigue wall sooner than you expect.

Body Repairs

Distance runners need sleep to ensure that their muscles recover from their training. It was observed in a research that athletes who got enough sleep showed a marked improvement in their running performance. While you sleep, the growth hormone is released when you are in deep sleep which helps recover your body. This hormone is essential to help the body rebuild from the affects of workouts. The growth hormone also helps in converting fat to fuel and keeping your bones strong. Too little sleep means you will feel more stressed and your recovery time will also increase.

Water Re-absorption

While you sleep, the kidneys help in establishing the water balance in your body. When you run in summer and sweat a lot, there is a high risk of dehydration. Just drinking more water is not the solution to ensure your body stays hydrated. It is also important to let the kidneys do their work to balance the sodium, electrolytes and water in your body. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and muscle pain. So a good night’s sleep can do wonders to ensure that you are not dehydrated and your body electrolytes are in balance every morning.

Mental toughness

Sleep helps clear your mind and improves your concentration and helps you run with a clear mind. Sleeping better also improves your ability to analyze training plans and race day performance. A mentally tough runner can overcome every hurdle that he might encounter during tough races.

Maintaining a Schedule 

You need to set a sleep schedule. It will take you up to four weeks to get habituated to it but if you can set up a schedule then you will see that all other things will also fall into place. You will start to eat and train at a scheduled time. Sleep also helps you combat pre-race anxiety, improve your memory and decision making ability.

You might be able to get by with a few nights of bad sleep in a month but on the whole you need to have a sleep schedule that you stick to if you want to improve your running performance.

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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Should you follow the pacer?

So a niggling doubt for many runners is if they should match the pacer during a marathon in order to reach their goal time, lets talk about why you should and shouldn’t with Nandini Reddy

To begin with let us understand what pacing means – Pacing is an average running pace associated with a particular event time goal. For example if you want to complete a full marathon in 3 hrs and 45 mins then you need to target a pace of 5.25 minutes per km.

At every marathon you are likely to meet the pacers with times scrawled behind their shirts or on the balloons tied to their waists. You also see a huge number of numbers tailing them even before the start point. The popularity of pace groups has increased over the past few years as more runners find it easier to follow a pacer. The promise of reaching the finish line in  goal time, is what has most runners hanging on to pacer groups.

Having said that there are still a few pros and cons that should be considered before you decide to latch on to a pacer during a marathon.

Crowding

One of the biggest cons for running in pace groups is that there are too many people crowded around you. This chaos stays with you through the race, even at water stations. It is difficult to navigate and find a comfortable rhythm when you are running in a crowd. This leads to increased frustration and tempers and also many runners miss water stations because of the sheer number of people crowding the station from the groups. Missing a hydration interval can be detrimental to your pace when you are running a full marathon.

Pacing on terrains

Flat surface runs with pacers is fairly simpler because all runners can see the pacer and follow him at an even pace. When terrains are peppered with uphill, curves and twists in the trail then it becomes very difficult to follow a pacer because their pace will also keep fluctuating. A novice runner may not be prepared to deal with this and it might end up demotivating them to finish the race in a given time.

Trying to keep up

Every runner doesn’t train with a group. There are many runners who train individually and when they latch on to a pacer, they try to adopt the rhythm of the pacer. This means that after training for weeks to find you own rhythm, you are now trying to imitate another runner’s rhythm on race day. That definitely cannot work in your favour! When runners begin their race with pacers they also tend to run too fast in the first few kilometres and get fatigued quickly.

Stalking a pace group

If you feel that you cannot handle the crowd and the fluctuating pace when you want to follow a pacer then you can follow a different strategy. Most pacers will either run in bright T-shirts or with helium balloons attached to them. Even if you are not in the middle of the pacing group, you can certainly see the pacer. You can stalk the pacing group from a distance so that you are comfortable with your running style and still get the advantage of having a reference on your timing.

Group Motivation

Have you ever noticed that even when you train for a particular timing, on race day you always seem to do better? That happens a lot because of watching other runners around you. If you are a runner who thrives on group motivation then pacing groups are the place to be. The cheering from other runners will keep your spirits up and will constantly motivate you to finish the race.

Runners who train alone may not want to be in pace groups but running groups seem to prefer them more. It doesn’t matter what another runner does or recommends, go with your gut when it comes to finishing in goal timing.

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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Before the Goal Marathon

You have trained for your goal marathon, now how about running a dress rehearsal of what you can expect during the big race, asks Nandini Reddy

You have followed the training plan. You have eaten right. All the gear you need for race day is set. You have broken in your shoes and completed training runs that have set your pace. After you have been through this disciplined process, how about running a mock run to ensure that you are really prepared for the big day?

Explore the Course

If the race is in the same city that you live in then try and take a walk or a slow jog along the course. You can familiarize yourself with all the areas that might need a little more effort to complete. You can also note how you need to distribute your energy and effort. Try and run hard on a few stretches to really understand the strain you might be under on the course. Once your body is familiar with the course it will be easier for you to run the course.

Stay with the familiar

If you have been fueling your runs with a particular brand of energy bars or sports drinks then you will need to stick to the same ones during your race. Your body has adapted to these fuel foods and changing them might cause discomfort rather than help you. Remember to carry these along in your running belt during your mock run so that you can get used to the weight of belt. The idea is to decide what will help you run better so instead of loading up things on the main day, you might as well see how much you really need during your mock race day.

Get the right gear

Gear check is the most important one for any runner. Your shoes need to be comfortable from start to finish of the race. All the wearable gear like your watch, water bottle, phone holder and runners belt should not chaff your skin during the run. Clothes have to be breathable and it is important that you do not feel any discomfort while running in them. If you are wearing a sports bra then include it during your mock run and even your earlier training sessions to check for comfort. Do not try new and fresh gear on the big race day.

The idea is to reach your full potential on the big race day so it is important that you understand all the factors that might affect your run. On race day you can now just lace up and present your best self at your goal marathon.

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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