I would like to share my story on how I took to running
Many people know me as a running guy. But well, 1st I was a gym person. I started gyming to fight overweight (I won’t call obesity). Was not so optimistic for 1st couple of days but soon realized that it’s very much possible to lose weight. It was kind of a ritual and went to gym 6 days a week for a year.
And it paid off. I lost ˜17kg of fat and gained some muscle also.
After a year I decided to check out running; thanks to Minoti Koul who always insisted & motivated to get a feel of runner’s high. Moreover when you see senior citizens running early morning @ 6AM when it’s still dark you get really motivated to give your best. Now it has become an addiction. I must say RUNADDICT.
Now you must be wondering why I started with running in the first place.
I started running to stay healthy. Everything in life is secondary. The primary thing is to be healthy and happy. As one of my mentor said “it’s the body who is going to be with you till death; not even your family or friends. Your family or friends can’t buy you a healthy life”.
One can have sound mind in a sound body only.
The next question is “How did I start and how did I increase my running span”
Well, I was a naive in running. Didn’t know whether to land on heel or toe. After experimenting and some research finally found out that both were wrong and the right way was forefoot strike (at least it has worked out for me).
Everyone has its own unique way of walking/running. Understanding how our ankle/feet behave is the 1st way of finding the right way to have safer/efficient/comfortable running form. The best way to find the correct running form is to just put your shoe off and run barefoot on a grass. It’s natural that you won’t land on heel as it’s uncomfortable nor on your toes. You would always land on the forefoot (the foot lands on the balls of the foot under the toes). So without shoe if you land on forefoot then with shoes on its obvious that you should always land forefoot.
Let us now touch upon the aspect of running and related technologies
I didn’t use any gadget for ˜3 months & then I just bought an ordinary sports watch just to check the time (so that I don’t get late for office). I was just a casual runner and was running 6kms every day.
Like correct running form, finding the right shoe is very important. Our foot rolls inside slightly & flattens when we hit the ground. This is known as pronation. And there are 3 types of pronation; over, neutral and under pronation. One can easily identify by doing a wet foot test (it takes less than 5 minutes and can be done at home) or by looking at your current sports shoe sole wear out pattern.
Over pronation (& severe over pronation: flat foot): it would be inwards
Neutral: even wear on front/back & side to side
Under pronation: wear outwards
So we have different type of shoes for each type of runner
Over pronation: Stability shoes
Neutral: just cushion is enough
Under pronation: shoes which provide cushioning and in which they are most comfortable (less than 5% runner are under pronators; so not many options available)
Do we need to know the breathing technique also ?
Yes! Although it’s very natural but to have a more calm & relax running and to use the lung effectively to have the maximum rate of gaseous exchange it’s very important.
Now, the first question is to whether breathe through nose or mouth ?
I have seen some articles wherein people do breathe in & out through mouth but I would stick to the natural way of breathing i.e. in through nose & out through mouth.
The most important point is to breathe deep into your belly and avoid shallow chest breathing. It allows more oxygen into our lung & subsequently into the body and thereby keeping the body in aerobic phase. This keeps the body nice & steady throughout the run and heart at resting rate & avoid running out of breathe.
My transformation from being a casual runner to running marathons is interesting
After almost 8 months since I started running I happened to see an advertisement for half marathon nearby and just registered it. I told this to some of my friends and was really excited. Finally, I was owning it and could really engage in the necessary mental preparation.
I ran my 1st 21KM 2 weeks before the event just to check out to whether I was physically up to that level & that I don’t hit the wall & pass out (hitting the wall is a stage when you feel that you’ve reached the point of no return, that you cannot take another step, about to die). I finished my 1st official half marathon @ 2.07 (this was in Sept 2014). And then I realized that indeed I can run a marathon (this was limited to half marathon only).
After ~1 ½ year of running I decided to challenge myself & decided to run a full marathon & there was no better place for doing my 1stfull 42.2KMs other than Mumbai. And yes I completed my 1st42.2Kms in Jan 2016 & crossed the finish line @ 4:15.
Since September 2014 I have officially done 10 x half marathons and 3 x full marathons. The best half marathon (21.1KM) time being 1:45 and full marathon (42.2KM) 4:00 in Tel Aviv. A short story on Tel Aviv marathon
I must thank my entire Israel team who helped me a lot (Dani, Benny, Sami) for this. The starting point for Tel Aviv Marathon was ~6-7KMs from my hotel and had to reach early as the entire road was to be closed. I got the detailed direction from Race organizers but Benny made a note of the entire direction in Hebrew also just to make sure that I have the direction written both English & Hebrew and reach the starting point in time without any hassle. And YES! It was absolutely smooth.
You must be wondering what is my training plan & what are my next challenges
These days, I run 3 days a week (and cover 45-50KM/ 180KMs/month) and it includes the ritual 21KM or + on Saturdays (so that I can party on Saturday night).
For over a year now, I have been using a GPS watch and indeed it’s very useful. You get to know the real time pace & average pace and it helps to strategize & analyze the runs and check out the options for improvement. As one of mentor said “if someone is investing a good amount of time in some activity then it’s obvious that the performance should be improved over a course of time”.
Currently I am going through all the historical run statistics of more than a year and trying to come up with a plan to finish the 2017 Mumbai Marathon (42.2KMs) @ 3.50-55.
A few things about my own technique and some personal experiences
I run alone and I love it. My idea is to either run alone or run with someone who is much better than you. The catch here is that you shouldn’t experiment anything new on the race day.
I will share a short story on couple of my technical mistakes:
October 2015, I was running 21.1KM in Pune’s most popular running event (PRBM) and the training runs prior to that were not so great. Just a week before I was running 10KM & 8KM at the pace of 5 (5mins/KM). As the training was not too great so I was targeting 1:50 (for 21.1KMs) but on the race day as soon as I started I saw the 1:45 bus (people running in group with expert runner leading) and just joined them. For the 1st half I was running like a V6 engine but after 13KMs I realized that I had pushed too hard and hit the wall. For the remaining KMs I was running like an old 3 cylinder engine which could have broken down at any moment. I finished @ 1:56 and was very disappointed. I was not disappointed with the result but with the fact that I just did a stupid mistake. Running at someone else’s pace shouldn’t be part of the plan.
Let me share one more story of my recent full Marathon.
This was in HYD (outside Pune and more important outside comfort zone)
Didn’t had enough sleep and had to travel early morning to HYD a day before. HYD is India’s toughest city Marathon with lots of elevation. But fortunately the weather on the race day was too good for running with very less humidity and lil bit of cloud. I just had 4 cups of water for the 1st 10km and it turned out to the mistake of not hydrating enough knowing the fact that I sweat a lot and used to have at least 500ML of fluid during normal runs. I could feel getting the cramps 34km onwards and finally the moment came @ 41km! I had to stop and was absolutely clueless. Fellow runners advised to take deep breath and walk slowly which indeed helped a lil bit. I was in pain but this last 5 minutes of pain for the final 1.2KMs was nothing compared to hours of planning, training and expectations of my friends. When you run out of fuel, get cramps and hit the wall; this is where mind takes the battle over body for supremacy. Finally when saw the 500M mark finish standee, decided to push but was also skeptical that the muscle might give up at any moment. This is where I had to rely on the training which means doing the things I’d done in the past to get the job done. And yes I crossed the finish line strongly @ 04:24:26.
How can you be part of running clubs?
There are running groups/clubs everywhere. Just need to hit out early morning once and you will see flocks of runner; just need to join them.
It is also important to know how you can participate in events?
We have running events almost throughout the year (except for 2-3 months in summer). For Pune we have one coming up on 2nd Oct, 16th Oct and for Delhi the Airtel HM in November. Someone looking to do Personal Best must check out the Delhi HM as the track is flat & the event happens in Nov when the weather is best for running.
Lastly, one must always remember that if you have an important deliverable/assignment in your personal/corporate life but you are not feeling 100% fit (physically and mentally) then you just can’t give your best. So it’s very very important that you are taking good care of yourself.
And I can’t conclude without thanking the guys who are always there and give invaluable tips/advise (even getting those from elite runners) before any Marathon and always make sure to give extra motivation. Before my 1st full marathon they even didn’t allow me to drive to Mumbai. I was just at the back, relaxing and thinking about the run. Anil Kumar Singh, Vijay Patil, Alok Dubey! A big thank you to you guys.
Few final words from my end…
Running a marathon is a personal journey of what you are capable of!
So please go out and start some form of physical activity not limited to running. Even the blood cells are recycled every 3 month so if you indulge & follow any exercise/sport then practically you are a completely different person after that and always try to enjoy the small things that give you pleasure during that.
Good luck and I hope you see you running some time soon!