Dilemma to run or not to run…

There are times in your life when you ponder over your past and try to take a leaf out of it and based on that try to take a decision of your present circumstance. I am going through the same thing. The excitement of running a full marathon is indescribable. The moment you get to know of the time and date when the registration would start you start planning on how to register as soon as the window opens. These days the bibs finish the moment the registrations open. After registering you get serious about training. First thing is you day dream on the time you want to finish at. This year I had day dreamed of finishing the full marathon in 4:30 hrs which is a full one hour lesser than the last year. But have things ever happened the way you plan them. A job change, baby and a gastronomical issue disrupted the training in a big way. I have not been able to train the way I wanted to or the way I had planned to. Till now there has not been a single long run of more than 15 Km. This has worried me a lot. I have lately been thinking whether I should attempt such a long distance without any training. But every time I think, the runner in me wakes up and says you will be able to do it. I start re planning my training runs and hope to finish the 42.1 kms on Jan 19th 2015.

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Never leave running …

This year was a year when there were lot of changes in the personal life. A new job and a kid in the same year took a lot of time. It takes quite a lot of stress to get into the new job especially when you report to the top guy in the company. Then there was a situation which took a lot of time, energy and money related to the medical condition. This led to 2014 being a not so exciting year for me in running. Ignoring all that there was one things which I ensured. That I would run whenever I would find time and if I don’t find, I would dig out some time. In addition to running I also ensured that I would do strength training at least twice a week. Today though I am very weak in terms of running mileage, I know I am strong physically and it would not take me much time to get back to running. Tomorrow I am going to attempt a 15 km run which would increase my confidence to attempt the full marathon which I will be running on the 19th Jan.At the time when I registered I had set a target of 4:3 Hrs to finish, but practically speaking at this time now it looks unlikely. But I am not going to compromise on the finish. I have to finish is my primary concern.

A new journey to a new marathon season…

Come monsoon and the running season begins with new fervor, new excitement and new training with new targets. Everything seems new. After a slight layoff from running your first step of a new season reminds you of the first step you took as a runner years back. That’s the beauty of this sport. All your memories anxiety and excitement of past flashes before you. Soon you realize how much you need to improve it terms of distance and time and you feel yourself as a small speck in the whole wide universe.

This year I have registered for the biggest running event in India. The Mumbai Marathon. It will be held on 18th Jan 2015. In between there will be many half marathons which I will be running. Some would be purely for practice purpose and some would be for improving pace and timings. One of the best marathons to run in and around Mumbai is the Vasai Virar marathon. This is possibly the most difficult half marathon. It starts pretty late as it is on outskirts of Mumbai. So people might need some time to get there. The marathon starts at 700 am. The route is pretty simple route with not much inclinations. What makes it difficult is the extreme humid conditions one has to face. The route is close to sea which increases the humidity. Another marathon is the Goa Marathon which is held on the first Sunday of December every year. Then apart from these two there will be innumerable long runs over the weekends and many sessions at the Nike Run Club. There will also be many consultations with the coach on the running technique and what to eat and what to drink. Which foods to avoid and how much should be the level of hydrations and many things like that.

This time I am targeting finish time of under 5 hrs. For the last 2 time the full marathon I have run I was able to finish the marathon at 5:33 hrs and 5:37 hrs which I think is not a good time. Last time the good part was that I was able to run 23 kms non stop without any breaks. After 23 kms when I took my first break, that is where I lost the momentum. The breaks became very frequent and I wasnt able to sustain the speed. This time it will definitely be a different story. I plan to train hard and stick to the training plan. Need to ensure the distance is covered each day as given in the plan. The greatest struggle I am having now is the pace. The pace is always hovering between 7:00 and 7:30 mins/km. I need to bring this down to anywhere between 6:30 and 6:50. And once this is done then need to stabilize it at somewhere close to 6:30. This should give me a good comfortable finish in the 42 km full marathon of under 5 hrs. I am sure with proper discipline and approach and ofcourse hard work it can be achieved.

The mind game and ways to overcome pain..

The temperature outside is hovering around 35 degree centigrade. Humidity is above 80%. You have completed around 15 kms and it is just the half the distance you have planned to run today. As usual you had set the alarm way early in the morning and you must have snoozed it atleast 5 times before deciding it was enough. And by the time you hit the road you have kicked yourself for starting out so late. You reach the starting point, do a quick pre run stretches and start you run slowly and steadily. The first 2-3 kms of run are quite anxious as every part of leg pains and twitches. But as you finish the first 2-3 kms, you start feeling strong. The sun is out and humidity is also rising. You curse yourself for starting out late inspite of waking up at the first alarm and play the snooze-alarm snooze-alarm game.

Isnt this a story of every runner who plans a long run every sunday? Well mine is and as soon as you hit the half way mark of your run, the energy starts draining out. The road ahead looks difficult to cross. This is where the mind and the body starts fighting with each other and your mental power comes into the picture.

There are few things which have helped me in cruising through those tough second half of the long run..

1) Tables: Once the going gets tough, I start reciting tables in my mind. I start with simple ones like the tables of 2, 3, 5 and then slowly go on to the tough ones above 10. The best ones are the one belonging to prime numbers like 13, 17, 19. I dont stop till the multiples of 10, but go on till 20 or even above that. The tougher the tables are, better it helps me in diverting my mind from the pain in the legs or the body.

2) Another method is to plan your work for the next week. As this long run happens on Sunday, you have a whole week, when you can plan your work and tasks for the week. It helps a lot as when you run, you feel you are meditating and there are lot of things you remember which you wouldnt have. I think running releases some hormones in your body which really helps you in clear your thoughts.

3) One more method which is really effective is to count the number of cars of a particular brand. This keeps your mind off on the run and within no time you finish your next run target. This could be slightly tricky. If you are running on the a service road and the road is slightly away from your running route, you could strain your neck muscles. But if you are running on the same road then it shouldnt be a problem. Try this out. This could be real fun.

4) This is my favorite. When it really gets tough and you need every ounce of energy from your body and muscles, just start singing. Sing in a loud volume and sing your favorite song. Don’t worry about the tone. Dont strain your self too much in doing this or else you will lose your breath. Make sure this is done with proper inhale and exhale of air and the oxygen required by the muscles.

Mumbai Marathon 2014 : Poor end to a good start.

The excitement to participate and run in my second full marathon started almost two months back, when I realized I was not upto my training. The excitement soon turned to anxiety and with one month remaining for the marathon turned into a scary situation. The training runs were not completed on Sundays. Every Saturday at Nike Run Club, the speed workouts and the core strength workouts were not very fruitful. With just a month away from the big day, I decided to pull up the socks and ensure the runs were completed to the brink. The last long run was supposed to happen just 3 weeks prior to the big day. A week before the 32 km run it was a 28 km run. Everything went well till 22 km in that run, but then I hit the wall and dragged myself till around 24.5 km and then I just had to quit. I spoke about this to my Coach and he said not to worry and go ahead with the 32 km run the next week. I told him I just screwed up my 28 km run and he said not to worry and go ahead with the run. Not to worry about the timing and concentrate on finishing the run. As per his advice I was able to finish the run. The timing was very poor bi then that was the last thing on my mind.

The rest of the runs every Sunday went fine. I had purposely skipped the Run Powai run race as it was only a 10 k race and on that day I was scheduled to run 15 kms. which was part of my tapering plan for the big day. Slowly the race day came nearer and nearer and with that my anxiety and excitement for the big day increased too. I went to the exp a week prior to the race and collected my bib and the goodie bag for the marathon.photo 4

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photo 1 (1) There I met and saw Milind Soman, India’s top shot Model and a runner himself. He would be running the full marathon completely barefoot a week later. He was at the expo to launch FlyKnit shoes from the Nike Stable. As the big day neared my eating habits and the sleep pattern changed too. I was sleeping a lot, eating more than I usually eat and running far less than I had run in the past few weeks. The night before the marathon was clouded in the usual excitement. i went to the temple as per my routine on Saturday evening. Ate pasta and had dinner at around 930 pm. Somehow my timex ironman GPS watch was not coordinating with me. I had to transfer all my previous runs on to the system and free up all the memory it had taken. Somehow it was not getting detected. Fortunately it worked fine and was able to transfer the runs. I tried to sleep but there was a song stuck in my mind. I had set the alarm for 3:30 AM the next day and wanted to sleep early so that I get good rest. But as expected I finally went to sleep only at 12:00 AM.

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At Bandra worli sea link

At Bandra worli sea link

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I woke up at the buzz of the alarm and did my morning things and was ready to leave the house at 4:15 am. I went to the station and reached the marathon start line well just before the start of the marathon. There were almost 3000 men and women running the full marathon and it took me about 5 minutes to reach the start line. When I crossed the start line, a huge wave of excitement went through my soul. I was very happy to start my second full marathon and was hoping for a good finish. The start was good. I made sure I picked up the water at every water station. The first couple of kms went by pretty quickly and i was going smoothly keeping a pace of 7 mins/km. At around 7 kms I met two runners who were from my locality and we started speaking with each other. We have always seen each other running during the practice runs, but never cared to speak. I guess it was out of laziness or just plain ignorance. After chatting for a while I asked them to move ahead as I was running a lesser pace than theirs. Soon after that I saw the half marathon coming from the opposite direction. The pace at which the first person was running was just stupendous. He was literally flying. This gave another wave of excitement. At this point I was going smoothly at a predefined pace of 7 mins/km. Soon the sun rose and and the skyline changed. Now all the full marathoners were facing the racers who were doing half marathons. I saw quite a few similar faces in the crowed. Waved to them, gave them good luck. By now I had completed 15 kms and as per the plan I had to take my first break. But I was feeling good and there was not much tiredness. I thought I would continue and see how far I can go without stopping. Earlier during many races I had stopped before I actually got tired which actually went against me later. So I pushed myself. Met few friends on the way. I had asked my wife to station herself at around 23 kms. I took my first stop when I saw her waiting for me with Gatorade and dates. That was the time when the elite runners went past me. The way they run is the most beautiful site a runner can experience. It is full of great pace, smooth strides, perfect stride length. Just watching them gives you a great shot of excitement. After taking the gatorade and the dates, i started my onwards journey to the finish line. Some how after that my pace broke and I was finding it difficult to continue at the same pace. Till my first break I was thinking of finishing the marathon in around 5 hrs, but then I started taking more walk breaks. Soon I got taken over by 5:00 hr bus at around 30th km. I tried to keep to their pace, bu they soon went ahead. I was unhappy that I wont be able to finish the marathon in 5 hrs. I was regularly drinking water and gatorade and also eating dates and whatever were offered by the bystanders. Soon the psychological mark of 32 km went. I was feeling slightly dehydrated and trying to push a little, when I felt a sudden small cramp in my calves. That’s a time I got scared and decided to hold back and recover from the cramp. I was taking more walk breaks and taking it slightly slow. Soon 35 kms went by and we came to the party. The party was of 6 kms dream runners who were having a good time with various display of the organisation they were representing. I saw a lot of people cheering up for the full marathoners and admiring them for attempting to finish the distance. This bought joy and pride to my heart. Soon saw the 40 km mark and felt very nice. At around 41 km mark came the two runners whom I had met at 7 km mark and really cheered for me to finish strong. I did manage to run with them for few hundred meters but then asked them to move ahead and finish strong. I finally finished the marathon in 5:27 hrs. My wife and friends were waiting at the finish line to welcome me and it was great moment of joy to see her. After the mandatory high fives and few pics of finish, I went and did some stretches. Also went to the medical room to use the ice pack on my calves and thighs. Went to collect the medal. It was a great moment for me. I had been practising for the marathon for almost 4 months. On the whole it felt very nice to wear the medal though I was disappointed with the timing which was much more than what I had expected.

Sound sleep of a Sore runner….

I have often wondered many a times which and when is the most sound sleep I have experienced. This thought specially comes when I don’t get a sleep in some nights. When you have so many thoughts, that you dont know which one to really follow. When all you do is stare at the revolving fan on the ceiling, stare into the dark nights. You curse yourself for not working hard enough in the day to get quick sleep. You try to concentrate on one thing or thought and pray to the god that you get sleep as quickly as possible. And in spite of all these, you fail to get sleep.

I remember the most sound sleep I have ever got was after my first half marathon in 2011. I had completed the half marathon in 2:38 hrs and both my legs were aching. My groin was slightly injured and I had difficulty walking. The moment I reached home I put both my legs in hot water and let it cool down.After keeping my legs in the hot water for 30 minutes, I had a good meal and straightaway went to the bedroom. I made sure all the curtains were on and it was as dark as possible in the room. The time was around 1 pm. The moment I hit the bed I dozed off. After a sound sleep of around 4-5 hrs I woke up in the evening. For a moment after I opened my eyes I couldn’t remember where I was or whether it was sunrise or sunset. The sleep I got was an amazing one and it is something which I will not be able to forget for a life time. I woke up with all my muscles sore. The pain was really sweet. It was beautiful. It was as if my muscle were alive and kicking. I went to the front room, had a good cup of tea and decided to go down the building for a walk. It was one of the most beautiful evening. I came back had my dinner and again went back to sleep. This time around too the sleep i got was very sound and peaceful. It was something which I will remember for a long time.

Running has given me such and lot of new experience which I never imagined I would come across. It has helped me in discovering about myself which I thought never existed. It has helped me in making me mentally and physically strong. It has helped me in finding solution to problems which I thought would be very difficult to solve. It has helped me in realizing what my body is capable of. It is indeed a blessing in disguise. I am realising it all the more today because I quit smoking this day 4 years back and have never looked back. To dissipate my unused energy and time after I quit smoking helped me to discover the joy of running and in turn helped me in finishing my first full marathon of 42 kms which is magical in its own way.

Solution to every problem….

For a long time man’s quest is to find solution to the numerous problems he has faced. He always wanted a quick fire solution to the problems he had. To begin with he had a tough time realizing that there is a problem, let alone find solution to it. He had been thinking it is not his problem and something like that can never happen to him. In the same way, I as an individual do face problem in day to day life. Sometimes silence is the solution to the problem and sometimes speaking is the solution to the problem. Over the last couple of years, I have found out a method through which not necessarily you will get a solution, but you will definitely make a headway towards the solution. And that my friends is “Going for a Run”.

It has been documented and also been spoken about that one of the best ways to come out of your problems, sorrows is running. I have a friend who started running after she broke up with her boyfriend. She was dull and was always sulked, when one day she just decided to go out of house and run. That day she came back as a different woman. Every meter she ran she left a memory of her past and did not pick it up. Today she has run many many marathons and also successfully completed South Africa’s famed Comrades Ultra Marathon.

Then there is a story of a woman who was a chain smoker until few years ago. She had tried to quit many times but in vain. Every fifth day she gave up and hit the butt. Then one fine day after quitting she went for a run and never had a reason to hold the cigarette butt again. Today she promotes smoke free life in the many marathon she runs. She also has a annual event of duathalon where she rides a bike and runs a half marathon and promotes non smoking life.

For me, I have found solace in running. Whenever I face a problem at work or at home, I make sure I go for a run. The run clears the clog of thoughts in my mind and from nowhere it gives me a thought or an idea how to get the bottom of the problem. I get a headway in getting the solution to the problem. It has happened many a times that there is a challenging work in the office and I am stuck somewhere. At this point I just think about the problem and somehow I get to a point where I start solving the problem. Also running helps you dissipate the negative energy in you. There are times when you are frustrated with things which are beyond your control. You feel like taking it on someone who’s close to you and are comfortable with. Like your friend, or your wife, or your children. But you don’t realise how much it would hurt them. Though you clear your mind and frustration. In this situation running is what comes to you help. You just go for a short 30 mins run and it would clear your clogged mind.

The First Step….

I have always feel slight nervous when I take a first step towards achieving a goal or a target. The start is always shaky. But as I move forward and start achieving micro goal in order to achieve that macro goal, the nervousness starts going down. I guess this is a universal problem with human race. As you start moving ahead, you start getting used to things. The tasks which you thought were tough start getting easier. Its like playing video games. The first level seems so tough when you start playing the game, but with time you keep on passing the levels and then it become simpler.

I today took my first step towards running my second full marathon in as many years. I registered for SCMM 2014- Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2014. Last year when I ran the full marathon, it took me 5 hrs 29 mins to finish the 42.2 Kms. This time I am targeting 4:30 hrs. Last time it was to finish the distance and not concentrate on the timings. This time I will be concentrating on the timing too. The target is slightly steep considering that I will be polishing off an hour from my previous timing. The tough part starts now. I have got exactly 6 months to go before I run the full. I need to sync with my coach. I also need to get a new shoe as I have been running in my current shoe for more than 2 years now. The last show which I was using was Asics 1150. It is a good show. It is good except that the cloth over the front got torn. So that’s my immediate task. Once I get a the training schedule from the coach, I need to diligently follow it. Last time there were many runs which I missed. So this time I need to be more cautious.

There was a big buzz around the runners community before the start of the registration process. Some wrote dos and dont’s for registration, some provided the link from where you can get your race documents. Some wrote their experience in registration process. Some were frustrated at the links not opening. Some were outright funny saying that, the hard part is done and now comes the easy part of training. LOL. Overall it was fun with with the kind of buzz it generated.

For me registration was quite smooth. Just to check the link, I logged in 15 mins before the scheduled start of registration and surprisingly the link was working. I filled in all the information and at exactly 10:00 am which was the scheduled time, I clicked on the payment link and went ahead with payment. I purposely waited for 10:00 am as I wanted to be sure that I paid after the stipulated time. This was more to avoid any complications later. Once I received the email and SMS saying that my account has been debited I heaved a sigh of relief. One of the reasons I wanted to do this as early as possible as SCMM has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years and i was slightly scared that the seats might get full early and I would miss the chance to participate in the event. If anyone wants to look at the event and want to register, the link is

The “I” factor..

Everyone, irrespective of your profession, your nation, your caste, your creed has a I factor which usually pokes its ugly head now and then. The I factor is your irritating factor. How soon you get irritated and what are the factors due to which this irritation occurs. We runners also have this I factor and it is very disturbing and uncomfortable when it happens. Imagine you going for a long run. You have found your rhythm and your pace and suddenly something happens which raises your blood pressure and angers you. This is every runners Irritating factor. So what are the things which irritate you as a runner when you are on a run.

1) Lace getting untied-. Oooooo. This is a disaster. You are running nicely and suddenly you notice your lace is in the middle of getting untied. You hope it hold itself till you finish your run. You try to concentrate on the road ahead but notice it has already come out. You try to ignore it further and then get images of tripping and injuring yourself and you imagine the worse. You stop and tie the lace and use the choicest of abuse. One of the things I have observed is that whenever I run in the rains, due to the wetness the lace gets untied very often. You also cannot tie the lace very tightly as it may hinder the blood circulation in the foot.

2) People asking for direction- This is another thing which you fail to understand. Of all the people the person behind the wheel see’s on road, why does he ask only you for direction. Why cant he ask any other person just walking on the road. Why does he have to stop me and ask for the direction. This is atrocious and you feel like hitting the guy for breaking your rhythm.

3) Traffic As a road runner you will always find traffic hindering your run if you are running on a busy street. It is fine if there is a discplined traffic. What is irritating is an odd man out on a two wheeler or a four wheeler, zig zags your path. This is when you miss a beat in your legs as well in your heart. The blood pressure really rises and you miss your running rhythm and pace. My route goes by a school. The road is choc a bloc with little children and their parents making way to the school. The site of small little children is very refreshing and it brings memories of your school days. You remember how you used to cry on the first day of the school. How it was heartening to see your parents leave your hand. Though the sight is pleasant, the vehicles coming to drop the children are not. The road gets very busy with all the vehicles and you have to zig zag through the vehicles to get to a clear way.

Apart from this there are other factors which irritate you like a sudden pain in the muscle or sudden bout of rains. These are all a part of being a road runner. Somehow when these things irritate the mind, and the subsequent rhythm in running pacifies the mingd, it reinforces your belief that running is a such a pure form of meditation. With time you realize you don’t get irritated and things like these are very minuscule to what you achieve by running.

Reaching peak lactate level at Nike Run Club

The temperature and the humidity in the place where I run has reached maximum and it is just April. What I am

facing is a dreaded Indian Summer. Though the summer also brings out the delicious and famous alphonso mangoes of

the season, it kills you with extreme heat and humidity. This is also accompanied by dust which makes the condition

even worse. As I am writing this blog the temperature is 37 d celcius and the iphone apps says it feels like 42

degree celcius. Inside your clothes it feels like 52 for sure. In summer the days are very long in India. The sun

rise occurs at 6:10 am in the morning and the sun sets at 7:00 pm. This makes the day longer that 12 hrs. Almost 13

hrs. If you are not sitting the the air conditioneed environment, it becomes extremely uncomfortable and sweaty. Temp

Today was Saturday which is also the first day of the weekend. There is no better way to start weekend at NRC than

anywhere else. After a tiring week at work, i went off to sleep yesterday without setting the alarm in the morning.

But luckily I woke up at quarter before six. Did my morning things and rode off for Nike Run CLub. I reached NRC

slightly late and the exercises had already started by the time I reached there. After the usual warm up exercise

we had speed workout. Today’s speed workout was slightly different from the usual one. The time in which we had to

complete 1 lap of the track which is 400 was directly dependent on the time you had taken for your best half

Marathon. The best time for HM for me was 2:13 hes at Goa HM. So to complete 400 m, I had to take 2mins and 20

secs. We had to run 7 laps of 400 m at the same pace. The idea behind the speed work out was to reach you peak

blood lactate level. When you are racing 10 k race, it is said that you reach your peak blood lactate level

somewhere around the finish mark of 10 k race. With keeping this in mind the workout was designed. So

what is this blood lactate? When you exercise with high intensity drills like the ones which we did at the Nike

run Club, the energy to the muscles is provided by the glycogen which is stored in the body. Once the glycogen is

finished and the oxygen to the muscles in depleted, the body produces blood lactate which acts as a source of

energy to the muscle.

In this workout after running at a tempo speed for close to 3 kms, the blood lactate level are reached at the peak.

This is how the body gets used to the production of blood lactate in the muscles. After the workout we were given

to do some very intense strengthening exercises for the core. These mainly included various forms of crunches and

planks exercise. Tomorrow I will try for a long run. I have plans to do a a 10 k which I havent really done for

some time now. I hope to start early preferably before the sun rise so that my run does not become a victim of heat

and humidity