Back (?)

I know I haven’t been running for a while now. The Airtel Hyderabad Marathon happened at the end of August (which, I must admit, I was very glad to have finished the Half Marathon in 2 hours 30 minutes in spite of absolutely no training since January), but since then, there have been many things that have been happening in life that have just prevented me from running.

(Sometimes, I think of it as a cycle: Do I run and relieve my stress or am I unable to shrug off my stress and find a way to go for a run early in the morning?)

However, I did manage to sneak in a 10k today morning. Felt good to be back on the road. Ran alone, and perhaps, I needed to, because it helped clear my mind.


Weekly Running Review -4th to 10th Jul 2016

I would like to make two observations about things I learnt from my running experience last year.

One: Acknowledge the ‘off-season’. For the hot and humid city of Calcutta, where humidity levels are easily more than 90%-95%, it doesn’t make much sense to run during March to June. Sure, some of my friends even finished 42 km training runs in this heat (with temperatures approximately in the 30-38 degrees Celsius range), but I’m not too certain that helps you as a runner/athlete. Unless you’re a professional who must compete in similarly trying conditions, I don’t think it is an exercise which aids you much. Hence, I did take these months off. I should have utilised this time to swim and/or go to the gym in the mornings and you can be certain this is a learning I’m to carry forward and improve on next year.

Two: I have now decided that I’m going to NOT run on days when I haven’t slept at least 6 hours. Or at least reduce such instances to a minimum. I’m all for giving up social night outs (hey, not that I had too many of those) so that I can focus on early morning runs. However, I’ve realised that running on just 3-4 hours of sleep, which I have done a lot of in the last year, leaves me exhausted (duh!) the next day. And as a result, work suffers. Not to mention the detrimental health effects. And I just cannot allow that to happen. Hence, I’ve decided that I’d rather NOT go for a run than spend the day moving about like a zombie.

The second of these two reasons is why I did not get many runs in during the last week. The only two days on which I did run were Saturday and Sunday because although I hadn’t slept enough even on these two days, I was sure I would be able to go home and crash for a couple of hours. Hence, here are the runs for the last week:

9th Jul (Sat) – 6 km easy run

10th Jul (Sun) – 10 km easy run


My friends and I after completing our 10 km run

New running season

Wow! 6 months have just flown past, haven’t they?

In fact, the last time I wrote a blog post, I hadn’t even completed my first marathon. Yes! I did it. I ran my first every full marathon at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2016. I didn’t quite finish it as soon as I’d expected (5 hours 27 minutes), but what the heck, I did finish it and that in itself is a big thing.

What needs to be done next is improve.

I haven’t run any events after SCMM 2016. I was planning on going to Sikkim for the Running and Living 25k, but had to back out at the last moment since a friend who I was going with pulled out due to unforeseen circumstances. Tough luck.

Anyhow, I did run a couple of times in the interim, but it has just been very hot and humid here in Calcutta. Which is why I ran today morning because there have been some showers this last week, bringing down the temperature and the humidity levels. I managed to do a 10 km run, although I did have to take a few walking breaks. Still, felt good to be back to running with the buddies.

TSBC Top 10 of 2015

TSBC Top 10 Of 2015

As a part of the activity that The Sunday Book Club (TSBC) ran on Twitter (their Twitter handle is @tsbookclub), I put up a list of the top 10 books that I read in 2015. This is a random list and isn’t a ranking; simply those 10 books that brought me the most joy in the year gone past.

You can read my reviews of some of these books here:

My Salinger Year – Joanna Rakoff

Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime – Oscar Wilde

The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

Arjun: Without a Doubt – Dr. Sweety Shinde

One Part Woman – Perumal Murugan

It’s been a good year for running

2015 Running bibs


Trust the process. The idea was to run as much as I could, to be healthy and being fit right throughout. I think I have more or less achieved that goal this year.

On to the numbers. Last year, I had set myself a target of running 520 kms (at an average of 10 kms per week), and fell woefully short. So this year’s target was 260 kms (at an average of 5 kms per week). Although not consistent, I have run 507 kms this year. Out of which 130-odd kms have been while participating in events.

The net result has been that I’ve had a wonderful running year. I’ve travelled to some beautiful places (Cherrapunjee, Srirangapatnam) and made some great runner friends in different cities and in my own city of Calcutta. And most importantly, I’ve become a better and stronger runner.

I do wish I had been able to write more blog posts about how the runs are going. I especially wanted to write about my experiences of running in Airtel Run For Education 21k, Puma Urban Stampede 10k and the Tata Steel Kolkata 25k. Thanks to these events, I’m ending this year on a high. It was easier to keep myself motivated and run in these well managed events that were organised here in Calcutta.

All this would have absolutely not been possible without the camaraderie of the members of Kolkata Running Squad, and especially the guidance of Vernon Morais. Thanks guys! Somewhere along the way, EACH ONE OF YOU has motivated me and pushed me to do better. You folks are the best.ūüôā

Here’s looking to an even more wonderful 2016. Cheers!

(Running) Bucket List

I was reading this post¬†on Jane’s¬†blog¬†when the words “hello state #10” struck me. Based in USA, she is trying to participate in a run in each of the states there.

I realised I wanted a similar adventure for myself. It combines my love for running and my wish to explore more of my beautiful country.

And so, here is the number 1 item on my Bucket List.

  • To run a Half / Full Marathon in each of the states and Union Territories of India.

As this will require quite a bit of planning and travelling, I’m not putting an ‘achieve by’ date to it, but rest assured, I shall keep ticking¬†off on the list of states and Union Territories each year.

As of now, I’ve covered the following (in order of runs participated in):

  • Karnataka
  • West Bengal
  • Maharashtra
  • Meghalaya

That leaves me with another 25 states and 7 Union Territories. Hmm.

Wish me luck, people!

Weekly Running Review -16th to 22nd Nov 2015

This week started out well, but ended up a bit of a bummer. Still, one happy realisation, which I shall share at the end of this post.


16th Nov (Mon) – Team member’s¬†birthday, light bootcamp. Although we’d celebrated this team member’s birthday on Sunday itself, it turned out we had an¬†extra¬†cake. So, in spite of it being our group’s rest day, we turned up for a light boot-camp, just so that we could have the cake later. Yay!

17th Nov (Tue) РCadence counting + interval run. 9.2 kms. We came together for what our trainer calls a trick run. I was supposed to run at 168 cadence, and I think I did a good job of sticking to this limit. I was running with a couple of other buddies who all run at roughly the same pace and our run was so effortless that it barely registered that we had run almost 10 km.

18th Nov (Wed) – Boot camp + rugby. A day to get dirty in the mud and bring out our A-game. Lots of core and legs related exercises, followed by a super energetic and enthusiastic 5min x 2 rugby game. After the boot-camp, one would’ve imagined people wouldn’t have what it takes to¬†to tackle, shoot or score goals, but you’d be surprised by the energy of this lot.

19th Nov (Thu) – Cadence counting. 10 km. Hmm. We were supposed to do an extra round of Victoria Memorial after our regular run on Red Road. The trainer had told me to do a 164 cadence run. Trouble was, my running buddy (whom we shall call ‘Red Bull¬†V’) wanted to run at 180 cadence! I had to reign him in and tell him that this was not a run to test our pace, but to build stamina and discipline. He did give in (more so because I suspect he enjoys the company and banter that goes along with running :D) but towards the end, we did let go a bit and ran at about 168-172 cadence. Still, good run.

20th Nov (Fri) – Rest day. Here is where I began to get lazy. I was out till late on Thursday night and I had a presentation to make on Friday. If I really did push myself, I could’ve gone for the boot-camp which was scheduled for the day, but I decided to catch some sleep and work on the presentation. (In fact, I was working on making a presentation to a group of runners who would be running their first event in about a fortnight.)

21st Nov (Sat) – Yoga + rugby. Saturday was all sorts of fun! First, the super yoga session. I knew we were in for a good session when the warm-up of the yoga session was longer and more intensive than the warm-ups that we do before our long runs! We were sweating, despite the chill November morning. I did the best I could, but my body once again reminded me how not-so-flexible I am. Need to work on this.

Yoga was followed by a game of rugby. I thought I just wanted to sit back and sip some chai. Turns out, I surprised myself with my store of energy. Heck, I even scored a goal!

This was followed by an impromptu decision to go have breakfast with the gang. Our poor trainer smilingly kept calling the food ‘unhealthy’. Not that any of us was listening as we devoured potato/corn/cheese sandwiches and chai.ūüėõ

22nd Nov (Sun) – Long run, 25 km. MISSED IT!!ūüė¶ Late on Saturday evening I realised that all the yoga in the morning meant that I had really stretched my lower back. Although that is a good sign in itself, in the short duration it meant that I was left feeling funny and didn’t feel so comfortable doing squats. So, when I woke up at 4 AM on Sunday, I really wasn’t feeling up to the mark. Added to the fact that my Garmin wasn’t charged enough *and* that I would be running alone for the first 15 kms or so (the others were tapering off before their Airtel Run For Education HM next week), and I had enough reason to sleep in instead. A good day, eventually, because I managed to get in 9 hours of sleep, followed by a light breakfast and 1.5 hours of meditation. Still, I missed the satisfaction that I get after my long runs.


Which brings me to the happy realisation that dawned on me late last week.

Last year, I had set myself a target to run 520 kms, at an average of about 10 km/week. I failed to even come close to that target. Disheartened, I halved the target to 260 km for this year, in the hope that I would at least be able to run 5 km/week in 2015.

Imagine my delight, then, when I see that I’ve almost run 260 kms in just October and November itself! YAYY!

Oct-Nov 2015 RK

CSC Swim-A-Mile 2015 Honours Board

I had almost forgotten about the Swim-A-Mile competition that I had participated in back in August.

So imagine how pleasantly¬†surprised I was when I saw the Honours Board put up in the Club for this year’s competition. (My name appears quite some way down in the list. :D)

The numbers against my name were a reminder that I had only swum breast-stroke this year and that I must build my strength and stamina to swim freestyle next year to improve my timing.

Till then, I’m going to bask in the glory of having my name up on the Honours Board.ūüôā

CSC Swim A Mile Honours Board

Weekly Running Review – 8th to 15th Nov 2015

One of my plans with this blog was to document my journey towards my first full marathon.

However, I soon found out that rigorous training can lead to one feeling completely, and I mean *completely* exhausted by the end of the day. It is now only after a month of serious training that my body seems to have adjusted to the higher levels of energy required to get through the long days.

And hence, even though belated, here’s a start to what I hope will be a regular¬†feature: the weekly running review, in which I try and capture how I’m progressing.


8th Nov (Sunday) – Long run. According to the training calendar that I’ve signed up for on RunKeeper, I was supposed to be taking it easy: 12.9 kms. This, owing to the fact that there had been a significant increase in mileage in the last couple of weeks. In fact, I had run two successive half marathons (21.1kms) on the previous two Sundays.

However, I’ve now started running in a group and I really do enjoy my long runs. And so, I decided to make it a hat-trick of half-marathons! This was one of my faster HMs and I almost clocked my Personal Best (PB). I ran a little slow at the start because I was running with a few new runners in the group who weren’t sure about the route that we had to take. Later, I ran¬†with another lady who is preparing for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. I went at a slightly easy pace so that I could run alongside her, but honestly, I was pretty glad I wasn’t pushing myself too much because it still was pretty humid.

  • Distance: 21.85 kms
  • Time: 2:23:26
  • Avg. Pace: 6:44 min/km

9th Nov (Monday) РThis was supposed to be a rest day. But the lure of a good breakfast was too much to let us stay asleep!

Unfortunately, no good breakfast places we know of open before 7:30. So, a couple of friends and I went to the lakes for a brisk 5 km walk. Of course, this was followed by a sumptuous breakfast, the details of which I shall keep to myself.ūüėõ

  • Distance: 5.38 km
  • Time: 56:12
  • Avg. Pace: 10:27 min/km

10th Nov (Tuesday) – Interval training day. The break-up was 2 minutes of quick running (10% faster than race day pace) followed by 60 second break. This was to be repeated 8 times. I was pretty satisfied by this, my second attempt at interval training.

  • Distance: 4.94 km
  • Time: 30:45
  • Avg. Pace: 6:13 min/km

11th Nov (Wednesday) – Diwali run! I was pretty surprised and enthused by the people in our group who had turned up even on Diwali morning for a run. Since we had pretty much decided that we wouldn’t be running the next day (to avoid all the pollution caused by firecrackers), we decided to do our ‘trick run’ on Wednesday itself. ‘Trick run’ is our trainer’s lingo for ‘cadence counting’. I was supposed to do a 82 count run (164 cadence). I think my running form needs correction, since although I was running at a higher cadence, my pace wasn’t particularly impressive.

  • Distance: 8.31 km
  • Time: 54:57
  • Avg. Pace: 6:37 min/km

12th Nov (Thursday) – Rest day.

13th Nov (Friday) – Boot camp. Started with a short warm-up run and proceeded to get our backsides kicked, as per usual.

“What the hell, it helps in the long run, right? And that’s all that counts. Quit complaining!”

  • Distance: 3.48 km
  • Time: 23:03
  • Avg. Pace: 6:37 min/km

14th Nov (Saturday) – Foam Rolling Recap. I had never imagined a foam roller could be so painful or so pain relieving at the same time. Trust me, there’s nothing like the kind of pain one feels when using the foam roller, especially if you’ve got shin splints the way I do. But yes, the trigger release that happens afterwards is worth all the pain. Onlookers will remain sceptical about the use of this innocent looking equipment, but I can vouch for all the knotted muscles that it has helped me loosen up. Recovery from long runs is way sooner when you use¬†these.

15th Nov (Sunday) РLong run. As per my RunKeeper training schedule, I was supposed to run 22.53 km. But when the mind has already made the decision to run a round figure, the 25 km mark was the obvious decision to make. We started early, at 4:30 AM and this required some adjustment to the pre-run eating pattern. To add to this challenge, there was no bread or bananas in the house. Silly me, for not having checked the previous evening. I improvised and finished half an energy bar and couple of almonds and walnuts.

The run went very well. I only occasionally¬†pushed myself for a faster pace. Also, I realised once again how much of a mind game long-distance running actually is. In the previous weeks, when I was targetting a 21 km run, I would start feeling cramps and/or fatigue after the 17-18 km mark. Today, since I was looking at a bigger target, I didn’t even stop to realise and 21 km went by without any complaints. It was only around the 22 km mark¬†that I started struggling.

I paused at two points during the run, at the 14 km mark and at the 22 km mark, to do a runner’s stretch. I wish I had taken a couple of extra seconds and stretched more, since it did actually help. At the 21.1 km mark, I realised I had finished the half marathon distance at a PB of 2 hours 7 minutes, a clear 10 minutes (!!) better than my previous PB of 2 hours 17 minutes at the Mumbai Marathon earlier this year.

Also, the last time I ran a 25 km run was at the Tata Steel Kolkata event last year, which I had finished in 2:59:29. Today, I had obviously improved and hit a PB here too! I think I can push myself for a better pace next Sunday, when I plan on running 25 km again.

  • Distance: 25.01 km
  • Time: 2:37:10
  • Avg. Pace: 6:17 min/km