It’s been a good year for running

2015 Running bibs

Phew!

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. 🙂

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

Training Plan for 10-16 Aug 2015

The next running event that I will be participating in is the half-marathon at the Kaveri Trail Marathon (KTM) 2015. This will be my first trail race and I’m really looking forward to running on new terrain.

KTM will be run on 20th Sep this year, which gives me little over a month to prepare. Around that time is also when I will be launching into my marathon training for next year’s Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, where I’ll run my first full marathon.

Needless to say, I need to start preparing.

Taking a leaf out of Andrea’s blog, I’m going to be posting my proposed weekly training schedule and will check back every week to see how well I’ve done. So, here goes the first of my training plans:

10th Aug (Mon) – Gym (Upper Body workout)

11th Aug (Tue) – 5 km fartlek run

12th Aug (Wed) – Gym (Legs)

13th Aug (Thu) – 7 km run

14th Aug (Fri) – Gym (Core workout)

15th Aug (Sat) – Rest day

16th Aug (Sun) – 10 km run

Pace yourself

Shake off the sleep, get up on your feet, slow and steady steps. Don’t worry if you stumble a bit. Find your rhythm. Breathe. Finish the first third of the distance.

Having found your rhythm, learnt how to read the signs of the earth, the wind, the sun and the rain, go for it. Establish yourself. Power through this second phase.

In the third phase, exhaustion might catch up with you. Breathe. Focus on putting one step in front of the other. With a prayer on your lips and hope in your heart, finish the race strong and with a smile.

Pacing strategy for a marathon or metaphor for life?

Cherra Marathon, Meghalaya

So I had two holiday plans cancelled last month.

And as I was looking around to find a way to take a break, I chanced upon a Facebook page which announced a marathon happening in Cherrapunjee.

A run in the hills, during monsoons, and a potential first trip to the beautiful North East? Yes please!

So I have signed up for the half marathon and even though I haven’t run in a while, my target is to complete the distance in 2 hours 30 minutes. With a month to go, I hope I’ll have enough time to train for this.

Here’s a link to the official website of the marathon.

Foot Strike

I have written previously about the correct running form here.

One of the most important and also one of the simplest things one can do to run properly and better, is to land mid-foot while running. Avoid landing on your toes or on your heel to reduce the chances of injuries.

I was reminded of this simple but important fact when I came upon the image below which was shared by the Reebok Running Squad page on Facebook. They keep sharing such interesting and helpful tips from time to time. It’s a good place to remind myself of the basics of running.

Reebok Running Squad

My long-distance running journey

I guess I could really get philosophical about this post and ramble on for quite a bit.

So, I won’t.

I’m here because my friend Charul has done a splendid job this last weekend and run the TCS 10k in Bangalore. This, from a lady, who till a few months ago, by her own admission, couldn’t run for 5 minutes straight.

I’m inspired by her.

And I’ve decided I’m going to start blogging about my journey in the world of long-distance running.

So, tonight, I just put down the basics.

Hi! I’m Shekhar. I’m 32 years 7 months 18 days old. I weigh roughly about 60 kilos. I’ve been into long-distance running for about a little more than 2 years now. I’ve run in and completed the following:

In 2014:

TCS 10k Bangalore – 64 minutes

Tata Steel 25k Calcutta – 2 hours 59 minutes

In 2015:

Standered Chartered Mumbai Marathon – I ran and finished the half marathon in 2 hours 17 minutes

SREI Kolkata Marathon – I ran and finished the 15km segment in 1 hour 40 minutes

My next target is the Kaveri Trail Marathon to be held on 30 September 2015.

I train in Calcutta, which has a pretty humid weather. I usually run with my friends Harsh and Deepak, both of whom have only recently taken up running.

SREI 8th Kolkata Marathon – 8th Feb 2015

On 30th January, my friends and I were out for a walk when I happened to spot an electronic billboard flashing the word marathon. By the time I had pointed it out to my friends, the billboard had refreshed to some other advertisement. We waited quite a bit before the advert for the Kolkata Marathon (www.kolkatamarathon.com) came up again.

This pretty much set up the theme for the Kolkata Marathon: not much to tom-tom about, and yet, not a bad thing, given that there are hardly any runs organised in the eastern part of the country.

The event website mentioned that the various race categories were 5km Fun Run, 15km and 42km full marathon. The route maps shown on the website were hand-drawn sketches, causing us to get a little worried about the level of professionalism of the organisers.

The next day, a friend and I went to the offices of the event organisers, High Life Management, located in the dilapidated, burnt down and eerie looking Stephen Court on Park Street. We wished to register for the 15km run. We filled up the registration form and were asked to come to Kennel Club on Mayo Road on the 7th of Feb (a day before the event) to collect our bibs. I asked how come there had been no buzz about the marathon and was told they had had an issue with placing an advertisement in the newspapers the week before.

In the week leading up to the event, I did see a couple of billboards spring up and there also were mentions about the run in The Telegraph, a media partner for the event.

Some time during the week, I got a call from the gentleman who had taken our registration forms, telling me that the venue for collecting the bibs had shifted to the Parsee Club, a couple of yards down Mayo Road itself.

However, on 7th of Feb (Saturday), my friends and I found the Parsee Club shut and not a soul around. Nor was there any notice put up. We realised the venue must’ve shifted back to the Kennel Club.

Sure enough, the Kennel Club was abuzz with activity. A group of old gentlemen were sitting at a desk set up under the shade of a tree, registering names and distributing a free t-shirt to every runner. “100% cotton!!” I was told sternly by the old gentleman, as if I wasn’t valuing the t-shirt enough as I took it from him. I don’t think I was able to hide my chuckle.

We were asked to go inside the tent to collect our bibs. I was told by my friend that the RFID tags to register runner’s timings on the bibs were being introduced only this time, the 8th edition of the Kolkata Marathon. I also met the gentleman who had called to inform me about the change in venue. I asked him how come he hadn’t called to inform us about the change in venue again. He blamed last minute changes but didn’t offer any reason or an apology for not calling back.

On the morning of the race, my friends and I struggled to find the gathering area for the start of the race. There were only one or two arrows pointing in the direction of empty fields and no volunteers whatsoever. We spotted a few participants and we together navigated our way over to the starting point. Only near the start line did we begin to see enough volunteers to ease our nerves.

The start of the race did get delayed by about twenty minutes, no one knows why.

A couple of things went funny during the race too.

For instance: there were volunteers standing at regular intervals with placards indicating the distance that had been covered. The 3 KM sign was held up somewhere near the 1.5 km mark, which caused a few runners (who weren’t using RunKeeper or some other tracking app) to pause in confusion for a few moments.

Another thing which greatly surprised most of us was that the route included running OVER the Chowringhee flyover!

Also, perhaps because of sponsorship issues, there were no energy drinks being handed out to runners at regular intervals but only bottles of water. I wonder how the full marathon guys coped with this and how they replenished themselves during the run.

I must commend Kolkata Police, though. They were pretty much on the job and ensured that the runners did not have to encounter any traffic en route. Well done KP!

At the finish line, apart from the large ‘FINISH’ stand, there was little else waiting for us. I had to ask around for where to head next. No cheering volunteers or bottles of water. You were lucky if you had picked up a bottle of water towards the end of your run. Thankfully, at least a medical tent had been set up to attend to runners who might need help.

We had been told at the time of registration itself that there were no medals for finishers, so we were ready to not be disappointed. However, we were also told that post the run, we would be given a “refreshment kit”. I had assumed it would be a fruit (banana/apple) or a small bottle of fruit juice to help with immediate recovery. Imagine our surprise then, when each of us was given a packet of noodles to take home!

Perhaps I am being extra critical of the event organisers because all the prior runs that I’ve participated in (TCS World 10k Bangalore 2014, Tata Steel 25km Kolkata 2014, Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2015) were all pretty well managed. But that is the reality that we live in: runners in India have now been exposed to better managed running events and it is now up to the organisers of the Kolkata Marathon to step up their game.

Beware the London Marathon

I recently came across a hillarious article in The Telegraph regarding the recently concluded London Marathon.

Here’s an excerpt:

You’ve spent months training for the race. You’ve bought the latest Lycra/running trainers. You’re feeling confident and comfortable; the miles are ticking by nicely. And then a man dressed in a rhino suit plods past you, followed by a chap carrying a fridge on his back.

Humiliating, to say the least.

Read the entire article here.

Correct your running posture

Given how much I love to run, it isn’t surprising how often I end up reading more about improving one’s performance at running. Another aspect to this is to take care and run properly in order to avoid injuries.

Here is an excerpt from another article I wrote for Fitternity.com about how to correct your running posture:

It is simply not enough to be able to run faster and for longer distances. All of your effort will come to naught if your training is cut short because of you sustain an injury because of a bad technique.The manner in which we run affects the bones and muscles of the feet, calves and knees. Thankfully these injuries are preventable if you keep a few pointers in mind the next time you head out for a jog.

When running, do not lean too far ahead. This is easy to do, especially when you are looking down at the path, instead of looking at what’s ahead. Looking down causes the head and shoulder to be inclined and pointing downwards. Instead, you need to shift your gaze up and look at the ground a few feet ahead of you. This will allow you to straighten your back and will make you lean only marginally. The best runners lean forward from the feet, not from the waist.

You can read rest of the article here.

Cheers.