My Story of Running

I turned 45 years recently and regularly run distances ranging from 10 to 21 kms. However, this was not the case till about three years ago, when I never ran more than 3 Kms. My passion towards running developed in the past three years and this is my story of becoming a RUNNER.

Having studied in a boarding school which laid emphasis on physical activity, I was used to running cross-country and playing various team sports in my childhood. I joined my job at an early age of 21 years and since then, running was never my preferred physical activity. Although, I used to run 2 – 3 kms once in a while and do gym/swimming etc to keep myself fit. For around 20 years after joining my job, I never ran more than 5 kms at a stretch. I never believed I could run anything more than that, let alone enjoy it. I always wondered how one could enjoy “Distance Running”.

Three years ago, I met Avdhesh, whom his friends dearly called “The Pied Piper”. He is a marathoner and an avid runner. He has an amazing ability to motivate people. He had seen me running short distances and encouraged me to start running longer.

I had watched Avdhesh and his friends (mostly in their 40s) regularly run long distances. At times 3 – 4 times a week. Their runs used to start at 4 AM or earlier in the day and I always wondered how running could be an enjoyable activity and what motivated these people to voluntarily forgo their morning sleep, definitely not my cup of tea even in the wildest imagination!

However I wasn’t aware what was in store for me! One fine day, after my evening gym activity, I was enjoying a cup of tea with Avdhesh. He said that he was planning for a 10 Km run the next morning and asked me to join him. As usual, I said I couldn’t run that far. He probably sensed that I needed some persuasion to take the plunge.  He used different tactics to make me agree to his offer. He said that my physique was ideally built and that my running style was suited for long distance running blah blah. All to make me feel that I had the ability but didn’t know it. I felt elated to hear such praises. Yet, I couldn’t muster enough confidence to say ‘yes’.  He then said that he’ll run alongside me at my pace and for whatever distance I run. I was running out of reasons to decline his offer when I realised that maybe prediction of Accuweather rain Gods could bail me out of this situation. I said I’ll join him for the run next morning but will drop out if it rains. He said not to worry about the rain and patted my back for my decision. We decided to meet at 5 AM the next morning.

The next morning, I reached rendezvous point sharp at 4.45 AM and was glad to see the drizzle. I thanked the rain gods for giving me a way out of the forthcoming misery. I thought I had a perfect reason to drop out of the run since my friend had told ‘not to worry about the rain’. When my friend came to rendezvous point, he bought a running jacket and gave it to me and told me that Accuweather rain God keep him also in the loop. Also, till then, I didn’t know that people run in rains as well and that there was a gear for it. He must have enjoyed the look on my face to see my last hope of escaping the run getting dashed. Incidentally, on that day, there was another novice (Jamy) like me who was encouraged by Avdhesh to join for 10 Km. Jamy too had reached the start point.

We three started the run at 5 AM and I was still wondering what am I doing here??….this is still my sleeping time!!. I had decided that I’ll stop whenever I felt tired and would tell Avdhesh to carry on. My friend had probably thought of this scenario and had his plans ready. He kept encouraging me from the word go. He showered all praises for my dedication & determination for undertaking my first 10 Km run. He said that this would be an impressive feat for me, if I completed the run. After about 3 Kms, I was getting pretty tired and my body was giving all indications for me to stop. But my friend’s words echoed in my mind and I decided to push my limits and keep running till as far as I could. He also kept giving me some tips such as to keep my step length short, coordinate the movement of my arms and regulate my breadth, which proved quite useful. Besides, Jamy too was running and I thought if he can do it, so can I. I must admit that I did use quite a few expletives for my friend Avdhesh throughout the run for having put me in this situation. He, however, always responded with a smile and kept motivating me. We finished the run in about 75 minutes. Although it felt like a lot longer. It was a great feeling to know that I had run 10 Km. My friend was equally ecstatic and soon posted my achievement in the Runners whatsapp group. Soon, I started receiving all praises.

That first run 10 Km run proved to be a turning point for me. I was now confident of running 10 Km without stopping. I realised that there was a pace at which I could run such distances without losing my breadth. Not long after, I participated in an organised running event and ran 10 Km. I thus won my first medal (for completing the run) in an organised event and proudly displayed it in my room. Hereafter, the focus shifted from completing the run to improving timings. I started running 10 Km regularly. I was now part of the Runners Group (called MAMILs), whom I always envied. I looked forward to those early morning runs. I regularly participated in organised running events and ran 10 Kms. Over the next few weeks, I had slowly increased my distance from 10 to 18 Kms.  The feeling after completing a 10 or 15 Km run was amazing. Throughout the day, I felt a sense of achievement and satisfaction. MAMILs have a whatsapp group, where the participants posted their daily activities (running, cycling, golfing, etc). I also started posting my running stats. The group members always appreciated these efforts and patted my back. Those words of appreciation made me better my performance, every time I put on my running shoes.

My friend nudged me to go for 21 Km in the next event. I was not confident, since I had not run that distance ever. He used his usual tactics to convince me by saying that one should not run more than 17-18 Km in practice before a half marathon and that my preparations were ideal. While I was still contemplating, he went and registered my name for 21 Km. On race day, he stayed with me throughout the run, constantly motivating and guiding me. I managed to finish in 2 hours and 20 minutes. That was again an amazing feeling. So! within three months of meeting him, I ran my first 10 km run and also my first 21 kms and now a regular 10 – 21 km runner. And now I know why my friend is called “The Pied Piper”.

I moved on transfer to a different station after a few months. My passion for running continued. I now regularly run 10 Kms and above distances. I hope to run a full marathon someday soon. All thanks to my friend Avdhesh who had made me realise my abilities and lit the spark for running in me. MAMILs group is still very active and is a big source of inspiration for me. Running is now my passion and I enjoy it thoroughly.

In the end, I would like to share some important lessons that I learnt during my journey of becoming a runner, and which keep me passionate towards running:-

  • Don’t compare your performance with someone else’s. If you are running, then you are a runner. Be proud of that.
  • I had once read a quote in a gym. “Good physique cannot be inherited, borrowed, bought or stolen. One has to acquire it by one’s hard work, dedication & discipline”. The same is true for running. If you have the ability to run long distance, it is due to your hard work.
  • A person can derive happiness from various facets of life. Success in career, wealth, family etc. However, good health is a different happiness vertical. You either have it or don’t. No other factor can compensate for good health. The fact that a person can run long distance at such age, is a reasonable assurance that he/she will lead a relatively healthy old age. That should be a big motivation for all of us.

– Ravinder Joshi

Running Injuries & Strength Training

Running has become one of the most popular ways to improve and maintain fitness, and to stay in shape. Although running is a great way to stay active, many runners have to deal with an injury at some point.

More than 80 percent of running injuries are caused by repetitive stress, but sudden injuries like a sprained ankle or a torn muscle can happen, too.

If you’re like many runners, you may be logging hundreds of kms per year. The repetitive impact of all those foot strikes can take a toll on your muscles, joints, and connective tissue.

According to a 2020 review of studies, the knees, legs, and feet are the most common injury areas for runners. The review breaks down the location-specific incidence of running injuries as follows:

Knees: 7.2 to 50 percent
Lower leg: 9.0 to 32.2 percent
Upper leg: 3.4 to 38.1 percent
Foot: 5.7 to 39.3 percent
Ankles: 3.9 to 16.6 percent
Hips, pelvis, or groin: 3.3 to 11.5 percent
Lower back: 5.3 to 19.1 percent


Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common injuries that affect runners. And also the stretches, foam rolling exercises and strengthen exercises that one should be doing to prevent them.

Ser No

Info / Action

Feet & Ankle

Lower Leg

Knees

Upper Legs

Hips, Groin & Glutes

Lower Back

Remarks

1.

Injuries

Plantar Fasciitis

Achilles Tendonitis

Runners Knee / Patellofemoral knee pain

Quad strain

Bursitis

Lower back spasm

 

Stress fracture of the foot

Shin Splints

Patellar tendonitis

Middle third hamstring strain

Hip flexor tendonitis

Discogenic back pain or Sciatica

 

Morton’s Neuroma

Calf Sprain

Iliotibial Band Impingement / IT syndrome

Proximal hamstring strain / Pain in the Butt

* Stress fracture of the hip & pelvis

Arthritis of the spine

* Common among first time marathoners

Ankle / Peroneal Tendonitis

Arthritis

Sports Hernia / adductor sprain / groin tear

 

Ankle Sprain

Osteitis pubis

 

Strained Glute

 

Piriformis syndrome

 

2.

Stretches

Straight leg

Straight leg

ITB / TFL

Hip flexor

Piriformis

Lying glutes

 

Quad

 

Kneeling hip flexor

Sitting groin

 

Standing hamstring

 

Bent leg calf

Bent leg calf

Knee circles

Lying glute

Standing groin

 

Lying glute

 

Pigeon

 

3.

Foam Roller

Calf

Calf

Quad

Quad

Glute

Hamstring rolls

 

Shin

ITB

 

4.

Strength Exercise

Feet eversion with a resistance band

Single leg standing dumbbell calf raise

Mountain climbers

Straight leg raise

Mountain climber

Front / side planks

 

Eccentric calf raise

Eccentric calf raise

Leg extensions

Reverse lunges with reach back

Plyometric jump squats

Back extensions

 

Plyometric jump squats

Plyometric lunges

Plyometric jump squats

Squats

Reverse lunges with reach back

Swiss ball pikes

 

Lunges

Single leg bent knee calf raise

Walking lunges (with or w/o dumbbells)

Lunges

Front / side planks

Reverse hip raises

 

Zigzag running

Farmers walk on toes

Front / side planks

Plyometric lunges

Swiss ball pikes

Hip raises

 

Hip raises

Hip raise

Squats

Cobra

 

Reverse hip raise

Reverse hip raise

Multi directional squats

 

Low side-to-side lunges

Walking lunges (with or w/o dumbbells)

Low side-to-side lunges

 

Standing Resistance band hip abductions

Front / side planks

Diagonal lunges

 

Lateral band walk

Dumbbell step ups

Skaters

 

Prisoner squats

Gluteal bridges

 

Overhead dumbbell squats

Chair squats

 

Dumbbell lunges

Burpees

 
   

Dumbbell split squats

 

Standing resistance band hip abductions

 

Lateral band walks

 

Fire hydrant in-outs

 

Prevention for majority of injuries:-

  • Strengthen your running kinetic chain by doing strength trg min twice a week.
  • Use foam roller daily.
  • Shorter stride and quicker cadence, aim for 170 – 180 foot strikes per minute so as to prevent heel strike.
  • Choose foot wear wisely, shoes should be snug while allowing your toe some wiggle room.
  • Follow the 10 percent rule : Don’t increase your mileage by more than 10 percent each week.
  • Make sure you get enough calcium and Vitamin D daily.
  • Add some hilly routes and speed workouts to your runs.
  • Warm up with a km or two of easy running before a speed workout or race.
  • Strengthen your pelvis area.

Tata Mumbai Marathon 2020

It’s that time of the year when India’s best Tata Mumbai Marathon takes place and runners from all across the world converge to the financial capital of India. It’s also the culmination of their months of running training and hoping for their best performance..with the only likely spoiler being humid Mumbai weather in the back of the mind!
Well! i too landed in Mumbai after months of training and moving from places of extreme cold to normal cold and then to Mumbais surprising pleasant weather on the night of 17 Jan 20….and i saw Mumbaikers wearing sweaters & jackets!!…that was a blessing for me as i was again fearing humid conditions. Long and tiring journey demanded that i should take a good rest that night however that wasn’t going to be the case and i woke up next day at my usual waking up time of 0530h after a troubling night and sleep of just few hours!

That day was spent on collecting bib from a senior of mine who had reached Mumbai few days back and his wife Mrs Angela Pant was getting acclimatised with the weather and route as she was attempting her first 42k this year. I met the couple and was really impressed by her determination and level of preparation in spite of being a full time mother of two daughters and a four leg member in the family. Just a year back only she had started serious running and attempted her maiden 21km. We discussed some running tips and decided the place and time for next days RV for reaching starting point.
Thereafter i started off to meet an old school mate of mine in Juhu whom i hadn’t met since school days!!..and it was worth the journey across the other end of the city. Being childhood friends i took the liberty of putting her in a bit of an uncomfortable situation by requesting to only make pasta for me!!…well! she had no other choice but to serve me that only but she also managed to force her own hospitality designs by ending with an extremely tasty and sumptuous gajar ka halwa and who could resist that….and so i took good size serving…twice!!
Next in the days agenda was meeting old course mates from training days of Pune. In the evening went to the picturesque US Club and met my great bum-chums of Navy…recollected good old training days of Pune, sleepless nights of walking in the jungles with good loads on back, rolling in concrete and sharing those laughter, sleeping in classes after gruelling morning drill and PT, trying to eat 5/6 slices of bread in one go and just so many other exciting adventures. Among these course mates, two of them were trying 42k and 21k for the best time. We wished luck to each other and broke off early at 08:30 pm hoping to get some good rest before next days run.

with good old friends!

It’s 19th Jan 2020 – alarm goes off at 02:30am and i am up after just 3 hours of sleep, walk to the other room to wake up a junior of mine who was also running today, had some lemon water, ate a banana, bread with jam and did routine things to get ready for the D-day. I was ready by 03:45 but having that nagging thought that maybe my stomach is still not fully clear and i should go again!!…well! thats one of the biggest fear we all runners have when waking up too early for our long runs especially on the day of such important event.
We all met our RV point, hopped on to a single vehicle and reached CST and wow!!!..what a sight it was!!..so many..i mean so many runners in all different and colourful dresses and shoes, walking up to the holding area with so much excitement, discussing their running and hydration strategies, tying up signals for going fast or slow, checking their gear for all the essentials required during the run and just about doing every check possible that is done before the launch of a satellite into deep unknown space! The energy is so contagious that you get goose bumps and are so refreshed and ready for the next few long and testing hours.
Run started at exactly 05:15am.I was in A corol and had the good luck of seeing and running with some of the best runners for the initial few hundred meters as i realised that its ok and advisable to run at my own pre-defined pace and not to become Kipchoge initially only otherwise by 5km only i will start walking! I controlled myself and reduced pace to my comfortable pace and heart rate level. My aim for this run was applying few techniques of Chi running like crown up, elbows behind and controlled heart rate and try to see if i can finish the run between 04:15-04:25 hours. At around 13 kms i met a senior of mine who was aiming for a timing of under 5 hours but at that time was running at a pace of under 6 min to a km which was unusually high for him. I told him so and requested him to check his heart rate which was also unusually high. Well! he continued to run at that pace as he was by that time focussing on his pre-defined cadence. I tried to run with him for few meters but decided that he was running fast for my set pace and let him go ahead….every runner has a strategy and he should stick with that plan and mine was to stick to my HR and comfortable pace of under 6 min. I reached the Worli sea link and it’s always so beautiful to see it just before the sun rise, there were so many runners taking a break there and clicking selfies and requesting others to take snaps from all possible angles…i also clicked a selfie, it’s so irresistible with Mumbais morning sky line in the background!
21k completed just after sea link and thereafter i noticed the difference between prepared and not-so prepared runners with their posture and pace! I tried to maintain my heart rate and pace and had decided that will try to increase the pace only after 34/35km mark and that too if i feel that my body has the reserves to do it. However controlling once excitement and pace becomes difficult at times in such an electrifying atmosphere and i realised its effect when i noticed my heart rate at 165 at 30km mark. I walked for few meters, got it down, ran but it was again back at 165 so i walked again and a little bit more this time and started only once it dropped below 145.
The distance to the much fearful Peddar road climb was done smoothly and i decided to climb it by using chi running technique of upswing arm like giving a upper cut, did that one km in 6:25km in a minute and thereafter could feel that my body has enough energy and form for the last 5 kms at a much better and faster pace. I again did a recheck of my form, checked my heart rate and headed off towards the finish line. This entire stretch was full of Mumbaikers who were all out for support in terms of loud cheering, cool sponges, ice packs,water, fresh juices, oranges, biscuits, chocolates etc and they just added up to my excitement of finishing strong. I completed the run in 4:15 hours, my personal best and felt great.

with my running buddies!

Post run i did lot of walking around in the finish area, stretching, drank lot of water and ate post run snacks given by the organisers. I feel great and happy to see a successful culmination of months of training. Now I plan to focus on learning chi running seriously with no planned event marathon for the year as of now!
Here are the few DOs and DONTs that i learned from the run and would want to share them with other interested/seasoned runners for their benefit.
DOs
-running on hills was of great help and a must for improvement.
-stuck to my running training programme and never missed the long and slow distance runs on sundays.
-had a mix of intervals,tempos,hills,long and recovery runs.
-during the run, maint slow pace initially and didn’t rush into the pace with fellow runners.
-started drinking one mouthfull of water from the first hydration point only.
-started eating dates with salt inside after every 4/5 kms.
-took half of gel after every 8 kms.
-ate lots of cut bananas and orange slices, especially after 21k
-slowed down considerably only twice when my HR went above 160.
-maint form of crown up with no slouchness and good rear ealbow swing plus proper breathing technique inbetween.
-ran slow and decreased my step length once i felt some sort of pain in the knee or shins
-used proper technique of running uphill and as learnt in Chi running with upper cut.
-pour water on shoulders and head once crossed 10k to cool down the body.
-met a senior enroute but didn’t overtake him because my HR was bit high and he was faster for my set pace
-ran the entire route at an almost constant pace.
DONTs
-sleep late or less the previous 2/3 nights.
-follow others.
-inadequate rest for the next 2/3 days.
-less time between flights or trains while travelling / connecting.
-forget eating quality food versus junk food.


I would like to end this long article by saying that enjoy your run…and enjoy even more post run with your loved ones and people who inspired you. Every runners run is planned and executed differently but the aim has to be enjoyment and celebration of life and health. Happy running to everyone.

Big Sur International Marathon – a bucket list run!

…a dream!

I am a runner and a traveller and if could mix both of them then it’s a win-win situation for me!

It was some time in July 2018 that I was surfing the net for the most beautiful marathons in world and most of them had Big Sur Marathon in the top three! Runner’s World’s Bart Yasso has called it the “Must do in your lifetime” marathon. The Big Sur International Marathon is a point-to-point course run on scenic CA Highway 1 from Big Sur to Carmel in USA. It is crazy seeing the ocean from the perspective of a runner. The course has unparalleled views, and many participants describe it as magical. It is also a very challenging course, and the elevation gains are steep. The centerpiece of the course is the iconic Bixby Bridge, located at the halfway point of the race, where runners are greeted by a tuxedo-ed musician playing a Yamaha Baby Grand Piano. Also there are the Taiko drummers from Japan who motivate runners on the half way point as they approach the highest point of the run.

The Big Sur is a bucket list event for many reasons, including the exclusivity of it. Since not everyone can run it, if you get chosen, you are in a select few. Many people have tried for years and still not have been picked….and in that aspect I was surely lucky as I got through in the first try only.

Training for Hills

I started training for this tough run just after completing the Mumbai Marathon in end Jan 19 and had around 3 months to prepare. I am from Pune and there are few good hill stretches around the place where I live and so most of my runs were focussed on those routes and I was lucky to have few runners giving me company on those tough uphill runs. I used to run 4 times a week with at least 2 uphill runs and one interval run which was also done on bit upslope only. Most of the evenings were dedicated for strength training as I realised the difficulty level of the run and likely stress on the muscles, especially during sudden elevations for which Big Sur is famous for!!

Running the Big Sur

I reached Monterey 5 days before the run, got used to the change in temperature and general weather, and a day before went on drive till the start point. It was a great drive and I must have stopped like 20 times en route to admire the beauty of ocean and tall Red woods. At the same time I got bit nervous seeing the elevation as I was driving back and realised that I have to run on the very same road!!..especially the steep climb to Hurricane Point which is the highest point of the run.

Well! here comes the D- Day….28 Apr 19. I woke up early and was ready to take the bus ride from Monterey to the Start Point at 04:00 am which sounded extremely early for a 6:45 am start. As the bus wove it’s way along the coast I understood why we left so early. By the time we got to the start line it was 6:00 am! I had just enough time to hit up a porta potty before getting into my corral.

The race starts off the in the woods and it’s pretty down hill. It was hard not to get too carried away. Once the ocean came into view it was hard to contain my excitement! We passed a lighthouse that looked like it was on an island in the distance and my picture taking started.

At 16 kms I started the three kms climb to Hurricane Point. Those three kms may be the toughest I’ve ever ran. With a stiff headwind and a steep uphill grade, Hurricane Point is the stuff of nightmares. As I climbed I could hear the Taiko drummers in the distance encouraging me to keep going. Also the fact that I had trained hard specially for this climb, I made it a point not to walk and this stretch was totally dedicated to my running group back in Pune and all those temple hill runs….but somehow I felt i could have trained better!!!… those three kms were by far my slowest and most difficult.When I got to the top the view made it all worth it. I smiled and cried at the same time.

The next few kms were down hill and I was just finding a groove when I heard the piano music from the Bixby Bridge, he was playing something very sweet and the whole thing felt so surreal. I had to force myself to stop to take photos and videos of the bridge and coastline. This was the exact reason I came to Big Sur and I wanted to take it all in. I had to pinch myself at the beautiful views! It’s hard to explain and pictures just don’t do justice, you have to experience this one for yourself.

…view from the Hurricane Point with Bixby Bridge in the far distance

Then came the “rolling hills” and for which I thought i was pretty prepared due to my numerous uphill runs in Pune but these hills put my hills to shame and surely no one warned me that the final 10k will be the toughest stretch! I forgot the number of uphills that I ran till the finish line.

At 38/39 km I snagged some strawberries and tried to focus on the remaining km. Just as I was getting comfortable with the idea of reaching 42 km mark, I saw a steep upslope of around 500m at 41 km!!…and I thought what a cruel joke!!…..a steep upslope now?? Well! , I stopped and had a beer there!

Finally I could hear the finish line before I saw it and was thrilled to finally be there. I ran the last 200m pretty fast…crossed the finish line with my Indian name pronounced in such a way that I was wondering who is this second guy finishing the run with me?!! Immediately after crossing the line I was given a medal which was made of some kind of ceramic with the iconic Big Sur lettering…..really a well deserved medal after such a long tiring day!!

Highlights of the run

Personally it was an achievement for me as I didn’t walk on any of the upslopes, pulled few fellow runners and kept on speaking to myself with motivational words like….”come on, lets see what you have got”….and ” you are trained for such upslopes” and they really helped me a lot. Biggest achievement was running all the way to Hurricane Point ….didn’t walk even for a metre!!

I started hydrating and taking energy gels/dates very early in the run and never felt even slightly dehydrated. I also ate whatever was offered en route at aid stations though in small quantities only.

Post run I stretched a lot, walked around 2 km, hydrated and ate properly, applied ice packs, took bath in cold water and rested properly for few hours. As a result of this proper cooling down I was quite fit and able to go out walking for a lovely dinner.

One interesting thing I noticed in this run. The aid stations aside from having water and Gatorade also had a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) station at the end where you could refill your water bottle. This is the first time I’ve ever seen that at a race and I think it’s a great idea.

Big Sur is surely the most beautiful marathons in the world. It is definitely challenging with its steep elevation and rolling hills but I would recommend this run to be a part of your bucket list if you are a runner and a traveller too! Go for it anytime you get a chance….this is what running is all about!

Iconic Bixby Bridge

Hydration

Running and dehydration often go hand in hand as people are only designed to deal with heat or limited water for a certain period of time. Water makes up 60 per cent of your total body weight and performs many crucial functions, including regulating body temperature; cushioning and lubricating joints; and maintaining blood volume and pressure. Also water forms 92 percent of blood plasma which helps transport nutrients to muscles and remove waste products such as lactic acid and carbon dioxide from them.

Proper hydration before, during and after a run is imperative to meeting your goals. When dehydrated, your body won’t effectively transfer heat. When your body fails to transfer heat, your heart rate increases, which negatively affects your performance and your body. This is especially dangerous when running in hot weather. Your running performance deteriorates when you are dehydrated, so it is crucial to drink throughout the day and at regular intervals.

Dehydration occurs when the loss of body fluids, usually through sweating, exceeds the amount taken in. Once you’ve reached the point of feeling thirsty, dehydration has already begun. If you don’t counteract this by drinking water, the body will continue to provide signs that it is running low on fluids. Early signs of dehydration are feeling thirsty, dry mouth and decrease in energy. More serious symptoms of dehydration include cramps, headaches, nausea and dark urine with less volume (note that vitamins like B12 can cause urine to be bright yellow, which may not indicate dehydration) and decrease in your running performance.

Before a run – It’s good to hydrate at least 30 minutes prior to running, but 60 to 90 minutes in advance is best. Drink 100 to 150 ml if hydrating 30 minutes before your run. However, like I said, try to consume at least 500 ml one hour before your run as this allows time for any excess fluid to be excreted from your body and avoid excess fluid sloshing about in your stomach while you are running. If you are fully hydrated and the weather is not too hot, you may be able to leave your water bottle at home for runs of less than 40-45 minutes. Take three or four small sips from your water bottle every 10-15 minutes or more frequently in hotter weather. Avoid popular bottled sports drinks, as they often contain artificial ingredients or dyes. My best bet is usually a glass of warm water with lemon plus honey.

If you plan to run longer distances—16 kms or more—work on proper hydration a 2/3 days prior to your race, rather than focusing on the day of the race. Your urine should be the color of diluted lemonade for the few days leading up to the race, and you should be urinating often. Eliminate alcohol consumption, as this is counterproductive to your goal of running in a perfectly hydrated body.

During the run – Some experts and even runners believe one should abstain from water during a run, but several studies show that runners fare better when properly hydrated…and I am totally convinced with it especially while running in the hot weather of North India. Dehydration during a run can cause cramping. However, in order to avoid the sloshy stomach effect, limit the amount you drink during your run.

Every 20 to 30 minutes during your run, consuming 100 to 150 ml of water should suffice to prevent dehydration. However, the amount of water you’ll need also depends on the length of your run, the temperature and how much you perspire. If you’re a heavy sweater, increase your consumption to 150 to 200 ml per 20 to 30 minutes. When you sweat, your body loses salt, or electrolytes. Gatorade or some other sports drink, even energy gels, should cater for long runs. On longer runs, carry two or three packets. Also consider using lemon water, which adds natural sugars and carbohydrates that better fuel your run and increase endurance. Lemon water also contains several essential electrolytes, including potassium, which helps balance the body’s fluids and electrolytes. Be sure to choose a lightweight, hand-held water bottle and preferably with a comfortable, breathable grip. That will get you through about 1 hour and 30 minutes of running in mild weather. If you’re running a longer race, simply fill it up at your pre-designated water stations. I usually keep at one central place and plan my run accordingly around it so that I am able to refill my water bottle after 12-14 kms.

After the run – Once your long run is finished, the first order of business is to get a recovery drink into your system. Ideally this happens within 15 minutes of finishing your run. You are looking for something with a ratio of carbs to protein in the 4:1 range. Try drinking some chocolate drinks etc providing that ratio. You can also try drinking cold coconut water, which contains natural sugars and high levels of potassium. Drink slowly and often. If you are taking part in an organised running event, then drink the energy or electrolyte drinks etc being provided by them and also take 1/2 bottles of water and walk around as you cool down. Also, if your urine is dark yellow after your run, you need to keep rehydrating. It should be a light lemonade color.

Over hydration – The flip-side to dehydration is overhydration, or hyponatremia. This is a fairly rare condition that mainly affects endurance athletes such as marathon runners, ultrarunners and triathletes.

In hyponatremia, sodium levels in the blood become so diluted that cell function becomes impaired. In very extreme cases, hyponatremia may cause coma and even death. The symptoms of hyponatremia are similar to dehydration: fatigue, headache and nausea, causing some runners to mistakenly drink more water and exacerbate the issue.

Preventing overhydration: The key to preventing overhydration is to monitor how much you drink.

  • Don’t overdrink—Stick to drinking about 250 ml about every 20 minutes and try not to drink more than you sweat. Weight gain during a run is a telltale sign that you’re drinking too much.
  • Add salt—Keep your salt levels balanced by occasionally drinking a sports drink with electrolytes instead of plain water and/or eating a salty snack or just plain salt. You can also take salt tablets.

Doublecheck your water intake by weighing yourself before and after running: You should weigh about the same. If you have lost few kgs, then you’re probably not drinking enough water. For every kg lost, drink a little bit more than a litre and plan to increase your fluid intake the next time you run. Know that it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain your body weight during a long, hard run, especially on a hot day, so don’t be surprised if you weigh less.

Avoiding Injury

The repetitive nature of running, and the huge impact of the forces placed upon the body, means that the runners are prone to a range of injuries. Most result from lack of preparation, poor technique or overtraining. You can reduce your risk significantly by looking after your body.

Strength Training

Running does a great job of developing certain muscles – calves, hamstrings and quads for example. But others – including glutes, hips and core don’t see a lot of action yet are super important to stability. Then there’s your upper body which is mostly just along for the ride, but your arm swing balances your leg swing and your upper back and shoulder muscles help out with stability. So you might have five-star quads, three-star glutes and one star shoulders.


Running is great but it can create muscle imbalances or accentuate ones you already have. If you have a weak left hip abductor, for example, your left knee may come under extra strain when you run and over time may get injured. Muscular imbalance is one of the big reasons runners get injured but it is easily corrected by building your whole body with strength training and also using a foam roller every day over your whole body to loosen up tight spots and keeping all your muscles supple.

Running involves feet, lower legs, knees, thighs, hips, lower back, core, arms and shoulders and when one of them isn’t working properly, the repercussions can be felt all the way in the body. One weak part forces all the others to work harder and under too much stress bad things happen. Weakness isn’t just defined by physical strength; flaws in flexibility causes trouble too. When you strengthen all the body parts and maintain good flexibility from top to bottom, you’ll run stronger and stay injury-free. As your running becomes more advanced, your strength is increasingly important for getting the best out of your training and your performance.

I recommend at least one and preferably two dedicated strength sessions per week.

Running Form


Most of us are never taught how to run; we just do it. So why is running form / technique important?

The biggest reason why you should pay attention to running form and technique is a simple one: so you can be a runner for many more years.
If you run in a way that hurts your body, you won’t be able to keep running very long. Focusing on form and technique can help you stay injury-free. Also, improving your form can help you become a more efficient runner, which allows you to go farther and faster with less effort.

Good form is important for runners. Bad form can lead to poor running technique and a major cause of injury as it places increased stress on your back, hips, knees, ankles and feet.

One of the best articles that I read on running injury free was about Chi running. Chi running is designed to address the two vital reasons for focusing on form: injury prevention and energy efficiency. It works because it reduces the impact on your joints and allows your leg muscles to work less when you run. It focuses on posture, leg swing, the position of the pelvis and a forward lean. It’s not an out-of-the-world theory–it’s based on the physics of body mechanics.

And here are the basics of Chi running :-

  • Run tall – Assume the tall posture. Use the image of a column – always straight. Connect the dots: shoulders, hips, ankles.
  • Lean forward – Lean from your ankles, with your whole body as one tall column. Feel yourself falling forward. Be sure your feet strike below your knees.
  • Land on the mid foot – Swing your legs to the rear. Bend your knees and let your heels float up behind you. Remember, soft foot strike, loose ankles, don’t push off with your toes. Run quietly and lightly.
  • Run from your core – Loosen your hips and instead use your core muscles. Keep your cadence around 170 spm (180 for short runners).
  • Relax – Swing your elbows to the rear, keeping them bent at a constant right angle. Don’t cross your centerline with your hands. Relax your hands, as if you’re holding a butterfly. Keep your shoulders low and relaxed. Use your arm swing to set your cadence.

And that’s it….you are on way to become a better and an efficient runner!

Adequate warm up and stretching

The idea or thought of warming up before a run is well known but how many of us actually do it? Majority of us simply get out from our homes, shake a little bit here-and-there…and we are on the road!… we actually do lip service to warm up!

Warming up means preparing our body with dynamic stretches that will help reduce muscle friction, while static stretches will allow muscles to transit back to their normal state after a run.

A proper warm up should start gently and increase in intensity over a 10-15 minute period. Spend a few minutes walking or jogging slowly, mimicking the type of arm and leg movements that you will perform during your run but with a decreased range of motion. Gradually increase your pace during this exercise until you reach typical running speed.

It is a good idea to perform dynamic stretches before you start your race – they have proven to increase muscle power output more than static stretches. Once you have increased your heart rate and muscle temperature with the warm up jog, perform some running specific dynamic stretches.

Cooling down at the end of every run is a must, just like warming up. When you finished your run, just keep moving and gradually reduce the speed of your movements, ending up with a slow jog or walk, rather than suddenly coming to a stop. Best way is to grab a bottle of water and just walk / run backwards and side ways and keep hydrating yourself.

Also add some static stretches into your cool down routine. During your run, specifically hard runs, muscles get tightened up due to the build up of lactic acid caused by an increase in intensity and load static stretches help muscles return to their pre-run state.

Rest days and Cross training

Making adequate time for rest in your training programme is as important as the running itself but sadly majority of us are unable to do it because of the fear of losing out on our training rhythm and high preparedness levels. I have seen runners running 6 or 7 times a week with all runs at high intensity levels but sadly enough majority of them end up with injuries and are then bed ridden and away from their most loved activity of running for few weeks/months.

You should never run every day, as the repetitive motion of running places physical stress upon the body which leads to minor tissue damages. Run as per your physical fitness levels and build up gradually.

Rest days allow your body to recover and repair itself; without them the risk of injury is increased. Non-running activities such as cycling, swimming, walking and yoga also allow your body to recover from the stress of running. Muscles that become tight or imbalanced through insufficient recovery time will not function as well as required on a run which puts extra stress on your body. Regular stretching and mobility exercises help maintain flexibility. Massage will also reduce muscle tightness and can even identify and correct areas of imbalance before they lead to injury.

Running socks

Socks – one of the most critical pieces for running and weighing only few grams and also the fact that most of us buy it without thinking too much about them… just like the shoes we buy which look greaaat!

Your choice of running socks can be the difference between a comfortable, pain-free run and a painful one. Wearing the wrong type of socks can lead to foot blisters, chafing, corns and other issues. Some runners run in the wrong socks for years before they realize how much better their feet could feel in the right type of socks.

A good pair of running socks should be made of moisture-wicking fabrics, such as polyester, acrylic or even a wool and nylon blend. When choosing socks for running, the most important factor to consider is the material. You want to stay away from 100 percent cotton socks. Once cotton gets wet, it stays wet. When your feet sweat or you step in a puddle, the moisture won’t get wicked away. Wearing cotton socks in the winter will make your feet feel cold and clammy. In the summer, sweaty feet will increase your risk of blisters. The best running socks are ones that are made from synthetic materials such as polyester and acrylic because these fibers wick moisture away from the surface of your skin. You may be familiar with these fabrics for technical running shirts, and they work great on your feet as well. Look for a breathable, anti-chafing material for all of your running clothes.

A correct fitting sock should do three things: protect your feet, be comfortable and wick away moisture. Resist the urge to just buy a pair of “athletic socks.” Look for a pair designed specifically for running, even if they’re on the expensive side.

In comparison to regular socks, running socks are built with cushioning in mind, which is especially important when you’re pounding the pavement day after day. A good pair of running socks will also have a tight feel around the mid-foot and heel, but plenty of room for your toes. Running socks also come in various heights, from no-show to knee-highs. If you prefer no-show socks, just make sure that they have a tab that goes above your running shoe and over your Achilles, so your shoe isn’t digging into or irritating your skin.

Compression socks

Compression socks for runners are a super strong elastic sock, typically worn up to the knee. They compress veins on the surface of your leg, as well as arteries and muscles, so that blood is circulated through your legs through smaller circulatory channels. Blood gets back to your heart faster, making it less likely to pool into your feet.

Most brands apply graduated compression, meaning they are tighter around the ankle, and less so at the knee, which makes them tricky to put on. Since leg sizes vary, you can find compression socks to match your foot and calf size. Make sure they aren’t too tight – they shouldn’t feel like a tourniquet!

For athletes, compression socks are designed to reduce swelling, muscle soreness, and muscle fatigue experienced post exercise.

According to one study, most compression sock manufactures claim they aid athletic performance by improving circulation and blood flow, limiting exercise induced peripheral edema of the lower extremity, supplying muscles with more oxygen, enhancing lactic acid removal, or decreased muscle soreness during and post exercise.

The perceived benefit here is that if you can circulate blood faster back to your heart, you can regenerate blood quicker to your legs.

There is a lot of debate on whether or not compression socks for runners perform as advertised. Some runners love them, while some find no benefit at all.

The study I read looked at distance runners who wore them during a 2 hr run, and then again 8 hours post run. Their findings indicated that there was not a statistically relevant benefit from wearing compression socks.

My experience

I have worn my compression socks on many long runs, marathons and post runs also. In my experience, my legs felt better than they normally would after each activity. I felt less sore and more “recovered.” It was as if 1,000 little fingers were giving me a calf massage.

While my experience is hardly conclusive evidence that compression socks work, there’s no denying that these things are comfortable to wear.

Should you try ? – If you have a specific goal in mind for your next race, or are especially sore going into it, you may want to pick up a pair. Can’t hurt, right? Try wearing them after every run and see how you feel.

Running shoes and gait analysis

Almost all of us tend to search the net or visit a sports store and buy the shoes that looks or feels good!…and then after few weeks or months of running we start complaining of few strange problems in knees/ankle/hips and other body joints.

Well! the fault may be with your shoes. It is strongly advised that one must visit a sports store having gait analysis facility, get his analysis done and then buy the shoes as per the actual shoe size/width/pronation/toe length and other parameters.

A gait analysis might look like an overkill for a routine or even a seasoned runner but I strongly recommend that one must get it done and thereafter buy the running shoes.

I got my gait analysis done at the age of 42 and after having run few half marathon and first full marathon. Analysis showed that I was wearing a size smaller, tight width and mostly wrong pronation shoes…in fact first half marathon that I did was in normal walking shoes but they were so good looking! And I also came to know the cause of frequent blisters, toe nail peeling off a few times, ankle and knee related problems.

I changed all my shoes, got a size bigger and wider and as per the pronation and since then I have never experienced any of those old problems.

Obesity: Get over with it guys

Running is not my cup of tea.

·              I have never been a good long distance runner.

·              I have heavy bones.

·              How do I burn my muscles (It’s all muscles..).

·              I have a perpetual knee problem.

·              Weight catches up with age.

·              This weighing machine is faulty.

·              Please reduce 3-4 kilos for my shoes & clothes.

·              It is hereditary.

·              My metabolism is slow.

·              Sportsmen do tend to gain weight.

·              …When my weight went beyond these excuses, I decided that now it is time to do something. And that ‘something’ took another year to be decided. Finally, enlightenment dawned upon me and I decided to seek professional help. My first professional help came from my boss, who had undergone a weight reduction program. He had sought help from a dietician, who was highly touted in the obesity groups for ‘quick fixes’ before the company yearly medicals. Every morning, after cracking a joke on my shirt button, which was ever eager to pop out, he asked me “Did you go to the dietician?”. And after digesting the humiliation, my answer used to be “No sir, will go today”, and that was the end of it. One fine day, just to please my boss, I went and met the dietician.

·              A lady with a no nonsense attitude, she told me point blank that lot of persons come to her for “miracles” before their medicals are due. ‘Was I one of them?’…’No Ma’am, I certainly want to reduce’. ‘Can you religiously follow what will be told to you?’ I replied “Yes Ma’am”. She gave me a hard look and finally the “mantra” was out.. ‘You will have to change your lifestyle’.

·              Number of tests were done and voila!, I was ready for a new lifestyle. The initial day (…will I ever forget them), the diet, the timings and the workouts were excruciatingly painful..more so for my wife, who had to endure my irrational behavior, cook odd meals at odd times and wake me up every morning for my workouts. She stood like Dravid “The Wall” between me and the frustration.

·              I found another motivation in the form of my friend, now popularly known as the “Pied Piper”, who had been like me, underwent a knee surgery, and is now running full marathons, both in India and abroad. He introduced me to a Whatsapp group of avid runners and cyclists. I was obese, I was slow and I was ashamed to post any of my activities in the group. Slowly and sheepishly, I started posting my stats. Encouragement received was phenomenal. Buoyed by the encouragement, I decided to participate in a marathon, and enrolled for a 10 Km run. I puffed and panted, walked half of the route and somehow completed the run. That was the turning point of my life, and I have never looked back since then. With my diet plan, changed lifestyle and new found love for running, I have been able to burn a considerable amount of fat, and continue to do so…. (Did I mention that my wife completed that run 15 mins ahead of me.. by the way, she still does).

·              Whole point of telling the story is that, nothing comes for free. You have to sweat it out. The age old dictum is so true, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war”. However, there is a catch. Overdoing a thing, or doing it unscientifically will keep you busy in nursing your injuries and the result will be a big zero. Your diet and your activities will have to be planned very meticulously. Few words of advice are :-

·               For morbidly obese people, professional help is a must. One must have to accept that he/she is overweight or obese. And, for God’s sake, do not become a google dietician.

·               Correct and timely diet with a good amount of water intake, and a strict fitness regime should do the trick.

·               Must have a pair of good running shoes. We tend to wear any shoes, including unfit ones, and shoes are the last priority in our yearly shopping list. Go in for a gait analysis, if possible, and start wearing the right kind of shoes.

·               Should have a good fitness tracker smart watch. Most of us have it these days, but mostly use it to count the steps. It should be exploited and used as a major motivating factor.

·               Sell off your treadmill to a person who requires it to hang his clothes. At least you won’t. Go out, go to a park, on the road or to a gym. You will feel awesome.

·               Must give adequate rest to the body before two workouts.

·               If injured, and I mean injured (not tired), do not push yourself, or else that will be the end of it.

·               Move out of the glycogen zone to the lactic acid zone (too high funda..). Basically, your workouts should include combination of both aerobic and anaerobic activities.

·               Encourage your entire family for some physical activity. This will help you spending time with your family too.

·               Do join a fitness group. It is a big motivator.

·               Your efforts will plateau sometimes. Do not stop. Fight it out. Remember…consistency is the only key.

·               Your life should not revolve around only fitness. As you start losing weight, your conversation with others will tend to be only on fitness. Avoid this. Let your stats do the talking.

·               Choose your blend of motivators. I had a few in the form of my wife, my boss, the Pied Piper, running group, my shrinking waistline and the body weight.

·              I firmly believe that if I can do it, you too can. You just have to understand the opportunity cost of your excuses. The thoughts penned down are applicable to all, specially to the corporate professionals. Sedentary life, coupled with long working hours and high stress levels is taking the toll. Alarm bells should ring. It has been statistically proved that a healthy lifestyle and the concept of wellness increases productivity, reduces absenteeism and promotes gross organizational happiness.

·              Do not procrastinate. There is no tomorrow. Start feeling good about yourself. Motivate three people with your resolve and actions, and the world will be lot fitter and happier. Happy Running and Weight Loss……

-Shaurique Khan

It’s all in the mind!

IThis is a short story of mine as I moved from being a hesitant 5 kms runner to a long distance runner over the years, especially after crossing 40!
Aug 2003 – Playing football, fighting to take charge of the ball, misbalance myself and fell face down with knees hitting the ground. Diagnosis – ACL tear with meniscus. Adviced for surgery and not to run or play physical contact games.
Jul 2005 – After months of postponing and apprehension, finally get the surgery done, back to normal walking in 2 months. However, lack of confidence and Doctors advice keeps me away from physical activities. Weight continues to increase.
Jul 2009 – Experienced severe back pain while playing lawn tennis, comments from Dr“ Sir, your MRI shows injury in L4/L5. It’s bit serious and I advice you to refrain from running or taking part in any physical contact games henceforth in your life”. Advice taken…we all are basically lazy people!!
Nov 2009 – I am overweight by almost 20 kgs, unable to adjust my shorts or hide the paunch! I joined a running group and tried to run but was out of breath and panting in the initial 500 meters only! Wake up call ”…this is disgraceful, look at your health and physical fitness, you are young but so unfit!!..do something about it…and how can a Dr tell me what I am capable or incapable of?”
Dec 2009 – Mar 2011 – Yoga for back, light food with boiled dinner, no fried items, run/walk five times a week with distance ranging from 5-11 kms, timely sleep, weight decreased from 105 kgs to 84 kgs, MRI shows no trace of injury, back totally healed!
Apr 2011 – Aug 2015 – Continued with my normal running activities, was happy completing 10 kms and sometimes challenging myself with 15/16 kms also! dream of half marathon takes birth!
Aug 2015 – I read an advertisement of registration in Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) for 29 Nov 15, dream re-surface, I find a training schedule and start following it.
Aug – 28 Nov 2015 – Follow training schedule religiously, wakes up anytime from 0230AM to 0430AM depending on the distance to run even in harsh winters of North India, strict diet and core exercise plan with adequate rest in-between.
29 Nov 15 – ADHM, its 0530hr, standing amongst so many enthusiastic and young runners, bit excited and tensed too, can I really do it?..body says ‘NO’…mind says ‘WATCH ME, I’ve trained hard for it’. After close to two hours, I finish my 1st Half Marathon, body did try to give up few times in-between but mind controlled everything.
Jan – Apr 2016 – I ran three more Half Marathons and felt comfortable and confident. Another dream takes birth – run a 42 before turning 42! Decision taken – I register for Hyderabad Full Marathon!
Apr – 27 Aug 2016 –I found a suitable training schedule, followed it religiously, have to wake up very early so as to avoid sun and heat exhaustion of North Indian summers!
28 Aug 2016 – Starting point near Husain Sagar Lake, Hyderabad. It’s 0330 AM, wonderful weather and bit cloudy, great group of people dressed in orange t-shirts, again that feeling of excitement and tension, this time the self doubt is bit more, only 1% of human population have completed 42.2 kms!…can I be one of them?
…..after close to 4 and half hours which involved lot of silent but strong fight between the mind and body, I am standing on the other side of the Finish Point…and my 42nd birthday is still two weeks away!! I am totally amazed and 100% satisfied with my run. Lesson learnt again – mind is stronger than body and no dream is impossible.
Now its been more than 3 years and I love being on runners high , have completed 7 full marathons, (including the energetic TCS New York Marathon in November 2018) and more than 25 half marathons across India, including the most famous Mumbai Marathon.
I believe there should always be some run planned and marked in the calendar so there is a target to train for!…life is always exciting when there are new runs to train with more early morning runs and different exciting routes to discover!…and so the next run on the calendar is Big Sur Marathon in April 19….supposedly the most beautiful marathon in the world!
Few of you might ask why did I start long distance running?…especially my class mates and neighbors who know I was never one of those school team members! I will try to answer this question by giving few major reasons which I realized during my numerous morning runs and also after interacting with other runners.Majority of people start long running due to following reasons:-
o Physical fitness.
o Bucket list.
o Something kick-starts them!
o Just to prove a point to self…or someone!
o Self respect.
Long running is a self discovery journey in itself and there is so much that we long runners learn and I will try to write few of them here.
o Focusing towards a goal.
o Discipline in terms of eating/sleeping habits.
o Commitment by following a strict training schedule under all weather conditions.
o Confidence in your own body and mind.
o Mindfulness in all activities.
o Motivation for others.
o Meeting with other energized fellow runners, few of them above 70 years also and realizing that we should continue to challenge our limits and that there is no age limit for doing that.
Also, few points about certain misunderstandings which at times prevent people from taking on half/full marathon and realizing their dream!
o You don’t have to be a gold medalist to be a long distance runner.
o You can be of any age group and can start anytime.
o You can’t become a long runner over night; one has to follow a disciplined training schedule for 12-20 weeks.
o You don’t have to run every day; 3-4 times a week is good enough.
o You can run and walk too during long runs…and it doesn’t make you a weakling!
o You don’t need expensive running shoes / watches and other accessories.
o You can run even with cold/min cough and in all weather conditions.
Lastly, some important lessons that I have learned from long running. I think there are many similarities between training for a long run and life. Few important ones are:-
o Discipline is the bed rock of a solid foundation.
o Commitment to a training schedule will yield good results and prevent failure on the D-Day.The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.
o A well trained mind can overcome any obstacle.
o In run and so in life, the road and problems ahead seems daunting and impossible but once we get moving and look back…we realize everything is possible.
In the end, the most imp lesson that I have learned is…Running is so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.