Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Last Long Run

December 18, 2011.

My last long run before the Mumbai Marathon in January.

And what a run it was.

We at Hyderabad Runners like running at different places for variety, fun and challenge. Sometimes the routes are flat, sometimes the course goes through some serious inclines that makes the run extremely challenging. Sometimes we run around lakes, sometimes in the middle of town.

This time, we ran at the airport.

Jet-setters will know that Hyderabad boasts of one of the best airports in the country – what is relevant here that it has a fantastic access road with well manicured lawns and shrubs with flowers of vivid colours all along the road. And when the company that runs the airport is hosting the run, they can make you feel like a VIP.

There was a team to welcome us and explain the route. Some of them ran with us too. There were cones kept at regular intervals indicating the distance covered; there were people manning water points and there was a sumptuous breakfast spread waiting for us at the end of the run.

The planned route was 31 kms long with options to turn back at designated intervals for people wishing to run shorter distances.

There were close to 40 runners at the start; we started running at 5.30 am in darkness against the traffic of speeding cars rushing towards the airport to drop off the passengers. The weather was just great – pretty cold while it was dark – cold enough to chill the finger tips as you ran. Soon there was light and since we were running eastwards, we saw this huge red ball of fire rise majestically in the sky and work its way upwards, shrinking in size and changing its color to a dazzling yellow.

I was one of the few who were running the full 31k and was the slowest within that group as well. Ran at a comfortable pace, enjoying the open space, the cool temperature and good music. This would be the last long run before the full Marathon on 15th January and wanted to make the most of it.

Finished the run in 3 hours 25 mins – had recently run a similar distance (alone) a few weeks earlier and that effort had taken me 4 hrs and 10 mins. No doubt the flat surface helped this time but a lot of credit for the increased speed goes to the co-runners who help you improve your performance without you even realizing it.

Though I was completely drained out at the end of the run, the best thing was that the recovery was pretty fast and all through the day I did not feel as tired as the last time.

There is still an untested 11km stretch that is going to test me in Mumbai but even if I have to walk the last few kilometers, I am confident of making it to the finish line.

How long do you think it will take me to finish the 42k? Take a guess and post it in the comments below. We will revisit these comments after my run.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The 30 kilometer milestone

Sunday November 27, 2011, 5.25 am.

Am standing on the road outside my house, dressed in my running gear, my ipod plugged on and my water bottle gripped firmly in my hand.

They are running a 10k around the lake and the Half Marathon in Delhi today so most of the Hyderabad Runners are away and there is no run organized today; I will be on my own without any SAG support, no one running with me, no one to pace me, no one to encourage me.

But that does not bother me; after all, for most of my running life I have been running alone and have survived. The daunting thing about today is that I will be attempting my longest run ever – 30 kms. So, in a way, today’s lone run is a blessing in disguise. There will be no mental pressure to keep up with the group; no pressure on me to know that I am keeping the early finishers waiting for me; I can run at my own pace and in the worst case scenario, if I have to quit at some point, I can simply hail an auto and go back home (I have already done such a thing once and mentioned about it in a previous blog).

I have already mapped the route on gmap-pedometer a day before and know the 15km point where I will turn back. To be on the safer side, I have decided to go further by a few hundred meters to a prominent T junction and then turn back.

I take the first steps and promise that I am not going to give up come what may. I will finish the 30k one step at a time no matter how long it takes. After all, I have done a 25k recently and this should not be too difficult.

I am running after about 10 days so the first few kilometers are really difficult, I am just not able to find my rhythm. There is uneven pressure on each of my legs and I am hobbling along, slowly and painfully. It is still dark and hence I cannot see the cloud cover but am sweating profusely in the first few minutes of the run. In any case, it takes me about half an hour to sort out these things and get into a rhythm after which I am able find my natural flow.

The first ten kilometers or so are all a gradual incline. Gradual enough to take it in your stride; inclined enough to keep you slightly out of breath. I can’t help but remember that this is the same route where, many months ago, my new shoes had given me such pain in my hip that I had not just quit running on that day but had also quickly changed my shoes to a new pair.

After the first 10 km of incline, I get to an isolated stretch of road where the gradient falls quite fast and brings me to more or less the same level as my starting point. There is also a cool breeze blowing that make the run very, very enjoyable. The road is isolated and I take a quick pee break and then run downhill till the end of the road that puts me on to a busy, polluted highway. I keep running, wary of the traffic and the increased noise levels, the good thing being that my turning point is not very far away.

I reach the half way mark in good shape. Have been running with discipline which for me means having the discipline to stop running and start walking every 7-8 minutes and then having the discipline to start running again after exactly one minute of walking. I turn back at the halfway mark, stop at a breakfast joint to buy a bottle of cold water, refill my sipper and start my journey back, mapping out the route mentally. I have an immediate incline to take care of followed by a straight and then the long gradual downhill. With every step I am getting closer to home and am feeling good that I will be able to fool my brain into submission and continue running the full distance.

On the way back, I meet a fellow HR runner who is on his way back home after his workout. He sees me, stops the car and we have a quick 5 second interaction. He shakes my hand, cheers me and says that he is impressed when I tell him that I am doing a 30k. I am quickly on my way again, very happy with this chance encounter.

The way back is uneventful and am thankful that my knees and shins are behaving. I do different things to break the monotony – take some walk breaks longer than a minute and at one place, considerably increase my speed for about 500m or so. Finally I am on my last stretch – the home run. My speed has dropped considerably by now and I am tempted to take more frequent breaks. I am now playing games with my brain; first promising myself to stop when I reach a particular up ahead in the distance but then keep running as long as I can after crossing that point.

Finally, 4 hours and 15 minutes after I took my first step, I am back from where I started. I have done it. I have run 30 kms and this is an important step towards the 42k day that is fast approaching. Tired, but happy, I post on my facebook page as I get into my recovery mode. I reward myself with a smoothie, a large breakfast and also apply lots of ice on my shins, ankle, calf muscles and the knees.

I sleep all day and then I sleep all night and on Monday morning, while I have recovered from the exhaustion, I am still walking like a penguin. Surprisingly, my legs mend themselves very quickly and am feeling pretty OK by Tuesday. Wednesday morning I venture out for a 30 min walk and put in some running as well to see how I feel.

I feel great and am already looking forward to this Sunday when the entire HR gang will be back and we shall run together. Will run a much shorter distance this time but will plan for a 35k very soon over the coming weeks.

For the first time, the 42k full marathon looks to be within my reach.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Old African Saying

If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk together.

One of the biggest positive influences on my running training has been my association with Hyderabad Runners.

If you want running to be fun, search out like minded people, create a google group and start running. Explore new routes and keep challenging the limits. Reward yourselves with a hearty breakfast at the end of the run

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Mighty Heart

They say all the running makes the heart bigger; endurance runners have been tested and have been found to have a biger heart than the average.

A big heart; a mighty heart.

No wonder, charity and long distance running go hand in hand.

Launched my own charity drive to raise money for Catalysts for Social Action - they work in the field of adoption. They work with adoption agencies and help place children, help in improving the conditions as well as the governance of adoption agencies and are also involved in advocating the cause of adoption to policy makers.

Have given myself a target of Rs 500,000 and the initial response from friends has been very encouraging.

I have created my own page on the website of the official charity partner and if you are reading this and want to make a donation from anywhere in the world, click the link below:


God Bless.
And Thanks.

The Speed of 9

Discovered yesterday that I am now able to run on the treadmill comfortably at a speed of 9 km/hour.

This was something that I was not able to do earlier.

So, looks like there is some benefit indeed of all this practice.


Monday, November 7, 2011

My longest run - so far

Ran 25k yesterday. My longest run as yet.

Took me a little over 3 hours. Spent rest of my day nursing my legs in buckets of icy cold water, eating like a pig and sleeping fitfully.

The best part though is that on Monday evening I am walking without a limp. My shins and knees are behaving and the pain has now found a new home - my right ankle.

Very pleased to have got rid of my limp and might actually try running one more day in the week!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Running with Shin Splints

Nursed a very painful shin splint in my left leg all of last week and was still limping when I joined the Hyderabad Runners yesterday morning for a tough 17.5k through some pretty steep ups and downs.

Over the past one week, several people gave some good suggestions on how to deal with shin splints and I have been trying everything from ice and mustard oil massage to strengthening exercises for the shin.

Started the run yesterday very, very slowly and was hobbling along for the first few kilometers after which I started settling down in a good rhythm. Fortunately, I had a running companion for the entire run and that helped a lot. Without the company I would have given up so felt pretty happy when we finished the run together in 2:13.

My leg is feeling much better than last week so clearly something seems to be working. The ice as well as the mustard oil massage has certainly helped, tried elevating my leg while sleeping by putting a pillow under my leg but found it to be very uncomfortable.

What has probably worked best is the shin strengthening exercise that has helped my left shin to gain more power. Also, my right knee is much better (thanks a lot to Dr Bakhtiar Choudhary for the knee exercises) and hence is able to share the load of my body when I run.

Just hoping that pain goes away soon; I now need to increase my weekly distance and having a good pair of legs is essential.

Here is a link to some good shin exercises:

Saturday, October 22, 2011


I have been maintaining this blog since February. Also been training for the Mumbai Marathon since then.

Surprised to see just about 20 blogs in all of the eight months. And my running record too is far from the targeted.

Here is my prediction about January 2012 when I would have run the Mumbai Marathon and this blog will come to its natural end:

I will wish that I had run more.
I will wish that I had blogged more.

Uncannily similar to how people feel at the end of their lives, right?


That there will be pain is a given.

How long can I delay the onset of pain?
How do I respond to it and keep going?
How do I avoid permanent injuries?

Those are the questions.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Inspiration from an Ultra Runner

Ran 16kms with the Hyderabad Runners group today morning and would like to dedicate my run to one person in particular – Sunil Menon.

We ran on a long stretch of road on the outskirts of the city. While most of us started running at a leisurely hour of 5.30 am, a smaller set of people – training for the Bangalore Ultra - had started running on the same road at 4am in loops of 16 kms. This way, we would come across several ultra trainers on the route during our own run.

Scared of my right knee giving me problems, I started out at a really slow pace in addition to taking walk breaks every seven minutes. Gradually picked up a little more speed and was happy when I reached the 8 km mark in about an hour and then turned back to return to the starting point.

At around this time my knee problems returned. I started feeling a lot of pain and fatigue in my right knee. This is now becoming a regular feature (the first time this happened was on Sep 11 this year)and very soon I was hobbling, unable to run straight. I had to drastically reduce the pace and started taking more frequent walk breaks. In fact I was running so slow that I had started cooling down. I clearly remember talking to myself thinking that I had a lot of stamina still left in me and that I could keep running for a fairly long distance – if only my legs gave me the support to keep running. My emotions were a mix of disgust and self pity.

At around 7.15, with another 5 km or so to the finish, it so happened that I turned to look back. Generally, I never look back when running so I really don’t know why I did this. I saw an amazing sight – this runner coming really fast towards me – a blur in blue kicking a trail of dust as he galloped towards me. In no time he was upon me, patted my back, urged me to keep going and was suddenly gone.

Was this blur in blue Superman? Probably. I know him by the name of Sunil Menon. He was training for the Ultra and had been running since 4 am today. Which meant that when he crossed me, he had been running for at least 3 hours. I came to know later that he ran for a total of 5 hours today.

The brief interaction that the two of us had for about two seconds – the backslapping and the words of encouragement – changed the race for me. Something magical happened in those two seconds. It was as if Sunil transferred all his energy he had at his disposal into me.

To hell with the pain, I said to myself, as I picked up my pace in an attempt to follow Sunil. Here I was, doing a leisurely 16k and getting overtaken by someone who has already been on the road for 3 hours. I can do better than this. Very soon I was running at a fairly respectable pace and had started to feel the exertion. I could feel my body putting in the efforts as my lungs expanded and contracted at a furious pace providing the air to my engine as it powered me on.

I never caught up with Sunil but did not let him disappear from my sight. What was otherwise promising to be a 2:30 torture ended as a good respectable 2 hour run. As I reached the finish line, I saw him turn around and start out for another loop of 16 kms. It was as if he had taken on himself the task of getting me to the end and he rushed out again to inspire someone else…

Thank you Supermenon. Thank you Hyderabad Runners.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Spirit of Marathon

Been watching a lot of marathon videos on Youtube and the images of superbly fit people pounding away on the road have been completely ingrained in my mind. I go to sleep to the sound of the feet striking the ground, I wake up thinking about the weekly schedule, I ice my injuries all day just to run again and get back to the same pains.

One such great movie is The Spirit of Marathon. A must watch, it is about several people spread across the globe who are training to run at the Chicago Marathon.

Have changed my strategy from doing one long run every weekend and recovering for the rest of the days to running 4 days in a week. One of the veterans from Hyderabad Runners gave me a piece of his mind saying that I might as well forget about finishing the marathon if I don’t start running at least 3-4 days in a week. So, have started following Hal Higdon’s schedule that gradually increases the distance to be run in a week. It starts with a comfortable 25-30kms to be run in a week that gradually increases all the way to around 60 kms during the week of the marathon. The distances on Wednesdays and Sundays keep increasing with around 5 kms to be run on the other days.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


490 BC. The Persian Army invades Athens and a battle takes place at the Bay of Marathon. Against all odds and even after being outnumbered 4:1, a small army from Athens manages to beat the Persians. However, there are Persian ships fast approaching the bay and Athens will need reinforcement.

A messenger – Phidippides – is sent from the Bay of Marathon to Athens to break the news of the victory and the threat from the Persian ships on the horizon. He runs the distance to relay the news as there is no other means of transportation.

The distance? 26 miles.

Or man reaches Athens and relays the news. There is jubilation on the news of victory but Phidippides does not get to savor the taste of victory. He collapses from exhaustion and dies. Eventually, the Persian Army also defeats the Greek and Athens falls.

Cut to the present.

I get a call from a very dear friend. After chit-chatting for a while, the conversation turns to my marathon training. I bore him with the gory details of my IT Band injury (see previous post). He then tells me the sad story of this 43 year old absolutely fit guy who used to workout at the gym my friend goes to. The other day, in the middle of an intense aerobic work-out, this guy just collapsed and died. Take care, says my friend. Respect the warning signs of the body and don’t be brash.

I couldn’t help but think of Phidippides – the first Marathoner. Come to think of it, he set up a pretty low benchmark for the universe of runners. All you need to do is to come out alive after the run and you would have bettered Phidippides’ record. Come out alive. 5 hours, 6 hours or 7 hours…just come out alive.

Twin Lake Run and the IT Band Syndrome

Pre-dawn darkness of September 11 saw several members of the Hyderabad Running club driving towards the venue of the day’s run – the 21 km twin lake run.

Probably the most picturesque route in Hyderabad, it begins on the bank of one lake, hits the highway along the border of a deer park and goes on to another lake. The route is around 11 kms and a round trip is perfect for a Half Marathon

Here is the link of the route

It was great fun running as a group – though we all spread out very soon based on our speeds, there was a lot of cheering as we met the faster runners on the way back. We had one car doing trips on the route, stopping at strategic points and replenishing us with water, Gatorade and biscuits.

The best part was the finish – all the early finishers were waiting for us and the moment we came in sight all of them started clapping and cheering. I felt like a hero as I crossed the finish line.

What a great experience running with a group of highly accomplished runners.

The IT Band

Two hours into the run and about 6 kms from the finish, I made the mistake of stopping for a drink at the car. Filled myself with Gatorade and my near empty bottle with cold refreshing water. As I stood there at the side of the road munching on a biscuit, I reached out to massage the outer side of my right knee that had been getting worse with pain over time. I thought the massage would ease off some pain and give me relief.

However, the moment I resumed running, I was in for a major shock. There was so much pain in the outer portion of my right knee that I could just not run. I tried running with a severe limp for about 5 seconds hoping that I will be able to find my gait but to no avail.

The end, I thought to myself. Not only would I have to walk all the way to the finish line, my chances of running again looked very, very bleak. Simply kept walking for about 5 minutes, watching other runners disappear into the distance. A couple of them passed me from behind after asking me about my injury. I decided to give it another shot; and gingerly put my foot forward. Then another. Started a slow jog. The limp was gone. A sigh of relief. The pain was there but bearable. Decided to maintain the walk run routine and kept moving towards the finish with a determination. However, the last stretch was psychologically very painful. I kept looking into the horizon for the finish line but the road just kept going on and on.

Finally, reached the end to a rousing welcome from the people who had finished before me. I had done it. The timing too was not so bad; the stop and the walk included I finished in about 2 hrs 40 mins. Kept walking to keep the circulation going and had an energy bar, lots of water and some Gatorade as we waited for the others to finish.

The damage to the knee was considerable as I discovered during the remaining part of the day. I was just not able to put any weight on my right leg despite resting the whole day. Even the next day I was walking around with a pronounced limp. Also, climbing up or down the stairs felt like walking with feet of lead and fireworks going off in the knees with every stair.

Much later, while trawling the net, I found that my ailment is actually pretty common. I was surprised and comforted at the same time that millions before me have gone through the same pain. I found that it is called the IT Band (Ilio-tibial band ) Syndrome. The pain in the outer knee is caused due to stress on a band of muscles (called the IT Band)on the outer portion of the leg that run all the way from the femur to the knee. As a result of this injury, I have been out of action for the past 2 weeks and will attempt a long run again this coming Sunday. Keeping my fingers crossed.

There are techniques to stretch the IT band that helps relax these muscles and reduce the strain. Been trying some of these to see if I can hold myself for the time to complete the long runs.

And oh, if I ever come around starting a music band, I will certainly not name it the IT Band.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Happy Birthday

Turned 42 today. The time has come. I need to complete my marathon run within the next 364 days.


Bloody Nipples

One very common sight at long run events - men finishing the run with their tee-shirts completely red. Pretty amusing but very painful.

The fabric of your garment rubs the entire time you run and at some point the delicate skin breaks. Your blood mixes with the sweat on your tee and works its way downward. By the time you finish, it looks as if your chest has been crying tears of blood.

However, there is a simple way to prevent this agony and embarrassment.....vaseline. Just apply some before you begin running and you will be just fine.

Black Toes

Do you have black toes? Could be that your shoes are just a tad smaller and your toes hammer against the shoe as you run. Or, you are not properly hydrated.

Not hydrated?

Just heard on an interesting podcast that when the body is not hydrated well, all the available water is channeled to the core functions of the body away from the cappilaries at the end of your digits....

So, if you have black toes, not only change your shoes but start drinking more

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hyderabad Marathon Report: I ran the Half Marathon…..till the last flyover

Last Sunday we had the Hyderabad Marathon event and I ran the Half Marathon……till the last flyover. After that, I walked.

The event was organized by Hyderabad Runners – a running group that promotes the cause of running in the city. It was done with such class that it would put any professional event management company to shame. There were volunteers all along the route, water stations, pacers with balloons urging and guiding people with time targets, marshals on bikes, policemen regulating traffic when not cheering the runners, it was perfect……until the last flyover.

The weather was simply lovely; customized for the run. A cool breeze took care of the sweat and the cloud cover kept the sun’s harshness at bay…..oh, it was such fun to run. Until the last flyover.

The route was challenging; not many flat stretches in the entire route. There was one flyover right at the beginning followed by another one after a couple of kilometers and then this lovely rolling stretch with gradual inclines and descents that kept the boredom away. The route then turned left at Cyber Towers and was a very gradual downhill slope all the way till the Old Mumbai Highway. This section was probably the easiest on runners and I would imagine that most of the runners – including me – ran faster in this stretch and covered up for any lost time on the uphill stretch. Great going and I was feeling very happy with my timing….till I reached the last flyover.

So what was it with the last flyover? I guess, it was mostly psychological. This flyover has recently been completed and has not yet been opened to traffic. Since I don’t pass it every day, I was not even aware that it was ready and was expecting that the route would take us from below the under construction flyover. However, when I saw people ahead of me getting on to the flyover, my racing heart skipped a beat.

The second reason is that by that time I was close to hitting my wall and only determination would have helped push me ahead. The flyover completely crushed that determination.

Thirdly, it was a pretty long incline and would have completely knocked me out had I attempted to run while climbing it. The finish line was barely 2 kms from the flyover but that stretch was as good as running the whole run. Anyway, I resumed running on the downhill section and tried to maintain a disciplined run/walk schedule for the last stretch. However, I was running for much smaller stretches and walking longer.

A 50 year old gent overtook me during one of my walk breaks. And then a 60 year old whizzed by. I had crossed them sometime back and here they were, catching up with me, giving me words of encouragement before flying ahead. I was crushed. (at least I feel crushed now. At that point, I couldn’t have cared less even if an 80 year old would have run by…I just did not have any energy left to do anything more than what I was already doing).

And this was just the Half Marathon. My ultimate goal is to run the full at Mumbai in January. I had serious doubts on myself during the last stretch – how on earth will I be able to run 42kms when I have so much trouble just finishing 21? Why am I doing this? As any endurance runner would know, such questions are very common and keep popping at challenging moments. The idea is to trick the brain into not triggering a shutdown and keep going. I am determined more than ever to attempt my maiden full marathon in Mumbai but I know that I will have to train much harder physically and mentally. Thanks to the last flyover.

Anyway, coming back to the run, the end point of the run was inside the Gachibowli stadium. Thankfully, I had enough energy to sprint the last section. As soon as I entered the stadium and set foot on the track, I threw away my water bottle and started sprinting towards the finishing arch. Meters before the end, I raised my hands above my head in victory hoping that the photographer behind the line would freeze this moment for ever. I had done it. A doctor asked me if I was ok. I am fine, I said, panting. I looked at my watch. 2 hours and 30 minutes.

(Still waiting for the official timing; it could be off by a few mins)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Attempted 4 hour Run

As a part of training for the Mumbai Marathon I am trying to build stamina for running for longer durations of time since it will probably take me over 6 hours to finish the run. In that context, I attempted a 4 hour run yesterday morning.

I started the run at 530 am in the Hitech City area (I had parked my car close to Quality Inn hotel on the road that connects the Old Mumbai Highway to Hitech City) and ran for around 90 mins in that area – InOrbit; Shilparamam, a little beyond Shilparamam and back. Returned to my car; refilled my water bottle and then headed towards the Outer Ring Road.

I was able to run comfortably for the first 2 ½ hours but by the end of the third hour, the exhaustion was increasing exponentially. On the ORR, I was able to go a little beyond the place where they have made arrangements for the toll booth – there is a nice curving down-hill slope. I had wanted to continue onward till around 8.15 am but then my body was screaming in protest.

So, I turned around at 8 am but was so tired that I walked back most of the way. Tried short bursts of running but could not manage more than 2 or 3 short bursts of around 4 minutes each.

There was some kind of army training going on and I saw a lot of jawans in full battle attire – bulletproof vest, helmet, gun, etc – doing a long run. Passed several of them coming from the opposite direction and watching them run gave me goose pimples. (If you really want the truth, it was more than just goose pimples…. I actually started to cry).

Talking about crying, I generally break down once each time I run a half marathon event – the trigger could be some song that the live bands play or some onlooker cheering me specifically…… does this happen to others or am I this completely useless emotional wimp?

Anyways, left the ORR and walked back to my car; in between I had to actually sit down twice to regain some strength. Reached my car at 9.30 and drove back home.

While the total time spent on the road was indeed 4 hours, I barely managed to run a little more than 3 hours and I am sure that the total distance covered would not have been more than 25 kms. Tried using the gmap-pedometer to measure the distance but somehow it does not like the idea of people running on the ORR and refuses to plot the distance on the ORR.

The body has recovered pretty well though the ankles and the lower calf muscles are in pretty bad shape. There is also a lot of soreness on the outer side of my left knee – something that has been bothering me for the past few months.

Happily, my new Asics shoes are proving to be pretty good (thanks a lot to the HR shoe clinic!) and the pain in the right hip is completely gone.

Will try to stay regular on shorter distances for the next few weeks and then try another long one.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mumbai Marathon Announced

Registrations for Mumbai Marathon begin on July 20th....those who wish to participate keep an eye on the website and register ASAP. With the run being a part of the global circuit, it is getting more and more difficult to register


Looks like my quest for the right shoe has finally come to an end. From my completely worn out Reeboks to Asics that gave me a pain in the right hip joint to Reeboks again (that gave me blisters on my left arch) I am back to another model of Asics that hopefully will not let me down. The earlier Asics had an arch support for my almost flat feet but after running for so many years on neutral shoes, I was just not able to adjust to the arch support. (See my earlier blog titled ‘Give Up’ for more details).

I attended a shoe clinic that was organized by the Hyderabad Runners and experts helped me identify my problems. I discovered that my left foot under-pronates while my right foot over-pronates while I run. I was amazed when I looked at the wear of my old shoes – I really need to work on my running style and correct the way my feet strike the ground.

At the shoe clinic, people from Asics (Reliance Footwear) were also there and agreed to take back my sparingly used Asics for the right shoe – one with a neutral arch. I was amazed by this; I never had imagined that I would be able to return something that I had purchased more than 3 months earlier. All the credit goes to the Hyderabad Runners Group; without them, the shop would not have entertained me at all. Thanks a lot HR.

Tried my new Asics today; ran around the lake in just a shade over an hour. The shoes were comfortable though at the end I could feel a slight hint of fatigue in my right hip. Maybe it is still sore from the past and needs more time to completely heal. However, I really don’t have too much time at hand – weekends are whizzing by and I am nowhere close to my long runs….. the max that I have done so far is about 20 kms. Need to quickly increase my distances and I request my hips, calf muscles, heels, etc, etc to please cooperate.

Hyderabad Runners

The last couple of weeks have been very eventful as far as my running/training for the big one is concerned. While trawling the web for information about the Mumbai Marathon, I stumbled upon this egroup called Hyderabad Runners. In one stroke, I had access to a group of some wonderful, wonderful people who have one thing in common – running.

The group is very active – both on the net as well as on the track and with stories and quotes and articles and running events hitting you in quick succession, you can’t help but put on your running shoes and follow them.

I have found it very helpful if there are people around you who are doing things that inspire you – getting up at 4.30 am on a Saturday or someone who started running at 10 pm and by midnight had finished a distance of 20 miles…and having such people right there in your city is wonderful. One of the group members has run the Boston marathon five times; someone else has run the Tibet Marathon – arguably the highest altitude marathon anywhere in the world. At that altitude walking itself is such an effort that completing a marathon run is beyond my imagination.

I will continue to keep drawing inspiration from these wonderful folks and strive to be a worthy member of the group. Keep running Hyderabad!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Today’s bad-good one hour run

The longish unintended break has taken its toll as has the eating at weddings. Ran the 9k circuit around the lake this morning after a long time and was struggling after around 45 minutes, feeling terribly out of shape. That I was listening to a very depressing This American Life podcast on job creation did not help.

So, after the podcast finished, tried to put some positive thoughts in my mind. Put on some music, thought about Justin Sandercoe running the Bupa and thought about writing this blog. At the same time, cut my seven minute running stretches to five minutes and was soon running at a respectable clip. Mainly it was the beat of the music that helped increase the pace but thinking positive certainly helps. In fact, there was a 3-4 minute burst where I was really in the zone – running pretty fast, minimal body movements, determined and focused concentration and a very regular breathing. The spell broke the moment I realized that I was in the zone! Finished the run in about 65 minutes; not bad given that my fastest here has been around 60 mins.

I need to get more training done this week if I really want to finish my full marathon in January. I should be attempting a 3.5 hour run soon and being in shape to last the time itself is a big challenge. My shoes are breaking in well and I am looking forward to the long run soon. Over time this 3.5 hour run will give way to a 4 hour run, then 4.5 and then 5 hours. By October or November I should be running 5.5 hours and training to increase the running speed at the same time if I am to finish the marathon five and a half hours.

Long way to go Brajesh…

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Success - Three Hour Run

The post before this one talked about my attempt to do a 3 hour run that had to be called off after 2 hours due to severe discomfort in my legs. Yesterday I tried the same route again and this time I succeeded. Well, to be precise, I finished almost 15 minutes ahead of time so the actual run was only 2 hours 45 minutes. However, this is good enough to pave the way for longer runs that will have to be done in the coming months.

This is how it went.

The summer sun is already out in all its harshness so the idea was to end the run before it became too hot. I started running at 5.15 while it was still dark and took the same route as my last attempt. This time I made sure that I was running much slower and that seemed to have helped a lot. My shoes are breaking in quite well and I also discovered the cause of discomfort the first time around – the gradual but steady incline. The slope on the route is pretty gradual and one hardly notices it. However, if your gait does not adjust for the incline, it will wreak havoc on your joints and muscles – and this is exactly what had happened last time.

Much wiser this time around, I paid special attention to how my foot was falling on the ground and ensured that my speed was as slow as possible. After running for one and a half hour, I turned around at 6.45 am feeling a bit tired but otherwise fine. By this time, I had settled into a good rhythm and had been running in stretches of 8 minutes interspersed with one minute walk-breaks.

However, by the end of the second hour, the exhaustion was mounting quickly. I had to reduce my running to stretches of 5 minutes and at times I cheated by taking walk breaks of longer than a minute. The last couple of kilometers were really bad and I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open. However, I had enough in me to make sure that I kept running all the way to the point where I had started from. Makes me feel happy.

I finished the run a little after 8, meaning that I had been able to shave off almost 15 minutes. Maybe it was on account of the downward slope on my way back or maybe it was that I had settled into a good rhythm without realizing it which helped me finish sooner. I guess it was a combination of both factors.

Had a hearty breakfast as soon as I reached home and then just crashed. It was more than two hours later that I was able to come back to life. Ate like a pig the whole day long and more than compensated for any calories that I may have burned during the run.

One very good thing that I noticed that there was very little soreness in my legs and I was able to walk without much pain all day. If this is on account of my relatively new Asics shoes, I am thrilled.

Plan to hit the treadmill at least twice during the week for speed training and will run for an hour round the lake next weekend. This was a good run.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Give Up

Last Saturday was a disaster. I did something that I don’t remember doing before as far as running is concerned.

I gave up.

Here are the gory details.

I had just bought a new pair of shoes. Asics. I had been on Reeboks for the past several years but had heard a lot about Asics. Also, the sales guy at the Reebok store was a complete asshole who did not have a clue about running.


So, this Saturday, I wake up early in the morning, get ready and slip on my brand new running shoes. When I hit the road at around 5.15, I notice a very light drizzle and a cool breeze blowing. Fantastic weather, I say to myself and look forward to the run.

This would have been the first long run in this year ever since I declared my intentions to run the full marathon in January 2012. The plan was to run for 3 hours. And this was not something terribly outrageous; I had already run 21 km in 2 hrs 40 minutes some years ago so I was not scared of the 3 hour run at all.

Within fifteen minutes of starting I was feeling pretty uncomfortable and had to sit down. I took off the shoes and put them on again trying to adjust the tightness of the fit. This seemed to have helped since I did not have any more problems. At least for the first half of the run.

As planned, I kept running till I had been running for 1 ½ hours and then turned back towards home. By then, I started having a very bad fatigue-like pain in my right hip. On top of that, the arches of my soles were in a lot of pain. My new shoes have a little bit of arch support and I guess my feet were not accustomed to this.

Anyways, I kept going, increasing the duration of the walk-breaks and running for shorter periods. However, it kept getting worse and I decided to call it quits. Hailed an auto and drove back home.

I did not last for more than 2 hours.

While there is still some soreness in my legs I think it is more of getting used to my new shoes. Tomorrow is a holiday and I might try a shorter one hour run to see how things go. If I get used to these new shoes then great, otherwise I will have to go to that Reebok store and buy another pair of shoes.


Needless to say, shoes are pretty important. I have used Reeboks for most of my running life; getting great value for money at the factory price outlets. I also tried Adidas once which were good but not as good as the Reeboks.

Shoes last for around 600 kms and need to be discarded after they have run the distance. During my early days, I didn’t know any better and my middle class mentality pushed me to keep going on the old shoes.

As a result, I have invited pain in my legs several times in the past – which fortunately went away each time I changed my shoes. Once I had developed a pea sized knot in my left heel that was so painful that I could not put my barefoot on the ground. Another time I got a good case of shin splits - the shin area starts hurting a lot in the place where the bone and the muscles meet. Very, very painful. But it went away after I took some rest and changed my shoes.

Eager to find out what the new Asics will do to my legs and feet. Will I get used to them? Or will I be forced to change?

Time will tell.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Inspirations (again)

Had the privilege of running the lake circuit with the charming Genia Topple of our US office who is visiting India. Genia regularly runs half marathons back in the US and has been timing 2 hrs 10 mins for the 21 km run. That would be about 20 minutes faster than me and is enough to give me a huge complex.

She was gracious enough to humor me and run along with me in my run/walk/run style and that too at a much slower pace. Despite the walk breaks we finished the run in a good time of just over an hour. Good fun.

Genia’s story is hugely inspiring in more than one ways and it has been a privilege to know her and now get to run with her.

Another rockstar from our Atlanta office is Frank Zaubi and I ran the same circuit with him last year when he was here in India. Old enough to be my father, he has been running full marathons for several years now and in very, very decent timings. He has a plan to run a marathon on each continent and at last count he had done some spectacular runs at the most exotic places including the Great Wall of China and Antarctica. Yes, Antarctica.

Frank too uses the Jeff Galloway method of run/walk and he shipped me Galloway’s latest book from the US when he saw me using the same technique. A very sweet gesture.

Running has helped me connect with some really interesting people and I shall be writing about more such people in my future blogs.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Running Strategy

Took advantage of the holiday today and ran a lap of the Hussain Sagar lake – a little over 9 kms. Took me 65 minutes but was completely drained out by the end of the run. Long way to go Brajesh….. if you get exhausted in running 9 kms, how will you last 42??

Running Strategy

I will be following the same regimen that I have been using for the past years – the one that has allowed me to complete several Half Marathon events.

Introduced to me by my friend and then colleague Atish, I shall be following the world famous Jeff Galloway’s running method – a combination of walk/run segments as against a continuous run from start to end.

In this method, you run for a while, walk for 1 minute and then run again for the same time duration.

You keep interrupting your run with 1 minute walk breaks that let your muscles recover and energize you for the next segment. I have been using a 7 minute run + 1 minute walk during the 21 kms and this has allowed me to finish the runs within a range of 2 hrs 24 minutes to 2 hrs 35 minutes.

But here is the tricky part. I just did the math for the full marathon and the task is going to be very, very difficult.

If I have to complete the run in 5 hours, and if I maintain a speed of 5 kms/hr during each of the 1 minute walk breaks that I will be taking, I will have to run for 8 minutes at the speed of 8.5 kms/hr – for a full 5 hour period.

The most that I have done is 7 minutes with an average running speed a shade lesser than 8 kms/hr so this is really, really going to stretch me.

Planning to use the treadmill to get myself into the routine of running for 8 long minutes @ 8.5 kms/hr. Or, I could run for 4 minutes and take a 30 second walk break…..

Will try out all combinations – luckily there is time for me to experiment and also to build my stamina to see me thru a 5 hour run.

Will keep you posted on the developments.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The Status

The week of my public pledge went pretty well with two evenings of 45 minutes running. Last week though was a complete washout with a very stiff neck; visitors at office and erratic schedules. Have tried to be back on track this week with an hour of brisk walking Sunday evening and hope to have at least two sessions during the week.

Will try a long run Saturday

The Inspiration

My friend Sanjay who lives in Mumbai travels 90 minutes by car from work to home and seldom reaches home before 9. However, he hits the road/gym/grabs a cycle every day for about an hour after reaching home.

Jagdish, another friend in Mumbai has been waking up at an unearthly hour everyday for the past 3 months or so to work out over an hour. He has never been fitter before.

Both these gents work in high pressure – intense work organizations and still find time and energy to work out.

Highly inspiring. I need to stop blogging and start running.

{Next blog on the plan – the schedule, the drill, the strategy…. Coming soon}

Monday, February 7, 2011

No Life

The first day after my public pledge. And I woke up an hour after I shut the alarm off. As a result could not train in the morning at all as I hurried to reach work on time.

However, my pledge is now public and I am accountable to all my friends. Could not let the day end without any training.

Returned home at 9 pm and then ran a little over 5.5 kms. Could not have dinner till around 10.15; no wonder the wife was not amused. In the work-life-run balance, life lost out today.

But the silver lining is that I wont have to wake up early tomorrow. :-)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My gift on turning 42

I will turn 42 this year in September. And what better gift to give myself than running the full marathon at the Mumbai Marathon event in Jan 2012.

42@42. 42 kms at the age of 42. Heard about this very appealing idea from my dear friend Geet whose cousin had done this feat a few years back.

I have never run this distance in my life though I have been doing half marathons for several years now. And then since it is boring to run for 6 hours or 7 hours, I want to target a timing of 5 hours.

This will require a very disciplined training program that I will have to adhere to over the next 11 months or so as I build the strength in my legs and the stamina to keep running for 5 hours. I will have to wake up at odd hours and run long distances come rain or the summer heat. And since I find getting out of bed the most difficult part of the training routine, I am putting myself at the point of no return by making this very pubic declaration of my intentions to train the whole year and then run the marathon next January.

I will be posting regular posts on this site to keep you updated on my progress. And to keep the whole stuff interesting I will try to pepper the blogs with tidbits on running, work-life-running balance and other interesting stuff.

I want you to prod me and push me and encourage me to stay on track so that I reach my goal. Pull me up if you see me slipping. Come, join my journey without leaving your chair...