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.