Trying to crack an ultramarathon run…

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Ultramarathon run, by its definition, is any distance run longer than a full marathon (42.195km or 26.219 mi). So, if you are a marathoner, occasionally running 42.2, why is it hard to finish an ultra run (usually starting with a 50k)?

The simplest answer is most ultra runs are not flat road races and the key is to run slower and longer. The term ultramarathon is synonymous with train-running. So, the difficulty level is higher compared to road races.

For 2018, I have listed finishing an ultra on my bucket list. It is a 50km run along the western ghats – a trail in the beautiful coffee plantations of Malnad. So, with 7.8 km more than my usual Marathon distance, would I be able to finish it in my marathon pace or slightly more than that? I guess not.

What are the difficulty factors?

First, it’s a trail run, with lots of elevations.

Second, it’s going to take a lot of time before I can finish.

How do I train for it?

Hill repeats. Yes, lots of hill training. I have included few of them in my training plan. But, living in a city like Delhi it is not possible for me to train on hills. Thankfully, I have a couple of events in the coming weeks with good elevation gain. They are going to be my training runs.

And how should I prepare myself for long hours on road? Train to be patient… For a regular road/rack runner (like me), it is difficult. While training for an ultra run, you need to forget about the pace, you need to forget about the PR for the race… just need to train to have more hours on road, lean to slow down and walk… I am increasing my Sunday long runs by time than the distance (we all love to log more distance than time).

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Sunday long runs – longer time on the road

In short, it’s all about surviving long hours on road, running slowly and enjoying the beautiful scenery around (most iconic ultra runs happen in scenic locations). Can’t wait to get into that ‘ultra runner’ club.


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365 days of running!

 

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Towards my 1:45:10 finish during the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (November 2017)

 

Yes, I did it… completed a year of running without missing a day.

All started with the ‘100 days of running challenge’ last April. The idea is you have to run for 100 days without missing a day and run a minimum of 2km each day. I completed the challenge registering 950+ kms in 100 days.

Once the challenge is over, I had this crazy idea of continuing running. Running every day is not a difficult thing for me. My training schedule gives me 4-5 days of morning runs. But, since I hit the gym in the evenings and warm-up for at least 2km on the treadmill, it all working out.

The 365 days of running were injury-free. As someone who is dealing with arthritis, I know how to avoid injuries. One year of running also gave me my first sub-4 marathon, almost made it to sub-1:45 HM club (those 10 seconds!) and PBs in 10k (in a HM race; not in a 10k dash) and 5k!

April 28, 2018, was the 365th day and incidentally, it was the day of #100daysofrunning2018. Let’s see if I can make it to 2 years of running!


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Summing up 2017

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Well, 2017 was a great year for running. Clocked close to 3000 km on Strava; 2973 to be exact. It was one excellent year; a number of PBs, podiums and completion of new challenges.

The year started with a bit of disappointment. Taken both Chennai Marathon and Mumbai Marathon challenge in January. Ran both back to back, ruining both runs. However, came back strong in New Delhi half marathon with a PB. Still, that was not good enough. I knew that I could do better. So, I decided to check into a gym and work more on strength training.

It was the decision of the year. Things started working better since then. A podium in Bir Billing for half marathon, few strong summer runs. And then came Hyderabad Marathon. I gotta say I was freaking out until minutes before the race. The fear of DNF and the stories of DNF were on my mind. However, I finished the run strong; not my best timings though. However, that was a confidence booster for the rest of the season.

Bengaluru came and went. Messed it up by overdosing with electrolyte; was cramped up from 28th km. But, did finish the race with a PB and a podium for age category. ADHM was a dream. 2017 I focussed more on the full marathon and ADHM was the only race I could break my HM PB. And I got my PB in style; 1:45:10. I never planned a sub-1:45 race; so, not at all disappointed over missing it.

The season ended with my first international marathon; the Singapore marathon. It was a tough one. However, I surprised myself with a PB – 4:10:10. I couldn’t be happier.

Though there were lots of ups, a number of boxes were left unchecked. For example, a sub-4 finish.

With the important lessons learned over 2017, I am sure I can check those boxes soon. 2018 looks promising. New records to break, new challenges to take up, new places to visit and run; I have already started filling my planner. Can’t wait!


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My pacing debut

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It’s almost 2.5 years of running for me. So far, it has been fantastic – finishing, getting PBs, going places and running. Running in delhi and elsewhere means making fiends with many awesome runners whom we meet during races and sunday runs. I am fortunate enough to be friends with some superstar athletes in the country. They have always inspired me and motivated me to do better the next time.

There are many kind of runners during a race; the fast ones, the champions, the regulars running to cross that finish line, the ones running for fun, the newbies, and so on. I have to mention one special kind of runners – called ‘pacers’ who run along with runners during a race and help them finish a run within a specific target. To me, they are like the superstars of running – the accomplished runners who can run at any pace; slow or fast.

I am not a ‘run with a pacer’ kind of runner. But, i have always known pacers have helped many achieve milestones and PBs. Over the last 12 months or so, i believe i have worked on my endurance and when i was comfortable with my full marathon, i know i can change up my pace whenever i want. That was then i knew i am ready for pacing. I longed for an opportunity to pace in some race and then came the Women 10k 2017.

So, i had my pacing debut on March 5, 2017. Though pacing is cool, it is not an easy job. i was assigned the 70 min bus. it means i have to run with a pace of 6:55 min/km to 7 min/km, which is always difficult for me.

Usually, my slow recovery runs are under a pace 6:30 and long Sunday runs are under the pave 6:00. So, it was indeed challenging for me to run at a pace of 7:00 or anything close to 7:00 which i tried during a pilot run 5 days before the race day. I had my doubts if i would be too fast during the race day and fail in my pacing debut.

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My flag and the pacer tee…

Came race day… Seeing my 70 min flag, so many runners came to me and told me they are going to board my bus for a PB – gave me an added pressure.

So, the run starts. I started running with the people around me, almost at a pace 7:00 mostly because it was too crowded and there was not much space to run faster. When the crowd cleared up and i had a temptation to go fast, i started a conversation with the runners. It helped me have the rhythm and run slower consistently. I even managed to push some people up to the faster bus. Couple of times during the run, i went back and picked up few passengers.

Most people running at the pace of 7 are slow runners or new runners. They tend to stop and walk during the race (i used to do that at the beginning). I really enjoyed the part where i motivated some of the ‘walkers’ to run… at least a slow run.

During the last km, i made few people sprint to the finish line, myself finished @ 69:35 min and then went back and dragged few people to the finish line. It was a good feeling – completing my first pacing duty.

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Completing my pacer duty.

Many runners who finished within 70 min came after the run to click selfies with me and to thank me. Few had their personal bests that day. What more can i ask for!!!

So, bring on more pacing challenges… HM or an FM… i am ready to take on any!!!

2016: My crazy year of running…

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Sums up my last running season…

Years from now, when i look back down the road, i might find 2016 as the year i went crazy… crazy about running…

My 2016 new year resolution was ‘make a difference, do something crazy’… i did lot of crazy stuff… The craziest was deciding to run HM/FM in 6 different cities…

Starting with Hyderabad in August, then off to Bangalore in October, Cochin and Delhi in November, and finally then two full marathons in Jan ’17 in Chennai and Mumbai (back-to-back)… The last bit was the real crazy – back to back FMs… in a way, i screwed up the Mumbai by draining all energy in Chennai even though i bettered by timing…

Well, i don’t care any of that now… I have completed all my goals of 2016 running season… And rewarded well too… Won bronze in age category in Bangalore, won the whole HM run in Chennai, PB in Delhi (HM), 4th in FM in Chennai (there was a prize for 4th position too :)) and ended with a PB in Mumbai… so, the money spent on registration, travel, gear, and accessories… all forgotten…

More than the material and monetary rewards, it is that feeling… that feeling of accomplishment you get when you cross the finish line – i had many of that last year… and i am happy…

As i type this, i am drawing up my plan for next year… yes, more cities to conquer… more roads to explore… season 2017, i am coming… stronger and more determined…

As long as there are games, it is not over!

After a heart break from the football world cup last year, i had decided not to invest so much emotions in any sporting event…. the ones i myself is not involved with…

Tries to keep calm during ManU’s failures early in the season… Indian cricket team’s pathetic performances during the test series and all….

But being a sports person myself, i found i cant stay not to be angry and emotional anymore… I had stopped watching games thinking i might jinx the team… Recently i have started watching all the games again…. But when the team loses…. It might be just a game on just any day… for a person who loves sports, a failure is failure… it affects…

So, when my cricket team was playing in the CWC…. i never missed a single game… couple of matches in week-days in office, managed to watch in my phone app…. yes, i was passionate…

So, it was hard when the team got knocked out…. knocked out in semies, nothing to be ashamed of, but we are no longer in the tournament… somebody else is playing in the finals…. that is heart breaking….

But, well…. its not the end of the road…. sun will rise again and again everyday…. tournaments will come… we can win more….

As Sir Alex Ferguson said:

As long as there are games, it is not over!