Sunday, December 30, 2012

Auroville Marathon Training Program : Week 6

December 24 - December 30, 2012

Up to the 5th week of our training for the Auroville 10 km run, I was suffering with severe pains in my knees. Especially the left knee was very painfully. The stiffness of my knees was so severe that I could not squat on the floor with the knees folded. I could only run very slowly with a few walk breaks in between. Also, the knees stiffen and tighten and it used to be difficult to climb stairs and generally walk.

I have come to believe that we are always able to run come what may. Irrespective of how we feel both physically and mentally, once we start running, we are able to run and finish the distance, no matter what. Its only later that the recovery is hard. The pains start to surface and the muscles stiffen and tighten. 

But, this week has turned out to be the miracle week! I must have done some things right. I followed the icing advice given by the coaches and the physios, used the foam roller, though only sparingly which has helped. Especially, icing the knees or the injured areas after the run for about three to four times a day on the rest days is the best possible solution for all aches and injuries. 

Consequently, I was able to run with a lot more ease this week and also the pains in my knees have all but disappeared. My knees are still stiff and I still am not able to completely fold my knees to do the cooling yoga posture or sit with folded knees. But it is much better than what it was for the past 5 weeks.

The week began with the arrival of Santosh's mail. I did the Tuesday run in a park close to our house along with Meena and her kids. Little Sirish who is 10 yrs old and Tanvi who is 13 yrs old. It was great fun to run with them and then to do the stretches and the drills amidst their continuous chattering and ribbing each other.  I hope that we can form this into a group this and do our Tuesday runs and Friday yoga on a regular basis as a group. It will be fun and also it will help us to be regular and not miss a single aession.

The Wednesday running was in Cubbon park and me and my daughter went thirty minutes early and completed our run and stretches ahead of the group and left so that she could catch the bus to her college.

Bangalore is a city with salubrious climate throughout the year. The weather is perfect for us to run any distance and we never get tired, dehydrated or suffer from a heat stroke or sun stroke ever, But on the flip side, since we are so used to running in this beautiful weather, Bangaloreans who run in other hotter cities like Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai or Delhi occasionally suffer due to the heat. Since we are all preparing for the Auroville marathon in Pondicherry which is again situated by the sea side and is a very hot town our coach Santosh had planned to train give us some 'heat-training' and had planned the Saturday to start at 7:00 am.

We al hoped that the sun would come out by 7 am at the very least and we would get some much needed 'run out in the sun'. But much to Santosh's dismay and to our amusement, Saturday remained a fully cloudy day with even a little bit of light drizzle towards the afternoon and the evening. The run took place on a beautiful and quite road off Kanakpura road. It was an eight km stretch and has a few inclines which are not very steep and are fairly gentle slopes. The run was very exhilarating with a lot of chatter and friendly banter among our girl gang. The stretch is a bit lonely and there are a few rowdy elements who pass comments and tease the girls. So, we were very thankful to Santosh for going up and down the road on his scooter to keep a watchful eye on us and to look out for our safety and well being. After the run, our buddy group went for a hot breakfast to Adigas.

The Sunday recovery run was in Cubbon park. We did the warm up and the form drills. After that we did a short run of 4 km. We had the core training session and it was a very tough and strenuous session. As our coach Chandra wanted it to be intense, she gave us just 10 sec break between two exercise and due to my earlier sedentary avatar, none of my muscles are strong and hence they cried and screamed on being awakened after such a long slumber.

There are many things that keeps me going in this runner's group like the camaraderie, the friendships and the buddies and community feeling. Looking forward to the next week and more fun and enjoyment.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Auroville Marathon Training : Week 5

December 17 to December 23

Sambandh Run
@ Mallehswaram
on December 16
After being in training and running long distances (by my standards) like 7 km and 8 km and with good pace and longer strides than what I have been used to so far, I had started developing pain in my left knee by the second week itself. The pain was so severe that I could not climb stairs and even to this day I cannot bend my knees. I can no longer sit in the Indian lotus position. Also, after the long run on Saturday and the recovery run on Sunday, when I go to the office on Monday, sitting at my desk  for a prolonged period of time used to stiffen my body in that posture with the legs feeling like two blocks of lead.

I spoke to our coaches and physios about this and they gave me a set of exercises that I can do even when I am sitting at my desk in the office and also advised me to ice my knees 3 to 4 times on the days of the run. I have been following their advice regularly and the icing really helps. It helps to reduce the stiffness of the knees and the recovery is hastened. The stretches that we are advised to do after the run and the foot drills also help in the recovery process and I have noticed that the days that I skip these are the days when the stiffness is more and the days that I follow the routine are the days when I feel much more relaxed and agile.
Apsara and Tanvi
@ Sambandh Run

On the flip side, I have started noticing that my lungs have started working better. I might have left more than 50% of my lungs unused during my couch potato days. But now I am beginning to realise that slowly the lungs are opening up and their efficiency is increasing. The other improvement that I have noticed is that my muscles might be getting strengthened as I am able to run longer distances before I have to slow down and walk a bit to catch my breath and give my muscles a short rest. Running also leaves a tremendous impact psychologically. The mind feels refreshed and the heart feels a sense of having done something. I suppose that this sense of well being felt is known as the Runner’s High. In the end I suppose it is different strokes for different folks. Each individual’s experiences are different.

The week 5 again began with the arrival of Santosh’s mail. It was very exciting to see what he had lined up for us for Saturday and Sunday.  Monday was the day of rest and I completed my Tuesday short run of 30 mins around the storm water drain. The Tuesday runs have become very important to improve my endurance and stamina as it is followed by the Intense Wednesday workout which develops our strength.

Sambandh Run to create
awareness of the needs of
children with special needs
On Wednesday, my daughter and I reached Cubbon park at 5.30 and did our warm up runs. The rest of the folks started arriving early as there was a 10 minute session of Pranaayaam that was scheduled before the run. But we two were not able to attend the pranaayaam as we had to finish our runs and she had to catch a bus to her college by 6.45. Coach Srini hwlped us to do our drills and after the drills we both completed our 8 laps of strides and stretches and left.

The Wednesdays are very tough as I have to go to the office after the run. I developed severe pain in the knee. I did continuous icing and also did the foot drills at home. The pain was most when I climbed stairs and even on Thursday the stiffness of the thighs and the knees continued. Despite continuous icing, it was only on Friday that the pain in the knee reduced but did not disappear completely.

Saturday was the long run. This week it happened at Decathlon, Sarjapur Road. This time we had to run 10Km. It was a different route that we had to take. The weather was perfect. Chilly Bangalore winter morning with thick fog.   The temperature was 12.5 deg C when we started from home. I usually start running with a jacket and a cap to protect myself from the chill as I have low tolerance for chill and winds and catch a cold very easily. After I am nicely warmed up, I remove my jacket and tie it around my waist. But as we were running in the open with no houses, buildings or trees to act as screens and shelter us against the cold breeze. After I was warmed up and removed my jacket, I regretted each time I ran through open space.

The trail was very soft mud with patches of tarred roads and the run was easy. My had a slight niggling pain in my knee and the right shin. There were a few ups where the running was tough and I had to walk. I completed the distance in 92 mins which is consistent with my time trail of 9.13 mins / km. I was in enormous pain after I came home. My knees hurt a lot and I iced my knees twice. I tried to massage my legs using the foam roller, but it was very difficult and painful. I could not continue the foam roller exercise.

IIMB on a cold foggy morning.
Pic courtesy Apsara Ashok
On Sunday, we had the run at IIMB. It was a short run for the recovery after the long run. We started with a short warm up and then did the foot drills. The morning was chills and there was a mist. Since the foot drills are in the open football field, it was all the more cold. But we had a lot of fun dong the drills as there are some comics among our midst who make each and everything that we do fun. After that we continued with our run of 3 kms. It was fun to run along side coach Ajay and we chatted about my school and the work that we do. We had core training where coach Chandra and coach Srini V. made us do specific exercises to strengthen our glute muscles. Finally we had a cool down session with pranayam and a couple of yoga asanas.

It was one more week of fun and frolick at training Its so much fun to run with friends that I find it least difficult to wake up at unearthly hours. Sharing a cup of tea with friends is also the most calming experience that there is on earth. The mindless babbling that I subjugate all my friends to and the continues blabbering during the car rides and finally sharing of my experiences with anyone who listens to me and who have been patiently reading through my blogs, all this support that I have been getting by family, friends and colleagues had really made this an enriching experience and a very enjoyable journey where the goal finally does not matter at all.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Auroville marathon Training : Week 4

December 10 - December 16

Yet another week began with the arrival of Santosh's mail. But I could not do the Tuesday short run nor go for the Wednesday. 

The Saturday long run was at Cubbon Park and we had to run 8 kms. It was a very large group on Saturday and the run was full of fun and good amount of friendly bantering on the way. By now I was running at a good steady pace and could run for linger distances before I had to stop to walk a few minutes. Also the time I required to walk and catch my breath was also becoming shorter. I also noticed that once I was nicely warmed up, I could run with longer strides and a little bit faster. 
We ran the first 4 km around the Cubbon park in front of the Central Library and the 4 laps around the Queen's park. After the run we had core strengthening session conducted by coach Chandra and Srini V.   Earlier, I used to be so stiff that these exercises used to be very difficult and I used to get catches at various places if I tried to stretch even a bit. But of late I am becoming a bit more flexible and am able to bend just a few millimetres more and stretch with a little less catch. After the core strengthening coach Ajay had scheduled a session of Pranayam that helps us to improve our breathing during the run and get into rhythmic breathing and thus increase our efficiency during running. 
However I was unable to stay for the entire session as my friends who I had car pooled with wanted to go to eat breakfast at Konark Restaurant. So I chose the gastronomical  outing to deep breathing. This is what makes running fun and interesting. After running and burning calories, we immerse ourselves into unabashed gluttony and indulge our taste buds to various delicacies that are available at every nook and corner of Bangalore. Hot idlis, steaming hot vadas in yummy sambar, lovely masala dosas that are the best in the world and soft as sponge and tasty set dosa or piping hot pooris with saagu. These are the things that motivate us to run with that extra vigour so that we can enjoy the delicacies and not feel guilty about the amount of calories that are going in.

The Sunday run was to generate awareness about the special needs of physically challenged children prganised by Rotary club at Govt. Girl's School Malleshwaram. The run was through Malleshwaram roads and amidst dense traffic. The beginning was good as we were running downhill on Margosa road and than once we took the turn at 4th cross and turned left the run was uphill on Sampige road. I had to walk through most of this stretch. After we took another the left and came back on Margosa road, the run became easy as it was downhill again and we could complete the run to loud cheering and applause from cheering squad of fellow runners.

We did a quick dash to the nearest eatery Shri Sagar or the erstwhile Central Tiffin Room or more popularly known as CTR. It is always surprising to see half the Runner's High fellows at the chosen eateries. We had to wait a good 30 to 45 minutes to get the coveted table only to discover that the tables had been occupied by fellow Runners all this while. Once we got the tables, there was no stopping us. We dug into all the tasty eats and rewarded our taste buds with every dish available and flushed it all down with two cups of steaming hot and strong south Indian filter coffee. Our very boisterous group caused much amusement among the waiters and they served us with good humour and great flourish and even greater efficiency.

All in all it was a very rewarding week of running with good food for the tummy and even greater and satisfying food for the soul. It brought even bigger smile to everyone's faces and the grins only got wider.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Auroville Marathon Training : Week 3

December 3 to December 9

There are some days that seem just right and you wake up feeling that today is the day that you can conquer the world! By now the running bug had bitten me and bitten me hard and I was addicted and was determined not to miss even a single training session. I was also particular not to succumb to frivolous excuses.

The week began with the arrival of the weekly schedule mail by Santosh. I was very exited to know that we would be running at Kanakpura again.

It was raining very heavily on Wednesday morning when I woke up at 3.45 am. But as I had made all the preparations the previous night to go for the Wednesday workout, I began making the chapathis for my daughter. I was ready by 4.45 am and all set to leave at 5.00 sharp. But, 

My friend called at 4.45 and asked me if I would be going as it was drizzling continuously outside. I told her that I would go no matter what. She said she would  not come as her asthma would get aggravated if she runs in the drizzle. At times like this I am always in two minds whether to push or to give space. Usually I end up not pushing much and giving people their space and letting them make their own decisions. I have come to realise that sometimes, especially when it comes to people pursuing fitness regimes, it requires some amount of motivation and gentle push from well meaning people because the mind is always looking for excuses to skip and go back into the warm blankets especially in Bangalore during the winter months.

I have realised that we can always run, no matter what the time is, what the weather is and how our circumstances are. So, it is important that we do not allow ourselves to give in to those small moments when our mind is testing us with doubts and questions. 

My daughter and I completed our warm ups, drills and runs along with the hill run on the small rock at Cubbon Park and I was able to drop her at her bus stop and come back home feeling very exhilarated. The rest of the group went to Kanteerava Stadium for the hill work out.

The Saturday, Kanakpura run is always the best in the entire training program. The trail is very beautiful and traverses through a quaint village. We pass through the village bus stop, school and temples. There is the beautiful lake and the route is full of ups and downs. We are greeted throughout the way by village urchins and school boys  who take their cattle to graze before their school begins and bring the cattle back after the school.

This time I ran along side Raji. Raji is 58 yrs old and a very fast runner. She has always been a source of inspiration to me and I felt that on Saturday she was running much slower than her normal pace just to be able to run along side me. As we were chatting non stop and exchanging notes and swapping stories, I did not realise that we had already come up to the 3.5 km mark and the aid station. Very soon, we touched the 5 km mark and came back. Each time, we took a moment near the lake to savour the view and feast our eyes on the sheer beauty of the surroundings. It was a sheer pleasure to see Raji keep one stride after the other and run at a steady pace even at the steepest slopes on which I had to walk. Towards the end, when I had to walk a little more, she raced ahead at her normal brisk pace and I carried on at my normal pace. Throughout the route we were greeted by cows and dogs that Raji was scared of and she needed support to run past them. 

The next day, I could not go for the Sunday recovery run due to a terrible family tragedy and thus ended my week 3 of the Auroville Marathon Training.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Auroville Marathon Training Program : Week 2

November 26 to December 2

This was the most fulfilling week and a week of great learning for me. The week began with the arrival of Santosh's mail on Monday morning. As soon as I got the mail, I read through it and saw that the run for Sunday was scheduled to be a charity run which we will be running in aid of the children who are affected by HIV aids, of the Sneha Care Home. The run was a training cum fund raising event for these children. Earlier the previous Sunday, Santosh had asked me if I can get the children of JGRV school ( to run in this event and I had told him yes, as I am a 'yes person' and say yes without thinking about the why, how, where, when etc.

 I spoke to our P E master and he asked the children of the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Std if they wanted to run. I had 25 children in mind and we got an overwhelming 44 children who gave their names. I sent the list to Santosh and appealed to my friends in the Runner's High community if they would support the children's registrations. Within hours of my mail, all the 44 children got sponsorships and Santosh magnanimously offered to pay for the transportation. We even got a runner who offered to buy the children breakfast. 

All this was too good to be true and I realised Paulo Coelho's famous quote that if you really desire something,  the whole world conspires to help you. In this case I had just wished that the JGRV school children get an opportunity to run along with the Runner's High community and the Ananya children and the entire Runner's High community joined hands and made it happen!

The first day of the week, Monday is a rest day and the next day, Tuesday is the short run of 25 minutes on our own. I usually drop my younger daughter at her bus stop and run around the storm water drain. After my second loop, I meet Rashmi and her cute daughter Ruthu and we spend time chatting as I do my stretches. 

I had planned the Wednesday session with Santosh such that me and my elder daughter go to Cubbon early and we start our warm up at 5.30 am itself. Coach George was there as ever marking the routes for the runners. We started our warm up and he guided us through the drills. After the drills, I was able to do my Time Trial that I had missed the previous Wednesday and I did the 3.2 km in 30min19sec. I dropped my daughter to the Shivajinagar bus stand from where she catches the bus to her college and came home. 

The Saturday run was at Cubbon Park and we had to run a distance of 7.5 km. I was quite satisfied with the way I ran and I was slowly able to run longer and longer distances without having to stop and walk. Even though my pace is still slow and I am usually the last person running once the whole pack runs ahead, personally I was getting better. My strides were longer, my lungs were supporting me more and not threatening to burst and I was running at a steady pace for longer distances and the walk breaks that i require are also shorter and I am able to catch my breath and recover faster than earlier. These are all personal mile stones that I crossed which gave me confidence. All the fellow runners from the Runner's High community who had committed themselves to supporting the JGRV school children's participation in the next day's run, true to their word, handed over the amounts that they had committed themselves to. 

The Sunday was the most memorable day. Anupama and Subhashini joined the JGRV bus along with Anupama's daughter and my daughters. We drove to Decathlon, Sarjapur, with a bus load of highly energetic children who were very excited by this outing, amidst loud singing and chattering. Just before we reached Decathlon, we instructed the children to stick together and run together and not leave the pack. That advice turned out to be the wrong advice as there were prizes to be won at the end of the 5 km run which I did not know about. If we had allowed our JGRV children to run to their potential, who knows, they might have run a few trophies. Lesson learnt. 

Once we arriver at Decathlon, the place was buzzing with activity and energy. The registrations were completed with quick efficiency as the organisers had organised several counters and we were all given our bibs. The race set off after a short oath taking ceremony by all the participants in support of HIV affected children. 

The runners set off nice and strong. Santosh had asked the Ananya kids to guide our JGRV kids. I though that it was a very nice gesture on the part of the Ananya kids. If they had decided to run at their pace, they would have all won the trophies, but instead they decided to support the JGRV kids which was a highly commendable gesture. We were guided through the traffic by traffic wardens and pretty soon we had passed the main roads and were running through village lanes. We passed by many small and quaint temples through the route and arrived at the first aid station that was manned by the Sneha Care Home kids with great efficiency looking bright in their green uniforms. They greeted us in a very friendly way and were smart in distributing the water glasses. Santosh came riding on his cycle to check on the progress.

We later ran through the Shining Star School to loud cheering by the children who had lined up on either sides of the road and were cheering all the runners. We then ran through Sneha Care Home and even here there were children lined up on both sides of the route with glasses of water in their hands. Their continuous cheering infused fresh energy into my legs.

We had to run the last part with some amount of heat and sun and the route had a slight gradient. After the previous day's 7 km run I had developed a slight pain in my left knee and the heat was making each and every step difficult. As we reached the main road, we were again greeted by volunteers and traffic wardens who cheered us along and helped us to finish with flourish.

Our JGRV kids had run very fast and had reached the destination quite a while ago and even they cheered me as I entered Decathlon. They were all thrilled to receive certificates from the organisers. As we started our way back to Kalyan Nagar in the bus, they all expressed their desire to run again and they wanted to know if they will have more opportunities like this in the future. Finally, they were treated to a sumptuous and yummylicious breakfast of hot hot Poori Saagu and searing Masala Dosa (thanks to the donor who does not want to be named) at Srinidhi Upachaar and they ate like little princes and princesses which they deserved and had earned it as a right as they had all run in aid of other children.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Auroville Marathon Training : Week 1

November 19 - November 25

The week began with the arrival of the much anticipated weekly schedule mail from Santosh. After the exilariting experience at the intro session, I was waiting impatiently for the email which did not arrive on Sunday. I even sent a couple of sms to Rashmi asking if she had got it and I had not somehow got it for which she patiently replied (did I detect a certain amount of exasperation?) asking me to calm down and that it would arrive within no time.

True to her words it arrived my mail box early in the morning at 6:10 AM on Monday and I lapped it up greedily. By now I had begun to plan my entire week centred around the runs and now I had the added responsibility of having enrolled my daughter as well. After my first 12.5 km Ultra run I began to really appreciate how far I had come and also to believe that I could only go forward and further from here. Juggling my family, daughters and office and the running training session left me with very little time for myself. Added to that I had to take care of my nutrition, hydration and make sure that I sleep early.

The first run of the week was on Tuesday where we have to run the given short distance on our own. As per my schedule I ran two rounds around the storm water drain for 25 mins. Its a distance of 2.4 kms. I had planned to take my daughter for the Wednesday run. the run is from 6.00 am to 7.00 am. But she has to catch her college bus at 6.45. When I had posed this dilemma to Santosh the previous week he had given me the solution and asked me to come to Cubbon park at 5.30 and as coach George would be there at 5.30 itself making the markings on the running routes, he would guide me with the run and the drills. Both Rashmi and Apsara quickly jumped at the suggestion and all got into the excitement of the situation.

We arrived at Cubbon at 5.30 and were searching for George. True to Santosh's word, George was making the markings and we began our warm up with torches in our hands. Once our warm up ended he guided us through the form exercises. Doing the form exercises with the group gives us a lot of time to catch our breath. But doing the tiny group of three hardly gave us time in between. After that I had to do the time trail for which I had to run the distance of 3.2 km or 2 miles. This meant that I had to run four laps of 800 mts each. Both me and my daughter ran our distances along with Rashmi. But I could only run three as it was getting late for my daughter's bus, and I had to abandon the time trail. George advised me to do it the next Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Saturday long run was at Cubbon and we had to run 3 kms. We ran as a group around the park. I noticed that I was running better. Even though I could maintain a slow and steady pace I was not getting breathless and could run without stopping right up to 1 km. After that I was able to maintain a interval of 4 min run and 1 min walk. I was quite pleased with myself and was slowly gaining in confidence. The 'chai' or tea session after the run was full of fun and idle chatter which acts like fodder to the soul just like the run rejuvenates the body and Santosh's thought provoking articles acts as food for the mind.

The Sunday short run was at IIMB or the world renowned management institute. It was a short run of 2 km. It was also the day that we were supposed to form buddy groups. All the runners are divided into buddy groups which are formed on the basis of the distances that we are training for in our target run and the goals we have set out to achieve in that target run. The target run we are training for in the current training program is the Auroville marathon on February 10 and the distance that I am training for is 10 km.

Santosh along with Professor had organised very well. We had a brief introduction session about Runner's High and the various charities and causes it supports not only in terms of monetary support, but also the involvement of Santosh and the coaches and various runners with the various organisations in terms of training the children of those schools and organisations. Even though we had read about it all on the Runner's High website and also heard the accounts of various people, the AV session was a very big eye opener and it gave a deep insight into the kind of work that is being done by the Runner's High community. We had the buddy creation session which is always full of fun and enjoyment. I chose a finish goal with the aim to run the entire 10 km without stopping and walking and was put among beginners and second timers with similar goals. Each group was assigned a coach and we were fortunate to get our very own Runner's High's in-house photographer Raghav. Our photos on facebook are going to look awesome :) !!!

After the AV session we had a brief 'chai' and coffee session and thus ended another week of fun, frolic and running .......

Monday, November 19, 2012

Auroville Marathon Training Program - Intro session

November 18

We completed the Bangalore Ultra on November 11. We provided the feedback about our training program. We also wrote some stories and read all the stories written by the running community about the training program, the Ultra run itself, what worked for them, what did not work for them, what memories will remain etched in their hearts and the inspiration.

The week was a week of relaxation and also of basking in the shining glory of having completed our task and having achieved our goals. The most significant feeling was that it is not some reflected glory but its your own achievement that has been earned through one's own sweat and blood. Ok.. ok.. I know that I am being a bit over dramatic but that was the feelign that prevailed throughout the week.

The intro session for the Auroville training program was scheduled for the coming Sunday, November 18. My neighbour and our driver who ferries us to and from each training session apart from training himself for the half marathon, had left for Japan to learn to speak more Japanese than moshi moshi and sayonara.:). Of course not, he has gone on work. But that sounds boring. Going to Japan to learn to speak Japanese sounds more interesting :)

I was the driver for the next two weeks. I packed my car with Rashmi, my friend Meena and her children adn my two daughters and we all went to Cubbon park. As we had arrived a few minutes early, there were only a few coaches and a half a dozen odd people. But as the seconds were passing by more and more people kept pouring in and phew! I will not be exaggerating if I say that there were more than two hundred people who had registered. And I will not be wrong if I say that at least half the faces were new faces.

The session was full of humour, friendly bantering and congratulating each other on the Ultra run. Subhashini was the star among the women for having come first in the 10K run in her category. Santosh then started with a brief introduction about Runner's High and a short overview of the Auroville marathon training program and how the entire program will be spread and how the sessions will be each week. Even though I had heard it before, it certainly felt new and like I was hearing it for the first time.

The highlight of the session was the novel method adopted by Santosh to introduce the coaches. He introduced the first coach and then he made each of them introduce the next coach. This added an element of freshness and also gave us an opportunity to hear all of them as we usually do not get to hear all of them speaking but only get to know the coaches whom we interact with directly.

Santosh asked the newcomers to run two rounds around the Queen's park. The pain in my left shin and left knee that I had developed during my Ultra run had reduced considerably to the extent of having disappeared. Even though I did not have to run, I ran the two rounds to check if the pain would return back. It did return back with such a short run. We have two guardian angels and miracle workers in the Runner's High community. If Santosh forms the foundation and the coaches are the pillars then these two form the roof or the protective umbrella like cover to the community. They are the physios or the physiotherapists. They patiently hear each and every runner's complaints and give a set of dos and donts and exercises. If followed carefully and diligently, the pains disappear and we emerge stronger. That is how it worked with me also and by next week I was as good as new.

Armed with new confidence and a general sense of well being I was eagerly looking forward to beginning the new training season and a new chapter.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Week After the Bangalore Ultra

November 12 - November 17

During the week after the Bangalore Ultra run,  I was on an absolute high after having soaked in the feeling of having achieved something that I would not even have dreamed about seven weeks ago. If someone had come and told me on October 24th that I would be participating in a 12.5 marathon run, I would have rolled on the ground and laughed. In fact I had even made fun of Pani, Rashmi and Anupama during their preparations for the KTM.

But, here I was, having joined the same bandwagon lock stock and barrel, I had come to realise what it was that kept them going and what motivated them to wake up at unearthly hours and go to unheard of places and run crazy distances. It was the high that you experience and the sense of achievement that you feel, as though you are right on top of the world and there since you have done this, there is nothing that you cannot do if you set your heart towards it.

We received a mail from head coach Santosh asking us to share our stories about our run and the general training program. That started an avalanche of stories written by the runners each of which was a beautiful read by itself. Stories of perseverance and endurance by some and sheer grit and determination by some. Stories of sheer enjoyment by some and of lessons learnt and personal milestones achieved. Each story, written from the heart touched a chord and have all stayed with me and have become a source of inspiration. Each story was also a piece of literature in itself to be preserved and categorized among the classics. I am sure that at any point in time if I feel low, I need to just go back them and they will provide me with the impetus to move on.

We also received a feedback form asking us to give our feedback. I felt that this was a really not needed because, hey! come on! after the adrenaline in the blood stream due to the 12.5 run and the rush in the head, what feedback can we give? Of course it was all good. But these folks are really serious about receiving their feedbacks and the form has also been designed very meticulously with each and every aspect of the training sessions covered with specific queries which we had to answer and rate. I filled it immediately and sent it even though there was a reminder after a couple of days to the entire group asking for those who did not send it to send it immediately. I told you, its not taken lightly ... these guys are serious about it :)

It was a no-brainer really whether I would register for the next season of training. I was just waiting for the mail from Santosh inviting us to the next training session for the Auroville marathon, I registered immediately. My daughter had got inspired by my run at the Bangalore Ultra and she also wanted to register. Because of her college there were some schedule issues and logistics issues. Once I chatted about it with Santosh, he was quite supportive and welcomed her into the program and also gave very simple solutions on how to go about overcoming the challenges. I also invited my friend to register and she not only registered herself, but her children also joined along.

So here I am.... on my way to another season of glorious running, Yes, finally I feel that I am runner !!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Process Runner : Week 7 : Bangalore Ultra Finished

Nov 5 to Nov 11

This was the week that I had been training for. The Bangalore Ultra marathon was scheduled for Sunday, November 11. The Sunday afternoon mail of Santosh contained the weekly schedule and many inspirational videos. He wrote many useful tips about how our preparation should be, nutrition, hydration and rest. The best piece he wrote was that we were our own heroes as we had all trained against al odds, persevered with determination and said that we must go ahead and proudly call ourselves athletes. I found that to be the most motivating as I had never seen myself as an athlete up to this point in time.

The Wednesday workout was at cubbon park and consisted of the short train workout.  I was encouraged by Santosh and Chandra to run faster and I had to really push myself to sprint the fastest I could. Each sprint is very touch and the time I need to recover and for my heart and lungs to come back to normal is longer. As a result of which I am unable to continue with the rest of the group and have to take longer periods of walk to recover as compared to the rest of the group.

The rest of the days of the week was for rest so that we are fresh and raring to go on Sunday. Santosh warned us that this is not like the exam we give in college and school where we resort last minute cramming, memorising and preparation. Here, the preparation has happened in the last six weeks, and this week is to go and give our best shot.

The usual last minute advices, collecting of the bib took place. The d-day arrived on Sunday, November 11. We all assembled at the Hennur cross and went to the race location in the Ananya bus and the Shrishti bus. The 100 km runners and the 24 hr runners had completed their runs at 5 am to great success. The 25 km runners had already begun their run at 6 am. As, we, the 12.5 km runners collected at the starting line to last minute announcements, the enthusiasm and the excitement was palatable. There were last minute high fives and best of lucks going around  It was very exciting to see many of the 25 km runners come to the 12.5 point and turn back for their second lap. we cheered them all loudly. The race started as the clock struck 7 and all the eager fast runners rushed to the front and we all started at a very steady pace. We saw many more 25 km runners along the way who cheered us along. 
It was beautiful Bangalore weather and perfect for running. The trail has many open stretches and a bamboo forest on either side. The soil is soft and perfect for runnig even though there are a few rocky stretches and a few puddles that we had to watch out for. 

I found it very tough right from the beginning itself. There was an ominous feeling that today might not be my day. The slight gradient in the first 1 km itself did it to me. My lungs threatened to burst. I was already panting at the first aid station. I developed a slight ache in the lower abdomen and then my left leg started to stiffen and ache from the 4.5 to 5 km mark onwards. But seeing so many fellow RH runners on the opposite side egging me on and hearing 'come on Asha, you can do it!' kept me going.

All our fellow runners had raced ahead and Seema, Geethanjali and I formed a group and kept each other going. Seema wasn't feeling well and the heat was getting to Geethanjali. But each time one of us feel back the other would call out a word of encouragement. 
The cheering squad on the way with their whistles were great boosters and gave a rush to us both the times we passed them. The spoon and tumbler ringing was a great touch! and these guys rock!!!! and are better than the IPL cheering leading squad. Seeing so many volunteers hooting and whistling and many who had come on a beautiful Sunday just to cheer us kept me going. Each time I hear some one say Go Go, I increased my pace for the next 3 or 4 steps. We saw many of our elite long distance runners many of our coaches running.

Seeging Raghu sprawled on the floor with his camera trying to capture each one of us was another great sight which helped me to gain some more strength. Both the times we passed him we made sure that we gave a nice smile and a great pose.

Throughout the pain in my leg kept increasing, but Geethanjali saying each time, 'we are at the last 4 km', 'this is the home stretch' etc. kept me going and took my mind away from the pain. 

The scenery was beautiful and the bamboo groves and the many tunnels of greenery that we ran through were a sight to behold!
I experienced many emotional moments where the pain increased and the though that I might not be able to finish seemed to overwhelm me. I thought that I might burst into tears for no rhyme or reason. I kept thinking that I might just have to give up in the last 2.5 to 3 km stretch. But I continued on with the single thought that no matter what happens I have to cross the finish line even if I have to crawl. I was reminded of the motivational video Santosh had sent and also my sisters words, 'please finish the race, even if you have to crawl'. 

I saw many people walking the last 3 to 2 km stretch.  25 manykm runners had started walking. As I approached the last aid station I realised that I was only 1 km away from finishing. I decided to run as much as possible but could run only a few paces and had to walk again. Just when I was experiencing another emotional moment, I saw my daughter and niece shouting out my name. Seeing my family cheering me helped me to control and compose myself. They both ran a few paces with me as my husband took my video and my older daughter, mother in law and neighbour aunty cheered me on.

Ajay joined to pace me the last 300 mts. Sharath kept saying 'come on, just 200 mts more' Sheetal ran with me up to the finishing point. All of them and many others helped me to cover the last 1oo mts. 

Crossing the finishing line to great cheering and finally getting the medal was the high point of the day and soon all the pain and emotions of the last 2 hrs seemed all worth it. This run had made an indelible impression on my heart and not on my mind. With this experience, I feel it is now possible for me to do anything. I can now call myself a finisher !!!!!!

Starting from zero and a no-exercise background, I never ever imagined that I would be able to run/walk a 12.5 marathon in a short duration training program of 7 weeks. From October 25 to November 11, I have come a long way thanks to the those who inspired me to join, my family for being supportive, the coaches and the entire running community. The memory of today will be etched in my heart forever. 

Thanks a ton once again everyone for making this possible for me.!!!!!!

Next Sunday .... we start training for Auroville 10K on February 10, 2013

Friday, November 2, 2012

Process Runner : Week 6

Oct 29 - Nov 5, 2012

After the mock run on Sunday, I was completely exhausted and it took me a whole day of just lying on the bed to recover and to be able to go to the office the next Monday. Santosh's mail arrived in the afternoon listing out the program for the week and contained some interesting articles and trivia.

I did my Tuesday tempo run alone in the morning. I had to run for 25 minutes and I did three lops around the storm water drain. I had to do 4 strides of 100m each. Just as I completed two, I bumped into a friend and had to rush back home as it was getting late to go to the office.

Our Wednesday run was at Cubbon Park and we had the delayed relays scheduled for us. Santosh and Chandra were the coaches for the day. The runners of RH attend the Wednesday training sessions at any one of the three venues Cubbon park, Agara and Jaynagar to reduce the distance they need to travel as it is a working day. Santosh divides his times between  the three venues. All the coaches put in a lot of effort to not only train the new comers like me but they also keep track of the progress of the different levels that each runner is in however accomplished or seasoned they are. They keep changing the patterns to suit the needs and requirements of each one of us depending on our levels of fitness.

On Wednesday as I got up at 4 am to got ready, it was raining heavily. Anu called me asking if I was coming and then Rashmi messaged me saying that we will go for the run even though it is raining.

The delayed run is another killer Wedneday work out that not only takes us directly to hell, but also deep fries us and throws us into boiling water :) !. It was drizzling, but, that does not stop this group from running. On the contrary, they all love running in the rain.

Again we are divided into groups according to our paces and the first runner of each group sets out. The second runner starts after 10 seconds and tries to catch up with the first runner. The third runner next and so on and so forth. I started well as I was the first runner. We had to do eight loops of 200 mts each. We stop at the first 100 mt point and wait for al the runners to join us which gives us about 15 seconds of rest and then we start again. After about 2 rounds I started panting and needed more time to recover. Finally Santosh asked our group to stop after 7 rounds and I was actually disappointed that he did not allow us to do the last. I felt like a school girl whom the teacher had scolded and  given the tougher job to the other student. :)

The Saturday run was again at Cubbon park. We had to run 8 kms and do two loops of 4 km each around the park. Cubbon park is the most beautiful location for a run. We Bangaloreans are blessed with beautiful weather throughout the year that is most conducive for running. Many runners often share their experiences of running in hotter cities like Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai.

The sun rays streaming through the trees was a sight to behold as we were running. The dogs in the park are used to the runners and more importantly, the runners are used to the dogs. We get to see parrots, mynahs, pigeons and other birds through the running course. I was happy that I ran without stopping for a long distance before starting to walk. I maintained a steady pace and kept up a good time. I must run longer distances before starting to walk because the first course is always the easiest. Once you stop and start walking, then it becomes more and more difficult to run even 100 mts  or even more than 10 paces.

Te, Sunday run at IIMB was very beautiful. We had to run a  distance of 4 km and then we had the core training session. We started with a quick warm up of 1.2 km and then we did the form exercises. After that was the 4 km run. I started with Seema and Shuba. But Seema raced ahead and me and Shuba continued at a steady pace with a few paces of walk thrown in between to catch our breaths. Shuba is on a come back from an injury and she suffers from knee pain. When we were at the 3 km mark, we saw a crowd around fellow runner Padma who had felt giddy due to sudden low sugar and thank fully has sat down by the road side. Rashmi and others ran to the aid station to get her water and coach Santosh came running with chikkis (very tasty and crispy Indian sweet made out of peanuts and jaggery (tradiitonal unrefined whole cane sugar)). He advised us to continue running as he realised that we had all crowded which was not very helpful. So we all continued our last 1 km and completed our run on high spirits.

We then had a session of core strengthening exercises with Chandra. They help us to improve the strength of our core muscles, prevent injury and improve our running stability and efficiency. So strengthnin our core is the sure way to become fitter and faster.

As it was the last Sunday of training before the Bangalore Ultra Marathon, Santosh had planned a small award giving ceremony. It was a moment to recognise all the newcomers who had put in a lot of effort, shown great commitment and  improved significantly during the six weeks of training. I was pleasantly surprised and very happy to get recognised for my regularity in using the runner's log and through this I hope all runner's will realise the benefit of the runner's log created by Vinay and Santosh.  

Rashmi had got coffee for everyone and I had prepared Tea. Santosh and coach Sourav (who is also a professor at IIMB) had also organised tea and coffee for everyone. So we ended the days with a hot cup of coffee and a steaming hot cup of tea. I could see a lot of energy and enthusiasm around and felt that happiness is the greatest form of gratitude and I also knew that I would store the memory of this day not in my mind or head but deep down in my heart.

Next Sunday .... November 11, the D-day, the day that I have been training for the last 7 weeks, the Bangalore Ultra Run - 12.5K

Process Runner : Week 5

Oct 22 - Oct 28:

A lot of people ask me why I joined this running program. My only reason for joining is to be able to inspire my daughters to take up the healthy way of living. I wanted to motivate them by doing it and showing it and practising what I preach.

By now, after four weeks of being a part of Runner;s High, I had also become used to planning my life around the runs. I didnt want to miss a single run. The week was the week of the Navrathri festival and I had to go to Mysore to visit my father and grand mother at Mysore as both were not well. I set out to Mysore after the Sunday run at  Cubbon park. I drove down with my daughters.

 The weekly mail of Santosh arrived on Sunday afternoon detailing the weekly program. That Tuesday, as I was in Mysore I did not run in the morning as I had to drive back in the afternoon so that I do not miss the Wednesday run. The Wednesday run was at Cubbon park and it was the group fartlek. In this  runners who are of similar paces form groups and do fast sprints for a distance of 4 km . The group does a fast stretch  for 2 minutes and then stop till the last runner joins. The last runner is given just 30 seconds of rest and then the group starts again. If I though the last weeks Train workout was a killer then this was a killer that takes you directly to hell. I struggled to keep up with my group and the runners kept encouraging me all the time and kept egging me on to not give up.

We are supposed to do a short 25 minute cycling or yoga every Friday. But the past four weeks, I have not been doing the Friday workout. I hope that when the next training program starts I'll be able to be regulat with the Friday workout also tha way I have been regular with the Tuesday workout.

That Saturday was a rest day as we had a mock run on Sunday at Kingston County Annexe which is the venue for the Bangalore Ultra Marathon for which we have all been training since the past four weeks. The mock run was organised by the Runner's for Life group who are also the organisers of the Bangalore Ultra Marathon and the Kaveri Trail marathon every year. This year they had organised the Mysore marathon on the very same day as our mock run. Because of this the only runners who turned up for the mock run were from the Runner's High group and we were a good hundred strong team. As the organisers had forgotten to get the marking powder, we had about a 45 minute period when the organisers themselves were doubtful whether the run will actually take place or not as they did not want to risk runner's getting lost as the trails were not marked. But they managed to place volunteers at important points and the run commenced at 7 am.

It was a beautiful trail with a few puddles that we had to avoid and a few stretches with rocks. But all in all it was beautiful as we were running through a forest. To find this place with dense trees just about 12 kms from our house was really a surprise. It would make a very good cycling route also as the approach roads are in excellent condition.

The run itself was very good. I ran a good distance before beginning to walk. As the trail was full of rocks, I struggled a bit. The body refused to cooperate and the muscles began to scream asking me to stop. That's when I faced the inevitable question that every runner comes across at least once during their runs. Why am I doing this? And its also very amusing to see the kind of answers that the mind comes up with. I finished the run in 1 hr 45 mins to loud cheering and clappign by fellow runners.

Here is a link to the trailer released by RFL (Runner's for life) of the Bangalore Ultra Mock Run

After the run we shared tea and had a good chat during the stretches. Rashmi's tasty sandwiches and Anu's tasty akki rotti (rice flour roti) made the day even more memorable. With the mind empty, spirit full and the stomach even fuller up to the brim, there is nothing else that one needs .......

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Process Runner : Week 4

Oct 15 - Oct 21:

The fourth week again began with the arrival of the much awaited and anticipated mail on Sunday afternoon from Santosh with the details of the week's running schedule and program. It is always exiting to know the venue of the Saturday and Sunday runs because he keeps changing the venues to keep it interesting and challenging for us and to avoid making the running experience monotonous. Also, it gives us the experience of running on different trails.
Santosh's  mails also contain a lot of information on breathing, recovery, nutrition and hydration and various other tips that are helpful to us in our running. He also sends some inspirational articles and videos and some articles either written by him or from any other source that are relevant to that week's running.

Monday was the day of rest and on Tuesday I had to run 25 minutes and then two 100 mts strides (sprint) with 1 minute walk in between. I could not keep the 3 minutes run and the 1 minute walk intervals. Even though I started with the 3 minute run, after the first loop around the storm water drain, the running started decreasing to 2.5 min, 2 min, 1.5 and then 1 min. The walks started becoming slower and increasing in duration. I ran with Rashmi and quite late at around 6.30 PM.

The Wednesday Cubbon park run was a slightly more difficult run, We had to run 4 km around the park and I struggled to keep up with my fellow runners. I tried walking faster and tried to keep the last of the runners in sight. After one loop around the park we had to run up a small rock right in the middle of the park to gain some experience of hill running. Coach Kanishka was near the rock giving encouragement to all the runners. I ran up the hill with fellow runner Raji who kept encouraging me to run faster. I had to do 2 runs up the rock but unknowing I did 4 runs. After that we had to run three more loops around the jogger's trail. I was exhausted and I was walking more and running less. I kept taking a very long time for each lop and after my second loop which I walked most of the distance, coach Srini coud not see my plight any more and asked me to stop and do the stretches.

The Saturday run was scheduled to take place at the Kanakpura trail. Through the week Pani kept saying that he might not be able to make it to the run as he was working very late everyday. But finally he could not our enthusiasm and excitement and finally made it to the run. Pani, Rashmi, Aseem and I set out early at 5.30 so that we could reach the destination well within time. Again, Kanakpura trail is a long way from our area and it was a good 1 hour drive.

The run commenced at sharp 5.30 am and the long drive was all worth it as the trail is beautiful. We had
 run up to the 3.5 km point and turn back. I started very well and ran a good distance before slowing down and begginning to walk. At the end of the 2 km mark there is a beautiful lake and the entire trail is lined on both the sides with beautiful trees. The villagers have got used to the runners by now. I lost my fellow runners right after the 2 km mark when I started slowing down. Then I met Shubha who is coach George;s wife. We decided to run together. We had a good conversation and discussedabout a lot of things. As we neared the 3.5 mark, we saw a lot of villegers standing near the turning. We decided to avoid them as we didnt know what they were there for. We turned around a few paces ahead. imediately the villagers started cheering us and calling out 'mosa' 'mosa' 'illi tirug bekittu' which means 'cheating, cheating, you were supposed to turn around here' in Kannada. had a good laugh and were laughing about it for quite a long time.

As we were approaching the 5 km water stop, Shubha developed pain in her calf muscles. We met Kaiwan who was manning the aid station and he congratulated us on our pace and said that we were doing very well. Shubha told me that she would walk the rest of the distance. I came back to the beautiful lake and spent a few moments admiring the beauty and the serenity of the place. Even though the trail had a lot of killer ups and downs I was able to run up a few. But the rest, I had to walk them up. But still I tried to maintain a fast pace even during the walk. Al in all, the beauty of the place kept me going and I was able to complete the run in 1 hr and 40 minutes and arrived at the starting to a lot of loud cheering by the fellow runners.

That day, the elite senior runners of the group along with Santosh were doing the 50 km run and it was really very inspiring to see them run.They had started their run at 5.30 itself and finished their run at 10.30. The sheer beauty of seeing a person run those distances and the passion with which they do it is something very commendable. The run ended with very tasty sandwiches that Rashmi had got for all of us and hot steaming coffee and tea from my thermos flask that I had started taking along with me for each run.

The Sunday run was again at Cubbon Park and we had to run 5 km. One round around the park which is 4 kms and 3 rounds around the jogging track. After the Kanakpura run I was totally exhausted and could not run very well. Karthik who is the 8 yr old son of fellow runner Manjunath Rao kept me company throughout the run.His constant chatter and his description of his exploits on the cricket field was very delightful to hear and we both ran together. He kept chasing the pigeons every time we passed them and their flight together made a wondrous sight to behold. Coach Srini joined me during the last 1.5 km of the run and encouraged me to run by timing myself and strictly adhering to the intervals. He told me about maintaining a rhythm, breathing in rhythm, keeping to the timing of 3 minutes run and 1 minute walk and to gradually reduce the length of walks and increase the length of runs.

All in all a very beautiful week of running and discovering ....

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Process Runner : Week 3

Oct 8 - Oct 14:

Once again, the week begins on Sunday afternoon with the arrival of the mail from Santosh. The previous week Santosh had sent us the runner's Log which I started filling diligently after each day of running. This will keep me informed about my progress after each session and also coach's comments about ways to improve and their thoughts.

Tuesday Rashmi and I teamed up to run around the storm water drain. This time the duration was increased to 25 minutes. So, I had to do three rounds and a distance of 3.6 km as each loop around the storm water drain is 1.2 km. I ran at a slightly reduced pace and so was able to run a little longer distance before I had to stop to catch my breath and walk. I was tiring out quickly and couldn't run well. We ran in the evening at around 6.00 pm which is very late as we have less than twelve hours to recover for the next day's Wednesday quality workout.

The next day Wednesday was the train workout. Pani, Rashmi and I set out once again at 5.30 am with all enthusiasm for the train workout. The conversation during the car drive centred around how tough the train workout is and what are the best ways to tackle it. I got tips to remain calm and not to get into a competitive mode. Srini was the coach for the day and he explained the concept and encouraged me to run well. I found it very difficult to sprint at such high speeds and the recovery for the next run was very difficult. Srini kept encouraging me to keep running and not give up. But the lungs felt like they are going to burst and the heart kept pumping more and more. The encouragement from fellow runners Anu and Shubhashini and coach Srini was what kept me to try harder and not give up. Mainly due to the voices of encouragement that kept egging me to go on I was able to run the six loops.

The Wednesday workouts are killer workouts and we feel the effects after we come home. Firstly we are always ravenously hungry. Even though I cannot eat too much at each meal, the frequency of eating has increased. The stomach rings the alarm every three hours and has to be filled with some nutritious food. Apart from that the muscles make their presence felt. For the first time I knew each and every muscle in my legs which were screaming thank you for having awakened them from deep slumber for the first time. The hardest part of a Wednesday is that I have to come home , get ready and head straight to the office. At the office after sitting at the desk for two to three hours, when I get up to go to the water cooler, the legs feel like lead and as though they have got set and the ows! and ohs! from me have evoked quite a few jokes from my colleagues. The key I have realised is to take a short walk every half an hour to prevent this from happening. Finally at night, the tierd muscles make their presence felt the most and ache and cry. But its all the good pain and an highly enjoyable experience.

The Saturday run was at Cubbon park again and this time my distance was 7 km. So in a matter of three weeks I had come to the point of running 7 kms. Due to the short duration of our training program which was only 7 weeks, our ramp up was very steep. We had to take the loop around the park which is about 4 kms and then come back to do three loops on the joggers track. which is another 3 kms. We Bangaloreans are very fortunate to have two beautiful parks right at the heart of the city, Lalbaug and Cubbon Park which are a haven to runners and walkers alike to pursue their fitness regimens. Cubbon park is beautiful in the mornings and there are many other walkers and joggers apart from our Runner's High

 I found it very difficult to run on that day also and I walked most of the distance. My buddy group runners all raced ahead of me and I struggled to keep up with the group. As I did not know the route, I focused on keeping the last of the runners in sight. I returned back to the main running area and then had to run three loops inside the jogging track. I was very slow and was walking quite a good distance in the first two loops. Each loop took me at least 15 to 17 minutes to complete. During the third lop, Seema came and joined me. I decided to run at her pace and we struck up a lively conversation which helped me to run at a good pace. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had completed the third loop in just 11 minutes. Then and there both Seema and I decided that we run well and better when we run together and decided to run together from now on during every training session.
The Sunday training session was scheduled at the world renowned Indian Institute of Management Bangalore. I were very exited to be entering such a hallowed seat of knowledge and innovation. Pani, Rashmi and I left early as it is quite a long drive to Bannerghatta road from our area and I felt quite at awe  as we drove past the security guards and the gates and into the campus. The pure and pristine atmosphere inside the tall gates, the well maintained campus and the neatly maintained gardens and trimmed lawns evoked a new sense of respect and wonder in me. The contrast between what exists outside the high walls of IIMB and what is present inside is unmistakable. The chaotic and pollution filled roads outside and the beautiful atmosphere inside is proof of what India is and what it can be with a little bit more political will and strong leadership.

But, I am digressing and coming back to running, it was the recovery run of 3 kms and we had to do a loop of 1.5 kms up to the hostel and back. I started with my buddy group but they raced way ahead of me. I struggled to keep sight of the last of the runners as I was walking after less than 1 minute of running. After I had lost sight of them completely and we were nearing the last 1 km, I decided to catch up and ran fast and even sprinted twice. The recovery time after each sprint was excruciating but it helped me to catch up with Seema and I was able to finish the run along with my buddy group to loud cheering and welcoming by our fellow runners.

Thus ended my third week of running with a great deal of satisfaction and a deep feeling of  fulfilment. 

Process Runner : Week 2

Oct 1 - Oct 7:

The second week of training began with the arrival of the mail from Santosh promptly on Sunday afternoon. By now I had become eager to receive the mail and to know where the Saturday and the Sunday runs would be.

Monday is always a rest day. Tuesday is the short run near my house for fifteen minutes. I teamed up with rashmi for a run around the storm water drain. I set out from the office early so that I could run with Rashmi. I got a rap on my wrist from my 'BOSS' for leaving the office early for this new crazy passion of mine. After our run, Rashmi and I did our stretches and foot drills. I hadn't yet got the stretches and the sequence of the foot drills. Rashmi patiently explained the it all to me. My body was very stiff and I couldn't bend much. But nevertheless like a true soldier I carried on!

Wednesday was the straights and curves work out. After the warm up of two laps and the form exercises, we had to run eight laps of easy run in straights and curves method. It means we run for one minute and walk for three minutes till we get our breath back. It was quite tough and I kept tiring out at shorter distances and couldn't run much. 

Saturday was the Easy run at Decathlon and the distance we had to run was 5 Km. Again, I couldn't run beyond 1 minute and had to walk much of the distance. We had to run with our buddy groups. But since I was the slowest in my buddy group, everyone else went way ahead of me. Seema stayed with em for a good distance and then went ahead at her pace. Rashmi started getting her famous sandwiches and they are so tasty that all the run and the hard work seems worth it just to eat her sandwiches. Since we had driven in my car, Rashmi and I left early and did not wait for Pani.

Sunday was the recovery run of fifteen minutes at Cubbon Park. We did the form exercises, stretches and the foot drills as well. I had carried hot coffee with me. So Pani, Rashmia and I shared a tumbler of hot coffee, yes a steel tumbler of hot coffee before heading to the Kamat hotel for some masala dosa. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Process Runner begins - Week 1

Sept 25 - Sept 30:

The first day of running arrived. It was Sunday, Sept 23, 2012 and before the crack of dawn, before the birds woke up and started chirping in the trees,before the milk man came, before even the news paper boys started sorting the news papers, we were on our way to Cubbon Park. Armed with a bottle of water and wearing my age old shoes, I was all set to begin my journey into the world of fitness and into the realms of healthy living.

Chief instructor Santosh introduced us to the Runner's high community and coaches. There was a very boisterous and highly enthusiastic crowd of about hundred and fifty members who had returned back triumphantly from a good run at the Kaveri trail marathon that was held on Sept 15 and 16. Consequently the mood was very upbeat. But later I realised that this is the general state of the entire group and they are simply one noisy lot!

Based on the level of training the runners were in, their running pace and the distances the runners wanted to run in the Bangalore Ultra marathon, Santosh divided us into various groups. Each group has a different training program each week and we have to strictly follow the program given and ahere to instructions.

After the formalities and the intro talk we had to run two rounds around the Cubbon Park jogger's track and I struggled a bit to run continuously. The day was just an introductory day and we proceeded towards Kamat Hotel for a tasty and sumptuous breakfast of Vada sambar and Masala Dosa.

In the afternoon we received the first of the weekly mail from Santosh with the weekly schedule. The title of the mail was 'Runner's High Bangalore Ultra 2012 - Week 1'. I was amused and reminded of the movie 'Kal Ho Na Ho' in which SRK helps SAK to ignite PZ's romantic feelings towards him in a week. So the things SAK does each day is shown with someone holding a placard week 1, or someone saying week 2 into the camera etc. In short Santosh's program is something structured and very similar wherein we progress each day as per schedule with a clear program that he has scientifically designed to develop us non-runners into seasoned runners.

On Tuesdays, we are supposed to run on our own and I ran in the evening for fifteen minutes. There is a storm water drain near my place that is a very calm and serene place. There is a canopy of trees through the entire stretch which gives the feeling of running through a green tunnel and the added advantage is that there is very minimum traffic. One loop around the drain is 1.2 kms and I ran two loops around it. As it was the first time that I was running in my area, I was a bit apprehensive. I did not want anyone who knew me to see me running and such thoughts kept running through my mind. Thankfully my prayers were answered on that day and I did not bump into anyone.

The next session was on Wednesday at Cubbon Park where we were first asked to warm up by running two laps and then we were taught the form drills which help you to improve your running. Then we had to do six laps of running at an easy pace which means we can run for one minute and walk to catch our breath for one minute. Needless to say that I walked more and ran less. The last session was taken by Santosh himself where he taught us the strengthening stretches that are vital for injury prevention and the foot drills which help in injury prevention.

The next session was on Saturday at Decathlon, Sarjapur road. We had to run and walk at an easy pace and at the speed that was comfortable to us and the distance given to us was 3 kms. It was for the first time that I was running on a trail out in the open and it was a very unique experience. By now I had a running buddy in Seema who gave me company during the run. Even though she was fitter and could run faster, she stuck with me till the last 1 km which she wanted to complete at a fast pace. We had to return back at the 1.5 km mark. But due to our over enthusiasm and as it was our first time, we continued up to the 2.5 km mark. There we were caught red handed by coach Kanishka who asked us to return back. We sheepishly retraced our steps and were given a talk on sticking to the schedule given. over training and injury prevention.

After the run we were advised on what kind of shoe to buy for the run by Santosh. He did a simple test to find out if our foot was the pronation kind and suggested the kind of shoe to buy. Later I had a chat with the physio Shobha and complained about the pain in my knee for which she showed me some exercises. She also gave me tips and exercises for the pain in my shoulders and neck.

During the run I overheard conversations on the latest Vikram movie, the possible destinations for breakfast etc and was quite enthralled by the camaraderie of the entire running community. Many misconceptions that I had about runners and running were busted that week. I had always believed that runners are some form of super humans and it wasn't for me. I realised that they were also regular guys and gals just like you and me out there to have a blast and have fun and running is more about the passion rather than physical abilities or pre-conceived dis-abilities.

The recovery run on Sunday was at Cubbon park. After 2 laps of warm up we had the form exercises. We had to run for 15 minutes followed by the stretches and foot drills. We then assembled near the rock to be divided into buddy groups based on our goals and running levels. Since my goal was a finish goal at easy pace, there weren't many runners with that goal from Cubbon. We were clubbed with the Jaynagar group by Santosh.

But the funniest part was that it started raining as the sorting was under process and despite the drizzle everyone spread their exercise mats over their heads and stood and completed the process. That was when I realised that running has made us all transcend over the physical discomforts like getting wet in the rain. We weren't getting wet, we were standing in the rain. Physical strength is measured by what we can lift, Spiritual strength  is measured by what we can bear and endure, and that too with a smile :) !!!!

Ashok had come cycling all the way from home and our group of Pani, Rashmi, me and Ashok went for our Sunday after run breakfast at Kamat Hotel. We were joined by rashmi's brother Raghu also. All in all it was a very exhilarating beginning  to my journey as a runner.

Week 2 : To be continued in the next post.....