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.....

A chronic exercise shirker becomes a reluctant runner

IIMB run
I have always been a person who hasn't pursued any physical activity or fitness regimen beyond one or two months. I did a stint of aerobics about a decade ago and a four month stint at the gym last year. Some sporadic instances of walking and jogging in between these two along with a few weeks of Yoga here and there to add seasoning to my 'non-exercise' life. And that was about it.

My NRI sister had been hounding me since the past five years to get into running. On her advice I had tried out a little bit of running for a couple of days and given up. She had even got me all the running gear to inspire me to start running. My other NRI sister also got me sweats and walking shoes to get me to start walking at the very least. Bit their attempts failed each time.

My neighbour Pani was an avid cycling enthusiast and he had inspired my husband Ashok to take up cycling. I continued to watch the whole group setting out on long cycling expeditions every weekend. But I never got inspired to join them as the continuous excuse I had was that I have severe back problems which might get aggravated due to cycling.

After a year of cycling, Pani joined the Runner's High group, one year ago. During the last one year I had been watching him and then his wife Rashmi every weekend from the side lines and had even made tall claims that these two are absolute, raving mental cases to run like steam engines. Even though they asked me to join them, I didn't show any interest. The next attempt was made by my sister in law Anu, who joined the KTM marathon training sessions. She gave me a long talk and finally convinced and inspired me to join the bandwagon and finally I can proudly say that I am among the hundreds of total lunatics who wake up on a weekend at 4 AM from a perfectly good sleep and ruin a gorgeous Sunday morning by running their shoes and socks out!

It all began with Anu sending me the on line registration form, which I filled diligently and finally decided that this is it, its now or never. Finally the time has come for me to do something about my health and get into the fitness regimen. I had several self doubts and had a feeling all along that I might discontinue and might leave it in between. But I decided that this time I will not fall prey to my hubris of procrastination and quitting. I will start the training and continue and become a true "Runner for Life".

I thank Anu for being after me and hounding me till I joined. But for her ceaseless enthusiasm, incessant motivation, relentless follow ups and pep talks I would have found a way to wiggle out of this and I really admire her for her concern for my health and well being. Also a big thank you to my sisters for always being after me to take care of my health. And last but not the least, a very big thank you to Pani and Rashmi whose company and the sparkling and lively conversations that we have during our drives to and back from the runs have kept my interest alive and has kept me motivated to run better and strive for higher levels of fitness.