Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wish to do better at your job – Run a Marathon

Going for a run is not only a good way to some of your spend your free time, research has found that regular running could also help to enhance your working hours and the quality of work. The fact that exercise requires planning, application, dedication and discipline means that it can help to improve your character development as well as your health. In fact, a study of people training for a Houston marathon and half-marathon found that regular exercise improves people’s goal-setting, organization and discipline – both at work and in other areas of life.

Research from Rhode Island College also suggests that aerobic exercise (particularly when involving activities that don’t require much thought) can kick-start your creativity and keep your brain cells tingling for a couple of hours afterwards, so head out for a run before a big brainstorming meeting to get your creative juices flowing. People, who do not sleep well, often feel languid at work during the day. Try running few miles before you go to work in the morning and see how that makes your day better and energetic.

A friendly advice – Don’t forget the importance of proper nutrition and hydration when practicing for marathon or half-marathon. Based on the known results, the six high-quality food types which give lot of strength to runners are vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, whole grains, lean meats and fish, and dairy. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Top Five Core Running Exercises

Running was not so much fun when I started. Later on after few months, I found the rhythm and started logging 3-4 miles with no problem. At that point, quite ambitiously I decide to challenge myself for a half-marathon. One day during the practice run, I noticed that my stamina and determination was supporting my ambition but the legs were not. It felt like I almost hit a wall after running 5-6 miles in a stretch and going past 6 miles appeared out of my reach. I could have easily risked a back or leg injury had I not decided to consult my running coach at the gym at that point. The consultation as well as internet based research helped me discover five core exercises for runners that aren't about gaining rock-hard abs, but rather promoting injury prevention and good running performance. The best part was that I could have easily done it anywhere I like.

Start with this routine twice a week post-run. If you stick to it for at least six weeks, the research suggests you should see improvements in your running and significantly mitigate the risk of any injury.

1. Side Leg Raises: Lie on your right side with your arm extended under your head. Raise your left leg upwards as far as is oomfortable and slowly lower it back down. Complete 15 to 20 reps on each side.

2. Clamshells: Lie on your right side, but this time bend your knees, like you're getting ready to get in the fetal position. With your bent legs stacked on top of one another, open up the clamshell by lifting your left knee upwards, keeping your feet together. Complete 15 to 20 reps on each side.

3. Donkey Kicks: Get on all fours, keeping your back straight and supporting your hips. Take your bent right leg and kick it back and upwards before bringing it back to the starting position. Complete 20 to 25 reps on each side.

4. Bridges: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. With your arms at your sides, deliberately raise your butt and lower back off the floor until your body forms a diagonal line from your knees to your torso to your head. Hold for two seconds and lower back down. Complete 10 to 15 reps.

5. Planks: Get in push-up position, but instead of supporting your body with your hands,
go down to your forearms. Hold this position, making sure not to let your midsection sag towards the ground. Complete four to six reps for 30 seconds per repetition.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Running to get a tobacco free life

Nicotine is addictive, nobody can deny it. You talk to any smoker or a tobacco user about abandoning this habit and you will immediately discern that it is an extremely hard habit to break.  But running can truly help break the cycle of addiction. I don’t remember how many times I failed in my attempts to quit smoking until I took on running.  A 2007 study in the journal "Psychopharmacology" reported that 10 minutes of exercise at moderate intensity was associated with a decreased desire for nicotine. A 2008 study in "Mental Health and Physical Activity" indicated moderate exercise could decrease nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Researchers reported in 2010 in the "Journal of Sports Sciences" that moderate exercise reduces the craving for nicotine, and that running reduces this craving longer when compared to walking or no activity. 

Why?   Because running gives you something else to focus on. It is a new challenge for the smoked brain to figure out and therefore the urge for nicotine gets diluted in the process. One of my neighbors, a retired senior facilities manager at Houston Institute of Technology smoked for 45 years and then one day quit smoking after embracing the new passion of running. He has dropped 30 pounds since then and ran two ultra-marathons, a half-marathon, and some shorter races.

What is the secret?   Take one little benchmark at a time. At first, decide that every time you crave for a cigarette or tobacco, you will put on running shoes and try to run to the mailbox or any point—about 25 yards away. Quite expectedly, the first time, by the time you get there you will be all huffing and puffing and wanted to throw up. But eventually you will make the progress with more small steps. Then pick another point little farther and try to run to it, and then walk to the next one, and continue like that. Eventually you will start running around the park, and then hitting a nearby trail.

How the life will change?  The more you run, the better you will feel. Once you start logging more kilometers or miles in a week, you will notice a drastic change in your confidence level and overall personality. You will no longer gasp for breath anymore.  I can’t tell you how fresh you would feel lying on the bed and taking very long deep breaths at night for the first time, which is something you may not been able to do in years. 

It is fun, folks. And once you clinch it, you would wish that you should have done it earlier.  The more you go for running, the more you will drift away from tobacco and its withdrawal symptoms. Running is not about speed; it’s about just being out there.  Just do it without bothering for the speed or performance. Too much focus on producing results will lead to too little focus on enjoying the experience. The key is enjoyment, which will push you out of the grip of tobacco.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Can't Run - Weak Lungs

Two years ago, I used to think, like many other fellow Indians, that running was a pain. Why would one run without reason if they know it could potentially lead to distress or pain? I constantly thought of myself as being happy and content with the way I looked, especially as compared to some of my overweight friends. I did not see a reason to run.  However, there was certain trepidation that surrounded my desire to run… my main fear was not different from other new runners- the fear of sudden loss of breath -even on short runs. I did my homework and research and found out some interesting facts that I will present in this blog.

New runners get frustrated with their lungs because they believe that their lungs limit their ability to run. They claim they "can't breathe" while running and are forced to stop so they can "catch their breath."  For me it was even worse, being a smoker for so long. I remember during the initial days of running, I persuaded my daughter to follow me on her bike in case I collapsed! Funny, isn’t it? But that is how most new runners feel and therefore, they quit running before reaching the threshold of fulfillment that this sport can provide.

At first glance, distance running seems to have everything to do with big, strong lungs. After all, it's through our lungs that we get oxygen. But if the size of your lungs mattered, why are the best runners in the world quite small people, with characteristically small lungs? Our lungs' capacity for holding air is mainly
influenced by body size, with bigger people having larger lung capacities. Research has shown the lungs do not limit your ability to perform endurance exercise, especially if you're not elite. For a normal runner like me going on an average speed, there is no relationship between lung capacity and how far I run. It is purely a matter of self-discipline and determination to tone your body and make your brain think that you can do it. The only way to achieve that is by following a running schedule unfailingly. Longer runs and a higher weekly mileage enhance your blood vessels' oxygen-carrying capability by increasing blood hemoglobin concentration. They also create a larger capillary network surrounding your muscle fibers and increase muscles' density of mitochondria, which enhances the delivery and use of oxygen, respectively. The more you practice, longer you can run without any discomfort at a reasonable speed.

I was surprised to learn that it's fruitless to take deeper breaths since our blood is already saturated with oxygen.  Then why, coaches often tell their athletes to breathe deeply to take in more oxygen. I believe it is more psychological than anything else. Training your cardiovascular and metabolic characteristics improves your ability to transport and use oxygen, which delays the accumulation of carbon dioxide, making you feel less out of breath. So next time you're running and think, "I can't catch my breath," don't blame your lungs. Just follow the schedule step by step; take the baby steps first and you will come out a winner. 

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Weight Loss Ambition - Indian Men

I am elated to share that I got connected with many of my batch mates from engineering college after more than 20 years! Although, I am not a big proponent of social sites, I may have to reconsider that avowal. To be in touch with old buddies from across the world on a daily basis now rejuvenates me because it is really fascinating to get the opportunity to share life journey so far with people who are the founding members of my “dream and ambition club” in college and those who contributed selflessly to make me the person I am today.

Interestingly, there is one topic which we never pondered upon during our college days but seem very relevant today; losing weight. In our 24/7 WhatsApp sessions, we chat sometimes about how we can reach our goal weight if we make a commitment to it. Many of my near and dear friends have already challenged themselves to decrease their weight by as high as 25-30 pounds by the year 2015. Considering the importance of the subject and level of the seriousness in our group, I decided to write this blog based on my own weight loss experience and a bit of Internet research.

I also started on this path more than a year ago with a desire to reduce my body weight by about 25-30 pounds. I was around 190 pounds to begin with and in six months’ time, reached 165 pounds by controlling my diet, running and cross training. I was eating the required number of calories each day and at times adopted starvation diets too. However, the euphoria did not last long because once I diverged from that self-controlled and un-realistic diet routine, I started gaining weight, due to a lower metabolism. The science behind all this is the less you eat, the slower your metabolism, the less weight you lose. This “diet” leads to overeating and is sure to make you gain weight fast when you start eating normal again. Morale of the story is – “it is not so easy to lose weight, nonetheless, it is even more difficult to maintain the reduced weight and not go over-weight”.

Therefore folks, it is vital to discover a sustainable way of dropping weight. If your mindset is to just reach your target weight by a target date, you may cut down on eating extra calories or join a yoga club or gym to lose your fat, but rest assured you will eventually gain it in no time after you stop following the jaded routine. Therefore try adopting an exercise routine when you are on a weight loss mission or look for something that can keep your determination alive for a lifetime. Go out and join the neighborhood gym if you can afford to. Tai Chi, Pilates, walking or jogging are other alternatives for you to consider. It is important here to find something you really like doing without having any second thoughts. Remember, how we looked forward to playing cricket with the tennis ball in front of our hostel during the first two years of college? We should develop the similar kind of interest in the effort we are putting forth to lose weight; otherwise, the attempt will be futile. Quite understandably, it is a little different ball game now after more than two decades of our life out of college, considering we are busier now, have families to support and other relatively important responsibilities to fulfill.  But, are we not serious enough in our resolution to lose extra weight or lower the level of cholesterol?

Now resuming my weight loss story from earlier - I gained weight over time, although I was more conscious then ever about my weight and BMI. I was frustrated and dejected at times watching all of my six months of hard work and pain going in vain when I could not control my weight going up on the scale. That is when running helped me tremendously. Now, my focus was not losing weight but running and keeping myself fit for running. I decided to go for 5k charity runs, a few half marathons and now, I am aspiring for a full one.  My focus shifted from losing weight to finishing a race, which was challenging enough to give me a much-needed kick, and kept me chasing my dreams. Perfect eating habits are not my concern now; I don’t really care if I occasionally eat sweets and dark chocolate (which I am truly fond of).  Day by day, I become passionate about running and start liking the challenges associated with this sport. Running has a multitude of benefits and I have already written blogs on various topics based on my experience so far. The point I am making here is that the focus should be on establishing the connection with the sport or exercise that will help you lose weight rather than focusing on eliminating all your body fat in a stipulated time by adhering to mindless diet programs and un-realistic goals. Go for the long-term solution rather than the short-term magic. It will put you in a positive frame of mind and also make it easier to follow a diet plan. You will also see significant change in your energy and endurance level, which will also boost your confidence.  In my case, there is one another concealed benefit - although I am a social drinker and occasional smoker in US, it abetted my confidence level to control the urge as per my wish.  I feel like a winner now and that motivates me to run forever.   Now, my weight varies between 170-172 lbs, my BMI is below 23 and most importantly it has been consistent for the past several months which is what I wanted.

Friends, be realistic in your weight loss goal and method followed to attain the goal. I am not implying here that you jog or run and follow what I am doing. However, I must say that you find a likable way of losing weight. Even if you go on a snail’s pace, it will work and stay with you forever. When you set a realistic goal and meet it through enjoyable means, there is nothing to worry because you are attaining the target with no pressure. In the process and due course of time, it becomes an endless endeavor which will make you healthy, wealthy and strong forever.

Will you accept the challenge?

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Crazy races that are fun to run

You would think, running is boring and it is hard and it hurts and it is lonely and it disappoints you before it delivers result. Right?

Check what millions of people around the world practice to make it more fun than any other sport. Scroll through the pictures below to find about crazy races which are fun to run. Enjoy the read!

Source: CNN

Which one you think is the craziest race? Post your comments.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Few Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Running – An Indian American Perspective

This year, I have almost completed 1000 miles of running. However, not to be delusional, but when I look back on nearly 2 years of running/jogging I want to change a lot of my past training. I made a few mistakes – small mistakes that resulted in a back pain, ankle sprains, a poor track performance, or missing weeks of running due to disheartenment. (Nevertheless, I was not completely incapacitated due to an injury, knock on wood!).

Many of my injuries or faults can be attributed to impatience, lack of proper information and a sense of
carelessness. I always accepted the fact that a feeling of accomplishment can overcome any pain or disappointment that comes my way during running. The reason for writing this blog is to accept that I was wrong. It is prudent to enjoy the benefits without the suffering if you follow few basic mantras. These days, I’m fervent about the little things and it’s paying off: In spite of ups and downs in life, and a busy work schedule, as I’m writing this, it’s been over two months since my last day off. I’m on track to run over 1000 miles in 2014. Not bad – considering I am not a pro and running is only the hobby or I may say “passion”.

I want you to learn from my mistakes so you can enjoy running in the best possible way without worrying about any injury or discontentment. “Do as I say, not as I do” seems appropriate for this post. Without further ado, below are the seven things I wish I knew when I started running.

Don’t Care About Distance Running

Don’t worry about distance covered. Just do one or two miles a day. Be patient and recognize that modest increases in mileage done over a long period of time will have you running fast over the long-term. There are no shortcuts.

Who Cares About Running Fast

I was concerned about running fast enough to impress co-runners or myself at my age. That was a huge mistake. I realized that being athletically well rounded and coordinated helps me run more efficiently.

Little Things Matters

All those little things help keep you healthy and encourage you to run/jog – icing when you need it, taking a nap after a long run, eating a healthy diet, and taking care of those small aches and pains before they become a real injury. If you are not a teetotaler or occasional smoker, a genuine desire for running will make you quit these habits relatively easily. Don’t ignore small things or habits which can influence running.  Running gets you in good shape, but what you do before and after you run enables you to keep running.

Run in Less Shoe

I used to wear bulky ASICS running shoes which I bought few years ago; I think that was to play tennis with my friends in Katy. Nevertheless, it was too heavy to be considered as a good tennis shoe too. (I wonder why my achilles always hurt?). It is worth spending dollars to get a suitable and comfy running shoe. I love running in Nike Free Run shoes because they are very light, flat and feels like running without any shoe. The lesson here is to ease into your new minimalist shoes. They can help you a lot – but introduce then gradually in your training program.

Experience Runner’s High.

Not that easy though. After running few miles, running becomes a meditation, and it’s blissful. However, I remember last year when I started running, experience was not that pleasant even after running 3-4 miles. Reason, I was not allowing my mind and body to drift with the run, rather I was pushing because I wanted to run quicker and faster. Not good! Allow your body to groove in. Let it go at its own pace. It will automatically reach to a point where you will experience the heavenly pleasure in running. However, that may take weeks or months. But, it is worth waiting.

Form Matters. Work on it.

We as an Indian never worked on our running form in high school and rarely did any drills. That’s a crying shame, but unfortunately it is a bitter truth. Running is a skill, like any other athletic movement, and needs to be done efficiently if you want to prevent injuries and run like Tarahumara – a tribe who proved beyond any doubt that humans are “born to run”.

Get Off the Roads

I’m being dramatic. There’s nothing inherently wrong with running on the road, but I truly believe every runner can benefit from trail running. With a softer surface, it can help you recover more quickly from workouts. The varied terrain helps you build more coordination and work more stabilizing muscles. The sounds of birds and leaves are much better than traffic!  

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Thanks to Shreetika, my daughter for being a wonderful and talented editor for my blog.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Keep yourself motivated - Read the running quotes!

Although I have been running consistently for more than a year, have participated in many races, and feel lighter and healthier – at times I was demotivated or distracted for various reasons. In spite of being aware of the plethora of benefits associated with running, many times I was dispirited and completely deterred from the sport. That is a time when people should look for inspiration and encouragement in some form to get them back on track. I discovered a few motivational quotes on the internet which are worth sharing with my blog readers.  They certainly helped me keep my motivation intact and poised to run my best even in difficult times.

"We all have dreams, in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort."

- Jesse Owens (Olympic gold-medalist runner)

"I succeed on my own personal motivation, dedication, and commitment. My mindset is: If I'm not out there training, someone else is."

- Lynn Jennings (American long-distance runner)

"Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose."

- Wilma Rudolph (Olympic gold-medalist sprinter)

"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever."

- Lance Armstrong (Seven-time winner of the Tour de France)

"Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance-you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet."

- Doris Brown Heritage (First woman to run sub 5-minute indoor mile)

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

- Steve Prefontaine (Legendary long-distance runner who held seven American track records)

"Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible." 

- Doug Larson (English gold-medalist runner)

"Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic."

- Tim Noakes (Professor, runner in more than 70 marathon and ultra-distance events)

"There will be days when I don't know if I can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime knowing that I have."

- Unknown

"Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running."

- Sarah Condor (Runner/Author)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Walking, jogging and running are the best remedy for many problems

I was reading in some article that just 30 minutes of walking every day can drastically increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. It can reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Amazing, isn't it? Interestingly most of us are aware of this fact, still wait for the “right” time to seriously indulge in any physical activity. I know few of my acquaintance occasionally stroll in local neighborhood streets; however it lacks any real commitment. As a result, it seldom turns into a daily routine.

As a runner, my emphasis is always on brisk walking or jogging because unlike some other form of exercise, walking is free and doesn’t require any special equipment or training.  It’s also a great form of physical activity for people who are overweight, elderly or who haven’t exercised in a long time. Being active can help you stay healthy, control your weight, and get the most out of life. No matter what your age or condition, walking or jogging at varying pace will always help. The best part about it is that you can make it an enjoyable and social part of your lifestyle.

The main benefit of walking is derived from the fact that you carry your own weight when you walk which is known as weight-bearing exercise. Major benefits include stronger bones and improved balance, release stress and hypertension, increase muscle strength and endurance etc. Most of us have a high BMI (Body Mass Index) which is the main cause of many health issues. Walking or jogging can severely reduce the BMI by cutting body fat. 

Here are few suggestions to build walking or jogging into your daily routine -
  • Set up a goal to participate in a  5k walk/run once in a while. Register for a charity walk. 
  • Use a pedometer to measure number of steps you take every day. Make sure to cover at least 5000 steps every day.
  • Walk (don't drive) to local shops or friend’s house in the neighborhood.
  • Walk with family member or friends.
  • If you want to stick close to home and limit your walking to neighborhood streets, pick different routes so you don’t get tired of seeing the same sights.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Ran to the 500 miles goal this year

If you look around, running has become quite fashionable! After more than a year of running, I can now confess that I am a runner and I love running with its multitude of benefits. I feel excited sharing with my readers today that I reached a major milestone in my running chapter by completing 500 miles this year! During this journey, I learnt few useful lessons which can help you live a better life.

  1. Nothing special is needed to start running except for your will.
  2. You may feel lethargic when you start, but surely energetic when you finish your run.
  3. Always listen to your body during the run.
  4. Running is more psychological than physical so convince your brain that you can do it in a matter of time.
  5. Feel great, enjoy your accomplishments and share them with friends and family.
  6. Running is a better addiction than anything else.
  7. There is no challenge against anything. You don’t have to beat any time or any other runner.
  8. Set up goals, register for charity runs and don’t forget to make it public so that everyone around you can support you. You would need appreciation and morale boosting once in a while to move forward.
  9. Don’t underestimate the importance of sensible and healthy nutrition. It does not have to be in an exact proportion but consuming vegetables, proteins and goat or lamb meat helps.

I hope these unpretentious lessons will help you have enhanced runs, and a superior lifestyle. Just give it a go because it is never late too change your life and be ”chic” in your own way.

Do you have some more lessons to be learned? Would you like to share them? I look forward reading them!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Boston Marathon -The lesson learnt for Indians

Completing something that you once considered impossible, even ridiculous, is a marathon - running 26.2 miles. On top of that, if it is the "the Legendary Boston Marathon", the person who achieves it is truly special regardless of his or her age. Some of us who are not aware of qualifying times should take a look into the table below.

Just to give you a perspective, an average distance athlete considers himself a good runner if he runs 26 miles in about 4 hours. I myself got tons of congratulatory messages when I completed my first half marathon in 2 hours. Guess what, yet I can only dream about running the Boston marathon which is way beyond reach at this speed. To qualify for the race, you would have to run for hours at a pace even normal, fit people can only hold in a sprint. In my opinion, there are only few challenges that can compare to the sense of accomplishment that one would feel after running 26.2 miles to finish the marathon.

That’s pretty much what Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon said about it as well.
“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon,” she said.

I am always a big proponent of the theory that long distance running is more about believing in yourself than anything else. It does not really matter, if you are in the early 20’s or even your 50’s to become a long distance runner. Neither does it matter, if you were ever an athlete in your life.  There are several veteran runners who have confessed that they ran marathons faster in their 40’s then when there were in 20’s. There are lots of myths around long distance running especially in our community. In my previous blogs, I have written few articles to bust those myths and how can you be benefitted from running as you grow older. However, there is still so much reluctance and disinclination among Indians due to various reasons.

Since, I have a personal interest in Boston marathon considering the iconic nature of this race; I dug through the 2014 race statistics. My curiosity was mostly wondering about the super humans who run this marathon. How many Indian or American Indians qualifies for this race? Results were surprising if not mind-blowing. Check out the chart below – what is the first thing you notice?

Number of runners in the 40+ age group were way more than the younger ones. Out of a total of around 36000 registered runners, only 14307 were below 40. Really? So another myth busted here – marathon is not only for young people. It is statistically proven by the data that long distance running is more popular in people over 40 than the younger ones. Another not very surprising though, was the fact that there were not many Indians qualified for the race; however the number of Indians qualified in year 2014 was way more than last year. There were few corporate teams who participated in the race from companies like Infosys and TCS.

Overall, the analysis provided strength to my belief that it is never too late to run. In fact, runners 45 years and older represent one of the fastest-growing age groups participating in the increasingly popular events in United states. Of course, the stresses of long-distance running are harder on joints, feet, muscles and backs, and more prone to injury than younger competitors. But, by adopting different techniques and going at your pace will certainly make things right for you. I know we are by nature "risk averse" people but are we not risking our well-being by not doing anything at the right moment?

Happy Running!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Few facts on Boston Marathon - Worth reading even if you are not a marathoner

Sadly, most of us know that on April 15, 2013, improvised bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon created havoc, killed three people, injured hundreds, and shattered a day traditionally filled with joy and camaraderie. Although the bombing immediately shattered the celebration, it sparked an outpouring of extraordinary work and the city of Boston set an example for the rest of the world by proving that even a heart-breaking tragedy cannot tear it apart. One year later, Boston is once again ready to host this year’s marathon on April 21st, Patriots' Day, with the same zeal and enthusiasm. We should salute them for showing strength, resilience, and even defiance in the wake of the attack.        
Lately I've been researching about this unique marathon race - here are some of the interesting tidbits I found out.

  1.  1. The Boston Marathon is one of the oldest and most prestigious marathons in the world with over 36,000 participants and 1,000,000 spectators watching the 118th race this year.
  2. The First Boston Marathon was called the American Marathon and was held in 1897. It was 24.5 miles, from Ashland to Boston. 
  3. In 1918, at the height of World War I, the race held only as a 10-man relay for military teams.
  4. Women were not allowed to race officially until 1972, but in 1966 Roberta Gibb became the first   woman to win the Boston marathon(unofficially.)
  5. In 1975, Boston became the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division. 
  6. For the 100th Marathon in 1996, there were a record 38,708 official Boston Marathon entrants.
  7. Boston's a pretty serious marathon to run, where you have to qualify by completing a Boston-qualifying marathon beforehand. The timings are tough to reaching each age group. Qualifying time While it’s hard to qualify for Boston, it’s not a cakewalk once you’re there by any means.
  8. In terms of media coverage, the Boston Marathon is the second biggest single-day sporting event in the U.S., just behind the Super Bowl!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lesson learnt from 5k runs

In the past year a few friends and I have participated in many 5k runs where we got an opportunity to interact with scores of runners belonging to different class – novice, average, expert to elite. It was a privilege talking to these champions about their training, experience, motivation and pleasure they extract from running. I was also curious to learn about the things  they did differently to enjoy running. There was one BIG thing that held true for 70-75% of the runners – guess what? They all were initially disinclined or unsure about running. 

We too faced the same challenges and hurdles. However, continuous and persistent effort assisted us in crossing the barrier and there was no looking back after that. Some of the lessons learnt from our 5k runs are mentioned below. Hopefully, this will help you overcome some of the initial impediments you might face being a new runner.
  1. Start from where you are - Follow a plan that starts from where you are fitness-wise, and builds slowly based on how your body responds to the training.
  2. Don’t be anxious or nervous – There is nothing to be worry about even if you cannot run more than fifty meters in one stretch or your 10 year old beat you in race. After just a few runs, you will notice a drastic improvement in your stamina and endurance level.
  3. Interval running – Start with a walk if you have never ran in your life. A quarter mile of walking with one minute of running in one stretch will do the wonder.
  4. Absolutely no shame in walking – Don’t run if you don’t feel like running. Just be consistent about walking and follow a routine.
  5. Don’t stop – Make a promise to yourselves that you will cover the distance walking or jogging non-stop. The distance could be as low as quarter of a mile to anything you decide. This will help you win over the initial resistance of your body to your commitment.
  6. Right gear (whatever possible) – Right running outfit and gadgets help in running tremendously. It took me some time to realize the importance of running shoes or music and how it enhances the efficiency by at least 15-20%.
  7. Let your body be your guide – Don’t force anything upon the body. You will get the signal from your body about when should pace up and move to the next level. One important point to remember is that once you start running up to 3 miles in a stretch, running becomes meditation. You can feel the lightness in the body, purity in your thoughts and an inner sense of accomplishment. That’s when you will experience “runner’s high” which is bliss.
  8. Enjoy your moment – Take a close look on any image of a runner in a race, you will always see a smile on their face even after completing a long race. Why? Because running gives them eternal happiness which is way more powerful than the fatigue and exhaustion your body goes through while running.
  9. Always believe, it’s not that hard – I always feel that running after a while is more psychological than physical. Therefore, you always have to think, “it is not too hard” which will be supported when you will see the improvement in your timing and distance.
  10. Be proud of your deed – Don’t be shy about spreading the message about your new passion or hobby to your family and friends. Share with them about the amazing changes you are experiencing in your life because of running. Trust me, the appreciation you receive from them will do a ton of help in boosting your confidence.
  11. Don’t be timid when asking questions – Last but not least, never wait to ask questions about anything which bothers you while running – your running style, calorie burn, what shoes are the best, which running app etc. Any extra information can take you an extra mile in this sport. 

Happy Running!!

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why 5K runs should appeal to you?

All of those who are reading my blog for the past few months, or know me personally must have discerned that I was never the “runner kind.” At least, I certainly never expected to be a runner. As a matter of fact, never even in my wildest dreams I imagined that I would ever be passionate about running. Reason is simple – lack of awareness and my pathetic level of endurance. Moreover this is not something I was ever taught to aspire and most importantly nobody in my family or friend circle ever talked about a marathon, let alone running it. Clearly, this is perceived in our society as something for westerners and unquestionably not for Indians. For the reason stated in my previous blogs, I somehow got connected and what I learned about this sport was an eye opener and compulsive. And friends, what could be a better addiction than running with plethora of positive side effects.

Anyways, after months of long running, I comprehended that lack of awareness and mindset is truly the biggest hurdle for most of us. Then and there itself I along with couple of friends decided to write down our thoughts to encourage others to enter the world of running. Our effort did make some difference and quite a few laced up their shoes to jump in the arena. However, there are still many to be enthused. I did a bit of research on what could be “something” that might offer Indians an easy start or a good platform to jump onboard. I found the answer in 5k runs. 

Why 5k? Here are few simple reasons –   
  1. Easy to run – Everybody is busy today, so common excuse is that there is no time for training. Make up your mind; you don’t need any training to walk 5k. Yes, you heard me correct. Register for a 5k walk/run, absolutely no need to run if you don’t want to, just walk little over three miles to win the laurels.
  2. No need to change daily routine – 5k is very convenient. No need to make extra preparations if
    you don’t want it. The goal should be to run 5k once and that experience will drive your future running endeavor. At least that’s what my kids told me after their first 5k run.
  3. Excitement - Short races are fun because you can maintain high speed, if you want to challenge yourself.
  4. Confidence booster – Racing the occasional 5k is not only an excellent fitness booster but it also elevates your self-confidence. It definitely improves your efficiency and gives you a sense of accomplishment in a very different way.
  5. Change is good – I have seen several people going for a stroll with their spouse, friends or kids. Just for a change mix it up with interval running or jogging. Follow your own routine and in no time you will be ready to run 5k. Trust me, it is that simple.
  6. Couch 25k – I know most of us think running is for masochists. I too used to think that way until I read an article on “Couch to 5K program for new runners”. The simple mantra is to start jogging or running and it’s something you can actually do with minimal effort. 
  7. Cheerleaders - Races are great motivators. I have talked with scores of runners who tell me that having a regular schedule of 5K races gets them out the door on days when they would have stayed in bed in the morning or watch TV after work.
  8. Easy to find a partner – Your spouse or kid can be your running mate because it is easy to convince them that walking over three miles is not that tough. Even very sedentary people usually walk 3-4 miles each day without even realizing that.
  9. Age is not a hindrance – Almost every day when somebody talks to me about running, their biggest
    concern is the age. I have a back problem, I am little overweight, my joint hurts or I never ran in my life are few common trepidations. Friends, 5k run will work like a charm for people with these apprehensions because once you are out there, it feels great, and you will be glad you are  doing it, but sometimes it’s just hard to get your body moving. One of the best ways to overcome that inertia is to follow a sensible and easy routine that truly fits your fitness level. When you have that, you discover that running can actually be pleasant, not a drudgery.

What are you waiting for  - Sign up for a 5K race to join the Fit Indian Run gang!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Color 5k Run at Seven Lakes High School

Yesterday morning my dad woke me up around 7 AM so we could get ready and head to the color run. Although I was quite reluctant to wake up at first, he managed to convince me that it would be a worthwhile experience. After getting to the color run, which was being held at Seven Lakes High School (My school!), my excitement was elevated even more when I saw that so many of my friends were taking part in this endeavor for charity. The organization that was handling the color run was the “Unite for Health” club and all proceeds were going towards children who have cleft lip and are in need of surgery.

During the run, I jogged alongside my dad, and every half-mile there was a LARGE group of volunteers from the high school cheering us on and shooting us with a plethora of colors from red, to green, to yellow and orange. The part that surprised me the most was that this color run, which had more than 1000 participants, was originally inspired by our own Hindu festival of Holi. When we reached the halfway point, I was more than relieved. Since this was my first run EVER I got tired rather quickly and was ready to head to the finish line. Finally, as my dad and I reached the finish, everyone was cheering, throwing colors, playing music and having a good time. I’m so glad that I was able to wake up in the morning, be productive and actually complete a full 5K run.

Afterwards, a few of my friends and I went to eat kolaches and donuts together for breakfast right before heading to the neighborhood water park for a morning full of fun.