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!!

P.S - If you wish to support the drive to encourage Indians to the world of 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!!