Step1: The Start –Preparing for the grind
Marathon! Not many would know that the word originates from an incident that occurred in 490 BC wherein a soldier called Pheidippidesran away from the battlefield near the town of Marathon, Greece.Probably, since then, the world has turned marathonroutes into their own mini battlefields.
I have always dreamt of running a full Marathonbut had not been able to train myself to do it. My plan was to do a 42 k on turning 42! but then it took an additional year for me to achieve my marathon goal.Here’s my small account ofrunning a full marathonin my beloved hometown ‘Mumbai’. Achieving my marathon goal in this ‘Maximum City’ meant a lot to me.
Being an endurance cyclist,I was aware that running a full marathon would still be a challenging proposition and this could only be achieved through structured training and tremendous will power. I had to gradually develop my stamina to withstand intense running activity. My first task was to acquire a pair of shoes for myself that would fit well, breathe well and be easy on the feet even after running for longer durations. While selecting proper running shoes, I would suggest to go for a scientific approach such as Gait analysis which is basically asystematic study of human locomotion. The analysis mainly involves running for a few minutes on a treadmill while recording the runner’s feet movements accurately. Based on the runners recording, the best-fit running shoes are recommended.
Regarding runners diet, a lot is already known but I can’t emphasize more about the value it brings to the whole aspect of long distance running!As an active sportswoman, I did not have to make any major changes to my diet except small adjustments to add more protein in between short training sessions and fortification with good carbs, a couple of hours before undertaking long runs. My good friends are Paneer, Cheese, Eggs, Fresh fruits and lot of Milk. My principle enemy is tea, which, despite my family’s opposition, I like to have many times during the day.
Step 2: Get my body conditioned for the long run
I still remember that when I started training to run for Half Ironman in 2015, people would tell me that running a TMM would be a very fulfilling experience. Probably this was when the seeds of running were sown in me. However, from 2015 till 2018, I became focused on endurance cycling and running took a backseat. In 2018, I enrolled for running in Pinkathon and finished 10 K in 1:14 min, which was a good timing for a cyclist like me. This was followed by my participation in TCS 10k for the 3rd time (with a timing of 1:12 min) and Bangalore Half Marathon with a timing of 2:45 min. Atleast half of my Marathon was accomplished!
Step 3: Friends (and Family) in need….(Invaluable)
David from Initium, whomI met for some work related to TCS 2018 has been very supportive in my endeavors and supported me with event entries.
My friend Nirav has been very kind in accompanying me for night runs and despite his strong pace kept a slower pace for me. Only a runner would understand the frustrations of running slower than the normal pace. My other friend Vijay aka Vira, the ace runner helped me to increase my mileage to almost 50 km/week by providing valuable inputs for cross training activities. I would also like to mention Sunil PV and MitraJi of Life is calling for supporting me with an event entry for my 30 km run.
While all this was happening, I too faced the same problems faced by long distance runners- of chaffing on body parts due to friction which made me realize that selecting the right clothing was critical. Fortunately, I came across wonderful sportswear – Bamboo T shirts from Athlos plus, Castelli tri shorts with Kalenji shorts on top of that. My daughter Kaveri graciously offered her ReebokCap during the long runs. The cap always reminded me about my daughter’s achievements on the track and kept me motivated during the final grueling stages of the run.
Step 4: While preparing for the Marathon…
My marathon experience has taught me one thing that there is no substitute to a proper planning and accurate preparation. Most of the runners start with full enthusiasm and leave mid-way after encountering seemingly unsurmountable challenges. They forget that endurance is also a mental game and simply quit! Meanwhile, there are others who continue without a complete understanding of the challenges ahead and end up with ‘avoidable’injuries, mostly in the lower half of their bodies. Injuries caused while running inappropriately (wrong body posture, wrong shoes, clothing etc.) can take some time to heal and all the training can go waste. Therefore, it is very important to take good care of your body while preparing for a long run.
Step 5: Finishing the Marathon in 6 hours
For runners, the Tata Mumbai Marathon is like Runners ‘Wimbledon’. The grandeur of the event leaves you impressed. The spirit of Mumbai city cannot be described in words, especially on the marathon day. This marathon stands so much for the people of the city who survive despite all odds. The city has given me the fighting spirit which is a part of my personality – Never give up!
For runners like me, completing the marathon within 6 hours was a dream. For ace runners, this timing is certainly not impressive but after finishing the marathon, I was absolutely exhilarated on finishing it successfully in my first attempt.
I must mention here that from the time I started training for the marathon and even during the actual marathon, I have never had any injury and this can be attributed to my run-walk method. I also feel that preparing for a marathon continues even during the tapering period and this phase is called as acclimatization. To run the Mumbai Marathon, I reached Mumbai 2 days earlier and got acquainted with the route and the terrible humid weather.
Participating in the Mumbai marathon was a truly amazing experience for me. The organization and scale of this event and the lovely route besides the sea is very inspiring and has been etched in my memory forever. Additionally, a successful Mumbai Marathoner acquires the bragging rights of participating in this mega-event!
Step 6: In Summary…the learnings…
Get used to running longer distances (32-35 Km) before running the actual marathon.
Do not burden yourself with…. your weight! …i.e. Reduce your weight
For ace runners, timing is critical; However, for new runners … finishing within 6 hours is fine!
Enjoy the journey till the finish line and submit yourself to this magnificent experience.
If you are a triathlete, running with slower timings (~6 hours) is perfectly OK.
Spend time to decide on an appropriate diet
While looking ahead.. After finishing the Marathon, an incomparable feeling of accomplishment persists. This helps me to remain extremely motivated to prepare for a full IRONMAN in the coming 1-2 years.
I feel blessed to have found the joy of running!