Friday, September 26, 2014

Urban Stampede 2014

I have been running Urban Stampede quite regularly in the last few years. I have managed to keep a perception of being a fast runner in work circles and have found a place in the Corporate relay in this 4 x 5k relay race year after year.
While I have changed companies, the reputation has remained and with that, my place in the team. This year, (like last year) I was a part of the Dell ‘A’ team in the mixed category for the 2014 version on Aug 3rd. The two Racy Rai’s - Pankaj & Shuveshek in the team raised hopes of making it to the podium. Diversity has always been our weak link and this time was no different. It does call for a better effort in creating a culture of running in the organization to be able to sport a winning team. Wipro (my past employer) has moved leaps and bounds in this regard and are now very competitive in these races.

With Pankaj taking on the lead role and Shuveshek chosen to be the anchor, I was relegated to the third position after Sakshi.
The location for this year’s race was Bharatiya City – a gated community off Nagawara. As I rode to the venue, it was discouraging to see 10k runners running substantial distance on the dusty, polluted approach road. Especially with the real estate activity picking up on that section, the movement of trucks and buses ensured that the Sunday morning was not spared.
I entered the campus, hoping that the 5k runners do not have to brave these vagaries, but was proven wrong.
Siddharth Bahuja, a flier, had offered to pace both Pankaj and me. Pankaj finished in a respectable 22:20. I prepared myself to start with about 50mins on the clock. My turn only came at 58mins and with that timing, hopes of the podium evaporated, as the sun came out to add more grief.
I had asked Sid to stay just ahead of me to draft me from the head winds on the way out. In about 1km or so, we were out on the Thannisandra main road. Even if you somehow ignored the chaotic traffic on the other side of the road, it was impossible to ignore the long uphill sections. It didn’t help that you also needed to lose all momentum at the U-turn point.
It was the section between 2-4km that I lost the plot, perhaps the course-related issues were playing on too much on my mind. I mentioned to Sid post-run, that if were not for him, I would have stopped to take a breather. The time/km splits tell the story – 3:54, 4:08, 4:07, 4:08, 3:57
This was the 5th week of my 16-week training for Bengaluru marathon and served as a good time trail, to set goals for the rest of training ahead of me.

A 5k finish in 20m:13s will have to do for now. The Dell A team was placed 7th in the standings in the mixed category and I managed a 25th place overall for this lung bursting effort…

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Building a solid base for a season

My brief article made it to the RFL newsletter last month -
(Ps: it does have a national circulation, ok)

Allow me to begin with a story told by The Wall in many of his inspiring talks. Rahul Dravid says he likes to liken his formative years to that of a Chinese bamboo. I quote “You can take a Chinese bamboo seed and plant it in the ground, water and nurture that for an entire year. You will not see any sprout. In fact you will not see a sprout for 5 years. But suddenly a tiny shoot will spring from the ground. Over the next 6 weeks the plant can grow as tall as 90 feet. It can grow as fast as 39 inches every 24 hours. You can literally watch the plant grow. What was the plant doing in those 5 years, seemingly dormant? It was growing its roots. For 5 full years, it was preparing itself for rapid massive growth, With its roots structure, the plant could simply support itself for future growth. Some say that the plant grew 90 feet in 6 weeks. I would say it grew 90 feet in 5 years and 6 weeks.

Wait, I don’t mean you go dormant for the next 5 years, nor that you will take 5 years and 6 weeks to get to see results. But, even if it does take 5 years to build a base to what could be just 6 weeks of sheer brilliant running, then, it’s still worth it, isn’t it.

In reality, base building is not that hard, I find this phase the most enjoyable and most important before taking on stringent goals for the season. If you are a first time runner, give yourself a very gradual ramp up of mileage. You should begin by using the 2-1 or 4-1 run-walk pattern, where you run for 2min and walk for 1 minute. Ensure that you are able to hold a conversation (or run-versation as we call it in BHUKMP) during your running. Give yourself a week or two (of 3-4days of running) before you increase the running breaks or reduce the walking breaks.

For more experienced runners, while you are doing some weekly base mileage, it’s easy to get complacent. But do not compromise on 4-6weeks of easy paced runs. Get your weekly mileage up gradually, without any particular focus on pace. Use this time to focus on your running form, scouting for possible courses in your neighborhood for your tempo runs and intervals. It’s time for you to try out that new gear, shorts and skirts. Go shopping, find deals online to deck up for the season.

Easy runs are a good time to socialize with other runners. I love to explore the trails in the countryside running with the Hash house harriers during this phase. Setting up trails (or haring as it’s called at the Hash) is an excellent time-on-feet training.
Start planning your race calendar for the season and your training plan to get yourself prepared mentally as well.

At the end of the base building, you must be ready to set your goals for the season. Pick a race where you can do a time-trail to determine your current level of fitness and set goals accordingly.

To sustain injury free running for a long long time, building a strong base is a vital first step.

If you are still not motivated enough to make that investment, remember the bumboo, I mean… the Chinese Bamboo.