For a pleasant running experience, few running etiquettes should be followed. Enjoy reading through
Monday, 13 May 2013
· Reach the venue 45 mins before the start time, to avoid last minute rush
· Be familiar with the route and the facilities offered
· Pin the Bib no for everyone to see you as an officially registered runner
· Follow instructions provided by the event organizers
Holding area (Start line)
· Everyone would want to be at the start position, but this leads to pushing, & injuring self and others
· If you are not very conscious of a fast finish, give way for the faster runners to be ahead of you
· Do not spill anything that could be harmful to the runners behind you
· Walk, run along with the crowd after the start of the run. Do not block others
· After the start, on availability of free space, Run faster for the initial couple of meters, to give space for the runners behind you
· Smile, Cheer, Motivate & Congratulate fellow runners – Timely compliments retain as everlasting memories
· Thank & Acknowledge the enthusiastic spectators / supporters who have relentlessly been clapping & cheering the runners
· Volunteers who offer you water / energy drinks too need your compliments. Thank them or smile at them. They need to spend hours supporting the runners behind you
· If you are slowing down, move to the left side of the road to give way for the faster runners to move ahead
· If running in groups, do give way for others to overtake you or to slow down. Do not block the road
· If using earphones, do keep an eye around, to be aware of the surroundings
· Be friendly to runners around you and give them the freedom to run ahead
· Move to a side, incase you need to slow down or walk or stop
· If you have to spit or blow your nose, move to a side
· For safety of other runners, do not litter the road with wastes e.g. Water cups or eatables
· Look behind, before you move towards the water station. Make a gradual moment towards the Aid station. Sudden stop or turn will annoy the runner behind you
· Collect your drink or refreshment and move ahead
· Avoid long halts at the Aid station, it creates a crowd and the fast runners will find it inconvenient to grab their drink
· Do not spill food or water at the Water station. Since this will be a excessively utilized (over crowded) place, do keep it clean
· Throw the cups or left over on the side of the road or bins (if available), but should not spill over another runner besides you
· Smile at the volunteer and thank them for their support
At the Finish line
· Show your cheer & enthusiasm and finish with a smile. Photographers are eager to click your cheerful finish
· Do your best to sprint the final 100 meters
· Do cross over the finish line and run forward or towards a side to give space for the runners behind you
· Inform your friends or family members to meet at a location away from the Finish line. The finish line is usually overcrowded
· Collect your finisher medal and post run refreshments (if provided)
Monday, 31 December 2012
A good time of the year for a New Year resolution!!!
Your resolution is based on your current & past experiences and future goals.
The key point here is to write down your Running resolutions. Follow the SMART principle of Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Time bound. Inform your friends, relatives and running buddies your resolution. This will ensure that they play a role in following up with your goals. Few guidelines listed below for your resolution
- New Goals to achieve in terms of
a. Training distance in Kms or Miles for Months / Year
b. Time trained in hrs, for Months / Year
c. Improved timings in 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1000m, 1500m, 1 Mile, 2 Km, 5Km, 10Km, Half Marathon, Full Marathon & Ultra distances e.g. 50 Kms, 75 Kms, 50 Miles, 100 Kms, 100 Miles, 24 hrs Walk / Run
d. Participate in XX no of events during the year. You can further break this down to 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, Ultra distance runs. You can also list the locations where you plan to participate
e. Personal Bests across various types of run events
f. Participate in State / National athletic events
g. Conquer new National / International run events
2. Join a Training program or a Coach to attain your goals, improve running form, be injury free
3. Maintain a training log to track daily progress and can be used for future reference
4. Variations in your training programs –
a. Start with a new training program
b. Introduce new type of runs e.g. Interval run, Tempo run, Fartlek run, Hill runs, Slow runs, Fast runs, Long runs, to improve on pace, intensity, distance& endurance
5. Run for a cause –
a. Promote an NGO
b. Develop awareness on concepts like health care, animal care, poverty, environment
6. Fund Raising – Identify an NGO to raise funds. Ensure support from Friends, Relatives, Colleagues, running buddies. If you are a fund raiser, then promote others to raise funds. Philanthropy should be promoted
7. Organize a running event or Volunteer for an event
8. Promote running within your community. Introduce the benefits of running within your network
9. Be a Mentor – Share your running experience with amateur runners. Being experienced runners, we need to inspire others to join the group
10. Introduce Cross Training – Most of our focus is on running, and there has always been an urge to introduce new Cross Training methods. Cross training can be Cycling, Swimming, Gym, Strength / Core exercise, Yoga, Walking
Thursday, 20 December 2012
After a good 12 to 13 weeks strong training for an event, for a Full Marathon program do ensure you include a 3 weeks time for tapering, For a Half Marathon include 1 week tapering and 10K include 5 days tapering before an event. This ensures that you feel fresh, healthy and energetic at the start of the race. Every Marathon training program of 15 to 16 weeks includes the 3 weeks of tapering. You will want to start a race feeling fresh and not feeling exhausted, tired or over trained. There is a tendency to train harder during the last weeks, but this is counterproductive. Probability of “Hit the wall” is high, when you do not taper well.
What do we mean by tapering. A taper period, is a gradual reduction in the training mileage and let your body to start recovery & build up the well trained muscles. Reduction of mileage helps muscles to stock the fuel (glycogen), an important factor to feel fresh & energetic. This also gives body a good rest to get ready for a good race. But, reducing Mileage requires courage & confidence.
Tapering also does not mean complete rest from running. Beware, with too much rest, your muscles loosen the impact of the training.
When do we start to taper – For a Full Marathoner, taper should start around 3 weeks before the event. For a Half Marathon 1 week and for a 10 Km run, a 5 day taper should be good.
3 weeks before the event – Weekly mileage should reduce by 20% but keep the intensity on. Depending on multiple factors e.g. age, diet & health, body requires around 3 weeks to recover from the fatigue of the long endurance runs. Muscles will start storing the Carbohydrates to be well utilized during the race.
The long distance run during the weekend should be between 20 to 24 Km. There is normally an urge for a longer distance run, but this will most probably tire your muscles and will not get adequate time for the recovery before the event. It could also increase the possibility of new injury or existing injury aggravation before an event. It’s better to give an additional week of recovery, than a week of workout. Remember that we need to start the race feeling strong and enthusiastic.
2 weeks before the event – Again reduce the mileage by another 20%. The long distance run should be between 15 to 18 Km. The quantity of Interval & Tempo runs should also be reduced. This will be pretty challenging, as the enthusiasm you carry, will crave you for additional workouts.
1 week before the event – Reduce the mileage to around 50%. Plan for shorter intervals with 8 repeats of 400m or 6 repeats of 800m and 5 to 6 Km Tempo run at Marathon pace. No Long distance run to be scheduled. Do remember to upload the carbohydrates through proper diet and reserve them through proper rest.
3 days before the event – Hydrate well and take good rest. Increase Carbohydrates and reduce Protiens. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables (Carbohydrates), reduce meat (Protiens). Drink fresh fruit juice, sugarcane juice & tender coconut water.
Plan a easy 5 to 8 Km run, 2 days before the event. This should be your last run.
A day before the event – A good rest through the day. Do not experiment with anything different. Hydrate well, eat fruits. Watch few race videos, meet running friends and discuss the run strategy. Be relaxed and calm.
Pack well for the event and get to bed earlier than usual. Ensure an early dinner and an early sleep, as you will need to rise early from bed.
Best wishes for the race!!!
Monday, 19 November 2012
Did, what I once thought, was impossible.
In the year 2010, I ran 37.5 Kms during my first Bangalore Ultra run, and had a blackout few meters before the finish line. Inspite of drinking Enerzol at every water station, I was dehydrated which caused the Blackout. Regained consciousness after 30 mins and took an hr to be out of the bed. That day, I saw the stronger Ultra runners continuing their run for more and more Kms. I would find it difficult to understand on how they could run for 50, 75 & 100Kms. Running through the pain in the hot sun, with smiling faces would just amaze me. So my logical conclusion was, Ultra distance is not my baby. If running for 3 hr and 21 min was painful, then running for over 5 hrs was just impossible.
The next year 2011, I again ran 37.5 Kms at Blr Ultra, but inspite of a consistent practice, I was slower that the previous year by around 5 mins (3hrs 25min 46 sec). But again would see the Ultra distance runners running for 5 to 12 hrs. I did not have the strength to run for an additional 1 Km over and above the 37.5 Kms. I could feel my quad muscles churning and could barely manage to walk around. The heat had taken a toll on me. It was no fun to look at the runners continuing the run for hours and hours together. This further confirmed that running for so many hours in the hot sun was not my cup of tea. My obvious conclusion was that I could not be an Ultra distance runner.
This year, Blr Ultra did not have the 37.5 Kms category and I was not interested to participate in the 25Kms run. Travelling the distance for the short distance did not fascinate me and would also impact my training run for the Mumbai Marathon (SCMM). Running for 50Kms was not in my dreams or imagination. Madhusmita from Egypt had confirmed her interest to participate in the event and she did mention previously that she would be happy to get a pacer to support her. So I registered for the event, with the moral responsibility to support her and also to network with the Ultra distance runners. It would also serve the dual purpose of running around 35 to 38 Kms, as part of my training plan.
My training plan was directed as per ‘The Pace Makers’ Coach Kothandapani. During the year 2012, I had a 28Km run in July, a 26Km run in Sept, two 30Kms in Oct and one 32 Kms in Nov the week before the Ultra. The maximum long distance runs, before these events were 20Kms. The training gave me the confidence to maintain a faster pace for short distance rather than slow long distance run. With this background, I did not have the confidence of running over 35 Kms during the run. Also barefoot run of over 30 kms would hurt my heel and minute thorny pieces would enter my feet. The pieces were too small to be removed, and would experience the pain for two days and later vanish.
A couple of days before the event, had a chat with Madhusmita and could feel her excitement & confidence of running the 50Kms and there was nothing to stop her. With the kind of pace she was intending, I personally was finding it difficult to see her reach the finish line. I tried to put down her expectations, by reminding her that the heat after 9.30am would strain a runner and trail runs are not as comfortable as the road runs.
Three days before the event (7th Nov) I was mentally rehearsing myself for the 35 Km run and also gave a thought on the remote possibility to complete the 50Kms. On the Timing Technology site, I had a look at the runners who had completed the 50Kms in year 2010 and 2011. I gained confidence that there were a couple of runners, who were not as much experienced as me and had successfully completed the run. But since the Mumbai Marathon run scheduled on 20th Jan ’13, was my priority, I did not want to injure myself by attempting for 50 Kms. My Barefoot run, increased the possibility of injuries, as I had only around 6 months of Barefoot run experience. My legs were not yet comfortable for distance barefoot running. The past 3 months was pure Barefoot running, hence a shod run was not a possibility. Also enquired with my Coach if I could attempt 50 Kms and as anticipated, he flatly refused. Knowing my prior background on training runs, he would not want me to take any risk for the SCMM training. Friday morning a Best wishes and confidence boosting email from Neera added to my urge to attempt the 50 Kms run. But my fear and the priority to remain injury free post the run, would put me down and not let me think of completing the run. Constantly, I reminded myself to be positive for all possible options.
On 9th Nov (Friday), collected the bib from the RFL office and met Madhusmita, Priya Vaidyanathan, Natasha Ramarathnam & Kavitha Kanaparthi. As always, each one inspired the other with their individual running related achievements. Priya had raised funds for education of young kids and was attempting her first Ultra 50 Kms run with the injuries she was carrying, Madhusmita had the challenging target to complete a Sub 5 hrs run.
Any evening prior to the event would be high anxiety, on multiple aspects of the race e.g. Comfort of the body, Start the run, Maintaining the pace. But for the first time I was at ease, and excited for the run. This would be my first ever fun run for an event, where I could look at other runners, smile and greet each other. I was also not pressurized on the mileage to run, as I could stop myself after 25 Kms or extend upto 50 Kms. For the first time I had the choice of maintaining the pace according to my comfort and distance based on my capability. As always, kept my gear including the Crepe Bandage kit ready before sleeping. Planned to get up at 2.15 am to ensure that I leave home by 3.20, pick up Coach Pani at around 3.40 am, park car at Kanterava Stadium and reach Reliance Jewels (JDP) before 4.00am to catch the RFL bus.
Morning routine went as planned. Had Coffee and breakfast and also packed some snacks for pre and post run. Applied Vaseline across the hip area and nipples. Also carried a bottle of Gatorade to boost the energy levels. Left home at 3.25am, picked up Pani and reached the RFL bus location at 4 am. In the Bus met a 50 K runner from Gujarat, another 50 K registered girl, and both had not run over 25 Kms during their practice runs. But they were committed to complete the 50 Kms, without any constrain on time. Reached the venue by 5 am to see the 75Kms, 100Kms & 24 Hrs runners start their runs. Gave best wishes to most of the known runners and prayed for their successful runs. Our friend Jagadish Damaina was targeting to run / walk / crawl for 24 hrs and Udaya to complete the 100Kms run. Also met the BHUKMP runners who were at the highest level of enthusiasm.
Met Aanchal many other known faces who were either runners or family members to support the runners at the venue. Met the ladies Madhusmita, Priya & Natasha. Madhu was well equipped with the Hydration kit and Energy Gels. Her gear and smile showed the confidence and said would maintain the 5 mins 30 sec / Km pace. I planned to be pace her for the first loop of 25 Kms and maintaining the pace of 5m30s / Km was reasonable for the first loop. For the 2nd loop I had the choice to take it easier. Coach Pani helped me bandaid all fingers in my feet and also the forefoot. This would protect me from minor pointed objects on the trail and let my bare feet sustain well for longer distance.
Run started at 6.00 am and we started the run together. A lap was of 25 Kms with the U turn at 12.5 Kms. As was previously informed, the initial 1 Km on tarmac road had loose pointed pebbles which did hurt my feet, but managed to scrape through. After around 250 meters, realized that I had not switched on my Garmin watch. This took around a couple of mins and then realized that the setting was incorrect. During the well paced run and in the minimal light, I managed to correct the Garmin setting and start the workout. I continued my run with Madhu and after around a Km, realized that we were at around 5m10s pace, which I thought she would slow down later. We continued our chat on when & how we started running and the history of our run events. I again realized that we were running at below 5 mins/Km pace and Madhu was happy to maintain this pace. I knew that I would be able to maintain this pace for 1 loop and might need to stop my run or slow down a lot more than planned for the balance distance. I skipped the 1st water aid station as I was struggling with my Garmin settings and stoped myself in the 2nd aid station at around the 4 Kms mark to pickup a glass of Enerzol. Madhu was self supported with her hydration kit and did not have to stop at any of the aid stations. By the time I finished my drink, she had gone over 25 meters ahead and had to pace up to reach her. We were later joined by Stephen Pollock, where he shared his running background. He completed the Hyd FM in 3h43m which would be pretty similar to Madhu’s pace. I soon noticed that both of them were very comfortable at each other’s pace and let myself ease down. In a couple of mins, both of them were out of site and I started maintaining the easy pace of 5m40s / Km. Some sections of the trail had small gravels which would again hurt my bare feet. Since this was the first half of the 1st lap, my legs could bear the stress. I then made it a point to stop at each aid station to gulp 2 glass of Enerzol and half an orange. I then started to see the fast 75 Kms and higher Ultra distance runners on their zooming ahead on the opposite direction. As always called them by names and cheered them at the pace they were maintaining. A couple of Kms ahead I saw Jagadish running comfortably. This did surprise me as he had committed for a 24 hrs walk and would not run any distance. I felt myself very comfortable at the easy pace of around 5m40s I was maintaining and the band aid around my forefoot protected me very well. Stepping on the gravels would hurt, but was nothing new. Around 500m before the U turn, I saw Madhu and Stephen Pollock running comfortably. On the U turn at 12.25 Kms, I found myself at peace with the pace and was happy to cheer other runners. Completed the first 12.5 Kms in 1 hr 5 mins 9 secs.
Hari Menon who was behind with Bhasker Sharma, comfortably increased his pace and ran with me for some time. I was surprised to hear that he had trained for a max of 30 Kms with the BHUKMP group and had not run any Marathon events. He directly targeted the 50 Km Ultra distance and looked very comfortable. At the next aid station, when I stopped to grab a drink, he continued with his pace. I continued with my easy pace of 5m40s / Km through the trail. Through a lot of the sections, my barefoot runs were not difficult, but a section of around 750 meters, in the mid distance had a lot smoothly curved small gravels which hurt my bare feet. But the ease of light feet took precedence over the pain, and hence could not complain. Continued the fun run, greeting and cheering the runners running at the opposite direction. Some of them were going strong while others were on walking spree in between their runs. Also saw Vasu, Nari, Sunil Chainani, Vishy Kuruganti (My barefoot companion), Udaya who were all on the 75 Kms or 100 Kms challenge. Also met Jagdish Damania who was on the 24 hrs run / walk challenge and Sindhu (his wife) who was complaining that he was running, more than his initial plan. I continued my stop at every water aid station, and have 2 cups of energy drink and half an Orange to ensure that I am well hydrated and continue strong till I complete my run. There were sections where I would be all alone, and not see a soul ahead and would have to patiently run, till I would see the road markers or some other runner to confirm that I was not lost in the trails. A couple of Kms before reaching the finish line, I saw Steven Kaplan zooming past bare chest. He was at an amazing pace. Also saw Stephen Pollock leading the run with Madhusmita a couple of meters behind him. My worn out feet, made the last 1 Km (in the 1st loop) of running through the loose stones on the asphalt road, more of struggle and painful experience. Saw Hari Menon going strong in the opposite direction after completion of his first lap. 25 meters before the finish line, I could hear and see Atul Chandra as always, greeting & cheering runners. A great moment to be happy with the completion of my first lap of 25 Kms and remain reasonably strong, but was not sure on how much more I could run. Completed the second 12.5 Kms in 1 hr 12 min 14 sec and total of 25 Kms in 2 hr 17 min 23 sec.
My energy levels and the comfort of running gave me the confidence of running over 35 Kms. Continued with the painful run through the initial 1 Km on the loose pointed edge stones. On the start of the 2nd loop, I met Bhasker Sharma again and was going comfortable with his cheerful smile to finish the 1st loop. Also greeted the other runners who were running behind to finish the 1st loop of 25 Kms. The soles were getting more tender and the pain was not easily tolerable. The small gravels were creating more pain, but ran through them. At the mid mark of 6.25 Kms, I was to take the incomplete U turn to go back, but decided to continue further for some more distance. This continued till I reached the U turn mat at 12.5 Km mark where I completed a total of 37.5 Kms. Around 1 Km or 1.5 Km before the U turn, saw Madhusmita had taken a lead over Stephen. She was running strong. The 3rd 12.5 Kms took 1 hr 15 min 8 sec.
At the U turn I met Praveen Singh who was suffering a Groin pain and was looking for some tips. He was pretty upset on experiencing this for the first time. I continued with my run and was going pretty strong. I was not sure if I could run / walk to reach the finish line. After around 3 to 4 Kms, met Captain Rishi & Amrita running in opposite direction, who enquired for the distance to the U turn. After around the 42 Kms, A small thorn entered my right leg heel. I could feel the thorn when I rubbed my fingers over the heel, by raising my leg backwards. To remove the thorn, I stopped myself and raised my leg backward, but had the feeling of getting a muscle cramp. I continued to run on my forefoot for some time and again tried to remove the thorn by raising my leg backward. Again I could feel the cramp getting in on my thigh and had to bring my feet back down. I then had no other alternative other than run on my forefoot till the finish line. After around 300 to 400 meters run, I was blessed by God to send The Pace Makers Coach Pani on time to remove the thorn. He took me on the side of the trail, sat down and I raised my leg forward, for him to remove the thorn. I thanked him and gave him a hug and continued my run. Now I had no energy to greet or even cheer the runners in the opposite direction. I was at my own pace, feeling a bit heavy on my thighs. The energy drink with Orange and Wafers gave me the strength to move further and further. Now there was no looking at any runner and the objective was just to reach the finish line. This time it was not possible for me to run over the painful gravels, and resorted to fast walks. Met Arvind (A2) at half way mark, who enquired about the trail for the barefoot run, which I gave a negative response due to the painful gravels. The duration of my halt at the aid stations increased to give some relief to my thigh and bare feet. Around 4 Kms before the finish line, had the company of Pavan from RFL who was cycling with me and was a great companion almost till the end. He continued encouraging / motivating me to carry on with my run. Skipped the last aid station 1 Km before the finish line, as I knew that I would barely be able to run through the painful asphalt road. Again somehow managed to walk / run through the final 1 Km eagerly looking forward to reach the finish line. Again I could hear Atul Chandra greeting the runners reaching the finish line. He asked for a confirmation if this was my last lap or had one more to go. Body expression of my raised hands gave him the confirmation that this was my finish. He congratulated me on my 50 Kms of Bare foot running. Before I could step myself on the finish mat, I received a niced warm long hug from some (don't recollect him), but before I could cross the finish line. I thanked him for the hug, and rushed to cross the finish line.
Woo Hooo, did I actually run the 50 Kms, and that too Barefoot? I looked around to see if this was a reality. What a milestone to achive. Saw Madhusmita standing close to the finish line, hugged and thanked her for being the reason for me to register for the event. Saw Hari, Stephen, Brian & Sunil Chainani relaxing close to the finish line. On enquiring, realized that I had completed the run in less than 5 hrs. The time taken to complete the last 12.5 Kms was 1 hr 20 min 16 sec and total time of 4 hrs 52 mins 47 secs. Could not believe that I completed the run, that too bare foot and in less than 5 hrs. I was in the seventh heaven and praised the Lord for the successful run. Thanks to RFL, got a foot massage and then realized that I also had a Podium finish in 2nd position in the veteran category.
Now confirmed that for a Marathon event, it is not mandatory to run for over 32Kms during the practice sessions. I have been arguing with myself on how beneficial will it be to train over 32 Kms during the practice sessions. Now this gives me the confidence that multiple practices runs upto 32 Kms will lead to injury free trainings. Run Less Run Faster program recommends 5 time 32 Km practice in a 16 week training program.
Special mention of ‘The Pace Makers’ group and Coach Kothandapani who have inspired and trained me for such challenging events. Inspiring runners like Suresh Seshadri, Ravi Venkatesam, Shreyas(Aham Brahmasmi Shreyaskarnad) & Running Hippie who have transformations of loosing over 20 Kgs primarily by running. My wife & darling daughter who have always supported me, with my crazy demands and make my runs as comfortable as possible.
Friday, 1 June 2012
Transition to Barefoot runs
Successfully completed a Barefoot 10K run, and sharing below my experiences about BF run, BF transition and my first BF 10K Race.
I had been reading a lot of articles and blogs on Barefoot runs, but none of them were applicable for me as I was a neatness freak, I considered my feet as tender and I was doing good with regular runs. Hence did not find the necessity to go barefoot. My coach Pani, though experienced on BFR, did not actively promote it. Slowly started noticing that BF runs were a trend and many had started a transition towards it. But my feet are as tender as a baby foot, and I would not want to get myself into a new type of injury. So barefoot runs would be for anyone else, other than me. I also consider myself as a good pace runner and thought BFR were not appropriate for fast runners. My Bare feet would not sustain the speed. Also could not afford to lose training days due to new kind of injuries or stress. More ever our roads in India are unhygienic, with pebbles, drainage water leakage, spit, cowdung, and all possible shit. I being a cleanliness freak, barefoot running was never for me.
On a Sunday evening (8th April ’12), just feeling insecure of not running according to my plan due to my Achilles Tendon injury which was on a recovery stage. thought of stepping outside barefoot and if possible experiment with a short run. Informed my family that I was going in the neighborhood for a short run, got myself ready with my running gear including my Garmin and stepped on the roads barefoot. First time ever as my memory goes, I could feel the ground on my naked feet. Initial feeling were welcoming, feel of sand, gravel, asphalt road were new, continued to listen to my feet senses, waiting to make a mistake of stepping on a pebble or stone which could hurt me. Walked for almost a km and nothing went wrong. Next step was to start my run, hence started my garmin to track my pace and distance. During my slow run, on my initial few steps, there was nothing for me to complain. My eyes were glued to the road looking for the small pebbles, glass piece or nails. Realized that this was not as much a concern as I had initially picturized it. Continued my run for some more time and was very comfortable with the feel of the road on my feet. The feel was similar to a kid playing with a new toy and have loads of fun. Also looked around at the people walking besides me, some of them staring at my barefoot with a confused look and others were busy with themselves. I continued my run with a smile on my face, and did not realize when I completed over 2 Kms. Did not want to be over excited, hence stopped myself. The experience had been opposite to my initial thoughts. I did not cut my feet, did not step on any stone or shit. I had an incomplete feeling and wanted to experiment this once again. My 2 Kms run was at an average pace of 6.07 mins/Km.
Day 1: My scheduled run on Monday (9th April) was a 17 Km run which went on as normal. The next day (Tuesday 10th April) is usually a rest day, but thought of continuing the experiment with my barefoot run. Left home barefoot and went to my regular Old Airport route. The distance or duration was not planned, but objective was to run as much as my foot would tolerate. Walked the initial 500 meters and then started my slow jog towards the Airport. A round around the old airport is a loop of 1 Km. Just as I was to enter the departure road of the Old Airport, I started recording my laps on my Garmin. The initial 500 meters went fine but later a section of around 25 meters had small stones protruding out of the Asphalt roads, which did hurt the sole of my feet. I had the same problem again after around 150 meters, but somehow sailed through it. The 1st lap went fine and continued similarly with 4 more laps and ran towards home. Covered a total distance of 6 Kms and maintained an average pace of 5.32 mins/Km. No blisters or cuts, the sole of my feet did not complain and the overall experience was pretty exciting. I felt light on my legs and considered it as a recovery run. Was very excited that I experimented successfully with my first BFR. Also decided that I could try this once a week. A funny sensation of pinches / pricks on the sole of my feet, continued through the day.
Day 2: Wed (10th April) continued with my planned Tempo run, but realized that running with shoes did not give me the comfort or freedom to my legs. Running with the shoes made my feet heavy and did restrict my movement. Also got worried that I was not enjoying my runs with the shoes on. Did not have the patience to take rest on Thursday (11th April), hence ventured out for the next BFR at the same Old Airport route. The runs over the protruding stones were tough, but got used to the pinching sensation. Realized that the sole of my feet were getting used to the roads and could manage them better. Also was enjoying running light without the shoes. Ran 9 Kms with an avg pace of 5.28 mins/Km. Again no cuts of pains at the sole of my feet and confidence level increased. Also realized that my knowledge on barefoot running had to be increased. Needed to know more about the transition and form of running. So started hunting around for more information around the net and also enquired with runners like Vishwanathan Jayaraman, Benny Peter & Coach Pani who had prior experience on Barefoot running.
Day 3: With my increasing confidence on BF runs, planned my next scheduled 16Kms run barefoot on Saturday (14th April) at a target pace of 5.30 mins/Km. Also wanted to explore a new route around the Old Airport through Belur Road. I heard this as a 18 Km loop. Though not confident with the route, still thought of taking a risk and explore. As runners, we have the advantage of exploring new routes. The initial 5 Kms were familiar and then started the unfamiliar routes. The quality of the road were getting poorer, some sections had wet roads, and few places were not even tarred. Wet roads made feet tender and the non tarred roads started hurting my feet. After around 9 Kms, I was not sure of the route, hence decided to turn back rather than going through unfamiliar terrain. After completion of around 12 Kms, could feel blisters hurting, somehow managed to run another 1.5 Kms and then had to stop my run. Looked around to get an auto-rickshaw, but got a lift on a bike till a bus stop and caught a bus. Around 600m walk with the burning blisters from the Bus stand to home was painful. The blisters did not look as fearful as the pain, but could see a thin layer of skin been rubbed off at different areas of both the foot. Realized the pain of 3 barefoot runs in a week and also no transition plan been followed. Through the painful experience, I managed to maintain an average pace of 5.38 mins/Km for 13.5 Kms.
Day 4: The blisters took around 4 to 5 days to heal and planned to run barefoot for my 10K run on Thursday (19th April). The pain of stepping on rough surfaces reduced and confidence increased. A couple of times stepped on a small stones, which would make me almost scream in silence. But no new blisters or pain and over all a pleasant experience. Maintained an average pace of 5.38 mins/Km. Here I started to debate if I could plan for a Barefoot TCS 10K run. Read few more blogs and got mixed opinion. I understood that I was not following a transition plan and was not giving my body sufficient recovery time. My major fear had also been the possibilities of new injuries. Also had to enquire for barefoot shoes. Spend the next few days studying the posture, feet landing style, knee angle, cadence during barefoot runs. The usual trend of running with shoes, is we land on our heal which has a strong impact on knee and other joints. While in BFR, the landing is usually midfoot or forefoot which minimizes the impact on the joints.
Day 5: Next target was to increase my speed up my pace, but was not sure of a target. Scheduled my Sunday (22nd April) 10K run at a slightly faster pace. After a good warmup, I started my run at a 5.10 min/Km pace and subsequently experimented with increase and decrease in pace. My feet sole was getting more comfortable but stepping on small stones would still continue to hurt and make me scream. The pain was like running with a small pebble stuck to the sole and stepping on the pebble, but then the pain subsided after around a Km. Completed the 10 Km run in around 49 mins with an avg pace of 4.56 mins/Km. This gave the confidence of the possibility to increase the pace in a BFR and to think of the possibility of a BFR @ TCS 10K.
Day 6: There was now a necessity to test my feet sole at a further increased pace, so planned for a 6 Km Tempo run on Wed (25th April). After a reasonable 1 Km warmup and dynamic stretches, started my Tempo run. Increasing the pace was easier and also fun to run. Realized the ease to run at the increased pace and further boosted the possibility of my BFR @ TCS 10K. Completed 6 Kms in 28.02 mins with avg pace of 4.40 mins/Km. But the pace was slower than my planned target pace (4.20 mins/Km) for the 10K race. My Calfs started to feel heavy due to my midfoot landing, but was not a concern.
Day 7: On Thur (26th April) a Tempo run (with shoes) was initially scheduled, but then body was in no mood for a run. After a 3 Km warm up, Dynamic Stretches and 4 * 75 meter strides I was not sure on the next step. Since BFR was always the interesting, experimented with my first Barefoot Interval run. 400 m * 20 Intervals, alternating between 10K pace and easy run. The morning rains made the roads a bit wet, but still loved the intervals. Confidence kept increasing and saw the possibility of BFR @ TCS 10K. The fast pace runs lead to very tight Calfs, Top of Foot Pain (TOFP) and was a bit painful through the day and for the next couple of days. After googling a bit realized that this is normal when not following a proper BF transition. It took almost 10 days for the pain to subside. Also read a lot more about BFRs and TOFP. There was always a fear of new injuries coming in due to non adherence to the BF transition.
Day 8: My next barefoot was after around 2 weeks on 10th May. A Tempo run was scheduled and this would be my final test for confirmation of my BFR @ TCS 10K. Target was to run at 10K pace ie 4.20 mins/Km or a sub 4.24 mins/Km. Achieved the pace of 4.25 mins/Km and also a step forward to confirm myself for a BFR on 27th May. The tempo run resulted in small blisters and again TOFP. Recovery from the pain and blisters would again take around 1 week. With the quest to understand the experience of BFR by urban citizens across the globe, interacted with few runners internationally who had over 1 year experience. Recognized that our body was well structured for barefoot runs and had the required cushioning to protect the knees and hence all the joints. Cushioning by the shoes is artificial and actually restricts the freedom of the feet.
Day 9: 2 Miles * 3 interval with 5 mins Recovery time was scheduled by Coach Pani at Kanterava Stadium. Increasing my pace when BF was easier than with shoes. Feel of freedom, easier kick ass sequence, forefoot landing made it easier and fun to run. But force of landing on midfoot increased the stress on Calf muscles and also TOFP. Maintained an avg pace of 4.13 mins/Km through the 3 intervals. A fast pace run resulted in a clot on the right leg toe. The unbearable pain while walking forced me to visit a Doc in the evening. He pierced and removed the blood from the clot and was forced to rest for the next 2 days. The same evening, had a nice experience to look at few slum boys and girls running barefoot around my house. It was interesting to see the ease of their runs and their forefoot landing. They were not worried of pebbles, stones, dirt and were enjoying the game. Could not imagine the kids running with heavy cushioned shoes which would change the basic posture of running. How I wish could video record their running posture, but there are similar videos available in youtube.
Day 10: Coach Pani scheduled a trail run on Sunday (20th May) at 8.00 am, exactly a week before the race. After a proper warmup and stretching sessions, I was ready with toe and other fingers protected with Medical tape, Forefoot sole and Heel sole also covered with tape and Timing chip stuck with to foot top with tape. Within 500 meters of the start of the run, the tape with timing chip peeled off. After 3 Kms, both the tapes from the left foot came off and a small pebble entered the side of right foot toe tape, which was painful through the run. In few sections, the side of roads had repair work and running in middle of roads was safer. Completed the 10K run in 45.37 mins with average pace of 4.33 mins/Km. My calf muscles were tight and knew that it would take around a week to recover. On enquiry, realized that it was not a practice for runners internationally to use tapes to protect their feet during a BFR. Learned that the tapes in my feet were not placed well and had to improve on it for the race and consulted with Coach Pani on proper usage of tape.
TCS Open 10K run: Physically and mentally geared for the BFR also recovered and tapered well from the previous runs. Cool weather till 7.30 am and then the clouds clear away for direct sunlight. Toe & fingers, Forefoot sole well taped, timing chip tied to the ankle, standing a couple of inches away from the start line, waiting for the countdown to start from 9 to 0. Looked around to see the facial expression and starting pose of other runners and celebrities who were at the start line. Countdown began and on reaching zero, we put our first step on the timing mats and zoomed ahead to run out of the stadium. No issues with the feet and also the timing chip tied to the ankle. After around 500 meters, Pani & A2 joined me from behind. Side of the roads were wet with the late night rains, hence had to run at the center of the road. Was initially maintaining consistent pace of 4.15 mins/Km. After around 4 Kms, with the incline, the pace reduced to around 4.20 mins/Km, but was comfortable with the pace. Got mutual introduced with Hari Menon after around 5 Kms. Stepped on wet roads a couple of times, but the medical tape was a good protection to the tender feet soles. After the 6th Km, my calf were feeling tight but was not a concern and maintained the same pace till 9 Kms. Put in around 98% effort and had a feeling that that there was capacity to increase the pace. The tape on my feet kept the sole well protected. and increased pace on the 10th Km. Reached the finish line in 43.15 mins with over all average pace of 4.20 mins/Km. By the end, my calf was very tight but could barely manage to walk around. Immediately went to the Nike lounge for a foot massage and later put on my shoes. Was flying high with excitement of successful completion of my first BFR.
Overall I feel my transition to Barefoot has been faster than recommended and pace has been faster than normal. So always had the fear of injuries cropping up. Few points about the expressions of the onlookers e.g. regular morning walkers, office goers, cyclists, other joggers / runners / pedestrians have not been detailed here. Since the focus was only on BF transitioning, other trainings in between the week have not been shared.
Next target is a BF Half Marathon any time this year, as long as I remain injury free.