#100daysofrunning

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This won’t be a very long post, since I am lacing up my running shoes and about to head out to run.

In Delhi’s current 39C summer heat.

And why would I do that, you ask?

Actually you won’t ask, because most of you are runners.

So you get it.

There is a brilliant 100 day running challenge happening online at the moment, and today is Day 33, and I haven’t missed a day thus far and…yes, correct, completely obsessed.

It’s a totally friendly event, with a commitment to run a minimum of 2km per day to stay in the race.

Most of us seem to be Delhi and NCR based, but there is one awe-inspiring man in Ahmedabad who runs the equivalent of a marathon every day.  Yup.  You read that correctly.  42km every day.  I’m speechless.

Here you go, here’s the link.

I don’t know any of the other runners –  though there are a couple of people I have met at races –  but an amazing sense of community has already built up, as we all post and update our stats every day.

For me, this is the longest continuous stretch of time I have run – does that make any sense?  Basically, I have never thus far run for 32 consecutive days.  Soon to be 33.

This challenge is amazingly motivating, and makes me (somewhat) ignore the heat.

Anyway, that’s enough dilly-dallying.

Off into the heat I go.

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I found the quotes online, in Pinterest.

By way of introduction

 

Having become a total and utter running bore, apparently, in the last 18 months, the time has come to put my money where my mouth is (or should it be where my feet are?)

Whatever, this blog is the result.

A blog that I hope will be a fun area dedicated to running and all things connected to this late-in-life passion.

This also means that all my dear (non-running) readers of my main blog, Delhi Diary, will not feel their eyes glazing over at endless posts about the joys of pounding the streets or getting up at dawn to compete.

More than anything else, I’m hoping for lots of feedback and input from all you brilliant runners out there.  Seriously, I would love to hear from you all as much as possible, as we see how this blog evolves over the coming runs –  sorry, sorry – over the coming months.

Really and truly, I welcome your thoughts and ideas and advice on all the things that connect us – be it product reviews or recommended running routes, advice or fitness, nutrition or…hey, you all know what I mean.

OK.

Let’s do this.

Let’s launch runninginindia.rocks

(Because running really does rock)

 

“Running! If there’s any activity happier, more exhilarating, more nourishing to the imagination, I can’t think of what it might be.”

Joyce Carol Oates

Want a good running shop in London?

I live in India, where I haven’t yet been able to track down the gels that I am told are vital for running a marathon.

So on a recent trip to London I was thrilled to find a specialised running shop in East Sheen, just a few minutes drive away from Barnes, where I was based.

Aptly called ‘Up & running”, the shop has a quiet, unpushy air of professionalism about it.

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When I explained that not only was I new to running, but was also thinking about transiting from half to full marathon, the young woman in the shop could not have been more helpful.  A marathoner herself, she answered all my questions in great detail, explained about gels, gave me several (free) to take home and try, and was totally charming.  No hard sell, nothing but relaxed friendly service.

Just wished I’d needed more stuff…would happily have spent hours in Up & Running.

I paid my bill (a very snazzy belt to hold said gels) and did not tell them that I blog and write reviews.

Recommended, from one very pleasant interaction.

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How good are Adidas Energy Boost running shoes?

First things first.

I am not a running/fitness/shoe expert.

I am simply a freshly minted runner, who has gone from 0 – training for her first marathon in 18 months.  In other words, what I have to say about my new running shoes is 100% personal, and not “professional”.

After (literally) running through my old Revenergy Boost which saw me through my first-ever half marathon, as well as my second, third, fourth and fifth HMs, the time had come to replace them.  It almost felt disloyal to replace them, since they had shepherded me through so many late-in-life thrilling milestones, but after 7 months they were pretty worn out.

So, yes, I loved my old shoes – everything except the dull grey colour, if I am being honest – and decided to stick with what I knew, and bought another pair.

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Oh joy! The new version comes in a fab colour. Despite my age, there is nothing wrong with loving jazzy pink and purple shoes, now, is there?

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Aren’t they gorgeous?

Love the noticeably bouncy tread.  You really do feel as though you are bouncing along with extra energy, when you run in these shoes-see how worn down my faithful old ones were in comparison.

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The only thing I am less enthusiastic about in this new version of the Energy Boost is the tongue, which doesn’t open as wide as the older version did.  So I have taken to using a shoe tree to help me put them on, rather than forcing my foot in and damaging the back.

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Other than that, love ’em.

I have a tendency to pronate, and was told that these shoes will definitely help.

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Buying these beauties coincided with my signing up for a #100daysofrunning challenge, so I now have a clever phone app predicting the life of my new shoes.

Alas! After exactly one month, to the day, I have (it would appear) already used up over a third of their predicted lifespan.

Oh woe is me.

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I bought these shoes, paid for them myself, and did not tell the shop that I review and blog.

Recommended?

Absolutely.

Would I buy them again?

Yes, going to do exactly that.

Pepper spray? Chilli powder? Personal alarm? Needle? Knife? Taser? Kick? Boxing? Knee in the groin?

I am feeling very overwhelmed and yes, humbled, by the (mostly supportive) outpouring of comments and advice, after my blog post about being groped, when I was out running on Wednesday.

Thank you, thank you to all of you who took the time to write and, especially thank you to the people whom I do not know personally, yet who commented and left advice.  It means a lot.

Am less impressed by one moron on Twitter who went on and on about “white saviours” (honestly no idea what he was talking about) and tried to link my being touched up by some greasy-haired lowlife specimen, to the murder of an Indian woman in Sydney earlier this week.  Some sort of racial quid pro quo?

Anyway, moving on to the eminently sensible comments instead.

Firstly, though, it was disturbing to read that so many of you women have also been groped.

A lovely lady called Beatrix, whom I don’t know other than in cyberspace, had this to say :

 I’ve had my butt, crotch, & breasts grabbed, my hair pulled, by Indian men ONLY IN DELHI.
It has happened while walking in Khan Mkt., at a swank hair salon in Saket, strolling through the Paharganj, shopping at Dilli Haat, wandering Connaught Place, even at the supposedly hip’n’swish Hauz Khas.
I can almost handle the lewd comments by Delhi men BUT WHY CAN’T THEY KEEP THEIR HANDS TO THEMSELVES?!?!!!
Anyway, I bought some “SABRE Maximum Strength Blue Dye Pepper Spray” the last time I was in the US.
It not only blasts your attacker with pepper spray but marks them with a blue dye that lasts for 24 hrs.

One of of my lovely running girls, Shalini, shared this :

 I have slapped, yelled, abused, pushed, thrown stones at so many of them but all they do is fold hands and say ‘sorry’. Sorry??? Bloody morons! And the public- men, women everyone would be just watching quietly.

Another lovely friend called Brinda shared this anecdote:

I have an American friend who, many years ago, was in a line to buy cinema tickets at the Regal Cinema. Someone behind her grabbed her crotch, and when she turned around there he was, a small weedy man! So, being tall and strong, she gave him a couple of slaps and then picked him up and shook him, rather like a dog would shake a rat, and shouted to the crowd…..look at this man, this is what he does! All the fellow could say was “Please, please Madam, I am very sorry, I am married”!! They are diseased, these men, indulged from the womb to the tomb in all the wrong ways by their mothers…..The crowd, mostly men, needless to say, did NOTHING….

From a very dear friends Simran, mourning the recent death of her beloved Nani (maternal grandmother) :

Btw my Nani had her bottom groped at the age of 70. The mind boggles.

Anu shares her experience:

The sad, sad truth is that in many places in Delhi, self-help is the best help. Reminds me of the time when travelling by a bus as a teenager and was repeatedly ‘accidentally’ groped by a man on a bus. The good citizens around me did nothing.. till such time as I whipped around, kicked the creep hard and followed it up with a verbal lashing. The citizenry was then sufficiently roused to inquire what was the matter, despite the fact that the harassment was occurring in full public view. And yes, I carry pepper spray everywhere now.

 

What a depressing catalogue, ladies.

 

The title of my blog post, as I am sure you have guessed, is a (partial) list of the suggestions you all made, as to what I should do to protect myself from the creeps out there.  There is a difference between protecting yourself while out, say, for a walk or driving, and running where – ideally – one wants to be as unencumbered as possible.  Having just started running without my water bottle, in order to lighten up, it now seems as though I am going to have to start carrying something extra with me, as protection.

But what?

Some of your suggestions are impractical –  needle and knife, for example.

I am not going to run with a knife, which I don’t know how to use and which would only get me into worse trouble, I suspect.  And where would I put a needle while running?

So thanks, but no thanks.

 

A handful of chilli powder?

Useful, but not practical in a running context.  By the time I’d’ve got it out of the ziplock bag, the greasy-haired creep would have been off.

 

A shrieker personal alarm is a good idea.  I used to have one which would supposedly make the person vomit, such was the pitch of the shriek.

 

But I think a pepper spray is the best solution, and if I can track down the one that Beatrix recommends, then that’s definitely the way to go.  And as one commentator on my blog, Sanjeev, said – if enough women use pepper sprays when they are molested, word will soon get out that women are fighting back.

 

A very nice man “KJ”, whom I do not know, wrote a long and very detailed comment on my blog, and I would urge every woman reading this, please, to check his remarks.  You’ll find them at the end of the original post about being groped.

As the soon-to-be-father of a daughter, I found KJ’s detailed remarks both helpful and yes, moving.

KJ is a martial arts teacher, so I take his words very seriously, and am sharing with you here a gem from his detailed and helpful comment:

GRABBING the groin, and TWISTING (gross sounding, I know, but if you make the MENTAL commitment to defend yourself, you can easily wash your hands later … You will have had him ‘by the balls’, and caused him to crumple on the pavement).

I had a sweet supportive message from a young man who ran the recent half marathon (the one on the Formula 1 track in the rain…) and heard about the incident.

So, yes, am feeling the care and concern.

I thank you all.

I welcome your further thoughts and feedback about ways to stay safe.

Any further ideas?  Advice?

God help all we women in Delhi. Because no one else will.

Just what the hell is it with creepy men who think they have the right to touch a woman’s body?

More precisely my body.

I was out running this morning, and, before any of you DARES to suggest it was MY fault because of tight clothing  – not that you would, I know, I know. Forgive me, I’m still angry.

So, yes, let me tell you how I was dressed.  Never forgetting I am a senior citizen.

Track suit trousers.

Long T shirt that covered my bottom.

Wind-cheater that covered my bottom.

It was about 7.30 am, near Gol Market, and I was running down an empty street, having just ignored the creepy man who tried talking to me, “Hello madam, where you go? You need help? You walking? Exercise, very good”.  Idiot.

I had slowed down for a couple of seconds to a brisk walk, as I do from time to time, still in a empty street. Fairly wide pavement. And suddenly there’s a hand on my bottom.

Turn round to find this low life greasy haired creep.

IMG_5125For a split second, I couldn’t believe it.  If the street had been packed, I might even have thought it was an accident. But in an empty street.  No way.

He looked shocked as I started yelling at him in Hindi, then he put the phone to his ear and started saying “Hello Raju, Raju” –  moron, at least pretend to dial numbers before you start “speaking” on your mobile.

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As I continued yelling, he had the nerve to gesture at the phone and say (in Hindi) “Madam, I am on the phone.”

So I slapped him on his greasy head.

Last time I was aggressed in the street by school boys, someone took me to task on Twitter for slapping a schoolboy.

No such compunction this time, let me tell you.

He stopped talking to “Raju” and started on his “Sorry sorry sorry madam” mantra.

Same reply I gave the creeps who told me to f*** off on my last run-in with Delhi men.  If you didn’t do anything, why are you saying sorry?

He tried the Raju trick again, repeating “Hello Raju” as I followed him, taking photos and shouting.

He then tried another approach.  Putting his hands together in a sort of mamaste gesture, he explained why he had touched me.

Just listen:

“Madam sorry.  Kuch nahi tha.  Me married hu.  Sorry.”

He got a slap for that, let me tell you (non Hindi speakers, you got it, right?  “I am married”, was his excuse/justification.)

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And what was happening while I was shouting and slapping a greasy-haired creep?

Oh, let me assure you, nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

A group of men standing at a bus stop about 1oo metres ahead, all watched slackjawed.  And didn’t move a muscle.

The 2 men reading the paper at the cigarette kiosk, lowered their papers and watched.  And didn’t move a muscle.

The 3 school boys waiting by the side of the road ahead…

The workers in the yard he dodged into, to try and escape…

Nothing nothing nothing.

Woman screaming, hitting bloke.  Nah, don’t let’s get involved.  Let’s just stand and gawp.

What does it take to get any degree of civic concern and intervention in this city?

As I left the yard –  creep still “talking” to Raju, though he never got beyond “Hello” (God, what a moron) – one of the school boys, probably about 16 or 17 –  ran up to me and said, again in Hindi, “Madam what happened.  Why were you shouting and hitting that man?”

He got an earful too.

“If you saw a woman hitting a man and shouting, why didn’t you come and help?”

If perhaps one young man reflects on what he didn’t do this morning – didn’t intervene, didn’t help, just stood and gawped –  well, I will feel a little bit vindicated for the touch of that man’s hand on my buttocks and the feel of his greasy hair oil on my hand for the next hour.

Ugh, that feeling.

 

I am trying to run with less “stuff” in my hands these days – no water bottle, no car keys – but I am seriously thinking of starting to running with a pepper spray.

“I’m running in the rain, just running in the rain. What a glorious feeling…”

So today in Delhi it rained.

As in it poured down, monsoon style.

Which meant that the hundreds of participants in the 3 races at the F1 circuit early this morning who all got soaked to the skin and still ended the race smiling and grinning are –  I accept –  all lunatics.

Your blogger included.

We were just 3 from our running group –  a sadly diminished crew from this time last year when we nearly all ran our first 10km – but hey, it’s quality not quantity, right Suparna & Sonea?!

2 of the girls ran the 10km and I did the half marathon, clocking my fastest time to date, so clearly there is something to be said for running in a downpour and with a stiff wind.

Running around a Formula 1 track is pretty special, and even the rain couldn’t take that away –  though I didn’t stop to gaze and wonder, the way I did last year.

I have mentioned before how nice runners are, and today was no exception, with everyone being upbeat, no-one cribbing, and everyone cheering fellow runners along.  When I was heading back to the track, the end very much in sight, I was crossing runners who still had several km to go (sorry, hope that doesn’t sound like bragging.  It’s not meant that way) and so many of them, battling rain and wind and several wet km still to go, were cheering and applauding and “good job”-ing – how generous is that?

Lunatics AND nice people.  A winning combo.

I saw even my own dear family’s eyes roll in disbelief when I said it was fun running in the rain (and oh it was, it was) so I won’t bore you all too much.

Those of you who were there this morning know what I mean.

It was fun.

Soaking wet, but fun.

I can feel your eyes glazing over from my desk, you know, so here you go –  a few photos, of us all wet.  But oh so happy, especially Sonea, whose first run it was after months of injury.

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And here’s the half marathon route.  You have to imagine the rain.

And the smiles.

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And now what?

Despite today’s cold and wind (& did I mention rain?), the summer is almost upon us –  after Holi which is next Friday, the weather will start hotting up – and that’s pretty much it for races until the winter.

Ah well, back to training it is.

Running in the most polluted city in the world

So, India has finally overtaken the Chinese.

Yaay, yippee yaay, do I hear you cry?

Please don’t cheer, because all that India has done is win the top spot in the most polluted city in the world stakes, with Delhi (where I live) now being, apparently, more polluted than Beijing.

Hardly an accolade to be proud of.

Most of the time, however, I simply don’t buy into this alarmist news.

Yes, our winters are shrouded in fog, but we have been told for so many years that our annual winter fog is because of those pesky farmers in Punjab burning their stubble.  Are we to believe, all of sudden, that this annual rural ritual has morphed into killer pollution?  Pollution that is –  we are told – knocking 3 years off all our lives.

Apparently, living here is the equivalent of smoking one pack of ciggies a day, and for a violent anti-smoker comme moi that is a bitter truth.

And to top it all, I am out and about running through this city every day.  Deep breathing all that pollution.

On Sunday, for example, I ran through Lutyens Delhi –  the elegant heart of the city –  but the sky was a deep blue, there was a slight breeze and it was wonderful and beautiful.  It simply didn’t feel in the least bit polluted.

This morning, however, was a completely different kettle of fish.

I ran the exact same route, but the sky was so grey and murky that you couldn’t even see Rashtrapati Bhavan, and there was a nasty “taste” in the air.  So much so that I actually cut my run short.  And with a half marathon this Sunday for which I am ill-prepared, cutting short a training run wasn’t part of my game plan.

Half way down Raj Path, I looked back –  no India Gate visible

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Nor was Rashtrapti Bhavan visible through the gloom.  This is from the closest point you are now allowed.  Security concerns no longer permit you to approach the railings as before.

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And I thought…now what? Having just been bitten by the running bug, do I have to stop because of the pollution?

As I pondered this tricky question, I also reflected on the filth that litters this city, despite all the “Swachh Bharat/Clean India” publicity.

As usual in Lutyens Delhi, there were battalions of sweepers out with their brooms, sweeping dust from one side of the road to the other, and gathering up leaves, and roundly ignoring the plastic and polystyrene that litters the place.  Guess it must be the Indian version of Jobsworth.

Not a stone’s throw from India Gate –  the heart of splendid monumental Delhi – this was the scene:

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If it hasn’t been so mucky and foggy this morning, you would be able to see India Gate just behind this stinking pile of garbage.

Next to the garbage a man was peeing.

Obviously.

And (for once) there was a public loo not even a minute away  –  as I crisply informed him.   I no longer care if it is appropriate to berate a man with his flies open and peeing in public, but someone has to try and shame these blokes.  This bloke, however, was least bothered, and just grinned cheerily back at me.

Someone also has to tell the sweepers that garbage bins (they actually have functional ones in Lutyens Delhi, unlike we mere mortals) should not be thus.  Upside down.

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And yes, obviously, I turned them the right way.

Other than this, there were loads of monkeys everywhere, ditto stray dogs, ditto people taking selfies at India Gate, ditto soldiers in full camo gear which is a little disconcerting at 7 in the morning.

Never a dull moment.

But this pollution does worry me.

What are your thoughts?  Share them?

Which sports bra?

Although I am going to review a sports bra here –  the one I use for running –  I really would appreciate feedback and input from women readers, please, not only for this bra but other makes, too.  It would help to make this post more inclusive.

Please?

So, ever since I started running in September 2013, I have experimented with different sports bras, and the one that suits me best is the Nike Dri Fit.  It is firm without being too constricting, and it seems to last and last.  I bought 2 last February –  so 11 months ago, give or take –  and they have been washed constantly, yet show no signs of wear and tear.  I then bought 2 more in October, and other than the thick wedge of labels which I had to cut out of all the bras (are so many labels really necessary, Nike?) I have no complaints whatsoever.

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See what I mean about the labels?

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I couldn’t actually find these bras in Delhi so bought them overseas, but I would love to hear from you if this style is indeed available locally in India.  Hope so.

And as I said at the outset, I welcome your recommendations of other bras.

Putting Adidas Revenergy Boost running shoes through their paces

At the end of September 2014 I bought a pair of Adidas Revenergy Boost running shoes, and 3 months later I think a reasonable enough amount of time has elapsed to review them.

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I am a newbie runner, meaning I am not super knowledgeable about running shoes, but these Revenergy Boost shoes suit me down to a T.

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The soles are lovely and bouncy (I’m sure that’s not an acceptable technical term, but you know what I mean) and still are after 3 months of almost daily use.  I only wear them to run, so they are not being worn all day, in other words.

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Just one thing.  After exactly 2 weeks, the inside heel areas started to bobble (see below) & so I contacted Adidas to ask if this was normal.

Adidas shoes 16.10.14Had to chase them and chase them for a reply, which when it finally came told me rather peremptorily that this was not at all a reason to exchange or replace the shoes.

OK then.

Just seemed soon for wear & tear.

2 weeks = 14 days = 22 hours of use, give or take an hour.

Otherwise, absolutely no complaints.

I bought my shoes in Delhi, and they cost me Rs9599.  I paid for them and told neither the shop, nor Adidas when I complained, that I blog and write reviews.

Will I buy another pair when these are worn out?

Yes, I think so, despite a poor after-sales experience.

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