“START ACTING YOUR AGE”

Ugh. Those words.

The death knell of enthusiasm.

You come back from an epic trip (as I have just done) & your heart and your soul are filled to the brim with happiness and peace and the overwhelming beauty that only the mountains can give.

You have struggled, achieved your goal, and been rendered awestruck by the sheer size and splendour of the mountains.

You feel as though you’ve finally got some sort of perspective on life.

On your return, secretly, in your heart of hearts, you hope that people will ask about your trip and your adventures, but of course they don’t.

At best they’ll say, “God, you look awful. All puffy and swollen.”

At worst they’ll stare irritably at you and say those fateful words, “It’s time you started acting your age.”

This happened to me yesterday, courtesy one of the most waspish people in my husband’s family.

But still safely & happily on my rocky mountain high, I ignored the barb.

And then, bang on cue, I happened to check Instagram, and read the following post from Tanya Agarwal, one of my impossibly young & glamorous running girlfriends.

And I quote:

“I don’t know how to act my age because I’ve never been there before. If you didn’t know how old you were, would you still behave/function the way you did? Does your age bind you to conform to “should” or “would”? Does age play at the back of your mind as you go along playing the many roles in your life?”

Spot on, Tanya.

100% spot on!

I repeat: I DON’T KNOW HOW TO ACT MY AGE BECAUSE I’VE NEVER BEEN THERE BEFORE.

I’ve never been this old before, and there doesn’t seem to be a manual of Appropriate Behaviour for Old Ladies.

I don’t know any other 60+ women, who dream of climbing ever higher and higher (though I am sure there must be loads of us out there).

I don’t know of any other 60+ women yearning to break sub-2 in the half marathon and, well, let’s say 4;30 for a full. (I know my limits!!)

What I do know for sure is that there are loads of super accomplished senior runners in the world & here in India, and I take comfort from that fact.

But going back to the suggestion to act my age: What are the options?

Seriously?

“Start acting my age” and then what?

Stop running? Stop trekking? Stop climbing?

And do what, pray?

Knit?

Watch the afternoon soaps?

Not on your nelly 😛

As long as my legs hold out, as long as I can reach down to tie my running shoes or lace up my hiking boots, I’m gonna be out there, pushing my limits, challenging myself, because the options are too grim to contemplate.

Who the hell wants to knit or watch soap operas, when you could be standing on a thin ledge in the snow, shivering, a little bit scared, but overall excited, as steps are cut in the ice for you to cross a narrow ridge?

That is living, in my book.

Not lolling on the sofa.

Heading out to run in the early morning heat and humidity, knowing you are pushing yourself towards your next race goals – THAT is living, not sitting quietly at home, watching life pass you by.

There is simply too much gorgeousness in the world still to be explored.

There are still so many challenges and goals out there.

Yeah, there may well have been moments on my just-concluded high altitude trek when I quietly muttered to myself, “”I’m getting too old for this shit”, but that was nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek figure of speech.

So, am I going to start “acting my age”?

If age appropriate behaviour involves pushing my limits & trying to be stronger & faster, then hells yeah, count me in.

If, however, it involves slowing down & hanging up my boots, well that ain’t happening.

I’m choosing to ignore the mean-spirited nay-sayers, and take comfort in these words from the great C.S.Lewis:

Oh, and to answer Tanya’s questions from the beginning of this blog post:

“If you didn’t know how old you were, would you still behave/function the way you did?” YUP

“Does your age bind you to conform to “should” or “would”?” NO

“Does age play at the back of your mind as you go along playing the many roles in your life?” NO

Balance: by special demand

One of my oldest & dearest friends – who is not a runner, which makes it even more wonderful that she reads my running blog – so, yes, Liz asked me to share the article about balance again, only in a more legible format.

Here you go 🙂

Apologies to anyone else who couldn’t read this in the original blog post.

Do please always let me know if there’s a problem!

When running goes oh-so-right

I’m not talking about racing here.

But running.

As in regular running group session.

As in a hot (actually a very hot) mid-week morning training session.

And everything goes so, so right that you feel like a million dollars afterwards.

And the whole joy of running is happening, right there, for you!

Sorry, sorry, don’t mean to get too OTT, but a routine interval training session with my running group was exactly what was needed, to boost flagging confidence after a string of lacklustre training sessions of late.

For those of you who don’t run with me, I am quite possibly the slowest runner on Planet Earth.

So when we ran an average pace of 5:08…well, for me that is EPIC.

And some laps were much faster, she adds, showing off like crazy 😛

Hells yeah! I ran fast. For me.

Of course it was only over a distance of a few kilometres, but it was pure magic, I tell you, to be able to run fast and keep it up, with only one brief, nauseous moment in the final 100metres of the final lap.

Everything you read about running exhorts you to do it for yourself/not to compare yourself to others/it’s a personal journey etc etc etc.

So, let me reiterate: even though an average pace of 5:08 pace is nothing unusual for so many of you wonderfully talented and swift runners, for me it was A Big Deal.

I felt so ridiculously proud afterwards.

Nauseous. Sweaty. Red-faced. But oh-so-proud.

BUT.

There’s always a but, right?

I could never in a million years done such a workout without my squad.

My team.

However much I enjoy solo runs in the forest, or running through the landmark-filled streets of New Delhi (where I live), the nitty gritty of training HAS to be done with my running group.

I just won’t do it alone. I know it.

No point hiding from the truth.

So the tough but satisfying intervals session could never have happened without my running mates.

Take a bow, team!

To round off a super session, I arm-twisted one of my mates, Mudit, into taking a few photos of me with the amaltas which are in stunning form at the moment.

They look so amazing, transforming the park into a blaze of yellow.

In my other blog – the non-running one – I have written about amaltas & posted a whole series of photos, ‘cos they are just SO stunning at the moment.

A question of balance

Life is literally a question of balance.

And I’m not just talking about the vital life/work balance.

Nor about the precarious need to balance running vs family/social life, an issue that I keep harking back to in this blog.

(That’s because that particular balancing act is one that exercises me a lot & one that I fail quite spectacularly at.)

No, I’m talking about balance, as in physical stability.

In running group we do warm up stretches at the start of the session, and more often than not, I am absolutely rubbish, as I wobble away disastrously.

And then sometimes, I find I can actually hold a pose quite well.

So basically, my balance isn’t at all consistent.

Then, bang on trend, my husband showed me an article in the paper with tips for improving balance.

Here you go:

Ever-so-slightly worried by the “as one grows older” bit of the article, I promptly tried out the test to measure how long I could stand on one leg.

I did it with my daughter, and we both scored w-a-y better than the under 40 category.

I was thrilled.

She was nonchalant, of course, being in her 2os 😛

Didn’t fare quite so well in the closed eyes test, though.

I was in my age bracket, which is OK, but I was hoping for better.

I was intrigued by the suggestion that varying one’s shoe-heel height can help in improving balance, but since I tend to live in running shoes, and flip flops at home, and only wear heels to go out and party, realistically, there’s not too much I can do here.

Then there’s yoga.

Ah, now you’re talking…

After a false start a few years ago with a yoga teacher who was so dull he could send anyone to sleep, and who used to sit and slurp tea all through the class, I gave up.

Instead of feeling relaxed and zen at the end of his classes, I used to feel so irritable that I needed to go for a run to calm down.

But the more I run, the more I realise that in order to run well and happily and injury free, there’s a whole lot of other stuff to consider. And balance and stability and flexibility are all very important.

And yoga seems to fit the bill.

So 2 weeks ago, I restarted yoga.

With a different teacher, this time, who seems w-a-y better, who varies the exercises and who doesn’t drink tea during the classes 😛

Just today he made me balance on one leg, telling me it was good for people of my age…sigh…

Well, I didn’t fall over, so that’s already a big win.

I didn’t wobble too much, but the second I lost my concentration, it was all over.

One nano-second of inattention, and I started wobbling like a blancmange, and that was that.

Tree pose over.

For it was indeed the Vrksasana or tree pose that I was doing.

Even though I can get by in Hindi, I admit I had no idea what the “vrks” part of the word meant.

It is, apparently. from the Sanskrit word for tree.

This explanation (below) is interesting, and I especially like the idea of visualising sending roots deep into the earth.

I shall definitely try this the next time.

Anyway, the beginning of my quest for better balance has begun.

Whether it’ll make me a faster runner – who knows?

But if it helps shore me up against the inevitable effects of ageing, then I’m all for it.

Here’s a link too a good tutorial, guiding you through vrksasana.

How cool is the ASICS Metarun singlet?

Before I start, a disclaimer.

I am a running influencer for ASICS in Delhi, India where I live.

Having said that, I also need to state for the record that ASICS has put me under NO obligation whatsoever to write about, or review their products.

Not once have I been asked to write or blog about anything by the company. The choice to write or not, to review or not, to Instagram or not is entirely mine.

I am under no pressure.

There are many ASICS products that I have worn or tried out, and have not written about, but the Metarun singlet definitely deserves some TLC.

Because, despite my inhibitions about wearing a singlet, this one works.

Time to face facts

  1. I am no spring chicken.
  2. I have always had flabby arms. Have done since I was in my 20s.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, could’ve/should’ve worked on them over the years. Agreed.

But I didn’t, and I live to rue the day 😛

All of that is to explain why I have strenuously avoided wearing a running singlet.

That attitude had to change in January, when the ASICS influencers were given a singlet to wear for the Mumbai marathon.

It actually wasn’t as embarrassing an experience as I had feared, BUT I had THE most horrific underarm chafing. The armhole was too tight for me, and the last few kilometres of the race were sheer torture, as the chafing became unbearable. I kept stopping to try and tug the singlet down to relieve the underarm tightness, costing me precious seconds, but all to no avail.

Which is where the Metarun singlet scores.

Just see how low cut it is, below the arms. No risk of chafing there.

I was more than a little concerned at the amount of bra strap that would be on display from the back, but then I thought, “Oh the heck with it. Wearing a sports bra isn’t anything to hide.”

Of course, it helps here that the model is young and slim, but needs must 😛

I have tried out my singlet on many occasions over the last few hot and humid weeks, and it is, without doubt, THE most comfortable top I have ever worn for hot weather running.

As in THE most comfortable EVER.

The technical details (above) are from the website, but let me put it in lay-person’s English: the mesh at the back absorbs the sweat, and the whole garment is so light that you hardly feel you are wearing anything.

ASICS has a coding system for its garments, to explain their specific functions.

This singlet is a C1, highlighted below.

After doing a 15k run in it last weekend, I honestly felt cool.

And totally unsweaty.

Different occasion (below), equally hot & sweaty weather.

Whereas I felt cool.

Well, I was literally cool…dunno about the metaphorical bit!

I’m a big fan after just a few weeks.

Light as a father garment.

Zero sweating.

Zero chafing.

It comes in 2 colours, black and white: check out the garment in one of the ASICS stores, or buy it online.

100% personally recommended.

Let’s talk about gait analysis

We walk.

Well, most of us do, every day of our lives.

(Yes, we the lucky ones who take walking for granted)

Some of us run.

So walking (& by extension, running) are kind of obvious, right?

You just put one foot in front of the other, right?

Well, yes and no, especially where running is concerned.

If you’ve ever checked the wear and tear on the soles of your shoes – running or otherwise – you might have noticed that after a while the sole is not evenly worn down.

And that is due to your gait.

How you walk, and whether you place your foot evenly.

Whether you pronate or supinate.

Yikes, do I hear you exclaim?

WHAT does that mean and how on earth do I check my gait?

“…gait analysis is a method for identifying biomechanical abnormalities in the gait cycle, or in other words, it’s a tool used to assess the way in which you walk and run. It can be beneficial in that it can identify any overactive or underactive muscles in the feet, which could lead to potential injuries and inefficiencies in the future.

Pronation refers to the way in which your foot rolls inwards as it strikes the floor. It’s your body’s way of distributing impact, and a natural part of the gait cycle. Understanding your pronation type is important for selecting the right type of running shoe and ultimately could help you to avoid injury.

Thanks forbes.com.

If you have wondered about the way you walk and/or run, or if you are feel that perhaps you aren’t walking (or running) at maximum efficiency, then the simplest way to find out is to get your gait analysed, professionally.

Quick disclaimer

If your feet actually hurt while running and/or walking, then you need to see a doctor, not a sports expert. But you’re all sensible people, and actually don’t need to be reminded of such basics, I’m sure 😛

Quick disclaimer #2.

I am a running influencer in Delhi for ASICS. And I got my gait analysis done at an ASICS store.

But I want to make one thing crystal clear.

ASICS has never once suggested that I write or post or comment on anything at all. They give me a totally free rein, so this gait analysis was done entirely by choice.

I’ll admit to being a tad worried before doing the analysis, thinking that perhaps I might have a problem that i didn’t know about, and that the shoes I have would be all wrong for me…typical overthinking, but there you go!

As it turns out, I’m pretty normal in the gait department, which was good to know, but it was a useful exercise.

For those of you reading this who live in the Delhi NCR region, I went to the store in the Mall of India in NOIDA, where there is a static analysis as well as a special treadmill.

The 2 machines, ready to check your gait

I’d had a static analysis done once before, but never the treadmill analysis, which was very interesting and informative. I saw a close up of myself running on camera for the first time – and was surprised at the way I do run, but that’s neither here nor there. I suspect I just have an award style.

First the static.

Amit applying sensors to my feet, which are then scanned
The static analysis machine being prepped
My results being input & analysed

Next up, the treadmill test.

For this, you wear special shoes, also with sensors attached, like so:

As you run, you can watch yourself on the screen:

It turns out that my current shoes – Gel Nimbus 20 & 21 – are perfect for my running style, but that didn’t stop me asking to try on the fab new Metaride.

Just because!

A big thank you to Amit & all the lovely guys in the store, who took the time to explain everything and put up with all my questions 🙂

I’m adding here a couple of links to articles which I found useful:

https://www.asics.com/ie/en-ie/running-advice/foot-mapping-and-gait-analysis-how-it-can-improve-your-running-efficiency/

https://www.runnersneed.com/expert-advice/gear-guides/gait-analysis.html

Running for the sheer joy of it

Sometimes, amidst all the training for races, & running club meets, & practice sessions, you can lose sight of why you started running in the first place.

For pleasure.

For exercise.

To enjoy being outdoors.

Today, in the company of 4 lovely young women, I found my running mojo all over again.

And in super-duper weather, to boot.

For those of you who don’t know me, I live in New Delhi, India, where it is currently hot hot hot. But last night we had a massive storm and a torrential downpour, & so this morning was pure bliss.

I got up very early – 4.30 am – and it actually felt a tad chilly. Oh joy of joys!

When the 5 of us met up an hour later, it was still cool, the air was clean (a rarity in this polluted city) and as we ran, we had to dodge puddles. Oh joy of joys Mark II !

And so, this lovely Delhi morning, 5 of us from our Shed It Run met up and ran a slow ‘n easy ‘n chatty ‘n happy 15km.

By the way, you do all remember our Shed it Run, right?

To remind you, last August, a group of us ran in sports bras and crop tops and made the front page of the papers, no less.

Here’s the link.

Since one of the aims of the Shed It Run is to break down barriers, and shed inhibitions, this picture kinda sums it all up…

We run together occasionally, but we were a smaller group today, ‘cos at least 3 of the group are running a race in Bangalore tomorrow.

This morning’s 15k reminded me that slow chatty runs with friends is THE absolute best form of therapy.

We chatted non-stop, discussing everything under the sun.

And what a group these girls are!!

Ironman training for one.

A soon-to-be-published book for another.

A recent ad for Nike sports bras for the other 2.

I ran & listened & was dazzled by these competent, accomplished, articulate, funny, happy young women.

15k have probably never been as effortless as this morning (probably never as slow, either 😛 ) but with a zillion photos and stopping to chat to other runner friends, and enjoying India Gate and Raisina Hill…oh, it was all SO much fun.

Fun, fun, fun.

As you can see 🙂

Tanya, Nikita, Faizi & Mousumee – thanks for a brilliant morning, and for reminding me just how much FUN running can be 🙂

Why do you run? “It is a religion for me”

Today’s running Q & A is with Rajat Khurana, the MD of ASICS in India.

Rajat is a man on a mission.

And WHAT a mission!

He has decided to run 52 half marathons in 52 weeks…see what I mean about a man on a mission?!

You all know the formula of this Q&A by now, right?

5 quick questions, trying to get to the essence of what motivates a runner.

Read on.

Over to you, Rajat 🙂

Q Why do you run?

A I run because it sets my mind free. I am able to concentrate more and I feel more confident.

Moreover it is a religion for me now. Just as eating is for all of us, running is to me.

Q When did you start running?

A The journey started in 2011 with Bangalore 10 K  

Q Morning/evening runner?

A I am an early riser and hit the road by 5.30 almost every morning.

Q With or without music?

A Over the years my playlist is almost the same with mostly Waheguru Simrans connecting with God, and inspirational songs from Bollywood. .

Q Next running goal?

A Currently on a mission to complete 52 Half marathons in 52 weeks. 34 have been achieved successfully and another 18 weeks to go !  

52 half marathons in 52 weeks. That is crazy inspirational. The dedication required is something else. Super impressed.

And I love the definition of running as being as important as eating. So true, and yet one of the most difficult things to make non-runners understand.

Well done, Rajat & #keeprunning #keepinspiring.

And am giving you due warning that I will be back for a triumphant blog post in 18 weeks 😛

Why do you run? “Running is great fun”

It’s been a while since I Q&A-ed with my running mates, and in kick-starting the series for a new round of interviews, I am super chuffed with the most recent chat I had.

Meet Narpat Singh, one of the nicest people in my running group.

We run together quite often, chatting easily. Narpat is a stronger and more accomplished runner than I, but always courteously sticks to my pace.

His answers to my 5 questions are very insightful.

Enjoy 🙂

Q Why do you run?

A. Running is great fun.

One can while running, on the one hand enjoy the company of fellow runners in the Group and run conversations of all hues with them – from senseless light-hearted chats on one or another subject, or evolved conversations; there are all types in the Group to match your mood for the day.

On the other hand, one can enjoy the ‘me time’ and revel in the solitude while listening to the chirping of the birds and marveling nature in all her glory on each morning which is beautiful in its unique way; each dawn brings its own good energy and experience.

(Editor: that last sentence is spot on!)

Occasionally while running alone, I also listen to music. The sounds, sights and smells of the morning are the preferred choice.

Q When did you start running?

A. This was about 46 years ago as a young lad while accompanying my father on his regular morning runs. 

However, serious running with technical guidance started seven years ago. This is when the fatigue associated with running vanished and was substituted with sheer joy and excitement.

(Editor: once again, my friend, that last sentence of yours is so true.)

Q Morning/evening runner?

A. Mornings only.

The evenings are reserved to revel in good company and keep the ‘spirits’ high!

Q With or without music?


A. Both.

Yes. As a rule, music only when running alone. That is infrequent.

‘No music’ days are spent absorbing the beauty of each morning and reflecting on life or dwelling on any thought that would come up during the run.

On the days when I opt to run with music (invariably while running an event), the first hour is spent listening to Jagjit Singh Bhajans ( do I sound dated?!) which blend smoothly into the serene calm of the mornings.

In the second and subsequent hours, the music of the sixties through the currently popular stuff are my thing.

Clapton, Cat Stevens, Fleetwood Mac, Jethro Tull, Phil Collins, Pat Boone, Cliff Richard, The WHO, Queen, Van Halen, Steely Dan, CSNY, Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Mc Cartney, Roger Whittaker, Eartha Kitt, Peter Paul and Mary, Dean Martin, Tom Jones, Olivia Newton John, Don Mc Lean …… different genres. They all work as well.

(Editor. yes, again! GREAT music choices! We should run and sing along some time…)


Q Next running goal?

A. Go progressively for a ‘2.10 Half ‘ in the coming season followed by a ‘sub two’ next year. God willing.

Shabash, my friend & thanks for chatting.

#keeprunning

#keepinspiring

Where to run in Delhi : Lodhi Art Colony

For those of you familiar with Delhi, you’ll know that there are parks and monuments a’plenty in the city, and we have a lot to be grateful for.

So please don’t look at me askance when I suggest a non-park, non-green-space, non-monument-y running route.

Trust me 🙂
The quiet government-housing area known as Lodhi Colony, just south of the Lodhi Gardens, has, over the past few years, become an urban canvas for street art.

The huge walls of the buildings lend themselves to large-scale paintings and they certainly brighten up the otherwise slightly peeling, slightly dingy, drab walls.

See what I mean?
Drab & peeling to the right. Jolly painting to the left

I’ve run around this area before, criss-crossing the streets, but there was a whole new batch of street art carried out over the winter which I hadn’t yet seen.

So, 2 days ago, i cajoled my young partner-in-crime, Ripu Daman, to join me and off we trotted to explore the latest murals.

What makes running round Lodhi Art Colony so good is its location. You can park safely and securely at the Lodhi Gardens and walk down.

There are loos galore in the Lodhi Gardens, too, so it makes a great starting point.

Accessible, clean loos are VITAL for runners, imho, which is why I always consider them in any route recce.

The streets in Lodhi Colony are nice and wide & the pavements are actually unencroached-upon (unlike my ‘hood, where the pavements have been taken over as parking lots 🙁 )

I love the architecture here, especially the high arches, with trees growing through them, and which have been happily incorporated into the art installations.

Here the artists has carried on from the tree…

If you’re looking for a short, slow run this area is great.

Ripu and I trotted slowly up and down each and every street, pausing to take photos, to admire the art, to critique the art 😛 and it made for a very easy-going, safe 6 or 7km. I hardly noticed the time or the distance, since there was so much to look at.

Art critic at work 🙂

Walk back up to the Lodhi Gardens and from there it’s a short, easy walk to Khan Market for breakfast. There’s also the India Habitat Centre, that is also open early for hungry runners.

So, yes, a good place for an easy, relaxed run.

Plus there’s some seriously cool art on offer.

Here are a few more favourites:

And my absolute favourite – this charming whimsical look at India:

So, now you know.

A nice, safe venue for a short-ish run – though obviously you could make it as long as you pleased, by running around the colony several times. We went early-morning, though not that early.

A few vendors were around, had we felt the need for juice or a snack.

The streets were blessedly quiet, there was precious little traffic, and the locals hardly gave us a second glance. 2 ill-matched runners, stopping every few minutes to take photos – of no interest whatsoever!

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