In awe. Total awe.

One of my running friends, Nischint Katoch is running a mad, crazy, insane race next month.

And I am in TOTAL awe of him.

I am in awe of his dedication.

And I am in complete awe of his training which he documents on social media.

I’ve talked here in this blog before about a race that takes place high in the Indian Himalayas, called La Ultra.

This madcap race was started 10 years ago by Dr. Rajat Chauhan, my physio and running guru.

So this August will be the 10th birthday of an event that has gone from strength to strength, pitting ultra runners from all over the world against everything Mother Nature has to throw at them.

Like what, do I hear you ask?

Well, for starters:

Altitude. As in crossing 17.500ft Himalayan passes.

Extreme cold. As in -12C.

Extreme heat. As in +40C

Extreme distances. 111km. Or 222km. Or 333km. Or – wait for it – 555km.

U-n-b-e-l-i-e-v-a-b-l-e stuff.

I chatted with Nischint, who is preparing to run 333km.

Nonstop.

Over 3 days.

I cannot even begin to get my head around a feat like this.

Just look at the specs for Nischint’s event:

Now do you understand why I’m in awe of runners who tackle such challenges?

To take part in such an event as this requires mind-bogglingly serious preparation and training.

And time. The investment of time is phenomenal.

I see from his Insta posts that Nischint often starts running at 3 in the morning, which, when you have to get in so many kilometres + go to work + deal with Delhi’s brutal summer heat, makes sense.

It’s just that waking up to run at 3 in the morning, and then go on to do a full day’s work requires a strength of mind that is quite something.

I asked Nischint to give us the background to his running journey:

“La Ultra-The High…my journey started in 2017 by finishing 111 km, followed by finishing 222 km in 2018.

Actually the basic foundation of this race started in year 2016 with Hell Races Ultra Skyrun Trail 60 km in Solang.

I started running in 2014 with ADHM. From finishing many city Half Marathons, City Trails around Delhi NCR to attempting Hell Races Solang Skyrun. I was not even aware of the Skyrun format, so along with some friends we decided to participate in this race just to do something different.

This race made me realize that it is when you continue to push through extreme difficult conditions that you will wind up not only with a strong body that is physically stronger, but also a mind with strength beyond what you ever knew.

This is how I decided to take up La Ultra challenge for myself.

I return year after year to Ladakh & La Ultra because they make me feel small, and they also help me to sort out what is important in life. All I have learnt & am still learning is to appreciate small efforts, small things in life, and to appreciate the simplicity that we seem to take for granted. Running has helped me to improve my personal & professional life. I believe that exercise and workplace productivity go hand in hand.”

Nischint trains all year for this event, day in day out, in the challenging weather we have here in Delhi, and tells us that he has taken other forms of training on board too:

“Besides running – I have integrated circuit strength training in my routine.

This year I have focused on training using sports psychology The mind is a very powerful thing. If you can train your mind to keep going even when your body wants to quit, you can achieve some incredible things.”

How on earth does he fit everything into 24 hours?

This training schedule, requiring more than 100km of running a week is not just a question of work/life balance.

This is a question of work/life/family/extreme endurance training/sleep/staying injury free/eating correctly balance, so how does he manage?

“That is where goals come into the picture. Unless you have clear goals in your mind of what you want to achieve, it’s very hard to work out where your priorities need to be.

My priorities along with training:

Look after myself emotionally and with good nutrition & hydration

Train consistently towards my one big ultra-running event of the year

Keep striving to maintain a healthy, loving relationship with my partner & kids. Most of my extended training time is actually a sacrifice of my family time. I am hopeful, this balance will improve drastically in coming time. 

Ensure my kids are happy, healthy, loved and are getting to explore the maximum of their own potentials in life

Contribute at least once a week in some way for household work priorities.

Earn enough money to make sure I can financially support my family & all my other goals.

On the subject of nutrition, crucial to such high-level and high-intensity training, Nischint is quite clear and down-to-earth,

“Mostly I make healthy choices. Also maintain a good balance between my diet & nutrition. I keep trying different diets to explore and see what works best on me. I have been on low carbs, high fat diet to fuel my ultra-running training from last 2 months & PowerProtein for recoveries from my nutrition partner Steadfast Nutrition company.

And it will be a diet of almonds, peanuts, cashew & Carborance from Steadfast Nutrition that will power him through those 333km he is attempting next month.

333km.

Crazy stuff, right?

There is something almost zen about many of Nischint’s replies, don’t you agree?

I love this statement:

“The mind is a very powerful thing. If you can train your mind to keep going even when your body wants to quit, you can achieve some incredible things.”

My friend, I have followed your training journey over the year with admiration and respect.

Now, as you enter these final weeks of preparation, I wish you all the success in the world.

You are beyond inspirational.

Run well, run safe.

(And, yes, of course, there’ll be a request for a blog post afterwards ! 😛 But you knew that. right?!)

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