About slow runners…

About 18 months ago, I was at a friend’s birthday party.

I’d just run a full marathon that same morning, so felt:

(a) super chuffed with myself for having run a marathon at 62 (as I was then)

and

(b) super chuffed with myself for putting on my best frock & my dancing shoes, instead of going to bed early, after running a marathon.

At the party, a man I didn’t know, still don’t know, and whose name I never caught, came up to me and said the darnedest thing ever.

”I saw your time for the race today,” he started, and I preened myself for a congratulatory comment.

”You were really really slow.”

WHAT. THE. HELL.

I had NO idea who he was, nor how on earth he knew that I’d run a marathon etc etc, but in the moment, I was so stunned that I just stood there, jaw probably slack, while he continued, “5 hours is really slow.”

If I could have those 2 minutes of my life back, boy, would the conversation have been totally different.

Instead of staring in disbelief at this rude stranger, I’d have said to him something along the lines of “How dare you comment on my marathon time?  It is a fabulous achievement and it’s not up for discussion or criticism.”

Or, perhaps, I’d have asked this judge-y man, “Have YOU run a marathon?  No, I thought not,  So why don’t you shut the **** up”, and I’d have walked away, head held high.

But none of this happened, of course.

I just stood there, staring in disbelief at the rudeness of the man.

His wife – I suppose – piped up, and here the whole thing got weirder:

”Darling, she ran the full this morning.  That time was for a full not a half.”

WHO WERE THESE PEOPLE??

HOW DID THEY KNOW SO MUCH ABOUT ME?!

”Oh” says bloke.  “A full.  5 hours for a full.  Better than 5 for a half,” and off they wandered, having totally messed with my head.

I tell you, that conversation changed me.

It was as though someone had critiscised my children, or told me that my dogs are ugly.

Damn it, how DARE you tell me that I’m a slow runner.

None of your damned business.

Which is why I try never to ask people their finishing times.

I congratulate them on the stupendous feat of finishing a 10K/HM/FM and strive never to ask “What was your time?”

If they want to, they’ll tell me.

We need to celebrate achieving something fantastic, something which is a personal benchmark and who knows the back story?

Where is all this slow-runner talk coming from, do I hear you ask?

Well, for one thing, since I’m easing back into running after over 3 weeks away on a climbing trip, I’m super slow and out of shape myself.

And secondly, this turned up today:

It’s my finisher’s T shirt from the New Delhi Marathon in February, and shows my time.

Yaay!  I cracked 5:00 which was my goal and so I, for one, am super happy to have this time on show.  Hubby commented that perhaps some people who were disappointed with their time might not want to wear such a T, and perhaps he’s right, but not in my case.

4:50:10 and proud of it and aiming to reduce it next time round 🙂

 

“Climb every mountain…”

For someone who has just returned from climbing a real live 6000m+ mountain in the Himalayas, I made a complete dog’s breakfast of our hill repeats at running group, this hot and humid morning.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post this week, I was pretty knackered on my return from climbing, and only mustered the courage to go meet my running group on Tuesday.  I didn’t drill with them that day, just trotted slowly round the park.

But day by day I have felt increasingly stronger and less exhausted, though dealing with the extreme heat (& pollution, boo hiss) has been a bit of a struggle.

Anyway, today I felt fully fit (or so I thought 😛 ) and so off I went to meet up with my tribe in Nehru Park.

Today was hill repeats which I actually rather enjoy, and since my next race is a marathon in Ladakh in September, at an altitude of 3500m, hill repeats seemed like a good idea.

Delhi is pretty flat, so finding “hills” is a bit of a challenge, but Nehru Park has a couple of “hills”.

Today we did 15 reps, and I thought I was going to die.

As in keel over.

Pass out.

Faint.

Puke.

It was really tough, and I struggled to complete the 15 repetitions, watching in awe as my fellow runners sprinted up & down, making it all look so easy.

I tried not to panic, or think of the hills in Leh, but could hardly avoid the fact that my form has suffered in the past month and that a lot of work lies ahead in the months before Leh.

So I finished my 15 reps, super slowly, but I did ’em.

Do the others look exhausted (below)?

Quite.


Anyway, what’s done is done & all that jazz.
I have resumed training.

I’m feeling a whole lot stronger than a week ago.

And that can only be for the good, right?

Here we all are, still smiling despite the humidity – in fact, most of the lads stayed behind to play football.

Gotta love #mytribe

And here’s my new mantra 🙂

Running and drinking

(This post is NOT what you think.  No booze.  Just water!)

Now here’s the thing – I need to get back to hydration basics.

Or, actually, given my sloppy record in eating & drinking healthily, what I actually need to do is to re-think my diet totally.

Despite the terrible weather here in Delhi and the even more terrible pollution this morning (back to the same scary levels as last winter) I still decided to go out for a run.

Big mistake.

On so many levels.

1) I quickly realised that I’m still tired from my climbing trip, more tired than I realised.

2) I also quickly realised that ignoring the weather and the wise counsel of my running group not to head out this morning, was a stupid mistake.  Coughing and spluttering, murky dusty sky at 6am, dust swirling everywhere.  What did I not understand?

3) But it was when I started staggering across the track in my local park that I realised (finally 🙁 ) that all was not well.

Empty stomach + a coffee + water is clearly not what a body needs in this heat and 40% humidity.

It was quite alarming, tottering from side to side, so I stopped running, slowed down to a painfully slow walk, and made it back home, where I immediately drank coconut water & a glass of nimbu pani (sweet lime water with sugar & salt) to restore the electrolyte balance.

I then ate a banana.

Only then did I sit down to consult Dr. Google, and think some more about what happened out there this morning.

The only other time I remember staggering and wobbling like that was the first time I ran the wonderful (& upcoming 🙂 ) DRG half marathon in Sanjay Van, where I drank only water and was completely knocked sideways by the heat and humidity.

I instinctively dislike (&, yes, distrust) energy drinks.

Without mincing my words, the thought of sweet, orange-y flavoured drinks when I’m exercising makes me want to puke.

I remember inadvertently having a glucose energy drink on summit night, the second time I climbed Kilimanjaro, and promptly vomiting it all up.

I also remember foolishly having a sip of whatever was on offer at an aid station at about the 14/15km stage during my first ADHM (Airtel Delhi Half Marathon) and – yet again – vomiting.

Nevertheless, I have in my kitchen 2 opened and unfinished boxes of Glucon D, which I try and take in the lead up to marathons, and then promptly forget about afterwards.

I’d better check their expiry dates and then see about incorporating them in my summer drinks menu.  Should I?

Or is Enerzal better?

Your thoughts, friends.  Please.

I find it difficult to eat first thing so early in the morning, but I suppose a banana is better than heading out an empty stomach, right?

Amy other tips for easy-to-digest food I could eat at about 4.30/5.00 in the morning before setting out to run?

Still so much to learn…

Here are a few thoughts about hydration that Dr. Google came up with, which are worth sharing, I think.

At just 2% dehydration, “athletes lose the ability to operate at full mental capacity.”  Yikes.

And here is a simple explanation of why we all need electrolytes:

Thanks for sticking with me this far, and I really would welcome all feedback/advice/suggestions.  I have a marathon to prepare for and less than 3 months of hot & humid weather in which to do so, so I really do have to sort out a proper hydration and energy régime.

S-l-o-w-l-y getting my running mojo back

Today, for the first time since I got back to Delhi from my Himalayan climbing trip, I felt almost-rested and almost-fit enough to go for a run.

The last few days, as I mentioned in my last blog post, I have been w-a-y too tired after climbing Banderpoonch, and felt totally drained of all energy.  I literally just flopped around the house for the first few days, too tired to do anything very much.

 

Despite a mild fit of panic, when I started counting down the days to the Ladakh Marathon, I didn’t push myself, was sensible (for a change) & rested up, and lo & behold, I actually felt finally ready to rejoin the human race this morning.

Whew.

Do not like the feeling of being too tired to run.

But Jeez Louise.  Could it have been any hotter at 6 o’clock in the morning?

It was for fainting.

It was fab to see all my running friends, after a long time, and they all looked terrifyingly fit and ran fast intervals as though it were a cool winter’s day, rather than a fiendishly hot summer’s day.

I, on the other hand, skipped the intervals & trotted slowly round the dusty track, stopping every loop for a drink of water.

I felt ridiculously weak and unfit compared to my all mates, but it was such a joy to be running again.

So, yes.

A start has been made.

A step in the right direction taken.

But it’s clearly going to be a while till I’m back to par, so there’ll be nothing fast or fancy on the running agenda, just lots of slow trots around the block, until energy levels are back to normal.

When you are too exhausted to run

In this almost-5 years since I started running, I can categorically state that this is THE most exhausted I have ever, ever felt.

Too exhausted to head out for even a slow trot around the block.

Just w-a-y too tired.

I have a sort-of excuse, having got back late Wednesday night from an arduous climbing trip in the Himalayas, but all the same…

3 days on, after lolling around not doing really very much at all, I was all geared up to go for an easy, short run this morning.  We had a massive storm last night, so that was even further encouragement, as it would’ve been cooler than usual, but alas, ‘twas not meant to be.

Could hardly drag myself out of bed, too tired to move.

And to add insult to injury, I have a major marathon on the horizon, in less than 3 months.

Well, it was 3 months to the day, yesterday, but all the same, a certain deadline has passed and I’m still flopping on the sofa, too knackered for speech.

I don’t want to have to admit that age is playing any part in this exhaustion game, but I suppose, realistically, it is.

Which is super depressing.

I’ve consulted Dr. Google about the after-effects of Diamox, and the after-effects of a climbing trip, but haven’t really got anywhere, to be honest.  So this is clearly a case of listening to my body and using common sense.

Definitely need to hydrate more, as my calf muscles keep cramping at night.

Clearly need to rest even more.

Probably need to eat more.  And more sensibly.

And, most important of all, I know I mustn’t stress about the upcoming Ladakh Marathon in early September.  My so-called preparation and training for this event have gone for a toss, that’s for sure.  But I suppose, in the bigger scheme of things, a week of post-climb not running isn’t going to be the deciding factor.  Is it?

So, until further notice, a few more days of lolling around are clearly called for.  Right?

Fartleking around

Getting back into the saddle – as it were – after nearly a month away is not easy, but it has to be done.

Even though I run when I’m traveling, I don’t train.

I don’t do intervals or speed training or fartlek.  I simply run.

And there is a world of difference between the two.

The fun part is the running & exploring new places.

The hard part is the structured training & that is reserved for my Delhi running group.

So this morning’s fartlek session was a brutal and humbling reminder of how much work goes into becoming a better runner, and how much one needs a coach and, let’s never forget, the generous support of a running tribe.

My tribe was in great shape today, by the way.

Great turn out, too, which is always a heartening scene.

Despite the heat and humidity – just a precursor to what is yet to come as summer proper gets under way – we worked hard, under the steady, guiding hand of our ASICS Running Club coach, Vijay Shukla.

Coach never gets rattled, never loses his cool, and manages to handle a large group of differing abilities, and motivate every single one of us.

So, yes, today’s fartlek.

First of all, what is fartlek, do I hear you ask?

It’s a Swedish word (like plogging, by the way!):

This is what it looks like, in a simple diagrammatic form:

Today we did 8 x 2 minutes fast + 1 minute slow, and if that doesn’t sound much, believe me, it was a killer.

Half way through my 3rd rep, I felt nauseous and slowed down and was, I admit, ready to give up, so soon into the session.

Eagle-eyed Coach was having none of it, and shouted at me across the ground to get moving.

So I did.

And the “crisis” passed, I finished the whole series, admittedly getting slower on each rep, but also feeling stronger as I went along.

It’s weird, feeling so exhausted but not allowing yourself to give in to it.

When the mind is stronger than the body, and you keep going because of that voice saying stuff like this:

Damned if you’re stopping, old girl.

Only 5 more reps to go.

Now 4.

See, you’re half way through, & the whole group has turned round and is now running in the other direction so turn round quickly, you old idiot, and don’t make a fool of yourself.

3 to go.

Only 2 reps left, and there’s Coach alongside you, saying imagine you are at the 40km stage of your marathon, only 2 km left and just go!

No, you are not giving up now, so stop moaning and run.

Just 1 rep to go, and there’s Coach smiling and signalling to you to stop, and you feel fantastic!”

And I did indeed feel fantastic.

Knackered. Red faced. But fantastic.

One of our tribe, Sunil Punshi, has been sidelined with injury for months, yet he still comes to every session and photographs us all in action (like yours truly, above).

He’s a great photographer & I especially love the slo-mo below:

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Here are more moments from this morning:

Rachna (above) making a splendid re-entry into the group, after missing quite a few sessions due to her son’s accident, while Ripu (below) runs despite being injured.

After fartleking around, we did our cool down laps and stretched:

And then some of us plogged, rounding off an altogether rather Swedish session, including 2 new runners from the Swedish Embassy.

(By the way, won’t you please check out our plogging feed on Instagram? @ploggersofindia)

And here are our spits from this morning.

They’e not mine, sadly but Navi’s.

One day I’ll be as fast and as superbly consistent as he is. Until then, I’ll tag along in his wake.

And try and pass his splits off as my own 😛

What did you see on your run today? Lots and lots and then some!

As I do most Mondays, I took the dogs this morning to run in the forest at the Army Polo Club.

After last night’s crash-bang-wallop of a storm, the air was cooler and cleaner and fresher this morning, and it was an absolute joy to be out, running and walking.

The dogs rushed all over the place, excited by the cooler temperature, and I tried not to feel too sad at the sight of so many fallen branches.

We saw peacocks dancing and horses being exercised.

We saw cows, and lots of noisy lapwings trying to divebomb us if we approached their nests.

And, such a thrill, we also saw a nilgai.

I haven’t seen one here for a couple of years at least, so it was a real joy.

As you can see, he was pretty unfussed by me, letting me tip-toe quite close:

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Eventually he headed off, but super relaxed about the whole thing.

Such a treat 🙂

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Why the guilt?

I’ve discussed guilt and running here before, I know.

But since I’m going through a mega bout of runner’s guilt this morning, I thought I’d share my anguish with you.  Sort of vent all over you, and hope I’ll feel less guilty by the end of it all.

I was supposed to do a 10km trail run this morning.

There were many excellent reasons for signing up & paying for the Bhatti run:

a) I wanted to run

b) It would’ve been good practice for my upcoming climb to Banderpoonch next week

c) I’m training for a marathon so need every run I can get

d) I’d promised to help in a plogging initiative after the run with my co-PloggersofIndia friend Ripu Daman, at the specific invitation of the race organisers

e) Never been to Bhatti and very much wanted to see the area, especially in company, for safety

So, yes, lots of valid reasons for getting up and hitting the trail.

But.

It was raining at 4.00 when I got up.

And so I went back to bed.

Justification?

I didn’t want to risk slipping on a wet, muddy trail a week before leaving for my climb.

And, of course, when I woke up a couple of hours later, and of course it wasn’t raining, I felt awful and regretful and foolish and guilty and…

WAIT!

STOP!

Why all the guilt?

As I remember asking in my last blog post on the subject, do swimmers feel guilty when they don’t swim?  Or footballers when they don’t play?

Just what is it about this running gig that makes us feel so bad if we skip a run?

Today’s guilt is admittedly largely because of the plogging initiative, which I could easily have gone for without running.  I only realised that when I woke up.  Wasn’t thinking that clearly at 4 o’clock in the morning.

There’s huge guilt at letting a friend down.

But in my case – and I am a tad obsessive about things I love and care about – it’s the endless calculation of how much time till my marathon vs the brutal Delhi summer weather + missed opportunity + + +

Why does missing a run through thorny, rocky countryside in the heat fill me with such regret?

Welcome to runner’s guilt.

That’s the one thing they don’t tell you about when you start running.

This:

What did you see on your run today? #377 comes from the Lake District

Sitting here in sweltering Delhi, I’ve already forgotten the cold of the old home country, even though I was there just a couple of weeks ago.

So when my UK based girlfriend Kathakoli Dasgupta – the girl who set me off on my running journey – sent me photos from last weekend in the Lake District, I gazed at them in total envy.

Katha and Dave were in the Lake District for the Keswick half marathon, which Dave ran.

Much of the route for this run goes around Derwent water, so Katha ran around there and shared some of her beautiful photos.  Apparently it was, and I quote, “too misty for good photos”…sigh…

Just take a look at her photos:

That lovely cool mist…

Such beauty.

Thanks, as ever, Katha.

#keeprunning #keepinspiring

What did you see on your run today? Oh, a Mughal monument, that’s what

After weeks away from Delhi, I finally got back to pounding the home pavements yesterday, during the slowest 12km run EVER in the history of the universe.

Since Delhi is now hot hot hot, we started early – we, by the way, is yours truly & her partner in crime, the affable and long suffering Ripu Daman.  A much faster runner, this charming young man happily lets me dictate the pace and pretends not to notice when I regularly slow down, or suggest walk breaks.

Yesterday, however, my slowing down took on a whole new dimension, since we stopped by to visit Safdarjung’s Tomb, a magnificent mid-18th century mausoleum.

It’s this new concept I’m trying to launch – sightseeing while running 😛 – and judging by yesterday’s visit, it was a great success.

There were precisely 3 other people there, doing a fashion shoot, so we wandered around the mausoleum and the fabulous gardens alone.

Such a treat to have all that beauty for oneself.

Makes the dawn wake-up SO worth it.

And here’s a sneak peek of the fashion shoot.

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