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.

Meet my new running squad

Here they are.

The gorgeous little girl in the red, grey & black sweater is Lakshmi & the beautiful, tall girl in blue is Pallavi.

They were sitting by the side of the road as I started the uphill slog back to Nagini village, a little after Deori, and after a fit of giggles, 3 of them started to run alongside me, and when I ran faster, they ran faster, and when I slowed down, so did they.

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2 others materialised and by then we were chatting and were friends, so I challenged them to a race.

Stupid move, Christine.

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Anyway, it’s all about taking part, right?

And last is better than DNF, right?

The 2 older girls practised their English on me, and at one point when young Lakshmi and I ran ahead, she took the time to invite me to a wedding that was happening in the village the next day.  And, since we were on the subject of weddings, had I had a big wedding?  And where was my husband? And where did I live? And, and and…what a chatty little doll she was.

When we ran through Sairopa village, a group of people sitting outside the village shop laughed and cheered us.  I was trailing an honourable last at that point, so I think there was a degree of sympathy 😛

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And to think, before setting out on this run, I’d wondered whether to go or not.

Having already run in the morning, wasn’t a 2nd run a tad overkill?

Thank goodness I ignored myself and ran.

Would never have met my new running group otherwise.

What did you see on your run today?

I am back in one of my all-time favourite places in India, the beautiful Tirthan Valley, in Himachal Pradesh state.

I went for a slow trot along the valley this morning, feeling distinctly winded by the altitude, which isn’t that high, if the truth be told – just 1477 metres.

But whew! Felt very out of puff, so I ran super slowly, enjoying village life as it happened.  Which is, of course, one of the many joys of running in India.

I saw cows and goats, and dogs a’plenty.  2 dogs lazily tried chasing me, but it was all very half-hearted.

I was greeted by villagers going about their village-y life.

I made a poor wee little boy cry.  He saw me, was so shocked by what he saw, that he promptly fell over & burst into tears 😛

But most of all, I enjoyed village life at its peaceful best.

Like so:

Does running help combat jet lag ?

Of course it does.

Running helps combat almost everything, she adds in a muttered aside.

That statement is a bit simplistic, agreed, and way too enthusiastic, agreed, but in my unscientific opinion, it is 100% true.

Running (in the 4 wonderful years since I discovered it) has proved to be the answer to just about every ill.  Headaches, cabin fever, jet lag…the answer is, go for a run.

To be honest, it beats me why the whole world isn’t out there, running away their aches and pains.

But anyway, yes, back to the matter in hand.

Jet lag.

On Sunday, I flew back over night from London to New Delhi where I live.  Didn’t sleep on the plane, nor did I sleep the first night back, so when my alarm went at 5 am on Tuesday, I wanted to weep from chronic exhaustion and headaches and mosquito bites and feeling so miserable and tired and ill-tempered.

But instead of dozing – which is all I’d managed to do for 2 consecutive nights – I got up, laced up my running shoes and headed out to my local park.  And felt immediately 100% better.  Immediately.  I kid you not.

10 slow happy kilometres later, feeeling fit as a fiddle, I trotted into the house to find everyone else still fast asleep.

While the others slept, I’d seen more peacocks than you could shake a stick at.

I’d seen adolescent peacocks dancing and mock fighting, their little stumpy tail feathers making them look more like turkeys.

I’d said hello to all the park regulars.

I’d explained to the sweet lady selling tea and biscuits outside the park where I’d been & why she hadn’t seen me.

I’d plogged.

And I felt alert and energised.

So. Yes, running definitely combats my jet lag for sure.

Now let’s check out the science a little, shall we?

This article from Runner’s World has some interesting points, though clearly there is still more study needed on exactly why erxercise helps combat jet lag.

This is also a very interesting article.

Ans before you go, do please read the article in this link.  I found it while researching if/why running helps with jet lag, and not only is this a beautifully written ode to running through jet lag, it is also about running in Delhi. It’s good to know that I am not alone in feeling that running is the answer…

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