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.


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.


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?!)

Now about that humidity…

…a mere 83% at 5 o’clock this morning, when I got up to head out to meet my running group.

83% humidity.

My friends, let me tell you 83% is crazy humid. Especially when you’re doing interval training in it.

Logically, given that we haven’t actually had vast amounts of rain, we’ll probably hit even higher humidity in the next few weeks, but for now, 83% was sticky enough, thank you very much.

Coupled with the humidity, Delhi this morning was grey and airless, and there was almost a fog-like haze over the sports ground where we train. All very oppressive.

I’ve blogged before about running in humidity. Like so:

July 17 2017

August 1 2017

July 14 2018

The advice remains pretty much the same.

Hydrate well, ensuring you take electrolytes to counteract the effects of the copious sweating, & to give you much needed energy boost.

Run slower and less.

Wear loose fitting clothes. I think many more people will be in singlets the next session. It was w-a-y too sticky for Ts.

Don’t wear a cap.

Now this is actually a new piece of advice for me, even though it’s not rocket science.

I have such bonkers, messy hair that I try & wear a cap so that I don’t look too ridiculous.

But today Coach advised me to dispense with the cap after a while, so I could sweat through my head. Made a big difference.

Today was overcast so I didn’t have the fierce sun to worry about.

I’ll make a judgement call later on, whether or not to wear my cap on a day when it’s both sunny and humid. That’s a decision for another day.

I felt a little nauseous at times today, as did Sonali, with whom I did most of my intervals this morning. So we rested a while and then ran (even!) slower.

Basically, the trick is to be cautious and careful, and to listen to your body.

Abhay working hard.
And there’s a lot of sweat to show for it 😛

I took 2 bottles with me today – one with water, and one with an electrolyte mix in.

Don’t particularly like the latter, but needs must.

Kept sipping on them both.

I’d also drunk quite a lot of water before going.

I made sure to eat a few dates before leaving the house, and took a packet of snacks to eat as soon as the session as over.


Take home from this morning’s crazy humidity?

Listen to your body.

Take it slow and easy.

Stay hydrated.

And remember, we’re all doing this for fun 🙂

Plus, I tell myself it’s all good practice for the humidity in Mumbai in January!

What did you see on your run today? #394 comes from Virginia

My very dear friend Eden was out running in Shirlington, Virginia, close to where she lives.

She did a 4 mile run alongside a stream with her lovely dog, who went in for a swim. Obviously.

And then Eden spotted these fallen branches and roots.

Like so.

Look again.

Now, imagine that bottom trunk turned on its side…

Remind you of anything?

Eden captioned her photo “The Scream” and come to think of it…

Fun, right?

Edvard Munch, the woodland version 🙂

Thanks, dear friend, and #keeprunning #keepinspiring

“Now go pull your partner’s leg”

So said Coach at our ASICS Running Club training session yesterday.

He wasn’t joking, and he wasn’t making a joke either.

It was a drill involving one person bending and extending a leg, and the partner pulling said leg, to enforce the stretch.

By this time I was too tired (& borderline nauseous in the heat and humidity) to do the drill, so I half heartedly pulled Sonali’s leg. As one does.

I’m writing this post on Sunday, a full 24 hours after our strength training session and I am still aching. Feels like every muscle in my body is tired and suffering – which all goes to show how pathetically out of shape I am.

Coach drilled us hard yesterday, oblivious to our muttering about the humidity, which was brutal.

But through the exhaustion and the realisation of how unfit I am, it was all good fun.

No, really!

There’s something supremely satisfying about working yourself to exhaustion.

Or am I crazy?

The session was all about strength and flexibility, both of which I need, so the suffering was not in vain 😛

We Spiderman-crawled our way up a grassy slope:

We did exhausting drills using the walls & railings around the park, as support.

Narpat looking in super fit shape
Coach giving advice
Mudit looking every bit the athlete he is
(he’s also an ace photographer)
My partner in crime, who caught me goofing off, and after that forced me to do every drill in sync with her. Thanks a ton, champ 🙂

We ended the training by doing leg raises.

Over plants and trees.

With strict instructions from Coach not to damage any of them.

I thought I’d be smart and use my water bottle, but got caught in the act, and was despatched to exercise over a sharp, spiky palm…that’ll learn me!

Actually, it was more effective doing leg lefts over a plant, because obviously no-one wanted to damage them, so everyone worked much harder:

The weather was super humid, and by the time we did the post-session cool down and stretching on the grass, we were all pretty tired…well, I was, so I guess some of my team mates were, too, though most of them are a frighteningly fit bunch!

Despite the aches and pains today, a super session. Lots of learnings, one of them being (yet again) the power of team work. There is NO way in a million years that I’d drill and train like that alone…

Team work really does make the dream work 🙂

What did you see on your run today? #393 comes from Brussels. And it’s very funny

My cyber-friendship with Myriam is one of the things that make blogging such fun.

I use the word cyber-friendship on purpose, since we have never met.

Myriam is a friend of a friend from my South African days. But through the wonders of technology, I now count Myriam as one of my friends. She’s a runner. a generous contributor to this blog and she’s damn funny with it!

Earlier his year, Myriam had shared the story of an urban trail run through the official buildings and public areas of Antwerp, where she lives – here’s the link & do please read her post – & I remember thinking at the time that it was such a fun concept.

And one, sadly, that will NEVER take off here.

In this VIP-obsessed city of Delhi, imagine the authorities opening up public buildings so we could all run through them…

So, since it’ll never happen here, let’s enjoy this urban trail run through the iconic monuments of Brussels.

Over to you, Myriam :

“The last weekend of June I’ve run an urban trail in Brussels, the capital of Belgium, with my daughter An and my husband Dirk, who walked the trail.
Like always it was a good plan to run and, it must be said, the organisation was perfect.

We had the wave at 9AM, so we took the train to Brussels at 7.30AM.

Too early for me. I’m not a morning runner.

In Brussels we collected a T-shirt and our labels; a drink to go and at 9AM after a few minutes of warming up, we started to run.

We did the Bozaar – it’s a concert hall.

We ran through the Federal Parliament (no one was working at the moment or any other moments… ),

(Editor: Myriam, naughty naughty 🙂 )

We ran through the station, the stock exchange building, the museum of “Manneke Pis – the symbol of Brussels”, and of course the town hall where I stood there for a moment to wave at the crowd below (like a real VIP).

A true VIP moment, my friend !!

And like always it was a good time. The weather was nice, the trail was more than OK, we had fun.

On the urban trails you can’t run the whole time : you have to take pictures, stairs up and down, avoiding tourists, etc.”

Now, how cool a concept is this urban trail running?

I would LOVE to do such a run through Delhi.

But in the meantime, thanks to Myriam, we can enjoy her VIP moments in her capital city’s iconic places.

Thanks my friend, and #keeprunning #keepinspiring

Running as therapy

On a scale of grief-inducing moments, the sudden, totally unexpected death of an adored pet must rank pretty highly.

One minute you’re walking in the forest with your darling dog.

15 minutes later, he’s gone.

Like that.

With no warning.

This was my yesterday.

I’d be exaggerating if I said that in losing Yoko, I’ve also lost a running companion, because we only ran together once a week. Every Monday, without fail.

Well, actually, sometimes it was twice a week. Like last week. And the week before, and…

Heartbroken, and very emotional because of the wonderful kind messages I received yesterday and overnight, I didn’t feel “strong” enough to go to my regular running club meet.

I knew I’d start crying if anyone said anything.

I cried at their WhatsApp messages, so in person would’ve been that much more difficult.

But I knew I needed to run, so I went to my local park and did a slow, tearful 10km.

This park does not allow dogs inside (so obviously it’s full of strays), so Yoko and I have no shared running history there. Which helped.

I wanted to test the theory that running helps cope with grief.

I remember a very emotional run after my mother died, where I ended up sitting in a dusty Muslim shrine in Delhi, crying my eyes out.

I’ve run before to clear my head from stressful situations, like a week of back-to-back funerals late last year. But being brutally honest, these were funerals of relatives of my husband, so I wasn’t prostrate with grief.

I’ve run when I’m stuck with a work problem, or can’t think how to write an article with a looming deadline.

I’ve run many times to keep the crazy at bay.

So even though I felt raw this morning, I laced up and headed to the park, to see if running would once again help.

Initially it didn’t – which was the stage at which I posted my Instagram stories – instagram.

But by the end of my slow 10km I definitely felt better.

I sort of knew in advance that I’d definitely feel better after a run.

But why?

Why is running such good therapy?

I trawled the internet and one thing came across loud & clear, everyone is in agreement that exercise most definitely helps with stress or trauma or grief.

In a word – running is therapy.

(Yeah, that’s 3 words. Thanks)

Not one article pooh poohed the benefits of exercise in dealing with the traumatic moments life throws at us all:

“Any significant loss in your life can trigger a powerful grieving process. A death in your family, the loss of a pet, divorce, or even being laid off may send you whirling down a roller-coaster ride of emotions; numbness, anger, denial, despair, isolation, and depression… all are par for the course when you’re grieving.”

This article sets out very succinctly the benefits of exercise in combating grief in so many ways – mental, psychological and physical.

“Grief can lead to many physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, insomnia, worsened aches and pains, loss of appetite, weakness, and more. While helping your mind, exercise can help to relieve many of these physical symptoms. If you’re having trouble sleeping, for example (common among grief-stricken individuals), exercise can help. Research shows that regular exercisers report sleeping better, including falling asleep faster and having a decreased need for sleeping pills, than they did prior to the start of their exercise program.

If you have pain, which is often made worse during psychological stress, exercise may help to relieve it, while at the same time banishing those potentially overwhelming feelings of fatigue. When you’re under extreme stress, your immune system also takes a hit, leaving you vulnerable to infectious disease, excessive inflammation and more. Here, too, exercise can be invaluable.

When you exercise, you increase your circulation and your blood flow throughout your body.”

What I found this morning was that for the first half of the run I kept thinking about Yoko, and then I’d tear up (not helped by seeing a Golden Retriever right outside my house, and for a second my heart skipped a beat…) but as I got into the rhythm of my run, I was thinking less and less, and just running.

So by the end of 10km, it almost seemed as though I’d moved a tiny distance down the road to recovery, less than 24 hours after we lost him. I’d managed not to think about him for a few kilometres…

Exercise may not extinguish grief but it can play a valuable role in helping people adapt to loss. Physical activity releases brain chemicals such as endorphins, which help to relieve discomfort and boost our mood.”

Even though the consensus appears to be that any exercise is beneficial, running seems to be one of the best ways of coping with grief and stress, and I refer you to this interesting article on the subject.

“You’re both really powerful and really vulnerable at the same time when you’re running, just physically,” says Sepideh Saremi, a licensed psychotherapist who believes so strongly in the power of the sport that she incorporates it into therapy sessions at Los Angeles-based Run Walk Talk. “There is an intensity when you’re running that makes other types of intensity more tolerable or less intense, in contrast to what’s happening in your body.”

Some of the psychological benefits of running are neurochemical. Molecules called endocannabanoids flow through your bloodstream at higher levels after a run, and then slip through your blood-brain barrier to fill the same slots as pot, stimulating similar feelings of calmness and peace (there’s a reason they call it runner’s high).

I liked the uplifting end to this article in

“For those who can run and choose to use it as a coping mechanism, Saremi sees a striking symbolism in forward momentum. “When you’re in grief like that, it’s like being in tar. It feels so bad,” she says. “I think running is the opposite of being stuck. It gives you hope that even though you can’t do anything to bring that person back, you’re still alive, and your life can go on.”

So there you go.

We all knew it already, but here you have proof scientific that running truly is a form of therapy.

It definitely helped me this morning.

I know it will take many weeks and many kilometres to ease the pain, but I’m going to heal myself, one run at a time.

Always something new to learn

There are mornings when it is SO tempting to switch off the 4.30am alarm and go back to sleep – like this morning, after yet another wretched power cut made for a poor night’s sleep.

But I somehow dragged myself out of bed and headed off to meet my ASICS Running Club.

And then the magic started.

Despite the searing humidity – jeez, we only had a couple of hours rain, Delhi, so what’s with the bonkers humidity? – so yes, where was I? Despite the searing humidity, we had a fabulous session.



Humiliating (when you’re the only one unable to do a particular drill 😛 )

And yes, I learned something new.

Something as simple as how to jump properly.

Pause for everyone to roll their eyes and mutter, “Crikey, what a slow learner SHE must be, if she’s only just found out how to jump!”

Coach made us do a lot of training and agility drills this morning, and one of them involved jumping over a small object (for me, it was my cap) – side to side, forward and backwards.

Sounds simple, right?

Well, yes, I guess it is, except that I haven’t jumped like that for years – seriously, how many adults jump?

I was making a bit of a dog’s breakfast of it, and have a few footprints on my cap to prove how I landed on it rather than to the side if it – and then, voila!

Coach made one of the fitter and more agile young women in the group demonstrate how to jump, which she did at lightning speed.

And then Coach said the magic words, “Notice how she’s landing on her toes, not the whole of her foot.”

Lightbulb moment.

Next repetition, I did my 30, without a break, did ’em fast, and boy, did I feel pretty damn pleased with myself.

Pause for everyone to roll their eyes Mark II and mutter “Boy, she’s easily pleased.”

Joking aside, it’s moments like this that make running and training such enormous fun.

Accomplishing yet another tiny skill set.


We did a lot of our drills up a slope this morning, adding to the difficulty level.

Like this drill (below) where we had to balance on one leg as we made our way up the hill:

Not half as easy as it looks, my friends, let me tell you.

We also did our version of a spiderman crawl up the hill:

Christine, you need to work on this drill.
Not close enough to the ground… 😛

Much of the focus today was on balance:

Neha showing how it’s done!

We did planks, and drills with a partner, and exhausting though it was, there was such a great sense of accomplishment and camaraderie that it was a really super session.

Moral of the story?

  1. Always, always, always get up & head out to exercise. There is NO better way to start a day.
  2. There are ALWAYS things to learn, every day. Like how to jump 🙂
  3. Team work really does make the dream work. Without Coach & my mates this morning, none of this would’ve happened.

All of the photo/video credits got to one of our team, Sunil Punshi, who is a seriously good photographer.

If you love looking at beautiful images, do yourself a favour & follow Sunil on Instagram.

And, while you’re at it – you can also follow my dedicated running Insta feed, too!

Please, thank you very much 🙂

Now about that muscle memory…

Jeez Louise.

You take less than a month off from running, to go trekking in the mountains, and then you come back and you are a total ZERO.

That was the reality check awaiting me this hot & humid Delhi morning, when I re-joined my ASICS Running Club mates after a break.

I know I’m still tired from the trek, which took more out of me than I had bargained for, but I honestly didn’t expect to feel so winded, so exhausted, so headache-y, after what isn’t actually that big a break.

The lovely lady who gives me massages told me today that I have a low grade fever that she can “feel” when she massages me, so perhaps I’ll use that as an excuse for a shockingly wimpish performance this morning.

We did intervals this morning, and even though I was in the slowest group, I still had to skip a couple of them, because I was feeling borderline nauseous (I blame it all on that fever I didn’t know I had 😛 )

I’d heard of muscle memory, so I kinda thought that meant that my body would automatically snap back into running mode. I mean I’m not injured, I didn’t spend the last 3 weeks lolling around, I was climbing a bloody great mountain, so being active, basically…but no.

Body had pretty much forgotten what running is all about.

Super depressing.

So I decided I’d look into this whole muscle memory thing and see if I could make any sense of it.

If nothing else, it’ll give me a scapegoat for my lousy performance.

Since I am so far from being a scientist it’s not funny, I’m not going to try and explain the articles I’ve read.

I’d only make a hash of it, so let me share with you here the most useful articles I found, which explain simply, in words people like me can understand, what muscle memory actually is.

I found this article very useful –

This article from is a fun read (no, truly!) and I love the idea of zombie agents at work 🙂

I read loads more, and it was interesting how the 2 sports referred to the most as benefiting from muscle memory are cycling and weight-lifting.

This succinct little piece from the Beeb is pretty straightforward –

So, where does this leave us?

Yes, theredoes appear to be something called muscle memory, though it is perhaps a misnomer:

How long does it last?

3-6 month, huh?
So perhaps I shouldn’t despair, then, after all…

There does, thank goodness, appear to be a glimmer of hope for the likes of me:


I guess the fact that my poor old legs remembered how to run – albeit slowly – means some muscle memory was at work. So there’s that much to be grateful for, right?

Clearly the only way to regain lost form is…sigh…to work hard.

Go back to basics.

Build up strength and energy.

No shortcuts in other words, and no blaming muscle memory.

Yikes! It’s already half way through 2019!

Now how on earth did that happen?

One minute it’s the end of February & I’m telling myself I’ve got the w-h-o-l-e of the summer to unwind, and train, and make major improvements to my running form…

…and then, wham, suddenly it’s the end of June, which means that it is half way through 2019, & I’m getting reminders to sign up for the Mumbai Marathon in January 2020, which is next year and that’ll mean 2019 is gone, and yes yes yes, can you hear the rising panic?!

So in true ex-auditor fashion (God, I used to lead a dull life… 😛 ) it is time for a half-yearly balance sheet.

I’ll stop exclaiming about how quickly 6 months have flown by – though I did watch a BBC thingy about how time seems to speed by faster for we oldies, so perhaps that explains some of my astonishment – but whatever it is, half of the year is done & dusted, and what do I have to show for it?

Not HUGE amounts of progress on the running front, sad to say, since I haven’t really challenged myself since my 2 marathons within a month in January & February.

I ended the winter running season with a jolly 5km in the rain in early March, getting a PB in the process – and that is, ahem. well, kinda that…

I dabbled a bit with going to the gym.

Took a few Barre classes.

I’ve swum a bit.

I’ve started yoga.

I went on a high altitude trek in the Himalayas, and came back absolutely knackered.

So much for using the long Delhi summer to up my game.

What I have done is travel quite a bit and, naturally, I dutifully ran in all the lovely places I’ve visited.

Yangon, Mandalay, Shanghai, Bangkok all gave me city running, most of it hot and humid, except for Shanghai which couldn’t make its mind up whether it was winter/spring/summer the week we were there.

I did a bit of trail running in Himachal Pradesh, in the Himalayas.

I’ve done lots of slow, gentle runs in the Delhi forest with my 2 dogs.

But if I am to be in ANY shape whatsoever come the winter racing season here in India, I need to get my A into G, and ek dum jaldi.

I don’t know why I do this to myself every year.

I imagine the summer is going to last for ever – which of course it does but it is SO damn hot here that running and exercising become a real chore.

Waking up to 32C every morning at 5am, makes it a tad difficult to stay motivated.

But every year I forget, and every year I pledge to “use” the summer to train and improve…

You think I’d have learned by now.

Anyway, onwards & upwards & all that jazz.

My post-Himalayan-trek rest is now officially OVER.

And to kick start the second half of the year, I dutifully dusted off my stationary bike (which sits totally stationary in my bedroom) and I offloaded the clothes that were draped on it 😛 and pedalled slowly for half an hour.

Operation Get Fit Again is officially launched.

I marked the moment.
Well, yes, technically it was a day early, but you get my point

What did you see on your run today? #392 comes from Athens

The lovely Kathakoli Dasgupta shared her running story from a Greek island, here in the blog yesterday.

Today’s chapter of her wedding-anniversary-Greek-adventure comes from Athens where, in her own words:

“the Acropolis was boiling, it was bustling but I couldn’t let go of the opportunity.”

It does look very un-running-friendly, to be honest

Katha explains that “you can’t run up and down on the Acropolis slopes (it’s too slippery and dangerous) so I did the majority of my runs around the path below the ancient citadel.”

Stunning, Katha

Katha freely admits that she fell in love with Greece, and one of the things she loved were the ubiquitous olive trees:

“One off the many olive trees (can you see baby olives?) that dotted the landscape below.

Legend has it that the city adopted the name Athens to honour the goddess Athena, who gave the city its first olive tree.”

Katha adds that olive trees are everywhere in Greece, providing shade and respite from the heat as well as (& I quote!) “the best-est olives ever!!”

Dear happy Katha, thank you SO much for sharing some of your Greek adventures with us 🙂



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