Does running make you anti-social?

I ask this question in all honesty, since I have been accused of this many times over the past year.

“Anti-social” essentially translates into the need to go to bed earlier than one was used to before and, usually, not drink.

Or perhaps it’s just me.

But I can no longer have a couple of glasses of wine and then get up at 5 in the morning to go running. No can do. And much as I enjoy my wine, the choice was/is a no-brainer.

Obviously, go for a run.

What I find baffling is the assumption that Lifestyle A is somehow “better” than Lifestyle B, so that by not wanting to party long and hard, one is ipso facto boring and anti-social. I have yet to hear a runner criticising others for not wanting to get up at dawn and go for a run. We just do it.

Often I return home to a still sleeping house, so where was the anti-social-ness there, pray?

I acknowledge that there is definitely something very addictive about running, and the more one runs, the more importance it assumes in one’s life. Carving out time to go for a run is now part of my daily mantra, and when you live in a country like India, and it’s the summer, and so so hot, that means that you have to get up at dawn. Which means you have to go to bed early. And there we are again, back at the “Oh you are becoming anti-social” charge.

I don’t think I am totally alone in this. Certainly some of the lovely young ladies in my Delhi running group have faced issues of families resenting their commitment to running, that much I know.

Your thoughts, people?

How do you respond?

A novice’s guide to hill running

We are back in our beloved Tirthan Valley, in Himachal Pradesh, for a few days welcome escape from the heat and dust of Delhi.  While hubby fishes for trout in the fast flowing clear Tirthan river, I set out every morning and run.

We have been coming to Himachal for many years now, and since fishing isn’t my thing, I have always spent my days here going for long walks in the forest – or last time, thrillingly, climbing the peak opposite the lodge – but this time…the #100daysofrunning challenge is totally guiding my activities.

And so I am running.

Seriously, who would have known that an online challenge could become so competely addictive?

Thus it is that I am coming to grips with running in the hills, as in (a) at altitude, after Delhi and (b) literally running up and down the steep hills along which the tiny roads meander.

This morning I ran through part of the Great Himalayan National Park, and it now officially ranks as one of the most fabulous runs I have ever done in my (admittedly) short running life.

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Once I had turned off the road leading to the little village of Gushaini, there was no more traffic, since it was inside the park – and the only traffic was a few giggling schoolgirls (school on a Sunday?) saying “Hi” and then getting dumbstruck when I replied, and lots of porters on the way down from camping trips, judging by their loads.

Interestingly, every one of the porters greeted me not with the ubiquitous “Hi” but rather, very gravely, with a “Kaha ja rahi hai aap?” or “Where are you going?”.  They were probably foxed by the fact that I had only a tiny hydration pack and was running as best I could up the steep slopes. Also that I wasn’t wearing hiking boots like everyone else.

Whether it was newbie enthusiasm, or the joy of running in cool, damp, super clean air and being able to breathe deep lungfuls, unlike Delhi, but I found myself able to run way more uphill than I had expected.  It was amazingly exhilarating running uphill and negotiating the rocks and boulders along the track, and as for the flat sections through the forest…they were fabulous- the sound of the river below, butterflies galore and even wild strawberries to eat.

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Running on muddy earth, as opposed to roads, is fabulous but more than anything else it was the complete absence of traffic that made this run so perfect.

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Now, what I would love to know is this…is there a formula for calculating how a kilometre in the hills equates to a kilometre on the flat?  When I first started running, back in late 2013, our fearless coach and mentor and guru, Dr.Rajat Chauhan, was always very encouraging when we would tackle Raisina Hill, which is pretty much what passes for a slope in South Delhi.  He would always assure us that running up a gradient was worth w-a-y more kilometre-wise than running in the flat.

I realise the good doctor was doing this to encourage us, but all the same…is there indeed a formula? If any of you know, do please let me know.

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Oh the romance of running! The sheer gorgeous romance of it!

Anyone who thinks running is only about running – think again!

This morning, in the killer Delhi pre-monsoon heat, one of the prettiest young ladies I know, and the person responsible for getting me to start running, got married.

To a fellow runner.

Of course.

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Katha and Dave were introduced by one of the girls in my running group at a post-run brunch.  And well, after they met, their love story just ran and ran.

They discovered they were true sole mates.

They ran into each others’ arms.  You could even say they raced into each others’ arms.

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Dear Katha and Dave, here’s wishing you both lots of PBs in your new life together.

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OK, OK, OK.

That’s probably enough bad puns.

(Though actually, if any of you can think of any more suitable wedding-running puns, do please let me know.  Love to include them!)

So there you go, fellow runners.  A lovely story that all began with running.

“What are ya’ll running from? Where y’all going?” One of the funniest running videos you’ll see

I have my friend Mary Tremblay to thank for this.  An accomplished runner years before I had even thought of lacing up my running shoes, Mary sent me this link, below, to one of the funniest running videos you’ll see.

Watch as a group of rowdy hillbillies heckle runners in the Franklin Half Marathon.  It’s a long clip, but well worth watching.  Trust me.

Banjo music, hillbilly running in his overall, a kidnapped runner (serious!) and THE best quote ever, from one Mr. Red Duck Cantrell:

“We had all stayed up drinking moonshine all night and next thing you know a bunch of people in tight shorts started running by”

 

 

Fabulous stuff, but perhaps not so much fun for the poor fellow they hoiked off the road for a while.

Here’s a link to the race website with more brilliant photos.

Should you wear a mask when you go for a run in a polluted city?

Like Delhi, where I live.

Currently we have the dubious honour of being the world’s most polluted city.  (In your face, China!)

Yesterday, in my blog post about our very own marathon man completing his 50th marathon, I included a photo of Piyush-ji and some of his fellow runners, and what caught my eye was the gentleman wearing a mask.

Here’s the photo again.

(And apologies, once again, for “lifting” this photo from FB)

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Now, what do we all think about the efficacy and practicality of wearing a mask?  We poor Delhi-walas have suddenly woken up to the fact that we live in the muckiest city on the planet, which is a hang-your-head-in-shame title, and one which we should all be very frightened about.

The problem is that much of the time it doesn’t actually feel that polluted.  Sure, on those horrid grey foggy winter days when your can taste the foulness in the air –  then, yes, for sure you know it is polluted.  But for much of the year it doesn’t seem polluted.

And yet.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who now regularly checks the PM2.5 levels – now that we all know what they mean for our poor chests and lungs.

Here is the reading right now:

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(Am foxed, though, by the fact that in the reading, above, there is such a temperature difference between 2 parts of the city…22C vs 34C…)

So.

What do we do?

Masks or not?

On Saturday morning, out running in Lutyens Delhi, there was a sudden violent windstorm, and I used the buff with which I always run as a quick-fix to stop inhaling the clouds of dust I could see swirling around me.  God knows if it actually kept any dust out, but it was hot and uncomfortable, and I couldn’t have done my whole 12km run wearing it, that’s for sure.

 

And now –  over to you all, please, for your feedback.

I am throwing the discussion open, and would welcome your thoughts, your recommendations, your ideas.

Here are a few questions to get the discussion started:

a) are masks effective?

b) if so, which mask?

c) available in India? (That’s a domestic concern, for we local runners)

 

Please God we are not headed the way China did –  before they apparently got their act together, and India didn’t…

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[Photo: Imagine China]

India’s Marathon Man does it : 50 marathons down (And only another 50 to go…)

So.
What have YOU achieved in the last 3 days?
And yes, indeed, what have I achieved in the last 3 days?
My answer to that question goes something like this, “Oh, you know, a bit of this, bit of that.  Planned to do x, but ran out of time…thought about doing y but never got around to it…wasted time doing…planned to…never finished…”
Sound familiar?
Meanwhile, over in Ahmedabad, our very own Marathon man, Piyush-ji, has run 2 more marathons.  2 marathons in 3 days.
Yup.
Quite.
I shared his amazing story with you on Thursday, at which point he had run 48 marathons since April 1st.
Now make that 50 marathons.  In 75 days.
Yup.
Quite.
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I thought a lot about this amazing man as I battle with tiredness and the heat here in Delhi, as I work my way through our friendly online challenge to run for 100 days.  If I’m pathetically tired after running piddly short distances every day, how on earth does Piyush keep going day after day after day, running back-to-back marathons?
So I tackled him again, poor fellow, trying to winkle out some more of his secrets from him.  At this rate, he will probably soon block my emails, thinking I’m a creepy online stalker or something.
But here’s the thing with Piyush (whom I have never met, I hasten to add) – he is so totally modest and low key, that he makes the whole business of running marathon after marathon after marathon sound so simple and easy and uncomplicated.
Here, read my latest email Q & A below, and you’ll see what I mean.
Seriously, have you ever met anyone so unassuming and casual about such physical prowess?
Christine: Please tell us how much you eat! Doesn’t it require vast amounts of food to fuel so much intensive running?
Piyush: I only eat our Gujarati food. It is home product.
C: How long before a run do you eat?
P:  I eat at night time & in the morning I have cup of tea and 60ml Aloe vera gel drink. Not eating any thing.
C: Do you eat snacks or gels while you are running your marathons? Or do you not get hungry?
P: Never eat snacks or gels.
C: What do you drink while running? Just water or energy drinks?  How much?
P: Yes I drink only normal water.
C: Do you listen to music while running?
P: No!!! Running gives me time for great meditation. 6hrs worth.
C: No aches and pains?  No stiffness after so much running?
P: No pains & I run every time👍
I am as lost in admiration as ever.
I am gearing my self up, mentally and physically, to run my first ever marathon.  In 2016.
So months and months in advance, I bought those specialised running gels in London.  I even bought a specially designed belt to carry said special gels on the go.  I also bought a backpack-thingy to be able to drink on the go.  Gadgets maketh the woman.
And here is this amazingly modest man running 50 marathons in 75 days, eating very little, sleeping very little, no gels, no motivational playlists, none of the hoopla.
Truly inspirational.
Typically, in his laconic Facebook post this morning, that he had just run his 50th marathon, Piyush thanks the runners who had joined him to celebrate this milestone :
“I was feeling really strong today and thanks to all the runners of Ahmedabad coming out in large numbers to support my run.”
Here are some of these supporters (Piyush is in the orange T, to the right in both photos).
And apologies, unknown photographer, for swiping your pictures!
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And…yes, yes…Having seen this photo, I am already planning my next blog post about running in a mask against pollution.
More on that anon.
In the meantime it’s “shabash” to an amazing man who needs no sleep and runs on water and simple food.

How long should a pair of running shoes last?

I ask this in all seriousness, since I have just had an email from mapmyrun, an app I have on my iPhone, telling me that it’s time to think about buying new running shoes.

Crikey, I only bought my lovely pink & purple Adidas Energy Boost on 28 April –  ie 47 days ago.

Come on, surely, even with this #100daysofrunning challenge I can’t have almost worn my shoes out. Can I?

Or can I?

Let’s put all this in context.  I only wear my shoes for running, not during the day to go walking or anything.  There might have been some over-calculation with mapmyrun, since I think it syncs with my Garmin (but I don’t use that all the time).

But whatever the maths in all this –  how long should a pair of running shoes last?

FYI, the programme says 644km.  A very precise figure, arrived at how…?

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So, please, all you way more experienced runners out there, won’t you tell me what you feel is the expected life of a pair of running shoes?

And I have a few other related questions for you all:

1) Should I wear the same shoes every day, or alternate?

2) If the latter, should one have 2 pairs of the same shoes, or different shoes?  Does change help?  is it good for one’s feet or not?

 

I am no way going to replace my almost new shoes just because an app tells me to.  I’m not that much of a naive newbie runner, folks.  But I would love your feedback on what you all feel is a reasonable amount of mileage to get from shoes.

And – am I being paranoid here & imagining conspiracy theories – but do you suppose these tracking apps are in cahoots with the shoe companies to push us to buy more…?

No, you’re so right…they couldn’t be…could they…no, no, I AM being paranoid.

Am I?

Basic runners’ rights

I have just written an article for Outlook magazine, about  – amongst other things – the parlous state of our cities, where such basic infrastructure such as street lights are often sadly missing.  Potholed roads, totally encroached-upon footpaths, rubbish everywhere…seriously, there are times when you have to wonder what on earth we pay our taxes for.

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Call this a footpath?

Here’s the link to my article, and if you agree with me, I would love to hear your comments and thoughts.  I wrote this from the perspective of a runner, but my concerns hold true for every citizen.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/street-lighting–other-fundamental-rights/294569

How can we (especially women) feel safe when the streets are dark?  Surely it’s pretty much a given that well lit streets reduce crime?  And as for forcing all we pedestrians off the pavement and onto the roads, because people have arrogantly taken over the pavement…well…I feel like starting a “Reclaim our footpaths” movement, I really do.

Is the situation the same in other Indian cities?  I know there were certain pockets of excellence in Mumbai, when I went there to run the SCMM in January.  Coming from Delhi, it was a treat to be able to run along pavements in and around Malabar Hill, and by and large I felt there was way less in-your-face arrogant encroachment there than here in Delhi.

Your thoughts, please?

And what do you suggest we do, to get our street lights fixed?  And our rubbish bins emptied?  And our potholes filled?

IMG_5553Even if you do decide to be a good citizen & throw your rubbish in the rubbish bin…

Meet India’s very own Marathon Man

As some of you know, I am taking part in an online challenge, in which a group of us have committed to run every single day for 100 days. Minumum to stay in the friendly contest is 2km per day.

Although I don’t really know anyone in this amazing group well, over the past 40+ days, we have all got to “cyber” know each other, via our daily updates on Facebook.

Everyone who has mentally (& physically) signed up for this challenge is a champion in my eyes, so it seems unfair to single out one person for special acclaim.

But needs must.

Meet Piyush Shah from Ahmedabad in Gujarat, who has made his own amazing commitment – to run 100 marathons in a year.

Yup.

You read that correctly.

100 marathons in a year.

If you average it out, that works out at roughly 2 marathons a week.

Except that Piyush-ji is running marathons at the rate of one every night at the moment.

He runs at night – to avoid the heat and the traffic – and is usually finished by 6.30am, when the rest of we mere mortals are heading out to run, all sleepy and bleary eyed.

Every time I open Facebook after my own tiddly piddly runs, I am stunned by Piyush’s laconic updates

“my 44th/45th/46th/47th marathon”

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So I messaged him and asked if I could profile him, and so here we have the man himself, in his own words, via an email Q & A.

Prepare to be bowled over.

And inspired.

 

Christine: When did you start running and why?

Piyush: In 1998 when I turned 39, I started walking. I averaged 80km a week with just 3 walks & then in 2004 I was saw the Delhi Half Marathon on TV & the winner completed the distance in 80 minutes. At that stage, I was walking 14km in 90 minutes so I thoguth “Why not” and started to run. But I could not run, and gave up.

The second time I started running was in 2008 & this time, I found my rhythm and started running.

Christine: And then?

Piyush: Oh, lots and lost of races and running.

Christine: Such as?

Piyush: 100km in 14:32hrs

100miles 25:02hrs

135 miles in 41hrs

Many marathons & half marathons.

Christine: How many km do you reckon you have run so far?

Piyush: I reckon that I have run and walked more than 75,000 km.

Christine : I see your daily Facebook updates. So­­, please excuse the obvious question – but exactly why are you running back to back marathons?

Piyush: There is a Guinness Book of Records achievement of a man running 239 marathons in a year, but here in India there isn’t the organisation nor the infrastructure to attempt such a feat. So I decided to run 100 marathons within one year. I started to run on 1st April 2015 & aim to complete my 100th marathon on 31st March 2016.

Christine : When do you run? And do you run alone ? (Note to self – silly question. Who else could keep up with this man…?_

Piyush: I run alone & all my runs are at night. I usually start between 1am to 2am & usually complete a marathon in under 6:30hrs

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Christine : What on earth do you eat?

Piyush: I am Gujarati & I eat traditional Gujarati food. But I do eat 2 eggs a day.

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Christine : Do you ever sleep?

Piyush: I only need to sleep for 4 hours a night.

And I run so slowly in order to avoid injuries.

 

Told you Piyush-ji was laconic…don’t you just love the “I run so slowly…”

As at the time of writing,  Thursday 11th June, this amazingly modest man has run 48 marathons, and will run his 49th tomorrow, followed by his 50th on Sunday.

Here –  check out his typically low key Facebook status:

“As per my past planning I will run tomorrow my 49th marathon run & on 14th June Sunday I will run 50th marathon…Start 3:30am”

Am speechless with admiration.

And yes, before you ask, I fully intend charting his achievements here, so we can all of us hope have a little bit of his running magic rub off on us.

Good luck and know that we are all gunning for you.

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How to lace up your running shoes

Seriously.  This is what this post is about.

Wouldn’t you think one would know how to do that?  And, excuse me, what’s that you’re saying?  “It’s not exactly rocket science, now, is it, tying your shoe laces…”

Agreed.

So how come a video showing you how to lace up your running shoes has gone viral on Youtube this past month?

I saw this post on quite a few Facebook timelines (without bothering to read it, thinking, like you, “It’s not exactly rocket science, now, is it, tying your shoe laces…”)

But when one of my trekking and climbing buddies, Sunil Nehru, sent it to me this week, in the specific context of this blog, I took the time to watch the video and…yes, my life has changed.

“Hi Christine! I am sure you and your running friends are using this brilliant lacing up technique already, but just in case one or two are knot (!) aware of it here it is. I use it routinely and it works a treat!”

Thanks Sunil.

Now, if you haven’t already seen this, do please take a couple of minutes, watch it –  and then let me know what you think.

Here you go.

I now lace my shoes this way, and yes, they feel snug as a bug.

But of course I feel like a right proper fool, for never having questioned those extra holes.

Please tell me I am not alone…

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