CV Raman nagar : A green running route

Bagmane Lake There are many interesting running routes in and around Bangalore city, some of them still remain unexplored. CV Raman Nagar DRDO are is one such running route, which will always remain very close to my heart for many reasons. First I have been living in the same area for years together now, used to go for long walks in the same route much before I started training for long distance running with Runners High. Second, this serene and green router is well maintained, one of the most beautiful landscapes that I am aware of.  It also gives a great opportunity to listen to self while running.

For people who don’t know, DRDO Township is located in CV Raman Nagar, about 2 KM from Indira Nagar. This access restricted Township has some timing limitations where pedestrians and vehicles are not allowed to pass through between 8 PM to 8 AM. Also none of the private vehicles are allowed into the township during any part of the day, which relates the traffic to a larger extent. Well maintained roads, restricted access combined with excellent greenery offers a very good opportunity to use this route as a walking or running track.

The route starting from CV Raman statue -> Bagmane Tech park entrance -> DRDO Township -> DRDO shopping complexDRDO_entrance (1024x768) covers good 2 KM stretch, which is ideal for anybody to start running. This stretch has good combination of flat, uphill and downhill surfaces that gives a good experience for a runner. Since the whole stretch consist of well laid out roads, possibility of skidding or falling is almost ruled out. With ample parking facilities (both inside and outside the complex), a good ‘out-and-back’ of the above mentioned stretch will give a 4 KM distance. As a part of our running program with RH, I have been using this route as per the weekly plan. Also when I miss my weekend runs, this route serves as an alternative option thereby getting rid of guilt feeling that comes as a bonus for missing the routine.

From timing point of view evenings (especially between 5 PM – 8 PM) serves as an ideal slot to go for a run as there will be a lot of regular walkers and runners. Couple of vivid incidents always comes to my mind when I think of this route. The first one being spotting a dead snake on the route, which not only scared people who were walking or running, it created a bad stink in the entire area for more than a week. It was stinking so badly that it even after a week I couldn’t run in the route. The second one being picking up smaller fights with security authorities for stopping me by asking some vague questions, irrespective me mentioned that I came to run in that area. Every other day security personnel keep changing each of them have their own set of rules for pedestrians and timings. It would be better if they come up with some proper mechanism for handling this.

If you are looking for Running_route_3 (1024x768)a good running route well within the city, especially in the Bangalore east area I would strongly recommend DRDO. The ‘darshini’ located inside the complex serves crispy plain-dosa, combining it with a cup of hot tea will complete your run in a high note for sure. Now it’s time to tie your laces!

Running as a therapy

Most of us think Running as a physical activity, resulting in better health.

The real impact that running has created goes way beyond physical health, thereby acting as a therapy. The Alternative, a new age media created a set of stories recently where they covered stories of individuals where running made a big impact. There were people suffering from migraine, autism, schizophrenia etc…and how running has transformed their lives. I am happy to be surrounded by such individuals with whom we run as a community in Runners High.

Check out the following URLs for the individual stories:

Bangalore Ultra 2013

Bangalore Ultra 2013
Bangalore Ultra 2013

After my first season running with Kaveri Trial Marathon, enrolled for Bangalore Ultra 2013 with Runners High community. The first season was extremely challenging, as I was finding too difficult to get myself up and running. After long runs (especially on weekends), it used to pain a lot (especially in the calf muscles), which made my weekends really painful days spent by sleeping, icing and taking rest. There were multiple other challenges like getting-up early, showing up on-time to coaching sessions, coordinating with folks for car-pooling along added with  bottom line responsibilities from work and family. During Bangalore Ultra training challenges became multi-fold as I was handling a big workplace transition added with my folks falling in sick frequently with some family travel. The real fun of running with Runners High community is the togetherness and support we get in form of coaches, runners and special children from Ananya and Shristi, which helped me to run successfully irrespective of all challenges.

For ultra I had very few and specific goals were in my mind. First and foremost goal was about running continuously for the race distance. During my first season, I used to do run-walk-run sequence whenever I ran out of my breath, which happened quite frequently. Thanks to regular coaching and breathing exercises (as cross-training), rhythm has set in to a larger extent. During the coaching sessions I was able to run much comfortably without losing breath or taking breaks. This has given me a significant boost in terms of self confidence and can-do attitude. Diwali heavy-eating made my last week coaching little challenging, but overall I was confident because of regular coaching.

The race day was even better. One small mistake I did during my previous season was getting too excited on the previous night, thereby getting lesser sleep. On the run day I had difficulty between 6-8 KM as I just couldn’t push my legs forward. Also the race was happening in Mysore, I ended up eating outside food which I was never comfortable with. Since Ultra was happening in Bangalore (near Hennur Road), I wanted to plan well by taking good amount of rest. Especially on the previous night I went to bed early with having very simple yet ‘carb-rich’ idlis. Had a pretty comfortable sleep and I was very fresh on the race day feeling very light. We (along with my running buddies) reached the location much earlier. The route was misty with lesser visibility.  Fortunately one of our buddy’s workplace is near Hennur, who had quite a good idea about the whole route. In fact the previous day he drove all the way to race location and measured drive time approximately.

When we reached the race location (about 5 AM), folks who were doing ultra long distances (100K, 24 hour continuous run etc…) were winding up their last minutes, which literally blew me off. They started on the previous day about 5 AM, were still running when I reached the location. Trained human body, driven by a strong will to succeed has no limits. I have heard and read similar stuff in many book, it was really an experience to see things unfold in front of my eyes. Some of my RH members have clocked more than 150+ KM in 24 hour time which is a remarkable achievement.

Bangalore Ultra 2013 - Completion
Bangalore Ultra 2013 – Completion

Bangalore Ultra is relatively a flat track with excellent running environment of Bamboo forest. This government protected forest got opened up only for running purpose, otherwise I understand it largely remains closed. The temperature was just perfect with 25K runners starting on time few minutes before us. My pace was steady around 3 KM mark, taken quick breaks (for few seconds) at aid stations to take enough of water and Electral to keep myself hydrated by maintaining appropriate  salt levels. I was not taking separate salt pills as my coaches mentioned taking electoral at break points will have the same as salt pills. On the way I was able to see some of the 25K runners coming back with lot of cheers and support. The pure joy of running and clocking every other kilometer was visible. There was also good number of friends (outside RH

running community, from my professional side and some college buddies) running as a part of this event, met them on the way. I couldn’t spend as much as time I could have wanted other than waving my hands on the way.  The last 2 KM mark was very comfortable for me as I was taking steady and strong steps towards the closure line. Buddies and chief coach from RH accompanied me in the last 300 meters or so asking me to push hard by increasing the speed. I was able to do it quite comfortably and finished the race in style. Food after race was also really tasty (unlike KTM, where we had a major disappointment with respect to food) ended up gulping some good number of idlis and pongal.

During my first season I used to have so much of sourness in my leg. When I was mentioning this to one of my seniors (whose son is training for national level badminton tournament for years now), he gave a tip of taking bath in cold water, which worked wonders. I don’t exactly remember the science behind this, it brought down my post-run pains to a larger extent. With cold water bath becoming part of life now, I am looking forward for my next reason with my own goals and objectives.

The crux of coaching

Every year 5th September is celebrated as Teachers day in India. We were preparing a custom greeting card for our little one

Coaching
Coaching

(to share with her teacher) to demonstrate a good gesture. Around the same time my mind started thinking about teachers, coaching and positive impact it creates individuals. The process of coaching doesn’t end after we pass out from school/college; in fact one requires coaching from a different dimension afterwards. I have been coached by many exceptional individuals for whom I will remain eternally thankful. There are numerous occasions when I was clueless, done mistakes or even frustrated. These set of mentors/coaches were always available to me to help and support all the time. I tried to look back and try to understand what exactly these individuals have done to me? After all what exactly is the crux of coaching?

I would like to take my recent example of coaching from long distance running experience and try to find answer for my previous question. When individuals are getting trained for long distances, it is highly likely possible those individuals face difficulties to keep up with running long distances. The issue can be due to physical fatigue, injury, mental blockers, and inferiority thinking which eventually leads to lesser self confidence in the person. In such situations individuals end up running last or walk or even think of quitting the run. Understanding this state quickly, I have seen the coach end up running along with this slowest running person in the group.

Now what is the powerful and indirect message that coach is conveying? Primarily the slowest runner gets a mental support that he is not alone and running slowly is not a big issue. By getting an encouraging word or two during such situations (“Good job, you are getting better”) from the coach instills confidence and re-assurance. This creates a huge transformation on the person, who is getting coached, which will help them to get out of the issue (mentioned above) quickly, even though it might fall under any of the category.

Connecting back, this is exactly what they have done to me time-and-again. In challenging situations these mentors ensured that they kept faith and confidence, which meant a lot to me during such situations. With this support it was quite natural for me to figure out action and come out of difficulties.

In my opinion, having faith in individuals and installing confidence during difficult times summarizes the crux of coaching. For the person is receiving end it is a humbling experience.

The story of long distance running

[I wrote this article to share with my folks in Runners High community (referred as RH in the article below). Some names might look little unfamiliar for general readers. I will continue to write about long distance running, going forward]

Initial conversation with Santhosh

Keeping up physical fitness is one of the key priorities for every one of us. There are many options available (ex: Aerobics), however long distance running is something which I have been aspiring to start for a long time. My initial understanding with running came in form of Santhosh, who was doing his marathons (for Asha NGO) when he was working in the US. I used to follow his blogs to keep in touch ever since we passed out of college more than a decade back. He used to write regular blogs on his preparation, challenges and how money raised through running is used to contribute grass root level organizations, especially children. Even much before Santhosh started off RH (vaguely recollect it was year 2008), I clearly remember meeting up for lunch with him about me doing running, which I immediately ruled out by saying “Running? Give me a break. Please coach somebody else to keep your motivation high; I will probably bring down your energy levels by not showing interest in such crazy stuff!”

Lonely planet

Times passed and we went on our own ways. In the mean time, I have kept up with my aspiration to keep physically fit by doing various activities like Yoga, Meditation and some games over the weekend. However I was doing them all alone, which was becoming very difficult to sustain. Over a period of time, consistency took a huge hit as it is very easy to give up when you are alone. Again back to square one, I was primarily looking for some activity with higher sustainability factor. In the mean time, there were some colleagues who got into long distance running, through them I used to get updates about growing “community” approach towards running in Bangalore. Finally I decided “let me give it a shot, let even hell break loose!” One email to Santhosh (again) and got signed up for KTM with 10K finish goal.

IIM-B and DTS sound in my stomach

KTM 2013 @ 9.5 KM mark
KTM 2013 @ 9.5 KM mark

When I dropped into for intro session at IIM-B, I got really scared at first sight. While the “community” factor was really heartening to see, fellow runners from RH scared me continuously talking about running among them. Key words like “ultra”, “Boston marathon”, “finish goal”, “ITB” were getting exchanged among folks, sounded Greek and lain for me. When Santhosh introduced individual coaches (and their accomplishments in running in Grand Canyon, Himalayas etc…) I almost fell like running out of IIM-B auditorium. I was telling myself “Where am I, what am I trying to do? I have absolutely no exercise background and these folks are talking about running 50 KM!”  I could clearly hear DTS music in my stomach and somehow (!) stayed back in the auditorium and paid the fees. At the same time I told only one thing to myself “I will stick to the schedule given my coach, let me stop thinking and start running”. When I look back that’s probably the best decision I have taken when it comes to long distance running.

Kicking VIRUS (Viru Sahasrabuddhe) out!

Thanks to strong support from my wife, I was able to get up on time and show up for running by not bunking any classes (except couple of occasions due to self/family health reasons). Initial few days were very difficult where I literally had lot of pain all over the body. Every other day I used to get new type of pain from different set of muscles, which I didn’t even knew existed in my body for so many years. As per my initial commitment (of sticking to schedule) I decided to put on with coaching schedule.

The first thing that amazed RH is about the excellent, self-sustaining system built which works automatically. Right from day one I didn’t even bother about my timings, ran as much as possible. When I couldn’t run, I just paused, stopped, gained breath and again started running. I also ensured that I don’t end up comparing myself with fellow runners mainly because I wanted to come out of this “metric” (popularly known as KPI) based thinking which we are so used in school, college and corporate world. After all I didn’t want to emulate VIRUS (ref: 3 idiots) by overtaking the fellow runner to keep myself ahead. The very fact that I am able to get up and run at morning 6 AM at Cubbon is a huge achievement, rest all were immaterial anyways 😉

Coaches and mentors

Now coming to coaches, they were absolutely amazing people. In our Cubbon library group we had Srini, Kanishka and George were our main coaches who led by example by ensuring we followed the schedule

KTM 2013 Finish point
KTM 2013 Finish point

on time. I still remember them running along with slowest runners in our group (I am definitely one among them) ensuring that they are supported well. This built a huge confidence, faith and aspiration to push myself further. If not for the confidence coaches had in each one of us, KTM 10K would have never remained a possibility. Our mentor Asha brought a lot of enthusiasm and energy by sending regular emails, follow-ups and breakfast meetings. By now all my DTS music (from stomach) almost went mute, because I was able to understand the fact that coaches and mentors also started off similar to me. With sheer persistence they were able to run such long distances.

The Macho image and KTM

Slowly and steadily number of kilometers increased (2,3…6) during weekend runs. By now I was able to build my “mental creation” for completing 10K. Thanks to social networking, I was posting some updates in FB about my running and my friends and family started responding quite positively. Over a period of time “macho” image got built for me (Oh! You run 10K? That’s amazing) and I know how much still I need to learn when it comes to running. I don’t want to write much about KTM day as it was just a “flow” and made it happen! I am a much better person (in terms of both mental and physical) already signed up for Ultra for 12.5 KM with same commitment of sticking to the schedule, stop thinking and start running.

Santhosh again!

This post will remain incomplete if I don’t write a paragraph about Santhosh. We started off together during our undergraduate days, been a partner-in-crime for four long years (got ragged by same set of seniors, got caught by police for violating section-144, danced together in countless fresher/farewell/birthday parties, got first job in same company etc..) . It feels amazing to connect with him in a new dimension called running, after 12 long years.