Saturday 14 December 2013

If you have run a good HM this year, should you move to a FM next year?

In the euphoria after a successful completion of a HM on Sunday in Mumbai, this is the question that must be on the minds of many of you. I just thought I must share with you my experience for whatever it is worth as you proceed to make up your mind. The decision to run a FM should not be taken hastily or on an impulse and the fact that you did well on Sunday is not enough reason to justify moving up to a FM.
Just by way of back ground, I have run 2 FMs, I enjoyed the first one which was almost effortless though I took 6:15 to complete it. I laboured through my second one, it was a disaster though I did better my time, albeit marginally. I trained more for my second though I was better prepared for the first.
The first lesson I have learned is that running more is not the same as training better. For this year's event, I had logged close to 1000 km between June and December, whereas my running load for SCMM 2011 was much much less. Why then did I do as poorly as I did. It is because, even though I ran more, the rest of the training sucked, I was not as well prepared as i should have been. What I logged therefore are what are commonly called junk miles.
On the morning of SCMM 2011, I weighed in at 78 kg, on the morning of SCMM 2012, i weighed in at 80.3 kg, a clear 2.3 kilos heavier and one year older. The two together makes for a killer combination which can slow you down and make the run laborious. So, lesson one, mind your weight, else the wait on the road to get the finishing line will be a long long one. Becoz in the run up to SCMM 2011, I was particularly careful about what I ate and what I drank, something i did not follow as strictly as I should have.
In the run up to SCMM 2011, I never failed to get a deep tissue massage every Monday morning, especially if I had had a long run on Sunday. This ensured that the knots did not get too naughty, it ensured that I had legs that were relaxed through the season. My physio had asked me to take Shelcal M to prevent cramps, this I did but I was somewhat irregular about the massage. During the massage, the physio would also help me stretch and for someone who was very inconsistent on this score, the Monday morning stretches helped greatly even it often stretched the physio's patience with me.
Even though I was not keen on doing my stretches before or after a run, I would still do a couple of stretches quite regularly, but not so this year. Even if you do not run long, if you keep the body flexible with yoga and stretching, that is half the work done. I did not pay heed to this and paid the price. Last year, I felt much lighter on my feet, this year by lower body felt heavier than ever. Just having to drag that body over 42 k was painful, I should have seen the writing on the wall but did not. Being heavy is different from feeling heavy. You can be overweight, yet be light on your feet, I would strongly recommend Yoga to anyone who wishes to do a FM, to first get light on their feet, something that regular yoga will help you achieve.
Last year, I did a fair amount of hill training which I did not do this year. Hill training makes your legs stronger, you can achieve the same in a gym too. But i hate goping to gyms. I would advise you to strengthen your legs before you attempt the 42 k.
If inspite of all this, I still managed to shave off a few minutes from my time of last year, it must be because of the miles I had piled on. So, while I refer to it as junk miles, even junk can sate hunger though it may not be healthy. I had also followed in the last 2 months, something called the Maffetone method which has yielded amazing results for a few people that I know and some that I know of.
What i did right this year was to hydrate well, this ensured that i did not cramp at all, my Shelcal M must also have contributed to this.
The second right thing I did was to have atleast 3 runs of more than 5 hours during training, of which two were for longer than 6 hours. As I keep telling my friends, the only thing you know for sure on race day is the distance you have to cover. You ddont know how long you will take, you dont know how your body ios going to react, you dont know anything else. So, if you are planning to run a full marathon, definitely increase your time on feet. This is a lesson my doctor runner friend Rajat Chauhan taught me, an invaluable lesson. So on race day while you hope for the best, you must be prepared for the worst. Thnk of the worst run you have ever had and assume that you will run at that speed on race day and train to be on your feet for as long as it would take at that speed to cover the distance. I had a horrible race this year, I hated every moment after the first 3 hours but I plodded on because i knew what 6 hours was, having been there and done that.
I ran this years race after not having slept for the previous 2 nights, since I was travelling. So I was dog tired on race day and my long hours on my feet during those 3 days of 5 hour plus training must have helped and stood me in good stead.
I tried something new on race day, and it worked like a dream. I ran for 7:30 amd walked for 1:00, it is a variation of the Galloway method, it kept me going till more than half way into the tace when my body buckled due to the unpreparedness after 2 sleepless nights and poor eating. So, try a run walk if u can from early on. It requires discipline to do this but it is worth it. Alternately, you can learn Chi Running which will soon be taught in India by my friend Abhijit Pradhan. It is all about injury free running where strength matters less than form and technique. My wife, Deepta, follows Chi running principles and if you see her run, you will she how effortlessly she covers the distance. another runner I know, Venkat Krishnan, has an effortless style of running. His recovery time post a race is near zero. So, if you wish to run a FM next year, work on your form.
As for me, I will not run any more FMs until
1. Until my weight drops to 70 kg or thereabouts
2. Until my technique improves, i hope to perfect my Chi Running during the year
3. Until my endurance increases, for which i will take inspiration from Maffetone and combine it with regular pranayam
4. Until I get some more strength into my lower body (and upper)
5. Until I feel lighter, which can happen with regular yoga
6. Until I train smart for a reasonable period of time with a good coach like Daniel "Zico" Vaz
7. Until I do a HM at close to 2:00
I know you have to register in August for the next SCMM as we all do, but I do urge you to take your decision after careful thought.
Why then did I run a FM last year and again this year. I had made up my mind that i wanted to run a FM before I turned 50, hence I ran last year when i was yet to turn 49. I was worried that if I did not do it last year, i would be forced to do it this year to meet my goal. I ran again this year, because my ego came in the way and I said: Oh, how can I possibly go back to class 6 when I have graduated from it already ?
Who says I am not stupid.

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