As we get serious into training for your biggest race of the season, everyone wants to do well. All of us want to put up a great show and run a Personal Best at the next race.
So, how do we achieve this? What parameters constitute a great performance. Read on…..
Spending an hour everyday and adhering to the training schedule is the bare minimum , one can do. The concept of Pareto rule is applicable to training too. If we speak to a lot of professional athletes, most of them are likely to tell us that , what we do outside of training matters a lot more than our training itself. Anyone can train for an hour everyday but it needs a lot of commitment everyday to focus on the little things that matter every single day to stay consistent & train injury free. The 20-30 mins that we spend everyday outside of training can make a huge difference in our performance
Some of the little things that I do everyday to do better in training
1.Sleep – Sleep is so underrated and most of us really dont care about it. With a busy schedule, most of us sleep only 4-5hours everyday which can drastically reduce your performance on a daily basis. Roger Federer sleeps 12 hours a day & Eluid Kipchoge sleeps about 10+hrs a day. While its not practical for someone with a full time job to sleep 12 hours a day, its definitely possible to get 7-8 hours sleep everyday, if one plans well. Also, more rest is certainly helpful on the long run
2. Nutrition – Most people think that spending an hour everyday in some form of physical activity gives them the liberty to eat whatever they want. On the contrary, training hard needs a lot of focus on nutrition. Most people shy away from eating carbs especially those who want to lose weight but carbohydrates is probably one of the best friends for an endurance athlete. I would also recommend atleast 1.2-1.5gms of carbs for every kg of bodyweight for anyone who trains consistently every week.
P.S : I strongly recommend to check the vitamin levels before the start of any training cycle and supplement them everyday, if required
3. Warmup/Cool Down – Most of us really dont worry about warm up or cool down but they can make a huge difference in your training. You can read about their importance HERE
4. STRENGTH TRAINING – Strength Training is highly essential especially when someone is training really hard. Most of us ignore ST but strength can play a critical role in optimal performance
5. Mobility/Recovery – Our body/muscles go through a lot of micro wear & tear during training & hence its is extremely important to spend enough time everyday for mobility work & recovery. My goto option for recovery is the ROLL RECOVERY R8 and I spend 15-20 mins everyday for hip & ankle mobility and it has enhanced my performance .
SO, DO YOU WANT TO SETLLE FOR THE BARE MINIMUM OR BE THE BEST YOU CAN?
As we approach the final 3-4 months of the season, most of us are getting ready to ramp up training for our goal races before summer kicks in.Those who train with me, know very well that I obsess so much about picking up a goal or a goal race , trying to figure out every minute detail even before we start training
Most of us are very good at choosing goals but we miss the fine print. When it comes to fitness/running, I always suggest to divide the segment into 4 parts
1.Choose a goal that challenges you – Ensure that the goal you choose, challenges you and makes you step out of your comfort zone. Do not settle for a goal which you can do already.
2.Set a Realistic Timeline – This is where many people miss out on. While it is excellent to have a really daunting goal, it is extremely critical to ensure that execution has to be realistic. For example, your goal may be to run a sub 4 marathon or to BQ, but you cannot directly jump into training for the respective goal. You need to evaluate your current fitness levels and training has to be realistic and not aspirational. Work with your Coach or Mentor to find a realistic timeline to achieve the goals
3.Break down your goals into smaller finite goals – Big goals can always look daunting. Once an interviewer asked the legendary Scott Jurek as to how can even one fathom the thought of running 24 hours on a track or at a race like Badwater. His response was very simple. Break down your big goal into small finite goals and just focus on achieving one goal at a time. If your goal is to run a sub 4 marathon, focus on running a 50min 10k and then a 1.55 half marathon before building to a sub4 marathon. One step at a time
4.Develop Process Oriented Goals instead of Result Based Goals – Lets be honest. The pressure of not being results can really stress us & it can actually stop us away from enjoying the process. So, focus on process goals – goals that you can control – such as running 5 days a week, sleeping 8 hrs a day, managing your nutrition well. Focus on small goals, week on week. Running at X pace on race day cannot be controlled. It depends on a lot of factors like the course, race day nutrition, weather etc. Instead of worrying about factors that you cannot control, work on aspects that you can control
Pro Tip: I really like to focus just on today’s workout. I do not worry about what’s coming this weekend. Focusing on workouts one day at a time has really helped me a lot. Devise a 16 week plan based on your goal. Once the plan is set, don’t look beyond one day. Maintain a training log. Note down how you feel every day. Write it down. Checking your training log before the big day is a huge confidence booster
Choosing a goal viz a viz goal races
Given a choice between choosing a race and a goal , I will always go with choosing a goal first. Most of us make the mistake of choosing a goal race first ahead of the goal. One should always remember that your goal will be affected by the choice of your race. So instead of choosing the race first, work on an annual training plan.
Before the start of the next season, do the following
1.Choose a goal that you want to achieve by end of next season
2.Divide your goal into small finite segments
3.Choose a goal race based on weather, course etc based on the big goal that you want to achieve. If your goal is to run a fast marathon, the weather & course profile of the race matters a lot. Doing very well in training cannot compensate for a poor choice of race or execution on race day
4.Find smaller races and fit them during the course of your training to fit into your annual training plan
5.Maintain a training log
6.Review your training periodically and make changes, if required
Every single one of us possess the strength to do something he/she can accomplish. It can be running a mile or a 10k race or 100 miles. It can be changing a career
– Scott Jurek
Jesse Owens once said that All of us have dreams but it takes a awful lot of determination, self- discipline dedication ,effort to make it a reality. For a long time in my life, I have been this below par individual , easily settling down for mediocrity. Long distance running has transformed my life and everyday, I strive hard to be the best person that I can be!
From a 22 year old epileptic undernourished person to becoming one of India’s first holistic running coaches & launching my fitness startup at 32, this is my #10yearchallenge
For a long time now, in the running fraternity, many people refer to me as talented. Although I do not express myself in public, I definitely take a lot offence when someone says that I AM TALENTED. I have no talent or any background to fitness. I dont remember , even seeing the sunrise on sundays until I was 24. To reach my goals, I have worked my butt of every single day & I also believe that talent is probably one of the most useless virtues to possess, at some point in life. Echoing one of my all time favourite quotes from Harry Potter, it is our choices in life that show who we are ,more than our abilities.
I have always been emotionally connected to all aspects in life & I take decisions based on how much it appeals to my heart & Although I have run quite a lot of events & made a name for myself, there is one event that was a breaking point in my life & that is the COMRADES MARATHON. When I first started running in 2011, I dreamt of running the 89km greuling Comrades marathon, even before running a full marathon. I spent the next 18 months, possessed with one goal & I finished Comrades in 2014 & that incident changed my life. Having a larger than life goal can always propel you in life. Running has given so much to me & I wanted to give back to the running society & I always longed to start a running academy of my own. I started chasing another dream & started working towards that from 2015. I have spent countless hours now on research, learning in order to mould myself , to do what I always wanted to. For a long time, I always wondered as to where do I get the motivation to stay on course as I consider myself very lazy without any ambition in life. It took me a while to realise that I inherited the genes from my MOM who is an iron-willed lady. She has always taught me that you never give up , even if life is always unfair to you
Life is all about priorities. When I decided to work on my goal, I couldn’t spend time for all facets of life.Managing 2 jobs at one time was definitely not easy. For the last 2.5 years, I worked all 7 days a week, 15 -16 hours everyday without a break. I worked on vacations too. Sometimes I felt like I am the boss & I could do anything in life & sometimes, I felt like a piece of crap, incapable of doing anything. There were so many occasions , where I wanted to cry my heart aloud & say ” I dont want to do this anymore” but still I kept showing up every single day. I kept pushing my limits, abusing my body , eagerly waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel but the light never came. My training & family took a hit & 2018 was a roller coaster with so much of sacrifices in personal & professional life & I am so glad that 2018 finally ended. As I complete 32 years today, I have decided to follow my dreams of becoming a full time athlete & re-launch my fitness startup officially – METAMORPHOSIS ~ v.2.0 after 2 years of relentless hardwork
This has definitely not been an easy decision. It is definitely scary to know that there will be no steady inflow of money to manage my financial commitments. It is also extremely exciting to know that I will have 4-5 hours everyday to spend for my personal training goals & family. As I embark on a new journey, I promise myself to follow/stick to the below personal core values of mine, in no particular oder
MONEY was/is & will NEVER be a priority or a motivation factor in life . Being Passionate about my sport will always be the 1st priority
Measure my SUCCESS in terms of how HAPPY, HEALTHY & CONTENDED I am.CONTINUE to believe that SUCCESS depends on the quality of one’s conviction & not by the count of Instagram followers
ACCEPT the fact that I am a tiny drop in an ocean. ACCEPT that I do NOT know everything & there is ALWAYS someone better than me
FAMILY ALWAYS COMES FIRST
STAY HUMBLE, HONEST & TRUTHFUL TO EVERYONE
No matter how UNFAIR life is, NEVER COMPLAIN. Be THANKFUL for the kindness & goodwill that I receive everyday
NEVER JUDGE anyone for what they have done
AS AN ACCOMPLISHED RUNNER, I COULD TELL OTHERS HOW REWARDING IT WAS TO LIVE HEALTHILY, EAT WITH CONSCIOUSNESS & GET THROUGH DIFFICULTIES. WHAT MATTERED WASNT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU MADE OR WHERE YOU LIVED. IT WAS HOW YOU LIVED.
I RUN BECAUSE OVERCOMING THE DIFFICULTIES OF AN ULTRAMARATHON REMINDED ME THAT I COULD OVERCOME THE DIFFICULTIES IN LIFE & OVERCOMING DIFFICULTIES IS LIFE
I have always believed that a good training cycle & a great race is a combination of these factors
In today’s post, we will discuss the importance of nutrition in training & racing. Before we discuss about nutrition in detail, one cannot run/race a marathon or put up a solid performance without working on their nutrition. Lack of nutrition will lead to a sub-par performance.
I still remember someone coming to us during a Sunday long run about 2-3 years ago and he threw a random challenge saying that I can run a marathon even without drinking any water. Can you?
I also see a lot of people mentioning on social media that they dont take any nutrition at all during training/racing. When I see such people , I am strongly reminded of the scene from Thillu Mullu, where Thengai Srinivasan says “Adulu Enna Perumai” ( roughly transalates to, what’s so great about it?)
Before we get into the specifics, we need to understand that fueling and hydrating are completely different and not to be confused with one another. Hydration is replacing water/electrolytes that you lost. Nutrition is fueling your body to perform optimally. Both co-exist and missing out on any one also can hamper performance
THE SCIENCE OF FUEL DURING WORKOUTS
Every time, we do a workout, our body burns energy & to workout/run for hours together, we need to constantly fuel. Unlike a vehicle that runs on a single fuel , like petrol/diesel, our body can fueled by carbohydrates and fats. For an efficient runner with a good aerobic base, the body is likely to burn more fat than carbohydrates. For a new runner/beginner, our body is more likely to rely on carbohydrates. The source of fuel is based on the exercise intensity. The lower the intensity , lesser the carbs & vice versa. However this cannot be a universal rule & it depends on the fitness level of the individual.
If you are racing a marathon/HM, you are most likely to run the race at 80% -90% of your threshold HR/pace which means your body is most likely to burn more carbs than fat. While fat adaptation and aerobic base building is essential to run a good marathon, it is practically impossible to run your best race/PR without any carbs. Carbohydrates are not bad for you. They are your best friends. Instead of worrying about your macro nutrient ratio or overdoing it by sticking to fad diets like paleo/keto, improve the quality of your macronutrients. The body needs all macro nutrients & hence dont force fit your body. It is not good on the long run
HOW CAN WE FUEL
Our body can approximately store about 2000 calories of carbohydrates & interestingly, fat reservoirs are about 10-20 times that of carbs. A marathon is probably run 80-90% aerobically & the rest anearobically. Hence it is very important to set a good aerobic base & also work on nutrition while training. While our body uses both fat & carbohydrates as fuel, the body does not have any switch that can be used to switch between fuel. Have you ever wondered why most runners hit the wall at 32kms?
Assuming a runner burns about 60-80 calories per km, they are most likely to use up all their energy reserves by 30kms and hence they hit the wall. Unfortunately, the body cannot start using fat reserves after they run out of carbs. While the body uses more carbs at higher intensity, we cannot predict the ratio of fuel as it depends on the fitness level of an individual and hence it is very essential to experiment during training.
1.Easy Runs – I recommend to get used to running on fasted state immediately after getting up for shorter runs or just water for easy runs less than 45 minutes. When there is no fuel, our body gets used to burning fat. This is also one of the reasons, why most runners lose a lot of weight when they ramp up mileage ( They may also lose a lot of muscle, when they dont fuel well. But that’s a topic for a different day)
2.Long Runs/Speed Work – I recommend a combination of water & a good electrolyte to replace the salt that we use. HAVE YOU USED THE UNIVED SALT TABLETS. They are a staple in my training
A common question that I get is -how much do I drink? For everyone who needs to know the answer, I suggest everyone to do the SWEAT TEST. As soon as you get up, empty your bowels & weigh yourself without drinking anything ( Weigh yourself preferably naked). Go out for an easy 45 min- 1 hr run and measure yourself again after the run immediately. The net loss in weight, is the amount of fluids that you have lost. Do not use any fuel for this run. If you used some water during the run, use that in your net calculation to understand how much water you have left.
Net Fluid Loss = Weight before the run + water drank during the run – Weight after the run
If you sweat a lot, increase your electrolyte intake, typically 1-2 salt tablets every hour. Again this is not a universal rule. Experiment in training and understand what works for you
1. Easy Runs/Long Runs – I love to do all my easy runs on fasted states with just water & salt tablets . Most of my easy runs are not more than 2 hours long and hence water+salt tabs just works fine. On bad days, when I am not feeling like it, I prefer to carry some fuel. I personally love the UNIVED ELITE DRINK MIX that has 45gms of carbs in one sachet. I am a big fan of the ORANGE TWIST flavour as its very mild and it works perfectly.
For those who are new to fasted runs, I would recommend that you take it slow and steady with shorter runs preceded by good rest/sleep without overdoing it. Listen to your body and be smart. Do not blindly do it everyday because I suggested it. Patience and consistency are the biggest virtues of a marathoner
2. SPEED WORK – INTERVALS/TEMPOS/LONG RUNS @ GOAL PACE – I mentioned earlier that our body can store a max of ~2000 calories. Assuming an average runner weights about 60-70 kgs, the person will approximately burn about 60-70 calories per km, an average runner will roughly burn 2500- 2800 calories during a marathon
Interestingly, our body burns more than 60% of our TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) everyday, even without us blinking an eye for our regular bodily functions such as blood transport, regular functioning of organs etc. Hence the amount of fuel available on a fully carb loaded state is not 2000 calories. It is much less than that & of course depends from individual to individual. Assuming that we have about 1000-1200 calories alone for usage, one needs almost 1200-1400 calories more to satisfy the energy loss that we go through, while running a marathon.
Can you fuel that much- Not everyone can do it. A normal gel is about 100 calories. The UNIVED ELITE GEL is about 190 calories. Not all runners can eat so much on the run. Hence it is extremely important to
1.Do a lot of runs @ marathon pace & train the body to burn more fat at marathon pace
2.Fuel on the long run with carbs and experiment during training.
The best cue that I can give anyone is to start fueling before you feel hungry. During my build up to Chicago, I always felt hungry during my long runs because I was trying out the new products. I took my time to work on my nutrition but it worked out perfectly for the race. I felt so strong throughout the race & didn’t feel hungry at all. I had 5 elite gels & 3 Orange Twist Drink mixes
In a nutshell, one needs to fuel for these runs, because the body works at a faster rate ( anaerobic). Do not do these runs in a fasted state. The body will start tapping on reserves and there is a chance of losing muscles as well.
While there are lots of carbs option available for fueling, liquids/gels work the best because it mixes quickly into the blood stream & supplies the necessary energy. Also, its very convenient to carry. Technically speaking, even bananas are a good source of solid fuel. But how many bananas can one eat on the run. How do you carry bananas?
Hence from a convenience perspective, I would suggest that gels/drink mixes should be used for speedwork/long runs. While there is no thumb rule again, I would suggest using a gel for every 40-45 mins to start with/ 500ml of drink mix every hour. You can start with this option and slowly figure out what works for you!!
P.S : Please be sensible & dispose the gel/drink mix sachets properly #USETHEBIN
Please understand that there is no universal rule as the fuel depends on the exercise intensity and the fitness levels of an individual. Hence it is important to experiment in training & understand how your body works before racing.
Thank you for patiently reading . Hope you can work on your fueling based on this blog. Feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for queries. For those who have patiently read this, read on to know my usual fuel routine
MY USUAL FUELING ROUTINE
EASY RUNS/EASY LONG RUNS – Water+ Unived Salt Tablets
INTERVALS – I like to find a fixed loop for this. I use the drink mix for intervals. I pre-mix them the previous day and keep my bottle at the designated place. Post warmup, I ensure to end the first lap of interval at the designated place so that I can use it during the recovery phase. Whenever I feel like hydrating, I ensure to end the interval phase & start the recovery phase at the designated place . Works perfectly for me
TEMPOS/LONG TEMPOS – I typically eat a banana before short tempos and carry water+salt tablets. I use a gel every 40 mins. For long tempo runs, I typically have a mild breakfast 2 hours before the run ( PBJ sandwich/oatmeal & I have a gel 15 mins before the run). I use a gel every 30-40 mins depending on the intensity of the run & based on how I feel. My personal favourite is the UNIVED Elite gels (Vanilla Sea Salt & Double Espresso) & the ORANGE TWIST drink mix. I alternate between gels & drink mix as its easy on the system and also having different flavours do not cause any fatigue on my tummy. The Unived Recovery Mix is a staple in my training & I use it after hard workouts to recover quickly.
As clichéd as it may sound, there is a distinct difference between a physical trainer & a coach or a mentor. For those who refer to me as a physical trainer – No, thanks. I am not a trainer.. A trainer is someone who largely operates by experience who is dependent on their subject matter expertise whereas a coach is much more beyond that.
All of us need coaches in life. It may not be related to fitness but all of us have someone in our life, whom we can depend on for advice or look up to as a mentor to grow in life. In terms of fitness, while there are so many pseudo –coaches/trainers out there in the industry, which is not really a point of concern for me, below are some of the key aspects that a coach requires, according to me.
While a particular plan might have given results to an individual, as a coach, it is highly essential to understand that there is NO ONE FIT ALL plan. The program depends on various factors such as origin,, gene, eating habits, stress levels, availability , goals, experience etc. to state a few. It is very important to customise the program based on the individual’s goal & level of expertise
If your coach uses the same plan across the entire group, its time to RUN AWAY
Talk Less, Listen More, Observe More!!
For a long time, I was always keen on putting my viewpoint across. It took me a while to figure out that understanding the perspective of the mentee is so crucial for the success of the program. As i always say, it does not matter if the coach is highly skilled or if the mentee is dedicated and consistent. 2 way Communication is the most important factor for the success of the program,to achieve the desired results
If your coach does not interact with you on a regular basis, its time to RUN AWAY!
Improvement in fitness is never linear. People are not robots to follow a plan blindly without stopping. Everyone goes through ups & downs in life with their personal/professional livesAs a coach, it is very important to understand the situation of the mentee & stay with them during tough times & help them to get them back on track. Never aim for perfection. Aim to get better everyday incrementally (slow & steady)
If you have had a lot of uneasy conversations with your coach, its time to RUN AWAY!
While it is good to show results in the short term, it is very important to understand the strengths & limitations of the mentee & have an action plan with a realistic timeline. This is why I never offer any 30 day weight loss challenge or a 4 week marathon plan. As a coach, it will definitely take at least 3-4 weeks to understand the mentee, their schedule, their food eating patterns, recovery, sleep etc. Understanding the goals (short-term & long-term) of everyone is highly critical in order to have a sustainable training plan, that will help them stay motivated.
If your coach tries to push her/his goals on you, its time to RUN AWAY!
As a coach, I have always believed that my biggest goal is make all my mentees self-reliant. I not only emphasize on what to do but also WHY. I encourage all my mentees to ask questions, understand why a particular program/workout has to be done. It keeps me on my toes & pushes me to learn more everyday
If your coach blindly asks you to follow something, its time to RUN AWAY!
6.SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTISE
It is highly recommended to have a solid foundational knowledge on the particular field of fitness, as the program will thrive on this knowledge. It is also very important to constantly stay updated on the current trends of fitness. While a certification is not necessary to be a good Coach, it definitely adds to the credibility of one. At the same time, having multiple certifications need not necessarily make one, a good coach.
While the above stated points may hold good for all coaches, below 2 points have worked extremely well for me
Trust is the premise of my coaching & the moment someone trusts me & my abilities, I go out of my way to ensure that I get things done for all my mentees & hence the tagline TRUST, TRAIN & TRANSFORM
MONEY IS NEVER A PRIOTITY
While it is good to be in the field of fitness to generate revenue, Money has never been a priority to me. This has helped me to keep the passion for the sport alive. I do not mean to say that one has to offer services on a pro bono basis but when the focus is on helping someone to lead a sustainable healthy lifestyle or to transform someone completely & the revenue becomes secondary
As one of my coaches would put it perfectly
As a coach, I won’t
Try to fix
Offer any advice
Tell you what to do
Pretend I know more than you
Assume what’s best for you
As a coach, I WILL
Supporting you in figuring out what you want
Accept that I dont know everything
Understand that you know what’s best for you
Collaborate with you to achieve your goals
The only thing I will insist on, is to stay committed & give your best every time
As a coach, I always emphasize on being process-oriented, trust the process & stay consistent. Fondly known as Thalaivi, @Rajapriya Sivakumar is resilient, extremely consistent and hard working and trusts the process completely. It’s a delight to have someone like her in the team, who blindly trusts the coach and puts in the efforts. As we step into 2019, she is gearing up for a stronger year and she is our runner of the month