First 26.2 Miler Countdown: 54 (Green Smoothie Included)

After a not-so-bad Monday post-race, I was feeling better about how the body was holding up. Fatigue was gradually shading away and the stairs were no more a sight of calamity. However, I was in no rush to force myself to continue my training for the marathon again. So, I opted for rest. I wanted to give my body some more time before I’ll push it to limits again. Tuesday continued the recovery phase. However, I delighted myself with a delicious smoothie of which’s recipe I would love to share. If you do a bit of reading and experimenting, you’d be amazed to see how food affects your training and recovery.

After all, you are what you eat. Aren’t you?

I’ll skip the talk for now and come to the point. This is a kind of green smoothie and there could be many more variations possible. I’ve put some ideas for you to try.

Ingredients:

  • First comes the fruits to give it some flavor. It could be anything you like, it’s about experimenting. I used these two:
    1 Banana, medium sized
    1 Kiwifruit (I have also tried with apple and pineapple with amazing results in addition to Kiwi)
  • Next comes greens! There are a lot of different kind of leafy-greens you can buy. I generally use these two:
    Handful of spinach (I am Popeye the Sailor man! Hoot hoot!)
    Handful of Kale
  • Not to forget, hydration! Most of the times, I simply use water. But sometimes, I mix different things to experiment. I’ve used:
    Coconut water, Soy-milk and water in a ratio of about 1:1:2. And this ratio is fun to play with. I have also used other forms of milk such as full-cream whole milk, other suitable for vegans such as almond and coconut milk.
  • Finally, some toppings. These are again your choices. This time, I used:
    4-5 sliced almonds. These dry fruits are awesome. Very nutritious and provide a lot of good-stuff. I’ve seen people using muesli/oats to make it more fibrous.
    1 tsp black chia seeds
    1 tsp honey. This is the secret of why I am so sweet!
    (Sometime, I add in some berries such as blue/strawberry or miso. It provides a distinctive sour-y flavour to the smoothie which I am starting to love)

Put everything in a blender. Volume of fluids should be such that it is about at the same level as that of other solid-stuff. I don’t use a standard measuring instrument. If you’re not sure, start with a low volume and add-up accordingly as to how thick you want the smoothie to be. Turn the blender ON! I use a 700 W Blender so it should be powerful enough to crush everything into a smooth delicious cup of heaven. Sip it on slowly. Try to feel every ingredient as you chew it. Once you get good at it, you’ll be a smoothie-expert and I have some badges to give away 😉

P.S: I’ve come to known about these fabulous smoothies from the YouTube channel called Running Raw. So I’d like to thank Tim Van Orden, the inspiration behind the Running Raw Project and every smoothie I have ever come to taste. Also, if you love cooking, do not forget to read the book Eat and Run by the ultra-runner Scott Jurek. It contains a LOT of recipes that are good for people who are active and love to head outdoors or those who simply love cooking for the sake of the pleasure it gives!

Wings For Life World Run 2017 – As it happened

Getting off the tram at 6:30 in the evening, I was making my way towards the event hub of Wings For Life World RUN (WFLWR) in Melbourne. With my earphones on, I had a decent 1.5k walk ahead of me before I would arrive at the grand party. I was thinking about my last year’s run in Taiwan in which I lasted for 18.24k.

You might be wondering about what’s with this LASTING thing! Let me tell you about it. There are a number of things that makes this race unique. One, it happens at the same time at multiple locations all around the world. Day or night, moon or light, runners all over the world are smashing it. From US of A (early morning) to Australia (late at night), people lift their asses up, assemble at the start-line and run their hearts out. Secondly, it is a race without a finish line. There’s no pre-defined distance that you have to run e.g. marathon/half-marathon/10k et cetera et cetera. AND HOW COULD THAT HAPPEN you might wonder? Well, it’s fairly easy. 30 minutes after you’re into the race, a car (aka THE catcher car) chases you down until you’re caught and the car is fast enough (at later times) to run down even the most enduring runners. It’s very similar to the lion-deer story, the difference being that the deer would DEFINITELY be killed (unless you run off the course leaving the organisers all puzzled up). And finally, the money raised through this race goes for the spinal-cord research injury and that’s why this race is often promoted as “running for those who can’t” and I can totally relate to it. I have had my share of injuries when I felt helpless that I can’t run. Thinking of those times and of the people who are suffering, there’s nothing better than this that I can do to support them in their treatment/recovery.

As compared to my last year’s WFLWR, this edition was quite different.  I was running in a different country (Australia) at a different time (9 PM, last year it was 7) in a different weather (cold, rainy and dark). However, there were other factors this time which can easily overshadow these minor mental setbacks. First and probably the most crucial was mine being running with my club-mates. In Taiwan, I made my way to the start line as a stranger to the crowd, paced myself up when I could and lifted myself up when I was experiencing downtime. But this year in Melbourne, I had “friends” with me at the start line, during all the pacing-up, slowing-down situations. Secondly, I was better trained at this point of time. At the start-line this year, I had 8+ week of training with me with my longest training run being 23k while these stats last year were 4 weeks and 15k respectively.

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Now that’s my HUGE running club. Can you spot me?

Based on these numbers and the racing atmosphere, I was hoping to get past the 25k mark in this year’s edition of the race. The race started pretty smoothly for me (and my mates). We did hold on to a constant pace of 5-ish i.e. 5 min/km for the first 7k (where the first refreshment station was located). It was an easy-paced part of the race with constant chit-chats about the terrain, about the training, about the highway on which we were running. After this mark, we were more or less divided into little sub-groups depending on the pace we could hold. I kept running with a friend till the 18k mark. While passing that, I felt confident and wonderful. Confident because my training was paying off and I could see it. Wonderful because I was witnessing a significant progress over my last year’s limit. Nevertheless without thinking much over it and before it could get over my head, I kept running, my goal to get to the 25k mark now seemed even more optimistic. It was only after the race was over, I realised that I also completed the half-marathon distance i.e. ~21k in 01:39 hours (my earlier best time was 01:57).

Some more time after the half-marathon mark, I eventually reached the 25k mark where I was more than happy about my running and the challenge I had undertaken. A thought crossed my mind: now you can simply walk as some of the other runners were doing, you’ve achieved your goal. Of course, that was the easier choice. Running at that point of time required more effort than usual, probably because I had never run that long a distance. But I was determined not to walk. My brain was thinking of other excuses: “you have a presentation tomorrow, haven’t you done enough already?” or something like “your shoelaces are really tight, you won’t be able to fix them quickly, so just take a walk, fix them, and walk some more comfortably” and finally “you’ve achieved your goal, take it easy now” I listened to these thoughts and carefully discarded them and focused on what I was doing while they were running through my head.  My pace was slower now but I didn’t mind it. I was still running. And then it arrived. Without a horn, without a flash, it passed me by saying a “thank you”. My race was over. I was actually glad that it was over. Why? Because it was freezing cold out there and I am not lying when my brain said I had a presentation the day after.

My Garmin (running watch) finally unfolded all the secrets as I hit the stop button on it. I had run 29.5k in 02:24 hours. The deer inside me had gone a significant distance. A big jump over the last year’s and a bigger target to nail for that of the next’s.

This run on strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/975961223/embed/f404f2d7167c7de938e06c357235696fff81d1bb

And this is my proud certificate:

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Where the hell have I been?

I could soon celebrate one-month anniversary of not writing anything on my blog. In this time, I have been checking my news feed (which is always on a roll), this blog’s stats (which really need a roll) and some other things which I probably wouldn’t want to write about explicitly 😉

Anyway, not writing about my training doesn’t mean that I am not training anymore. Technically, I am simply lazy to write, but not lazy to run. After Run For The Kids 2017, my training has taken a shift. I am NOT following my training plan anymore. So you might ask, what do you do then? The answer is…

Long runs!

…..and, some speed work.

So the current trick up my sleeve is to run when I feel like, when my legs feel light(er)and usually to rest the day after. I refrain from having a really inactive day, so I try to always walk a lot. Walking is a wonderful exercise (for body, mind and your laundry room).  Also, I am now trying to use running as a commute than merely an exercise. I run to badminton court, I run from the university to home. It’s fun how some things can be done in an eco-friendlier way 😀

Anyway, this Sunday is the Wings for Life World Run. I am hoping to get past 25k mark which is…. well, not impossible, but definitely a hell difficult. I need an average pace of 5 min/k. Let’s see if I can make it or not. I’ll never know without trying and I am not scared to give it my best shot.

 

As it happened: Run For The Kids 2k17

My training for the Wings for life world run has been on for the past five weeks. I am not sure when I registered for the Herald Sun’s Run for the kids 2017 but I am pretty sure why I did it. It supports a great cause! It supports the kids at the Royal Children Hospital, Melbourne. It supports what I love selflessly. During the entire run, I made sure I high-fived every kid who was waiving their hands at the huge number of runners swarming by. And I loved their smile when our hands touched. It pumps me up and made me run faster than I thought I’d sustain.

RFTK runs on two courses: 14.3k and 4.8k (roughly 9 and 3 miles). I registered for the former one and considered it as a long run for my training schedule. During the past weeks, I made myself comfortable with the distance running 11,14,15 and 18k‘s respectively on my weekend long runs. Fortunately to me, I have a running club that lets me run with them when they do speed work. Thanks to them, I got a 5k PB last week, it boosted my confidence to run faster. With this training, I left home early in the morning to reach the venue on time. The weather had been shaky in the early hours but was relatively great later. Being living away from the city, it takes me around an hour to get to the start line. I changed into my running clothes in a public washroom while doing the thing. I was just in time to drop off my baggage and to get to the start line to stretch up before the countdown began.

My strategy was simple. Go easy for the first 10k, step into the next gear thereafter. I can’t have a sense of how many people were running alongside me but there were many. Or may be, many, many. Never in the race for once I ran with no-one along side me (It’s good and bad). The first lap was fairly simple with everyone running literally at the same pace. Then we entered a tunnel where my Garmin FR15 lost contact with it’s satellite for the next lap. On exiting, I got two lap-readings. One of 8:54 and other of 1:54. Definitely, it was crazy for doing these calculations but I was happy that it had snap out of it to get me the correct readings thereafter.

For the next 10k’s, I kept running at an easy pace. I checked with my watch time to time because I wanted to run a sub-50 10k (which I did). I met a fellow club runner (I recognized his singlet) and ran with him for some 4 k’s. We passed over a couple of bridges, ran alongside the huge Ferris wheel of Melbourne city, raced with the Yarra river. I made sure I was not letting myself go, just yet. I kept smiling at the volunteers who were doing an amazing work of scattering the enthusiasm throughout our minds. I thanked them for taking the time out of their lives to make sure the runners stay hydrated.

As the markers after 12k started coming nearer, I cranked my pace a bit. I saw someone wearing a singlet of University of Melbourne (my university) which really made me felt great however I was in no mood to have a conversation at that point. Being not familiar with the course, I was adjusting my pace according to the inclined roads and some steep slopes. Not too far into the uncomfortable zone, I found myself on the last bend (based on what spectators were shouting about, and also on the beep of my Garmin that it was 14k point), just one more track-lap to go, I thought to myself. Some of us sprinted, I joined them. Many of them beat me, I beat some of them. I crossed the finish line in just under 69 minutes which I was extremely happy about. I was expecting a 70+ finish time.

 

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Pose after the finish

 

Finishing up, I had some drinks and a free apple that the organizers had provided. It just made my taste buds go crazy. You can not hate a fruit after a wonderful run, take that from me. I have found the best tasting fruits (they were just normal fruits) after these long runs. I packed my bag and walked back to Flinders Street Station. On the way back, I saw two kids racing each other and their dad calling “Look at them! They are also running” pointing to the runners still underway. I told him that the older kid would probably run next year. I told him about the two courses and wished him luck before finally getting towards my train.

 

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People running their hearts out for the lovely kids.

I am definitively going to the next edition of the race 🙂

 

Monday Evening – 5k PB Revised

I’m part of a wonderful running group called TXR (Trails, X-country, Roads) Runners. Such a nice name! They have their sessions (usually speed work) on weekdays and on Sundays (long run). After getting bored of pounding the track alone during my training regime, I tweaked my schedule to accommodate a Monday TXR session to get rid of this boredom. Yesterday was my second run with them and by the time I stopped my watch, I had got a 5k personal best (PB), that was totally unexpected. I ran my previous PB during a sub-23 parkrun.

The original plan for the group was to run 3 sets of (2 times (400m @ 10k pace + 100m jog) followed with a faster 400m and finally a 400m jog). It sounds a bit complicated. Doesn’t it? But it was a wonderful workout! Putting it simple, you run around 12 laps, 6 @ 10k, 3 @ maybe 5k and the other three are simply jogs. I probably got this PB during the first and second set because I was very tired during the third and struggling in the first half of that set. Nevertheless, I am feeling stronger today as I look back on the last night. It gives me confidence now that I could do a sub-22 if I train a bit harder.

5k Personal Best: 22:52 22:11

https://www.strava.com/activities/926187505/embed/35cbf67adfb774679981d4a353a1b0a4ee1df736

Week 4 Training

So, this week, not only I trained, I also got my new Surface Pro 4. So, I’d show that off 😀

Week 4

I’ve pretty much put down everything that I ran this week. The total mileage I penned down was 46k and I am glad about it because my goal was 45k. Next week, I am gonna raise the bar to run a 50. Other than this, I am trying to include more body-weight exercise on my non-running days to make my upper-body and core stronger. Have a story to share? Please feel free to put down the link in comments 🙂

Week 3 Training Log

The past two weeks, I’d run 25 and 35 km so to build up on it, this week I had planned to run 40 km.

Monday: I stayed home this Monday rather than going to the university. Good decision I must say! Weather was perfect to stay home and to take a nap! And to go on a run after that. I headed out at 1 PM for a 50 minute run along the nearby trail. By the time I was back home, I had made 9.5k under my feet. It felt great after the run, I was feeling pretty strong (probably because of the good rest I did last Sunday).

Wednesday: Track time! Last week, I had done 8 times 100m on, 100m off. This week, I aimed for longer sprints. I changed that to 8 times 200m on, 200, off. This way, not only I maintained the speed for longer times, I also covered more distance. I was tired after 4 sets so during 5th to 8th sets, I changed it to 200m on + 100m walk + 100m off (jog). I felt great after the workout was over, I felt accomplished. Though there had been a tweak in my original plan, but I didn’t mind that because I finished what I had started.

Friday: Recovery time! Easy paced run for some 35-40 minutes was what I had thought. Since last week I changed it to a tempo run which affected me the next day, so I kept it fairly easier this Friday. I took short quick strides during the entire run to keep my pace low, but also to keep my cadence not so low. By the time I was home, I had run around a loop of 6.5k which was more than enough for me to call it a great Friday night!

Saturday: I had kicked myself out of the home at 6 in the morning. It was dark but I was determined. I had the route and the only thing on my mind was to keep going for the next 15k. It started raining (lightly) after some 10 minutes so I thought to head back home because I was running with my non-waterproof phone but I insisted running thinking that maybe I could find a polythene bag or something from somewhere on the way, but I won’t stop (crazy, eh?) thankfully it stopped raining. So I kept going. Cyclists passed by me, a couple of runners crossed me in the opposite direction. And I kept going. By the time it was dawn, I had come back home after a run of 1:22 hours. I was glad that I had make it without killing myself.

Next week, I am thinking to increase the distance of this long run by altering my route. I am not sure of the total weekly mileage yet but definitely, it would not be lesser than 45 because now, my feet feel just fine hovering over the mother earth for longer times.

My profile on strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/15425516