Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Running a Marathon

On one morning lurking around in the hall at 5:30 AM, I was trying to find my pair of jogging shoes in the shoe rack. I had stopped wearing them for at least six months or so. I was very noisy. My wife was very annoyed and upset with me for having disturbed her sleep. It being a Sunday she wanted to sleep for a longer time. 

Finally, when I found them they looked to be in the last stage of decomposition. This meant that I had to buy a new pair of shoes as I had used them for more than two years practicing running for the marathons. However, that day to start with I had to wear the same pair of shoes for jogging.

The summer had disappeared and the initial spells of rains had just passed by making the weather cooler. It seemed to be the perfect time to start preparing for the Standard Chartered Mumbai marathon, which is held in the month of January every year. 

Though I am not a skilled runner I have somehow managed to complete the marathons possibly because I ran them for a cause. My quest to complete the races remained with me, as I ran them for The Samaritans. It is an organization, which works for the prevention of suicide. All these miles that I ran, thinking if I could change at least one person’s attitude towards life I think I must have done justice to my miserable running. Moreover, not to mention the least it has always taken me around five hours to finish the race in full marathons. Since its inception, this would be my sixth Standard Chartered marathon in a row and only the last marathon that I did was a half marathon.

WARNING- 

RUNNING A MARATHON CAN CAUSE A SERIOUS INJURY OR A LOSS OF LIFE

How it all started 

In the year 400 BC a Greek messenger from a town called Marathon ran to Athens a distance of 26.2 miles or roughly 40 kilometers to report the victory of the Athenians over Persia, he arrived in Athens and cried, "We have won!" ,and collapsed and died on the spot. 

So all you visually impaired friends out there do not let this story frighten you. Remember if you think you can, you can. It is a mental game and if you are strong, enough mentally you will manage to cross over the line.

I am a novice to give tips on long distance running but my effort has always been there to improve every time I participated in the marathons. There are many books, which can guide you to take proper training for a marathon. Nevertheless, a layman can always consider my little piece of write-up as an introduction.

Visually impaired or not, you will find many runners taking part in any marathon for the first time without any proper training. If one goes through a scheduled program one can surely improve his/her performance. When you start your training, do not over do it. You might end up injuring yourself. The idea to keep pushing when you are feeling good, ignoring the training schedule is a bad way of dealing with things. Rather practicing running slowly at once comfortable pace makes more sense. Also, try to follow a schedule and increase your running distance by only 10 % per week. While running the actual race initially one should go very slowly. It helps you settle down with a pace rather than tiring you later. 

Wearing good footwear and clothing is very important for a marathon. Wear good running shoes. Always replace them before they are worn out. This will help avoid injuries and blisters. Also, wear comfortable clothing.

A proper diet and regular intake of water is crucial for training. Also, on your training runs and during the marathon, be sure to occasionally eat something. In addition, drink water regularly.

The Golden Rule of three “Ss”

Always remember the Golden Rule of three “Ss” while you prepare for the marathon- Stamina, Strength and Stretching. One has to increase ones stamina by running long distances while practicing, which should be done at least once a week, but one should always run regularly even if one can run only short distances. This will help improve your stamina. As you need stamina, you also need to have strength to complete the marathon, which one can acquire by cardiovascular exercises in the Jim. Lastly but not the least one must do lot of stretching exercises preferably Yoga to keep oneself fit.

Some Tips for a blind runner

A blind runner must always practice running with a partner. Do not venture out all by yourself practicing running on the road even if you have some vision. It could turn out to be risky and fatal. While practicing alone on the road you might get hit by a truck or something, or might have a fall and injure yourself. Try to find a partner who could be your friend, family member, coach, a volunteer, or an escort. Moreover, it is necessary to have the same running partner for the marathon as well, because one has a better understanding having practiced running with the same person.

Straping a string or an elastic rubber band to you and your partners hand is necessary as holding hands and running is difficult. It should be neither too long nor too short, as it might turn out to be uncomfortable while running.

The other safer option one could think of, for practicing running could be using a treadmill or going to a stadium where one could use running tracks.

Lastly but very importantly a blind runner can try and use multiple running partners for the marathon, as it would not tire out your runner while you try to complete the marathon. All the running partners must have practiced running with you, should know each other well, and must have a clear idea of what distance they are running and from which point they have to escort you.

Caution 

Marathon is a tough and a grueling event. While running, I being a slow runner not only have come across runners getting injured and pulling out of the race but also being carried away in the ambulance having meet with an accident. Moreover, I know of an athlete dying after he had collapsed while running. My intro to running a marathon does not guarantee of any success nor am I responsible in anyway for an untoward incident-taking place during the run. Therefore, my sincere advice especially to an amateur blind runner is to give up running if he/she is having a feeling that he/she has hit a wall and cannot go any further. Remember you can always try it the next year and will live to fight another day.

Happy Running...

Shivanand