Monthly Archives: December 2015

SCMM-2016 – Free Gifts for You

Free Gifts for Your SCMM Target

My Dream Wish – Your Gift

If you are running either the half or the full edition of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) 2016, I have a special gift for you – so, if in a rush, keep reading for just another 25 seconds (or, if super impatient, jump straight to the gift)!

For the last few years, as a 2-hour pacer, I’ve had many of you achieve your personal best or first sub-2 in the half. I also told you in an earlier conversation why I do not really care about a podium finish (yours or mine) and how we all ought to focus on helping other runners. So, in 14,000 parallel universes, given my running ability, and attention to technical detail, I would have loved to pace 99% of you individually to your target finish times at the SCMM, both full and half! Getting back to ground reality, things can be almost as wonderful with the next best gift I have for you…

Specifically designed for the SCMM 2016 Course
Pacer Bands for the Half Marathon
Pacer Strips and Bands for the Full Marathon

You could click on the links above and jump straight to the gift and instruction video. If you would love to equip yourself with some more background and to know what makes these special, you could continue to the end of this short chat.

Why a GPS watch won’t solve all your pacing problems
If you have a simple stopwatch, and wondered if you are missing out relative to a GPS sports watch in a race, there’s no need to be especially envious. Although a GPS sports watch will tell you where you are and when, it will not easily tell you when you need to be at every kilometer of a specific route with its idiosyncratic elevation profile. Unless you have done all the calculations yourself and are carrying the results with you, you are more likely to either do some guesswork or remember just a few benchmark numbers. Moreover, you will not have a Km by Km guide of where you should be when, for achieving your target time, on that particular course, and for your own ability. That explains the need for human pacers and the inanimate pacer bands.

Human Pacers
I spoke to you earlier about the benefits of, and how to choose a pacer. Having said that, I also checked with you via an earlier poll regarding last year’s SCMM (2015) edition and found, not surprisingly that, in fact, less than 20% of you actually “ran with an official pacer and (were) satisfied”. Many of you were not satisfied with your pacer experience. In fact, 73% of you “did not run with a pacer at all”. One of the reasons would have been that the pacers are not synchronized in their distribution across the finish target range despite my having recommended this in the past. It is also not unlikely that the pacer you run with will fail to do the job as I highlighted in my report on SCMM-2015 pacers! So then, might we be better off using inanimate wrist pacer bands?

Pacer Bands
Unfortunately, the typical pacer bands you get as freebies have a host of drawbacks:
– they have an implicit assumption that your course is flat
– and that even for a flat course your pace per km will be constant
– worse still, many of the ones you get handed at expos are illegible even when you are stationary in daylight
For these reasons and more, there’s unnecessary plastic and rubber wasted (let’s stop that everywhere please!) for something of limited realistic practical value. Use Puru’s pacer bands instead.

Puru’s Pacer Bands

PuruTheGuru's Race Distance-Time-Pace Model

PuruTheGuru’s Race Distance-Time-Pace Model

A lot of thought and action has gone into getting you these free gifts for your race success:
– they have been designed for the specific route and elevation profile of the SCMM-2016 full and half marathons
– they will work for the new route of the SCMM-2016 Half
– they are internally consistent across the half and full marathons
– they account for the fact that as your target race time changes, your pace profile on the course also changes…
– so that the slower runners need more allowance for warming up in the initial stage of the race…
– whereas the fastest runners often bolt out from the start line to create a gap between themselves and others
– although we have might have an uphill where we slow down, we have a corresponding downhill where we go faster
– the downhill does not quite make up for the loss of time on the uphill
– the differential between uphill (slowdown) and downhill (speedup) varies across the running abilities
– in the final stages of the race, slower runners usually slow down further, especially for the full marathon, whereas the fastest runners have a strong finish, faster than their average pace
– all things remaining equal, even on a flat course, there is an underling trend to go slower as each km goes by
– this trend might be tiny for the fastest runners, but noticeable for the slowest ones

What next?
Simple! Just go to the bands and strips… print, cut, wear, pose and run!

cropped-screenshot293-001.jpg

Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.

SCMM-2016 – New Route, Additional Challenges, Strategies for Success

Pay once, cross twice!

Pay once, cross twice!

The Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2016 is now exactly a month away, on 17th January. If you ran the half marathon there in previous years and are repeating the challenge, the change to the route along with the new start point might have raised a few questions.

SCMM2016 Half Marathon Route Map

SCMM2016 Half Marathon Route Map

Let us hope that the event logistics around the route change will be handled well for your enjoyment. What I can discuss is issues around your actual run effort. Here is my take on the route changes and a plan you could follow for achieving your target time this year.

The change in elevation profile
The primary concern that you might have is that the route will be tougher this year. The elevation profile has changed thanks to a loop of the city’s iconic Bandra-Worli Sea-Link. In earlier years we ran in only one direction, from Bandra to Worli. This year we will start from Worli and run from Worli to Bandra on the Sea Link and then return back to Worli on the Sea Link. We then continue towards Haji Ali but our run on the relatively flat roads of Prabhadevi and Worli will be shorter this time.

One more hill!

One more hill!

How much tougher?
I have played around with simulations on my computer model of the route, its elevation profile and a range of runner abilities, and my estimate is that the run will be about 1.5% tougher this year. (The range is likely to be 1%-3%.) You might be thinking, “Hmmmm… just 1.5%…that does not sound like much… right?” But, that isn’t really true.  For a 2-hour runner, that 1.5% is about 1-min 48-sec. It could take you from 1:58:30 to 2:00:18 and ruin your chances of a Sub-2. Worth thinking about the details, eh?

Negative splits possible.
You have run a ‘negative splits’ race when your second half is faster than the first – not rare for experienced runners. For most recreational runners, even on a flat course, the converse is true, ‘positive splits’, i.e. a slower second half. Given the change in elevation profile, your probability of achieving negative splits increases with the new route. All other things remaining the same, your total time will be slower on the new route, but the split between first and second halves can be reversed from a slower second half (positive splits) to a faster one (negative splits)! This increased probability of negative splits all depends on the type of runner you are, including your absolute level of fitness and also your level of preparedness. Of course, you might not even care about your splits – which is also perfectly OK! I expect the majority of runners to have positive splits on this new course too.

Pacing yourself for a Sub-2

2-hours at SCMM 2016

2-hours at SCMM 2016

Although only about 10% of entrants finish the half marathon in under 2 hours, I would like to present you with a pacing plan for doing so. The one I did here for 2015 is also worth reading. This time, I take the case of two runners:

a) The Strong runner – she will finish in 1:58:00 with negative splits (second half faster than the first) running a faster leg near the finish, with a generally steady pace throughout, including the hills.
b) The Volatile runner – he will finish in 1:59:00 with positive splits (second half slower than the first) running a slower leg near the finish, with a generally weakening pace and greater variation up and down the hills.

Both runners have a tendency to slow down as the kilometers roll by, but this effect is less so with the stronger runner. As you will have seen in previous articles on pacing yourself like the one above or for Hyderabad I allow for a little extra distance than the headline 21.1km. If you have a Sub-2 target, use this table on race day, it will not fail you if you have trained well.

In case you are looking forward to running with a pacer at SCMM-2016, then it will be worth your while to also read about that in my guide to pacing and choosing pacers. Let us also hope that there is greater success among the pacers themselves and lessons have been learnt from SCMM-2015.

With the days rolling by, if this is your main race of the season, you will be looking to reach peak performance on race day. Reaching that level and maintaining it until the race is not an easy challenge. But meeting that challenge successfully will increase your maturity as a runner, And finally, remember, once your race is done, you could give some thought to why you need not run!

cropped-screenshot293-001.jpg

Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.

Vergissmeinnicht

I can forget her not!

She turns 14 today and shares her birthday with my Jewish godson many time zones apart. It seems like just yesterday that she arrived into this world, big eyes, looking out inquisitively, trying to learn something new every minute.

When she was 11 she wrote this other piece. I often wonder if by naming someone we give them just what their name means – hers literally means “of a good mind“.

Here is a poem she wrote last week – her version of a war poem by Keith Douglas, “Vergissmeinnicht” – forget me not!

Vergissmeinnicht

The burning sun beat down unforgivingly
upon the rotting human carcasses
as we surveyed the unholy ground
where war was once waged.
 
A flash of memory: the soldier’s last moments
Charging towards our tank 
like one possessed,
Before we shot him down.
 
Now, beside him lay a fragment of his past-
A picture of his sweetheart.
Signed: Steffi. Vergissmeinicht.
A broken promise.
 
As we looked upon him indifferent, unmoved,
His own equipment seemed to mock him;
Glinting in the sunlight
as he began to fade.
 
He was now the stuff of her nightmares-
Festering, worsening.
Victim to nature’s forces,
an empty, decayed shell.
 
For here the lover and killer were one
Sharing a single body and heart.
He had fought and killed for his lover
‘Til death had done them apart.

 

Puru’s daughter, aged 14

cropped-screenshot293-001.jpg
Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.

Poll Dancing with Puru

This is not Poll Dancing

This is not Poll Dancing

Over the last 10 months I have asked you questions in various polls that accompany my articles. And there’s another one at the bottom of this article. Sometimes the topic of the poll is directly related to the article, at other times it is not. I promised you a few months ago that I would give you the results of those polls and so now today I am going to do just that.  There are 10 of them, and I present them in chronological order with the oldest one first.

  1. Your experience with Pacers at SCMM-2015
  2. Your primary motivation to register to run in a race
  3. What you do with your pair of running shoes
  4. The happiest memories of your life are from…
  5. Do you think the popular running races in India are fairly priced?
  6. Your number hours of TV (incl news) or movie watching per week
  7. Given a choice, you would prefer to spend a weekend in…
  8. Vitamin-D blood tests and you
  9. The biggest improvements in your health are from…
  10. Running, Beautiful Bodies and You

Now, remember, a few thousand readers like you have been the respondents, and so the results are not representative of the general population. (Not everyone is wise, talented, fit and beautiful like you, right?) So extending the conclusions to the general population might not always make sense. Nonetheless, with each, I comment very briefly about something that strikes me as interesting or odd. Here goes…

Your experience with Pacers at SCMM-2015

Your experience with Pacers at SCMM-2015

In a previous article I had advised that pacers ought to be placed at frequent intervals with the same profile as the finishing times of the running population. Therefore, the results of this poll did not surprise me. There is a lot of brouhaha about pacers in a race but, in practice, only a small fraction used pacers in this particular race.


My primary motivation to register to run in a race is

My primary motivation to register to run in a race is

Now, remember that you were allowed to choose only one response. It is interesting that so many of you use the races as motivation to run regularly. I would like you to think about whether you really do need a public race to motivate yourself to run to stay fit. I was hoping that a much larger percentage saw races primarily as events to meet others whom they would not normally meet when working out.


When I buy a pair of shoes to run in…

When I buy a pair of shoes to run in…

I bet this ratio has reversed over time as recreational running has become a serious part of many people’s regime for staying fit.  With running shoes getting dearer by the day, I can see the numbers becoming even more polarized.


The happiest memories of my life are from…

The happiest memories of my life are from…

This is one of my favourite polls, and I will write about this again soon. Notice how half of you had your best days (so far) before you got into employment! It is not surprising then that the first job does not come with the happiest memories despite a manifold increase in spending power!


The race registration fee for the most popular races in India

The race registration fee for the most popular races in India are

If you are in the business of running events please pay attention to this. Note that “Expensive” is always relative to what is offered back in return for money.


My typical hours of TV (incl news) or movie watching per week are

Typical hours of TV (incl news) or movie watching per week

This one disturbed me a lot! As many as 1-in-6 of you spend more than 10 hours a week watching a TV screen! And almost half of you watch more than 4 hours of TV a week! These are all self-reported numbers so many of you could be way off the mark in terms of the true (unknown) number. I would have also loved to have the equivalent “number of hours per week on exercise” for each respondent but asking that in the same poll would have biased the self-reported numbers away from TV and towards exercise.


Given a choice, I would prefer to spend a weekend in

Given a choice, I would prefer to spend a weekend in

About half of you live in neither Mumbai nor Delhi. From that, almost 3 times as many prefer to spend the weekend in Mumbai, rather than Delhi!  Are you listening, Mr Prime Minister??


Vitamin-D blood test

Vitamin-D blood test

In recent years there has been a lot of hype about Vitamin-D and deficiencies. Is it really possible that almost 4 out of 10 of you are deficient in it? And, what about the remaining 5 out of 6 who did not take a test (perhaps because it was never prescribed?)? Are they better off not knowing about a deficiency that might not really be a deficiency? Hey, I’m just asking!!


For me, personally, the biggest improvements in my health are from

For me, personally, the biggest improvements in my health are from

That most of you appreciate the importance of both exercise and diet is encouraging. And, so I am not so happy that almost 1-in-5 think that it is mostly exercise that will give you big improvements in health. You are what you eat! Do have a look at these.


Running and Beautiful Bodies

Running and Beautiful Bodies

This question was accompanied with my chat about why you need not run and so you might have been swayed in your response. As many as 4-out-of-10 had thought that running would deliver beautiful bodies. A third of those changed their opinion, and two-third continued to believe it would. And, do we really see a quarter of those who only run for exercise presenting beautiful bodies in the course of time? Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beer holder!

Save the last dance at the poll
Those were the polls so far. Thank you for participating in as many as you could. If you want to see the full video of the event when I was at that pole on a ferry, here it is, just pump up the volume!

And now, if you are not fed up of poles or polls, I’d like your (anonymous) opinion please?


cropped-screenshot293-001.jpg

Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.