A Superb Opportunity for the Thinking Indian
If you have been following my chats on this forum, you will know by now that I like to think hard about all the things I do, and I recommend that everyone does the same. Yes, you are neither your mind, nor are you your body, but they are both tools to use. And, as with any tool, you want to keep both your mind and body in top shape, and use them appropriately.
Among the many things I do to try and maintain close-to-peak physical and mental performance is running. I have never been a fan of mindless running though. Large amounts of research show that aerobic activities such as running are superb for the mind not just the body. And, I believe that if we can get our minds to focus more sharply on how we run, then whatever little running we do manage in a week becomes that much more effective for our beings, especially when the benefits compound over time.
It you are in India, and want to become more mindful of your running, I have the perfect event for you to prepare for over the next few weeks. To understand more about why I suggest this event and how best to prepare for it, read on.
The 100 Minutes Challenge
Explore Adventures are holding the third edition of their race The 100 Minutes Challenge. This, in my opinion, is the perfect race for the thinking Indian recreational runner. Yes, training for any race needs thought, but there is so much about this race that really provokes you to think about every detail. Of course, you could also do it without much thought and still have a good time. But what good is it to play chess, if you don’t engage your mind in that sport too!
The 100 Minutes Challenge – The Central Rules
An aspect of this race that I like is that it is a 2-person team event. You will need a partner of the same or opposite gender.
One of you will be Runner-A, the other Runner-B.
Runner-A will head out first. Let’s assume you are Runner-A. The loop to run is (officially stated to be) 1600m.
You will then pass the baton to your partner, Runner-B, who will also run the same 1600m loop, while you rest. You will then run your second loop while your partner, Runner-B gets to rest. And so on for 100 minutes. Broadly, the team that runs the furthest in 100 minutes is likely to win. Please do note, I said ‘likely to win’ not ‘definitely going to win’.
All that I said sounds pretty standard – “big deal, just go out there and run your best“. Aha! But, wait! There’s a superb twist to all this repeated relay running because of what I call ‘the forecast rule’.
The forecast rule – You will need to inform the race director prior to the race what total distance you and your partner will run in 100 minutes. And if on race day you don’t, what happens? The answer to that is what I call ‘the penalty rule’!
The penalty rule – Whatever be the difference between your forecast and what you actually run is your error distance (positive or negative). Whether you run more or less than your forecast, half of the error distance is subtracted from what you actually run. So, running less than or more than your forecast distance is an inefficiency. We don’t like penalties, and we don’t like inefficiencies, oh no, we don’t! (Why you need not run!)
How you could prepare for the race
Choosing a partner – This year’s rule for forming a team has a new twist. The ‘age cut-off rule’ for open/veteran is based on the combined ages of the partners. The cut-off age is 80. So, you may want to choose someone with whom your combined age is as low as possible but within the band you are competing in. Of course younger doesn’t necessarily mean faster. And, you will also want to choose a runner with whom you will pair well – a mental connection is important as this is a team event after all.
My partner with whom I won last year’s race is a regular podium finisher but with a combined age of 99 it would be suboptimal for her to pair with me again as she could team up with someone considerably younger instead.
The downside of choosing a fast partner is that the faster your partner, the less time you will have to rest between your 1600m intervals. Of course, even for a very fast partner, you will have enough time to recover, but it’s good to be aware of this fact.
It is important that you do what I call Calibration Runs. These are runs that will simulate race day to the extent possible. That means running 1600m intervals, with rest periods as long as your partner’s running time. This will give you a better estimate of your forecast distance and reduce the size of any race day error and resultant penalty. If you have not been running 1600m intervals as part of your normal training, then these will also become useful training for the race too.
Adjustments to Your Forecast
Because you will train in a different setting from race day, do make sure your forecast allows for adjustments for the following:
Terrain – the route is not completely flat, and note that the surface is mostly (not particularly well) tarred road with a tiny part on (dry) mud.
Route – there are a fair number of turns and curves that you should allow for as these will slow you down compared to a flat or gently curving route.
Weather – Pune weather on race day might be very different from the weather where you might be doing your calibration runs. Also, the route has almost no shade from the sun which can have a significant impact during the race.
Race day fervour – it’s not unlikely that all your intervals on race day are faster because of being in a race environment.
Order of running – unlike a traditional 4x100m relay where the distance is fixed, the fastest runner typically runs last, but with this race format of time being fixed, the faster runner should run first. If that’s you, you are Runner-A for your team. This will ensure that the faster runner is never running a total distance that is shorter than that of the slower runner.
Keeping track – make sure you keep an independent track of time passing once the start gun is fired, along with the distance you are running. It would be best to stick to the plan that was simulated during the training period that was used for the forecast distance you submitted. You should also know where you are at any point in time versus where you should have been.
Running extra – since you will be penalized by 50m for every 100m extra that you run, being conservative in your forecast and trying to run faster and further on race day is inefficient. Remember, your forecast should be a realistic distance, not a conservative (shorter) distance or an optimistic (longer) distance.
Win the tie – Since it isn’t impossible that you might tie with another team, you may want to ensure that your 5th and 6th laps are not laps where you are slacking off too much as these will be used to judge the final winner in the case of a tie. (Not that I really care if you or I win.)
Mid-Race nutrition – Being repeated intervals, as you will be running at a high rate of exertion, your fluid and salt loss will be quite high. You will need to top these off without creating discomfort in your stomach. Do not drink too much and avoid eating anything solid for the 100 minutes – gastric emptying and digestion will be very slow. It is unlikely that you will need a fuel top-off for running for 50 minutes. If you feel you do, let it be carbohydrates (glucose, sugar) dissolved in the fluid you drink with salts.
I think, therefore I run
I’m not sure I will make it to this edition of the race on 8th May 2016 in Pune but I hope you do. If you haven’t been thinking about your running in detail and would like to, or if you have been thinking and would like to take the thinking to another level of detail, this is the perfect race to run. Hope you will make it a point to register and prepare well for race day. Remember, it isn’t important whether you win or not, what matters is how you used your mind to plan and execute according to plan so that your body would do what your mind thought it would.
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.