Category Archives: Hyderabad Marathon

Race Start Logistics – Chaos, Flow and Entropy

Should you really be up front in the crowd at the start line?

Have you ever run one of the big races in India like the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) or the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) and had varying experiences about the ‘flow of crowd of runners’? As the number of racers has grown and the increased focus on logistics for handling them has tried to avoid making a mess and avoid a human catastrophe, I have been curious about the flow of runners at the start and its subsequent impact along the route. Today’s conversation, with some interesting pictures, is about that. Takeaway lessons for you, racer, pacer or race organizer, will come soon.

Roadmap

I will first talk about the distribution of runners and how it transitions from start line to finish line. I then introduce you to my idea of ‘disorder’ in a race, with a measure that I call the Race Entropy, and show how that beautifully captures the flavour of the ease of flow within a race. I use the case of the Mumbai races (SCMM) to show how start-enclosures have helped with achieving less disorder (but significant room for improvement exists). I also show what impact the extreme pollution scares in New Delhi last winter had on the race that was held at that time (ADHM2016).

Gross Time, Net Time, Mat Crossing Time

I have shown you numerous graphs in the past of race finish times. These are typically histograms of ‘net finish times’ that show how many runners cross the finish line within each time bucket, where each bucket might be just a few seconds wide. What you will have probably never seen until today is a similar picture of what happens at the starting line.

How do we spread ourselves out over time?

Because not everyone crosses the starting line at the same time, there is a ‘spreading out’ or ‘distribution’ over time of runners crossing the starting line. This distribution is what leads to the need for recording gross finish time and net finish time.
The gross time is based on the natural clock time – the same clock for all the runners.
The net time is the specific time taken for each individual runner measured as, starting at their specific start line crossing (time = 0) and ending at their crossing the finish line.
Many races have RFID timing sensors placed under mats over which runners pass at the start/finish line, and so we often use the terms ‘starting line’ and ‘starting mat’ interchangeably.

Easing Flow

If your race’s logistics are handled smoothly, the fastest runners would be placed right up front at the start line and the slowest runners placed towards the back of the crowd. In the extreme scenario of the runners being released in descending order of their speed, in the hypothetical situation of constant speed for each runner, the number of ‘overtakings’ would be 0. No one would overtake anyone despite everyone running at their race pace. This would ensure a smooth flow of humans across the starting line and thereafter.

Smooth flow of runners ranked in order of speed

In practice, although it ‘feels good’ to overtake other runners, the truth is that it always involves some risk. Besides the physical risk (of impact) if the runner being overtaken sends you negative thoughts as you try to glide past him, that cannot be good for your soul.

Consider now, the worst situation for race start ordering, the slowest runner being placed right up front and the fastest runner at the back of the pack. In the extreme situation of N runners placed in such a reverse order of their speed, the fastest runner would have to overtake N-1 other runners to finish 1st. The runner who comes in second would have to overtake N-2 runners to come in 2nd. And so on for all the other runners… And, therefore, {ignoring the school maths proof}, the total number of ‘overtakings’ for all N runners would be ½*N*(N-1). Let us call that measure MaxPossibleOvertakings – e.g. for 10,000 participants placed in this reverse order MaxPossibleOvertakings will be 49,995,000.

Flow disrupted when runners not ranked in order of speed

For any given race with an actual ordering at the start line, we can also easily add up the minimum number of ‘overtakings’ that would have led to the actual finish ranking observed. Let us call this MinPossibleOvertakings.

Having defined a measure for the actual starting/finishing rankings of runners and the theoretical measure with maximum disorder, let me now tell you about what I call the ‘Race Entropy’ of an event. If numbers or equations faze you, hang in there, there’s nothing particularly complicated in what follows.

Entropy

Borrowing from Thermodynamics, I define the measure of disorder in a race as being the ratio

Entropy – a measure of disorder in your race

If the runners are released in the perfect ranking of their eventual times, so that there will be no overtaking, the Race Entropy will be 0.
If the runners are released in the perfectly reverse order, the Race Entropy will be 1.
If the ordering is purely random chance, the Race Entropy will be approximately ½.
We hope that the Race Entropy for any race will be less than ½ and closer to 0.

Start-End Ranking Plot

We can also visualize this order and disorder with what I call a Start-End Ranking Plot – a rank for crossing the finish line plotted against the rank for crossing the start line. This example plot shows the two ends of [1] perfect order and [2] perfect disorder as well as [3] the case of purely random start ordering.

Start-End Ranking Plot: Avoiding disorder or wrong order is a worthy effort

Start-End Ranking Plot: Avoiding disorder or wrong order is a worthy effort

With this distilled single measure of disorder, Race Entropy, and the Start-End Ranking Plot, let us now examine a couple of interesting stories from the Indian recreational marathon scene.

Case 1 – Chaos to Order: Introduction of Enclosures for SCMM

The first year that I happened to run a distance race, quite by chance, was the flagship Mumbai Marathon in 2010 (SCMM2010). I remember being at the start line and witnessing the undignified pushing and jostling. It was pretty much ‘law of the jungle’ up there akin to the local trains I took to work daily. It was a free-for-all, first-come-first-serve type start, so everyone pushed up ahead, with no real attention to ordering themselves naturally by expected finish time.

Race Start Enclosures

Race start enclosures or ‘holding areas’ were first introduced to the Indian running scene in January 2012, at the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon. These enclosures, now common in the races with large numbers of participants, are set up with the philosophy that the fastest runners are kept together and typically go past the start line first, the slowest ones last, and the ones in-between following the same principle. In order to decide which start-enclosure you wait in before you start the race, race organizers request a recent race timing certificate from you at the time of registration. Based on this ‘previous timing certificate’ you, the customer, are allocated a start enclosure, specified visibly on your racing bib.

Pre/Post Enclosures

Start Enclosures help ensure reduced Race Entropy (disorder) despite an increase in competitors

If we examine the difference between 2010 & 2011 compared with 2016 & 2017 there is a noticeable reduction in Race Entropy despite the number of participants rising. Having seen the Race Entropy drop between 2010 to 2017 despite the massive increase in participation, we can see the Start-End Ranking Plot which corresponds to those numbers and the picture tells us the same story.

Comparing the Start-End Ranking Plot for 2010 with that from 2017 indicates a clear move away from high disorder towards greater order.

Population increase need not be a problem if mismanagement is replaced by better management!

Case 2 – Pollution Reduces Race Participation: Massive Reduction in Delhi Disorder

The flagship race of New Delhi, soon after the worldwide scares in the media about the city’s air pollution levels at the end of 2016, saw a massive reduction in actual participation on race day (ADHM2016). My simple but sensible estimation method tells me that 40% of those who had paid and were registered to race did not show up on race day. This is almost always fortunate for the race organizers and those who do show up to run. The race experience is always better for such large races when the turnout is lower {fewer people chasing the same resources including, quite literally, air, water and land}.

What did the fearless who turned up experience?

What is interesting is that the Race Entropy was so much lower (20.3%) than in 2012 (32.0%) when the ADHM first introduced start enclosures. It was also considerably lower than the previous year where in ADHM2015 the Race Entropy was 26.8%. Perhaps, the general time trend in Race Entropy shows that the running population itself is becoming slightly mature and sensible as a group about the race start. For ADHM2016, it is possible that a predominance of experienced runners showed up and many of the newer runners stayed away. Or, perhaps, managing fewer runners with arrangements for many more (who did not show up) induces lower Race Entropy (lower disorder). All my friends who ran ADHM2016 had a fantastic experience. As luck would have it the weather was (described by a mentee who ran) ‘absolutely perfect’ and my guess is that the reduced disorder added to a better overall experience.

Pollution Scares: Did the drop in crowding make humans more relaxed and reduce irrational crowding?

Once again, comparing the Start-End Ranking Plot for 2017 with that from 2012 when the number of participants was similar and start-enclosures had just been introduced indicates a clear move away from high disorder towards greater order.

Did the reduced crowd density encourage more orderly behaviour?

Summary and Way Forward

I introduced the concept of ‘disorder’ or Race Entropy to characterize the (lack of) ease of flow within a race. I showed how the introduction of start-enclosures based on ‘expected finish time’ helps reduce this Race Entropy (disorder). So, besides features such as aid stations, route marshaling, medal quality, pricing of race entry tickets, and post-race refreshments Race Entropy serves as a superb single measure to capture the overall race experience for those who turned up.

I will write again soon and provide guidance to you the racer, race pacer or race organizer based on this dimension of analysis.

Until then, try to not bump into anyone 🙂

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-2017 – A Quick Update on Quantity and Quality

*Net Finish Times winsorized at 6:15 [click to enlarge]

*Net Finish Times winsorized at 6:15       [click to enlarge]

Memories of each SCMM fade quicker each year as the racing calendar in India gets more crowded with each passing year. However, as the flagship race of the country it is worthwhile using it as a benchmark race to assess how things are progressing, both for the race itself and for the runners within it.

I wrote a quick update on the numbers of 2016 a year ago, and this short conversation is to mirror that with an update for the 2017 race event of 15th January.

The total number of participants in the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon went up again this year but only marginally (by less than 1000). Of that, in the half marathon, the numbers were capped (presumably for safety reasons) and the full marathon saw another year of increasing participation.

The overall (mean and median) race times of those who crossed the finish line was slower for the half marathon. (I might provide further insight regarding that in the weeks ahead.) For the full marathon, the worsening we have seen in the last two years, became worse (slower) this year. It is not unlikely that the increased worsening in finish times is driven by the large number of new entrants, but given that the number of entries has been increasing every single year, to blame the newbies for the recent worsening is unjustifiably unfair without delving into the details.

To get a better picture of what has been happening with aggregate numbers, you can also see my much earlier report on what happened between 2010-2014. And for the most sophisticated analysis on Indian marathon running so far you may want to look at the question “Are Recreational Marathoners in India getting Faster?” and its follow-on multi-year cohort analysis in “You are getting slower sooner than you think“.

Please click on ONE choice for YOUR answer here

If you had not already thought about it when looking at the graphs and tables in this article, then from the two earlier articles on consecutive races, and multi-year cohort analysis, you would have figured out that interesting stories are hidden in the details of aggregated statistics. I might tease out more such stories for you in the weeks to come. Until then, here are the tables for the graphs above.

*Net Finish Times winsorized at 6:15 (Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon)

*Net Finish Times winsorized at 6:15 (Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon)

 

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.

Veterun-2016 – Free Gifts

Free Gifts for Your Veterun-2016 Target

Quick Background
If you are running the Veterun-Edition-3 Half Marathon in Pune (India) on Sunday 9th October 2016, I have some wonderful free gifts for you below. If you have not read about the background behind the creation of these gifts for you, you should definitely read more about them here. The actual gifts and instructions-for-use are below.

My Dream Wish – Your Gift
I have a short fun video to show you how to use the bands. The links to your free bands are below, just scroll down to pick the one that’s right for you…

Instruction Video for your Band (93 seconds)


Your Half Marathon Bands – CLICK on as many as you wish – it’s your choice

Choose PINK or WHITE

Look Good, Run Well

1:39 (white)
1:44 (white)
1:49 (white)
1:54 (white)
1:57 (white)
1:59 (white)
2:04 (white)
2:09 (white)
2:14 (white)
2:19 (white)
2:24 (white)
2:29 (white)
2:34 (white)
2:39 (white)
2:44 (white)
2:49 (white)

Disclaimer for other races
A word of caution to remember –  these bands have been calibrated specifically for the Veterun-2016 route and elevation profile. Although they might (approximately) work for other races of similar distance, they will not be ideal and you might find yourself being ahead or behind of the band at certain points of that other race.

Click, 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.

AHM-2016 – Free Gifts

Free Gifts for Your AHM-2016 Target

Quick Background
If you are running the Airtel Hyderabad Half Marathon on Sunday 28th August 2016, I have some wonderful free gifts for you below. If you have not read about the background behind the creation of these gifts for you, you should definitely read more about them here. The actual gifts and instructions-for-use are below.

My Dream Wish – Your Gift
I have a short fun video to show you how to use the bands. The links to your free bands are below, just scroll down to pick the one that’s right for you…

Instruction Video for your Band (93 seconds)


Your Half Marathon Bands – CLICK on as many as you wish – it’s your choice

Choose PINK or WHITE

Look Good, Run Well

1:39 (white)
1:44 (white)
1:49 (white)
1:54 (white)
1:57 (white)
1:59 (white)
2:04 (white)
2:06 (blue)
2:09 (white)
2:14 (white)
2:19 (white)
2:24 (white)
2:29 (white)
2:34 (white)
2:39 (white)
2:44 (white)
2:49 (white)

Disclaimer for other races
A word of caution to remember –  these bands have been calibrated specifically for the AHM-2016 route and elevation profile. Although they might (approximately) work for other races of similar distance, they will not be ideal and you might find yourself being ahead or behind of the band at certain points of that other race.

Click, 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.

Pre-Race Wisdom for the IDBI-2016 Race

IDBI 2016 – route maps

On Your Marks, Get Ready… Go!

Whether it is the 5km, 10km or the half-marathon you are running at the IDBI-2016 here are some superb last-day tips for you. Before I begin, I would like to remind you that if you are running the half-marathon tomorrow I hope you will have selected your free pacing band for the target times of your choice that I spoke about here. Print, laminate, cut, wear, pose and run! The video is here.

For many of you this might be your first race, for others it might be just another one added to a growing list. For some it might be about taking in the wonderful sights, for others it might be about obtaining a PB (personal best) and, for yet others, it might be about pacing a friend to help them achieve their PB. You might be from Mumbai or from out-of-town but here are some tips especially for you.

Puru enjoyed the sites at the promo event

Puru enjoyed the sites at the promo event

These are some final thoughts from me to you about this race:

  • I went to what was a launch event run on 17th April 2016 to motivate others to run tomorrow. That was well organized so I hope the main race tomorrow is too. There were only a few hundred runners that day, and there are like to be about 20 times as many participants tomorrow, so please pray that there won’t be any hiccups but do allow for glitches and try to not let them affect your mood
  • If you are from out of town and used to running in Mumbai only during the SCMM in January, then here’s some sobering comparison with the SCMM:
    • The temperature is likely to be about 6-degrees Celsius higher than during the typical SCMM race in January
    • The humidity is likely to be about 83% rather than 55% of the typical SCMM race in January
    • The winds are likely to be more like 20kmph rather than the gentle 3kmph you would have faced during a typical January SCMM
    • As there is an 80% chance of rain, beware that your shoes, socks and everything else will get heavier, and that will slow you down
    • Be aware also, that if it rains, there are likely to be more participants who will be running for fun, and so you will need to keep your cool if you are trying to overtake and they don’t give you way as efficiently as you think they could
  • On the other hand, compared with the SCMM:
    • You won’t have the elevation of Peddar Road to deal with and
    • You won’t have the elevation of the Sea-Link (twice in 2016) to deal with
  • If you are running the (10km or the) half-marathon, you are going to face the monsoon winds on Marine Drive. This is likely to help you (but you won’t be able to tell) between the 13-15km markers. However, these winds are highly likely to be a noticeable struggle to deal with between the 17-19km markers (just when you don’t want to face more struggle!)
  • Life is full of twists and turns. The half-marathon has 21 turns of which 7 are pretty much like U-turns. If you are focusing on a blistering pace, this is something to be aware of. I won second place in a half-marathon last October with almost 60 turns so I know it’s not a lot of fun. But that’s not why I told you, soon after that race, why you need not run!
  • Because the overlaps in routes between the 5km, 10km and half-marathon are significant, and we don’t know how diligent the stewards will be, please memorize the route yourself. Empower yourself because race stewards pose two risks:
    • If you are fast and ahead of the pack, you might get sent the wrong way (I’ve won a race because I memorized a route in another city and my primary competitor, who was from that city and noticeably faster, was sent the wrong way).
    • Race stewards are known to get bored after a while and the very runners who need our help (the stragglers who are in need of motivation) get confusing (or no) signals from stewards – I pointed this out when I told you why I don’t care much about your podium finish
  • When memorizing the route, please note that the official route map does not have the distance markers in precise locations on the graphic (notice, for instance, the oddly short 1km between 17km and 18km) but we can pray that the actual kilometer markers on the route will be appropriately placed (and that they sync beautifully with your GPS device)

What next?
The usual… Rest your legs well, sleep on time, and eat/drink sensibly today. Remember what I said about process for performance barely 10 days ago? Give that more thought too! Enjoy the day and have a wonderful experience.

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.

IDBI-2016 – Free Gifts

Free Gifts for Your IDBI Target

My Dream Wish – Your Gift

If you are running the IDBI Federal Life Insurance Mumbai Half Marathon 2016 (IDBI-2016)  on 21-Aug-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 a few years of the SCMM, 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 X-thousand 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 IDBI-2016 race! Getting back to ground reality, things can be almost as wonderful with the next best gift I have for you…

Specifically designed for the IDBI 2016 Course
Pacer Bands for the Half Marathon

You could click on the link 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 and then again on SCMM-2016 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 are calibrated for the specific route of the IDBI-2016 race
– 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.

Think, Meet and Overcome – The 100 Minute Challenge

Meeting and Overcoming the 100 Minute Challenge

Meeting and Overcoming the 100 Minute Challenge

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

Puru and his Rocket Punjaban

Puru and his Rocket Punjaban

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’.

3 very sharp turns

3 very sharp turns over 1600m

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’!

Get your forecast right!

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 was a running celebrity

My partner was/is a running celebrity

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.

Calibration Runs
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:

Mum around the start and baton exchange point

Mud around the start and baton exchange point

Altitude changes are minor

Altitude changes are minor

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.

Finishing Touches to the Race Model the Night Before the Race

Finishing Touches to the Race Model the Night Before the Race

Race Tips
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.

No harm in using a computer to keep track

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.)

Stay focused even on the 5th and 6th laps

Stay focused even on the 5th and 6th laps

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.

[The official page of the event is here. A static (unofficial) version of the event rules is here]

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.