A runner’s diary
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Namrata Joshipura, 45
Fashion designer, New Delhi
Running mantra: “I don’t listen to music when I run because it is my meditation in motion.”
The schedule: An avid runner, Joshipura is known to finish a marathon even if she is injured. She runs four days a week, reserving two days for strength training. Of her run days, one is reserved for HIIT (high-intensity Interval Training) on a track or at a park with elevations. She either does 400mx5 laps or 1kmx3 lap repeats. “Speed is my weakest link, and this helps me open my stride length.” In addition, one day is earmarked for a tempo run, at a higher pace and distance decided by her coach. Saturday is a very basic conditioning run with many warm-up exercises. Sunday is for LSD (long slow distance), to work on endurance. Joshipura also does pranayama regularly. “I have been practising breathing for 15-16 years and cannot start my day without it.”
The diet: “Ever since I became more involved in running, I have realized that diet is very crucial to your output,” says Joshipura, who rarely eats junk food. “Post-run and workout, I always drink a protein shake for recovery—a combination of one scoop of whey protein powder, beets, pomegranate and seasonal fruit, hemp and husk chia seeds with pulp.” Beets are a must because her haemoglobin fluctuates, and as a runner you need a high haemoglobin count because oxygen is carried by blood. She gets her blood tested every few months.
“During the week I eat regular meals that are a little low in carbohydrates, high protein, along with lots of greens.” But on Saturday, before her long Sunday run, she eats some form of carbohydrates in the evening, like pasta or rice. She doesn’t drink tea and coffee, and stays away from refined carbohydrates too. “I eat fruits, a lot of beans, steamed chickpeas with salad, chicken, eggs, but I primarily eat organic as much as I can because I’m extremely conscious about food quality.” She doesn’t eat much red meat, doesn’t have any dairy, and drinks about 3 litres of water every day.
The prep: “I eat half an apple, pumpkin seeds, two dried apricots or dates 45 minutes before a long run (21km).” She only takes a few sips of water before a long run, wearing a hydration belt with either water or ORS. “I don’t like energy drinks as they are loaded with sugar. Post-run, I like to have a nice sitting breakfast after my shake.” For breakfast, she eats eggs, wholewheat toast, avocado, olive oil, and even a dosa sometimes.
Vaishali Kasture, 47
Partner, Deloitte India Consulting, Bengaluru
Running mantra: “It breaks the monotony. It makes me feel better and ensures that I don’t get into the rut of work defining my whole life.”
The schedule: “I train the whole year but pick a few key races and prepare.” Kasture runs four days a week, reserving three days for strength training. A seven-day workout may seem harsh until you realize that her work schedule and travel easily shaves off a few days at a time—she travels for three days every week. “I don’t have a very scientific plan any more. I run to feel good when I go back to work—this means that I don’t train hard for every race.”
She runs long distance, about 25-35km, on Sunday. One day she does a tempo run of 15-16km or a speed workout (1km or 2kmx5). One day she goes for an easy run. If she’s taking part in a half marathon, she then focuses on speed and tempo workouts, and if she’s preparing for a full marathon, then it’s two long runs a week.
The diet: “I’m a very clean eater.” That said, her diet doesn’t change whether she’s had a hard run or an easy one. She consumes lots of fruits, vegetables and proteins such as chicken. “Breakfast and lunch are important, but dinner (latest by 7.30) is very light. You have so many options in front of you, but you have to be conscious that the choice to eat healthy is yours.”
The prep: Kasture has run most of the key races in India multiple times. “Internationally, I have done five global majors and this year I will do my sixth in Chicago.” Unlike other runners, she doesn’t fuel up before a race. “I have a very sensitive body, so pre-run I may go for a light drink, but I won’t eat even before a full marathon.” She eats a light meal the night before and drinks whatever is available on the course. “If I carry something, it would be a combination of Unived power gels, or a Fast & Up drink.” She usually sips on something every 5-8km in a race.
Her passion for running is evident even in her collection of 30-40 running shoes. Her favourite these days is the wide-toed Hoka One One—it’s her fourth pair of the same shoe.
Abhishek Mishra, 32
Founder-chief executive officer, Tabono, Gurugram
Running mantra: “It is part of my lifestyle to be healthy and active.”
The schedule: Mishra, who has won the title of the Ironman race twice, is well-known in fitness circles. Since 2011 he has done over 50 half marathons, 20 full marathons, a few ultra runs, run for 24 hours twice, run 150km in the Kutch desert and also run from Lucknow to Delhi. These days he is training for the Ultraman, an invite-only triathlon in the US that involves a 10km swim, 422km cycling and 84km running, divided into three days of 12 hours each. One would imagine that his life would be very regimented, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. “I don’t believe that you have to leave your work, social life and family to train.” When he first started his fitness business in 2015, he took part in the Ironman race for the first time. “For me, consistency matters. For instance, I swim and cycle when I get a chance.”
“For Ultraman, I’m focusing on swimming as it is my weakest point, and I only learnt to swim last year.” He divides his training in sets of 10 days. “In these 10 days (with two rest days) one day is for a long 5-7km swim, three days for a 2-3km swim.” He cycles 80-100km for two-three days; one day is reserved for cycling that ranges between 150km on Day 1 and 280km on Day 2. “If I get the time I will cycle outdoors, if not then it’s on the trainer.” Since he has been running from a young age, he practises it only once or twice in those 10 days. “I run for 4 hours at 10km per hour, so it’s about 40-45km at one time.”
The diet: Mishra doesn’t take any supplements and finished the entire Ironman on water and bananas. “I don’t believe in the protein craze, so I never take protein shakes.” And he is mostly vegetarian. “There is a certain belief that we need more protein, so people now eat red meat instead of vegetables, which increases toxicity and acidity in your body.” He also stays away from sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods and sticks to eating locally grown, seasonal fruit and vegetables.
“I make sure I eat fruit in the morning on an empty stomach because till 11am your body detoxifies at a faster rate.” His last meal is no later than 8pm.
The prep: As far as pre-race preparation is concerned, he doesn’t eat anything before a half marathon. Before a marathon or a triathlon, he eats dry fruits or peanut butter on bread with a banana an hour before the race. “After swimming, I eat something heavy like a dry-fruit laddoo.” In the last part of the triathlon, he carries a flask of water with ragi cereal and jaggery to keep himself rejuvenated on the bike. “When cereal is mixed with water it’s easy to digest and is a good source of energy.” But after a race or triathlon he doesn’t eat immediately. “You have to understand that your body has been through something that it doesn’t do regularly, so it’s best to hydrate yourself for the first half-hour afterwards.” He eats easily digestible food like dal-chawal or khichdi at this point.
Bipin Kaul, 40
Zonal head, IDFC Business Banking, Gurugram
Running mantra: “Someone said I couldn’t do it, which made me do it even more.”
The schedule: Kaul is a seasoned cyclist. He has completed the Paris-Brest-Paris 2015, a 1,200km cycling event in France, the Ironman Putrajaya Malaysia and three half triathlons, taken part in over 30 Brevets (long-distance cycling) and more than 20 half and full marathons.
He trains with his coach Deepak Raj, who has taken part in around 13-14 Ironman events. “I have made a calendar where some days we do 100km of cycling, other days we have indoor training in the gym, and swimming is one-and-a-half months before the next Ironman in March.” He trains every day for about 3 hours. “I cycle from Gurugram, where I live, to Connaught Place (CP), where I work. I then get ready at my gym at Fitness First in CP to go to work.” Triathlons combine running, swimming and cycling, so he does multiple training, like running immediately after cycling.
The diet: “A triathlon is 50% hard work and 50% homework.” He eats a heavy breakfast with complex carbohydrates such as brown bread, dalia and dry fruits. He follows that up with a salad or sandwich at 11am. Lunch is brown rice or multigrain chapati with dal and vegetables. He finishes five-six fruits in a day and consumes protein shakes twice a day. He has dinner before 8pm. “I also check my BMI (body mass index) at the gym every 15 days to track my fat and water content, etc.” His style of training is very interactive, which means he is in regular touch with his coach and also uses Yoska, an app that helps track his performance so his coach can review it to plan his training. He also indulges in sauna and massages.
The prep: Before every major race, Kaul loads up on carbohydrates like porridge for dinner two-three days before the day of the race. On race day, he sticks to water and gels that make him feel light and provide more endurance. Right after the race he drinks a protein shake and then has a carbohydrate like sweet potato, followed by a simple lunch. “Most people go on a binge, but that’s the worst thing for your body.”