He began running in 2010
He began running in 2010

Colonel J. Muthukrishnan | Doctor, soldier, runner

A regular on the running circuit in the country, Colonel Muthukrishnan shares his running story

On The Run | Colonel J. Muthukrishnan

Colonel J. Muthukrishnan stumbled upon running marathons by accident. He saw an advertisement for a half marathon while on a flight and decided to register on a whim. That impulse turned into a full-fledged passion within months. The 42-year-old, Chandigarh-based endocrinologist with the Indian Army is now a veteran of seven full marathons and 12 half marathons, and is gearing up for the 2013 Hyderabad Marathon in August. A regular on the running circuit in the country, Colonel Muthukrishnan shares his running story. Edited excerpts:

When and why did you get hooked to running?

It was the last week of December 2009, and during a holiday to Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir), I started jogging for fun in the chill of the valley. On my way back, during the flight, I saw the advertisement for the Chandigarh Half Marathon scheduled a month later. I registered for it and for four weeks, I trained like hell to get to 21km from my usual 5km running capacity. I had a great experience at that event and felt a lot of positive changes in me, so I kept running. The constant motivation from my elder brother Vishwanathan, who is also a regular in the marathon circuit, has kept me hooked.

What do you like and what do you dislike about running in Chandigarh?

I like the beautiful wide roads with ample greenery and the great weather in Chandigarh. I do my daily runs in the Chandimandir Cantonment, which has a 10km loop inside with lots of flora and fauna, and its fair share of hilly climbs. To scale it up, I run on the Zirakpur-Kalka highway which has five flyovers in a 10km span and makes a great practice turf for marathon training.

What’s your favourite running gear?

I run in Dri-FIT T-shirts, shorts and Asics Gel shoes.

What’s your running soundtrack?

I gave up running with music a few months back. Now it’s the natural sounds of this wonderful place and my thoughts that provide the rhythm.

What’s your pre-marathon training routine like?

I usually follow Hal Higdon’s schedule for marathon training (Hal Higdon is a marathon coach, runner and author of several books on running, including Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. His programmes are available for free at www.halhigdon.com). Now after having run a few marathons, my regular daily routine keeps me up to it for an event, as and when it happens.

What kind of diet do you follow on race days (pre-, during and post-race)?

I take enough carbs, which as such is abundant in the Indian diet, especially the two days prior to a run. Pre-race day evening, I have an early dinner of white bread, milk and rice. I follow it up with a few slices of white bread 3-4 hours before the marathon. I pre-hydrate with the usual oral rehydration salt in water or orange juice. Post-race, I can eat anything that’s visible.

How do you balance your work and travel schedule with running?

I adjust my running timings to morning or late evenings, depending on my schedule for the day. I don’t travel often, but always carry my running gear whenever I do.

What’s the most challenging race you’ve run?

My toughest one was the Gurgaon Town And Country Half Marathon in the heat and humidity of August 2011, and the Bengaluru Midnight Marathon in December 2012 was challenging on my body physiology because of its midnight start. At the Mawana Marathon in Delhi, in February 2013, I was mobbed by the unruly crowds at the registration, and almost gave up before fighting my way through. It was a very “Indian" experience, lots of chaos, scanty support in terms of glucose or water, and traffic let loose towards the last hour of the run and rain. Interestingly, I ended up clocking my personal best of 4 hours, 4 minutes.

What is the dream marathon you’d like to run?

I plan to run in the Athens Marathon someday (it is based on the route that the Greek messenger Pheidippides is supposed to have run—from the town of Marathon to Athens during the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC—a mythical story that gives the sport its name). Hopefully with my brother.

On the Run is a monthly series that profiles India’s most enthusiastic marathon runners.

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