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We bring you the ultimate training guide for Mumbai Marathon 2016

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Oct 23, 2015 14:16 IST
Meenakshi Iyer
Meenakshi Iyer
Hindustan Times
Mumbai Marathon,HT48Hours,Running guide
Runners at the Mumbai Marathon at Bandra, in 2015. (Vidya Subramanian/ Hindustan Times)

On a rainy September afternoon, over a hundred first-time full marathoners gathered at the Asian Heart Institute Auditorium in Bandra-Kurla Complex. This was the first runners meet organised by Procam International Pvt Ltd ahead of the upcoming Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) on January 17, 2016.

“Congratulations, 4.52,” greeted a man in his fifties as he approached a fellow runner, a middle-aged man who responded with a “3.30, that’s great timing”. One couldn’t hear general niceties like a “Hello” or a “How are you”, only personal timings — worn as a badge of honour — being celebrated across the hall. That, right there, answers the simple question: ‘Why do people run?’

“Running gives you a sense of achievement. You feel good when you set a goal each morning and beat it. You are able to transfer that success-oriented mindset to the rest of the day,” says P Venkatraman of YouTooCanRun, a platform for recreational runners. “That probably explains why most runners are ‘Type A’ personalities,” he adds.

One of the speakers at the runners meet, 57-year-old Venkatraman, a serial entrepreneur and a chartered accountant by profession, started running on a whim in 2003, and since then, has not looked back. He has completed over 90 marathons across the country and now helps other runners achieve their goals. “My aim is to be fit enough to be able to run a 10K on my 80th birthday,” he says.

First steps

On February 15, 2004, the first Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon was flagged off from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Within a short span of 11 years, it has become the biggest running event in Asia.

Now, on a wintry morning every January, the city wakes up to a charged atmosphere: if you aren’t running, you are cheering on the roads (or at least from the comfort of your home, while watching all the action on television). Actors like John Abraham, Rahul Bose, Milind Soman, and top CEOs like Anil Ambani are among the regulars, and the number of runners competing against each other has only been growing.

Like the London Marathon or the Boston Marathon, SCMM too gave birth to a running culture in the city. In fact, it was at the London Marathon in 2003 that brothers Anil and Vivek Singh vowed to bring a sporting event of that stature to India. “Today, running has become the fastest growing sport by a mile,” says Vivek Singh, joint managing director of Procam, which organises the SCMM. “It is probably the simplicity of the sport that makes it work. All you need is a pair of shoes and a road,” he adds.

Fourty sevem-year-old Suchita Varadkar agrees. A certified trainer and a yoga instructor, Varadkar started running to stay fit after her daughter’s birth. “Running doesn’t require much training. And since there is a lot of awareness around the various marathon events, especially SCMM, people aspire to be a part of it,” she says. “Whenever I meet people who want to train with me, they tell me running the marathon is one of the items on their bucket list,” adds Varadkar.

Running is the new golf

Since 2004, over 200 marathon events are organised across the country. Groups like Striders, Nike Run Club, BE FIT Academy and Runners For Life have been formed to provide formal training to runners. “Earlier, people used to train only for three months before the Mumbai Marathon.

Now, since there are events throughout the year, people have started training all-year round,” says Praful Uchil, founder and chief trainer at Striders. For the upcoming marathon, Striders is training almost 900 participants across its 19 centres in the city. “When people come for the training at 5.45am every morning, there is a lot of positivity in the air. You get to meet like-minded people. That’s what drives us,” he adds.

Besides the fitness aspect, marathons are a great place for networking and meeting new people. “People want to network with businessmen, CEOs and high achievers. It leads to social interactions, and bonds are formed over something you love,” says Venkatraman. Besides, for a corporate honcho or a young college student, running is an equaliser, which truly defines the essence of running.


First hand experiences

“When I saw the finish line, I sprinted towards it” - Parul Sheth, Architect, Peddar Road

Sheth ran her first full marathon in 2012

“I have never been an athlete, never won a race in my life. So, I could never imagine myself ever running a Full Marathon. But, there I was, at Azad Maidan when the loudspeaker blared: 10-9-8…2-1. The SCMM 2012 had begun. We started running in the darkness. Within the first 800 metres, my laces came off. I re-tied them — feeling like a fool — and started running again. Kilometres flew past as we ran amid laughter and conversations (with fellow runners).

I crossed the halfway mark in 2.17 hours. My parents came to surprise me at Mahim. It was all well and, by Worli, I plugged my iPod in for support. Over the Peddar Road climb, I gave in to the pain and walked for 100 metres. But when I ran past my own apartment where my friends and family were cheering for me, I was all smiles again. At Chowpatty, the sun shone in full glory and the heat and fatigue got truly overwhelming. My legs were complaining, and my brain was threatening to revolt. I was ready to give up.

I trotted along, looking for any excuse to stop. I tried the painkiller spray for my non-existent pain, took a water break, but I had to kick myself to keep going. But when I saw the finish line, I sprinted towards it. It was surreal. My arms opened wide and I was flying. All the pain was forgotten. I completed the 42.2km stretch in 4.35 hours in my first full marathon. Now, I believe we can do anything if we make up our mind and work towards it.”


“That medal in the picture says I did it” - Sandra Almeida-Thevar,Journalist, Sion

Almeida-Thevar ran her first half-marathon in 2015

“A surprisingly sage piece of advice I once got was that running a marathon was all about telling yourself ‘I can’ (as if that was all it took!). So, one chilly December morning last year, I told myself those two magic words. Fifteen kilos heavier and with almost no practice, I ran five kilometres in the Pinkathon at Bandra-Kurla Complex. And, I was hooked. I think I floated all the way back home, screeching muscles and all.

Ten months later, after two 5km, several 10km and one 15km, and of course 15 kilos lighter, the challenge of a 10km run had started to wane. I needed a bigger kick. Maybe something like the Satara Hill Marathon? I had heard fellow marathoners rhapsodise about this route — one of the country’s toughest to run, with a 1,200ft elevation.

For three months before the run, my feelings oscillated from intense self-doubt to a wavering confidence that I could do this. While the running (5km to 7km four times a week) and the elliptical biking continued, the trepidation continued till D-Day. Unable to sleep (the worst thing before such an intense run) the night before, and reassurance struggling for a foothold in the uncertainty clouding my head, I reached the starting line with just three minutes to spare, right in time for no second thoughts. That medal in the picture says I did it. Oh, and for 21K that sunny Sunday morning, I was telling myself ‘I can’.”

Best places to run/train in the city

* Marine Drive to Worli Sea Face: This stretch – around 12km — is perfect for long runs on weekends. Since, this route is part of the marathon, it could be good practice to run on this route once a week.

* Mahalaxmi Race Course: The mud surface puts lesser impact on the lower body. This location is good for track repeats and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), which is ideal for boosting stamina.

* Juhu Beach: Running on sand in this 4km stretch will build power in quadriceps, calf, hip flexors and the gluteus muscles. It also stabilizes muscles in the knee, ankle and feet.

* Malabar Hill, Pali Hill and Yeoor Hills: These three stretches are perfect for practice during hill runs. Running on a hilly slope will strengthen your cardiorespiratory system. It also stresses the muscles, which will make you a stronger runner. Hill running is also the best way to tone the lower body muscles.

- by Brinston Miranda, founder, BE FIT Academy


Plan your nutrition

An expert’s guide to planning your meals before, during and after the run

For: 7km (Dream run)

Pre-race: Good breakfast 1.5 hours prior to the race

During: Sip on water through the run.

Post-race: Consume a meal based on protein + carbohydrates, for instance, an egg sandwich.

For: 21km (Half marathon)

Pre-race: Good breakfast 2 hours prior to the race. A fruit half an hour before you start the run.

During: Sip on energy drink/Electrol every 20 minutes during the run. The amount will vary based on sweat rate.

Post-race: Immediately after finishing the race, consume a protein and carbohydrate-based snack (carry this with you to the race) for instance, whey protein shake + fruit. Follow this with a breakfast.

For: 42km (Full marathon)

Pre-race: Two hours prior to the race, have a double carbohydrate + protein breakfast eg. oats + milk + two slices of toast + jam or honey or any chutney.

-- 45 minutes before the race: Have two bananas and nuts.

-- 15 minutes before the race: Drink 200ml sports drink or one sachet sports gel.

During: Sip on sports drink throughout the run. Make sure you consume a drink with electrolytes and glucose (max 60g per hour).

-- Sports gels can be consumed instead of sports drink. Consume 1 sachet every 45 minutes (every 7 to 8km) along with at least 200ml of water.

Post-race: High GI carbohydrates + protein snack immediately after the run eg. whey protein in water + banana or dry fruits.

-- Then, 20g protein, 200-300g carbs, that is 4 slices of bread + 400ml fresh fruit juice + 4 egg whites + 1 yolk or 270g rice with 200g chickpeas + 100g chicken breast piece.

------ by Krushmi Chheda, sports scientist and nutritionist

First Published: Oct 22, 2015 00:00 IST