Author Archives: Fitbrowngirl

About Fitbrowngirl

I am TV journalist, currently working with CNBC Awaaz+CNBC TV18. I am into endurance activities such as running, swimming, climbing stairs, enduring long conversations, etc. I love gathering experiences. From these experiences I have learnt to never say never to something new or even something tried. This blog is a compilation of those experiences and my explanation on why will I repeat them so that everyone knows, "why will I do it again".

Cannes on the morning run-A runner’s perspective!

Cannes is a city that not just basks in glamour from its rich and famous visitors every year, but it also basks in a lot of sun. Incidentally, I have had the fortune of visiting this city on many occasions. And being a running enthusiast, I have loved running in Cannes. There are many beautiful routes that this city has to offer for us runners. And the best part about this place is that you will see someone running here at any given point in time. So it doesn’t matter if it is early morning, afternoon or late evening, even at night, there is someone always running at Cannes.

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Beautiful and glamorous Cannes! 

Running on Promenade de La Croissette

Promenade de la Croisette stretches along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and is a little over 2.5 km long.  It is known for the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the famous Cannes Film Festival and Cannes Lions Festival is held. Many expensive shops, restaurants, and hotels line this promenade and it goes along the coastline of Cannes. If you go a little ahead and run towards Antibes, you can encounter beautiful beaches with clear blue water. I typically run till the end of the sea-front and as soon as this tunnel arrives on the left hand side to take a road towards Antibes, I take a U-turn. This distance till the tunnel from the Cannes Centre is about 4.5 to 5 km.

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Promenade de La Croissette: it begins from the famous Palais des Festivals et des Congrès

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Running on Boulevard du Midi

This boulevard runs nearly 7 km, terminating at the Pullman Royal Casino and it is a very scenic route. You pass La Bocca on the way too.  The promenade is a little narrow in parts, but still very runnable and extremely pretty. All you have to do is keep the sea on your left! That’s your guideline.

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Running on the very narrow Boulevard du Midi. This image was taken was while returning to my hotel at Cannes City Centre.  

 

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The street of Boulevard du Midi Louise Moreau that runs along the seafront of Cannes la Bocca is closed to traffic on the last Sunday of each month so that it can be enjoyed by pedestrians, cyclists, roller bladers and joggers.

If you are running from the Palais then there is only some part near the port where you are not next to the sea. At the beginning near the port you will get to see some spectacular views of the gorgeous looking yachts lined along the old port.

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Yachts lined up along the port 

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Always keep the sea on your left if your are running towards Mandelieu la Napoule from Cannes

If you intend to go a bit further from Pullman you can take a right straight to Mandelieu la Napoule. There is a beautiful running/walking route next to the golf course which is well-shaded too. This is at a distance of about 10 km from Cannes city centre.

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Mandelieu la Napoule is at about 10 km from Cannes city centre

And then you can also combine Promenade de La Croissette and Boulevard du Midi for a long run too.

Running on the beach

It is great to run on sand. Especially, running bare feet on sand can be extremely soothing. However, the beaches around Cannes do not have one extended long sandy coastline. Hence, occasionally you will have to step up on either of the Boulevards and then get on the beach again to be able to go the distance.

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Bear in mind that beaches around Cannes do not have one extended long coastline

Running up to Musée de la Castre

It was in the 12th century, that monks built a castle on top of the hill, now known as Musée de la Castre. In the 14th and 15th centuries, a church was built just under the old fortress – the Eglise Notre Dame d’Esperance – it offers great views over the harbour and city.

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Way to run up to Musée de la Castre

As it was only about 400 years ago, that the roads were laid out. With such close proximity to the harbor and the sea, the fishermen began to make their homes here. The entire approach to Musée de la Castre is extremely steep and lined by beautiful houses. It is a great route for hill repeats.

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View from Musée de la Castre

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Bird’s eye view of Cannes from Musée de la Castre

One can run from Gare des Autobus or take an inner route from Le Suquet which is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Cannes. If you start from the Croisette, walk past the old port on your left and head up the windy, cobbled street of restaurants to an old beautiful church and castle.

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If you are starting your ascend from Gare des Autobus…

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Running up the narrow windy stairs from Le Suquet

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Along the charming homes…

 

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A beautiful staircase that takes you to the hill top from Le Suquet

If you want to run in the evening, then route that takes you from Le Suquet is avoidable as it will be too crowded with shoppers and diners alike. It is also good to know that at the foot of the hill leading up to Le Suquet, there is this wonderful Marché Forville (the market) that can be found, along with the many restaurants in the rue Saint-Antoine. It is wonderful to run here early in the morning and it offers a great breather from the hustle and bustle in the city centre.

So be it night or early morning definitely go for a run at Cannes!

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Running in Cannes is a great idea indeed! 

 

 

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Prague as it looked on the morning run!

I had a chance to visit Prague in November 2017. And those who have visited this city in the past will agree that it is a tourist magnet. Those taking pictures on the Charles Bridge, those rubbing the bronze statues for luck, posing against the John Lenon Wall and walking into the narrow alleys close to the Castle. You barely get to sigh and admire Prague’s beauty with so many tourists around.  But, if you are a runner and want to experience Prague’s raw beauty sans the tourists, it is the best to run it up.

For us runners, Prague offers great opportunities to see the best sites while fitting in our exercise. It is truly lovely running around Prague’s historic sites (run early to avoid the crowd), along the river, and in the city’s wonderful parks. The hill up to Prague Castle is also a great option too.

In November when I visited, it was cold, windy, sometimes rainy but totally worth the run!

Running on the streets of Prague

The Streets in the morning look absolutely stunning. But, one should beware of the speeding cars and the quick trams. Staying close to the Charles Bridge led me to the fairy tale like paths that eventually lead to the Charles Bridge. Also, crossed a couple of packed trams even at wee hours in the morning.

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Check out the colours!!! 

 

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A packed tram! 

Crossing and running Charles Bridge several times! 

The medieval bridge in the heart of the Czech capital, the Charles Bridge is an unmissable part of any visit to Prague. The best time to see it is when everyone is asleep-in the morning. Although I must admit that 7 AM on Charles Bridge was actually not as deserted of an experience as I imagined it would be. You still have a handful of photographers, morning-walk couples and  a few tipsy revellers stepping out from night clubs. But, in spite of this, it is relatively empty as compared to the day time and even the night time.

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 A rather foggy Charles Bridge! 

 

Running inside Letna Park

I absolutely adored the Letna park. This park offers some stunning views of the entire centre. If you run from the historical centre, you have to cross the Cechuv bridge and go up 200 stairs first but from then on it is fairly flat. You may meet lots of other runners here too.

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Running up, towards the Letna Park

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Spectacular View of the city from the Letna park. Letná’s elevation and location offer commanding views of the Prague Old Town indeed! 

River Side Run

This route basically runs along the Vltava river. It is a beautiful cobbled stone path with amazing views of the river. You may also see a lot of swans swimming along in the river.

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Run along the river Vltava! I got to know that the name of the river comes from the Celtic language and it means wild river. Enough motivation to run wild? 

Running up Petřín Hill

Petřín is a hill in the center of Prague, Czech Republic. It rises above the Vltava River. The hill, almost entirely covered with parks. Also, it is featured prominently in Franz Kafka’s early short story “Description of a Struggle”.

The Petřín Lookout Tower, which strongly resembles the Eiffel Tower, was built atop a hill in 1891. Other sights include the Rose Garden, Mirror Maze, Cathedral of Saint Lawrence, and St Michael Church. There is also a Petřín funicular that links the Malá Strana district with the top of Petřín hill. The passengers were giving stares when they saw us run up rather than taking the funicular.

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This is the Memorial to the victims of Communism at the beginning of Petřín  hill. It is a series of statues in Prague commemorating the victims of the communist era between 1948 and 1989.
It shows seven bronze figures descending stairs. The statues appear more “decayed” the further away they are from you – losing limbs and their bodies breaking open. It represents how political prisoners were affected by Communism.

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 Built as a mini version of Paris’s Eiffel Tower, the Petrin Observation Tower was built in 1891! 

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It is a route that can be taken from below the Charles Bridge that leads up to the hill.

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Taken from the Charles bridge! 

 

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A bit of Detour from Charles Bridge towards John Lenon Wall! 

As you make your way back to the Charles Bridge, you can take a bit of a detour. This detour will take you past the John Lennon Wall, covered with grafitti, poems, lyrics, flowers. There are many opportunities to extend the run by exploring additional trails in Petrin Park.

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Once a normal wall, since the 1980s it has been filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from Beatles’ songs.

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A Charming Restaurant that was opening for Brekkie!!! Well, runners can be monsters on breakfast table. 

Travelling? Don’t worry. You can Still Run!

Whether you are travelling for work or escaping to an exotic location for some rest or a holiday-travelling can interrupt even the most devoted runner’s schedule. With a bit of planning and the right attitude, runners can maintain their training during vacation or an important work trip. In fact, running can be an enjoyable addition to anyone’s travel schedule. Today, we can discuss how can you run when you travel. As they say, ‘the best way to explore a new place is on foot’-running truly helps here!

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With your travel research do some running related research too! 

When you are doing your general travel related research about the places to visit, etc, don’t forget to get a little information about  running at your destination too. Search online for the websites of running clubs or running stores where you will be visiting. They may have routes mapped out and even weekly social runs that you can join.

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A run in Vodelpark, Amsterdam where I saw several brands such as Adidas and Nike Running their own clubs and practice runs on weekends! I joined one such club for stretching! They were nice enough to accommodate me on that day. Otherwise one needs to register on their websites before hand! On the other hand, I knew that Vondelpark was a great place to run, hence I had booked my hostel very close to the park so that I could venture out for a run each morning. 

 

Pack your clothes accordingly

 It does like an obvious advice, but don’t forget to pack running clothes as per the weather conditions of the location. So, look at the weather forecasts for your destination and bring the appropriate clothes. You don’t want to land in shorts and racer back on a route with temperature in single digits.  And do not forget your running shoes. I always keep some space in my bag for the running shoes and running gear. Also, tights which can be worn during a run are also very comfortable to travel in.

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I flew to Reykjavik straight from South of France! And the only tights I had carried was drenched due to a waterfall visit the previous day! As you can see, I am freezing on this run! Thank god I had packed my running gloves. 

Safety First

 Runners often boast of running in the most unique surroundings and situations. But, there are a few precautions to take any time you are running in an unfamiliar city. It’s important to listen to the locals. If your hotel’s employees say it’s not safe to run, then don’t run in that area. There’s no workout that’s so important that you need to risk your personal safety.

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Jerusalem: There was some tension in Jerusalem at the time I had visited the city. And it was only after speaking to a few locals, I ventured out for a run the next day! 

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At Gulmarg, the locals asked us to stick close to the roads and not venture into the trails. Followed this advice too.

Carry GPS or Map to take you back home

I have a tendency to get lost in new places, hence my best friend is the data that I feed on my GPS watch to take me back to the hotel. But, if you don’t have one, downloading an app or two on your phone may come handy or even google maps for that matter.

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Right after taking this picture, I got lost in Berlin. Just couldn’t find my way back. Had to find a restaurant nearby with Wi Fi to find my way back to the hotel. This was a work trip and I had to head back soon to my hotel for a meeting.

Carry some cash

In case if at all you get lost or feel uneasy or simply get tired, it is in your best interest to carry some amount of local currency with you to either take a public transport back home or just take a cab.

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When I ran from Nice, France to Monaco, all by myself, I ran out of water as the distance was way more than what I had calculated! I had to purchase some juice+water to hydrate myself as it was extremely hot and humid at that time of the day. Also, post finishing this run at Monaco, I took a bus back to my stay at Nice Ville. 

Carry your own hydration

In case if you feel thirsty during your run and don’t know whether there are shops on the route where you can buy water- it is the best to carry a small bottle of water that you can sip while running.

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I always take along with me a bottle of water on my runs in a new city. 

And finally, the most important……

DEDICATION. It is most important thing to bring on any trip. It’s not easy to stay focused and dedicated and hence fit in your workouts when you are in that “vacation mode.” Or on a stressful business trip. Decide before you leave home that you will run, come what may!

I hope these tips will help you run when you travel.

 

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Find time, stay dedicated and take good pictures on your runs in a new city! #shotongopro

 

Stockholm-an after thought that created memories

Last year, I visited Finland with a goal to see the Northern Lights. However, considering that Aurora Borealis siting is rather rare-I had kept my return from Northern Finland a little open ended.

Luck had it that I saw northern lights within 20 minutes of beginning the hunt for the Northern Lights and I was lucky enough to cut short my stay at beautiful and very expensive Ivalo to plan a visit to a new place. I toyed with the idea of visiting Poland, Riga, Minsk, etc.  But, finally I decided-‘ok let me go to Stockholm’.

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Stockholm city centre

And I am so glad that I chose Stockholm.

I took a Finnair flight with multiple stopovers from Ivalo to Stockholm and landed at the Arlanda Airport. From there a train called Arlanda Express took me straight to the Stockholm City Centre.

I was staying at Generator Hostel very close to the central station. With my backpack, I walked to the hostel, checked into my very clean room which was essentially a bed in the dormitory.

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In my hostel room! 

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A rather clean and cosy bed at Generator Hostel in Stockholm

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My hostel reception. There was no kitchen in this hostel but the food and beverages were reasonably priced. 

Stockholm was cold and windy. Yet so beautiful!!

I thought there was absolutely no need to buy a city pass as the whole city was walk-able. And that’s what I did, walked through the city over the next few days.

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Discovered Gamla Stan like this on my first night in the city

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When I went to eat after strolling for most of the evening i realised that the restaurants had closed! 

Gamla Stan is charming but the restaurants here shut pretty early. Most restaurants at Gamla Stan take their last orders by 8:45 to 9 pm. I learnt my lesson and had to sleep hungry and foolish on Day 1 itself!!

But general stores such as ‘7 Eleven’ and Burger Kings of the world were life savers.

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A beautiful cafe where I had my breakfast! 

And the best part about the trip was that I had a great roommate. He knew the city inside out and had visited it many times in the past. I ended up walking to the Stockholm Palace, Vasa Museum, the market place, the town hall etc. with my roommate.

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Walked through the whole city! 

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This massive blue gate that leads to a green space close to Vasa Museum! 

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Vasa ship that capsized and sank in Stockholm 1628

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Near Town Hall

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Gamla Stan, the Old Town, is one of the largest and best preserved medieval city centers in Europe

 

The cherry on the cake was that he had a spare pass to ‘The Cure’ Concert –front row at the Stockholm Arena. That was a memory to cherish. And all thanks to Sokratis Zor’s friend for not turning up to the concert! I could witness the band play from one arm distance and couldn’t have expected a better weekend in this city.

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Queue outside Stockholm Arena to get in for ‘The Cure’ concert. Well, we had a better entry and shorter queue 🙂 

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‘The Cure’ from the front few rows! 

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The huge concert place

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With my hostel roommate Sokratis! 

Days went by in a wink at Stockholm and final day was left for some shopping at H&M, casual walk by the windy seaside and long slow early dinner with music at Gamla Stan. This after thought of a visit truly gave me a lot of memories to take back home.

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Was lucky to witness ‘The Change of Guard’ at Stockholm Palace

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Stood through the entire ceremony which takes place at 1 pm! 

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Inside the palace, the Swedish constitution is on the table here! 

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It is one of the most beautiful palaces I have seen.  It is said to be one of the largest palaces in Europe! The Royal Palace is the official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden and has over 600 rooms!! 

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I also discovered chokladbollar or Swedish chocolate balls, during this trip to Stockholm

Tips to Follow for the race day

Mumbai Marathon is round the corner and there are many who participate in this event. Personally, 2018 would be my fifth year of running Full Marathon at Mumbai Marathon. So if you are planning to run this event (whether full or half), or any other race here are a few useful tips that you can follow on the race day. 

  1. Reaching early, a few minutes before the race

My advice would be to wake up a few minutes earlier than usual in morning and give your body a chance to fully wake up. Before a run, I give myself almost one hour to fully wake up on the race day. Please don’t arrive too late as it creates a lot of stress and chaos. (I have experienced this situation too). Most of the roads leading to the holding area are closed for vehicles. Hence, if you are getting your vehicle along please factor in the time to walk from the parking lot to the holding area. Sometimes you will find parking too far away from the venue.

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Wake up early and reach the venue early to avoid chaos. Target reaching atleast 40-45 minutes before the start. Often there are long queues outside the washroom in case if you want to visit. 

Consider taking Public Transport or you can even UBER it to the venue to avoid any form of parking related stress.

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Most races around the world have special public transport arrangements for the race day. It is the best way to travel to the start point. 

2.  Set an achievable target

Plan your race either on paper or in your mind and go as per plan. It is good to be optimistic when you are going strong in the first few km. But, don’t go too fast because there is a lot of excitement around you. Set and achievable target and stick tick to your own target.

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Stay Focused and stick to your plan. Don’t get carried away by those running around you.

 

3. Divide the entire distance of your run into a batch of few kilometers each

I love do this personally. Let’s say I am running a 42.195 km. I divide this whole distance into four 10 point something kilometers. I break my target into smaller four targets and focus on the small targeted distance at hand. Puts your stress off to a great extent. Instead of obsessing about each of the 42 kms, I divide it into segments-like 4 segments or 6 segments, whatever you are comfortable with. “That makes it more manageable mentally. 

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It helps to divide the entire distance of your run into small achievable targets. It somewhat helps the run look more manageable.

 

4. Hydrate well and do not hesitate to visit the washroom if you need to.

You sweat when you run. Hence, please hydrate well during the run drink as much water as your body needs along with taking adequate salts. Please avoid ‘not dinking water for fear of having bathroom breaks’ logic. It is not water, but the food that you eat the night before or day before will impact your bathroom situation before or during a run. My advice will be to pee as close to the race start time as possible.

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drink lots of fluids and visit the washroom as close to the race as possible

 

5. It is advisable to carry your our hydration

I carry a bottle in hand for every single marathon. Some intelligent person once told me ‘never depend on the organizers for your hydration and nutrition. Yes, you have paid the money as a registration fee, but things can go wrong on the part of the organizers too. You don’t wish to suffer for their errors, right?

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Carry your own bottle! Some intelligent person once told me ‘never depend on the organisers for your hydration and nutrition.

6. Don’t come to a complete stop when you get to the water stations.

It breaks the momentum, sometime it becomes difficult to pick up when you come to a complete halt. Try slowing down a few meters earlier when you see a water station and run at that pace till you reach the water station and then stop there.

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Slow down before coming to halt

7. The golden rule is do not try something new on the race day.

No new apparel or shoes during a marathon. The socks should be the type you wear in other races. The shoes should be something that you have done long runs in. It is not a day to experiment with a fancy new tee or shorts either. Wear something which is used even if it has holes. Also, you might get some fancy eatable on the route. Eat them only if you are used to having them on training runs. Otherwise it may lead to a bad tummy.

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Don’t try anything new on the race day! This applies to food, clothes, shoes, everything. I have run marathons in even tees and shoes with holes.

 

And Finally, Enjoy the experience. There is nothing more awesome than running in a new place or even for that matter in your own city. Just simply enjoy the experience than being too much into the run and obsessing over your time taken to finish it. Look around; soak in the surroundings, the energy, the weather. It is an experience and it feels beautiful to go through it. And at the finish line, do not forget to smile and pose.

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Don’t forget to pose for the cameras

How to start running? A few tips for those who want to begin.

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A lot of people often write to me asking how did I begin running. Well, my answer is simple-by substituting a few meters of my morning or evening walk with a slow jog and then getting back to the walk. That’s how I began! You can do the same. Begin with small 1 to 2 km walk-jog-walk routines that you can practice and bring to slightly longer runs over the weekend. And also here are a few easy steps that you can follow.

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Take time out to follow a routine

First, take 30 mins of your time each day and start with run-walk-run, at least 3 times a week. As you get regular after a couple of weeks, try and increase this to about 5 times a week. You can also try one minute of brisk walking, followed by one minute of jogging, and repeat this…

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How to start running? A few tips for those who want to begin.

A lot of people often write to me asking how did I begin running. Well, my answer is simple-by substituting a few meters of my morning or evening walk with a slow jog and then getting back to the walk. That’s how I began! You can do the same. Begin with small 1 to 2 km walk-jog-walk routines that you can practice and bring to slightly longer runs over the weekend. And also here are a few easy steps that you can follow.
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Start running today!!!!!

 

Take time out to follow a routine

First, take 30 mins of your time each day and start with run-walk-run, at least 3 times a week. As you get regular after a couple of weeks, try and increase this to about 5 times a week. You can also try one minute of brisk walking, followed by one minute of jogging, and repeat this 10 to 12 times.
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Apps, fitness bands and smart watches help to give reminders to follow the set routine

Keep it slow

Bear in mind not to go too fast initially. Keep it slow! Now you may ask, how to measure slow and comfortable pace? Well, you don’t really require hi-end gadgets for this. My measurement is simple- you should be able to run at a ‘conversational’ pace. As long as you are able to speak while you run, you are doing fine.
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You should be able to chat with the person running next to you! That is a great, easy pace to follow. 

Gear?

One of the biggest advantages of running is that very little gear is required. But, having said that, runners should invest in a good pair of running shoes. Now, by running shoes, I mean ‘running shoes’.  Not cross-training, not walking, neither basketball nor tennis shoes. But running shoes. There are several good shoe brands available in the market. Drop into your nearest store, and pick a pair you find the most comfortable.
 
For women who want to start running, I would recommend well-fit sports bra, preferably made of a sweat-wicking material to keep you cool. 
A fitness band or digital sports watch is also helpful. Initially, you can do with a basic one, but as you advance in your running and set new time goals you can invest in advanced watches with a GPS, heart rate monitor etc. You can also track your runs through mobile apps.

Will it hurt?

One of the most common questions I get is ‘Will my muscles hurt?’ The answer is yes. Of course, initially, they will hurt. Your legs will feel sore in the beginning, but if you keep up with the routine, the soreness will subside. Having said that, if you feel acute pain anywhere, take a break and stop running for a few days to let your legs recover. This will help prevent injuries and bust the myth “running doesn’t give you bad knees”.
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Your muscles will definitely be sore initially! But that does’t mean that you should stop 

Treadmill, soft loose soil, road or grass?

 
If the question, ‘where do I run?’ is bothering you, my reply is ‘run wherever you can, just do it regularly. Follow a routine’.  Many experts will give you a list of pros and cons for each of the terrains. I personally prefer running outside. But for many, the weather or the surrounding may not be conducive.
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Running downhill on trail

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Running on sand

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Running on soft grass

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Road Running

What should I eat/drink before I step out for a run & during a run?

 
Well, something small like a banana before your run is good. And during your run, you can carry a small bottle of water. Sip, don’t gulp too much water at a time. You can also carry a balanced energy drink like Enerzal & keep sipping it occasionally. It is rich in necessary electrolytes and helps in replacing the vitamins lost through sweat, in order to re-hydrate you better. It is easily available at any chemist store near you. Once again, my tip will be to keep it simple. You don’t really require gels or expensive workout bars at this stage.
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Carry a small bottle and keep sipping water or Enerzal!

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Energy drink such as Enerzal is rich in necessary electrolytes and helps in replacing the vitamins lost through sweat, in order to re-hydrate you better

Am I ready to run a race?

 
Finally, setting a goal to run a race is also a great way to stay motivated and true to your routine. I do it all the time. So sign up for a race a few months away, and work towards a goal. Local races are a great way to start. Choose a race, set a realistic target and get moving. Set small and winnable goals, don’t overdo things, take adequate rest, and nothing can stop you!
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Set a goal and get moving!!!!