Planning on running a half marathon?

Where we make some excuses for various things but finally give you some useful info about training for a half marathon…

The good people of TWCM surely loved the 10Km training plan post we made recently! A couple of requests for similar plans for the half marathon and full marathon distances threw us over at TWCM Blog Headquarters into a tizzy. All named and unnamed fears about training for long distance races surfaced. Finally, we figured that the solution to all of life’s problems lies in a simple thing called the internet…

In our (sort of humble) opinion, you are ready to train for a half marathon if you have some experience of longish distance running under your belt. Perhaps it would be beneficial if you did actually enjoy running in general, but we know that is sometimes an acquired taste. Assuming this is so, and that you have signed up for the race of the year at our registration page, may we first list a few cautions?

  • Long distance running is tough – as is training for it – make sure you are fully fit to embark on this (admittedly wonderful) journey. Get that annual physical out of the way. Talk to your doctor. 
  • Patience is a virtue – in training for (and actually, even running) long distance races, the patient shall surely inherit the earth. Don’t do too much too soon! It’s neither helpful nor worth it.
  • Rest is best – New runners think they have to run every.single.day. As if you are going to forget it if you miss a day. You won’t. Give yourself sufficient rest, trust us, you will thank us on race day (and for the rest of your life).
  • Cross training – does not mean ‘running’ faster or slower. It’s defined as anything but running. Good options are walking, cycling, swimming. Bad options are TV watching and junk food binges. 
  • Walking in a race – is perfectly fine. We all do it. Don’t worry about it! In fact when you read on you will notice that a special training scheme actually recommends it!!
  • Time Goal – if this is your first race, your main goals should be finish, be strong at the end, and generally be happy and smiley all the time. Save time goals for later!  

There are many places you can go for a training plan for a half marathon. As the number of runners on our roads has increased dramatically over the past few decades, so have trainers and plans. Of course many of the old-timers ‘train themselves’ as well… In this post, we discuss some of the most popular, sort of conventional plans… If you are a beginner, this may be a good place to start learning about the art and science of marathons and half marathons…

  • Hal Higdon is a seasoned, veteran marathoner and author of several books, including the Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide. He has written for the running magazine, Runner’s World, for half a century now! Here you can find his free half marathon training plan for beginners: Hal Higdon’s Plan
  • Jeff Galloway is our personal favourite. He is the ‘inventor’ of the Galloway Run Walk Run routine. He has coached and training hundreds of thousands of runners and is a popular motivational speaker as well. You can check out his free half marathon training plan here: Run Walk Run Plan. 
  • The magazine giant Runner’s World will sell you a training plan – we know of someone who knows someone who likes these plans for sure. Check it out here, read also the detailed explanations there about Easy Runs, Tempo Runs and other such: Runner’s World Training 
  • In recent times, as busy executives and generally over-worked people have voluntarily entered into this recreational running gig, out of interest, for health reasons, etc., there is some focus on training routines that require less time. In this sort of space is the ‘Run Less Run Faster’ program of Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss. You have to understand the system here – and buy the book: Run Less Run Faster Web-Site. This may be something you aspire for for later maybe? After your first half marathon, when you feel like advancing to a full marathon in the Chennai Marathon in 2015? Bill Pierce is visiting India currently so make sure you meet him and look knowledgeable about the “Furman FIRST” program!! 
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To our minds, the above prescribed reading assignment will get you going on training for your first Half Marathon, with a song on your lips. Pick one of the options, and try it out! Make your own spreadsheet, listing what the planned routine is for each day of the week. 

Final Note: Join a training group – in Chennai we have several super options for you, via the most awesome Chennai Runners. Click below and join any of them! If you are in Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Kochi and LOTS OF OTHER PLACES, there are running groups you can join. Trust us, you will fall in love ’cause Runners Are The Best People On The Planet.

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Let’s get this party started!

In which Preeti tries to convince you of the benefits of a ‘training plan’

At this time, we hope that several of you have taken the plunge and registered for a race. Or The Race. Perhaps you are now wondering what to do about it. Treat it like a (painful) Sunday outing in December, or train for it? We don’t need to tell you what is sensible here.

If you ask googlebaba, s/he will tell you all you need to ever know about training for a 10Km race. In fact, s/he will tell you more than you need to know. Before you know it, you are convinced you have ITB, Shin Splints, PF, DAF and Housemaid’s Knee (shout out in the comments if you remember this reference). And you will flit from training program to training program confusing yourself, your neighbours, and your dog in the process.

Well, we are not internet-averse, we admit. In fact, much of our running gyaan is gleaned from there. And a few thousand miles on the road. And unending discussions with our friends. But the culmination of it all is this:

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Download this and give it a spin! The terms are self-explanatory but we would like to re-iterate a few things nevertheless:

  • Consult your doctor and seek his/her approval for a gentle exercise program
  • Buy a good pair of shoes – and socks
  • Find a friend to go on this journey with you
  • Set an alarm or two to make sure you can wake up
  • Eat a small banana before you head out, if you feel like it
  • Carry a bottle of water and take gentle sips

The most important thing to train is your mind, actually. The muscles, legs, knees, all these will fall in place once you set your mind to to making this change in your life! Do keep in mind that this is not a professionally qualified person’s training plan, it’s just some collective wisdom type plan. Listen to  your body’s cues!

Tell us how this worked out for you? We value your feedback! This program is for beginners and you can tweak it a bit if you have a little prior experience! #ThereIsARunnerInYou #TWCM14

-Preeti, with Krishna & Ashwin

Useful links:: The Run Walk Run Method Hal Higdon’s 10 Km Plan 

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Running 101

In which Shiva tells you to begin at the beginning! 

STARTHow do I join the running movement that’s spreading like wildfire in these parts? Everyone faces this question at the beginning (I know I did!). To answer this, I present to you Running 101, a set of tips for those who want to take up running.

1. Sign up for a race: Signing up for a race implies that you have committed yourself towards something. By doing this, you are fixing a goal that is real and visible.

2. Find the right running gear: Find the right type of shoe which fits you. Identify the type of garments that you are most comfortable in while running. Would you want to listen to your music on your MP3 player, or would you want to use your smartphone to double as a music player and run tracker? There is no ‘one size fits all’ method here, but there are certain standard guides and measures to help you make your decision.

3. Run with a group: This is by far the strongest factor which will make a difference to your running. Find a group near your area and start running with them. Running groups typically have people in various calibers training together and the experienced runners take turns in guiding the beginners until they climb to the next level. This is a great chance to meet new people, train intelligently, and most importantly, beat the boredom of running alone.

4. Warm up & Stretch: These are a vital part of running and are often overlooked. We like the experience of the Runner’s High, but not the pain which comes afterwards when we are asked to touch our toes without bending our knees. These warm up and cool down routines are important in avoiding injury. This brings us to our next common topic of discussion…

5. Listen to your body: Let’s face it. We are not Superman. We do not have superhuman powers bestowed by the rays of the sun. We are ordinary human beings who are prone to injury. Running is not injurious, but injuries can happen on account of running. Having good running form, listening to our body, and not overdoing things, coupled with strengthening exercises, will make sure that we stay far away from an injured leg. All runners face injuries. The difference lies in the manner we treat and overcome that.

6. Have fun: This trumps all the other points mentioned above. Running long distances is an experience. We get through the initial struggle to overcome the inertia, followed by the body getting into a rhythmic motion and eventually reaching the “Runner’s zone”. This is what we runners are addicted to. And adding to that, there is a joy in boasting to people that we ran <Insert long distance here> :-)

That’s it! It’s as simple as that! In future posts we will talk about training plans and strength training and so on, in the meantime, be sure to take the First Step!

Happy running, folks!!!

This article is written by Shivram Lakshminarayanan, one of the most charismatic and popular runners on our roads. This enthusiastic “Bessie Flyer” epitomizes “Runners are nice guys” and always manages to make newbies feel welcome & old guns feel special!

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Why we do what we do

In which, we ask you, the reader an important existential question, wind up this portion of the blog and move on to greener pastures..

In the past month since the inception of the TWCM14 blog, we began at the beginning. Why do we do what we do? What is it about running that makes our hearts go boom and ours eyes light up? Why is it that we are willing to endure insanely early morning wake-ups and other such hardships just for the pleasure of a run?

Doc Ram kicked it off with a low-down on the various health benefits of running – be sure to quote him the next time someone walks up to you and says ‘You are thin already, why do you have to run marathons?’ :-)

Have you experienced the runner’s high? It’s a harmless enough condition, we assure you, and perfectly legal and the feel good can last the whole day! Shreya talked us through that important motivator in our running in ‘Riding the runner’s high’.

“Ultramarathon Man” Dean Karnazes is an amazing man. His running exploits are legendary. In his (now kinda old) book “50/50″ available here (amazon), he talks about his experiences running across the 50 states of the US, on 50 consecutive days!

Dean

Our local hero, Ram, who coincidentally is off to run his 50th marathon this weekend, in beautiful San Francisco, regaled us with quips and tips about how he manages to run on his travels within and outside India in ‘Running takes you places

Finally, we diverted your attention to the most important reason running sustains as a hobby. That one true driver of all human actions – yes, yes – SELFIES! Well, photographs in general. Of course, food, a bursting-at-the-seams friends list on FB, and spending quality time with your BFF are reasons, but what’s the point of it all unless it’s captured for posterity, right?

We have tons more to say, but in fact, not much that hasn’t already been said. Like this little gem we found from a professional runner couple’s blogwhy-do-you-run

We know you like to run, which is why you are here, reading our blog, running our race, becoming part of our family. While we regroup and start talking about training and preparation and put together tips and tricks to help you in your running career (oops, hobby), do take a moment to tell us, why do YOU like to run? 

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Smile! You are on Camera!

In which Soundarya & Preeti bring you the ultimate collection of running fun!

All across the country we see running communities building – a group of enthusiastic, optimistic, fit individuals coming together several times a week to spread some joy and make the world a better place. The best part is that this movement is being well documented – for posterity! If you ask us, the best use of Social Media is this. To bring the message that runners are taking over the world! We used the liberty of browsing around on the ‘net to bring you some highlights from recent times.

Scroll on and enjoy this little tribute to you – the smiling faced, colourful runner. And maybe, just maybe, this will serve as a bit of motivation for the sceptic to enter our fold?

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Are you a foodie? Well, this is just a sample of the foods that were recently consumed by runners, early in the morning, after their sweaty workout. While cakes to celebrate birthdays and special occasions are the norm, fruit, laddoos, brownies also feature. Denizens of Chennai are not above a quick shot of sambar, idli & masala vadai either! If you like food, we suggest you come join us for a run, assured of a treat after!

 

 

 

Chow-Dance

 

 

Runners are gawky, serious individuals with no sense of fun, right? WRONG! Check these guys out, getting their groove on! Marathons and running events are party time, people! Give us some music – perhaps some drums – and watch us move! 

 

 

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Love neon? Well, funky bright clothes in all colours of the rainbow – stuff you cannot DREAM of wearing to your office or college, are the norm for runners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although some prefer another look entirely – something that will SURELY not work in a board room. :-)

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No one reading your motivational messages and inspirational quotes on your facebook page? We have the solution for you!  You always have at least 10 friend requests after a run, you can take an awesome selfie, you have several photos to post on your Facebook profile everyday, your photo is liked, commented upon, and shared within seconds of uploading – just by listening to your alarm today!  

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Chow-Relationships

 

 

 

 

 

 

And last but not the least, those relationships that you hold close to your heart? Spouse, child, BFF, well, you find new ways to celebrate them. Check out these happy happy folks here – from a sense of accomplishment at completing a tough feat, to just plain joyousness at spending time together – these runners are over the moon! 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it, not a dour face in the house. We know running is healthy, it builds character, makes us stronger, keeps life-style diseases at bay, blah blah. But all that hardly bears thought because we all know that running is, and us runners are, FUN! Do share your fun and happy moments with us in the comments section!

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Running Takes You Places!

His legions of fans vicariously enjoy his trips, and his reports of the myriad races he has run. “The Monk” Ram took time out of his busy travel schedule to share with us the coolest things he has encountered over the course of his running career…

We all take to running for a variety of reasons and the benefits are plenty.  To see what motivates others to run, I did an unscientific experiment.  I pulled random paragraphs from a few posts on the net talking about why people run.  I put these blobs in to a word cloud engine for sentiment analysis and look what it threw up.

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I was pleasantly surprised to see the ‘prominence’ of Travel in the word cloud. (The size of word reflects how often it was found in the given text). Of course, I have no disagreement with this!

Running has clearly taken me to places that I wouldn’t have dreamt of going otherwise, both locally and internationally.  In fact, I ran my first marathon in Singapore by squeezing out time between my business trips in 2005.  And I might get to run my 50th marathon later this month in San Francisco if my business travel firms up.   In fact, whenever an International business trip shows up on my calendar, the first thing I do is to look for a running event close by.

Last year I was able to run two marathons in beautiful Switzerland that way.  Though I had passed through Geneva several times, I didn’t visit the city till I ran a marathon there.  Similarly, the majestic Matterhorn would have never been on my list had it not been for the Zermatt Marathon.

RamPic2 I try get out for a run as soon as I reach a new place.  It helps me a) get out of jet lag faster b) familiarizes with the local surroundings and weather  c) locate a convenience store in case food emergency.  That last one is very important, as many countries I visit are not vegetarian friendly.  So, its good to know the whereabouts of the nearest ‘potti kadai’ to get some fruits & vegetables as the last resort or in some cases the only option.

Running also helps see places with a new perspective.  Many business travelers refer to business trips as the ‘triangle of death’; meaning all their time is spent in just shuttling between Airport – Hotel – Office with no time for much else.  But squeezing some time for a run or even a quick stroll in a new place will show the city in an entirely new light.  The sights and sounds of the city will be very different on foot.  I get a much better feel of the local culture and people by being part of the crowd than by gazing at them from a car.

That’s how I discovered Shenzhen Bay during my last visit to China.  I had been to Shenzhen many times and taken the majestic bridge to cross over from Hong Kong into China.  But got to marvel the colossal bridge only when I saw it from Shenzhen Bay.

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This time, after losing my way a little bit, I found Shenzhen Bay and it was worth the labor. With an awesome view of the bridge, miles of track and umpteen recreational options, Shenzhen Bay was buzzing with people. The vibrancy of the place rubbed off on me and I ended up doing a half marathon instead of the originally planned 10km!

Some might call it the hazard of running in a new place, but I consider ‘getting lost in a new place’ fun and part of the game (as long as you don’t get in to trouble!). I have gotten lost in many places but always end up discovering something new like a place to eat or see. But three things are essential before venturing out in a new place; a) Photo ID, b) Hotel address in local language & c) cash. With these and some basic sign language, I mostly find my way back even if it means a few extra kms of running!

So friends, next time you are going somewhere, do take your running gear with you. Go for a run and do your own discovery of the new place. And, do remember to share your experiences with us. Remember, you can always Do More & Start Running.

This article is penned by Ram Viswanathan

Ram Viswanathan is a co-founder of Chennai Runners, and an IBM distinguished engineer. A ‘late bloomer’ as he calls himself, he started running in his forties. Not that you can tell, considering the sheer number of marathons he has run, in so many countries of the world. A beloved mentor, running partner and friend to many, Ram’s facebook page is a treasure trove of running photos. He blogs here on various topics including running, marathons, techie stuff, and Chennai! 

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Riding the Runner’s High

In which Shreya, our newly minted speed queen from T. Nagar, talks about ‘Runner’s High’ and traces her personal journey towards it…

The throbbing sensation builds, creeping from the ankles through the lower calves, and slowly but loudly into the backs of the knees. Mouth parched, sweat dribbling from every bodily curve possible. A barricade emerges ahead, pump-up music playing in the distance, the bright finish line tape waving in the breeze, urging the body to keep pushing and make it to the end.
RunnersHigh(from: http://rumpusrunning.com/product/runners-high-tshirt/)

All of a sudden, somewhere in the brain gears shift, clicking into a zone, slipping into realm where all that exists is the body and the ground beneath. Arms and feet are at once weightless and an overwhelmingly strong yet unspecific happiness washes over all the aching limbs, powdery sweat, and cramping toes. At last, the road ends, the body slows, and bliss sets in.

Is it the finish line that brings on this outer-body like sensation? Is it the feeling of finally achieving those extra km that were once a dream? Or could it be the shear movement of the limbs that trigger our ancestral genetics, the biological code that crowned us the bipedal kings?

According to experts ranging from veteran runners to genetics specialists and psychologists, it could be any or all of the three, not to mention other bodily and psychological factors. As Scientific American tried to explain in an article behind the hard science of ‘runner’s high’, “for some people it’s highly emotional, for some it’s peaceful, and for some it’s a burst of energy”.  The article mentions however, scientifically speaking, there is a common thread. The release of endogenous opioids at some point in physical or even in some cases extreme mental exertion  leads to other sensation-related changes. While the the actual receptor paths and areas affected are still largely speculation, the effect is real. For example, there is a direct correlation between opioid production and its catalyst effect on the release of dopamine, leading to potential dampening of pain and increase in positive feeling.

While the ‘whats and hows’ are still debated by researchers, one conclusion remains the same. The benefits of engaging in running at any level, letting the body act and sync into its natural rhythm, and drawing the mind towards the movement allows the invaluable luxury of getting a slice of mental and physical unity. It is the most innate way to bring ourselves closer to our bodies and to the essence of a purely happy state.

This article is penned by Shreya, who is featured here – being on the podium is sure to give you that high!! 

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Shreya is a new resident of Chennai who joined the T Nagar Trendsetters chapter of Chennai Runners a couple of months ago. She already feels a part of the clan and is now a very regular runner, meeting every morning for different types of runs and training in Panagal Park. Prior to moving to Chennai, she ran out of personal interest but not consistently. Joining the group has changed and improved both her running and her focus on the sport. Shreya‘s professional and academic background is in exchange traded funds and derivatives investment data/research.
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To run or not to run

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(seen here: Lata Bhagwan Kare, 61-year old winner of a 3Km road race! Check out this link !)

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”
― John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner’s Guide to the Joy of Running

“Be careful about your knees, Kanna!” Paatti might say when you tell her about your weight-loss plans involving long-distance running. “Besides, why do you have to lose weight? Is some girlfriend telling you that?” she might add sympathetically, ignoring the fact that your forty-eight inch waist is stretch-fitted onto a five-and-a-half foot-tall frame!

While a tolerance of “plumpness” and an exaggerated fear of injury may inappropriately dominate the mind-set of many well-meaning non-runners, the marathon fanatic’s belief that running is the panacea for all ills from bunions to bed-sores is also an exaggeration. The truth is somewhere in between, surprisingly closer to the fanatic’s POV than to dear Paatti’s!

Long distance running is an excellent way to lose weight. Though we have always been told that weight gain bears a simple numerical relationship to the difference between the calories consumed as food and the calories expended during exercise, we now realize that this is too simplistic. All forms of exercise are not equal and the intensity of the process has strong implications on extent of weight loss. Running, as the most common form of vigorous exercise, is far more efficient than, say, walking an equivalent distance. Additionally, runners find it easier to maintain their weight loss. In a study of middle-aged recreational runners, the rate of the weight gain that is commonly seen with aging was slowed down by nearly a half in those who maintained about 50 kilometres of running in a week.

The health benefits of weight loss are myriad mainly by directly influencing blood pressure control, preventing the development of diabetes and by effects on cholesterol levels that contribute to overall cardiovascular fitness.

Running also prevents weight-related wear and tear on the hip- and knee-joints and plays a pivotal role in reducing the risk of degenerative arthritis. Paradoxically, Patti’s concern about your knee is misplaced, as running actually reduces your risk of crippling joint problems! Interestingly, this reduction in arthritis (and subsequent joint replacement surgery) seems to be more pronounced in runners than either walkers or individuals who indulge in other (non-running) high intensity sport.

Even lean individuals benefit from running. Independent of its strong effect on weight loss and maintenance, running has benefits in thin people too. Thus the favourable effect on blood pressure is as prominent in thin people as it is in the obese runner. Similar effects have been reported in the development of diabetes where a threshold distance of greater than eight kilometres a week reduces the incidence of the disease in middle-aged men by about 85%. Recent studies suggest that the longevity of patients with breast cancer is increased by running. Most of these health benefits are seen to increase in proportion to the distance run.

However, this does not mean that unlimited running is harmless!  As any runner will tell you, injuries (even to the Patti’s proverbial “knee”) are common when you overdo the exercise. These injuries are often not serious or permanently crippling and occur in the muscles, tendons and soft tissues of the legs. Systematic stretching and strengthening exercises can minimize such injury but a logical limitation of your running, keeping your physical capacity in mind will keep you from unnecessarily hurting yourself.

Yes, I too dream of sharing the podium with Meb Keflezighi, but given my physical prowess, age and lack of talent, I would seriously hurt myself attempting to do so. If I want to enjoy a lifetime of injury-free running, I should rather be encouraging Patti to be my running partner, while watching Meb’s exploits from a safe distance on the television!

Competitive running is for the talented few; but recreational running is for all! There are far too many benefits to running to give it a pass in this life!

This article is penned by Dr. Ram Rajagopalan

Ram is an Intensive Care Specialist and recreational runner who is passionate about his job and his hobby. He regrets the fact that many who are admitted to his intensive care unit have been unlucky not to have recognized the health benefits of dedicated exercise at an appropriate time in their lives. He doesn’t want to miss the boat too!

 

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Hello, World

It is commonly believed that the words “helloworld” were first used by Brian Kernighan in a starting example program for aspiring computer programmers in his 1978 book with Dennis Ritchie, “The C Programming Language’. The phrase itself was used earlier by Brian in 1972 in his introduction to the B programming language. History apart, the phrase “Hello World” has fired the imagination  and gently provided the first wobbly, tentative steps on the fascinating journey of computer programming for many generations of programmers.

Hello” and  “World” – 2 small and unassuming words. Yet, together, they’re unmatched in their power to present an invitation to a new, exciting existence where joy and achievement abound. An existence filled with adventure and unknown challenges, yet promising the sweet pain of ‘learning by doing’.

It is no surprise then that we at The Wipro Chennai Marathon have chosen to kick off the 2014 running season with this “HelloWorld” invitation to you. If you’ve never run before, you’ve come to the right place. Say “Hello” to the brave, new world of distance running and set forth boldly on this journey of training, sweat, pain (possibly), camaraderie, quiet contentment, but above all, self-discovery. If you’ve run before, shout out “Hello” then to us as you start on that first LSD run of the season. You’ve been there, done that before, but the journey has to be started afresh, every season, every race, for every one of us.

Registrations for the 2014 edition of The Wipro Chennai Marathon are now open on our website and we would love for you to come see this little world of us runners. So, register now.

Also, stop by this blog every once in a while and say “Hello” to us. We’ve put together an eclectic blog team which will try its best to demystify the process of training and running a marathon for you over the next 5 months. We will talk about choosing running shoes, building your own training plans, hydration strategies, blackened toe nails, the power of the ‘squat’ and much, much more. So, “Hello World”…

 

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The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen!

The moment you have been waiting for will soon be here!

Registrations for your favourite marathon will open soon!

Watch this space!

(Feel free to read through the posts from TWCM13 below!)

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