Stories, Inspiration, and More

In this free-wheeling page, you will find lots of personal stories – of achievements, injuries, weight loss, nutrition, fitness regimes, and many other things as well. If you have an inspiring story you want to share, do write to us at run@thewiprochennaimarathon.com and we will be happy to talk to you

  • Behind TWCM scenes: Read about the TWCM team, what keeps us going!
  • Race Reports: We all run a lot of local and not-so-local races. Find personal accounts here
  • Fitness Mantras: Everybody has a philosophy about fitness and exercise. Maybe you will like one of them and want to incorporate them into your life!
  • Women Power: Chennai has a strong contingent of women runners. Read some of their stories here
  • Namma Chennai: A weekly series that is a paean to our beautiful city
  • Running Coaches: Read about some of the techniques our talented group of runners are using to motivate and train beginners
  • Rising Superstars: Chennai is home to a lot of runners. Most of us are middle-of-the-pack folk. Some of our young guns (and a few old wolves) are speedy, fast, front runners and prize winners.

Hope you enjoy browsing through our little inspiration corner!

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R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

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The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2013. Has come and gone. Chennai was a ‘Sea of Orange’ according to reports. The Adyar Bridge was covered in the orange TWCM tshirts. Young and old, lean and fat, took to the streets on Sunday Dec 1st. Mark your calendars, people. The first sunday of December, every year, this is it. TWCM.  We will be back next year, and every year after that! Till there is breath in these bodies…

We talked to a few behind the scenes folks to understand, somewhat, what it takes to put on a show like this. 10000 runners. 1500 women. 1000+ volunteers. Blade runners. Wheelchairs. Visually challenged groups. NGOs. Special needs kids. Charity. Prize winners. Photographers. Cheering masses. Police. Doctors. Physiotherapists. An endless list words can’t do justice to.

“Strangely enough, although I was the megaphone wielding start-line official, I didn’t see the full marathon flag off” says Ashwin. Who shouted himself hoarse shepherding over-enthusiastic runners and audience and general hangers-on into allocated areas, so the race could take off smoothly. And on time. On the dot at 5 am. Bosco, a veteran and a very accomplished Chennai Runner, did the honours. “You didn’t have a celebrity?” someone asked us, incredulous.

Bosco is one, as far as we are concerned. His characteristic pink and black singlet, his smiling face, his long loping gait are what we look out for, every race. Currently recovering from a minor calf niggle, this railways man is guaranteed to bounce back to the podium at the Mumbai Marathon. Not that that matters much to us. He is a super nice person, and every participant ought to feel honoured that he was there on stage on Sunday, for Chennai.

“I was in charge of volunteers and route marshals and my duty kept me away from the Start point” admits Mani. Mani, who uncomplainingly carried the burden of a million tiny details related to the race. From guiding the team directing the lead runners through our winding course, to allocating volunteers at strategic locations, to dealing with a few citizens irate at the road closures. Gentle and modest, we have much to thank Mani for. Oh yes, he slept for a grand total of 50 minutes on Saturday night.

Meanwhile our lifetime photographer Ramani sir was up at the highest point in the Indranagar MRTS station, for an aerial view of the race. Wearing an old, ratty, Chennai Runners Tshirt (cause he didn’t get the brand new green one in time), this gentleman has given us many sights and sounds of TWCM. And die-hard Chennai Runners like Mani, Shankar, Hari, Aravind, Kavitha, etc. – who missed the festivities at the start line are immensely grateful for this view through Ramani Sir’s lens.

“It was a humbling experience and I wore the Chennai Runners Official badge with much pride” says Soundarya. With Maha and others, Soundarya was at the Finish line. Watching the finishers – jubilant, feeling accomplished, cramped, in pain, at the point of collapse, being part of the medical team was an emotionally taxing responsibility. Experienced runners always say ‘Respect the distance’ – and on Sunday, this team learnt exactly what that means, right there, within 10 meters of the Finish line.

“10k to the left, 10k to the left, Half marathon to the right” – this dialogue on loop was going through Hari’s mind, hours after the race. Standing rock steady at the Finish point this tall Chennai Runner felt a roller-coaster of emotions. Little did he realise that he would serve as a confession box for many finishers – who poured their hearts out to him, relieved, happy, ecstatic, surprised, and overwhelmed by what their body had led them to achieve. Having recently run his own emotionally charged full marathon at Berlin, and looking out for his wife who was running in her first half marathon, perhaps it was fitting that this stoic man was at the receiving end here!

Ram Viswanathan. Who doesn’t know him? Quiet and unassuming, Guru Ram, is our founder and is a beloved running partner to many in Chennai, always goading us to ‘Do more’. On Sunday, standing there in the CPT ground, for maybe the first time, we noticed tears in this eyes. As his mother, Meenakshi Aunty, finished her 10km race, completing a promise made to her 74 year old self, raising more than Rs.30000 for charity, and fueled entirely by her love for her son and his passion….

Our marathon lasted 7 hours (at least). We are not a professional organisation. What we are is a bunch of passionate runners who are working on realising a common vision. To make Chennai a marathon destination. And all we have going for us is a lot of heart and miles of good intentions. We are grateful to the immense support we have received from you citizens, the police, and our virtual army of volunteers (who are more selfless than one can describe – the trials and tribulations they faced on Sunday, the toil they put in – just mind boggling…).  We are thankful to our sponsors for the faith they put in this motley group of crazy runners.

Most of all, we bow to you, our runners, who overcame many odds to come out there on Sunday to make our vision a reality. To ensure that our windmills are not just mirages glistening in the Chennai sun….

All you need is love

Five days away. The race of the year. TWCM13, here you come! You have trained, hydrated, tapered, looked at all the data on dailymile, taken hundreds of photos (your facebook friends have all but disowned you), and Dec 1st can’t come soon enough now!

If this is your first race-  CONGRATULATIONS! PB (personal best) guaranteed! Get ready, get psyched, while we roll out the red carpet for you. If it’s your second, third, fifth or hundredth race, THANK YOU for signing up for TWCM. We hope you meet all your goals, crack a PB, have tons of fun (and alienate your FB friends further with smiling running photos).

Some quick tips in the run up to race day:

Don’t worry, be happy – Seriously, just chill. You have done the best you can. Spend the next few days pampering yourself – get some extra sleep tomorrow; a gentle run on thursday; finish up work deadlines on friday; pick up your bib, say hi to us, and then go home and put your feet up all day saturday.

Imagine – You have seen the route. There is that flyover. The beach. Gandhi statue. Imagine yourself running along the route. Visualise the start and finish points. Plan your finish line photo pose! Check us out, enjoying Thiru Vi Ka bridge in slow mo!

U Smile - Speaking of which, hone your camera spotting skill. Square your shoulders, flash a smile – no matter how tired you feel, this will help you! Ask this other person who ran the New York City Marathon recently !

Put your drinks up – You are going to sweat till you can sweat no more. It’s Chennai man! Do your body a favour, increase your fluid intake from tomorrow. What’s that? Yeah, it’s ok, ask your family to stop making fun of how many times you go pee.

All my bags are packed – No kidding! Plan every single item you will wear or take with you on race day. Inner to outer wear. Don’t shop for socks now. Wear the socks you are used to in training. Also shoes, shorts, tshirt, cap, bandaids (chafing prevention), vaseline (also chafing prevention), sun-block (if you are used to it), watch, fuel belt, etc. Make a list! Wear nothing new on race day!

The Rain in Spain – A little rain goes a long way. If it rains on race day, embrace the slush & the cooler temps, and if you don’t like getting your hair wet, wear a hat. A light weight one, preferably. Full marathoners may want to request friends to keep a spare set of socks on hand and change mid-way. Step a little more cautiously – especially in wet mud and puddles. Chennai rain (because it’s sort of warm) is really super to run in! Enjoy it!

Just ‘Eat It – It’s recommended that you don’t get adventurous now with food. Stick to things your body knows. For FM & HM runners it may be a good idea to up the carbohydrates a bit. Not to say you should be hitting the French Fries and Onion Vadams. Keep it simple, just enjoy this phase!

What do you think? Are you pumped? Ready to hit the road? Can’t wait? Have any more tips to share – things that work for you in the last few days leading up to a big race? Comments section is open folks!

TWCM13! Everybody! 

The Countdown Has Begun!

We are ten days away from the race of the year. Yes. Ten days. The Wipro Chennai Marathon is bigger and better than ever this year. As you gear up for the big day, whether beginner or veteran, butterflies-in-the-stomach are common. Excitement is a given. A bit of nervousness is not misplaced…

You have trained to the best of your ability. Maybe you had a full, uninterrupted season of joyful running and workouts. Perhaps you were a couch potato and these three months of training have transformed you. You may have missed workouts, picked up an injury (or two or three), feel under-trained, and super worried over all.

Yes, all of it is common. Come December 1, 20000 feet will be out on the streets. You won’t be the only one feeling that way you do! Confident or scared, you will have company! The organisers and volunteers of course, but shoulder to shoulder with you, your friends, compatriots, fellow runners. You will not be alone.

What’s the most important thing you can do today?

MAKE UP RACE DAY GOALS! 

Don’t know what that is? Here is a good place to browse! Very simply put, use the quantitative information from your training; massage in a lot of common sense; give it a nice, engineer’s factor of safety and there you have it!

If you are NOT a beginner, then you may want to stop reading now. For sure, you have your strategies and they work for you because they are your own, and everything is going to be awesome ’cause you are going to get your Personal Best at TWCM.

With a disclaimer that this is not professional advice, for beginners, here is a an example of goal setting.

Goal A: To run the race in a specific time. Many runners set themselves a 60 min target for the 10km race and a 2 hour target for the HM – these numbers are surely arbitrary but somehow very popular. If your training (in particular the long run) indicates that you are close to this (e.g. you ran 15kms in 1:27 last weekend and felt pretty good at the end), make it so. Or maybe you are speedier than this. Or slower. Doesn’t matter. Put a number in your head. And go for it!

If you achieve Goal A, you might become that person on facebook and dailymile that goes on and on about it. It’s fine. People tolerate it. 

Goal B: To run the race in Personal Best timing. If you have run, say, a 10km race in 65 minutes last year, depending on your training, you could look to run in 62 minutes this year, as Goal B. If this is your first race, then use the longest run you have run up to now (you should NOT be planning to run any more super long runs at this time, ’cause the race is TEN days away) to figure out a time that is right for you.

Goal B is the most sensible one. It’s your own thing, after all. And if you crack this, you must go home super happy!  

Goal C: To finish the race. It’s challenging. 10k, 21k, 42k are all long enough distances. On any given day, for any given person, this is a worthwhile goal to put down. Add your own quirks to this. Finish strong. Finish with a smile on your face. Having this as Goal C (instead of another arbitrary time) is one way of demonstrating that you ‘Respect the distance’ !!

Goal C is the absolute best goal in the world. It involves throwing away your watch. Enjoying the experience. Putting mind, body, heart and soul together.

There you have it. An example of three goals you can set in your head, going into the race. Remember – no copying from others! These goals will help you stay focussed on race day. If you see Goal A slipping out of your reach, no worries, there is Goal B yet! The three goals give you attainable and sensible targets, and will serve to motivate you, especially in the second half of the race when your body tires and the initial euphoria wears off…

Or just forget the whole thing and just COME RUN! That’s just perfectly fine too!

(You will be on camera a lot y’know, better practice the “32 intact” look – check out these guys at AHM! Happy Happy Feet on the Street!)

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TWCM13! LET THE COUNTDOWN BEGIN!!

The Festival of Giving

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The festival of lights is just round the corner! As everyone scrambles buying new clothes and electronic goods, why not spare a thought for the underprivileged citizens of our country?

The Wipro Chennai Marathon is proud of the continued association with United Way Chennai, as charity partner. Last year, the TWCM / UWC team’s outstanding efforts raised 45 lakhs for various causes and organisations – from the Spastics Society of Tamilnadu to the Indian association for the blind.

The contributions from TWCM participants touched the lives of scores of mentally challenged children in Chennai & visually impaired students in Madurai, provided scholarships for higher studies to street children in Delhi, and contributed to a better classroom for learning disabled children at V-Excel school.

This year, we hope do even better, at The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2013. Your support and goodwill is, needless to say, the most important component of these fund-raising efforts.

The Pledging Platform

The contributions to various charities can now be made conveniently through the UWC pledging platform. All registered runners can access this platform at the following URL: Sign up to donate

The platform provides the means to – identify a charitable cause that is close to your heart (from the list of registered charities); make a donation yourself (any amount, Rs. 100 and above); request your friends and family to make a donation to your identified cause in your name, and most importantly, stay connected with like-minded individuals as we head towards race day.

What can you do?

If you are a runner already registered for TWCM 2013, irrespective of whether you registered as an individual or through your company, come participate in our fund-raising efforts. Click on this link: United Way Chennai

If you or your friend/family member missed the boat so far and haven’t registered for The Event Of The Year, act fast! TWCM registrations close on Nov 6th! Register to run, and donate! Register here: TWCM Registration

We know that each of us has a cause that is very close to our heart. If you don’t find a charity that you would like to support in our list, do contact us so that we can add them on after due processing at our end; or you could contribute to the general United Way of Chennai kitty, as well.

Little Things

Little drops of water,

Little grains of sand,

Make the mighty ocean

And the pleasant land.

 

Little deeds of kindness,

Little words of love,

Help to make earth happy,

Like the Heaven above.

                                                – (From, Julia Carney, 1845)

With over 10,000 participants expected to hit the roads at TWCM 2013, it is our fond hope that together we can help those members of our society who were not born with the privileges and comforts we all enjoy, everyday.

Let this Diwali be the Festival of Giving. Come sign up for the The Wipro Chennai Marathon, and the United Way Chennai, sign up to make a difference.

 Registrations for TWCM close on Nov 6th at midnight. Already registered runners can continue their fund-raising and contributing efforts till race day, Dec 1st, 2013.

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Have feet, will travel

If there is one thing that can completely ruin a good training schedule, it’s travel. Global village and small world and all that notwithstanding, travel is still painful. Even for people that love traveling, the whole getting-to-train-station-or-airport; waiting; delays; smelly loos; car rides on bumpy roads; new places – still a big challenge, especially for brief visits!

Runners don’t generally fall prey to flu and the common cold and so on, seriously, we are like a mutant immune specie that manages to avoid such common ailments by and large. But even the most robust runner can be floored by air/train food, sleep deprivation, and severe weather changes.

So we asked a few frequent travelers to tell us, what keeps them going, how do they stick to a schedule while being away from home base for small or extended periods of time? It’s all very well to download the Runner’s World 16-week Foolproof Full Marathon plan, but if you are traveling for even 2-3 weeks out of that, it seems virtually impossible to find the rhythm and hit the time/pace/distance goals….

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“Plan ahead”

You know when  you are going to be away. Massage the training plan so that you can do the workouts that are possible to do ‘out there’ – err like running. Which is the easiest thing to do ever. In fact, if you are a very frequent traveler, the best thing to do is to plan the workouts one week at a time – with full knowledge of the schedule.

“Explore new vistas’

Chennai is hot and humid. We like it, our bodies are used to it. But if you are going away, think of it as a chance to experience something new. A  new terrain, different weather, whatever is possible. Sometimes its even a great way to explore the new city you are in – make sure to have a map and not get lost though!

“Beat Jet Lag”

Our international travelers assure us that the best way to completely and thoroughly avoid Jet Lag is to schedule a run soon after you land. A short, gentle run, as your body may feel quite beat up from being squeezed into those cramped seats, stomach may be tender from the aluminium-encased food, and respiratory system may not be at optimal best due to recycled air.

“Lengthen the Stay”

If you have control over your travel schedule, make sure to have a clear morning or two to run. Which means arriving the previous night, not agreeing to very early morning meetings, etc. Of course if you end up meeting old friends immediately after landing in the evening, an early morning run is going to be a little impractical! ‘Cause we all know how that night will go!

“Don’t over analyse it”

Yes, we think our training plan is more important than anything else in the world. But missing a run or two is not the end of the world. If it happens, and is beyond your control, move on! Experts advise not trying to squeeze in a missed workout into a packed schedule.

“Wake up early”

Like the jet lag breaking mantra, another is to use the morning of the journey fruitfully. Wake up an hour earlier and do a shake out run or a nice intense home workout. Your body will suffer the discomfort of travel better, and the endorphins will make you a happier person!

“Pack Smart”

If you are going to spend extended periods of time away, leave a spare running wardrobe there. Else, running gear ought to be the first things you pack in your bag! Aside from shoes, these hardly occupy much space, so no worries there!

“Safety First”

Especially for lone wolves, men or women, it is important to keep safety in mind. We are spoiled by Chennai, running when we please, where we please. All places are not equal, all neighborhoods are not equal. Do read up, ask locals, find a local running group, and carry some ID & emergency cash when you run in a strange new place. Worse comes to worse, just use the hotel treadmill or workout in your room!

“Think Positive”

Many of us manage to balance work travel and marathon training – including back to back travel days. It is possible – your body is definitely capable of it – so believe in it!

Well, these are just some things we do to ensure that travel doesn’t come in the way of our passion. Tell us, what do you do? What works for you? 

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{From The Hindu} Running Unplugged: Part 2

From The Hindu (Metro Plus), Dated 12 Oct, 2013: Link to original article: The route to fitness

The Wipro Chennai Marathon is scheduled for December 1, 2013. In a five-part fortnightly series, members of the Chennai Runners Club discuss and share information on various aspects of running. 

Part Two of the five-part fortnightly series on preparing for The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2013 takes us through some of the running routes in the city

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Bajanai, Chikku Bukku, AlwarpettaiRap, Kutcheri, Gandhi Vanakkam… These are the names Chennai Runners have given to various weekday short runs across the city!

Where is the running trail winding through a forest, trees on either side, a hint of the tropical sun peeking through the leaves? Where is the path with a brook gurgling alongside, rabbits scampering away into the wilderness at the sound of our feet? And mountains, their peaks encased in mist? Where are the places to run in Chennai, people ask us, sceptical.

For starters, there are the beaches. From the iconic lighthouse at Marina Beach, you can cut a straight path all the way down past the Napiers Bridge for an enjoyable five-km run. The sea breeze and the potential for people-watching make this a great option. The Wipro Chennai Marathon 2013

The Elliots Beach is a runner’s paradise, with low vehicular traffic in the mornings and easy accessibility to several areas in this side of town. The straight stretch towards the Velankanni church is where runners often meet and exchange pleasantries.

Meanwhile, across town, over 100 runners meet at the Ashok Pillar for their shot of euphoria, with an occasional gathering in Sivan Park in K.K. Nagar for a yoga session.

For real hill workouts, people congregate on St. Thomas Mount (on Fridays, typically) and run up and down for a tough yet satisfying session. The beautiful straight route near the ICF Stadium, is almost perfect for longer runs. The ‘Bajanai’ route in Nungambakkam offers a short, five-km run. The options are endless — think flyovers and the ‘Chikku Bukku’ route next to train tracks!

On Sundays, while the rest of the world sleeps in, many of us runners meet at the Anna University parking lot at 5 a.m. By 5.15 a.m., the parking lot is empty. We pass through Boat Club, head to Elliots Beach via the quiet lanes of the Theosophical Society. This 10- to 16-km (depending on where you turn back) running route brings us back to Anna University, direct to the canteen for breakfast, and is a must-do item on our weekend list.

“Which is your favourite place to run in Chennai?” we are often asked. There is Anna University, a shaded 2.5-km loop that is quiet and beautiful, with proximity to the 400-mt track for speed workouts. IIT, if you can acquire the pass, is a pleasant break from city traffic. Bemused security personnel at Poes Garden have learnt to tolerate us on our ‘Kutcheri’ run past Narada Gana Sabha and Music Academy and onto the Cathedral Road flyover, another popular weekly staple.

The newspaper- and milk-delivery boys’ cries and the faint sound of Suprabhaatam wafting through the air now mingle with the sound of people running. If it’s early morning, someone in Chennai is running. In Ambattur, Porur, Velachery and Alwarpet, Chennaites have identified running routes, chalked out maps, convinced neighbours to run alongside, found experienced runners to offer advice, and formed local groups.

So, when people ask us, “Where do you run in Chennai?” we tell them, “Everywhere.” And we mean it!

(The writer is Preeti, associate professor, IIT Madras; is an avid runner and blogger; and part of the organising committee of The Wipro Chennai Marathon)