10*10: A perfect base for building endurance
“Oye tu 10*10 kyu nahi try karta” (Why don’t you try 10*10), said the guy, Jagdish, standing next to me in the left picture below and before I could respond to him, most likely by saying “Paagal hai kya bhai” (Are you mad bro?), another friend of mine supported him and added, “yeah it would be fun Yash”. This guy is an ultra runner and his definition of “Fun” is totally different from mine. We fondly call him “Guru Ji”
But, since I was running almost 45 to 50 KM per week, varying my distance and pace daily, doing some strengthening in between my runs and taking proper rest, this idea did not seem to be that bad and I decided to go for it.
First two days were good and I felt strong and fresh after the run. Since it didn’t feel that difficult, I decided to put on ankle weights and run and that is what I did on day three. The pace was slower than the first two days, but it was something new, so the third day also went well.
But the morning of day four was not at all friendly. The first thought that came to my mind was, “I am going to run the same distance, on the exact same path again, and not only today but for the next seven days. Could it be any more boring?”. But, since my reputation was at stake I got up and went out for the run. Throughout the run, I was trying to divert my mind by thinking about all the possible irrelevant things in the world. Apparently, that was not enough, because after running out of all the thoughts, I realized that there are still 3 more kilometers to go. So I cursed both of my friends and somehow finished the run. Day five was even worse, I was reluctant to go out and for the first time in these five days, I felt tired before the run itself. But as it was a daily routine so I started throwing my legs forward one after the other on the road and finished the run.
To my surprise, day six was refreshing and there was no feeling of reluctance, rather I was excited to go out and start the run. The same route that was killing me with boredom, had filled me with elation. Since I was running on that route from past 5 days, so I had marked the milestones for every Kilometer, in my mind and every time I used to run past that point, I used to check the distance in my app and feel very proud of myself and this tiny little skill of remembering that milestone. After finishing that day, I decided to run in the evening for the next four days.
On day seven, I ran on the same path for the last time and last three days I ran in my office. I asked my crazy ultra runner friend to give me the company for the next 3 days. Since this thing is “Fun” for him, he happily signed the agreement. The last three days were the best in this challenge. Not only because I had company, but also because my body had been adapted to this distance now and I did not have to divert my mind by thinking about futile things; rather I focused on my breathing and posture. On the last day, I ran freely at a very good pace and finished this challenge with a strong 500m sprint.
There were many important takeaways from this challenge:
1) This is the best workout to build up your endurance.
2) This is the best way to reduce body fat.
3) Nothing can beat this workout in reducing weight.
4) Since your whole body is engaged in it, it is the best way to tone your muscles.
5) Best way to set up a firm base for your half marathon.
6) It gives you a sense of distance, time and speed. Believe it or not, after running daily your mind will automatically start guessing your distance and current pace, even if you are going to the nearest grocery store from your home.
Since there is a lot of effort involved in it and you do a lot of physical work, you need a proper recovery, which not only involves the sleep but also the pre and post-run workout and your nutrition.
As far as sleep is considered, I was sleeping for 6.5 to 7 hours daily with few power naps on my desk.
Pre and Post-run workouts are not only helpful but necessary too. After a long run, your whole body becomes stiff, especially legs, they become heavy.
Because of the continuous running for almost 50 minutes, the circulation of blood to our upper body gets reduced. We hit the ground with every stride and it is our joints that bear the maximum punishment.
So we need to do something to reverse this impact and that is why we do stretching. It may be static or dynamic, both having their own advantages. Although, experts recommend doing dynamic stretching before the run and static afterward. The main point is that we relax our muscles after all the hardships that they have faced during the run.
We all know the importance of fuel to run a machine. So to make your own machine run smoothly we need proper fuel.
We can’t fill diesel in a petrol car and expect it to go smoothly. Similarly, we can not keep feeding all kind of junk to the body and expect it to work like Mo Farah’s. A proper nutrition is a must to keep your body moving.
I used to include dry fruits, milk, dalia, oats and seasonal fruits in my breakfast, home-cooked food for lunch and raw vegetables such as carrot, beetroot, cucumber, tomato, etc. along with dinner. I maintained a good distance from oily stuff and kept a healthy relationship with organic food. An extremely important and most often ignored thing is water. During a run, our body sweats a lot and we lose a lot of water and minerals with that. So I kept myself well hydrated throughout the day and had a glass of lime water with sugar and salt, after the run.
To conclude this experience, I must say that on the last day, I felt it was indeed a great idea to take up this challenge, to test and build my endurance. I take my curse back as well!