Mumbai Marathon 2010 Training: The Maths of Sport

Okay, here’s my plan for the Mumbai Marathon 2010, written in stone. Not too many days to go, so its better to decide now that leaving it for later. The plan is to target a 4:40 finish with Plan A below, and switch to a sub 5:00 strategy with Plan B in case Plan A looks to be blowing apart at half way point.

Plan Basics

I want to try out my tried and tested 4/1 run walk approach, i.e. run 4 minutes, walk 1 minute. With this strategy, the constant aspect here would be the walking pace, which I have taken to be a constant figure of 9.0 min/km. I am banking on this from my experience since this would be the key to any calculations I make below.

So, once I fix the run/walk ratio and the walking speed, all that remains to be calculated (and followed) is the running pace for any scenario which may come up. I have been able to come up with two possible scenarios. They are not foolproof and there is no surety that when Plan A fails, Plan B would work, but this is the closest I can get to plan realistic possibilities.

Best Case Plan (Plan A) – Sub 4:40 finish

Target scenario: Finish 42K in 4:40. Everything works as per plan.

Run = 4/5 = 3:44
Walk = 1/5 = 0:56

Walk = 0:56/9 = 6.2K
Run = 42 – 6.2 = 36K

Target Run pace = 3:44/36 = 6:12 min/km

Worst Case Plan (Plan B) – Sub 5:00 finish

Target scenario: Run till half way as per plan 4:40 finish plan, and then everything blows up. Objective – try recovery by finishing within 5:00

First 21K in 2:20 or less – Done (assumed).
Remaining = distance 21K / time 2:40

Time (remaining):
Walk = 1/5 = 0:32
Run = 4/5 = 2:08

Distance (remaining):
Walk = 0:32/9 = 3.55K
Run = 21 – 3.55 = 17.45K

Target Run pace = 2:08/17.45 = 7:20 min/km

Analysis Summary

So, there we have it. Two plans, one where I am able to stick to a 6:12 min/km pace throughout the run (tough as nails), and the other, where I am able to do this only for half the distance, and then lower a gear to a 7:20 min/km running pace.

For the record, I did a 2 hour run today with 4/1 and with running pace of 5:40 min/km in the much cooler Delhi weather, and by the end, I was still pretty good, though I am not sure how much longer would I have been able to continue with this. A 35K run with this same strategy next weekend will be a better indication. Adding an additional 30 seconds to the 5:40 pace to make it a 6:10 would be my adjustment for the hot and humid Mumbai weather.

Your thoughts or comments on this? Am I being too aggressive with Plan A, is it really realistic or worth the try – even to the half way point (Note: My personal best in a 42K till date is a 4:38 in Gurgaon Marathon a year back, but in much cooler weather, though I believe I am in better shape now).


Mumbai Marathon training, Badminton and Football

What a weekend it was which just went by! My training for the last few months had seen more downs than ups. Now that I recall, it has been about 50KM of running in the preceding 2 months. Thats right, this includes a fitness check run of 7KM a day before the Delhi Half Marathon, the Delhi Half Marathon on Nov 1st after a month of injury layoff, and then the 3rd Delhi Runners Half Marathon at Jahanpanah Park on Nov 22th.

Finally, looks like things are changing for the better. Within the last 8 days leading up the the weekend, I have done 90KM. This includes the 2nd Running and Living Marathon on Dec 6th, a couple of 9KM practice runs after that, and then a 30KM long run the weekend gone by. My aim is now to do a 30+ KM run every weekend leading up to the taper for the Mumbai marathon, maybe even running a 42KM again in one of those runs.

The 30KM last weekend was done at Rose Garden / Deer Park, a beautiful place to run which I visited for the first time. Lots of trail to run on, and good company of runners all preparing for the Mumbai marathon, so there’s no shortage of motivation and enthusiasm. My calves and ankles seem to be holding well with no recurrence of the pain I have been feeling till now. As always, I could not contain myself on the evening of the 30Km run and played and won a Badminton tournament in my residential society, reeling of 5 matches, including 4 really tough ones within 3 hours.

The next weekend long run is also scheduled for the Rose Garden / Deer Park circuit. I am very excited about that, since I hope to meet a lot of new members of the Delhi Runners group, which has been growing by leaps and bounds, and all group runs have seen increasing participation. In fact, today Mint – The Wall Street Journal also printed an article about running with groups, and which featured Delhi Runners as well.

Well, a month and 2 days to go for the Mumbai Marathon, which leaves precisely 4 weekends in between. Considering a two week taper, I need to put in at least two more 30K+ runs, and maybe another 30K run with a couple of weeks to go.

Oh, and finally before I press the publish button, another thing happened which made this weekend complete and so satisfying. Arsenal beat Liverpool at Anfield for the first time since 2003! Go Gunners!


What am I doing these day?

Well that is, besides writing a lot of posts covering various international marathons. The fact is, I have been trying to keep up with my running as well. This month of fasting gone by was one of the best running and fasting months I had. I hardly missed a run the entire month, and instead of running in the mornings, it was running in the evenings, either before breaking the fast, or after.

The thing which I realized is that without water and after fasting for the whole day, doing the longer runs does get difficult, and you tend to tire out quickly, which for me happened around 9-10KM mark. I guess this long run would probably be equal to a regular 15KM run in effort.

What next, well just about one month to go for the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (Nov 1st). 35 days to be precise. I am training for it well, and hope to get my personal best at the distance. I am looking forward to do a sub 2 hours run, but how far below 2 hours will I go will depend on how much focus I am able to maintain on my running in the days ahead. Lets say I will be delighted with a 1:55.

Nov 1st will also be a special day because that’s when the registrations for the novice runners for Comrades Marathon 2010 start. So, if all goes well on Nov 1st morning, by evening, I should be registered for Comrades as well. And I know I will need all the motivation in the world to keep my date with this 89KM event, scheduled for May 30th, 2010.

I have already registered for the Mumbai Marathon (Jan 2010), so after getting through with the Delhi Half, the next focus would be to get a decent time at Mumbai marathon, since that would also be my qualifier marathon for Comrades. Though qualification can be achieved with a sub-5 hours marathon, but I can’t just target a 5 hour finish and hope things go just as planned, not with Mumbai. So, my target would probably be in the range of 4:40 at Mumbai.

December would also see a couple of marathons in the NCR, the first being the Nov 6th Running and Living Gurgaon Marathon, and the second should hopefully be the Mawana Sugars Indian Open Marathon. I would probably do these as training runs rather than with any time goals, just nice and easy.

So, that’s what keeping me going these days. Mostly. We also organized a couple of group training runs for our running group Delhi Runners. These were organized as Half Marathon runs at Nehru Park, Chanakyapuri, probably the best location for running in Delhi. The first event on Aug 29th had about 35 runners, the 2nd one on Sep 20th had 84 runners, and though I did not run, it was a great feeling getting people together, and meeting such passionate folks from around.


Comrades 2010 Training: June 2009, a month to forget

Well, the title of this post says it all. June was a not a great training month by any means. It started off well with me sticking to the scheduled targets till the middle of the month, and then, well, it was all downhill from there. I had this discomforting feeling in my lower back since the last few months (actually, maybe the last few years), and this seemed to have increased in the weeks gone by, so I though it was probably prudent to go to the doc and have it checked out.

Started it gradually with the X-rays (warmup), picked the pace up gradually with an MRI, and then was trying to sprint to the finish with some Physiotherapy (or so I thought). In the process, I went through three doctors, two of whom immediately ruled out running, one for 21 days, and the other one, for life. Haha! That son of a gun actually said that Indian roads are not good for running, for anybody, so this running business has to stop. So, I went to the third doctor, one who is an expert in Sports medicine. As expected (and probably to cheer me up), he did not rule out running for me (how could he though, he is a sports related injuries expert after all :). So, I returned pretty confident that with some physio, some core strengthening, I will be soon back on track.

Fortunately, none of the doctors considered whatever I have with my lower back as a serious situation, and did not seem too concerned with the X-rays and MRI reports. That was a good sign for me. The physio sessions lasted a week, mostly heat treatment and electrical stimulation of the affected parts. Well, I do not think that after all those sessions, I saw any improvement. What I found a bit helpful however were some core strengthening exercises, which I found while going through the latest issue of the Runner’s World.

Monthly Mileage
Target: 169 KM
Achieved: 92 KM

Key intermediate targets achieved was a 10K run where target pace of sub 5:30/km was comfortably achieved (actual 5:22/km). Towards the end of the month, I had already shifted from the Higdon’s plan, and as July started, Comrades organizers launched the official Comrades 2010 training plan from coach Lindsey Perry (starting July).

Next month: It is already a week into July, and today I seem to have really broken my back. For the last one week, I was trying to stick to the Perry plan. Today morning just as I was leaving for work, bent over to pick my keys, and felt a searing pain in my lower back, and since the morning,  have just been lying on my bed. Things like bending my back no longer look like a doable activity. I wonder if I will be able to get to the road running in a couple of weeks or not. Hoping for the best, and ready for the worst.

Training progress from last month: Comrades 2010 Training: May 2009


Comrades 2010: Official training plan published

Right on cue, the official training plan from Coach Lindsey Parry was published on the Comrades website. Following training plans are available

  • Sub-9 hours
  • Sub-11 hours
  • Finishers plan
The training plans start July 1st! Thats right, officially, training for Comrades 2010 has begun, today (though the first run happens tomorrow). At this point, I intend to go ahead with the Sub-11 hours plan, and will later decide if I continue with this plan or move to some of the others, like those from Don Oliver or Norrie Williamson.