It was when he started putting on weight, his Body Mass Index (BMI) touched 32 and his doctor warned him to reduce weight immediately that he began looking for options. He tried swimming and working out in the gym but could not sustain it for long. Soon, he took to jogging and tempo runs which helped him reduce weight. And he took it up forever.
“I lost eight kilos in two months. By that time, I started running up to 5 km every day. So I stepped into the world of long distance running with my first 10k run in November 2016. And the journey continues,” shares Kolkata resident Sourav Kashyap works as a senior analyst with an IT giant. An economics graduate with an MBA in finance, Kashyap moved over to long distance running right after his first 10k. “I registered for 21k in Airtel RFE 2016 which I completed with help of a pacer Tushar Tripathi (known as Mahaguru in Kolkata’s running community),” says Kashyap.
His challenge was Tata Steel Kolkata 25k 2016 where Kashyap found it difficult to run the last few kilometres. “This made me realise that I have to scale up my training so I started running over 80 km weekly. This helped me comfortably finish my next challenges – TATA Steel Bhubaneswar Half Marathon 2017 (first outstation run) and IDBI Kolkata Full Marathon 2017 (Half Marathon).
When asked whom did he start training under, Kashyap says, “I stared training alone as I had no exposer to Kolkata’s running community. I met the city’s running legend Jaydev Raja aka J Bro while he was practising for his 100 miles Ultra. This brief meeting changed my life as I started looking beyond a full marathon distance. Also, he agreed be my mentor for this format of running. I was gradually introduced to my running buddy, Saurav Bhartia, and Chao sir (Chao Lengdon Chaocing), an ex-army man, both trained for my pace and running techniques.”
On how much hard work goes into becoming a long distance runner, he says, “A strong mind plays a vital role to become a long distance runner as a strong mind decides how fast we reach our target. Along with it one needs discipline and dedication as the body takes time to adjust to intense and disciplined training.”
But not many have heard about stadium runs in India and how is it different from a marathon? “Stadium run is a very different format as its tests mental strength and endurance. A runner keep running on a 400 m track continuously for hours clocking ultra-distances where he gets to see the same track, the same scenery and has the same set of co-runners. It requires good mental strength to run and successfully complete the targetted distance.
Kashyap’s advice to youngsters wanting to take up long distance running is that they should train gradually with small distances like 10k and 21k. “Once they are comfortable with these distance then try a full marathon and step in the world of stadium runs. The target should be continuous improvement and beat yesterday’s performance,” advises Kashyap for whom fitness is like worshipping the body. “A healthy body homes a healthy mind. If we love and respect our body, we get the love back,” he says.
Five things a long distance runner should keep in mind
- Injury free running: It’s important to run injury free during our events and practice runs. Long distance should be logical at times. We may have to sacrifice short-term goals to remain injury free and to achieve long term goals.
- Know Your Body (KYB): Long distance is an extreme sports so all training plans may not suit everyone. We have to try and then choose the best training plan as per our body needs and capacity.
- Listen to your body: We need to ensure that we have sufficient rest along with workout. Our body indicates when it’s not getting required rest. Listen to your body and complete the weekly rest quota without fail.
- Diet: We generally think that if we run long distances, we need no control on our diet. But diet comprises of over 50% of our performance improvement. Also, diet for a bodybuilder and a long distance runner is different so one should not get confused. A runner’s diet needs to have a good amount of healthy cards along with protein and vital nutrients.
- Clothing and hydration: We need to ensure that we dress in comfortable running attire and hydrate ourselves before, after and during the runs. A comfortable and well-fed body helps us gain extra kilometres or comfortably finish the target distance, depending on the run format.