This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Long run, hyderabad half marathon and art of living

Any distance above 5km, whether it be half marathon or marathon needs one essential ingredient in the preparation to it: Long run. This aspect of the training program is the one which will see you finish the distance. Saturday is the day I have designated for the long run, mostly because of convenience and also as a mode of stress release after a week's hard work(sometimes atleast!).
One of my friends had asked me a funny question as to whether I wouldn't get bored during a one and a half hours run!!!! I thought about the question yesterday during the run and found that I was concentrating on form and speed and that the scenery was changing every moment inside the campus - No time to get bored!! Yeah if I were to do 16kms in the stadium itself, that would be tantamount to doing 40 laps(400m each).. that
could be stressful...

33 days to go to the hyderabad half marathon and I feel I can comfortably finish it in 1hr 45 mins - 1hr 50 mins, with my current training program of around 40 kms a week, which also includes some speed work(interval training) and progression runs(start slowly at 11kmph and finish fast at 15kmph) which are mostly around 8kms. Progression runs are the best part of my training as every moment I am faster than I previously was and it is nice to finish
fast as if it were a race.

There is this concept called runner's high, where you get a real high (just like drinkers and drug abusers experience), which comes usually as a feeling of light footedness, just like you were floating or flying, and yeah, you feel invincible when that occurs. I have experienced this high ocassionally, especially when I feel my body can't take anymore, and then after some period of intense pain, all of a sudden my mind takes over the body and the body simply
obeys...ultrarunners experience this often..they go into transcendental states during hours of running or sometimes days, as the case may be..that's quite another story....
One of Patanjali's 8 yoga instructions, hatha yoga or simply yoga, as is commonly known, has a component called pranayama. Pranayama literally translated, means "the control or exercise of prana". Prana is believed to be the life-giving force or vital force that sustains all the living beings, the elements, etc and is present in the whole of universe. Every person has the ability to tap into this reservoir of life-force and pranyama uses this to full effect: The medium through which prana can be tapped by a person is simply 'breathing'..and hence the focus on various breathing patterns used in pranayama.
The asanas in yoga, also involve breathing out, breathing in and holding the breath(rechaka, puraka and kumbhaka respectively) which is done in sync. with the asana itself - that makes these yoga asanas more powerful than normal aerobic exercises.

Even during running it feels really good after sometime into the run, when the breathing has become even and everything feels calm and serene. Most of the runs which are run at a steady pace throughout, leave me refreshed at the end..attribute it to the workings of prana!!!

There were some guys who had come to give a talk on the 'youth empowerment service/programme ' (YES) in our hostel today. YES is an initiative by the founder of the 'Art of living' programme, "Sri Sri Ravi Shankar", which aims at bringing out leaders and inspired individuals to build a better India, a few years down the line - A noble cause I say. The course is 7 days, 4hrs a day, duration and revolves around effecting a change in an individual,
through a technique known as 'Sudarshan Kriya', which I suspect is more or less related to pranayama, but nonetheless a practical and doable path to acheiving the 7 qualities of a leader, that one of the guys had discoursed in length about. I haven't done the course, but I have watched a programme aired on one of the channels, which was a satsang by 'Sri Sri Ravi Shankar'. There was a question-answer session at the end of the programme and most of the
questions were what is usually asked such as,' How to acheive more happiness?'! and ' How to get peace of mind?' , very relevant to today's fast paced world - what appealed to me was the way the guru fielded these questions - His answers were always accompanied with a radiant smile, which gave an impression of him possesing the quality of a 'child's innocence' and the intellect of a 'wise man' - a deadly magnet for those who attend his sessions - Infact, a recent satsang given by him at the Anna University was a huge crowd puller, only matched or rivalled by a rock show!!!

Today's talk given in the common room of our hostel, has rekindled my enthusiasm for doing pranayama, which I learnt during yoga classes way back in 5th class and had conviently given up practising hence..More about it later.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Intro, fundaes, religion and materialistic pursuits.

This is the time of the year (odd semester) when first yearites aka 'freshies' are given a warm welcome by the ever helpful and knowledgeable seniors. This process, which we normally refer to as something else shall be referred to here as intro session. The process starts spontaneously, as the curious 'freshie' infringes into the wings( long corridors with adjoining rooms.) of the seniors and hence is causht for a session. These intro sessions are meant to sting the freshie a little, but are more to do with clearing many doubts he might have in mind and also to put some additional 'fundaes' about life in general and in iit. Though thoroughly entertaining to us, the freshie learns to be more expressive and creative and also expand his network of friends. He also gets guidance regarding academic life here and some strategies to better his performance. More than anything else, he is made to feel at home by familiarising the local lingo and other idiosyncrasies relevant to hostel life....At the end of it all, he gets an apt nickname based on his creative statements or answers to the questions posed, which shall stay with him for the 4 yrs of his life here.
So having had an intro session with one freshie and wishing him good luck, my friend and me indulged in another one of our numerous 'late night fart sessions'. The topic which was mundane initially, steered back to the subject of religion, materialistic life and spirituality. We were sighting numerous stories and instances, and remincising and reflecting on our past experiences in the spiritual realm. My friend was telling me, that of late, he was being drawn to spiritual stuff and that it scared him. On deeper questioning, he revealed to me that as a lot of people were skeptical of religious practices, he also felt like questioning them rather than just believe them...
One of the issues commonly raised is that of the existence of multiple gods in Hindu religion(It would be wrong to call Hindu a is a 'way of life' for many people) as against in other religions. Multiple gods are only to depict the multiple facets and qualities of the all-powerful single soul or 'atman'., i.e. they are different manifestations of a single life-force (analogy is that of the different forms of energy - light, sound, etc.).


Where does happiness lie? materialistic pursuits or somewhere else....The answer to that would make life really simpler.Vedas talk of "within and without"....
"Those who take refuge within, are within(full of) happiness and those who are after the 'without'(material pursuits) are 'without'(without happiness)". There is a story in this context which is oft repeated...There was a farmer in a village doing things a farmer would do normally. A businessman who was passing through the village, saw the farmer toiling in the fields in the hot sun. Taking pity on him, the businessman approached the farmer and struck up a conversation....
Businessman(B): You toil in the fields all day in the hot sun and all you get is pittance at the end of the day. Is this the life you seek?
Farmer(F): Yes, I am happy doing farming.
B: But you are young, you could go to the city and set up a business and lead a better life.
F: Ok, tell me, what would I do after setting up a business?
B: What a silly question is that..Ofcourse, you would have access to many things like a good house, vehicle, etc.. which can be bought by the profits you make.
F: Ok, what after buying them?
B: You use them to your benefit and keep expanding your business .
F: What after expanding my business?
B: You sell more goods and profit more and hence can afford great luxuries.
F: Ok, what after all that?
B: What do you mean? You save up enough money for use after retirement.
F: What after that?
B: You are beginning to irritate me..You will obviously lead a life of peace with the money saved to take care of your daily expenses and maybe pursue a hobby or two like farming or gardening in your backyard and be happy.
F: Isn't that what I am happily doing right now?

The essence of this dialogue is that, advancement in technology and the accompanying 'development' could improve the standards of living of a nation, but the question to be asked is would people be more happy than before due to this 'development'?
No one has ever claimed that he has been forever happy due to the riches he has accumulated and the luxuries he can afford, but time and again, saints have stated that eternal bliss is "within" and not "without".

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I haven't really been having a good time the last 2 days, especially taking rest all day in my room....But I have been able to avoid a few other things I would normally have to attend to....Classes, meeting my project guide, and a seminar too. The real irritating thing about the combination of cold, fever and dry throat is..You are feeling hot and stuffy, but can't increase the speed of the fan. You try to take rest during the day and fall asleep eventually but get up abruptly after some wierd dreams that don't make any sense......
As the condition of my throat worsened, I was forced to visit the famous Institute hospital for which we pay an insurance every semester(similar to CGHS)....The hospital is really large area wise, but only two storeys tall and is well camoflauged with all the greenery around. As I took my prescription booklet from the reception and sat down in the waiting lounge, I casually browsed through the booklet, and noticed that I had last visited the hospi 1 year back and that I had visited the same hospi atleast a 10 times during my 1st and 2nd year...whew!!... My room mate in the first year had asked me once as to why I fell ill so frequently..I had no answer(I didn't frequently run then??).....
The other day when I was having a casual discussion with my guide, I mentioned that I never fall ill these days..perhaps I was too over confident or maybe it was a sign that I was going to fall sick (what is commonly called 'nazar lagna'), but that's exactly what happened.

Falling sick is not a great thing, but atleast I get a warning when its coming... !

Friday, August 05, 2005

Carnatic music rocks!!!

My tryst with carnatic music has had an early beginning. My grandma would listen frequently to the songs by M.S. Subbalaksmi and the music slowly grew on me. Carnatic music is such a genre, where liking it initially is the tough part, but once you start liking it, you fall in love with it. Mandolin Srinivas's instrumental music cast a spell on me one day while I was studying in 11th with the music playing in the background. After coming here, I have been able to appreciate other instrumentals like violin(T.N. Krishnan), saarangi(Sultan Khan) , Vichitra veena, etc..but Mandolin still remains my favourite and I plan to learn the instrument one day.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Favourite movies in recent memory

These are some movies I have watched in the last year or so that have really had an impression on me or are simply awesome.....

1) Before sunrise
2) Before sunset
3) Forrest Gump
4) The Terminal (Brilliant direction..the movie grows on you as it progresses)
5) Scent of a woman (Fabulous acting by the old man)
6) Enter the new dragon (Great fight scenes and chases)
7) Butterfly Effect (Chaos al)
8) Anbe Sivam (Great camarderie between the two actors)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Home away from home

Having stayed at IITM for atleast 4 years, home is synonymous with my room, comp and the ever comfortable bed. Ofcourse, the one thing lacking here is good food for which I had to take recourse through a short break to Hyderabad.
The one good thing about my dwelling at hyderabad is that it is located in the outskirts and has a rustic, laidback feel to it. The added fact that it was monsoon time, transformed the place (as I saw it) into a lush green belt, comprising large expanses of fields and open grasslands all around . This could only mean one thing to me; my running experience would be enhanced with all the visual treats to distract me from the rigors of running and pave the way for enjoyable memories.
One of my runs has peculiarly stuck in my memory.....Transmission lines passing above , supported by towering transmission towers every few 100 metres, humming their own tune, threaten to snap at you; not a soul in sight and the path is undulating and strewn with cobblestones. Its getting dark and I am still a few miles from home, my shirt is soaked full of rain water accumulated over the last 45 minutes, and I hear rustlings in the nearby bushes. Dogs howl in the distance sending a chill up my spine...Good thing, I have been on this trail before, for if I were to stray from the path and get lost, spending a night here wouldn't be a great idea.
This once happenend the last time I was here and because I had chosen the wrong trail from the main road, I had to rely on my instincts, passing through fields and searching for used trails, keeping a look out for any signs of human life and most importantly not stopping from getting too tired running all through..That day I had reached a temple and I was really relieved. I soon saw some workers nearby and they directed me to the nearest main road. I reached home, albeit a little late - 1 hr to be precise.
Trail running is a unique experience as against running on roads or in the city and much more satisfying than the latter. I would be back in Hyderabad hopefully, for the proposed half marathon to be held on september 24th at the stroke of midnight..

Kennenisa Bekele with the WR

Robbie Mcewen and steve o'grady - The 'Nudge'