The Ladakh Marathon 2017 – An Overview

I participated in this race during the second week of September. It is quite a genius plan by the organisers, as it ensures more tourists and travellers in September, a period where tourism has started slowing down due to the temperature drop.

This particular race has 3 categories:

  1. The Khardung La Challenge (72km)
  2. The Full Marathon (42.2km)
  3. The Half Marathon (21.1km)

Talking about the half marathon, the following is how I would describe my experience and the route.

The route was spread out with multiple inclines and declines over the landscape, followed by a killer incline of 4kms to the very end, to remind you why The Ladakh Marathon can be accounted for as one of the toughest ones out there. The stretch, a beast in itself, to slay even the most experienced runners.

There are enough water and aid stations all through the race, with a lot of local school kids participating. What makes this a lifelong memorable experience is the challenge this race represents, and the beautiful landscapes that surrounded us.

The main key to this race is practice and pacing. Practice is obviously a prerequisite to any marathon, however practice in Ladakh or at similar altitudes is what I am talking about. Similarly, pacing plays an equally important role while running, however it varies in every marathon based on the route; it is no different in this scenario.

Too fast during the declines or downhill slopes and you might find yourself catching for air, maybe even to an extent where you can go no further. Too slow and you’d have missed the opportunity gravity provides, and spent excessive energy with inadequate returns.

My personal timing here was 2:53hrs. Having spoken to some experienced runners and other fellow participants, I concluded that a timing below 3hrs is pretty good. But there’s always the personal disappointment of not achieving your target. Not that I did not give it my 100%, but it wasn’t exactly satisfactory.

The main thing that held me back apart from my level of fitness, was “FEAR”. A fear of going out of breath too quickly, a fear of being unable to finish, and a fear of after-effects of the run, which all in all created a mental block, making me incapable of pushing myself too much. However, priceless experience earned and valuable lessons learnt, to be totally exploited for the next one.

If interested in putting the Ladakh Marathon on your bucket list, and striking it off, all you need to do is practice running and stay fit. Running a marathon at that altitude is no rocket science; and gaining knowledge or perspective from others always helps.

Until next time,

The Travellothoner.

My First Full Marathon

After completing the race, The Mandatory ‘Tasting Gold’ Pose!

On 15th January 2017, I completed my first full marathon, and boy what a mix bag of emotions it was!

The full marathon, that is, a distance of 42.195 kilometers, took me 6:36 hours to complete, which is 6 minutes above the cut off time. Hence, I don’t get a rank, but I can say I finished atleast above 500 more people. This post is about my experience from the marathon and some do’s and don’ts. It is mainly for people who have already been training, considering running the 42K and are looking for information from someone who has already done it. For anyone who wishes to take up running, can hang on for sometime for my follow up posts, where I’d be giving running routines, exercise schedules and some nutrition plans. I will also be talking about a few marathons that i have run in, in and near Mumbai, to give you an idea of which ones to run, especially for first timers. A very good first experience is what inspired me to get to where I am today.

Fair disclaimer, I am not a professional coach or trainer, all that I post here is based on my running experience for the past 2 years. I have been reading a lot of articles and studies regarding the same, and can give you a certainty that I won’t be leading you on the wrong path. I also take professional coaching from one of the best runners in the country as far as long distance running is concerned, so you can say I learn from one of the best.

So this marathon for me was quite educative. I have run a lot of Half Marathons before this, and that experience helps to a certain extent but this is a different ballgame altogether. My initial aim was to finish it within 5:30 , but given the circumstances, i am happy i was able to finish it none the less. My initial plan was divided into 4 phases.

Phase 1 – The first 10 kms – 75 minutes.

Phase 2 – 10 To 21 kms – Around 2:20 to 2:35 hours.

Phase 3 – 21 To 32 kms – Within 4 hours.

Phase 4 – 32kms To 42.195 kms – Whatever time it takes.

Let me start by saying this, it is not so difficult if you have been training well, maintaining a good diet and have a strong mind. Your body will support you to the finish line, But it is the mind that will drive you home. Also a good rhythm during the 1st and 2nd phase will make all the difference.

One of the biggest mistakes I made was I did not follow my own plan. I did not push myself, but I ran at my average Half Marathon pace of about 9.5kms/hour. This did not affect my run so much, but it did leave me exhausted and gasping for air after the first 15kms. This is not a problem during half marathons cause you have only a few more kilometers to go, but for the full marathon, you are still 27kms away from the finish line.

I did not get accustomed to the extra humid climate on that day in the first phase of my run, and that to an extent affected me in the later part of the race. For the full marathon, all these small things can make a big difference. Another important aspect is hydration. Since the weather is cooler and one is not sweating too much, one ignores drinking water until he is thirsty. This will lead to dehydration during the later parts of the race, cause by the time you realize you’re thirsty, your body has used up/lost a lot of water via sweating or to cool yourself from within.

It is also important to eat something during the marathon, as you’d be on your feet for more than 5 hours. Most marathoners carry chocolates or dates in their pockets, and consume bananas or oranges with salt during the run.

My run was mostly foiled due to an injury. I covered the first 30kms within 4 hours, slower than I anticipated but still at a comfortable pace. I had a severe pain in the cuboid bone, that is the bone to the outer side of the sole of your feet. This is when your mental determination counts the most. When your body gives up, and you want to quit, is when the small voice inside your mind will start to take over and not let you quit. It is only to keep my head high and to not hurt my pride, and thanks to my determined mind that I was able to complete the race.

And the goal becomes clearer and gets nearer with each counting step and before you realize, you are jogging/running the last kilometer.

I hope this is post is helpful, and i shall be writing shortly for people who have just started or want to take up running.

You can always reach out to me, if there is something you need help with, or some topic you wish for me to cover, till then , enjoy and stay healthy!

Until next time,

The Travellothoner

Your Way To The First 10K Run

A lot of people have been asking me, what it takes to run a half marathon. The training plans, the diet, etc etc.

Let me start by saying it is no rocket science and doesn’t require any extraordinary commitment. It is easy, and just requires a certain level of dedication and discipline. It does not require any kind of strict or stressful training or diet. But yes, a certain level of control would go a long way in improving your overall experience and further commitment to the process.

There are usually two types of first time runners.

1. The people who practice, realize their potential, enjoy their runs and have an idea regarding what to do, what changes to make for their next one. Most of all, a good experience and an injury free run ensures you want to do it again.

2. The people who don’t practice, have an unhealthy lifestyle, are hit with cramps or other injuries and swear running isn’t for them.

As far as training goes, it is ideal to have a mileage of about 15-20 kms of running a week. Mileage here basically means the number of kilometers you run in a week. Include a couple of sessions to strengthen your core and other muscles and trying to have an active lifestyle. Add to this some stretching post workouts and you will likely avoid any serious injury to yourself.

One important thing to keep in mind is to not focus only on running. Excess running without strength training and stretching will increase your chances of sustaining an injury in the long run. Strength training will primarily help you to improve on your athletic abilities, and make your muscles less susceptible to injuries. Stretching and mobility workouts will help you improve flexibility and make sure your muscle groups are more involved into the workout. The more flexible you are, the lesser the stiffness, which leads to better muscle growth and movement. It is a very common misconception that one has to sacrifice flexibility for strength, which is never the case.

Another very important and the most basic principles in any kind of physical activity is to hydrate well. Drinking adequate water goes a long way in improving your abilities. Drinking a ton of water before the day of the run, a little water before the run and lots after! Too much water before the run and you will run with a heavy stomach or have to use the washroom, both of which are annoying and irritating in between your run.

Feel free to ask questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Another post on running drills, different types of running techniques, strength training plans, coming up soon!


The Travellothoner