Chandra Gopalan, a dear friend of mine and the All India Head for Contours International, recently completed a 100 km run in Bangalore organised by Runners For Life. She was placed in the first runner-up position in her category. At the age of 55, this is no easy feat! While congratulating Chandra on her brilliant achievement, I asked her a few questions and here’s what she said –
Sheela Krishnaswamy – How long have you been a runner?
Chandra Gopalan – 10 years.
SK – What are the runs / marathons you have participated in and which ones do you continue to participate in regularly?
CG – I have done the Mumbai Marathon, Kaveri Trail Marathon, Bangalore Ultra, every year since 2006. Other occasional ones are Auroville, Bangkok, Melbourne. A total of 30 marathons & ultra marathons.
SK – When did you start training for the 100 km run? What was your training regimen?
CG – I started training in April 2013. I trained for 6 months. The training regime was quite tough. I had to do a mix of long runs, short speed runs, heat runs, mountain runs, etc. To train the body to keep awake on Ultra day, I have done 3 night runs, starting at midnight & ending at dawn.
SK – What were the highlights / ups & downs of your training?
CG – The training made me very strong, both mentally and physically. I always trained with a group of 7- 8 guys. We did a 10 hour run in interior Tamil Nadu in Dharmapuri. This was an extreme heat training. This run helped all of us manage the heat on Run day.
SK – Did your food intake change while training?
CG – Yes. I included a lot of ragi (naachini) and dry fruits in my diet. I was strict with having food every 3 hours. I ate 3 fruits a day, included eggs in my breakfast everyday and drank a lot of fluids.
SK – How was the last week prior to the run – in terms of training, rest, food, mental make-up, etc.
CG – The last week was a rest week. I increased my carb intake a bit and rested well . Mentally the whole group was very strong. We had each other on the run day. Our coach was also present to support each one of us.
SK – How was the entire run experience?
CG – Due to the good training, I was surprised to see myself running quite comfortably till the 80 Km mark. After that, the fatigue set in, pace dropped. The 80-90 km stretch was the slowest. Once I hit the 90 km mark and knew that I had just 10 km to go, I found renewed strength in my legs and could run quite well, specially in the last few km. It was exhilarating to finish the 100 km run.
SK – What were the highlights / up & downs of the 100 km run?
CG – The day was very hot. We were under the sun from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. At one point I tripped on the trail, fell down and bruised my knee. But it did not come in the way of my run. At the 84th km I vomited, probably due to the extreme heat of the day. After this, my head was spinning as there was no nutrition in the body. I walked a bit, went to the medical tent, had a pill, ate some food and was back on the path.
SK – Would you run another 100 km in future?
CG – Maybe
SK – Any anecdotes you would like to share with the readers? Anything else that you would like to talk about?
CG – Training is very important. If you condition your body to distances, heat, hills etc, the run becomes easier. Besides, one needs to scale up mileage slowly. I have done 50 km distances thrice and a 75 km once before I attempted a 100 km. You need to strengthen your muscles actively too. Eat sensibly and hydrate well. Most often, you are your own limitation. Once you think you can do it, you will.
SK – A word of advice for prospective runners.
CG – Train well and enjoy what you do.
SK – A word of advice for those who don’t run or don’t have the time for physical activity.
CG – You have no idea what you are missing. When you run, you are always on a high. That’s why it is called Runner’s high. Physical activity makes you feel good about yourself and face the world confidently.