Thursday, 22 December 2011



Full Marathon:

If you have registered for the full marathon, at this point in your training, you should be getting ready for your BIG long run, on this weekend- December 25 (unless you did it last week-end). This run should be anywhere between 30-35 km, though the ideal distance is 32 Km (20 miles), especially for those attempting it for the first time. Make sure you are adequately hydrated during the run, and you consume some carbohydrates during the run to replenish your glycogen stores of energy.
A sample training plan for the next two weeks could be as follows. This is just a suggestion, and you are free to follow the plan that best suits you- but make sure you DO have a plan. Below is a sample schedule for the next 2 weeks.


R 5 12 X R 6 32

R 5 12 X R 6 22

Distance in Kilometers, R-Rest, X=Cross Train eg. Cycling, swimming. Cross-training can be replaced by a day of rest or stretching/strengthening.


The last 3 weeks, leading up to the marathon is the ‘taper period’ where mileage is greatly reduced. Many runners like to train up to race day and feel insecure about cutting back on the mileage, but that leads to a drop in peak performance on race day.
Research shows that levels of muscle glycogen, enzymes, antioxidants, and hormones--all depleted by high mileage--return to optimal ranges during a taper. The muscle damage that occurs during sustained training is also repaired. Also, performance is actually improved in athletes who taper versus those who don’t. All the hard work has now been done, and this is the time to conserve your energy and recover from any injury, such that your best performance is on race day !

Half Marathon:

A sample training plan for the next two weeks could be as follows. This is just a suggestion, and you are free to follow the plan that best suits you. Please note that this is a plan for those running the half marathon for the FIRST TIME. If you have run it several times before, it might be a good idea to throw in some speed work for the next couple of weeks, to try and improve your race time. Include a tempo run or interval training in one of your mid-week runs. A tempo run is a 30-40 minute run, during which you run at a faster pace than normal, and push yourself out of your normal ‘comfort zone’ of running. In interval training, you run intervals of 400 or 800 meters at close to all-out pace, and in between each interval you either walk or jog slowly for 400 m to recover. Start with 3-4 intervals.Below is a sample schedule for the next 2 weeks.

R 7 5 X R 5 16

R 7 5 X R 5 18

Distance in Kilometers, R-Rest, X - Cross Training, eg cycling, swimming

Dream Run:

Those participating in the Dream Run, should have already started their training by now, especially if it’s their first attempt. It’s always nice to ‘run’ the distance, rather than walk it, unless there is an injury or any other condition, in which running is not recommended. Below is a sample schedule for the next couple of weeks. There is a lot of variation in the ability of those participating in the dream run, since some are accomplished runners looking to better their time, while others just want to walk and complete the distance. During training, you need to adjust your run / walk breaks based on your ability.


R 2 4 X R 5 45 min run/walk

R 2 4 X R 5 45 min run/walk

Distance in Kilometers, R-Rest, X Train- Cross Training, eg cycling, swimming


Adequate hydration is extremely important for optimal sports performance. High temperatures and humidity increase, the risk of dehydration, especially when exercising outdoors.

What is dehydration?
Dehydration is the lack of adequate body fluids for the body to carry on normal functions at an optimal level. This lack could be due to fluid loss, inadequate intake, or a combination of both. Fluid losses up to 5% are considered mild; up to 10% are considered moderate; and up to 15% are considered severe. Severe dehydration can result in cardiovascular collapse and death if not treated quickly.


The environmental conditions that lead to dehydration and heat illness are out of your control, but there are many things that you can do to help prevent getting sick.

1) Adequate nutrition before an event.
Consume a nutritionally balanced diet and drink adequate fluids during the 24-h period before an event, especially during the period that includes the meal prior to exercise, to promote proper hydration before exercise or competition.

2) 200-500 ml fluid before exercise
It is recommended that you drink about 200-500 ml of fluid about 2 h before exercise to promote adequate hydration and allow time for excretion of excess ingested water.

3) Fluids during exercise
During exercise, athletes should start drinking early and at regular intervals in an attempt to consume fluids at a rate sufficient to replace all the water lost through sweating (i.e., body weight loss). A good rule of thumb is to consume about 150-250 ml of fluid for every 15 minutes of exercise. In the recent past there have been many reported cases of hyponatremia (low salt in the blood) due to over-hydration. Therefore, it is better to tailor fluid replacement according to your sweat rate.


To find out how much fluid you lose, the best method is to weigh yourself before and after a run, lasting an hour (weigh yourself at home, with no clothes on). The amount of weight lost, in grams, is the amount of fluid you lose in an hour of running, and that is the amount you need to replenish. For example, if you lost 900 grams of weight, that’s equivalent to 900 ml of fluid (assuming you did not ingest anything during the run). Once you know your hourly sweat rate, you can divide that amount by four and consume that much fluid, every 15 minutes. It is recommended that ingested fluids be cooler than ambient temperature.
4) Add sugar and salt for long exercise
Addition of proper amounts of carbohydrates (sugars) and/or electrolytes (salt) to a fluid replacement solution is recommended for exercise events of duration greater than 1 hour. During exercise lasting less than 1 hour, there is little evidence of physiological or physical performance differences between consuming a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink and plain water.

Choice of fluid

For exercise lasting less than 1 hour, water alone is adequate. During intense exercise lasting longer than 1 h, it is recommended that carbohydrates be ingested at a rate of 30-60 grams per hour to maintain oxidation of carbohydrates and delay fatigue. This rate of carbohydrate intake can be achieved without compromising fluid delivery by drinking 600-1200 ml per hour of solutions containing 4%-8% carbohydrates.
Inclusion of sodium (a pinch of common salt) in the rehydration solution ingested during exercise lasting longer than 1 hour is recommended since it may be advantageous in enhancing palatability, promoting fluid retention, and possibly preventing hyponatremia (low salt) in certain individuals who drink excessive quantities of fluid.
On race day, for the half and full marathon, there will be energy drinks available which contain the precise amount of carbohydrate and electrolyte replacement needed.
Run safe and strong !

Dr. Aashish Contractor
Medical Director, Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon.
Head of Dept: Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation
Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai


  1. Hi Aashish

    Congrats on a great run and a PB in the ADHM. I have a PB of 2:05 in Mumbai 2012 and Im keen to finish under 2 hrs in 2013. Practice this year has been lesser than last year given parenting duties, but Id like to believe that I have used my limited training time far better (more work on pace, lesser long runs and each practice had a goal and a motive behind it - not all of which I was able to consistently achieve; but atleast I meant well!). I can run from Nariman point and back including the entire Malabar hill upslope and down at Kemps corner - roughly 16K in 1:38 hrs. The other day I turned in a 10 km PB under 58 mins)

    I am presently on the horns of a dilemma between trying to get to my goal or spectacularly crumbling on the day

    Any thoughts on the general nature of preparation and whether I should Go For It? The worst fear I have is not falling flat at 18 km as much as enduring a year's wait of "Could I have if I had just put my fears aside for those 2 hours.........."

  2. Here are my thoughts.
    To run under 2 hours, you need to be running at about 10.5 km per hour as an average speed. If your pb for a 10 k, is 58 minutes then its unlikely that you will be able to run a sub 2 hour half marathon, unless something changes dramatically between now and race day (sorry, dont mean to discourage, but just giving an honest opinion).
    At this point, besides a weekend long run, I would do one day a week of interval training and one tempo run during the week.

    PS- the ncpa-hanging garden-ncpa loop is 14 k, and not 16 km. Trust me, i have run it several times with a garmin on.

    all the best. if closer to the day, you are running close to a sub 2 hour pace, then go for it. On a 'great day' its possible to shave off 2-3 minutes of predicted time, not more than that.