Shilpa started running to prepare her for hikes and eventually became an ultra marathoner. This is her journey through the years.
Can you tell us about your background?
I am a Senior Software Developer at Oracle and an avid biker and a hiker whenever I get some free time. I have been hiking in the Indian Himalayas since last 14 years. I have also ran many half, full and ultra marathons which are 50km+ distances.
What inspired you to take up running?
My love for running started when I used to prepare for my hiking expeditions, shorts runs made me prep for the long hikes. In 2005, I had signed up for a trek in the Himalayas and thought of being a bit fitter in order to complete it. This led me to jog around a park in Indira Nagar. At that time I didn’t know that one day I will be an ultra runner. It was the love and desire to complete the treks which made me fitter.
Was there any specific incident when you thought of getting into marathons and then into ultra running??
Indeed, it’s a personal one. I knew training and running marathons is an arduous journey. In 2010, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She was going through a lot of pain. I wanted to be part of her ordeal by taking up something which was a mental block for me and understand what she was going through. Although, I didn’t sign up for any race, I started preparing to run a marathon by going out of my comfort zone. On my husband’s birthday in 2011, I ran my first marathon where he and a few friends supported me through the course. The memories from that run are still fresh in my mind and in that moment I decided to take up long distance running seriously.
How do you structure your training?
I am a recreational runner. But if I register for any race, I will make sure I do full justice with my training. My weekly mileage depends on the race distance. I typically run 3-4 days a week with one interval and a long run coupled with twice a week of strength training.
Having run variety of distances, what parameters do you keep in mind when training for any given race?
10k races are essentially sprints for a marathoner and training has to be more intensive. The chances of getting injured are always very high during high intensity workouts. While training for long distances, it’s all about endurance and mileage. Again most of the ultras are typically on trails with high elevation gain. When training for such races, I would incorporate trail and hill runs.
Since you are an accomplished cyclist as well, how has cycling helped you as a runner?
Cycling has helped me improve at various fronts. I used to participate in Bangalore Bicycle Championship very regularly till a few years back. Bike racing is again very thrilling and I would love to do it more often. Any kind of cross training, be it cycling or swimming helps in building endurance and also in faster recovery. Moreover, it can help break the monotony of training.
As runners we sometimes hit a plateau with our progress, how do you motivate yourself to come out of such phase?
Recreational runners like us, generally start a sport (like running) to be fit, lose weight, etc. However, over time the activity starts controlling us and we start chasing time targets, it has happened to me as well. There is nothing wrong with it, provided one understands the costs. I have hit the plateau a few times after I started running. I have also been down because of injuries a few times. But I always remember why I started running in the first place. I remember the sheer joy that running gives me and that is all that I care. It’s been more than two years and I have not got any PBs but I always show up in the mornings for my trainings. If you are honest with your training, you will overcome the plateau.
Fun facts about you
- Your most memorable race till date: Mumbai Marathon 2019, not a PB race but thoroughly enjoyed it.
- Cycling or running: Both
- Favorite shoe brand: Not particular about shoes, whatever I find cheap :-)
- 10k or marathon: Both
- Your Personal best for marathon: 3h:48m
- Favorite training route: GKVK in Bangalore
- Next race: Running in my hometown (Indore marathon) early next year
- Dream race/Running goal: A 100k trail run someday
This post is edited by Aditi Pandya. Aditi is an avid runner, a writer and a fitness enthusiast. She is second runners up at Airtel Hyderabad Marathon 2019 in Women open half-marathon category.
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