Saturday, 28 December 2013

Dr Jack Daniels on types of training

I only got to know Dr Jack Daniels yesterday. I reckon these videos are quite useful and worth sharing. He introduces four types of training and describes the benefits of each type.

Yeah! We are indeed different

"Runners, Yeah we're different" is an advertising campaign by adidas back in 2000. Each ad reveals a part of runner's life. It shows the commitment, dedication and obsession of runners. If you are a runner you have probably experienced most of these situations and you do remember how everyone stares at you.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Istanbul Marathon; On running my slowest marathon

“I always start these events with very lofty goals, like I’m going to do something special.And after a point of body deterioration, the goals get evaluated down to basically where I am now – where the best I can hope for is to avoid throwing up on my shoes.” Nuclear Engineer and ultrarunner, Ephraim Romesberg, 65 miles into the Badwater Ultramarathon

Three weeks ago I ran the Istanbul marathon. And that happened to be my slowest marathon yet. I was not expecting a PR as I didn't train properly for a few weeks. I didn't think that it would go so badly either. 

The race started on Sunday morning in a great vibe. The start line is located in Asian part of the Istanbul just next to the Bosphorus Bridge. It was a bit hard to pass the other runners on the bridge as the road was relatively narrow and there was only one starting group. But the scenery was  great and the weather could hardly be any better. 

As I passed the 2 km mark, I started to pick up my pace. I was probably going too fast and I knew it but I was feeling great and could not convince myself to slow down. My average pace was 5 min/km for the first half of the race. Given that my best time in marathon was 3:49 with a pace around 5:20, I knew I was going too fast. I knew I might hit the wall and won't be able to keep up with this pace. But I also knew that I was not in the best shape and I might hit the wall anyway. So I decided to run in this pace as far as I can and if something went wrong I would try to manage it.

It was around kilometre 28 (Just before the turn around point) That I felt the sharp pain under the arch of my right foot. I did ignore that for a couple of minutes but the pain grew and I could hardly run. The pain was quite similar to ankle sprain. I stopped, walked for a little while, stretched my calves and started to run again. But the longest distance I could cover by running was about 300-400 metres. 

I did hit the wall during the Frankfurt marathon last year when I was down due to quad cramps and fatigue. In Frankfurt I was not sure if I could finish the race, I had pain all over my body but I could at least walk comfortably. This time it was different though. I was not feeling tired, If only I could get rid of that pain in my foot I would finish it in quite a good time. But the pain was growing up and after 35km I was limping and taking care of my right leg. I was grabbing my right leg with my hand and pull it forward in every single steps. It was not the question of getting to the finish line, I was sure I can make it there. It was that I wanted to get there in a good time and in a good shape. I could see that it is not possible with this physical condition. 

Because I was running in really bad form, there were more pressure on my knees. So the closer I got to the finish line the more difficult it became to run. Finally I dragged myself to the end and when I saw the time on the official race clock, I felt sad. I could not believe that I finished a marathon in 4:16. When I reached the halfway mark, I was 7 minutes ahead of my PR. And now I was finishing the race almost half an hour behind it. It was the first time ever that I crossed the finish line and was not chuffed.

Another marathon finished and I would consider it as a great experience. I could finish the race easier and faster if I paced myself better and did not start too fast. But as strange as sounds I don't regret that. What I found is that I could keep the 5 min/km pace for 25 kilometres even though I did not train properly for that pace. So If I train harder and If I can keep up that pace along the course, a 3:30 marathon is achievable. 

I would not run another race until I am absolutely ready for that. Having said that it would not give me an excuse to cancel any planned race, but to train harder and get into the best shape I can be. I would run more often and put some serious strength workout into my training routine. I would get leaner and faster and become a better runner. Istanbul marathon was not the easiest one but it did for sure make me stronger. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Resolutions, Once again

Last Friday I turned 31. And it is time to think about the resolutions. Last year in early December I posted my resolutions here and I am quite pleased that I achieved them all. This year I will try to be more precise in my goals.

So if I miss any of these by the end of November 2014, Please feel free to question me.

- Running a couple of ultras and get enough qualifying points for UTMB 2015. 
In case you are not familiar with UTMB, Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc is one of the greatest mountain ultras in the world. It's a race every ultra runner would like to run.  To run this race you require qualifying points which you can earn by running a number of ultras. For the main race you need 7 points and for shorter distances (Short is quite relative here as a couple of short races are over 100km!) you need 2 points. I've already got 2 points by finishing the K78 last July. I am planning to run another couple of ultras to get all the qualifying points for 2015. The first one is Iznik Ultra in April and I will probably run the CCC race in August.

- A 3:20 Marathon
After running a few marathons, I can say that I am more into trail running and will run more trail marathons. However I do have a time target for a road marathon.  I'd try to cut 30 minutes from my PR. That's going to be a marathon in 3:20!

- Losing more weight, get leaner and faster
 When I started running, I did so to lose weight. Now I want to lose weight to be a better runner. That's going to be achieved by healthy diet, Strength training, Plyometrics, Speed work and off course running!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Istanbul Marathon Done!

Istanbul marathon done in an embarrassing time of 4:16:58. I will post the full details in a few days. Not every marathon goes as well as you expect. There were important lessons to be learned from this marathon.

Stay tuned

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Istanbul Marathon in a week

I am now tapering for my fifth marathon. As I said before mental preparation is an essential part of training for a marathon. I was planning to set a PR in Istanbul, but given that I've missed quite a few training sessions and was not able to run properly for a few weeks, a PR now sounds far too optimistic. I know Istanbul is going to be a tough one but that doesn't stop me from trying my best. It might hurt a lot, but I will embrace the pain and go on. I might not be in the best shape but I am ready for the challenge.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Resolutions, commitment, achievement

Last year, a couple of weeks after my 30th birthday, I wrote down my running resolutions and for the first time ever I published it here. Now it's time to set new goals but before that, I have to review my last year's resolutions to see where I am standing now.

Theses are what I was expecting myself to do until 22nd November 2013:

Running my first Ultra. 
I did finish Swissalpine K78. Running my first ultra was indeed a great experience. For sure I am going to run more ultras.

Running at least three marathons.
Dubai Marathon (Dec 2012), Paris Marathon (March 2013) and Istanbul Marathon (Due on 17th November). So if everything goes all right in Istanbul, this one is also done.

Losing more weight. 
Done! I am 5-6 kg lighter than last year.

Strength workout, plyometrics, stretching and swimming more often. 
Pretty much done. Although I still skip stretching most of the time and leave swimming for when I am recovering from an injury!

Adding Speedwork and hills sessions into my training. 
Almost done. I spent quite a lot of time hiking and training for my first ultra. Long runs were more important than intervals and speed sessions. I could have add more fartleks, tempos and intervals into my training plan.

Hiking to the top of two major summits in Iran. 
I wanted to get to these summits for many years. Thanks to the fitness level I gain by running, I mounted Damavand and Sabalan in comfort. I also had several fast ascents (running and fast hiking) to Tochal, my favourite summit in Northern Tehran.

Encouraging people to run. 
Since I got serious about running I have always been encouraging people around me to run. I am quite pleased to see a few runners around me now. I - with the help of a couple of friends - organised a weekly run in one of the busiest sport and leisure centres in Tehran. Since it started in early June, quite few people joined us. There were weeks when there were only two or three of us. But some weeks we were up to fifteen people. Some didn't like it and left after a couple of weeks (well, at least they gave running a try. For sure running is not for everyone). And some got into it and showed up every week. Next week I'm off to Istanbul to run the marathon. And three friends of mine -who were all part of the club - are running the 15k race.

So, overall it hasn't been a bad year. New running resolutions coming in a few days.

Friday, 1 November 2013

"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional"

It's been a stressful month. Since 5 weeks ago, I've been pretty much away from running due to air pollution and a few health problems. Of which some can be serious. I am not talking about those issues here -at least for now- but I'd assure you I am not making excuses. There is no point in doing so.

Since I started running, my definition of many concepts in life has changed. When you leave your comfort zone, pain is no longer something to be scared of but a sign that you're on the right track. What sounded impossible is now something achievable, something to make you motivated.

Running means a lot to me. It has simply changed my life. When I started running, I was overweight, absolutely out of shape and a heavy drinker (Although I wouldn't agree with this back then). And now after more than three years of running, I cannot imagine myself not running. Running has taken me to a lot of places I would never go if I wasn't a runner. I experienced life in a whole new way. Enjoyed every bit of hard training and sacrifices that I made. Now that it has transformed my life, I don't like to get back to my previous life. I don't want to be overweight again. This is why being away from running really hurts.

I have missed a few training sessions. I am not quite prepared for my next marathon. I am not able to run neither as fast nor as far as I'd like to. But I am determined to keep going. I am not quite fit but I am quite excited to run another marathon. Running - in addition to everything brought to my life - is something that keeps me alive.

The title is a quote by Haruki Murakami, read in "What I talk about when I talk about running"

Monday, 14 October 2013

Upcoming races

I just added a new page to this blog called "Upcoming Races". There are a few races that I have already registered. I'd add more races to the list as I plan further on. There will also be a "wish list" of the races that I would like to run. Please have a look at this page and let me know if you're up for any of theses. It would be great if you also suggest your favourite races.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

FAQs part 1

Here are a few questions I've been asked frequently.

How long is a marathon?
Marathon is always 42.195 km long. In imperial units it is equal to 26.2 miles. Wherever you see the term Marathon, it refers to this distance. However, some Ultramarathon events might use "Marathon" in their title (Like the famous Comrades Marathon)

Do you run all that? Usually asked right after you answer the first question
Yes, pretty much you run all the course.

Can you stop or walk?
Of course you can. Nobody is going to blame you if you walk for a while. Most races though have specific time limit. And you need to cross the finish line before then to be recognised as an official finisher.

What was your ranking?
This is pretty much the least important figure for a runner. Here I am obviously not talking about elite runners. I mean for the average marathon runners it doesn't matter how many people have crossed the finish line before them. You only compete with yourself.

What do you think about all those hours?
Pretty much everything. Anything from your resolutions, life plans to taking the very next step.

Is it not boring?
To me it's not. Many people may find distance running boring. Some of them have never tried it before.

Why do you run?
There are many reasons behind it. But if I want to give you a single reason that is I run to live my life to the fullest. I run to feel alive.

How did it all started?
I started running when I was absolutely out of shape. I used to run to lose weight. It was not the most enjoyable activity at the beginning, but after a couple of months I got used to it. And now running is simply an essential part of my life.

How often do you run?
Usually 5 to 6 times a week. Sometimes I do doubles (Running in the morning and in the evening) And sometimes take a couple of days off.

How long do you run everyday?
I don't run a fix distance everyday. I usually have one long run (15-30 km) a week. a couple of easy runs (10k ish) and a couple of hill or interval sessions. When I train for a marathon I peak at 70-80 km a week. For ultras it goes up to 100-110 km a week.

What is an ultra?
Any race farther than 42.195 km is called ultra-marathon.

Is there any questions you've been asked frequently about distance running? Is there anything you would like to know that I might be able to answer? Post your questions here and I'll answer them with FAQs Part 2.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Here comes my favourite running season

After a long summer, finally the heat is gone and my favourite running season has started. In five weeks I'll be running my fifth marathon in Istanbul. That means that I've got only 3 weeks to train for that. Not in the best shape now but I'll try my best to set a PR there.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Feeling adventurous! A few races I'd love to run

"I don't know where the limit is, but I know where it's not." Josef Ajram

Quite often I've been asked about my next running adventure. If there is any particular race that I consider as my ultimate goal. Or what PR I expect myself to reach?

Since I started running, I've never gone for a run that I regret. I've pushed myself to the limit - and probably beyond - Embraced the pain and enjoyed every bit of training to achieve my goals. I don't know how far or how long I'll be able to push myself. I do not have an ultimate goal for my running either. But I know I would go for a new challenge whenever I got the chance.

Here are - in no particular order - a few races that I'd love to run. Click on the race title to reach the official website

Tenzing Hillary Everest Marathon, Nepal

Starts from the Everest base camp at 5364m to Nameche Bazaar at 3446m. It is the highest trail running event in the world. Prior to the race you'd spend a couple of weeks hiking few hours a day to acclimatize and get ready for the race.

Marathon des Sables, Morroco

Known as one of the toughest footraces on earth, MdS is a six-day running event covering more than 150 miles while carrying all your stuff under the desert sun. You can now pre-register for 2015.

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica

Six-day race along Costa Rica's tropical Pacific coastline and a coastal mountain range covering the total distance of 250km.

The Polar Circle Marathon, Greenland

Polar Circle Marathon aka "the coolest marathon on earth" is an annual marathon in Greenland. Along the course you pass glacier tongues, moraine landscapes and soundless, arctic desert. And the temperature in November is usually around -10 Degree Celsius.

So which one do you find more adventurous? Have you ever run any of these? Is there any other race that you can suggest?

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Swissalpine K78. On running my first ultra

“How to run an ultramarathon ? Puff out your chest, put one foot in front of the other, and don't stop till you cross the finish line.”  Dean Karnazes

Last week I made my way to Davos to run the Swissalpine K78. Davos is where I ran my first marathon last year and this year I was there to run my first ultra. Davos is the place where it all started. It's the place where I met many runners and heard their inspirational stories.  

We arrived in Davos (That's Samer, a good friend of mine from Belgium who came to Davos to run the K21 and myself) on Thursday morning and went to the expo. Collected the race numbers and had a look around the expo. This is one of my favourite parts of any race. You get to know other runners, races and latest products.

At the expo, with the bib numbers
The day before the race started by going up Jakobshorn where we met Franz, a truly inspirational man. He's started running when he was 60 and now at the age of 73 he's run numerous marathons and ultras around the world. He first tried the K78 in 2010 when he was asked by the medical staff to leave the race at 60th km. He came back the year after for K42 and successfully finished the K78 on his second try in 2012. When Sam asked him if he has ever run marathons in Austria he said he leaves those races for the time he will not be able to travel. He reminded me of a quote by Jack Kirk aka the Dipsea Demon "You don't stop running because you get old. You get old because you stop running"

With Franz at Jakobshorn
In the afternoon, we went to the medical parc for a health check-up. It took us around two hours and they gave us some health info, blood sugar, blood pressure, flexibility, lung capacity, etc.  At the expo there was a documentary on screen from the previous years races. That was when I got a bit worried. "What am I putting myself into? This can be a real torture"

The closer I got to the race though, the more confident I became. My main goal for the race was crossing the finish line before the fourteen-hour time limit.

The night before the race I didn't get enough sleep due to excitement -- or nervousness! Finally the big day arrived. It was the time to put everything I got into the race. To challenge my endurance in a whole new dimension. 

The race started with a great buzz at 7 am. I ran the first 30km of the race last year as a part of C42 and I could remember very fine details of the course including the very corner that I twisted my ankle last year. I got to Filisur in 3:01. Almost the time that I was expecting. Up to this point it was easy and quite enjoyable. I tried to reserve as much energy as possible during this stage.

Somewhere before 20km 

Around 20km

25km ish

A few kilometres before Filisur
After 31 km the uphill started, a constant steep ascent to Keschutte on 55th km. I arrived in Bergun in 4:37. In K78 race you've got the chance to leave a bag at the start line and they transfer it to Bergun. I changed to a new pair of socks, had a sport drink and carried on running -- well, mostly hiking at this point. It was a hot day and you just couldn't drink enough water for the heat. The race organization was perfect and there were many drink stations along the way with supplies of water, Iso tea, soup, bread, banana and energy bars. They even added an extra water stop between km 32 and 39. I did drink at every stop but I could still feel that I was dehydrated. Whenever possible I would cool myself down by passing through the showers provided or the water stored in large stone basins along the way.

At Bergun, after taking a shower!
Still not looking exhausted after running 40km. That doesn't mean that I wasn't tired.
Almost covered the marathon distance at this point. That meant more than 35km to go!
I remember after Bergun I looked at my watch and it displayed 42.3 km. "Here we go" I said. "This is already an ultra!" It was around 44 km that almost all of us were walking uphill. Then I heard the footsteps of some runners running that hill up. I looked back wondering how can it be possible. They were K42 runners. Their race had just started in Bergun and they had covered around 8km so far. (Dont get me wrong. I am not saying that it was impossible for a K78 runner to run that bit. I know there are some runners who are able to run those hills, but if they could do so they should have been well ahead of me)

It was around 45 km that I had a cramp on my right hamstring. As if my body didn't want me to go farther than a marathon. I slowed down for a while and did a bit of stretching. Stopped at the medical tent at 50th km for a quick massage. They gave me a couple of magnesium powder. I was advised to take one and keep the other for later on. I carried on towards Keschutte and got there in 7:51. And then it came a downhill part. That was one of the most enjoyable parts of the course. I just couldn't stop myself running downhill like crazy. It was then - after the long hike and descending - that I realized I had the right kind of training for this course. All those fast hiking and downhill running in the mountains were paying off now. I remember I was picturing Davos when I was training in Tochal and now during the race I was remembering all those training sessions and feeling confident running downhill. I had the right training for this race but definitely not the right volume. I wish I had trained more.

At Keschutte (55km, the first summit)
Then it came another steep ascent to Sertig. The second 30 km of the race took me around 6 hours and I got to Sertig a couple of minutes after 9 hours. And then it was the downhill part again. I remember when I was checking the elevation profile before the race, I was expecting those downhill sections to be quite tough and painful. But surprisingly I was feeling great and I ran as fast as it was practically possible. It was a single track and some runners were overcautious -- or it was me who was crazy. Often you'd need to walk behind the runners for a while to find a proper place to take over. I knew that there is still more than 15km to go and it would be wise to slow down a bit but I just couldn't help it. It was a massive fun.

I stopped for a drink at km 68 and from that point it came the hardest part. I simply couldn't run any uphills and I was even struggling to run on flat. It was intervals of running and walking and that went on untill the last 2km where I started to run and didn't stop until I got there. I ran as fast as I could for the last 500 meters and crossed the finish line of my first ultramarathon in 11:37:01.

Just before entering the stadium. Taken by Samer

And crossing the finish line
And here I am, once again standing at the finish line, achieving what once - not long ago - seemed impossible. What once was not even a dream of mine. 

A few minutes after finishing the race, absolutely chuffed!
Sam finished his first half-marathon. K21 with 800m of elevation gain is defenitely not the easiest course
Thinking about 2014. yes, already!
It might be so soon for me to talk about ultras but these are the notes I took from my first ultramarathon:
Although marathons and ultras are similar in some ways - both challenge your endurance - they are completely different events. Ultras challenge your physical and mental toughness in a whole new dimension. But the intensity of an ultra can be lower than marathon.
During an ultra you've got loads of time to think, appreciating the landscape, communicate with other runners, hear their stories, be inspired and even plan your future races.
Attention to hydration and nutrition is essential in ultras. In fact, you've got to train for that. You have to adapt your body to get enough calories from food and drink during the race. It is easier said than done.
K78 route map and elevation profile
The K78 was a unique experience. There were moments of struggling and pain - as it has to be - but the whole experience was quite enjoyable. "Will I run another ultra?" When I was running the last 10-20 km of the race I was asking myself. And my response was "Of course, but I need to get quite fit for that". 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The swissalpine K78 Done.

The full report comes in a few days. The K78 is done in 11 hours 37 minutes.

Need to get some sleep now.

Keep on running guys.

Friday, 26 July 2013

K78 in less than 12 hours!

Feeling great and quite ready for tomorrow. It's not gonna be easy but i'm gonna give it my best. 

Stay tuned!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The first ultramarathon, adrenaline rush and tapering blues

July seems to be a remarkable month in my running diary. I started running in July 2010,  ran my first marathon on 28 July 2012, and now I'm tapering for my first ultramarathon - Swissalpine K78 - that is scheduled for 27 July.

The last couple of weeks before a marathon (or an ultra) are probably the easiest training weeks. You decrease your training volume to let your body recover  for the big day. But having said that, tapering period can be the toughest part of the whole journey. Tapering is all about paradoxes. You can feel the adrenaline running through your veins, you are probably in the best shape and ready to head out for a long run at any minute. But you've got to control yourself. You've got to know what you are doing. You've got to take it easy and let these feeling go.

I have been training for my first ultramarathon for almost three months. Well, two months to be precise. I was away from running for four weeks due to an ankle sprain. Now I'm not in the best shape I was expecting myself to be, but I'm absolutely ambitious. I am not sure how hard it would be to run 78 km through mountains, but I know that I'm going to give it my best. I know I'm the happiest when I'm pushing myself achieving what once - not long ago- seemed impossible, what once was not even a dream of mine. I don't know how hard it could be, but I know I feel most alive when I struggle to take the next step.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

It's been ages! A massive update on what I've been up to after Paris Marathon

It's been quite a while that I haven't posted on this page. In fact it has never been such a big gap between the posts. There are a few reasons - or better said excuses -behind that. As I believe there are more like excuses rather than reasons, I'd prefer to skip those and carry on writing up.  There was a couple of  long-awaited posts which I am going to stick together and update you with what I have been up to after Paris Marathon. So here comes a long - and hopefully not so boring - post.  

1. Keep On Running

A few days before heading to Paris to run the marathon, I came across another race. A three-day race in Alzenau and Mombris (Close to Frankfurt in Germany). I did registered for that although I wouldn't really know how I would feel after Paris marathon. I had never run long distances a few days after my previous marathons.

After running the Paris marathon and set a PR I had sore muscles and aching knees. But I was feeling more than ready to go for a new challenge. So I made my way to the start of yet another race. Salomon Keep On Running it was called, A three-day race covering the total distance of 53km with 1500 meters of ascent. The first stages was a three-kilometre run around the city. Followed by 27 km of muddy train running the day after from Alzenau to Mombris. And a 23-km back to Alzenau on the third day. 

Overall it was a great running weekend and I was quite pleased that I made it to the finish line. Here are a few lessons I learned from running a three-day event after a marathon

1. People running shorter distances are often more competitive.
2. Running two days in a raw can hurt, particularly if it is less than a week after a marathon.
3. Downhill running requires skills! Especially if it's on ankle-deep slippery mud! That's one reason I have taken some of my training up to the mountains. After a couple of months I feel more comfortable and confident running downhill. 
5. Running on uneven surface can activate some muscles you've never used before. 
6. Small multiday events are fun and you get the chance to know the other runners and have a great conversation with them. Something that rarely happens during big city marathons.
7. You need to be prepared. You need to train for the environment. Another reason to run in the mountains.

2. On enduring an injury

I cannot consider myself as injury-prone. I am not injury resistant either. Since I started running I have had a couple of injuries a year that often keep me away from running for less than a week. My main injury has been usually ankle sprain. I have had it a few times, but I used to recover relatively fast. Once it happened nine days prior to a marathon and I could still run the marathon. 

Being injured sucks, but it is much worse when it happens at the peak of your training and while you are not running! Last month, while I was simply crossing the road, my ankle touched the kerb and twisted inward. And that happened to be my most serious injury since I started running. For the first couple of days I iced and elevate it and took a few anti-inflammatory tablets. A few days after the pain outside my ankle faded away and I started running again. Went for a short 15-minute run and was stopped by seriously aching ankle. This time it was the inner part of the ankle, under the arch and behind my heel.Visited a doctor and he diagnosed ligament sprain. I gave up running and went swimming, did some weight and circuit training. It took me around four weeks to fully recover from the injury. And it was quite a hard process. You need to endure the situation, you have to deal with the situation and give your body a chance to recover. But it is much easier said than done. As a runner you often find yourself being addicted to running. You have your favourite time of the day dedicated to running. an hour or two that you can hardly spend another way. A day started by running is considered a great day and if you miss a run in the morning you feel miserable. 

3. Planning, missed and upcoming races

I was planning to run my next marathon in 16 June. But my visa was not issued on-time and I missed the San Francisco Marathon. But I was lucky enough to get an entry to New York Marathon. So my next marathon is going to be in early November. I cannot wait for that.

But before that I am coming back to Davos. This time for my first ultra -- Swissalpine K78. Davos is where I ran my first marathon and now a year after that I am challenging myself to finish my first ultra there. While I was recovering from ankle sprain I didn't think that I could train for this. Now that I've got only for weeks
to the race, I am still not quite fit for that. But as always I will give it my best. I'll keep training hard for the next two weeks, pay extra attention to my tapering and will make my way to the start line. I will be ready for the challenge. Ready for the torture!

4. Encouraging people to run

Running is not the most popular sport in Iran. You cannot spot many runners in the streets of Tehran. There is no large marathons, only a couple of marathons a year dedicated to elite runners for which you have to register through a club. Before we start organising such events here we need to embrace running. We need to acknowledge it as part of our culture.

Since I started running I have always tried to encourage people to run. Always talking passionately about running and how it affects your life --It has certainly changed mine. The main reason of creating this blog is inspiring the readers to run.

Last month, I - with the help of some friends - organised a weekly run in Tehran. Our aim is getting as many people into running as we practically can. We invite everyone we know to try and run - or walk and run - a for half an hour in one of the busiest recreational area in northern Tehran. So hopefully after a few sessions we will be seen and there will be some other runners joining us. So if you are reading this and you are based in Tehran - or planning to visit Tehran - If you are a runner or would like to give running a try just give me a shout.

5. Feedback and E-mail Subscription

As I have always said, I would really appreciate your feedback. So please drop me a line if you have any comments or suggestions.

I only realised last week that the "Subscribe by E-mail" link provided on the right hand bar of this page didn't function quite all right. It's now fixed and you can register your e-mail address so you will be notified whenever this page is updated.

Keep running everyone.

Saturday, 27 April 2013


If is an inspiring poem by Rudyard Kipling that I came across while reading A Life Without Limits.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! 

Paris Marathon 2013: On setting a PR and enjoying every single stride along the way!

This is kind of a long-awaited post. I had to post it a few days after the race (Which was on 7 April). But better late than never here it is: 

I arrived in Paris on Friday and went straight to the running expo. Getting the bib number and race bag took only a few minutes. I spent a couple of hours hanging around the expo and had a meal at rice party. Everything looked perfectly organised. From the sponsors stands to running products and marathon booths.

Saturday spent hanging around with some friends and visiting a couple f museums. I had a suspicious pain in my hamstrings which was worrying me a bit. Kind of those little pains that you don't usually pay attention to during your training can make you quite nervous before a marathon.

It was quite cold on Sunday morning. The race was due to start at 8:45. I took the metro at around 8 and got to the nearest station in 20 minutes. From there though it took us around 15 minutes to get out of the station as it was too busy. Then I had to drop my bag somewhere between the start and finish line. And it turned out to be farther that I thought. So I ran to baggage drop area and came back to the start line just in-time. That turned out to be a great warm up! Here is a little tip for anyone who participating in such massive events: Give yourself plenty of time! I had to stand there for quite a while before the race starts for our group. I belonged to 3:45 group which turned out to be one of the largest groups. We started moving through the start line, and when I crossed the official start line the race stopwatch was already showing 31 minutes!

Heading to the start 
Crowd at the metro station

50000 runners!
50000 people were running that day. There was literally no time that I could not see a massive number of runners in front of me. And from my position it shows that I could only see one third of the runners and the rest were behind me. The whole atmosphere was kind of surreal. You feel absolutely small being among some 50000 like-minded people running in the streets of Paris.

When I woke up in the morning I still had that pain in my hamstrings but after running around 10 km it faded away just the way I was expecting it to be. I was running almost effortlessly and was trying to pace myself not to run too fast. You are quite likely to go too fast, too soon in events like this. There is a massive rush of adrenaline and a great vibe. You need to control yourself and conserve your energy.

Around 5K. Could hardly feet better!
Somewhere around 25k I suppose
The refreshments were something you could only find in Paris: water, bananas, oranges, raisins and sugar cubes every 5k and sport drinks only at one station after half-way mark. It was very well organised but because of the mass of runners it often gets a bit difficult to reach for a drink and you had to walk for a few steps. As a part of their sustainable strategy they had provided some bins to drop your empty water bottles for recycling. But the bins were so close to the refreshment stations (around 50-100 meters) that you wouldn't have enough time to drink up and bin your bottle. So the water bottles ended up along the kerb.

I had trained quite hard for this marathon and I was expecting a PR. But the whole thing went really smoothly and that kind of surprised me. For the first time in a marathon, I had a strategy. That was sticking to a comfortable pace until 35km and from there speed up and finish strong. If I want to compare Paris marathon to Frankfurt - When I hit the wall - I ran the first half almost 2 minutes slower than Frankfurt marathon but this time I managed to run the second half of the race only one minute slower than the first half. Finally I crossed the finish line in 3:49:56 and was absolutely chuffed!

Now it was time to recover and get ready for the next challenge!

Monday, 22 April 2013

A few videos worth sharing

This might make you laugh

When you are in need of motivation

A conversation within every runner. I've had it many times!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Paris Marathon Done!

Paris Marathon done in 3:50. And what a day it was! Full report coming in a few days.

Friday, 29 March 2013

No more weekly training reports. Time for some changes!

Well, I am still training and pretty much on target. I did miss a few workouts since I started my training plan, but I am pretty much ready for my next marathon.

Sticking to a routine is boring. Writing training plans is no exception. I believe you are not here to check how far I've run last week. You might be here seeking motivation or you are just wondering if I still run.

After publishing almost 100 posts (well, this is the 98th) this blog has been viewed many times. But I have hardly received any comments from you guys. What I'd like to know is if you check this page regularly. Do you find it inspirational at all? Has it ever encouraged you to go for a run? Have you got any favourite post? Is there anything else you want me to write about?

I am going to write and answer some FAQ's and NAQ's (Never Asked Questions). So do leave a comment or drop me a line. I'm going to answer them all.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Paris Marathon 2013, Three weeks to go!

I will be running the Paris Marathon on 7 April. And I just cannot wait for that.

Photo taken from here

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Training report, week 4: On missing workouts and flexible training

Still "almost" on target. Missed my first workout!

Distance: 55 km
Distance planned: 65 km
Long run: 25 km

Missed a 10km run on Sunday. 

I was traveling the first three days. I had planned an easy 8k and 12k interval training for those days. But I was in Ankara and I decided to alter my training plan to get the most of that hilly city. I couldn't easily find a flat road for my interval training. So I had a couple of hill sessions. 8k easy on the first day and a more challenging 14k the day after. 

14km run in hilly Ankara

Now I am in the middle of my 5th training week. Sometimes you have to change your training plan depending on your situation. What I have learned about training is there is no training plan that suits everyone. You need to listen to your body, see your progress and alter your training plan accordingly.

This Monday I had to go for a 5k hill session, and I also planned to swim. I only had time to go to the gym to do the both workouts. Treadmill running is not my cup of tea and I only run on treadmills occasionally when I have to. Anyway the treadmills were down so I decided to do some weight training. I had a fairly short but quite intense weight sessions to work on those quads, glutes and calves. Weighted squads, weighted alternative jump lunges and weighted calf rises. It was definitely more intense than that hill session and I could feel those quads during 12k run on Tuesday! 

Sometimes it makes more sense to alter your plan and go for a shorter run or cross train rather than missing your workout altogether. So this week - after that weight training and fairly fast 12km - I am going to take it easy for a couple of days and get ready for Friday's long run.

Stay tuned guys!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

The greatest way to start a day

I have never experienced a bad run. You always - no matter how down you are or how badly you want to find an excuse not to run - feel better after a run.

Running usually makes you feel good, sometimes it's better and occasionally it's extraordinary. Today was definitely one of those occasions.

Training report, week 3

Still on track

Distance: 59 km
Distance planned: 59 km
Long run: 32 km
Plyometrics: None!
Weight training: One session
Swimming: half an hour

Need to get cross training more seriously!

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Still on target

I was away for a few days and didn't have a chance to update this page. But I did go for a couple of runs one of which was quite challenging.
So if you checked this page on Monday looking for last week's training report I have to say I'm still on my target. If I haven't post the report that doesn't mean I haven't run!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Long runs and the city; Exploring Tehran

Tehran is definitely not the best city to run in. With its busy streets and air pollution you need to chose appropriate time and place for a run. I do have several favourite running routes in Tehran but if you want to go for a long run, the best time is Friday morning. Get up no later than 5am, lace up your running shoes and head out. Then you are free to take any roads, parks or even highways. You even don't need to plan your route in advance. As an architect I'd always like to explore different neighbourhoods of Tehran and running -in addition to all the great stuff brought to my life - is now helping me on doing so.

Here you can see three different routes I took the last couple of weeks. The blue one is 16-kilometre long, the orange one covers 32 km and the yellow one is exactly 25 km. All took me to some parts of the city I had never walked in before. For my next long run, I'm going to take another new route, to explore more of the city I live in.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Training report, week 2

So far, so good

Distance: 53 km
Distance planned: 53 km
Long run: 25 km
Plyometrics: One session (Stairs)

Monday, 18 February 2013

Training report, week 1

Following my previous post, I've started my training plan and I am going to post weekly reports here. A series of quick updates to let you know how I am getting on.

So here it is for week 1

Distance: 46 km
Distance planned: 46km
Long run: 16km ( It was supposed to be 18km but I had to stop when I twisted my ankle. Nothing serious!)
Weight training: One session
Plyometrics: One session (25 minutes)

You can also check out my latest workouts on Movescount through the link in the right sidebar.

Friday, 15 February 2013

A quick update on training

I did put my feet up for the first couple of weeks after Dubai marathon. Didn't run the first week and had a couple of easy runs the week after. That gave me the chance to recover completely and set a training plan.

What I ended up with was a 24-week long training plan made to help myself achieving my ambitious goals for 2013. Running three marathons and my first ultra in less than six months. The plan is made to be adaptive. So by the end of each week I am going to review my progress and alter the next week plan regarding my condition. 

What I like the most about my new training plan is its diversity. It consists of long runs, easy runs, intervals, fartleks and tempo runs along with some plyometrics and strength workout. I have planned quite a few hill sessions and running at high altitudes. 

This is gonna be exciting. Stay tuned guys.

PS. If you are looking for a website to plan your training you might find RunningAhead useful. I have tried a few of those in the past and this one works perfectly for me.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Dubai Marathon 2013

Despite the lack of training, I headed to Dubai last Wednesday to run the Dubai Marathon. First task was collecting the race number from the race official hotel which was quite posh. It was well organized and collecting all the stuff took only a few minutes. I was expecting to see many runners there but there were no expo to look at the latest running products and socialize with other runners.

Collecting race number, JW Marriot Hotel
The couple of days before the race spent chilling out, hanging around with my family and of course carb-loading!

On race day it was not easy to get to the start line as metro was not working untill 2pm! And almost everyone had to take a taxi or drive there. The taxi drop-off point was quite far from the start line but I had more than enough time to get there in time. It was quite chilly with a fairly intense fog which remained for a couple of hours.

The course route recorded by my gps watch
Marathon started at 0700 hrs. And probably because there were not too many runners (around 2500) everyone started at the same time and in a single group with the elite athletes in front. The Course is  out-and-back, flat and boring. When you pass the 8km mark the course continues on a straight road and you don't leave that very road until 34km. On Friday's hazy weather you couldn't see much farther and it did help a lot. 

Somewhere between 10-15 km. 

Overstriding! That's not a good running form
I ran the first half of the race in a very good pace (5:15 min/km). With lack of training for this marathon that was quite fast, but once again I was feeling great and had no reason to slow down. The race was farily well organised with supplies of water, Sport drinks and sponges. I would prefer to see some bananas and energy bars as well. 

The second half 
Getting close to the finish line
 It was after 28th km that I had cramps on my quads. I was indeed waiting for the pain, I knew it will come at any minute, I knew I hadn't trained hard for this and now it's time to pay for it. From that point to the finish line my pace dropped and I was running at a slower pace and had to walk several times (less than a minute each time) every time that I had cramps. It was probably due to the lack of magnesium. I just didn't have enough of that before the race. 

After 38 km almost everyone was struggling and there were words of encouragement coming from spectators (who were cheering along the way but mainly in last 6 kilometers) and mainly from the other runners. There were also some 10k runners who had finished their race and came back to cheer for marathoner. This is the part of a marathon that you know you've made it. You know no matter how bad you feel you must go on. And on this marathon I also had my family waiting for me at the finish line. So I had every reason to give it my best. I dragged myself to the 41km mark and speed up from there to finish strong. Finally crossed the finish line in 04:05:37. 

Another marathon is done. Looking forward to the next one.

Ps. You can check out the route, pace, heart rate, etc here