Year 2020- Transformation of an egg to caterpillar on journey to be a butterfly.

Harshad Nerurkar

“Fitness is not about being better than anyone else but being better than you used to be”.


By the year ended 2019 and with TMM on cards, I was set to take up a review of my fitness journey all along last few years.


How I started running shorter distances & turning those into 21 K, hill runs. Despite, uncomfortable lifestyle of getting up early mornings, spending hours practicing on empty roads, changing to healthy eating habits, I started enjoying the runs, people acknowledging your efforts, the finisher medals, PB’s, new friends from running community- everything. These always added zing. But everything comes at a price. There were always up and downs in terms of injuries, some of them kept me away from running for a fair amount of time. The one I had after my half marathon run with Armed Forces Medical College kept me away for almost 6 months. This was a hard time for me but these lows always taught me lessons about what not to do and every time it happened, I bounced back strongly with new learnings. But this put my brain cells in disarray to think for sure.


My heart & mind was not allowing me to sit idle with activities and while I was on the road to recovery, I just cashed on this opportunity and had first bicycle purchase. This surely helped me on my road to recovery. Bike riding always gave me immense joy.


With running and biking, the idea of building a strong foundation of endurance, mobility and strength kept lingering so as to run injury free. For many, running may be a simple activity, it is not. It has science behind. Topics like right from shoes you wear to kind of training, posture, technique, cadence, pace, running zones, breathing influences it.


For some time, all these went back of my mind. With the end of TMM 2020, again it started surfacing. Seriously I wanted to but had no clues. Shubhangi, my running buddy too endorsed it.


Finally, with thinking, I decided to talk to Kartik as I knew he was a part of Reebok Running Squad and will help me out. He suggested me to contact TimTim. After couple of calls to TimTim, one fine Saturday evening we landed at her Juhu residence. I was hoping the interactions/ meeting to get over by 30 mins. Timtim, a certified personal trainer and elite athlete herself. To my surprise, the discussions started with many questions, about my journey so far, my routine, weight, height, heart rate, eating habits, lifestyle and on… and finally we stopped at objectives of training. She noted down everything. Shubhangi wanted to hit sub 2 half marathon. I was not sure if I should spell single or multiple objectives. But decided to list down all my objectives


The first one was to run / bike without injury.

Improve my mobility and flexibility

To run sub 2 half marathon in 2020

To attempt TMM 2021 full marathon

To complete duathlon in 2020


We decided to take one at a time and monitor the progress through structured training


I believe that It is possible to run 10K or even 21k with fair amount of disciplined training. However, for running a full marathon, you need to bring a major sustainable lifestyle change in you. These changes are in your daily workout types, intensities, duration, sleeping and eating habits, running style and so on. They are tough but achievable. I was proudly addicted to getting stronger.


Using carb rich food like dates, sweet potato, banana to protein rich food after workouts influences your workouts to great extent. It was fun to learn from TimTim to prepare protein rich salads made from chickpeas, red kidney beans, boiled egg, sprouts, lettuce leaves, cottage cheese with variety of dressings.


The workout journey started soon with basic warmups and cool downs with stretches. And soon the intensities, difficulty level started going up. And I was excited to catch up.


As TimTim says, “Stronger being the key… faster being a result of improved fitness and structured training”.


This, I was clearly missing in my journey.


And soon I could see little difference improving my mobility, flexibility and soon it proved a point when I ran PJHM-10K and I improved my timing by over 5 minutes.


The next part of training was aerobic run!! An important topic for runners…


The activities we do, our bodies need to break down sugar and convert into glycogen, so that it can use as fuel for activities. When body has an adequate supply of oxygen for this process, it’s called aerobic respiration. This means body has enough oxygen, like you are running easy miles. Each time you breathe in, you efficiently use all the oxygen it needs to power the muscles. Body expels all what is not used along with carbon dioxide and water. Aerobic running is good for runners and will allow body to become stronger as this improve Vo2 max.


Anaerobic respiration occurs when there is not enough oxygen present. So, muscles do not have much oxygen to produce energy you are demanding (usually from faster pace than your body is able to sustain, eg sprinting). Lactic acid is mainly produced in muscle cells and red blood cells. It forms when the body breaks down carbohydrates to use for energy when oxygen levels are low. This results in burning sensation or cramps in muscles. If you begin to run too hard in the middle of a workout or the start of a race, your body goes into an anaerobic state, producing lactate. If you “go anaerobic” early in a race, you will fatigue sooner, and your ability to maintain pace will take a nosedive. For those running marathons, learning the difference between aerobic and anaerobic becomes critical.


It is not uncommon to ask which heart rate zone you are running in. And this is as common question as what is your pace? Your heart rate or beats per minute (bpm) is a guide to hitting a certain running intensity. The idea behind heart rate-based training is that you train your aerobic system without overstressing your skeletal and muscular systems. Mathematical models are available to determine your maximum heart rates (MHR) and then defining your pacing zones.


The objective was to improve endurance level by running in desired zone (70-80% of MHR) and prepare for long runs. So, I did start aerobic run practice by controlling heart rate in the defined zone. So, jog and let body utilize more oxygen. Honestly it looked very easy at first but soon I realized that it needs fair amount of efforts in terms of patience.


I need to follow strict weekly schedules. Plan contents variety of workouts focusing on different muscles groups and was focused towards improving agility, mobility and flexibility.


Soon the schedule changed to full body works outs, runs and cycling over the weekend and going on well. I tried to maintain cadence by biking in hard gear so as to give legs good workout. The long runs were planned including ~ 4-5 km run on Beach. I always like running on beach early morning as I feel, the soft sound of waves, fresh air, elderly groups working out and walkers makes the beach live. With TimTim, we planned couple of yoga work outs, jogs to make sure right form.


Things were going in right track. TimTim, Kartik and me were planning to run TCS Bangalore 10K later in May. And then came Covid 19 and soon lockdown was announced. TCS 10K was postponed.


I saw many runners resorted to indoor running. I did the same but soon realized indoor running is not a good option as you turn many times putting stress on your joints. And that when we decided to focus on strength and flexibility. My workouts became very intensive. And that when realized, strength and flexibility workouts are even tougher than running.


I say “Immobility in home can improve your mobility by workouts”.


One of the wonderful ways was to go with full body circuits. You can increase the intensity by reducing time between workouts and adding more circuits.


“Strength does not come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t do”. There were many things on my mind, and I decided to use lockdown period to learn many workouts I never did before. I learned skipping ropes, I started Yoga, Surya Namaskar.


A little bit about Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation as is called. Practicing Surya Namaskar. in the morning rejuvenates your body and refreshes your mind. Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is composed of 12 different postures which are asanas. These can be performed fast to improve cardiac fitness or can be slow and controlled so as to improve muscle strength and flexibility. Breathing is key.


“The difference between wanting and achieving is discipline”. I made a point to devote at least 3 hours every day for warm up and Yoga in the morning and workouts in the evening. And I could see improvement coming.


What Bruce Lee said once “I don’t fear opponent who practices 5000 different kicks but fear one who practices one kick 5000 times” That is the power of consistency which I believe in workouts and strength training.


Weekly training includes a rest day. Inserting rest day in workout schedule is incredibly important, as they allow your body to recover. The workouts were intended for using body resistance or using free wights. So, “If you are tired, learn to rest and not quit”. Without proper rest, your body and muscles don’t have the necessary time to rebuild and rejuvenate.


Last but not the least, when you get up in the morning you can see multiple paths for you to walk upon, it’s important to know which road to take on your journey to success. Though you have to walk yourself on the road, it is important for someone to show and guide. That’s the job of coach. I am lucky to have TimTim as my guide, mentor. And gratitude to her for journey so far to on way to become butterfly…and journey goes on.