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The sacred cows of marathon running

[Editor’s Note: Two years ago, I wrote a list-based post – you are a long distance runner when.. Nothing spectacular but it sorta went viral on Facebook and I got my first official flattery (read “got plagiarized”). A friend saw my post neatly pasted on a friend-of-a-friend’s wall (let’s call him X – he’s a Chennai runner). When my friend commented on that thread asking for the source, X responded – “Somebody posted it on a Chennai runners list.” No attribution either to my original post or to the chap who posted on the Chennai runners group. The priceless comment came from a Bangalore runner acquaintance on the same thread “What’s the big deal? Vishy too must have picked up the list from somewhere on the Internet.” As someone who’s finicky about attributing every quote, tweet and picture, I was miffed. But I (uncharacteristically) resisted the urge to respond on the thread. The relevance to the post below? It just happens to be another list-based post so in case someone wants to flatter me again… hope they’ll read this preamble.] 

Pic: courtesy
  1. Thou shalt wear a pair of ‘Drifit technology’ shorts and a tee.
    • If you are a female runner in India, substituting shorts with capris is (sadly) a safer option.
  2. Thou shalt use a suitably comfortable and cushioned pair of shoes. [1]
  3. Thou shalt use a pair of quick moisture wicking non-cotton socks, preferably with a cushioned sole. [1]
  4. Thou shalt use a judicious combination of Gatorade and water for all long runs.. and definitely on race day.
  5. Thou shalt use a suitably peppy playlist for those pesky ‘hitting the wall’ moments. [2]
  6. Thou shalt use Vaseline for all runs greater than 25km.
  7. Thou shalt use Gu energy gels every [x] miles (or [y] minutes) for some long runs.. and definitely on race day. [3]
  8. Thou shalt ingest Endurolyte tablets every 10km on race day.. especially when conditions are extra humid.
  9. Thou shalt use a headband to minimize sweat dripping into one’s eyes.
  10. Thou shalt use a waist pouch to carry the ‘essentials’ (energy gels, salt tablets, keys, phone). [4]
  11. Thou shalt wear a Garmin for all training runs and races. [5]
  12. Thou shalt wear a heart rate monitor.. especially if you have illusions of being an elite runner.
  13. Thou shalt carry a suitable amount of small currency bills.. especially on those long solo runs.
  14. Thou shalt wear a running cap and sunglasses for any run likely to extend beyond 9am.
  15. Thou shalt not run in the buff.
    • See #1. Though I read in Amit Sheth’s Dare to Run that athletes in ancient Greece would run totally naked.
  16. Thou shalt enjoy your running. [6]

Have I missed any sacred cows? Do let me know in the comments.

[1] This sacred cow has officially been in dormant mode since Feb 2012 – read upper body conspiracy and achieving terminal velocity for context. In another 5 months, I’ll know whether it can become extinct.

[2] This became extinct 10 years ago, midway through training for my first full marathon.

[3] This will officially become extinct starting next month’s Kaveri Trail Marathon. My last few months with a nuts+dates mix has yielded very satisfactory results.

[4] The waist pouch was jettisoned two years ago.

[5] Hope to jettison the Garmin for next racing season.

[6] Thanks to my friend Sunil Chainani for flagging this (previous) exclusion). This is the most sacred of all the cows – the day you stop enjoying your running it means that you’re doing something wrong.