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Run for a cause

Komal Mehta | January 11, 2006

When Walkeshwar and Jogeshwari are part of your city, how can you not be running?" This punchline for the Mumbai Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2006 is what sent me into sprint mode!

image After missing out on the previous two years, I jumped at the chance of participating in this year's event on January 15. The prize money of around US $ 210,000 wasn't a bad incentive either.

For those planning to join me, here's a look at the kind of preparation it takes.

Survival of the fittest

You might be all geared up to beat the professionals at their own game, but the marathon is a lot more than a jog or walk. The heat, humidity and strain saps the energy of even the best athletes. The 'Dream Run', which is a seven kilometre race, may seem like an easily attainable target, but you could find yourself jogging, walking or crawling at the end, just to make it to the finish line.

Practice makes perfect
Fitness expert Leena Mogre, who runs her gym in Mumbai, is also running. For first-time runners like me, here are some quick tips from the trainer:

i. If you haven't started training yet, start now. Follow the pattern of a brisk walk and jog until you can build a tempo and sustain running for a longer period of time.

ii. Begin with warm-ups. Begin with general walking, start brisk walking and continue until you break into a slight sweat. This indicates your body has warmed up.

iii. If you workout regularly, perform some stretches like a full body stretch, quadriceps stretch, hamstring stretch, calf stretch, inner and outer thigh stretch, cat and camel stretch and work at releasing lower back pressure.

iv. While cooling down, perform all warm-up exercises in reverse and with lower intensity.

v. For those who do not work out regularly or train, just hit the road and try and get used to running. Common exercises like cycling, climbing stairs, walking and running can be practised.

What to eat

Physical fitness is incomplete without some dietary caution. "Eating healthy will help build stamina to overcome exertion," says Leena.

i. Drink a lot of water. Keep hydrating yourself. Dehydration is a common complaint with first-time runners. Water is available at various posts throughout the length of the track.

ii. Drink a lot of water during and after the marathon and try controlling your bladder movements. Try and understand how much water is right for you; having too much water could give you a stomachache.

iii. You could use supplements or energy drinks like 'Rehydration Formula' by EAS or Gatorade to keep your electrolytes and water level normal. 'Rehydration Formula' is available at 'Sports Fuel' shop (Bandra and Metro) and Gatorade (Rs 45 for 500 ml) is available at most supermarkets and general stores.

iv. Eat a lot of proteins, carbohydrates and avoid fats. Opt for idlis, tofu, soya, egg whites, salads, etc. Eat a lot of raw vegetables like sprouts if you are vegetarian; and food like boiled chicken and eggs if you are non-vegetarian.

v. NEVER attempt to run on an empty stomach. Right before the marathon, you could eat a lot of fruit, brown bread, jacket potatoes, etc. 

What to wear

According to fashion designer and stylist Meera Mittal, comfort is the key: 
~ Opt for clothes that have a blend of cotton and lycra. Clothes made of plain lycra make you sweat a lot and should be avoided.

~ Your clothes should not be too tight and must allow for free movement.

~ They could be trendy and colourful so they attract attention and allow you to be spotted easily.

~ You could wear tee shirts with slogans, to be vocal about something you stand for or believe in.

~ Buy shoes in advance so you get used to them. Use thick socks that pad the feet and provide comfort. A pair of good sun glasses is also recommended.

A day before D-day

i. Eat well

ii. Sleep well.  

iii. Eat complex carbohydrates like brown rice, brown bread, seven-grain bread, nuts and oil seeds, bananas, etc.

On D-day

i. Do not skip breakfast. Avoid a heavy breakfast with a lot of fats though; it may make you nauseous and queasy.

ii. Avoid taking energisers like glucose because they only give spurts of energy and may not sustain you throughout.

During the race
i. Keep REHYDRATING yourself.

ii. There will be a lot of first-aid kits around, but you could keep band-aids or pain-relieving spray (like Moov or Ben-Gay) handy in a pouch.

iii. If you experience any kind of pain at all, please STOP right there; do not push yourself too hard. Reduce your pace to a walk. If the pain and discomfort persists, opt out of the marathon. 

iv. It case of an abdominal stitch (severe pain in the abdomen), slow down and press three of your fingers to the area where there is some pain. Start breathing normally before continuing.

Do you want to be a part of it?

~ Registrations for the Marathon are closed, but you could still work behind the scenes. For volunteering, just fire a mail to with the subject clearly marked 'SCMM 2006.'

~ 'United Way Mumbai' allow you to become a sponsor buddy: link up with a runner and help them raise funds. They are also looking for volunteers to be race supporters. For further information, look up their site.

A lot of other charities are also running for a cause and they may be on the lookout for volunteers. If none of these options work for you, just join the crowd that comes to cheer the runners.

Mumbai Marathon facts

~ It is among the top 10 marathons in the world, attracting some of the best athletes like Pio Mpolokeng and Michael Mpotoane. 

~ A very special aspect of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon is that it provides a platform for everyone to run on the same track for a charity they believe in.

Charities running for a cause include Magic Bus foundation for child welfare, Children Toy Foundation for Education, National Association for the Blind for the disabled, ALERT INDIA, etc.

~ The various race categories:


Start time

Half Marathon: 21.097 km

7 am     

Marathon: 42.195 km       

8 am     

Senior Citizens Run: 5 km  

8.15 am

Wheel Chair Event: 3.5 km

8.20 am

Dream Run: 7 km             

9.30 am




Up for the challenge? So then, I guess I'll see you there.

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