Exploring Mumbai in 15 days and 15 runs (Part I) Aug 14, 2015 Post my Ironman 70.3 race in May, I was pondering over something fun to do with my workout schedule. One of the things that came to my mind was the popular 15 days x 15 runs challenge. I already had the training base required for the long, slow runs so 15 days x15 runs seemed like a perfect thing to try. The biggest obstacle was to overcome the boredom of running 15 km every day for over 2 weeks; it truly becomes monotonous. To get over that, I fiddled with the idea of 15 different routes throughout the city and beyond. This not only made the idea more interesting but also gave me a chance to explore different running routes through the city. The preparation for the run started in the last week of June. Finding 15 different parts in and around the city, mapping a 15 km route which is either point-to-point or out-and-back. Once I finished this grueling exercise I realized, more than half the runs were in distant parts of the city and would require me to adjust my schedule to fit the runs and office timing. I finally managed to put this crazy jigsaw puzzle together over the week and got myself ready for the 15 days of running. Finally, the day arrived, I went out for my first run, a bit hesitant on how to pace myself. Amidst that I left without carrying any nutrition with me. I felt very sluggish due to lack of practice for a month besides the nutrition issue. Repeated the same mistake again on the second day and had a tough time. I ensured I didn't repeat the same mistake again. However, on day 3 I committed another horrible mistake. Not all routes are as they seem on the map. Got stuck in massive traffic where I could barely walk on some stretches, let alone run. This is one major difficulty of running in the city: you either miss out on sleep and start early enough or face traffic. Then the weekend arrived so I didn’t have to worry so much about start time or the end time for the next two runs. But, I wanted to avoid evenings as I wouldn’t have enough time to recover the next day. The 5th day was also the day of monthly Bandra-NCPA run; I decided to go back to running barefoot on that one. Was the best run I had had in a while. Running barefoot always feels like a great thing when putting in long, slow distances. Also, had a fun time catching up with a lot of runners. I faced traffic related woes repeatedly over the next few days. But, surprisingly on Day 8, I hardly faced any traffic at Juhu-Andheri area. I guess people there don’t go out early in the day. Day 11 to Day 14 were 4 consecutive days of tough routes. Something definitely avoidable while doing 15 days of running. Barely gives a chance to go easy and recover from the previous day. Nonetheless, the scenery definitely made up for it. All the routes were extremely beautiful. The last day, body refused to get going in the morning thanks to late night and the strain of last few days. But, I pushed myself to finish it that morning and get done with it. Thankfully, after a few minutes everything was in place and I was able to finish the 15th day quite easily. All in all, 230 km done in 15 days at 15 different locations around the city. As a 15x15 run challenge, this may not be considered up to par as I had to walk a lot of times. I'll do one again sometime when I'm at the peak of my running form when I can run throughout and ensure that I keep within 1:35 hours time for all the 15 days. That aside, this experiment was a success in terms of exploring different parts of the city - some of which I’d never seen before. It was also a good learning in time management. There are quite a few lessons I learned which will help me in future for my fitness goals: Stick to a fixed schedule and keep enough time for recovery else rest of the workouts go for a toss till you manage to recover. Something like 15x15 run challenge eats up almost 2 hours of the day and even more while traveling across the different parts of the city. You need additional time to recover and sleep. Plus, a full work day ahead makes it really difficult to manage your social life. You have to mix and match things to see what works for you. Too little social life and all your friends and family will ignore you, too much of it and your workouts or health will suffer. To complete something like this, I definitely required help from friends. At times, I had to drop by their places early in the morning to drop my bag and change of clothes, have a bath post my run, get breakfast. At times, I had friends running with me and showing their favorite routes, free of traffic and not having to bother about looking at maps every few minutes. At other times, I had to coordinate with them to get a ride in their cars to reach office in time and not suffer traveling in crowded trains. Nutrition is a crucial aspect to be able to keep going on day-after-day. You need the right amount of nutrition to ensure you can go on through the runs without bonking out. And post-run nutrition is as important so you can recover well enough for the next day. This kind of challenge badly affects your body and you won’t be able to manage going on for too long if your nutrition isn’t right throughout the day. And it’s not just food, you have to drink enough water, get enough electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. Pacing yourself right is a very critical factor as well. Go too fast on one day and you will suffer for the next few days while your body recovers. Not a pretty situation to be in. You need to get your pacing correct so you aren’t too fatigued to not be able to finish it. Also, only take on something that you know isn’t pushing your limits too far. If 15x15 is too difficult for you just as yet, take a smaller challenge for now. A more detailed chronological account of the runs: An Isolated pond along the Vasai run Took a train from CST, got off at Kurla and started a run few meters after getting out of the station, once the road was wide enough to run. Ran till Mankhurd, then turned back. I‘d forgotten to carry anything besides water so made a stop for Energee drink at an Aarey stall, around the 10 km mark. Then ran till King's Circle to end near Cafe Madras. Treated myself to a Ragi dosa after the run. Distance: 15 km Time Taken: 1 hour 35 minutes An outdoor gym is being built here in Vasai This was a much better route thanks to the wider roads, but it was a hotter day, and my legs were barely moving. I again forgot to carry any nutrition, just water. I had a Vada Pav at 8 km mark, but it didn't quite help. Most of the run was on the main road at BKC and then towards Mumbai University, taking a U-Turn near the highway and back to BKC. I took a couple of inner roads so as to complete the 15 km but despite this had to run the last km on the Bandra skywalk, which got a little tricky due to the crowd. Distance: 15 km Time Taken: 1 hour 40 minutes The trail on the left leads to the nearby hill in Vasai The route was quite terrible and so was the weather. The only place I could run was the stretch of road behind Infinity Mall. The rest of the way I was mostly dodging traffic and managing to walk whenever possible. Lack of sleep compounded the problem. I had a very forgettable day. But, the food following the run, if one could call it a run, was delicious - yummy dosa and cold coffee at Ogilvy office. Thanks to Mahima. Distance: 15 km Time Taken: 1 hour 47 minutes The whole Vasai route looked like this except first and last 2 km It was a lazy Saturday morning. I took a train to Vasai after seeing off the guys cycling from Nariman Point to Ahmedabad and back. At Vasai, I met Amit Bhowmik, who took me to one of his favorite running routes. I’d left my Garmin and the sipper behind at home and there was some miscommunication on the starting point so the route wasn't quite captured correctly. And frankly, I couldn’t care! The route was very beautiful. Despite a late morning start, the weather was cloudy and the greenery made it even better. We stopped at various places to soak in the beauty of the place and enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Distance: 14.7 km (as per Amit's calculation) Time Taken: Lost track of time Joined in for the monthly Bandra-NCPA run with Mumbai RoadRunners. This was the first barefoot run of the challenge. I started from Lucky Hotel and ran up to NCPA. Had one of the best runs. Began slowly, talking to various runners whom I knew. After a while, I picked up the pace and continued running with good speed till 15km. Then slowed down and ran with Parul Sheth and Sunil Shetty for the last 2.5 km to preserve my legs for the next lot of runs. It was also the longest run of the challenge. Distance: 18 km Time Taken: 1 hour 58 minutes Had a good night's sleep after a tiring week, so woke up late and went out at almost 7:30 am. Another barefoot run. Had to push forward this route as going to Bandra so late wasn't feasible. Felt really good but decided not to push on uphills and heavy headwinds. Though the run wasn't super fast, I felt really good that day. Distance: 15 km Time Taken: 1 hour 34:30 minutes Started a very late run from Vikhroli, on the EEH service road. I expected the road to be largely empty. Oh boy, was I wrong! I barely had space to walk properly. It was a nightmare come true. I'm never again venturing out on that road at peak hours on a weekday. The first week of the challenge was a mixed one with some good learning along the way. Distance: 15 km Time Taken: 1 hour 45 minutes Mehul is a triathlete based out of Mumbai. When he's not swimming, cycling or running, he can be seen giving commands to computers. And yes, he looks as happy in real life as he looks in this pic. Follow him on Twitter.