The magic of the mountains makes us long to run away from the city. I decided to spend summers in Manali, Himachal Pradesh. I wanted to escape the Bombay heat! Logistically, the move worked in my favour.
During the 3 months amidst the majestic Himalayan mountains, I trained for running and practiced Yoga regularly. It is fantastic to train in the mountains.
Sporty legs: Running in the mountains involves slopes. A forest trail or a run on the roads, the path has uphill as well as downhill patches. I ran along the staggered steps which led to a temple, proving to be a good morning cardio exercise.
A fantastic workout for the calves, quadriceps, hamstring and gluteus muscles was 3 sets of a 200mtr uphill run on these steps. Each set comprised of 5 rounds up and down, trying to run up at a speed which is higher than your comfort zone and resisting the urge to walk the way while running downhill. It made for a killer workout.
The same workout can be replicated in our buildings, where we run up 4 to 5 floors in the same way. Keep in mind to maintain the correct form and engage the gluteus muscles while climbing uphill to avoid strain on the lower back.
Improved Lung Capacity: Manali is at an altitude of 2050 metres above mean sea level. It is filled with towering pine trees and forests responsible for the quality of air and presence of oxygen. While it takes a few days to get accustomed to the cooler temperature, the effort helps in improving lung capacity. Supplementing running with breathing exercises or pranayama has helped me run longer distances of 6km without a break.
Su Krit, Co-Founder of 4Play shares, “Intermittent Hypoxic Training – IHT (simply put, training at higher elevations such as 9000ft and above) has been proven in increasing the Red Blood Cell (RBC) Count, increasing the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity. This is of special benefit for endurance athletes aiming to push for longer distances and perform for an extended period of time.”
Sounds of nature: The contrast came from wearing earphones to shut the sounds of traffic vs. opening my ears to listen to the sounds of the flowing river.
I am used to running to the beats of music in the city. In Manali though, the view of the mountains, the flowing waterfalls and the valley overpowered the need for music.
My sister has told me that it is better to run without music to give yourself the change to be aware of your breathing and try to have the running and breathing in sync with each other. The sounds of the leaves swaying, river gushing, birds chirping kept me aware all through the training.
Meet awesome people: On one of the morning runs, I met Sarah, an award winning mountain biker and absolute adrenaline enthusiast. We went for a trek together.
Few of us were awake and on the trails early in the mornings. It became common practice to smile at each other as we crossed paths and continued our respective training.
I also met a person who was training for the 400 metre race for Rio Olympics. He gave me awesome insights into running and training in the outdoors.
These friends serve as an inspiration to push myself harder.
Shock absorbers for the knee: Running on concrete or tar is not the best for the knees. The mountain paths have trails lined with dry leaves or mud, thus providing a soft surface to run on. This acts as a buffer and reduced impact on the knee.
Beautiful weather: It is energising to run in weather between 15°C to 20°C. Since we sweat less in these temperatures, the level of dehydration is less. Therefore the frequency of refuelling with water reduces as compared to runs in the city.
The cool climate allowed me to run longer durations without getting tired.
While training in Mumbai, Yuktie imagines she is in Manali and looks for similar trails and terrains in the city. I look forward to hearing your training experiences from around the world and across terrains.