Saturday, December 31, 2011

Books in 2011

1. Dare to Run by Amit Sheth

2. Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

3. When Genius Fails by Roger Lowenstein

4. Moneyball by Michael Lewis

5. Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger & Scott Douglas

6. Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald

7. Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich

8. The Lore of Running by Timothy Noakes

9. Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear

10. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

11. The Fixer by Joe Sacco

12. An Anthropologist on Mars by Oliver Sacks

13. The man who mistook his wife for a hat by Oliver Sacks

14. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

15. Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco

16. Once a Runner by John Parker

17. In Spite of the Gods by Edward Luce

18. A race like no other by Liz Robbins

19. Strides: Running Through History With an Unlikely Athlete by Ben Cheever

20. Faster by James Gleick

21. The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb

22. Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett

23. Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco

24. Under the Frog by Tibor Fischer

25. Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman

26. Send in the Idiots by Kamran Nazeer

27. Bangalore Calling by Brinda S. Narayan

28. Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville by Stephen Jay Gould

29. Playing for Keeps by David Halberstam

30. Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas

31. Boston Marathon by Tom Derderian

32. Running to the Limit by Jurg Wirz

33. We might as well win by Johan Bruyneel

34. Rashmi Bansal's "I have a Dream"

35. Dov Seidman's "HOW"

36. Jay Elliot's "iLeadership"

37. Julian Crandall Hollick's "Apna Street"

38. CY Gopinath’s The Book of Answers

39. The Emperor of all Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

40. The beautiful and the damned by Siddhartha Deb

41. The Next Convergence by Michael Spence

42. Our Lady of Alice Bhatti by Mohammed Hanif

43. Run Less Run Faster

44. Personal Record by Rachel Toor

45. The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

46. Laughing without an Accent by Firoozeh Dumas

47. Entrepedia by Nandini Vaidyanathan

48. The Greatest Show on Earth - writings on Bollywood edited by Jerry Pinto

49. Reading like a Writer by Francine Prose

50. Brainiac by Ken Jennings

51. The Genius Factory by David Plotz

52. The Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas

53. The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

54. Anila's Journey by Mary Finn

55. Is it all about the hips by Sangita Shrestova

56. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

Happy New Year

Wish all the readers of my blog a very happy new year 2012.

2011 was the best year of my life thus far. I did most things I set out to do at the beginning of the year - read a bunch of books, write a bit and qualify for the Boston Marathon. It was made possible by two of the best people in my life - Tony Fong, my running coach and Jerry Pinto, who was my best friend in Mumbai, in addition to pushing me to write down my story.

I quit my job and started working for myself as a running coach and a freelance writer. The next few months will show how that decision works out. But I have had great fun so far. I also had a big scare in the form of jaundice, just weeks after I quit my job - thereby leaving with no job, no outlook on the future (since jaundice is a stubborn disease which doesn't go away quickly) and the very basis of my business model - "me" in poor health. But then things turned around, a little slower than I wanted, but surely.

My family made it possible for me to experiment with all this - my brother who has been my generous sponsor and my parents - who went thru a tough patch while I was running to my heart's content in the US.

In general, 2011 was largely fun due to the wonderful & generous friends both in India & the US, who had a role in every nice thing that happened to me. Thank you all.

Here's hoping for more of the same in 2012.

Just like quite a few runners worldwide, I was upset with the death of Sammy Wanjiru who redefined how marathons would be run. It was like the death of Jimi Hendrix if you are a rock buff. I was mostly too shocked to say much when Sammy died as suddenly as he did. Of the several notable personalities who died in 2011, Sammy's is the one that affected me the most. He was a fearless, strong and graceful runner. He apparently had a dark & troubled side too.

My commiserations to those who lost someone they admired & loved. Lets hope for a better year ahead.

Stay healthy. Stay happy. Keep running!

Training for the World 10K

On 27 May 2012, India’s most popular 10K race will be held in Bangalore. From the 1st day of the year, that will be about 21 weeks to raceday.
This race is perhaps the best race in India for beginners who are interested in running as well as those experienced runners who intend to better their timing, since the distance is not as daunting as those in longer races round the country.
I am looking at taking on a batch only in Bangalore of not more than 50 runners for training for this race, starting in the 1st or 2nd week of January 2012, by when there will be about 20 weeks to train. For the experienced runners, 16 weeks may be adequate to train. So you can start from February 1st week but you need to sign up asap.
In short, the following will be key features
1. You will train for 3-5 days a week, of which you will do two runs a week with a group*. The two key runs will be a speed workout and a tempo run.
2. For those who have already run a 10K in the past and are looking at improving timings, I may have a 3rd run every week.
3. You will get a customized training plan in line with your capabilities (to be assessed using a time trial) and supervision of your training sessions.
4. You will get feedback as needed both at the key runs and at the end of the week.
5. We will set a mutually agreed target in line with your capabilities and performance for the final race.
* You will run on your own on the other days. You are welcome to join me on other days too since I run on 6 days of the week and sometimes all 7 days, but the locations/timings on those days will be at my discretion on the other days.

If you are vegetarian, I can also help you on planning your diet based on my experience. We could examine your diet even if you aren't but since I am not non-vegetarian, I have little experiential advice to dole out.

If you are interested mail me at dhammonia@gmail.com and we will work out specifics like locations, timings, fees, etc. In case you are outside Bangalore and want to work out some unusual arrangements based on email-based coaching (Yes, there is such a thing. Even some sub-elite athletes train like that) wherein I design a custom-training plan, visit you once a month but track you on a daily basis, mail me and we shall work something out.

Update: I am no longer taking on trainees for the 10K since there are less than 10 weeks to go for the race as on 25th Mar 12. If you are interested in training for a later event, see this in stead

About me:
I am 33 years old. I used to work as a manager in a premier Management Consulting firm until recently. I just found running more enjoyable and quit my job to become a full-time coach. I have been running for over 10 years. I had no running history before 2001. For that matter, nobody in my family has ever played any sport with any competence. I used to be a plump kid for a while. Then I just grew up to become a fat adult. I just decided to change this one fine day. So I know what it is to train as an ordinary person who has no sporting history. I have run 14 marathons and run a half marathon at least once a week (sometimes two). I started with a half marathon in 2 hours 34 minutes in 2004 and a full marathon in 2005 (in 5 hours 4 minutes) with little training or even an idea on how to train. I just ran them on a whim. So I began training since I thought I could improve with training. As recently as in 2009, I ran 10K in 47 minutes and 51 seconds.
However I ran without a coach till January 2011. My best marathon till then was in 4 hours.
In 2011, I found an amazing coach and trained under him in the US. I ran 2 half marathons in about 1 hour 30 minutes each and a full marathon in just 3 hours 10 minutes, qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
I would love to show you what you can do with targeted training.
I am currently training my first ever batch of runners with a broad range of abilities, who are running in the Mumbai & Auroville Marathons, for both the half and full marathons.
I love to run. It has changed my life. It could change yours too.
Update: One of my trainees who is Singapore based, came up with interesting names for my coaching options - remote and on location in Bangalore. He calls the remote model (email/telephone based) as the "Ekalavya" model and the on-location one as "Arjuna" model. I have loved the terms enough to quickly appropriate them