Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Run a Half Marathon in 13 weeks

If you are physically active and can run about 3 miles in one stretch, you can train to run a half-marathon in about 3 months. Please note that your objective is to finish the race around 2 hours, mostly running.

If you read the vast literature on running, you will find many methodologies to prepare you for a long distance race, and at times they might be confusing. The main goal of all those training plans is the same though: prepare you to run longer distances gradually to avoid training injuries.

This guideline is largely based on how I got ready for my first 1/2 marathon. The focus here is not to improve your time; but it is to make you run long distances smoothly. 

1. Start running at least 3 days a week and get a point where you can run at least 3 miles in one stretch; some walking is ok, but mainly running; don't worry about speed at this point.

2. Increase the distance you cover in one session by approximately 10% once you are comfortable doing a specific distance. The steps could be 3,4,5,6. Make sure that you try the next longer distance only after you can run the current target distance comfortably. Time required in reaching 6 miles in one stretch would depend on your ability to run, but make sure you don't rush and only reach there gradually to avoid training injuries.

3. After you can start running 6 miles, you can do long runs on weekends. In this schedule, you will run  short distances between 3 to 6 miles (longer the better) 3 days a week and a long run on the weekend which will be increased by approximately 10% every week, like 7,8,9,10,11,12 miles. Run a short distance like 3 miles before the day for long run and take rest the day after long run.

4. 1/2 marathon is 13.1 miles, but once you run 12 miles couple of times, you are ready to run the race.Your training should be wound down at least 2 weeks before the race. During this period, don't stop running, but run at least 3 days a week logging 3 to 5 miles in every run.

5. Do weekly hiking as a cross-training to build strength, esp. during the first part of the training before you start the weekly long runs. This is optional but it will be very helpful if you haven't been very active prior to starting this training.

Based on this methodology, for someone who hasn't run much before, the training schedule would look like this, if you make 10% progress in distance covered every week:

Week 1: 3,3,3,Hike --   9M
Week 2: 3,3,4,Hike --   10M
Week 3: 4,3,5,Hike --   12M
Week 4: 4,4,6,Hike --   14M
Week 5: 3,4,3,7       --  17M
Week 6: 4,5,3,8        -- 20M
Week 7: 4,5,3,9       --  21M
Week 8: 4,5,3,10      -- 22M
Week 9: 4,5,3,11      -- 23M
Week 10: 4,5,3,12    -- 24M
Week 11: 4,5,3,12    -- 24M
Week 12: 3,4,5,4      -- 16M
Week 13: 3,3,2,13.1 - RACE WEEK

The schedule can be compressed if you are capable of skipping the early training weeks and start later in the schedule.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Making of a Banana Republic

The American fruit companies invented banana republics beyond our southern borders; the idea was simple: the companies control the governments in those countries so that the companies can smoothly go about growing and trading bananas.The interests of the ordinary citizens in those countries were ignored and their resources were channeled towards the smooth operation of the fruit companies, and only a super rich clique benefited locally.

The recent ruling of Supreme Court, freeing up all the restrictions of political contributions by corporations, will certainly pave the way for the gradual degradation of democracy in this country. If anybody is into watching how the special interests influence election results by pumping money into the political system, the reasons are right there to see.

Strangely, to make this ruling,  the highest court invoked First Amendment that guarantees the freedom of speech  and it equated corporations with the ordinary citizens. How could artificial entities like corporations have rights equal to that of citizens? Have the judges who voted for this ruling started literally believing in the term 'Corporate Citizen'?  Could ordinary citizens match with huge corporations like Chevron when it comes to arranging resources (for  getting involved in an election, or a debate in the Congress).

It is true that special interest groups like unions can also contribute funds with no limit. But those groups are no match for rich corporations. By making this ruling Supreme Court made sure that Wall Street friendly politicians, mainly those from GOP, will have a huge financial advantage over their rivals in elections and debates. And in a environment where most any issue can be spun in the media to one's advantage, given an adequate war-chest, the political careers of those who would side with the people on the Main Street would be in jeopardy.

If laws only favorable to the corporations would get passed, politicians friendly with corporations only get elected,  and lawmakers' attempts to control the activities of corporations get scuttled, then people will lose any remaining trust in elections and government. A minority will be benefited for sure in such a cozy arrangement between those who control the government and the corporations, but such a setup will effectively squelch any noise from ordinary citizens.

It is essential that citizens and lawmakers who side with them take initiatives to control the corporations from making this nation a banana republic with Supreme Court's blessing. But without having a liberal judge installed in the court, it can strike again and remove any protections that the lawmakers might pass in the future.

About 9 years ago Supreme Court did the shameless act of installing a president whose mandate was still in question. And now it did this to weaken the oldest democratic system in the world. By doing such politically motivated acts, the court also loses its credibility, like other branches of the government do these days.