City Marathoners recommend trails that are swift, scenic and high on O2
For a marathoner, a practice trail is most important, and given that city roads are hardly runner-friendly, enthusiasts are finding alternative routes to keep their feet going. A lot of them of course choose stretches away from the city as they believe off-road tracks, as opposed to asphalt surfaces, reduce risk of injury, and help to strengthen core muscles and reduce overuse injury..
“For me a trail is about running up a hill. It’s a great way to train for marathons as it helps building endurance,” says Nagaraj Harsha, who has participated in, and completed three Ironman events abroad, apart from other marathons in India. He picks either Nandi Hills or the Javadhu Hills as one of his favourite running trails. “Nandi Hills has longer loops and good elevation. And Javadhu Hills, which is about 180 km from Bengaluru on the Yelagiri range, takes about two-three hours to reach. It is a jungle trail run, has no wildlife, and is safe and peacful. It’s also one of the toughest trails,” Harsha says. According to him the best time to run here is between January to June and the route map is available online. “The trail is beautiful; you can camp there at night, and click about about 80 to 110 km across two days,” he adds. If you are a first timer, connect with the Chennai Trekkers Club to help you organise the trip.
Mercara to Abbi Falls
Model and marathoner Karan Medappa’s favourite running trail always remains the hills of his hometown — Coorg. “One has to be a little seasoned to take on these terrains. The pleasure you derive out of this trail is as high as the punishment your body takes in completing a run here,” he says, adding that his favourite route is from Mercara town to picturesque Abbi Falls and back.
“It is around 14 to 15 km in all, and takes around two hours for me to complete, though my half marathon (21.1 km) time is faster and ranges between 1 hour 40 min to 1 hour 45 min. So you can imagine the elevation of the trail and the altitude, which gives you less oxygen to breathe in,” he says.
Nirupama Singh, 44, prefers the route close to her home in HSR Layout. “The route I follow, from 18th Main and 27th Main in HSR Layout, has great roads. There are no potholes, no waterlogging during the rains, and the stretch is fairly well lit. So one can run comfortably even at night,”she says. Singh also enjoys the the Pipeline Route off Kanakapura Road behind the Art of Living campus. “This route is not congested, and has massive elevation. For those running marathons in Mumbai, which have intense elevations, this place is really a good stretch to train on,” says the professional fitness trainer who took to serious running only a year ago and has since won podium finishes in a handful of half marathons and 10k runs.
For Medapa Cubbon Park too is a favourite spot, with the route covering Kanteerva Stadium, Central Library, Century Club, Vidhana Soudha, passing Press Club, the King’s Statue, the Queen’s Statue, and moving into KSLTA. “This is one of the best loops here for a runner,” he adds.
Outer Ring Road
Bhumika Patel, IT professional, and full-distance marathoner, likes running on broad roads with good inclines, and her favourite route is the Outer Ring Road. “Right from Agara to Bellandur, the Outer Ring Road has flyovers that are good for marathon training. The one from HSR Layout to Manyata Tech Park is about 25 -27 km,” says Patel. She takes to this route often but also suggests that only seasoned runners take it up.
— Nandini Kumar
The right gear
Shoes: Adidas Energy Boost 3.0 (Rs 13000 – Rs 15000 approx, available at Adidas exclusive store on Brigade Road) or the earlier versions, for beginners. The AdiZero Feather 3M (Rs 16,000 approx) is ideal for practised runners.
To wear: Nike’s Power Speed tights (Rs 6,000 onwards, on Nike.com); Running tees (Rs 300 onwards), leg gaiters for protection from gravel and mud (Rs 600 onwards), and waterproof jackets for wind protetion (neck gaiters for sun protection (Rs 900 onwards) are available at Decalthon stores. Neck gaiters for sun protection (Rs 700 onward) are available on amazon.com.
To track: Garmin GPS watch for speed, distance covered, heart rate, etc (starts from Rs 7,000 available on Flipkart)
If you are testing a new trail ensure you keep a first aid kit in your vehicle, and carry extra food with you for emergencies. Always have a small meal such as an energy bar or a sandwich before the run. It’s good to carry a cell phone or pepper spray if you are running alone. But it’s best to run trails with a group. If you’re running on a hilly area, slow down your pace during your descent to avoid injury.