Running tips for winter

A how-to-guide on keeping your spirits up and about when it gets dark and cold.

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The alarm goes off at the usual 6 ‘o’ clock. You peer out of the quilt and steal a glance at the window. Still dark outside. You hit snooze and lay deliberating within the warm cocoon. Should the training session be postponed for later?! The mobile phone buzzes again, shaking you out of the slumber. The goal list, pinned to the night stand, shines out. Resolute, you jump out of bed. Weak or cold, no more.

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A seasoned runner would realise the importance of training in winters. Getting up and out on the track early in the morning is an absolute imperative. Not only can one put in their best effort with a thoroughly rested body but, also it jump starts the metabolism for the day. Calorie burnout is higher than usual as the body fights to maintain a stable core temperature. However, stepping into the cold and damp morning air straight out of bed is not advisable. Dedicating a few minutes to vigorous exercises, such as jumping jacks, that can be done within the house may be useful to warm up the system. The importance of reflective wear and blinkers in keeping out of harm’s way, while it’s still dark, cannot be understated. On the way back, a gradual cool down is key to avoid a sudden drop in body temperature. Additional clothing may be utilised to keep warm even post workout.

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Clothing is another important aspect that must be paid attention to. India’s wide geographical expanse harbors a variety of climatic conditions throughout seasons. Temperature down south may not be as freezing as in the valleys of Himachal. Hence, a single rule of thumb cannot be applied while choosing running wear. Typically, a combination of 2-3 layers works well. The base layer should wick moisture and trap body heat close to the skin aiding thermoregulation. The mid layer should be thermoregulating as well. The outer layer should fulfill the dual purpose of being wind and water repellant along with being breathable. The primary layer for bottom should be thermoregulating and, wind and water repellant. An extra pair of shorts may be worn over the core layer to provide additional warmth. The Hypawarm collection by Wildcraft provides good options to choose from this season.

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Tested the Wildcraft’s Hypawarm collection in sub zero temperatures on Pindari Ultra Trail Run: Click here for a short video of the run. 

When you draft your training schedule this winter, it is important to bear in mind that consistency and gradual increase in load are key to the success of any plan. The adversities and challenges tackled on the track or trail will only make you stronger. While the one’s who weren’t brave enough to give up the comfort of their beds are rusty in the spring, you’d surely find acing races and personal goals a cake walk!

This article also appeared on Redbull.com on 7th December, 2015.

 

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Get On That Plane Already

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I keep coming across this poster on the internet, ‘If traveling were free, you’d never see me again.’ Truth be told, it’s a big fat lie – a lot of people out there are telling themselves every time they ditch their dreams for over time at office.

This is how I used to be through the three years at college, and for the two years after…until, it finally dawned upon me, what it really takes to get out there and travel – WILL – Rock strong will. That’s all you need.

And then, there were two other issues, I had to deal with. Emotions and Finances.

As an aspiring traveler, my emotional concerns were mostly related to meeting my parent’s ‘expectations’. Eventually I realised that, people who really love you, will understand and respect your decisions. So, after a mild opposition my parents understood and accepted that travelling is what I really NEED to do.

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My bed in Darjeeling. Believe it or not, its a counter in a bar that serves Chang (rice beer)

Next in line, were the finances. I had less than $80 cash in hand or bank, cumulatively, as I embarked on my first trip solo. And, believe me you – I made through 6 Indian states in over 20 days, with that sum of money. The point I am making here is, prioritise right and budget accordingly. For myself, travel and climbing are the top most priorities, then comes food and, lodging is last. I spread my expenses in order. Living within means is imperative.

Not every traveler makes a living out of travel writing.

I decided to do anything that lets me travel, is legal and, is within my personal ethical boundaries. I started as a freelancer, writing academic content (sustaining on less than $200 a month, most of the time). The plan was, to eventually build a marketable skill that requires less man hours and pays more. Almost 24 months into the exercise, I now manage operations for a Singaporean setup from a laptop – sitting on the porch of my home, nestled in the Himalayas.

It all boils down to being passionate about your dreams, consistent efforts, keeping no regrets, taking risks and living in the moment. Everything does work out.

Get on that plane, bus, boat, road, whatever, already!

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P.S. There’s a common misconception, that travel isn’t ‘safe’, ‘impossible’ or ‘isn’t meant for’ females. Check out these girls, who are living life queen size.

Toolika Rani (www.tulich83.blogspot.in)

Charukesi (www.charukesi.com)

Nag Tibba Revisited

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Such a tease this modest peak nestled in the Garhwal Himalayas, has become that it almost feels like what Everest was to Mallory.

My second trip to this trekking route was scheduled as part of a rock climbing training regimen I am following these days. Since it is a steep 8kms climb to the peak from Pantwari village, I found the trek route beneficial in the form of a work out focusing on calves, thighs and feet; to be included in the climbing break that I take at the end of three and a half weeks of training at the wall.

My companion this time was Abhijeet Singh, a Delhi based fashion, wedding and travel photographer, whom I met at IMF, Delhi.

Check out details of my last trip to the Nag Tibba trekking route: https://baawaramann.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/nag-tibba-uttarakhand-a-delightful-weekend-getaway/

We reached Pantwari at noon on 26th February, on Abhijeet’s dutiful standard 350. After stocking some provisions from the only tea shop this village has, we embarked on the climb.

Having done the trek before, I was in the guiding role this time and ‘thought’ that we’d be able to reach the summit camp faster than last time, given a strong partner in Abhijeet – compared to my novice friends last time.

We managed to keep pace until the first water hole despite the oppressive heat and dehydration. However, over confident about our strength and direction sense, we follied into finding shortcuts thus losing track of the main trail in no time. For hours we wandered on the leeward side of the hill however fortunately, progressing in the right direction and landing at the last water hole on this trek (just where the last human settlement on the route is located).

After a brief rest at the water hole, we started on the main trail, just to be lost five minutes later in the chase of another ‘shortcut’, AGAIN.

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(Clicked before we got lost in the woods)

Tired, hungry and beaten down we wound up in a thicket of deciduous forest on a slippery Himalayan hill side. Racing against time and the oddity of the terrain, we were falling at each step. The sun was hastily going down and we had to make good use of the 30 minutes of the sunshine still left. Left without options, we decided to climb to the top and find the ridge line and a camping space. To our amazement, 50 metres of climb yielded the trail to us and we were able to find the forest rest house near the nag Jhandi, just in time.

Hurriedly we laid out our bags in a corner and rushed out to look for water, making use of whatever sunlight that was left. Minutes later I found myself buried in 5 feet of snow and some good sense prevailed that we abandon the search and build fire. We are thankful to the shepherds who frequent the area and had stocked the rest house with ample firewood for us to survive the night.

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The amber of the dried woods melted the snow into water, and I prepared some hot soup to rejuvenate the wearied trekker in us. With our stomachs full, we dozed off in a matter of minutes.

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(Melting snow to make water)

A loud thunder sent chills down the spine of the roof and I woke up startled. Blinded in the pitch dark, I struggled to find a torch. It thundered even louder and someone banged the door. I was too afraid to sneak out of my bag and decided to cover my face like an ostrich and prayed that the apparition (if there were one) leaves us alone.

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(powder! and more)

I finally woke up at 6 am in the morning, to find the room bathed in a bright white gleam. To my amazement, I found another 2 feet of snow piled up on the backlog we countered the night before; and it was snowing still. The apparition must have been a snow fairy 😛

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(collecting snow for breakfast)

Lacking technical equipment, especially the absence of snow rackets, made it impossible to climb the 2kms to the peak due to the deep powder – which was still falling from the heavens.

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(Preparing Breakfast)

Post breakfast we decided to head down; the peak being elusive once again.

Another time! May be.

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Check out Abhijeet’s work: https://www.facebook.com/abhijeetsinghphotographyy

How to Reach:

-Nearest Railway Station: Dehradun

-Nearest Air Port: Dehradun

-Cab to Pantwari can be hired from Dehradun Railway station/ Mussoorie, Picture palace.

-Buses to Pantwari can be boarded from Dehradun Railway Station/ Mussoorie, Picture palace.

Equipment for a 2 day trek:

–        Light attire: T-Shirts, trousers, shoes, cap, sunglasses and socks; thermals and fleece for winters.

–        Tent (We used a 3.4 kg Quechua 2 men dome tent, for 3 people).

Check Out Tents in UK on: http://www.decathlon.co.uk/C-359116-tents

–        Sleeping Bag (I use a Quechua poly fill, that works upto -5 degree Celsius).

–        Iso Propane Butane Cylinder and cooking stove.

–        Dry ration and liquids.

–        Kiwi bag for waste disposal.

–        Pocket knife, torch, camera, spare batteries, lighters, candle and matchsticks.

–        A comfortable trekking bag (50L-65L).

–        Trekking pole (optional).

–        Crampons/snow rackets in the snow season (optional).

Nag Tibba, Uttarakhand: A Delightful Weekend Getaway

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(view from Nag Tibba Jhandi)

There are somethings you’d do just for the sake of doing them, as you once planned so. Nag Tibba is one such trek that I completed about three weeks ago, in the month of August (2013).

Along with two close friends, I set out for Pantwari (the starting point with shortest route to the Tibba – 8 Kms to the top from there) on the morning of 25th August, 2013 at around 9 am. Weaving out of Dehradun city’s traffic, we steadily climbed the Rajpur road on our two wheelers (an Enfield Electra and a Honda Aviator) heading for Mussoorie – our first pit stop.

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(Chai, at Mussoorie Library)

Day 1

Although the weather is pleasant in the valley almost round the year, the grizzly black clouds hanging above betrayed the possibility of a heavy downpour. We halted at the Mussoorie library for a cup of tea and a quick snack. Post breakfast, we shopped for some essentials such as candles, matchsticks, tea and sugar, and were soon on our way.

The route from Mussoorie to Pantwari skims through, Kempty Fall, Nainbagh, Yamuna Bridge and some villages en route. Yamuna Bridge is quite famous for its fish rice stalls by the river. Here we halted for lunch and ordered a steaming hot plate of boiled fish rice. A first timer at eating fish, I thoroughly enjoyed the delicacy and fishing for fish bones from between my teeth.

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(Fish Rice at Yamuna Bridge)

Most of the route from Yamuna Bridge to Pantwari falls on the leeward side hence the mountain are bare or grassy – with the rock structures along the road quite pronounced. This can be tempting for any bouldering enthusiast or climber. However, our attempts on scaling any of these rocks failed miserably as the holds blasted and mildly injured my friend’s knee.

We reached Pantwari at about 1 in the afternoon. After having a cup of tea, storing some more provisions of food and parking our vehicle in a shed, we set out for the trek at about 2 o clock.

The trail to the tibba is quite simple. Starting from the temple’s welcome gate in Pantwari one can take any trail that is climbing up the hill. There is plenty of water sources on the way so you don’t need to carry a lot. First fill can be made in Pantwari, after that it’s a half an hour climb to the next source. Between the two, one will pass the intersection with the big road (good enough for a jeep to ply on) four times. Keep climbing to reach a water trickle source; a little up is a reservoir and a hamlet.

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(These 3 were tied near the temple gate)

Basically, it is quite difficult to ‘get lost’ on this trek (except in the snow). With plenty of shepherds and villagers treading this path to collect firewood or lead their flocks to greener pastures, there will be ample number of people to take directions from. Also there are hamlets at about every half an hour’s distance until 4kms from the Tibba.

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(break! and another one…)

We climbed for 3 hours at an earthwormly pace with several breaks in between for water, snacks or clicking pictures. An hour and a half before sun set we pitched our two men tent at a kilometres distance from the last house on the trek and at a 5 minutes walking distance from a water hole. Confident that we’d be able to find firewood (and due to a lack of any serious planning) we didn’t bring a stove or butane cylinders along. Unfortunately there wasn’t any dry wood in the forest (due to a recent downpour) and all our attempts at lighting up a blaze were in vain. Resigning to our fate, we were about to tear open a packet of instant noodles and consume them uncooked, when something huge, brown and furry showed up on the hillock nearby. A closer inspection of the apparition revealed that it was a Bhotia dog (shepherds use to guard their flocks from big cats, wolves, beer and foxes). Accompanying it, standing a little further, was its master. This filled us with immense hope for reasons still unknown to us.

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(tent’s pitched!)

Inquiries began for dry firewood or if the herder could help us with building fire?! However, he flatly ruled out any possibility of lighting a fire on the moist floor of the forest; and warmly invited us over to his hut. The man and his wife lent us their kitchen fire and utensil for cooking the noodles and even turned the flat taste of the noodles into a delicacy by adding a pinch of homemade chilli paste. Post dinner we thanked our host for their generosity and retired for our tent.

The night sky was clear and the glint of the stars pristine. However, there was thunderstorm on the horizon – it must have been raining somewhere. After some star gazing we sought for our sleeping bags; after a while of friendly banter inside the tent, being totally worn out from the day’s toil we instantly fell asleep.

Day 2

I woke up at about 6 in the morning due to the constant drone of a bumble bee. The bee must have taken liking to our bright blue tent and buzzed about it until we reached the Nag Tibba Jhandi (a shrine en route Tibba) – this was located a kilometre uphill from where we pitched our tent.

Nag Jhandi is a place worshipped by the locals. It is marked with a pole standing on a small hill at about 50m distance from the forest department’s bungalow built at the base of the Tibba. Trekkers can choose to stay in these bungalows – which are almost clean, devoid of any furnishing and have a fireplace in each room. However, the floor of one of the room was entirely under water owing to a harsh monsoon.

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(forest bungalow)

We climbed to the Jhandi and took in a good view of the surrounding low lands. By now it was already 8 o clock and so we abandoned the remaining climb to the Tibba top (2kms uphill) – since one of our group member had to head back to Delhi on the same day, so we were faced with a paucity of time. We completed our climb down to Pantwari in 4 hours and stuck to the main trail (called ‘chopti’ by the locals) this time. The incline took its toll on our knees however, the route down the main trail was even simpler than the obscure trails and no trails at all we took on our way up.

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(climbing down the chopti)

This beautiful weekend trek ended with a toast of chai raised in a dhaba in Pantwari. From there we set out for a fill of Lovely’s amazing omelettes on Mussoorie mall.

For More Pictures Visit: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.213133022194737.1073741828.173644712810235&type=3

All photos clicked by Nitish Bhardwaj (https://www.facebook.com/89.99p?fref=ts&ref=br_tf) using Sony XperiaL.

How to Reach:

-Nearest Railway Station: Dehradun

-Nearest Air Port: Dehradun

-Cab to Pantwari can be hired from Dehradun Railway station/ Mussoorie, Picture palace.

-Buses to Pantwari can be boarded from Dehradun Railway Station/ Mussoorie, Picture palace.

Equipment for a 2 day trek:

–        Light attire: T-Shirts, trousers, shoes, cap, sunglasses and socks; thermals and fleece for winters.

–        Tent (We used a 3.4 kg Quechua 2 men dome tent, for 3 people).

–        Sleeping Bag (I use a Quechua poly fill, that works upto -5 degree Celsius).

–        Iso Propane Butane Cylinder and cooking stove.

–        Dry ration and liquids.

–        Kiwi bag for waste disposal.

–        Pocket knife, torch, camera, spare batteries, lighters, candle and matchsticks.

–        A comfortable trekking bag (50L-65L).

–        Trekking pole (optional).

–        Crampons in the snow season (optional).