Feeling strong

Tania Roy
Sunday, 22 December 2019

A Boston qualifier and one of the mentors of Bajaj Allianz Pune Half Marathon 2019, Pune-based runner Tanmaya Karmarkar believes every race is a learning experience

Chicago is my seventh full marathon,” says Pune-based amateur runner Tanmaya Karmarkar, who clocked 3:23 at this World Marathon Major (WMM). In the amateur running circuit, she is a force to reckon with. A podium finisher at most races across Pune and major races across the country, Tanmaya’s journey began with a 5 km run in 2014 and in a month and a half, she did her first half marathon (21.1 km). In 2016, she did her first full marathon (42.2 km) and since then she has been unstoppable. 
  
Tanmaya has always been interested in sports but she did not actively participate in it during her school days. “I still suffer from dust allergy, which is why, I run on roads and avoid places like the race course,” says the self-employed computer programmer with expertise in computational mathematics. She writes programmes for scientific applications, which involves a lot of algorithms. Interestingly, she plays with numbers and does calculations in her head when running on the treadmill. “It helps me run for longer periods without getting bored,” says the 40 something runner, who clocked 1:38:18 at this year’s Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) held in October. At ADHM, she secured third place, open category, female, 40-44 years.  
    
This inspiring runner mom says that the hardest thing for her is ‘time management’. “It’s tough to keep up with the daily training schedule, follow the diet, and manage work and home,” says Tanmaya who starts her day at 4.30 am daily, completes her run by 6 am and hits the sack at 9.30 pm. “I prefer early morning runs when the heat and traffic are less. Also, I have to be back home before my boys leave for school,” she says.
Tanmaya’s daily training involves a one-and-a-half hour run in the morning and a half-an-hour fitness routine in the evening. “Of course, Sundays are for longer runs. Usually, I do a 20-km run, but it all depends on my next race or the distance I am training for. Whatever be your goal, you must enjoy the run. Unless you enjoy the experience, you cannot sustain,” she shares.

Eating healthy is a major part of your fitness goals. Ask her to pick three healthy foods and she promptly says, “Salads, fruits and grilled chicken. I also try to include brown rice and healthy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and beetroot in my meals. I made these changes in my diet after TMM this year and it helped.” As a runner mom, she also encourages her boys to eat healthy. “I believe in ‘lead by example’. Children do learn more by observing their parents than just taking instructions,” says the mother of two.  

For Tanmaya, every race is a learning opportunity. “I learn something new in every race and I don’t compete with others. I try to enjoy the run,” says Tanmaya, further mentioning that she prefers running in a group rather than running solo.  

To perform better, distance runners must boost endurance. Prior to her Berlin Marathon in 2018, Tanmaya would run out of stamina and feel exhausted. “Berlin was my first real good run. It was a starting point and gave me a different kind of confidence. My endurance training helped, but I also felt that the cool temperatures of Berlin had a positive impact on my run. I slow down in warm weather,” says Tanmaya who is a mentee of Bengaluru-based running coach Ashok Nath.

Telling us more about her nutrition and improved form, she says, “The main aim was to lower body fat percentage. With the help of a nutritionist I managed to do that. I also focussed on core strength and thanks to Ash, I improved my running form.”

A Boston qualifier, she ran the race this year, completing it in 3:29. “Training for Boston was easy because it hadn’t started raining then in Pune. Also, a friend gave me company for the long training runs,” says Tanmaya who is looking forward to participating in Tokyo Marathon 2020 and Boston 2020, having completed three World Marathon Majors — Berlin, Boston and Chicago, and three more to go — New York, London and Tokyo.

Ask her about her pre-race and race day meals and she is quick to share, “I have a balanced intake of proteins and carbohydrates, not just carbohydrates as is generally advised on pre-race day. On race day, I have oats. Hydration is also very important for any race. On pre-race day, I keep sipping electrolytes.”

One of the mentors for the second edition of Bajaj Allianz Pune Half Marathon (BAPHM) 2019 to be held on December 22 in Pune, Tanmaya says that the running culture has improved a lot in the city. “When I had started running, people used to stare. Now, running is more acceptable,” says Tanmaya who likes to wear shorts and singlets for her races. Any fetish? “I like to buy the latest running shoes,” she says and breaks into a smile.

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