On fire!

Tania Roy
Sunday, 22 December 2019

Anubhav Karmakar, who has been making a Personal Record every time, offers some key running tips

Anubhav Karmakar just keeps getting better. His recent accomplishment — 2:41:07 hours at TCS New York City Marathon (NYCM) in November 2019 — secured him the 57th rank among 4,075 runners in his age group at this US race. “An age group that is topped by Olympians and inspirational runners from around the world,” says Anubhav, who stood first among 379 Indian runners at NYCM 2019.  

Those who think transformation is impossible, think again. Sharing his interesting back story, Anubhav says, “Till 2011, I wasn’t athletic. In fact, I was obese. When I was in B-school I indulged in a few bad habits and started gaining weight. Thankfully, I realised my mistake. I wasn’t feeling good anymore, so I started going to the gym and lost a lot of weight. I also started playing squash, tennis but to play these sports you need partners and it’s not always easy to find one. Unlike any other sport, running provided me flexibility, allowing me to head out with or without any company. Which is why I started exploring it. Initially, my goal was fitness. Later, I got to know about timed races.” The Hyderabad runner completed one full marathon in 2017, two full marathons in 2018 and three full marathons in 2019, and each time, he achieved a Personal Best (PB). 
Boston 2019 was another feather in his cap. He finished it in 02:45:45. Ask him what is tougher — NYCM or Boston, and he says New York. “For Boston, I followed the clock and the plan. But for NYCM, I could not stick to the plan. It’s an undulating course with certain sections where the GPS doesn’t work, so I had to run by feel.  Also, for the first time in a marathon, I had to take a loo break, which broke the momentum.  I had suffered a cramp a few days before the race, which had an impact on my confidence. 

When it comes to running, I have always taken a conservative approach, paying close attention to signals from my body. So halfway through the race I decided to hold back the pace. No matter how good the plan, one needs to adapt to the circumstances on race day. Thankfully, the decision to hold back paid its dividends. “I regained the confidence to push my limits in the final 3 km as I entered the now familiar road inside Central Park. The massive crowd support also helped,” says the self-coached runner.

Talking about his training and how he has honed his skill over the years, he says, “I have experimented a lot. But I would say that the training depends on the capability of the runner and the goal. For a sub-3-hour target, I kept to low volume running; for 2:45,  it was slightly higher and for 2:41, it was high volume. The going gets tougher from here.” Preparing for NYC Marathon, Anubhav put in a mileage of 150-160 km per week at the peak of his training.

He also made a few changes in his daily diet which primarily consists of fruits and veggies. “That really helped. Two to three weeks prior to NYCM, I cut down on sugar,” says the 32-year-old who at times likes to indulge in cookies and cakes. “I do have a sweet tooth,” says the true Bong who has lived across India.

An engineer with a Master’s degree in business, he served Fortune 500 clients for several years before starting his coaching academy Athloft. After having diverse experiences in endurance sports, including multi-stage tours (MTB / Road), marathons, triathlons, individual time trials, road races and circuit races, he took up full-time coaching in running, cycling and triathlon. Athloft supports an individual’s fitness and performance goals through focused programmes and proven training methods. “We organise interactions with mentors, and also conduct online Q&A sessions. We talk about nutrition, recovery etc,” says he, adding, “We make the training plan according to the individual’s passion and commitment. The mentee must also have an open mind. It does not work out unless we communicate effectively,” says the ace marathoner.

A podium finisher in most races in India, he ended the year on a high note, clocking 1:30 at Tata Steel Kolkata 25k. Another stellar performance by this star runner.

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