This blog is on Aanchal Sehgal who has recently covered a distance of running 300 kms in 3 days as a part of an event by The Hell Race. She had to cover 100 km per day. I write about Aanchal not just because of the distance and the relentless effort she has shown towards ultrarunning, but because I am a fan of endurance. Apart from admiring the level of intolerance ultrarunners fall in love with, to me the one thing that stands out about every endurance runner, especially the ultrarunners is that camaraderie wins over competition. Makes the runner instantly likeable!
The second reason I write this blog is Aanchal herself! She’s left many of us curious. Aanchal for whom a full marathon is now a warm up, started running sometime in 2016. From 2016 to 2020 she quickly progressed from a half marathon to running 42.2k and then suddenly 50k was something she started doing in her backyard like a walk in the park. And then one fine day I woke up to reading on my whatsapp that at 4 am she had already covered 30 kms of her 3 days – 300 km challenge. She had started runing at 12.15 past midnight!
That quote stood real in front of my eyes….
She is bonkers, she is mad….but I tell you what….all the best people are! Here’s a little heart to heart with Aanchal:
Me: A little history and background on your Running.
Aanchal: Running happened almost 4 years back. I was always a fitness enthusiast and used to love my cardio and weight training in gym. I was introduced to a running group in Gurgaon by a friend and I started going for runs on weekends only to begin with. My first timed run was Dwarka Run by Coach Ravinder. I participated in the 15km timed run and finished it in 1 hr 47 mins with Avg pace of 7. My first ultrarun was Bhatti where I did 50kms and found myself on the podium, followed by the Great Run of Punjab 50kms which again was a podium finish.
Me: Why did the 300k Race excite you? Did you suffer from self doubt ?
Aanchal: The very first thought when I saw the post for 300kms run ( 100 kms per day) was that I want to do this, and at the same time I was telling myself that I know I can’t do this but I still want to do this….. ..!! And I was not in the best of my physical fitness while registering for this run as I was already suffering from calf injury and hamstring problem. But still the urge was strong enough that I registered despite all odds.
Me: How did you train for this run? How many months. ? What was your nutrition like ?
Aanchal: Once I registered I had only 1 month to train myself , I knew I will not be running 300 kms as I have done maximum mileage of 100kms only so far , the only aim was to complete the first day task of 100 kms and second day try and cover the maximum distance so that I can achieve my maximum mileage run so far in any particular run !
Since I have been running regularly so only tweaked my running plan by increasing the mileage on weekends and also took few sessions of physiotherapy to heal my injuries.
I do admit very honestly that am generally not good or particular about my nutrition habits and don’t care much about what to eat and what not before the main day or during the run .. all I know was that I was hydrating myself continuously thanks to my crew. As the weather was extremely hot and humid so I was replenishing myself continuously with liquids to prevent dehydration !
Me: How was your family support for these 300kms?
Aanchal: Family has always been supportive as they know I’m insane when it comes to my running goals !
Me: The 300km. Did your thoughts change from day 1 to day 3? What were your thoughts through this run? You ran in the night, in the scorching sun. Did you ever feel like giving up ?
Aanchal: The 300kms journey was really exciting and I have lot of memories of this run! When I look back and think even I get surprised about how really did I do it? All I know was when I started there was only one thought in my mind that I want and will finish this for all 3 days !!
Not even once I felt like giving up !!
First 2 days I started at night 12.15 am and 12.45 am. I was running on empty roads at night. Thankfully there were 3-4 other male runners also from Gurgaon who were doing this and we were doing it around the same road so it was nice to see them after few kilometers. The feeling of insecurity of being alone on the road at night didn’t creep in at all ! Also I had my friend who was there throughout to take care of my every requirement !! This kind of race is not possible to complete without the support of crew and since this was a virtual run so we were responsible for our own hydration, first aid etc. ! The organiser of the hell race was there as well along with his cameramen to capture the videos and photos of the run !
Running after 8 am was really tough and challenging as the sun was right on our heads. It used to take much longer to cover the distance during day due to humid weather !!
Me: What was your nutrition during the run? How many hours did you sleep day 1,2 and 3?
Aanchal: During the run I was consuming lot of water apart from Limca and Nimbooz !! Didn’t consume a single energy gel as I don’t take gels at all. Neither do I train myself during the training runs with gels ! So was sticking to my original routine of all that I consume for any other run , it was only water , Limca , Coke , Nimbooz or orange juice !! Had my morning tea and biscuits as per my routine and during the day had something to munch on like peanuts or chips !! So there was absolutely no change in my eating pattern !!
To people who read this blog, I do want to tell you that this I don’t want to make up false stories on natural nutrition etc. because that is not what I take for any of my runs. I will give out authentic information only.
First day I slept for 3 hours. Second day, I could barely manage 2 hours and third day it was again 3 hours of sleep !! All I know was that I wanted to finish my 300kms and then relax !!! I can’t stop until I achieve my goals.
I hold great gratitude for my coach and fellow runner – Shashank Pundhir, who got me ready for this run in about 1.5 months and was running with me as part of this run.
Me: What’s next for you ?
Aanchal: Not thought of anything , due to pandemic the races are still not happening so let’s see!!
Me: What’s Running for you?
Aanchal: Running is something I find peace in ! It’s meditation for me ! It’s something that gives me energy !! I don’t feel good the days I don’t run !! It has become a part of my daily routine !! It’s a ritual that I don’t miss even on a single day !!! It gives me happiness. Running time is the only time I think I want to invest in and that belongs to me !!
Agree with me, now? She’s mad, bonkers, completely off her head. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.