RunnersforLife published this series on coaches, which featured a Q&A with one of my trainees, Diwakar Pingle
1. When and why did you start training under D? What was your aim?
I started training with D since June 2012. I was running half marathons before that (since 2007) but it was more of an unstructured program where I used to run two days a week and then showed up for the main race. Injury naturally followed since I never used to warm up/cool down and I was almost like a headless chicken. I knew D from my quizzing days and got to know that he had become a full time running coach after quitting his consulting career. While I was training with a lovely group of runners in Mumbai, I had this intention to run harder. So D happened with a view to a more personalized attention. And before meeting him, I had registered for the Amsterdam marathon in 2012 with an aim of finishing the distance. He made me run a mile time trial in Bangalore and proclaimed that if I wanted to, I could finish the full marathon in 4:30 which was unbelievable as far as I was concerned. Still the very thought of finishing in 4:30 egged me on and I signed up!
2. How did D help you in achieving your running target?
The program was quite structured and I got to know right from day 1 as to what my next 16 weeks would entail me to do. The first thing he stressed and wanted me to do was to lose weight. I weighed 79 kgs when I first signed up with him and through careful diet regime (again suggested by D) and the program, I was a lovely 65 kgs at the time of my race in 16 weeks – can you beat that? Of course, I realized and D made me realize I could run faster than what I thought I could and there were course corrections at different stages in the program. So at the end of my final long run, the target for Amsterdam which was 4:30 at the start of the program gradually had come down to 4:07 – 4:09. This itself was a great improvement as far as I was concerned and the moment I finished my first full marathon in Amsterdam, the first person I called was my good friend D to tell him that I finished it in 3:59:45! Now what more would a rookie marathoner want and that too with a massive negative split. Key inputs were stick to the schedule, do not overcook your runs and intense discipline with eating habits (I gave up drinking, sweets etc.) and the training schedule.
3. Tell us 3 things about D that you really like?
a. He is a pain in the arse
b. He is a big pain in the arse
c. He is a bigger pain in the arse
I like his dictum that I do not pay him to take the program very lightly. So if you screw up, be ready to face his wrath. Having said that, it’s not that he works only with super achievers, he has the ability to customize a program according to the needs of the person and this is very effective to calibrate yourself at the end of the program compared to when you started. And improvements spur you on!
4. How has this improvement helped you as a runner and as a person?
I think the running with a specific goal in mind has percolated down to what I do in other walks of my life. I also seem to have gained a certain ability to absorb pressure at work with reasonable ease and I credit this to the running regime which tests you physically and mentally. While I have just done two full marathons up until now (and some halfs), I believe the quality rather than quantity of multiple runs is what I strive to achieve and it will remain so in the foreseeable future. So I pick and choose just one full race a year to remain fresh and free from injuries.