Khardung la Challenge- My Training Log

Khardung la Challenge- Background

The Ladakh Marathon was started in 2012 following the 2010 Ladakh floods. According to Ladakh Marathon’s Wiki  “The initiative was started to convey to the world that Ladakh is back and running”. Ladakh Marathon has 4 races:

72 Km Khardung La Challenge

Ladakh Marathon

Ladakh Half Marathon

7 Km Run Ladakh for Fun

The Khardung La Challenge (72 km) is the Highest Ultra Marathon in the World. This race is amongst the Toughest and Ultimate Challenging Endurance Race.  The harsh conditions makes  this extremely tough  as approximately  60kms of the race is above 4000 m (14,000ft).

The Khardung La Challenge begins at Khardung village (3975m / 13,042 ft). The race route involves a gentle but steady climb to the top of Khardungla (5370m/ 17,582 ft), one of the highest motorable passes in the world. From here it is downhill all the way to Leh town (3500m / 11,500ft).

Signing up for Khardung la Challenge

I finished the 2017 with 4 Ultras (50 and 75 km), 5 Marathons and 42 runs between 21km and 40km i.e. a total of 51 Runs 21km or more and 1 Olympic distance Duathlon. After the 3 Hour 45 Minutes finish at the Tata Mumbai Marathon in January 2018, I felt I was ready for the Khardung la challenge.

I signed up for the 72 Km run in April 2018 and was accepted to run. My training plan for Khardung la was to increase my endurance with long runs and work on my breathing technique for the thin air, high altitude running. I signed up for Hyderabad 12 Hour Run (May), Tuffman Shimla Ultra Mashobra (June), Matheran Endurathon (July) and AFMC Marathon (August) to lead to Khardung la challenge.

Hyderabad 12 hour run (my first stadium run) was a new experience and after 219 laps and 87.6 kms I was feeling good and on track for Khardung la.

I picked up a knee injury on a training run after Hyderabad that persisted through Mashobra Ultra and Matheran Endurathon. I have recovered about 80{edb4eba2454c115e2cb4cc5c9ea44c87267d11c4191ea81727493ec1839e348d}  from the knee injury; with 8 weeks to Khardung la challenge.

I’m completely off the training plan A,  this calls for revisiting the training plan B and C- that  includes knee pain management in addition to strength and flexibility.

In this blog I will share my weekly training for the next 8 weeks as I prepare for the 2018 Khardung la challenge. I plan to update this blog every Monday  for now till the race day.

Training for Khardung la Challenge

 8 Weeks to Khardung la Challenge (2018 July 09- July 22)

Start of the week note– Knee Pain, specially walking up or down the stairs. Is it Runners Knee? Have this feeling I may not be ready for Khardung la Challenge and that will be a heart break. Lesson learnt- Rest is as important as running , specially if you are over 40.

Goal for 2 weeks– Rest, recover from Matheran Edurathon 50K, start with medical yoga, get ready for training

Training log for 2 weeks

Hiking: Casual  7 KM Walk on July 20.

Yoga (Strength): 0 Sessions, 0 Hours

Medical Yoga (Flexibility, Pain Management): 5 Sessions

Medical Yoga is a cross between Yoga and Physiotheray. The medical yoga teachers and practitioners have a deep understanding of  human musculoskeletal system and use specially designed excercises and equipments to get the body ‘aligned’.  I’m fortunate to know Shama Rana who has mastered this art over the last few years and runs Samsara – The Yoga Studio. She is committed to help people learn, through Yoga and Meditation, the skills needed to stop creating their own worlds or cycles of suffering and live fulfilling lives.

Khardungala Challenge Pre Training

6 Weeks to Khardung la Challenge (Week Of July 23)

Start of the week note– Pain much lesser, I think I’m ready for the road.

End of the week note– 3 easy 10K runs (with knee support), work on strength and breathing.

Training log for the week

Running: 30km

Cycling: 38km

Hiking: 6km

Yoga (Strength): 2 Sessions

Medical Yoga (Flexibility, Pain Management): 5 Sessions

5 Weeks to Khardung la Challenge ( Week Of July 30)

Start of the week note– With 3 runs last week feeling much better on the road. Try a hill run this week

End of the week note–  Started running without knee support on August 02.

Training log for the week

Running: 41.3km, 870m Elevation Gain including 1 hill training 21km ( Bopdev Ghat x 2)

Yoga (Strength): 2 Sessions

Medical Yoga (Flexibility, Pain Management): 4 Sessions

4 Weeks to Khardung la Challenge ( Week Of August 06)

Start of the week note– The left knee was a bit shaky after the Bopdev Ghat run. I should use knee support for  my hill runs

End of the week note– This week included 4 Runs.  Additional strength training (1 km walk and lunges) and a massage. Legs are feeling better than last Sunday. Also, I dropped out of AFMC Marathon– (Did Not Show)- I did not feel ready and did not want to over exert at this stage. AFMC- Next year maybe?

Training log for the week

Running: 47.2 km with 1071 m elevation gain ( Bopdev Ghat x 2 + Heaven Park x 2)

Yoga (Strength): 2 Sessions +  1 km (walk and lunges) with 16 kg weight.

Medical Yoga (Flexibility, Pain Management): 4 Sessions

3 Weeks to Khardung la Challenge ( Week Of August 13)

Start of the week note– Bopdev Ghat run last week with knee support help me negotiate the turns better while coming downhill. I will continue with knee support this week. Also there is a public holiday (Independence Day) this week. I can put in more hours

End of the week note– Amazing training this week. 2 Hill runs ( Bopdev and Sinhagad. 2 continuous days 21K + Hill run.

Highlight of the week: Sinhagad Downhill Tactical run ( 3km 420 meters elevation loss) done in 22 minutes and 37 Seconds. Feeling amazing as my knee behaved through the run.

Training log for the week- 

Running: 4 Runs, 1858 meters elevation gain. 3 runs 21Km or more. 2 continuous days 21K + hill run.

Yoga (Strength): 2 Sessions

Medical Yoga (Flexibility, Pain Management): 4 Sessions

2 Weeks to Khardung la Challenge ( Week Of August 20)

Start of the week note– 78 kms last week with 2 back to back hill runs ( 25km + each) did leave me a bit exhausted on Monday and Tuesday. Also, with 3 weeks to the big run it’s time to taper down. I will go easy this week and focus on Yoga and pain management

End of the week note– Did 2 rund this week including a hill run ( Bopdev Ghat x 2). Continued with knee support.  Had to skip Sunday training for Rakshabandhan festivities.

Highlight of the week: Got the best pace for this season on Bopdev Ghat: 7.46/KM over 21 Km and 630 meter elevation gain.

Training log for the week-  

Running: 2 Runs, 770 meters elevation gain.

Yoga (Strength): 2 Sessions

Medical Yoga (Flexibility, Pain Management): 3 Sessions + 1 Meditation and breathing technique session.

1 Week to Khardung la Challenge ( Week Of August 27- 31)

Start of the week note– Tapering continues, I hope to pack 2 runs this week before flying out on Friday. This is also the week to pack my gear. The race starts at 3AM and the temperatue is expected to be south of 3 degree celsius- have to pack 3 layers for the run plus medications including Diamox for altitude sickness- Hope I do not need that.

End of the week note– This was a short week (5 days) packed it wil 2 runs and 20kms.

August was good training month (though not as good as i had hoped). 6 Hill Runs Half Marathon or more, 209 kms aggregate, 4703 meters elevation gain.

Training log for the week  

Running: 20 Kms (Monday- Friday)

Yoga (Strength): 1

Medical Yoga (Flexibility, Pain Management): 2

Training is done now it’s time for Khardung la. Leh here I come..

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