From the desk of the Race Director

Dear Friends

It’s such a pleasure to connect with you all yet again, this time in the capacity of the Race Director, for the GAVS DRHM2017. A big welcome to all of you to the 6th edition of our flagship event.

What began 6 years ago, as an event conjured up over a ‘chai pe charcha’ if you like, has now grown to be one of the most happening running events in Chennai, kickstarting the marathon calendar.

Over the years, the event has garnered rave reviews from running enthusiasts and elites alike, as a ‘must do’ run for the total experience of running comfort and fun. We feel humbled, as from the beginning till now; the event is completely conceptualized, planned and executed by the members of the Dream Runners and their families.

I personally have been into sport of running for the last 10 years and am also one of the founder members of the group Dream Runners. Running has evolved tremendously over the past decade, from being a sport practiced only by athletes, to one being taken up by anyone and everyone, as a stepping stone to overall health and fitness.

We, at Dream Runners, can take some pride in having played our small part in promoting running among scores of first time runners. This has been the result of the 16 weeks of ‘Free Structured Training’ that we offer as a run up to our event.

When we started these 3 years ago at various locations across Chennai, as a first of its kind initiative by any running group in Chennai, we were pleasantly surprised to see the enthusiasm in response. Many of these training locations have now established themselves as vibrant chapters of Dream Runners. Many erstwhile beginners now count themselves among serious contenders at races and podium finishes have become the order of the day...!

As I took over directorship of DRHM2017, I happened to note the percentage of women runners in our last edition and it stood at 21%. As a personal target, I would like to see the number at least at 33% if not more.....! Rather than ‘reservation’ I would like to call it a ‘resonation’ of woman power. I urge women to devote an hour a day to their health and fitness. Please come forward and register for the training sessions at any location that is close to your home. I assure you it will be a life changer...!

This newsletter, over the next 3 months, will bring forth various interesting aspects of running from various different perspectives. We hope it will be educative and motivating for one and all.

Dream Runners - A Saga in the Making

A couple of exercise enthusiasts way back in 2008 decided to hit the tar and thus was born Dream Runners.

A group that has steadily grown into a movement across the city of Chennai with the primary objective of spreading fitness and wellness through running.

There is a hierarchy in place. There is a system to their madness for running.

Dream Runners has a core group and 8 chapters across the city. Bessie Dreamers, Boat Club Dreamers, Anna Nagar Dreamers, Run Tnagar Run, OMR Dreamers, Medavakkam Dreamers & Isha Yaara), Marina Dreamers, Velachery Dreamers and the 10th one MRC Dreamers added this year.

The core group works as a Trust called the Dream Runners Foundation and the 9 Trustees are the Think Tank behind the working of this well oiled system.

Each chapter has a chapter head and associates to help, and the workouts are designed with the assigned coach. Each chapter works out in their respective neighborhood and the Chapter Heads manage their group activities. Credit goes to their dedication and commitment in holding the flock together.

Dream Runners are well known across the country and outside for their flagship event DRHM, an acronym for Dream Runners Half Marathon. DRHM'17 is their 6th edition and will be flagged off on July 23rd this year.

An event that kickstarts the Marathon calendar of the country and has the credit of being rated as one of the top 10 best events of India. The proceeds of the event go for social causes. The beneficiaries in the last years' have been the Cadaver transplant ( Organ donation ) SNEHA ( Suicide prevention), many Destitute homes and also some national disaster funds.

For the past two years DRHM is associated with FREEDOM Trust, a NGO that helps in providing artificial limbs to the disabled.

The tag line "We run so they can walk" says it all.

DRHM is unique in many verticals.

With DRHM came the structured training programs, the first of its kind in the city, way back in 2013. Few families started running together and were the flag bearers for many more families to run as a unit. Also , the most credible part of DRHM is that the whole event is conducted by the members and families of the Dream Runners group and not by any Event Management company. Every penny saved helps them contribute to the noble cause this event is associated with.

Thus has mushroomed a group in various parts of the city with a common objective of spreading the goodwill of health and a bigger goal of conducting an event that helps many walk and include themselves into the main stream.

The dreamers sign off with their favorite tag line.

"Let our clan grow multi fold"

What makes our FREE training program tick?

DRHM extends a free, 3.5 month, structured training program for aspiring runners, beginners and starters, from couch to walking and then running, paving way for a gradual metamorphosis of the runner in you. The emphasis has always been on ensuring an injury free run, during training and on the race day. A scientific approach is employed to train the muscles, bones and joints for strength, and to condition the heart & lungs that support the long distance run.

Acknowledged as a pioneer in offering a FREE training program for wannabe runners to launch themselves into the fitness club, DRHM has been proferring this since 2013. Over the past few years, the training program has involved the experienced runners of all chapters to mentor, motivate and bolster the well conceived & practical training program.

This year, a whole lot of variety has been added to the schedule that varies from flyover runs, beach runs, ladder & agility routines, plyometrics, circuit training, speed intervals, resistance running, form corrections to strength and conditioning of the body along with some yogic stretches to ease your muscles & condition them for effortless running.

Every chapter of Dream Runners has their unique style of adding a signature touch to the training programme. Exploring new fitness activities like cycling, trekking and other outdoor activities not only improves the body conditioning but also fosters bonding amongst the team members that keeps the group together.

There is daily exchange of notes, tips, clarifications of queries within the group associated with each chapter which helps in dispelling any misgivings on the training and creates a tremendous positive impact on the trainees. We have witnessed this happening year after year, with new trainees joining the fold and pledging to continue with their fitness journey at the end of the training. And that’s not all, the locations of the training programmes are exciting to all ! Parks, beach, nature trails, long roads, they all beckon you to a refreshing start of an energetic day.

With the right focus, a positive attitude and by being regular, we create a difference that can be felt with the passage of time as you gain confidence. After all, fitness is a commitment that you give yourself, in return for a lifetime of happiness.

Sign up now & refer your friends too. Embark on a journey of an adrenaline high, a rush that can be compared to none! Wear your fitness on your sleeve and watch the new YOU shine!

The Dream Runners Free and structured Training Program – A platform where walkers become runners, and runners become Marathoners! Personally I have benefited a lot attending this training program. I am sure a lot more people would agree with me on this. To just give a factual representative, we asked some interesting questions to a few runners who started training with DRHM from last year. One year is a small period when it comes to running, however these people here have achieved lot more than an ideal one year old runner. It was indeed quite interesting to know their perspective, approach and philosophy of running.

Deepa, a Special needs therapist by profession, has been Training with OMR chapter of Dream Runners from April 2016. From a humble 10k in DRHM’16 to a full blooded Full Marathon in TWCM’16 is not something runners have even in their Dreams (Pun intended).

Frankly,an 8 month training to FM is not everyone's cup of tea. Rewind back to April 2016, as Deepa recalls vividly "I could barely run one km back then. My goal was simple. To run more kms, run longer without going breathless, run injury-free and have a *rocking good time, every time*"

When it comes to training, Deepa stresses the importance of Structured Training in a Group; "Training with a group. Now, that will get you farther, faster". For many, accommodating running as a hobby is still a huge challenge. Time, food, sleep, work; all impact when cultivating a new hobby and there might be situations when one might need to sacrifice or compromise on a few aspects. For Deepa however, it just boiled down to two main sacrifices she had to make; "A tight leash over junk food and switching off her Wifi for an uninterrupted sleep"

Through her running, Deepa continues to inspire a lot people in her neighborhood. And her advice to running newbies? "DR Free Training is a good road map. You'd be lost without one. But, be aware of your body - its potential, needs, and natural rhythm. You may do more than you ever thought possible. It may also tell you take it slow, or get more sleep some mornings. Listen"

Krishna Kumar or KK as he is fondly called, is a Banker by profession and like Deepa, started his running episode with Marina Chapter of Dream Runners Training Program in April 2016. As an integral member of his chapter, KK prides in the way the chapter has taken shape. "Fitness, Fun & Family are the ethos which drive our chapter. Our chapter reinforces the fact that Nature is the best gym since we are blessed with all the ingredients - Be it beach runs or multiple flyover loops or simply straight 10Km tarred stretch; it’s all a part of our Marina chapter"

KK relishes peaks, not necessarily to do with running though. A trekking bloke who joined Dream Runners to improve fitness through running, he realised his dream last year when he scaled the amazing, treacherous and mighty Himalayas. One cannot miss the gleam in his eyes when he narrates the experience; "The best moment was when I summitted a mesmerizing peak at 13000 ft in the mighty Himalayas. Standing high in the lap of Mother Nature, I realized that it all started with the disciplined fitness regime with Dream Runners, where endurance and stamina build up was an everyday affair"

For someone who has loaned his heart to Himalayas, a 2:15 HM, is like...err... processing fees!

So how did the Training actually help him? I could actually feel the excitement the moment he opened up about his training days. "Everything that you see in reality happens twice is what I believe. 1st, in your brain and then in reality. Training is not meant just for the body but for the mind too. It makes you believe that your body can travel along with your mind. Training helps you unlearn what you always thought was right and brings more discipline in the way you approach a run. Anybody can "just run" but to "enjoy a run", training really helps""

Precisely what I have felt during my runs without training vis-à-vis with proper structured training. It is important to enjoy what you do, be it work or hobby, this is the only way to sustain whatever you are doing.

Of course not everything was a cakewalk for KK. Like everyone, he too has made sacrifices.

"Sleep: Shift from quality of sleep to quantity.

Food habits: Favorite Barottas, Noodles are out"

Old habits die hard, however once you’ve taken up running, its bad habits that die a hard and painful death.

The Dream Runners Training program has invoked a new found belief in many others. We’ll keep bringing you more such amazing, inspiring and thoughtful stories of runners. Stay tuned, but keep running.