MRC Veterans: Aayush Khanna

Today we’re profiling Aayush, a recent graduate from MIT, distance runner, avid football player, friendly, popular, and an all-rounder. Aayush comes from a family of athletes and sports-persons and he lives up to the high standards set by them in these fields, carving out his own niche. We’ll be probing just one of his multiple facets, but as you’ll see, there’s more to this guy than just his flowing locks.

At the Big Balipu Run, Mangalore

MRC: Why do you run? What motivates you to go out there?

Aayush: Here is the runner logic – “I’m too tired, let’s go for a run”. It might make no sense, but a lot of runners I know would agree with this absurdity. I just need an excuse to run. I run when I don’t want to study, or if the weather is too pleasant, or if I’m just bored AF. When I’m running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. This is a part of my day I can’t do without. Running (exercising in general) is a way to completely zone out. I run in order to acquire a void.

MRC: Tell us how you got into running.

Aayush: I was into football and cricket in high school, and I realized that I had decent stamina levels. The usual 8-9 warm up rounds were an ease, and I would often lap others. This got me curious and I decided to take part in a 10k event. I finished with a timing of 54 min which was certainly not bad for a start. Back then the running was never serious or focused (Learn from Sir Dakshesh Patani and Sir Kumar Shubham for focused training). Hanging out and interacting with other runners in college got me into serious running and taking part in events.

Kickin it in the MIT Football League

MRC: How do you cope with the stresses of LDRs?

Aayush: LDR (Long Distance Running) can often be a pain and can get really boring at times. Especially in competitive events, running can take a toll. It’s pretty obvious that the more you train and push yourself to the limits the better you become.
There is a quote by Haruki Murakami

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.

I keep my mind as distracted as possible to complete really long distances. I often use Music to keep myself motivated or distracted. Apart from this, if you have a great group to run with, it is even better. You can take turns setting the pace, drafting, etc which helps a lot to reduce effort.

MRC: What are your Best timings in LDR? What’s the longest distance you’ve run?

Aayush: 10k – 48m; 21k – 1h48m; Longest run at a stretch: 32km – 3h12m

On the way to Karkala, with Shameem sir, Ganga and Shubham

MRC: What’s running in your hometown/current city like?

Aayush: It really isn’t advisable to run on Bangalore streets. If the cars won’t, the pollution will kill you! So sadly I confine myself to running in the gym which can be mundane and boring. If I’m not in the mood to run in a gym, then there are a few good parks like Cubbon Park, Sankey Tank, Kanteerva Stadium, etc which I take off to! Running in nature with people passing by gives another “feel” to running. It makes you feel foolishly happy, with a sense of achievement.

MRC: How do you train your body to go the distance?

Aayush: I try to spice training up by involving gradient running while on the treadmill. I would often train for events with a gradient on the treadmill. This makes it easier on event day. A Lot of us do this. I remember Ganga and Haren would often shuttle the 15th block slopes early morning, weeks before events. Gradient training makes event day a piece of cake. This sort of relative training certainly is a beauty. Apart from this, I combine running with a mixture of High Intensity Training (HIT), core training and strength training. Abdominal exercises are really important as the core is an important muscle used while running.

MIT Cross Country ’15

MRC: What advice would you give to beginners?

Aayush: Compete with yourself, beat the yesterday’s you. It’s the only way you’ll get better.

Just do it. Don’t think too much and just go run. Especially, if you are a procrastinator. A running buddy can really help in this case.
If you want to get into serious running then you’d have to train really hard and train in the correct manner. Small things like stride length, breathing, and running posture also matter a lot when it comes to winning an event.

MRC: What are your goals for the future?

Aayush: The running goal is to complete a full marathon. The feeling of conquering pain and completing that would be amazing. And I know it is a mental struggle as much as a physical battle. But endurance events mean a lot more to me than running.

My ultimate goal is to summit the seven highest peaks in each of the seven continents. This includes the magnificent beauty of Mt. Everest. Of course this requires years of training and dedication and also a LOT of expenditure, hence it is something which I see myself doing 5-6 years down the line.

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