Sudha gung-ho about qualifying for Olympic marathon on Sunday

New Delhi, March 6 : From sleeping in an 'altitude tent' and running a weekly mileage of 270 kms, Sudha Singh is set to crack the qualification time of the Olympic Games women's marathon at the National Marathon on Sunday.

The 34-year-old distance runner from Uttar Pradesh said it might be an ambitious goal but she is both mentally and physically prepared to run a hard and fast race.

"I have done good speed sessions.

Sometimes I did 30 to 40 repetitions of 400 m in one training session, that too with an average pace of 80 seconds for each 400 m," Sudha, an Asian Games medallist in the 3,000-metre steeplechase, told IANS on Saturday.

The Olympic qualification time for marathon is 2 hours 29:30 seconds while Sudha's personal best is 2 hours 34:56 seconds.

For the last six weeks, Sudha has been living in an altitude tent at Bengaluru's Sports Authority of India (SAI) training centre.

An altitude tent contains reduced oxygen and simulates conditions similar to training at altitude without actually living at that level.

For the first two weeks she had adjusted the altitude to 1,700 metres.

"Every two weeks we increased the height. It was increased to 2,200 metres for 14 days. In the last two weeks before coming to Delhi it was raised to 2,500 metres. Sometimes I had food inside the artificial tent," she revealed.

Sudha, who was honoured with Padma Shri in January, says she has two pace makers to support her to achieve her ambitious goal on Sunday.

The elite marathon race will be flagged off at 5 a.m., starting and finishing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

"I have planned to cover the first 21 kms of the marathon race in one hour 13 minutes.

And then sustain that effort over the next 21 km," she said.

Sudha's personal best was clocked in 2019 in hot and humid conditions of Mumbai.

She had also run the marathon during the 2015 World Athletics Championships in Beijing. In China she had clocked 2 hours, 35 minutes and 35 seconds.

"I want to tackle the marathon at this time because I feel I have a good chance," she said.

Sudha said she had to train all alone for the marathon as several local distance runners weren't allowed to train inside the SAI campus in Bengaluru because of the Covid pandemic.

"For the weekly long run of 35 kms, coach Surender Singh had to bicycle with me to push me hard," she said.

Sudha said she would be back to track running in May or June.

"My main focus is the marathon. Once I qualify for the Olympics I can then think of track events," she said.



Source: IANS