Indian Ultra Runner Vikash Malik Becomes Wisconsin State 50K Champion
Vikash Malik who has represented India in IAU 100K world championship has been running strong in recent years. Athletic Federation of India (AFI) sent India's ultrarunning delegation for the very first time in the 100k event. The world championship took place in Sveti Martin Na Muri, Croatia in 2018.
The Indian team performed very well with Vikash Malik and Abhinav Jha finishing together in 8 hours and 27 minutes. This is the second fastest time ran by Indian nationals for that distance.
Team member Anjali Saraogi, Sandeep Kumar, Lallu Lal Meena, and Binay Sah finished strong. The Indian team finished at position 19 out of 38 countries.
Vikash Malik has stood tall in the Indian Ultra Running community with impressive performance for 50 kilometers or longer distances. Back in 2017, he set 100-mile Indian national record by running 160 kilometers in whooping 18 hours and 22 minutes. This time still stands the second fastest time run by an Indian for that distance.
Vikash ran his first 50k in 2013. He took 5 hours and 19 minutes. Very recently, he participated in the US national 50k championship and finished overall third with an impressive time of 3 hours and 27 minutes. He was also the fastest the state of Wisconsin and therefore was awarded with title of "Wisconsin State 50k Champion.
The event "Madcity Ultras" took place in Madison, WI USA on April 13, 2019. On the chilly and windy day, Vikash was able to run a very fast 50k with marathon split of 2 hours and 53 minutes. Ultra Running of India recently posted about this in their Facebook post.
In the month of February this year, he also won the John Dick memorial 50K race in the frigid cold weather. At -10C and trails full of feet deep snow, he was able to run the race in 4 hours and 52 minutes.
Very recently, I was reading his story that begins with a desire of weight lose. He started running to lose some weight in 2012 but it turned into his passion.
He kept improving his endurance performance since then. From being an overweight person to make it to the national team is quite a feat. He attributes his success to his consistent hard work and food habits.
Let us now talk more about his background, training, diet and future races.
Vikash hails from Shamli district of UP in India. After completing his Masters in physics from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee, he went to Switzerland for a Ph.D. program in nanotechnology.
"During the second of year of my PhD, I planned to run Geneva Half Marathon and completed the distance in 1 hour and 42 minutes", says Vikash. "I was in a pretty good shape. That race felt really tiring but I really enjoyed the process", stated the runner.
He moved to the US in 2011 for a postdoctoral position and joined his wife at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
Vikash told me that during the first postdoc years, he gained some weight which felt really uncomfortable. "I started having back pain and things did not feel alright to me, says the runner". He took the challenge to do something about his weight problem and slowly started running.
In his own words,
"I went for a mile run and felt tired. Next day, I went for a little more than a mile. I was absolutely committed to do something about my weight so I kept pushing a bit more every day. After a few weeks, things began clicking and i started enjoying the process of running. I introduced long runs in my weekly routine, which felt pretty amazing. In next couple of months, I prepared for Chicago half marathon. That marathon went pretty well. I ran that in 1 hour and 46 minutes. After that race, i got hooked up to running and started running longer distances. The strange part of running journey is that I ran a 50k race before I did any full marathon. The 50k ultra was again in Chicago (Lakefront 50-50) and I absolutely suffered in that race and finished in 5 hours and 19 minutes. I kept training for other ultra marathons and kept improving. These days, running is a part of my life. I take running challenge and go after that. For example, back in 2014 I planned to qualify for Boston marathon. I failed multiple times achieve the qualification but eventually achieved that in 2016 by running a marathon in 2 hours and 58 minutes".
When asked about the training program, Vikash says the following.
"I believe in the high volume training. This method has scientific merit and its very easy to follow. More you train your body, better it will get. I train most of miles very slow. This helps me in two ways, 1. It build mitochondrial density and 2. It greatly reduce the chances of injury. My 80% of runs are at very slow pace and that had really helped me build running strength for longer races. Depending on the goal race, I include one speed workout per week in my training schedule. More than 1 hard workout per week in not needed. I average 14-150 km per week and the strategy of of running lot of slow miles has helped me build my endurance for longer distances".
Here is Malik's take on the ultra runner's diet.
"When I started running, I did not pay attention to my diet. I was of opinion that as long as one is running or exercising a lot, diet does not matter. I was totally wrong and I have realized the fact that you are what you eat. I started watching my diet after a very painful 100k in 2018. That race did not go well for me. So, I decided to work on my diet. Inspired by some great names in the ultra running community, I switched to high fat low carb diet. This diet is also known as ketogenic diet. Daily calories on this diet mainly come from high quality fat and we need to restrict of carbohydrates intake to less than 10% of daily calories need. This change in food habit has yield some wonderful results in the last year. I ran my 100 best time in Croatia and also got my 50k PR".
I asked him about his 2019 ultra running calendar and here is what he says,
"I am currently preparing for Icaeage trail 50 miler race. That will take place on May 11, 2019. This is my favorite trail race. Since I live in Wisconsin, USA. That makes it logistically easier for me to run the race within the area. I am also preparing for a 100k run in August 2019. I am also excited about Asian 100k championship that will take place in Jordan at the end of november this year. I hope to represent India again in the 100k road race".