Distance running is one of the fastest growing sports in India. Be it the quest for a healthy lifestyle, quitting habits like smoking or fighting lifestyle diseases, everyday many people join the bandwagon for their own reasons. For some veterans it is like opium while there are others who think that they will start running but are not able to do it. This blog is targeted at the later half. What do you if you want to start running? First thing that will come to your mind might be buy some good running shoes, fancy running gears and other paraphernalia which might inspire you to go for running. But when we are thinking of these, we are talking about hardware. We often ignore the softer part which is ‘cultivating habit’.
- The most important thing is cultivating the habit. Decide to dedicate a particular time period in a day for running. Initially just go for a walk during that time and make sure that it becomes part of your daily routine. Slowly your mind will start accepting the fact that you can manage rest of things in your life with this dedicated time slot for running.
- How much should you run? Enthusiasm is often difficult to control. Many beginners overdo it at the start and then feel enervated throughout the day. Understand that running demands energy and your body might not be ready for accepting that kind of energy dissipation rates. So the matra should be ‘slow and steady’. Train your body for that. Initially start with a walk only program and stretch it to run-walk and finally to continuous running.
- Which shoes/attires should one use? It is suggested to use attires that dry easily. Dry fit t-shirts and shorts are thus recommended. Many runners also face problems due to chaffing (nipple bleeding and rashes in groin area). It is advisable to apply vaseline at these body parts. For shoes it is always advisable to do a desk study regarding best shoes from different brands. It is a good idea to check pronation for your foot by analysing how your old shoe has worn out. Visit different stores, try out different shoes and buy what seems comfortable to you.
- Hydration and Nutrition: Color of your urine is a good measure of how well hydrated your body is. If color of urine is pale yellow, it indicates that body is dehydrated and you need to increase your water intake. It is advisable to use electrolytes or sports drink or lemon water (both salted and sweet) after the run. Banana is also a good source of potassium and is highly recommended before/during/after run. Recovery of muscles is faster if you eat within 30 minutes of finishing the workout. So carry something that you can have after immediately after workout.
- Warm up and Cool down: No matter how active you have been before a workout, but still it is advisable to send a message to your key muscles and tendons that your body is gearing up for workout. Stretches for achilles tendon, hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, IT band, calf, soleus are specially recommended for runners. It is always better to start slow (probably with walking) and slowly increase the speed as your body warms up. After finishing running, stretches for entire body are highly recommended. For warm up and cool down exercises, http://www.runnersworld.com has some very good videos.
- Strength Training for Runners: Strength training plays an important important role in injury prevention and every runners should dedicate at least one day in a week exclusive for strength training. Strengthening of glutes (hip muscles) plays an important role in injury prevention. Hip hikes, glutebridges, lateral leg raises, hip hikes, planks, side planks, push ups, burpees, supermans etc are good strengthening exercises for runner. Myrtl and cannonball routines are also both good options for hip strengthening. Search on you tube for these exercise and routines.
- Recovery: It is as important as workout. Thus before you head towards your next workout, ensure that you have recovered from your previous workout. Though you’ll get a good idea from the feel but still it is a good idea to go for some numeric figures for that. Resting heart rate is a good measure for recovery. It is a good idea to maintain a log of your resting heart rates and any deviations after a hard workout should be addressed by taking some extra time for rest. If you have sore muscles then it is a good idea to do some foam rolling or massage to relax your tight muscles. Foam rolling is one of the most amazing thing I learnt from my coach in the recent past.
Running is a simplest sport but as you get involved, you get totally mired into the beauty it offers in your life. Lace up and feel the awesomeness- All the best.