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Three Reasons to Hire a Running Coach

If you have ever wondered whether you should invest in coaching, Radhika Meganathan in the article below will help you take an informed decision.

Running may be one of the cheapest and easily accessible sport ever because apart from good running shoes, there are practically no expenses involved. Plus, what is there to train about it? That’s what most people think, but Jo, coach at The Unit weight training studio in Kotturpuram (Chennai), disagrees. “A running coach will optimize your performance and also help you to avoid injuries. That’s why they can be invaluable,” she says.

Regardless of whether you run as a hobby or a serious passion, if you ever wondered whether you should you invest in a running coach, we present to you three reasons why you should consider hiring one!

When you face a roadblock and need a push in the right direction…

When you are stalled, a coach can absolutely get you on track. Srimathi Vardhan who lives in Manhattan says, “I started running in 2016 and did my first 10k in Chennai when I had been there for my vacation. I trained for it throughout my vacation and finished the race in 56 minutes.  But I didn’t know much about pre- and post-run stretches and ended up hurting myself after my first half marathon in 2017. So I talked to my friend who referred me to this virtual coach, who created a training plan specific to my needs. Using this plan, I trained diligently and achieved several personal best timings in 4 mile, 5 mile, 10k and 13.1 mile races. “

You are an experienced runner and feeling bored or unmotivated…

Sure you have conquered a few marathons and are quite confident of yourself and your stats. Well, you may not know it, but a coach can help you surpass your current record to hitherto unimagined heights! A lot of experienced runners get their advice and tips from running buddies and are part of clubs and quite understandably miss out on having a trained professional oversee their progress. If you have not noticed any new development in your running for a long time, and if you find yourself stuck in a rut, then you should definitely opt for a running coach, one who can help you set new and thrilling goals and help you get there.

You are new to running and you want to put your best foot forward, literally….

We get it, you just started running, you are not sure about your running stats and you want to get miles ahead without any margin for error… or you may not be so sure of your posture or pacing, and you’d like to have some professional help. Whatever your reason is, go for it if you can afford it… and let it be noted that it is practically a win-win situation, and might very well turn out to be a small investment for a long time of running with minimum injuries!

The truth is that when you opt for coaching, there is very little that can go wrong. Coaches are equipped to instruct runners of all levels on managing different training loads and help them avoid common training errors, such as wrong posture, wrong pacing, inadequate recovery time etc. Of course you can learn all these stuff by yourself at some point, sure, but if you can afford it and you have had enough of running without supervision, then you’re better off saving time (and minimizing injury risks) by opting for a running coach.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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How to Choose a Running Coach

So what do you have to look for while shopping for a running coach? Radhika Meganathan demystifies the process.

You are excited because you’ve finally decided to up your game and hire a running coach. You have made inquiries at your gym, trawled through reviews online and on social media, and have also listed to recommendations from your friends /running buddies. And now, you have a name. Only, you are not sure how to know if they are the right one for you.

Fear not, we at the Finisher have compiled a template of questions just for you, that you can ask to your shortlisted choices before choosing one of them as your running coach.

BACKGROUND CHECK: What makes them great? What are their qualifications, credentials, accreditation? Are they still running? A non-running profile is not really an issue, a lot of retired athletes and runners offer terrific coaching, but you should be aware of where your coach currently stands in the sport, and whether they have relevance experience training for any specific marathon you are training for.

MODE / NATURE OF COACHING: Is it live, or virtual? If it is an online coaching option, would that work for you? What is your preference, and are you willing to go out of your comfort zone and experiment, or would that be too distracting? Are they willing to connect with you organically, and customise a plan just for you, or will they be selling a pre-packaged regimen to you?

FREQUENCY OF COACHING: Daily, weekly, fortnightly? What about breaks? What if you have to travel or forced to take days off from the coaching? Will they adjust to the changes in your schedule and redraft your training plan accordingly?

VENUE AND ACCESSIBILITY: Does the trainer come to your neighbourhood track, or do you have to go to him? If it’s the latter, do you have to spend on a long commute each time you meet with your coach? It can get surprisingly difficult to make use of a coach when their hours or location is not ideal for you, and if you have a busy lifestyle and cannot find the bandwidth to make it work.

COMMUNICATION STYLE: Did you have a chance to talk with them, either on phone or face to face? This step is important because first impressions are important. How does the person come across to you? Are they encouraging, positive, inspirational?

COACHING PHILOSHOPY: Ask them about their coaching MO, philosophy and ethics. How does it strike you? What do they think of their own coaching, and how do they articulate their ideas and plans for you, and for the sport in general. Do you see yourself being led by them for the next few months, years?

COST OF COACHING: How does the coaching cost? Is it an amount that you can comfortably afford for at least the coming two years? Is the coach clear on what training will be included with the rates? Is it all done with a proper binding contract?

After all the questions given above, comes the most important step: ask for references. A reference who is not your friend (or theirs!) can give you far more objective information. Do the references highlight and demonstrate the magic that you need, from the coach? Is your coach completely aligned to what your specific goals and talents are, and can they be focused enough to get from amateur to amazing?

No matter how highly the coach comes recommended to you, make an effort to talk to their past and current clients, mentees and trainees, and drop in for a trial session before committing to a contract. This will help you in taking a real time decision without blindly relying on your guts or a glowing reference.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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It’s never too late to start running!

Deepthi Velkur catches up with senior runner, Rajendra Kumar from Bengaluru on how he fell in love with running. 

Running is not a sport reserved only for the young and elite but rather an all-inclusive lifetime sport that challenges you from the moment you start  and all you have to do to get started is have the will to put one foot in front of the other for miles.

The growing phenomenon of senior citizens taking to running is evidence enough that it’s never too late to start running and talking to them you will see that they have all good things to say about how they’ve improved their physical and mental health.

One such gentleman I spoke to is Y.S. Rajendra Kumar, a retired Assistant General Manager who was with State Bank of India for nearly four decades.  An inspiring individual to youngsters and old people alike, he took to running at the age of 74 years in the year 2014. I was curious to know from him, how running became a passion at the age of 74. These are the excerpts of our conversation.

What motivated you to take up running at an age where most people put their legs up and relax?

Prior to me taking up running, I have always kept myself physically active over the years by doing yoga as well as taking long daily walks with my wife to the temple. In one of my discussions at home, my son suggested that I take up running and join his club “Jayanagar Jaguars”. The thought appealed to me; I started in 2014 and here I am 4 years later still enjoying every run.

Can you tell us from your experience what kind of changes running has brought into your life?

Before I took to running, the winter season was quite challenging for me. I used to suffer from a cold and chest congestion but that has now completely vanished since I started running. The bigger impact that running has brought to me is a more pleasant psychological change and cheerful attitude that I can attribute to my experience in running alongside the youngsters in the group.

To encourage more senior citizens to run, how should they start their process?

I would think that there are 2 primary steps that need to be in place:

  • Following a structured training program and
  • The able guidance of a coach providing them with the required direction to follow the training program.

There is a growing number of senior people who are running marathons around the world. What is your take on this growing phenomenon?

With the amount of information available online and the increased awareness among seniors on the benefits of running, this phenomenon does not surprise me. I welcome it and think that we as a society should be more open and encouraging to senior people taking to running.

In terms of your runs so far, how many 10k’s and half marathons have you completed?

Since my first competitive run in December 2014, I have completed ten 10K runs and six half-marathons until now. I am also proud of the fact that I have been able to achieve a podium finish in 2 of the runs –Ajmera Thump 10K (3rd place) with a timing of 1:13:47 in December, 2014 and TCS World10K (3rd place) with a timing of 1:05:58 in May, 2017. Some of other running courses I have completed are: Scotia Bank Calgary Run (Canada)10K, Spirit Of Wipro 10K, SCMM Half Marathon, Bengaluru 10K Challenge, Bengaluru Half Marathon, Chamundi Hill Challenge Mysuru 10K, Celebration Mysore Half Marathon and the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

That’s quite an impressive list and hopefully this will encourage other senior citizens to take up running as well. In your group of runners, is there a large percentage of people over the age of 60?

Not quite – in a group of over 600 signed runners, training across ten locations in Bengaluru, we are four runners above the age of 60 years.We are hopeful that other senior citizens will soon take to running as the benefits definitely outweigh the initial challenges that they will face.

In terms of your training sessions, can you give us some insight into your weekly running schedule?

We are currently in the middle of getting ready for our next half-marathon and our training schedule includes running 3 times a week with a mileage of 25K – 30K per week. Also, there are specific drills and exercises that we go through under the guidance of our very experienced coach, Pramod Deshpande and this helps us get stronger and stay injury-free.

To complement your training schedule have you made any dietary changes since you took to running?

Yes; I have made some dietary changes to boost strength and stay healthy. I have increased my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables while avoiding fried, oily foods and minimizing my intake of sweets. Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is paramount to supplement my training and overall running activity.

I have also learnt that your entire family is into running. That is quite an achievement, how did that happen?

Yes, it is true that as a family we all love running. It all started out with my daughter-in-law, Padmashree; she has long been into running and over time introduced my son Darshan to the sport. With the growing enthusiasm of seeing my daughter-in-law and son involved, my grandson Tanmai soon joined the running group.

During mid-September 2014 at the age of 74, my son suggested that I join him as well. While it did appeal to me, I was hesitant at first but decided to give it a shot. In the beginning, I found it a little difficult to run. However, I persisted and my continued efforts with proper guidance and encouragement enabled me to develop a passion for running.

Today, as a family we collectively participate in certain important running events through the year.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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The Simple, Smart and Effective Polar M430

A look at the smart yet simple GPS watch, Polar M430, a favourite for runners, writes Deepthi Velkur. 

GPS watches and running have become quite synonymous in the energy-sapping world of endurance sports. From professional to weekend runners, nearly everyone seems to have one of these watches to track their every move and using this data to train harder and more efficiently.

Rewind a few years and owning a GPS watch seemed like a piece of luxury but the scenario has drastically changed today. Aside from the original Garmin Forerunners, there were hardly any companies dabbling in the world of GPS watches but with more companies launching wearable GPS watches and the abundant choices in the market to suit every budget, it has become rather commonplace to see one of these devices perched on the wrists of runners.

When it comes to GPS running watches, one of the leading contenders in the market is the Polar M430.

At first glance, the M430 does appear a bit intimidating but as you use it, you realize that the M430 is an effective watch for your looking for the best performance tracking and recording device in the market.

When Polar launched the M400 in September 2014, it took the running world by storm and become Europe’s top-selling running watch in 2015-16. Fast forward 3 years hence and you find that Polar has taken the winning formula of the M400, topped it up with additional hardware and feature thus translating into one hell of a quality product.

The main difference between the M400 and M430 is the addition of an optical Heart Rate Monitor (HRM). The heart rate monitor measures your heart rate round the clock every few minutes or continuously during an activity.

Apart from the HRM, let us take a look at some of the features the M430 has to offer.  

The Polar fitness test – The fitness test uses your heart rate and other data to differentiate the optimum rate at which your heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during an activity. Using this, you can set up and monitor a fitness plan.

Run anywhere – Indoors or outdoors, the integrated GPS tracks your pace, distance, and altitude.

Running program – using the Polar Flow app, you can design a personalized and adaptive training plan.

Running Index – helps you measure how your runs are improving.

Polar Sleep plus – this function provides you with important insights on your sleep patterns and you can use this to develop good sleeping habits and as a result better performance.

GPS – The M430 comes with two GPS tracking options: 1) high accuracy recording mode that pings every second, and 2) low-power mode that pings every 30 seconds.

Final recommendation

The M430 is a brilliant multi-sport watch that performs very well in nearly every category. At INR 30,000, the M430 is a running watch in its purest form at a fairly decent price compared to the competition.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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The Runner who talks to God

The name Fauja Singh is an inspiration to senior runners the world over, Capt Seshadri takes a look at this remarkable runner.

An 89 year old Punjabi man in London, wishing to train for a marathon, landed up at Redbridge, Essex, probably in deference to the formal attire of the country of his residence, dressed in a three piece suit, much to the bemusement of his coach. To further add to the trainer’s surprise, the bearded and turbaned old man confessed that he thought the marathon was run over 26 km and not miles. Not that it mattered at all. His training began in complete earnestness and dedication. The outcome? In 2003, at age 92, he completed the London Marathon in 6:02 and the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 5:40.

This is the saga of Fauja Singh, a name that must now be familiar to every marathon runner across every continent. This was the same person who, born on April 1, 1911, in the village of Beas near Jalandhar, the sports goods capital of India, struggled to walk on his weak and scrawny legs until the age of five. One hundred years later, the very same ‘old’ lad set eight world age group records in a single day at the Ontario Masters Association Invitational Meet: 100 m in 23:14; 200 m in 52:23; 400 m in 2:13:48; 800m in 5:32:18; 1500 m in 11:27: 18; the metric mile in 11:53:45, the 3000 m in 24:52:47 and the 5000 m in 49:57:39. A series of events that no professional athlete would dream of attempting even at the peak of his career!

Where most master athletes would take weeks to recover from such a strenuous ordeal, just three days later, on October 16, 2011, Fauja Singh scripted history as the first centenarian to complete a full 26.2 miler, running the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in 8:11:06. Sadly, this amazing feat never made it to the Guinness Book of Records, since he had no birth certificate to prove his age, despite a passport confirmation of his date of birth.

Even though he was undeterred by age and never laid low through injury, this living legend decided to call it quits from competitive running after the Hong Kong Marathon on February 24, 2013, where he completed the 10K in 1:32:28, a timing which is just outside the qualifying limit of 1:30 set for the Tata World 10k, and meant for runners who would qualify as his great grandchildren! The proud moment of his running career was when he carried the Olympic torch in July 2012. The retired Fauja now runs for pleasure, health and charitable causes. Fauja Singh was honoured with the British Empire Medal in 2015, for his outstanding contribution to sports and charity.

The 52 kg, vegetarian Sikh attributes his longevity, stamina and outstanding fitness to his non-meat diet comprising roti, dal, vegetables and curd. Good hydration with plenty of water and ginger tea, early sleep, an abhorrence towards smoking and alcohol, and a professed diet of love and respect from the world around him, keep him going strong. His take on running successful marathons at such an advanced age: “The first 20 miles are not difficult. As for the last 6 miles, I run while talking to God”.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Scripting History – Hima Das

Capt. Seshadri writes about how Hima Das went from rice bowl to race track glory setting a new world record for India

It has been a long journey, but in a very short time, from the rice fields of Dhing village of Nagaon district in Assam, to Tampere, the city of power, in Finland. Nagaon, dating back to 1833 was once described as a district of three Cs: chicken, children and cases. A hemisphere apart, Tampere, often referred to as the ‘Manchester’ of Finland, is an important industrial city and a major source of electricity for the Finnish industry.

It was in this city that Hima Das, an 18 year old Indian girl, raised among the rice fields, powered her way to India’s first women’s gold at a world event, sprinting to victory in the 400m at the IAAF World Under-20 Athletics. Running a well thought out race in lane number 4, Hima breasted the tape in 51:47, kicking in a burst in the last 80 m and overtaking her main rival Andrea Miklos of Romania. Although a wee bit under her personal best of 51:13 in June 2018 at the National Inter-State Championships at Guwahati, it sufficed to create women’s track history for India.

Born on January 9, 2000, this millennial athlete started her sports career playing football with the boys in the fields of her native village. Nipon Das, a local coach was quick to spot her athletic ability and, despite reluctance and resistance from her family, moved her out to Guwahati. Although there was no separate athletics department, she trained at the State Academy. Starting out as a

200 m sprinter and acquitting herself remarkably well, her coaches spotted in her, a special talent for the quarter mile. Now, barely a year and a half since her first competitive run in an inter-district meet, Hima is reaching the pinnacles of athletics, creating history in the process.

Milkha Singh, the legendary Flying Sikh, has often been quoted as saying that his biggest dream was to witness an Indian win a gold in track and field. His dream has come true. Could it be termed mere coincidence that this achievement falls precisely on the 5th anniversary of the release of the biopic ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Should you run with your spouse?

Running as a couple might be an intriguing way to connect, writes Radhika Meganathan

It’s not as radical as it is sounds! Running with your spouse can be a time saver, budget saver and even bring couples together with a common goal. But should you do it? Or is it better to train alone, with no familiar distractions, so to speak?

First let’s look at the advantages, and there are quite a few:

  • Convenience: When you train with your spouse, you have a running buddy who lives with you! It cannot get easier than this.
  • Planning: No more schedule conflicts or communication problem, you can just say, Hi honey, let’s go for a run, and be done with it.
  • Instant support system: You can motivate each other, look out for each other and even share the same coach. Think of the savings, you can even share the transport!

Yes you should!

running partners

Anna Vergese, project manager in the construction industry who recently moved to Sydney from Hyderabad, feels women can benefit from running with men because men are faster (a physiological advantage, nothing more, nothing less) and that a less experienced runner, especially if they are a woman, who wants to improve can actually do so if she is running with her male spouse.

Ideally Anna would like to run/ train with her husband, but with young kids and no support system they have to take turns and run. “The thing is, I like running – whether it is alone, with my husband or a group,” she confesses. “As for a specific preference of what kind of running I prefer, well, it depends on the mood. I all options, though. As for my husband, I think he runs just to humor me!”

It is okay if you don’t want to

Nutrition

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The truth is, there are no should’s or must’s that come into play while toying with the idea of running with your spouse. You choose the option that’s most instinctive for you, and also most beneficial for your present running stats and future goals, without having to sacrifice your preferences. Anna’s husband Alex is frank in his opinion. “I like races/ events with lots of atmosphere and tend to get bored if I have to run alone,” he says. “As for running with my wife, the truth is our paces are so different so I personally find it tough to run in tandem.”

On the other end of the spectrum, a runner who wishes to be anonymous says: “I can’t imagine running with my husband, I’d go crazy. We both are short tempered and we simply cannot work with each other, we need an external person, someone not close to us and thus can be objective and grounded, to keep us going. Plus I do not want my hubby to witness my shortcomings, or gloat over how much faster he is than me. I know that sounds egoistic, but a girl’s gotta have her pride.”

Bottom line, if you have a good communication with your spouse, and if you can respect the other person’s limitations or superiority and frame your own goals accordingly, and can be patient enough to support the other person, you and your spouse can easily create a new avatar for yourselves as runners. Otherwise, your best bet is to enjoy your own company as you collect your running miles!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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Gear Comments Off on The original Anti Chafe Balm |

The original Anti Chafe Balm

Deepthi Velkur explores a product that tackles chafing, a common runner problem

Chafing is the most common skin problem among long-distance runners and occurs in areas that constantly rub against each other causing friction or is dependent on the type of clothing you wear. Prolonged rubbing can cause your skin to burn and develop a mild red rash that can be extremely painful and distracting while running.The key here is to be pro-active and prevent this chafing by using the right product. The Body Glide anti chafe balm does exactly that offering you a hassle-free run.

The body glide anti chafe balm is said to be ‘magical’ as it forms a satin smooth invisible barrier that helps the skin retain moisture leaving the skin feeling dry, non-messy and resists rubbing that causes chafing.

Product features

  • An all-natural lubricant, made with allergen-free and plant-derived ingredients.
  • Vegan approved and never been tested on animals.
  • Child safe
  • Satin smooth formula that keeps your skin dry and non-messy
  • Rich in Vitamin A, B, E
  • Keeps skin hydrated and retains moisture.
  • Ideal for sensitive, dry and cracked skin
  • Comes in a roll-on stick dispenser for easy application.
  • Lightweight and scent-free
  • A unisex product, available in different sized tubes and has a product exclusively for women.

Why is it good

Here are a few reasons why this balm is a must try –

No.1 choice of athletesThis product is the preferred choice of athletes as it leaves the skin feeling dry when compared to messy wet creams, gels and powders that have a greasy effect and leave you feeling uncomfortable. The dry feeling is due to no petroleum, lanolin or mineral oils being used in its preparation.

Easy and quick application – It can be easily applied in sensitive areas such as inner thighs, neck, under-arms or any place where the skin is rubbed.

Non-messy – The balm does not rub onto your clothes making it messy.

Sweat resistant – The pores are kept free from clogging so the sweat can easily escape helping your skin breathe.

Portability – This tube can be easily carried around and can also be put away in your race bag for later use.

Long-lasting Protection – A super effective and long-lasting balm which can be applied daily even in humid and dry weather conditions for a pain-free active life.

Price

INR 3999 for 70ml(2.5oz) and is available on Amazon India.

Final recommendation

It is a highly recommended for runners. Though it is expensive, it’s long lasting and worth every penny. A quick application is all it takes and lasts you through the entire run preventing your skin from chafing and making the run so much more comfortable.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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How to fix Heel Pain?

If you have stepped out of bed and experienced a sharp pain in your heels, then you need to learn these remedies, writes Nandini Reddy.

Painful soles and a feeling like a million needles are pricking your heels is the hallmark symptom of heel pain. This is also the first symptom that tells you that the connective tissue in your sole is strained and inflammed and you could be seeing an onset of plantar fasciitis.

Once you experience this heel pain, the recovery period is long and slow. If you are in pain already or if you wish to avoid the injury then there are few cautionary tips for you to follow:

Re-think you training program

If you are experiencing heel pain then you need to inform your running coach or work with a physiotherapist who can alter your program. You will need to make changes in your speed, distance, gear and running terrains. Hilly and uneven terrain should be completely avoided as long as you have the heel pain. Work on getting different footwear that will support your foot.

Balance Rest and Stress

Opt for a running shoe that is a better fit. You will need to find a shoe with better arch support and cushioning on the heel. This will be less stressful on your foot. Get used to the new shoes by walking in them first. Strengthen and repair your damaged tissue and the surrounding muscles that offer support to the foot. Calf strengthening exercises are extremely important and your core stability is also paramount.

Relieve your Symptoms

Use a foot roller or a tennis ball and move your foot over it to relieve the muscle pain. You can also use a frozen water bottle to relieve the pain. These are for temporary relief of symptoms only. There are massage therapies available to manage the pain as well. These may not resolve the problem but are useful for temporary relief.

Don’t stop moving

Resting and not moving will not improve your problem. Aerobic exercise is the best way to take care of an inflammation. If you find it difficult to run then opt for an elliptical machine or running in a swimming pool. Essentially opt for a low-impact exercise that doesn’t put pressure on your foot.

Suggested Exercises

Calf raises are the best exercise to do to repair your heels. This exercise improves tissue quality and stretches out the stressed tissue bringing relief. This also works on the surrounding muscles and strengthens them as well. This can be done several times through the day.

The most important thing to remember is that recovering from heel pain needs patience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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