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How to Prevent Chafing

Radhika Meganathan finds out the hard way that you need to be prepared ahead to deal with chafed skin resulting from running.

Spring in Central Park is magical. Flowers are in full bloom, the air is mild and fresh, and the winding pathways along pretty fountains and interesting landscaping offer the best running experience for novice and experienced alike. And there I was, happily jogging at my own pace when the climate suddenly changes – the sun shone with all its might and the day turned sultry. Oops!

But no problem, I am in New York and I am not going to allow a hot day – bah! I am a Chennaite and I am no stranger to the heat! – to deter me from my afternoon run. So I proceeded, until I became slowly aware of a burning in the area where my inner thighs made contact. In less than half an hour, I was in agony and unable to even step one foot forward. The pain was worse than a toothache!

I had no other choice but to collapse on the grass, and even after resting for an hour, the pain didn’t alleviate. Finally, I had to wobble like a duck to the nearest exit (each step was like walking on burning embers) and hail a taxi to the nearest pharmacy.  All in all, a very costly lesson in Preventing Chafing 101!

What is Chafing?

Repetitive contact between skin and skin, or skin and clothing, can cause painful chafing, which, if untreated, can become an open wound. It’s common for runners to experience chafing on the armpits, groin area or inner thighs, since those body parts create friction when running. You can be especially prone to chafing on a hot and humid day, but really, chafing can occur any time. If your skin is already chafed, here’s what to do:

  1. If you are outside and in agony because of your chafed skin, leave immediately. Do not keep running or walking.
  2. If you are not able to leave immediately, your best bet is to borrow or buy coconut oil or Vaseline and smear it on the offending areas. The idea is to stop the dry chafing, which is the reason behind all the pain. By introducing a lubricant like an oil or Vaseline, you will be able to experience temporary relief until you get home, or make it to the pharmacy.
  3. At the pharmacy, you can opt for a number of remedies, such as anti-chafing ointments. Remember, you need a cooling salve to soothe the burning skin, so clearly ask for the right product for your chafing.
  4. If your chafed skin is inflamed on the verge of breaking out, choose a salve with antibacterial properties. Even diaper rash cream works wonders.
  5. In case the chafed skin is throbbing or bloody, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Preventing chafing

Prevention is always better than cure, so here are some preventive measures to avoid chafing:

  1. Wear clothing that allows optimum movement, lets your skin breathe and absorbs extra moisture. Lycra, Spandex and polyester material do the trick.
  2. Wear compression shorts under your running outfit. Before putting on your shorts, apply a layer of baby powder on your inner thighs and groin. This will prevent friction when you run.
  3. Hydrate. Drinking a lot of water keeps the salt concentration in your sweat minimum. Why is this good news? Because salt irritates skin, especially chafed skin.
  4. Never do a long walk or run in a skirt, especially in hot weather. Naked skin creates the quickest and most painful chafing.
  5. Always carry a small tub of Vaseline whenever you run. You will be glad you did!

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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Stress Fractures: A runner’s nightmare

Stress fractures can put a serious dent in your passion for running, so what can you do to avoid them, writes Nandini Reddy

Have you ever felt extreme pain in your feet that you had to stop running? It is not a slight discomfort in the shin or a sore muscle, this sort of pain doesn’t let you run even after the usual stretching and short period of rest. This sort of injury may be a stress fracture and you might need to see your medical practitioner immediately. This injury is by far the most frustrating injury for any passionate runner. This is not a soft tissue injury that will repair itself with a week of rest. You need at least 6-8 weeks of rest and there have been even cases that required assisted walking with crutches.

Understanding the stress fracture

Runners can get a stress fracture in a wide variety of region such as the shin bone, the thigh bone, ankles and calf bone. The intensity of the fracture can be low or high. If it is a low risk fracture, then it would heal on its own. This type of fracture usually occurs at the shin or ankle. If you have a high-risk fracture, then a longer period of rest is required. Returning to running is a slower and more cautious process. The areas of these fracture need extra care and heal slowly. But for runners the chances of getting a high-risk fracture are fairly low.

The important thing to keep in mind though is to be aware of the symptoms. A stress fracture typically feels like a localized burning pain on the bone. If you apply pressure on the area, it will hurt and as you run the pain will increase. The muscle around the bone where the stress fracture occurs can feel tight also. You should see an orthopedist if you suspect a stress fracture.

How can you avoid Stress Fractures?

It is important to maintain a good training schedule. If you over train or if your running form is incorrect then you are likely to get a stress fracture. One of the best approaches is to ensure that you do not experience stress fractures is to have your training schedule wetted by a coach. You have to give yourself recovery days. If you experience the first symptoms of a stress fracture, it is best to take some time off and re-organise your training schedule. You can reduce your training schedule by 10 -20 % until you recover fully and then slowly build your mileage on recovery.

If your running form is incorrect for example your stride frequency is off point, then increase your chance of developing a stress fracture. You need to maintain a stride frequency of 180 strides/minute. If you feel pain that you suspect might be stress fracture, then you need to reduce the stride frequency.

Returning to running after recovery

Once you have recovered, you should try and get back with short sessions. You can start with interval training runs in a walk and run combination. Then you can progress to slow jogging and build your distance before you start running again.

Be aware about pains that linger and do not reduce even after proper rest. Return to your doctor if the pain returns.

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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How to reach the next level in Running

Your mind can ensure that you get through your most gruelling runs and workouts, and help you reach the next level, says Nandini Reddy

Strong legs and a solid body are not the only requirements to be a good runner. Every sport requires a strong mind and overcoming a mental challenge can be tougher than physical challenges at times. You mind is the one that will decide if your push harder or give up. That extra set of push-ups and extra km of running happens not because you body is energetic but because your mind refuses to give up.

If you don’t want to throw in the towel, then you need to train your mind with a few tried and tested techniques to reach peak performance.

Visualize

If you know you are about to tackle a tough course or workout then first sit down and visualize the course. Understand the hard parts and imagine yourself pushing through the course. Imagine getting tired and being rejuvenated. You need to get your mind to believe that you are now comfortable while tackling the uncomfortable task. You can coach your mind to deal with discomforts and forget about elements that you cannot control. For example, if the weather changes its not under you control but your attitude to the run despite the weather can be regulated by your mind.

Rewire

Running with intensity isn’t a pleasurable experience. You heart rate is elevated; your lungs are protesting, and your muscles are screaming. When this happens your mind automatically asks you to stop. You start to feel like you are not in shape or don’t have the strength or endurance to take on this challenge. But you can rewire your mind to assess this experience differently. You can drive away the unpleasant thoughts by thinking about the finish line, strengthening your legs and building your stamina.

Feedback

Feedback is an incredible motivation tool that your mind needs, to improve. For one you do not need to look at your GPS watch or attach headphones to your phone that is tracking your run progress. The feedback should come from you mind when you congratulate yourself for crossing check points and remembering to hydrate. Listening to music instead is a great way to relax your mind. Mark off points that you had visualized before the race and mentally pat yourself on your back for your progress.

Divide

Mentally divide and mark the course in your mind. Focus on reaching each mark point instead of aiming straight for the finish line. Mini goals are easier to achieve. You will cross the finish line if you can count your small victories instead of focussing only on crossing the final timing mat.

Memory

If your enthusiasm is flagging mid-run the you need to first recall your previous wins. You have done this before and this is another run like the others is a good thought process to follow instead of telling yourself that you want a break. Tackle steep hills and difficult trails one step at a time. If you have a positive affirmation, even one as simple as ‘I can do this’, repeating it to yourself would be a great way mentally boost your passion.

Mental training techniques can improve your running performance and your ability to tackle tough workouts in a more nuanced way than must focusing on the finish line.

 

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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Leadership Lessons from a Marathon

Marathon’s do more than just test your endurance, they give you valuable leadership lessons writes Nandini Reddy

Everyone takes to marathon running for different reasons. Some do it for health purposes, some for passion and some for the challenge they offer. But if you pay closer attention you will realise that it offers you important leadership lessons that you can apply back to your team and business.

Here are the five leadership lessons every marathon teaches you

Determination to execute an idea

Your decision to run a marathon most of the time happens out of the blue. Many runners start from zero at the beginning of a year and end up cracking goal timings by the year end marathon. This achievement usually has relentless training and a methodical plan. In a professional context this applies to executing projects and ideas. Methodical planning, goal-setting and time management are qualities you learn on the running track and can be applied to your work. Focus on the plan and commitment to achieving goals can also be replicated in a work situation.

Step wise approach

When you start training, you begin with a run walk combination and then slowly progress to running short distances then running for a longer time and then finally to running a fully marathon. This step wise approach helps you reach the ambitious goal of completing the distance of 42kms. This same logic applies to teamwork on projects in the office which requires a step-by-step approach to measure progress.

Encouraging others

When you trying to finish such a competitive and high endurance event, encouragement goes a long way. During marathons shouts of encouragement from spectators along the way and even fellow runners can boost your energy when you are struggling along the course and help you cross the finish line. In a corporate environment people spend more time pulling each other down rather than encouraging each other. Only when we mutually encourage each other’s progress can we build a positive work environment.

Avoiding Burnout

Runners know the importance of rest and recovery in between their rigorous training sessions. Injury can lead to frustration. Similarly, in a work situation if we need to achieve our goals for a project you cannot over stress your team and expect high quality work. You need recovery breaks that energise the team and as a runner you will understand the importance of these breaks.

Achieve and Repeat

Its never enough to run a single marathon. Every time you cross the finish line you will be itching to run the next. Marathoners hardly ever say that they never want to run another marathon. Even as they are receiving their medals for completing a marathon, their mind is already planning for the next one. This attitude is important at work and that sort of motivation keeps the creative juices of your team flowing and always ready to take on challenges at work.

Finally, if runners didn’t have fun they would never run. The same applies to your work, if you and your team have fun on the job you are less likely to have attrition and will achieve better results on each project.

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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Running Longer

If you want to run continuously for an hour without taking walk breaks then here is how you can achieve that, writes Nandini Reddy

Running non-stop is a dream every runner wants to achieve. Most find it difficult to run without taking walk breaks in the initial running days. When you start you are on a run-walk schedule until you find your pace, strength and endurance to run longer. As you get better you will be running more and walking less. If you have achieved running for 30 minutes straight and are through to the best time for your 5k runs then you have to hit the next goals of running for 60 mins or more without taking walk breaks. ‘

Here are a few things to keep in mind, if you want to run non-stop:

Create a Run Routine

Ensure you create a running plan and pre-run routine. The running plan will help you mark off goals and track your progress. A pre-run routine should include nutrition and preparation. Ensure you lay out your running gear the night before. Ensure you have bottle of water filled and ready. Plan for a simple snack ahead so that you are not scrambling in the morning. Chart out a warm up routine that you do without fail before the run. The focus should be about getting out and running in the quickest possible manner.

Relax and don’t stress

Running for 60 mins straight is a big goal for all runners. You are already on the right training path to achieve this goal, so now its important to run relaxed. If you start your run stressed then you are less likely to achieve your target. Don’t look at your GPS watch or worry about your pace. Just focus on the distance you need to cover. The idea is to finish the distance and stay energized through the course. The idea is to not run fast and stay positive and motivated through the run. If you stress and wind yourself out before you reach your goal distance and time you will be demotivated to even try again.

Fuel well

Nutrition and hydration will ensure you do not tire fast. Try to eat something 30-60 minutes before you run. You meal should include more carbs and be low on fat and fibre. For hydration stick with water and only choose electrolytes if you plan to run continuously for longer than 60 mins. Good options for a pre-race meal would be bananas, apples, figs, skim milk, cheese or peanut butter on bread.

Stay Committed

The running longer plan builds endurance and the idea for is to run without stopping and without getting hurt. The plan will gradually build so don’t over-stress your body in the first week itself. Fatigue will accumulate so its important to rest and recover. Stay alert for injury and ensure that you get them treated early on so that you do not have to lose time running.

A determined runner will complete his run despite all odds. But the idea is run more than one time. So don’t put all your energy into one run. Ensure that you can run longer for every training run you have chalked into your running diary.

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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Is there a good time to run?

Every runner has their own time preferences during the day for their training runs, but which time is ideal for running – morning, afternoon or evening?, asks Nandini Reddy

Have you felt that you run your best in the mornings? Or do you feel more energetic when you run in the evenings? Whether you are a newbie runner, running club member or elite marathon runner, you will have a personal preference for the time you run. One early morning runner said that running in the evening improved his timing? So does that mean there is actually a good time during the day to run? Are their scientific reasons for why we run better at a particular time?

One of the biggest scientific finding is that runner perform better when their body temperature is higher. Generally early mornings are the times of lowest body temperatures. So you need a longer warm up routine to read a good body temperature to have a good running performance. By evening, your natural body temperature is higher so many runners find themselves running better during the evenings. Also the lungs are at their best during the evenings thus you might be able to reach better times and run longer too.

If we consider the morning, afternoon and evening times, there are a few factors we can study in order to better understand how our body works at different times of day and what might be best suited for running.

Body Functions

Bodily functions are the worst early in the mornings. Muscles are stiff and body temperature is low. Also you haven’t eaten in 8-10 hours, so even the energy stores will be low. Mid-morning, after you have had a breakfast is technically a better time for your body because you are the most energetic at this time. Although for people who work this time might not work at all. But this time is best to try the more strenuous trail runs or hill runs. Also testosterone is highest during this time and its a vital hormone for muscle building. The afternoon times are when we are lowest on our vitality. The body functions go into a lull at this time making it a less preferred time to run. The lunch time runners might disagree though. By late afternoon your body temperature picks up and your muscles are most supple, making it the best time to run. Many runners have been known to achieve their personal bests during their evening runs.

Chances of Injury

The chances of injury are the highest when the body temperature is low. So early mornings needs a good warm up routine if you wish to avoid injury. Running cold is the worst thing any runner can do. This worsens your running performance and increases your chances of injury. Also when the body is feeling tired or low on energy don’t try to push and run. You will end up hurting yourself. Generally the highest injury times are early mornings and noon.

Psychological factors

While there may be a lot of science on the physical factors that you should consider while choosing the best time to run, sometimes the biggest determining factor will be your mind. If you have busy work days then you might find it easier to run in the early mornings. But many of us aren’t early risers so the evening might be a referred time to run. We may even want a mid day boost and running is the best way to boost your energy, so the lunchtime runners would argue that they prefer running at that time.

While physically you may be able to adapt to any time of the day, psychologically a time preference seems to dominate when we choose to run. If you have a regular choice then try a couple of days at an alternative time just to check how your performance is affected.

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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Calm your pre-race nerves

Being nervous ahead of a big race is perfectly normal, here are a few tips from Nandini Reddy to breath easy. 

You will be anxious before the big race. You want to give it your best and you want meet your performance goals. It is perfect fine to feel a bit queasy before the race. But don’t let the anxiety affect your performance. Here are a few things you can do to calm your nerves and run your best race.-

Follow a pre-race routine

Every runner like you is anxious to get to the starting line and race forward the moment the flag drops, but this can be a bit disconcerting to most people. So don’t get into the starting line frenzy if its not your scene. Do your stretches and warm yourself up for the race. Do not get into a panic by watching other runners, instead try to feed off the positive energy from runners around you.

Breathe

When you are stressed deep breathing can calm you down. If you are getting jittery then step back to an area that is less crowded, close your eyes and take in deep breaths. You can also follow the yoga technique of alternating your breathing between your nostrils. This will make your gut feel better.This will get your primed to focus on your race.

Plug those Ears

Sometimes its always better to cut out the white noise around you during a race. Plug in your favourite music and sink into your own space of calmness. A lot of runners dislike listening to music but for many it has a calming effect and helps them focus better. Music can also lift your mood and make the run more fun.

Visualize your goal

Fear of failure is what causes most of the anxiety. You need to visualise that you will reach the finish line and in the goal performance times you have set for yourself.  A good attitude will build confidence and you are more likely to finish the race.

You can’t control everything

There are factors you cannot control like the weather for example. If it rains on race day then it rains. There is nothing you can do about it so why should you stress. Other runners, weather patterns and even the course difficulty are not points that you can control so let it go and enjoy the race for what its worth. You certainly will feel more rewarded.

Remember that you trained to finish the race and not psych yourself out. Always remember that you can better your performance with every race.

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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Natural Ways to Boost Energy

When you are feeling sluggish, its hard to find the motivation to be healthy, so Nandini Reddy has a few suggestions to boost your energy naturally

Microwave meals and binge watching TV seem to be the perfect thing to do when you are feeling sluggish. Honestly that is just going to prolong the feeling rather than help you energize. It happens to all of us where we feel like we are running on empty and there seems to be no end to our to-do list. But there are some amazing ways in which you can recharge your batteries and be back to your energizer bunny personality.

Go to Sleep

Keep your phones and electronics devices outside your room, switch off your Wi-Fi and go to sleep. Melatonin production is important to get a good nights rest and electronic blue screens tend to hinder melatonin production. Get uninterrupted 8 hours of rest and your body will repair itself naturally and leave you feeling fresh in the morning.

Go Green

Have a fresh green salad or a green smoothie or any leafy green vegetables of your choice as a soup. The nutrients from the greens will recharge your body. You can also add a Super Food like Spirulina into your diet. You will notice a marked difference in your energy levels

Get some sun

Sunlight can naturally recharge your body. Sunshine helps in Seratonin production – which happens to be the bodies happy hormones. If you have a job that keeps you inside an air-conditioned office then try and take small breaks every two hours and walk out on to the balcony or the parking lot and it will help stretch out your muscles and get some Vitamin D as well. If you can wake up early and take a slow paced walk to absorb the early morning rays of the sun.

Eat well

One of the biggest reasons you might find yourself sluggish could be because of the lack of nutrients like Vitamin B and enough fibre and complex carbohydrates. You need to add eggs, oats, brown rice and sweet potato to your diet to ensure that you never run low on energy because of the wrong kind of food.

Snack a little

Use the mid-morning and late afternoon to grab an energizing snack. It could be a cup of chickpeas, millet based granola bars or fresh berries. The idea is to ensure that you energy meter doesn’t dip low and drive you into a lethargic pace. These small snack refuels will certainly help keep you energized.

The timing, combination and consistency of doing these things will keep your energy levels up. So remember to work the into your daily routine and diet.

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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Dealing with ‘Mom Guilt’

The real issue preventing mom’s from running isn’t fitness or time, its Mother’s Guilt, says Nandini Reddy

Mothers tend to plan their days around their children. It doesn’t matter if you are a working mother or a stay-at-home mother, you will be burdened with mom-guilt every time you take time out to yourself. If you were to poll a 100 mothers who were runners and have stopped or slowed down now, most of them would tell you they stopped because they felt guilty about taking time off for themselves.

So what prevents you from taking the time?

If you really want to find alone time to run then early mornings are the best. The family is asleep and you have enough time to train. But there is also the issue of safety and getting enough hours of sleep. While the struggle is real there are options. If you want to start running, try running in your apartment building. Running in circles may be better than not running at all. After you gain confidence then you can hit the road if you live in a safe neighbourhood or alternatively drive to a location that has a good population of runners. You can also consider running on a treadmill on days that you cannot get outside to run. But its important to ensure that your guilt doesn’t become your excuse to stop running.

Plan ahead with your partner

If you are serious about using running as your fitness regime then you need to get your family involved. Lay out a schedule and ensure that your partner is aware of it so that he can step in when you need the time to run. New moms can use the babies sleep timing to sneak in a run. Ensure that you family or partner are around to watch the baby for an hour and prep whatever they need to handle the situation while you run to your happy place.

Use the weekends

Weekends can be used for evening runs. You can also involve your kids in an interval style so that you can get enough exercise and your children will enjoy it as well. You can also train for longer hours and let you children sleep in. The idea here is to enjoy yourself and not keep thinking that your house is burning down without you.

Embrace your runner persona

I heard someone say that you become a better runner when you become a mother and a better mother when you become a runner. It is important that you embrace different aspects of your personality. You need to accept that you are a mother and a runner and neither roles needs to be compromised. You will be happier and more prepared to take on challenges when you embrace the different parts of your life instead of ignoring one for the other.

Taking time to run is not selfish. All moms deserve to have time to dedicate to their fitness.

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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