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Strapped for time? Run at night!

If only I had the time to run, seems to be the lament for a lot of us who struggle to fit in running during the day. Well, how about after the day, asks Radhika Meganathan.

Have you ever considered running after the sun had set, with the stars above you keeping company? Poetic, but not practical, you say? Come on! Consider the pros:

  1. Better chance at forming good habits. It’s so easy to hit the couch in the evening, switch on the TV and all good intentions go out of the window. When you opt for a night run, you then automatically fight against lethargy and be proactive, by choosing to run either straight from your work or once you arrive home, before or after dinner.
  2. Better life co-ordination. For some of us, running in the morning is just not done. You might be a night owl, wake up a tad too late and greet a scorching sun. You might have an early shift, by way of work or other life commitments like an early school run. And let’s not forget certain issues of intimacy. “My husband doesn’t run, and we both work, so I really do not want to miss the early morning cuddle time with him,” confesses Sheila*, an ardent runner. Universal Solution? Night runs.
  3. Better mind space. Each day brings new goals and routine obligations, and it can get quite overwhelming when you try to accommodate your passion for running in the early morning chaos (or midday work blues). Naturally, when you choose night runs, the ever-busy day is over and you are free to breathe easy and truly savour your running time. “I always get my run done however late I get back from work. I prepare dinner for kids and go for a run at 8:30pm or even later,” says Srimathy Vardan, investment banker in New York.
  4. Better sleep. Modern day stress, overuse of gadget and bad work-life management have lead to poor sleeping patterns, and seemingly a whopping 50% of people complain of poor sleep in the night. The problem is, if you don’t sleep well, then you don’t perform well the next day. With a night run, your body is pleasantly tired and ready to welcome some deep sleep – an easy, natural and healthy remedy for a complex health issue, a free one at that.

Now that we have convinced you that running is the night is the next best thing, here are some pointers to keep in mind while you burn the not-quite-midnight oil to run:

  • Always keep your phone with you, fully charged and with the latest tracking apps. Investing in a head lamp and clothing with reflective strips or piping is a great idea.
  • Never run in unknown roads; keep to well-lit, well known roads and paths, even if you live in a safe neighbourhood.
  • If you need music while running, opt for a audio book or podcast, since you will still be able to hear outside sounds over your headphones.
  • Do not eat too rich or too much food before your night run. Eat at least two hours before the run, to avoid gastrointestinal issues.
  • If you can postpone dinner until after your run, you will be able to burn some good calories! But if you have type diabetes, you should run after dinner, as studies have shown that it can help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • If you do have dinner two hours before a run, then chances are you may wake up at 3am with a roaring hunger. To prevent this, always have a banana or a protein shake as a post-run, pre-sleep snack before going to bed. Good night and good running!

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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Should you listen to music during a run?

There is an impact from listening to music during your run, so should you or shouldn’t you, asks Nandini Reddy.

Science supports listening to music while you run. But there are several pros and cons that you need to consider before pumping up the jam. Music can be a huge motivator especially when you need to keep motivation up. But let us consider two kinds of people – those who don’t listen to music and those who do.

Don’t Listen to Music

Runners who used to run with music have now stopped because of the constant irritation and distraction of the headphones. For some people the music works more as a barrier than an enhancement as it diverts their attention from their body. A lot of runners even consider it a safety hazard as we don’t pay attention to the ambient noises that might be important for our safety. Trail runners do not use music and they want to enjoy being part of nature.

Breathing

We need to focus on our breathing while we run. Runners should have a deep breathing technique that involves diaphragmatic breathing. When your mind is distracted by music it is less likely that you will focus on your breathing. That means you switch to breathing from your chest. This sort of shallow breathing limits the delivery and circulation of oxygen.

The pain of Earphones

There are earphones that are particularly built for running. But despite all the design enhancements earphone can be an irritation and a distraction. The time runners spend in adjusting and setting the earphones in a comfortable position distracts them from the task of running.

In Favour of Music

There is a science behind using music to enhance your running performance. Research has shown that music increases concentration and provides ongoing motivation. Runners have also said that it feels like less effort when they run to music. They are also able to maintain a comfortable tempo when the right kind of music is played. Fast paced and motivating music is the key to a positive run.

A list of the pros of running with music

  • Pumps you up for your runs
  • Sets a consistent tempo
  • Runs feel easier
  • Motivated to run more
  • Positive Influence on mood

While we consider the pros we also need to consider the cons

  • Might not help you get the right pace for your race
  • Distraction from headphones
  • Unsafe as it blocks out your surrounding noise
  • Disconnects you from nature
  • Might undermine the benefits of the running experience

Music or no music – whichever you choose just enjoy your run.

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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Dread Running? How do you start?

If you have never run before you probably dread running but there is a way to start, writes Nandini Reddy.

If you ask a seasoned runner how they started running, most will tell you that they just started with much of a preamble. You do not have to be athletic to start running. Most regular runners today probably started running when they were at their most unfit stage. Running is a high intensity activity and you can ease your way into it. It is a great activity if you want to lose weight or like being outdoors for an activity instead of being cooped up in gyms.

Marathons are advertised constantly and you certainly would have a few friends who train consistently for it. But while that might seem daunting if you haven’t run ever in your life you might be surprised that it isn’t so hard. Here are a few things you can do to get started.

Start Slow

First start walking at a brisk pace for at least an hour till you work up a sweat. The idea is to get used to moving around at a brisk pace and getting your muscles working. Trying walking every alternate day to start with and then everyday. That way you body will be better prepared to start running.

From Walking to Running

The transition from walking to running can be done using interval training. You can start with a walk-jog combination and then progress to a jog-run combination. The idea is to gradually build your pace and stamina. A sudden rush of trying to run might wind you and also discourage you from trying but if you work your way up to it then you will be able be more comfortable.

Right Running Gear

The right shoes will make all the difference to your run. You will need to buy the right shoes if you want to pursue running even as a hobby. You get options across various price ranges so you can look for one that suits your current motivation. If you run early in the morning or evenings then you need to ensure that you are wearing bright neon T-shirts for safety reasons. You need not go all out an invest into expensive running gear, just a the basics of shoes and a running belt if you want to carry your phone, keys and water while you run.

Running Plan

Ask a runner friend or a coach to help you come up with a plan. It is always best to work with a plan to ensure that you are on the right track. You cannot always feel like running every morning, so its better to have a dedicated plan that will tell you how much and for how long you need to train.

Schedule a Run

Pick a time of day for your run. Keep it constant so that you are mentally prepared for it. If you want to run early morning then ensure you get to the bed early so that you have more energy to run in the morning. If you want to run after work then pack a bag that you take along and you can complete your run before you get home in the evening. The idea is the ensure that you block out a time in your routine for running.

Nutrition

If you have included a stressful activity like running into your schedule then you also need to fuel your body right to ensure that you have enough energy to complete your runs. Eat proteins and vegetables to ensure that your muscles recover and your gut stays healthy. If you are finding it difficult to identify the right foods then you need to consider visiting a nutritionist who can balance your diet.

Injury – Free

Staying injury free is an important part of running. You shouldn’t overdo running and burn yourself out either. The idea is to run to build your stamina and not destroy your muscles. Only when you are injury free can you continue to run. Running releases endorphins and you will definitely experience a runner’s high when you finish. If you want to keep experiencing these highs then you need to ensure that you take care of your body.

Running is a great activity and considered one of the cheapest ways to stay fit. So get off that couch and give it a try – who knows, you might fall in love with it.

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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Keep your Running Motivation Up

 Keeping up your running motivation is crucial to keep running, writes Nandini Reddy.

The training schedules leading up to the big race are long and tiring. Many runners loose their inspiration and motivation along the way. The novelty of the first few days have worn off and all good intentions go up in smoke. But once your motivation fades what can you do to keep your spirits up and continue running.

Create a personal running habit – Choose one big race that you want to run every year. Keep that as your goal race and work your daily running habit around it. Goal distance or goal time can be set according to your last race performance. Work with that as a singular goal instead of a spreading yourself thin. Display your inspiration to finish the run prominently.

Plan and Prepare – Keep all your running gear in one place so that it is easy to find. You can also keep another bag in the car to ensure that you never have a excuse not to run. If you are prepared you are more likely to get even a short run for 30 mins in every day.

Don’t Skip a Monday – Starting out a week running sets the tone for the rest of the week. If you finish your run on a Monday you have already started your account for the week and you are more likely to achieve your goal.

Run for Fun – Running a great stress reliever. A few times you can run without looking at your GPS watch or clocking in the time and kms. Enjoy the run without thinking about the training and you will feel a lot more positive about your training.

Run in the Morning – Mornings are a calmer time to run and you are more likely to fit your goals. You will also get the run done for the day and have the rest of the day open without constantly thinking about running.

Take a Training Break – To consistently run you need to take a break from your training. The break can even be a week long. Even in a weekly schedule you need to have recovery days so that you don’t get burned out.

Do other workouts – Add other endurance workouts like swimming, cycling and cross-training, so that you improve your stamina and strength. You will feel better both mentally and physically. You can even try new routes or running options like trail running, stair running or hill running.

Focus on these measures to ensure that you stay motivated.

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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Stressed from Running too much?

Running is an amazing form of exercise but it can also be a cause of stress, writes Nandini Reddy.

Training for a marathon requires dedication and planning. But at times looking at the long drawn schedule can seem overwhelming. A marathon training calendar is what runners would follow in order to achieve their personal best at the big race. These calendar’s tend to be long and detailed. Looking at this calendar alone can cause anxiety to many.

You need to watch for a few signs to know if your running has become stressful for you:

Right Head space – Generally they say the best way to prep for your day of running is by preparing the night before by laying your gear, setting the alarm and also getting a good night’s sleep. But at times this routine alone can cause anxiety and you might end up waking up several times during the night. The whole routine might become a mental block to running itself.

Getting too emotional about goals – Runners tend to get very attached to their goals. Not achieving their weekly distance target or goal timings leads to runners getting upset and making mistakes during their training in their emotional state. Your running attitude will determine how you approach your run.

Hormone induced positivity – Any form of exercise releases endorphins. But the positivity about the exercise stays only for a short while. The moment the effect of the endorphins dulls, the feeling is replaced by sadness. Ideally this doesn’t happen to all runners but to the ones who are over-stressing about their goals.

Runner’s Guilt – Runner’s have tight schedules, especially when they are training for the big day. That means sacrifices on a number of fronts such as missing dinner parties, spending more on gear and strict diets that mean missing even birthday cakes. The idea is to balance all of these with running but many find it hard to strike a balance instead they are caught in a stressful situation.

Low immunity – Even with your diet and exercise in the right amounts, stress can cause your immunity levels to drop. That means you will be susceptible to colds, flu and other illnesses that are fueled by stress.

Increase in injuries – Stressed runners will find themselves injured more than normal runners. They don’t pay attention to their body and this can lead them to push their body beyond its limit thus causing damage that might prevent them from running altogether.

Bad time management – Race training needs time commitment. If you are already stretched then signing signing up for a big race is not a good idea. Trying to squeeze out time can cause undue stress and fuel negative emotions. Running becomes an obligation instead of a pleasure.

Peer pressure shouldn’t be a reason for your to accept a race. Set your own goals and ensure that you run while listening to your body. Do not make it a tedious to-do list task.

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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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

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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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Controversy over Marathons and Hearts

There has been a long debate on how the heart is affected by marathon running, Nandini Reddy talks about the research that allays fears. 

Exercise is suggested as a good way to improve the health of your heart and lungs. But there has always been a debate about how much exercise one should do. Experts cannot agree on what is the right amount of exercise and each of them seems to have a different opinion. Running is one of the easiest exercises to start for people who want to get off the couch and get fit. But there is a divided opinion on how running affects your heart. One group feels running has no lasting effect on a healthy heart but another group things heart damage is linked to running.

What does the research say?

But instead of opinions if we look at research, you will find that when runners finish a marathon there is a certain level of stress that is visible in the heart muscles that is reversed after rest and the effect is only temporary. While runners who train regularly have a lower incidence of this effect, the new runners who attempt to run marathons without proper training seem to show higher levels of such stress.

The research was expanded to see how the heart function is changed for marathon runners. Marathon running is a high endurance activity that keeps the heart in the zone of 60-70% of their maximum heart rate for an extended period of time. This means that the heart needs to work at higher levels for a longer period of time but if the runners is trained their is no lasting effect of the stress the heart takes. If a runner doesn’t rest adequately after a marathon race then the effects of the stress cannot be reversed fully and there might be a last affect on how the heart functions.

So what can you do?

  • Draw up a training plan with a coach
  • Do not attempt a marathon unprepared
  • Take care of your health first, you can always finish the next marathon
  • Adequate rest is important after a training session and a marathon
  • Get regular health checks if you have a weak heart or a history of heart conditions in the family

The Conclusion

People with lower fitness levels should not attempt marathons without proper training. Even if your heart is in good condition, taking on an endurance activity without adequate preparation is not a good idea. With training, coaching and monitored fitness sessions one can run a marathon with ease and recover as well. But running marathons without preparation is never a good idea.

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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Run to de-stress

Did you know that running is the best way to de-stress, asks Deepthi Velkur.

Running has numerous health benefits both physically and psychologically. People who run regularly run tend to lead a healthier life and have a more positive outlook. Being non-sedentary and moving around in open spaces has a fabulous effect on the psyche. Most of us spend our days cooped up in offices with air-conditioning turned on all the time. Getting out in the open and going for a run is a great way to build up your resilience to mental- health issues, the most common being stress. As the author of ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’, Haruki Murakami, says “Most runners run not because they want to live longer but because they want to live life to the fullest.”

Stress can be both acute and chronic in nature and can have negative effects on your body leading to heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, early aging and weakening of the immune system. So here are a few ways to use running as a great way to fight stress:

Pumps up your mood-Running boosts your mood in a big way. Running helps increase the productivity of a chemical in your body to quell pain called endorphins or runner’s high. They help to slow down the aging process, relieve stress and anxiety, and enhance the immune system in general.

Trains your mind– Running trains the mind as much as it trains the body. You learn to focus better and are determined to take on new challenges and overcome any obstacle. With the mental strength and willpower that running brings, it can change a person’s perspective on life, confidence, and clarity of thought.

Synchronizes your body – In order to relieve stress you need to synchronize your body, that means you breathing, heart rate and body reactions should all be in sync. Running is the easiest form of exercise that can bring your body into sync in the shortest time. A body in sync will get rid of stress quicker.

Fight or Flight – Stress activates your survival instinct and it can leave you feeling antsy. The best way to reduce this feeling is by going for a run. Even a jog will do the trick to relax your mind and reduce the stress inducing hormones.

Finding your Flow – Running gives your body a certain rhythmic flow. The repetitive action of pounding the road in measured strides sets a certain flow to your body. This helps in settling your mind and bringing you back to focus on the important and not the stressful activity.

Running Groups – Running in a group helps you interact with people who share the same philosophy of exercise. They also might be experiencing the same stress and can help you release your negativity and stress better. You will also feel less alone while trying to fight your daily battles.

You will be surprised about how much anxiety can be relieved by a comfortable 20 min run. If you don’t believe me, then why don’t you try it for yourself.

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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Running on Vacation

Running is an active way to relax and recharge while on a vacation and with a little effort you can fit this into your vacation schedule, writes Deepthi Velkur

For most of us,  we remember a vacation by looking at pictures taken, stamped passports or even the odd souvenir that we bring back home. For a runner, however, it invokes memories of a dashing waterfall or maybe the lazy cows at sunrise or the serenity of a deserted beach.

Follow these five tips to run during a vacation and you are guaranteed to keep up with training and even get some insider tips from locals on where to eat, shop and play.

Start your day with a run – Getting your run done first thing in the morning of your vacation is a great way to start the day as it ensures you don’t push it out for later and also helps free up your day. Also, you will be less dodging to do as you avoid the crowds and you can check out the area much before the hoard of tourists arrives.

Research and map your running route – Do a little research on running routes close to your hotel as you will be able to map your run stress-free. Using technology can be a great way of identifying a few local favorites at your vacation spot. If you don’t find the time to do some research, just head out for a run and see where your feet take you. This forces you to pay attention to streets and landmarks and other intimate things that otherwise you might miss.

Packing Right – When packing for a vacation, drawing up a packing list will ensure that you don’t find yourself without your running must-haves. Ensure that you carry running gear that is suited for any weather type to help you avoid missing out on your run.

Stay Safe – This should be your primary objective – avoid narrow and busy roads, neighborhoods that appear unsafe and always carry your phone, money and the hotel business card just in case you do get lost. Also, checking in with the hotel concierge or some friendly locals is a good way to identify if your route is safe.

Let Loose and Explore – A key tip to running on your vacation is “forget about mileage”. The focus should not be on distance, pace and intensity; instead, focus on the sights, sounds and everything exciting the new environment has to offer.

There are heaps of benefits to run on a vacation but please ensure you follow the tips and add to your holiday experience.

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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