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When you stop running

Nandini Reddy explores what happens to your fitness and body when you stop running. 

There are many reasons as to why you had to take a break from your running. It could be because of an injury, family commitment, work schedules or just mental fatigue after you have finished your goal marathon. This is perfectly normal for even the most committed runner, a niggling question that stays in your head is about how long you can take this break.

So there are a lot of researchers who decided to study about how long does fitness last once you stop training. The short answer is within a few weeks your lungs and heart show the affects of not training.

What happens to your body

So once you stop cold turkey after being an avid runner then the first two weeks are bliss. Your muscles recover, you feel more relaxes and you still have all the benefits of the training. Once you hit the four week mark the blood volume drops significantly which means your heart is working less harder now. Runners heart are generally working overtime to continuously supply oxygen to those muscles that are constantly under stress. In another four weeks, muscles are all recovered and any minor tissue stress is also rectified. The lungs and heart are working lesser and if you were to even run on a treadmill now you will notice a change in the time it takes for you to be exhausted. Sustaining a hard pace will be a bit difficult and an easy pace will be what you can achieve. Researchers estimated that endurance performance decreases by nearly 25% after four weeks of no exercise.

What happens to your mind

The first two weeks are good for your mental health because you get to recoup from the punishing training schedules and your body also starts to feel more energetic. The niggling aches and pains will disappear over a four week period. But what happens to your mind after that? Running helps in keeping you happy. In fact any form of exercise has the power to increase positivism. When there is a break the first few weeks seem alright but slowly the anxiety starts to set in. Many runners who took long breaks have described as having signs of depression even. A few weeks off running has a positive effect but a prolonged break seems to have only negative effects on the mind.

So can you restart?

The first thing to remember is that you cannot pick up where you left off. Your body has changed and this has to be taken into consideration while drawing up your training plans. If you try to hit the same statistics with a vengeance you run the risk of injury. The first step is to adjust your mind and ease back into a schedule that is low stress. For the first week keep it easy. Do short runs in terms of distance and time. If all is well then go ahead and plan longer runs in the next week. Build up your pace and distance endurance over the next four weeks.

You can stop running. Sometimes you just need a break but remember that when you restart again, it is important that you respect the fact that you took a break and are now ready to begin anew.



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 during your periods

Have you ever wondered how that time of the month affects your (or your loved one’s) running? Radhika Meganathan talks about running and the menstrual cycle.

The discomfort, the mood swings… yes, periods can be a pain, but here’s the more important question: does it have a negative effect on your running performance?

Menstrual cycle, explained

Most women have a 28-day menstrual cycle which is split into two halves. The first half is known as the follicular phase, characterized by increasing levels of Estrogen. Day 1 is when your period starts. Ovulation, or the release of a fertile egg, happens around day 14, give or take a couple of days.

The second half of a typical menstrual cycle is the luteal phase, when the lining of the womb (endometrium) thickens, to prepare the body for pregnancy. Progesterone levels and body temperature increase during this second phase.

If the egg is not fertilized on time, then all the hormones levels fall over the next few days, triggering your next menstrual cycle. Rinse and repeat until pregnancy or menopause occurs; sometimes, severe physical and/or mental trauma can also delay your periods and throw you off your regular cycle.

Timing your training

Often, the best time for any kind of physical training is during the follicular phase. This is when your body temperature is lower, and all stored energy and regular fuel are broken down rapidly without the interference of hormones; thus, this is the best time for short, high-intensity workouts.

After Day 14, when your body temperature increases, it may not be an ideal time for intense workouts. But this time if perfect for endurance training, as many runners have found out.

Now we come to the dreaded week before Day 1; technically, the last week of your menstrual cycle. This is when most woman feel bloated, lethargic and restless. The scientific explanation is this is when your body realizes your egg is not fertilized that month and progesterone and oestrogen levels fall sharply. Your best running performance may not happen during these few days, but the good news is you can still do gentle runs on Week 4.

Running during your period

Some women hardly feel their periods, but some are so adversely affected that they take time off from their work. One size does not fit all when it comes to menstrual symptoms, so you are the best judge on how you want to draft your running schedule around your periods.

If you have heavy periods with painful cramps, you may be tired and anemic. You may also be feeling dizzy (some women report fainting) and have concerns about leakage. At this time, we advise gentle runs, good hydration and a sensible approach to training and diet. After the first two days, everything is good, and you can resume your normal running schedule during this awesome follicular phase.

Finding your best running days

Keep a menstrual cycle diary for a few months. Jot down the quality of your run during certain days, and note your energy and mood level. This will help you to identify your best days and schedule your training. Use the ‘bad days’ to concentrate on core work, cross training.

But what is you get your periods during a race? What if D-day falls on the first two days? Well, Uta Pippig, winner of Boston marathon in 1996, crossed the finish line with red-streaked knees and shanks. Clearly, her periods didn’t stop her from her win, so don’t be stressed about it. Just make your body work for you!



A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

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Become an Eco-friendly Runner

If you love living a sustainable lifestyle then you should probably include it as a practice in your running too, says Nandini Reddy

It always feels wonderful to give back to environment and if you can get fit while doing what you love, then that’s a double advantage. Running can be made sustainable by just following a few simple practices.

Running Clothes

The material of your running wear makes all the difference. Look for a brand that uses sustainable materials and practices to produce their clothing. Organic cotton and hemp are great materials to choose for running wear. There are a few firms that are recycling plastic info fibre to make clothes that are suitable for running. All these clothes are easy to wash and also air dry quickly.

Clean Trails

Whenever you participate in a big race ensure that if you are disposing trash you use a bin and not litter. If you feel that the organiser may not have adequate bins then carry a convenient trash pouch so that you do not litter along the way. You can also volunteer to clean-up the trail post run. If the race venue is far away then try and use public transport systems , car pool or ride a bike. Riding a bike has the added advantage that you can warm-up before your race.

Reusable Equipment

Use reusable bags, bottles and packets while packing your snacks for the run. If you buy packaged energy drinks then ensure you buy from companies that pack in recyclable bottles. If you can use homemade energy bars or granola bars you can reduce the wrapper waste. If you aren’t too keen on making your own energy bars or drinks then look for companies that use sustainable practices to produce and package their products. Carry your own water bottle so that you can avoid using one time use bottles and cups during the race.

Green Training

If you live in a city with a flat terrain and plan to run and out of city marathon that has steep terrains then consider changing your training plan in the same place rather than travel to train. You can use stairways and also find challenging running routes that you can repeatedly use for training. If you need to drive to reach a training location then consider riding a bike instead.

Follow the 3 Rs

Reduce your energy expenditures and material consumption wherever you can. Reuse things as much as possible. Recycle your old gear. Most runs offer their own signature T-shirts and if you have run enough marathons it is likely that your cupboard will be overflowing with the souvenir T-shirts. If you have the option of avoiding the T-shirt then please consider it, you will always have the finisher medal as a souvenir. If you can find a local retailer who will accept and recycle your old clothes and shoes then it is best to give it away to him rather than dump the lot as they are not easily degradable.

Outdoor running has the lowest environmental impact, so if you can make tweaks to the way you run – then you can easily become a sustainable runner.



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 Running for Everyone?

Radhika Meganathan on why running may not work for everyone and how you can still run despite all your misgivings.

Here’s the bad news. Running is not for everyone.

It’s not for those who just don’t to do the hard work. Running requires a certain passion and dedication, and if you are not willing to put in the effort, running is not for you.

It’s not for those who lead such hectic lives that they find it too much troublesome to plan a regular training schedule.

And, regrettably, running may not for those who have a physical ailment like severe joint issues, respiratory problems or heart disease.

The good news is, most people can run if they can make time and space for it in their lives. A lot of amateur runners have some fears about taking up running for the first time. In this article, we will debunk certain myths and misconceptions related to running:

I am too sore after running: One of the common mistakes beginner runners do is to go too fast in their eagerness to master the sport. Often, they take up running after decades long sedentary behavior, forgetting that it will take our body a minimum of three months to even up to a year to get used to a fitness sport like running. Hence, soreness should not be a reason to quit running! You need to work with the idea that it will get better with time. Take rest days as much as you need. At least in beginning, run on softer surfaces. Warm up and cool down longer but within two minutes of running. Take care of your soreness by soaking your feet in Epson salt bath or placing ice packs on your sore joints.

I have stiff joints and I’m scared running will damage my knees. This is a common misconception. Running does NOT wear out your knees. In fact, research has proven that runners have less risk of hip and knee problems, mostly because of their lower body weight. Running also helps cartilage to grow, not wear it out, and actually can protect you from arthritis. If you have any doubts, talk to a qualified physiotherapist in your locality.

I cannot afford high end running gear. You don’t need to have fancy or state of the art gear to start running! Running is one of the most affordable sport and all you need is a pair of good (not branded or expensive) shoes to get started.

I don’t have a good running track or park in my neighbourhood. This is where the treadmill comes into play – you can run on it within the comfort of your home or closest gym. You can also try running in the streets during early hours of the day. And if you are serious about running, we highly recommend you put in that extra effort a few times a week, get up a little early and travel via your own or public transportation to the locality that does have a good running track or park.

I am too old to run. No, you are not. Fauja Singh used to run in his early age but had quit it. After moving to UK, he started running again – after a break of 65 years. He first took part in the London marathon at age 90, and he again ran the same marathon at age 101 and finished in 7 hours 49 minutes! You are restricted by only your attitude and your fears, so work on them and you can start running.



A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

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Fueling the running fever

Runners around the world are motivated by different things. Here are the top reasons that push runners to continuously train for marathons and travel around the country or even the world to participate in them, writes Nandini Reddy.

Running is one of the most strenuous experiences your body can have. Reaching the finish line at the 42 kms mark is a strain on both your body and mind. Despite the hardships thousands of runners gather at the starting line of every marathon around the world. There are different motivations that drive novice and experienced athletes around the world . Here is recounting three of the most popular reason people gave for running marathons.

Love of Travel 

Running a 42 km race in new cities means you get to explore the city through its best streets. In a single race, you are likely to pass by the best monuments and also gain a bit of historical understanding of the city. Many runners travel to multi-locations to participate in marathons for this reason. A day before or a day after the marathon gives them time to explore the city thus allowing them to visit different places while pursing their passion for running. It might be an expensive hobby to have but if you budget your trips and plan your marathon season for the year then you will find great deals in every city that you visit. Travelling also gives runners the experience of running in different weather conditions. Running in windy weather, wet weather, dry weather and even arid deserts comes with its own challenges. This also challenges their training and adaptability to new terrains thus improving their skills as a runner.

Running for a Cause

Nearly all marathons dedicate their proceeds to certain causes. The bigger the marathon the more causes get supported. From education to old age support, medical research to environment affairs – marathon’s dedicate their earnings to supporting the good work of NGOs and small organisations. As an individual raising funds that can make a difference is a tough task but doing it through a marathon has more chances of success. The ambitious marathoner would encourage everyone to run for a cause they’re passionate about by indulging in a hobby they love.

The Fitness Freak

There are many who have taken up running as a way to get fit. The regular training session, joining running groups and the exhilaration of crossing finish lines motivate runners to do better with each marathon.  Any fitness routine puts one out of their comfort zone and running requires excessive mental grit. But it also gives you a different high every time you clock a goal timing on a race day. The most amazing part about running is that it is one of the few fitness routines that can be followed by anyone at anytime and in any place.

Running a marathon is one of the largest physical challenges you can set for yourself. So whatever your motivation behind running a marathon remember that you have achieved a task that most people count as impossible.



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 follow the pacer?

So a niggling doubt for many runners is if they should match the pacer during a marathon in order to reach their goal time, lets talk about why you should and shouldn’t with Nandini Reddy

To begin with let us understand what pacing means – Pacing is an average running pace associated with a particular event time goal. For example if you want to complete a full marathon in 3 hrs and 45 mins then you need to target a pace of 5.25 minutes per km.

At every marathon you are likely to meet the pacers with times scrawled behind their shirts or on the balloons tied to their waists. You also see a huge number of numbers tailing them even before the start point. The popularity of pace groups has increased over the past few years as more runners find it easier to follow a pacer. The promise of reaching the finish line in  goal time, is what has most runners hanging on to pacer groups.

Having said that there are still a few pros and cons that should be considered before you decide to latch on to a pacer during a marathon.


One of the biggest cons for running in pace groups is that there are too many people crowded around you. This chaos stays with you through the race, even at water stations. It is difficult to navigate and find a comfortable rhythm when you are running in a crowd. This leads to increased frustration and tempers and also many runners miss water stations because of the sheer number of people crowding the station from the groups. Missing a hydration interval can be detrimental to your pace when you are running a full marathon.

Pacing on terrains

Flat surface runs with pacers is fairly simpler because all runners can see the pacer and follow him at an even pace. When terrains are peppered with uphill, curves and twists in the trail then it becomes very difficult to follow a pacer because their pace will also keep fluctuating. A novice runner may not be prepared to deal with this and it might end up demotivating them to finish the race in a given time.

Trying to keep up

Every runner doesn’t train with a group. There are many runners who train individually and when they latch on to a pacer, they try to adopt the rhythm of the pacer. This means that after training for weeks to find you own rhythm, you are now trying to imitate another runner’s rhythm on race day. That definitely cannot work in your favour! When runners begin their race with pacers they also tend to run too fast in the first few kilometres and get fatigued quickly.

Stalking a pace group

If you feel that you cannot handle the crowd and the fluctuating pace when you want to follow a pacer then you can follow a different strategy. Most pacers will either run in bright T-shirts or with helium balloons attached to them. Even if you are not in the middle of the pacing group, you can certainly see the pacer. You can stalk the pacing group from a distance so that you are comfortable with your running style and still get the advantage of having a reference on your timing.

Group Motivation

Have you ever noticed that even when you train for a particular timing, on race day you always seem to do better? That happens a lot because of watching other runners around you. If you are a runner who thrives on group motivation then pacing groups are the place to be. The cheering from other runners will keep your spirits up and will constantly motivate you to finish the race.

Runners who train alone may not want to be in pace groups but running groups seem to prefer them more. It doesn’t matter what another runner does or recommends, go with your gut when it comes to finishing in goal timing.



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 Resolutions for the New Year

Come New Year and everyone makes resolutions to be better than last year. Since you are making resolutions anyway, how about a few running resolutions this year, asks Nandini Reddy

So it is almost that time of the year when you start thinking about how you can bring a positive change to your life and how the New Year will see a new you. If you are a runner then how about this year we try a few things that might make you a better runner. They may be resolutions that would improve your running or just make you enjoy running a little more this year.

Get the right Shoe

Go out and buy that shoe you have always wanted. The right shoes can make such a huge difference to your running style. Pick the one that is recommended for road running if you train around the city. If you want to run trails the get a different shoe. Speak to a specialist if you have to but get those shoes that you deserve. Make it the first thing on your list of resolutions for the new year.

Do more than run

If you have not worked on your strength training as yet then sign up for at least two days a week of strength training in the new year. If you cannot make it to a gym then try and workout using classic body weight training exercises that will help strengthen your muscles.

Get healthy

Make getting healthy a target instead of losing weight. Concentrate on overall health instead of just the weight. That will help you increase nutrition instead of just cutting calories. Use water as a friend to improve your running efficiency. Try have more meals instead of overloading at a single time.

Spend time with runners

Runners are a huge motivating force and if you are around them you will be more inspired to achieve your running targets for the year. They are also likely to be more enthusiastic about participating in marathons together and will be willing to train with you for the big race.

Make Less Excuses

It will always be too hot or cold or too wet to run. Meetings and routines will take over your day all the time. But try and make less excuses for not going on those runs during the week. Every run counts and every run brings you closer to your goal.

Pick your dream marathon

Aim to run a particular marathon in the year. Train with that goal in mind. Your attitude towards training and nutrition will change automatically. Pick one major marathon that gives you enough time to prepare yourself. Set a challenge to complete this marathon in a given time.

Running is fun. Don’t get too serious about it. Enjoy your runs on training days. Make interesting eating plans and ensure that it becomes a part of your life that you look forward to everyday.



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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Lace up to Lose Weight

Running is a great form of exercise if you are looking to lose weight. Nandini Reddy talks about how  you can run right to achieve your weight loss goals. 

Every time a new diet or exercise comes on, you are probably ready to try it, if it promises that it would knock off the pounds. But aside from the age old sage advice of ‘eat healthy and exercise’ sometimes it is difficult to find a programme that shows consistent results. Running in that sense is a great form of exercise that shows significant results in weight loss if done right.

Be Consistent

Running is hard in the beginning. It gives you sore muscles and you probably can’t even run a full kilometre without losing your breath but if you keep at it, it pays off. Look at a long term approach and plan your running schedule for the next 8 weeks and you will definitely see an improvement in all aspects.

Find a Programme 

If you are unable to come up with a running programme yourself then either find a running club or an app like Nike Running to help you formulate a running programme that suits your current fitness levels. Start with a run/walk programme and then you can slowly graduate to slow continuous jogs and then to full -fledged running.

Increase mobility

You need to strengthen your muscles so that you become a stronger runner. Body weight exercises like squats, push-ups and lunges are a great way to start strengthening your muscles. These will help increase your mobility and also reduce instances of soreness.

Interval Training

Fast running is an excellent tool for weight loss. Sprints will get your heart rate up and will burn more energy and uphill sprints are even more effective. This sort of interval training helps in higher weight loss. You can start with 30 second intervals of sprints and brisk walks. Then graduate to sprints and jogs.

Runner’s High

If you are trying a new exercise programme then it is important that you enjoy it. Running comes with an inherent advantage of feeling exhilarated after you finish your planned run. Running is known to release ‘happy hormones’ that stay with you through the day.

Any form of exercise is good exercise, but when you want to lose weight then its very hard to beat the results that running gives you.




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 through my inner conflict

Running can help you in more ways that you can imagine, Vanitha Shankar, an avid runner, talks about her life changing experiences from her morning runs. 

It was a Saturday morning. While lacing up for a ritualistic long-distance run, my gaze shifted towards the wide-open French-window of my apartment offering a fresh view of the world outside. The colour painted on the sky that day was a kind of vivid blue, indicating an impending dawn break. It was the start of a weekend, a new day, a run-day.…. also, the start of yet another day of a recurrent inner conflict in me!

The Battle of Choice
Do I listen to my legs begging to release themselves to motion, like a pup desperate to grab attention from its owner to go outdoors? Or yield to my hands stretching out to grab the camera! Giving in to the temptation of capturing the glorious sky could mean justice to Mother Nature, but certainly a compromise on the scheduled training plan. Chewing that unresolved inner conflict in mind, I decide to grab few pictures and set my feet in motion.
As I step outside, I see visuals in plenty. The magnificent sunrise along the coast, the morning beauty of a sprightly child with ruffled hair running through the lanes, the warmth of a young father walking his toddler, a street dog pacing a forerunner, a tea-stall banter tempting a great picture-story, the curvy bend with luscious greenery for a scenic shot. Do I now stop by and capture some of these on my mobile phone, I wonder with an itch on my hands! I settle to adopt the piecemeal approach, yet again.

Along the route, I see more in store – the historic buildings, statues of great leaders donning the long stretch, now serving as distance milestones to the runners, the vision, perspective, essence and variety is infinite and appearing unique every time. Upon each sight, my heart would signal a pressure, not from the cardio regime, but from conflicting stretches of my hands and legs in bipolar directions. Inner conflict is never a good thing, even when the choices are positive.

Well, to set context, it’s not an exaggerated emotion that I try to project here; but a genuine expression of an inner dilemma. A tad confused initially, I somewhere came to a self-realization that that I’m indeed one of many people, wired with a deep sensitivity to many different passions – writing as one example.

Along my route

Listening to a TED talk recently by Emilie Wapnick on multiple interests, I concluded that the key to resolution was in figuring out a way to connect these different passions. Not something new, considering my earlier weekly activity of connecting running and writing through comprehensive stories and weekly profiles of runners!

Gradually then, I learned to navigate through this specific one too, by sending rationale to the rear, and letting my heart rule as it deemed appropriate at that very moment. Even if it meant a compromise to one or the other. A progression I guess, this pattern led me into another new space – it’s been over a year now, since Running opened me up to yet another new world of creative expression – through photography connecting it with crisp and intriguing captions!

Today, as I progressively work on building distances, I find my thoughts and stimuli more in control. I find my thoughts gradually zoning out from the everyday chores and nagging to-do lists into a free and open space, where all I see around is life, an air of clarity engulfing the mind, and a rhythmic body motion playing along. At times, my mind would feel blank, only my eyes picking up pervasive visuals, making me wonder if this really is the powerful meditation exercise that the spiritual practitioners often talk about!

I get into a mind space where nothing else matters – neither speed nor timing, neither goals nor work, certainly not the grind of life. What truly takes over the mind is synchrony, and a connect with the world. BUT… somewhere with a hidden thought wondering what I can I take back as one memory for that day, recorded in the form of pictures and captions. Just one memory from each run, for I have also come to realize that not all moments are meant to be recorded.

It is in that self-connected zone; many such beautiful weekend mornings culminate. Power mornings, as I call them, take me to new spaces of expression, offering me a zone to nestle into – irrespective of whether the world around me, chooses to dance to my desire or not.

Why Run?

I RUN so I can set discipline in life, I RUN in search of that free space, I RUN to see the world around, I RUN to enjoy simple moments.

If signing up for a race can help me get on a focused track to achieve all this, I’d like to do it periodically. Incidentally, as I write this, I’ve just signed up for another training program to prepare for my subsequent running goals. My target may not be guaranteed at this point, but satisfaction certainly is. And it comes from working towards a goal with discipline and focus.

Beyond fitness of body, it’s the fitness of mind, channelizing inner conflicts through creative outlets, and achieving a progressive degree of clarity in thoughts. This is what rhythmic running has given me in all these years, my friends!



Vanitha Shankar or Purple Shoelaces (as she likes to call herself) is a working professional, long distance runner, hobby photographer, blogger, and an annual arts event host, currently residing in Singapore. Driven entirely by heart, she likes simple things and a rounded life.

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