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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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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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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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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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Best running trails in South India

You never forget your first trail experience, and once you conquer that, you become addicted to running in the lap of nature, writes Radhika Meganathan.

Letting your feet take you through colourful, picturesque scenery and feeling the rush, the thrill, the sheer joy of running… we know what you are looking for, so here are five South Indian trail races that you must not miss!

Nilgiris Ultra

The 70km terrain of Nilgiris Ultra takes you through “dirt tracks, mountain roads, steep hills, forest roads, mountain valleys and tea estates,” as described proudly by its organisers. You will not only run past shola forests and tribal settlements, but also wind through stunning tea estates and waterfalls. The course flows up and down until the last 6km, so let’s remind you once again that this trail is not for the weak-hearted, but if you are prepared for it, you will be rewarded immensely.

When: December 8, 2018

Starts from: Heart of Ooty town, and ends at Upper Bhavani reservoir

Details at https://www.webscorer.com/register?raceid=118448

Kaveri Trail

There are three categories: 42.2 km, 21.1 km and 10 km, leading you through the famous Kaveri belt. Since the trail forms a part of the land adjacent to a bird sanctuary, runners would be able to see over 150 varieties of birds. As you run, you will be taking in glimpses of wildlife, even families of otters diving for their dinner. Do stay away from the waterscapes and marshy areas, the marsh crocodile is not an animal you want to meet during your run!

When: 24th and 25th November, 2018. Registrations will close once all the slots have been filled, so do not delay.

Starts from: The race will begin and end outside Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary. Transport (paid) is offered from Bangalore and Mysore to the base of the marathon.

Details at http://kaveritrailmarathon.com

Hampi, Badami, and Coorg

When: Go Heritage Run is a crowd-pleasing and award winning organiser of races at various heritage locations in India. Some of their offerings this year cover the historic sites of Hampi, Badami and the biodiversity hotspot of Coorg, taking you through some fantastic natural scenery including forts and caves, forests and ruins. All runs are held only on Sundays.

Starts from: Various upcoming dates, check with the official calendar

Details at https://www.goheritagerun.com/2018-calendar/

Though the two races below do not technically form part of trails, we are including it in this list because they take place in lush green ambience!

Spice coast marathon

God’s own country Kerala plays host for this marathon which has been meticulously designed in such a way that the runner soaks in the key sights and landmarks of the historic beach town Kochi, for every kilometer stretch that they run. In addition to a full and half marathon, there is also a 8km fun run for those who want to do this at their own leisure.

When:  Nov 11, 2018

Starts from: K K Premachandran Sports Complex, Willingdon Island, Kochi

Details at http://spicecoastmarathon.com

Auroville Marathon

Originally a celebration event on the 40th year anniversary of Auroville, this marathon became an annual, non-commercial race with categories of 42km, 21km and 10km. All participants who finish are considered winners, hence it is not a timed race. Go for it, to experience the beauty of a planned township with its red earth and lush vegetation and sustainable architecture.

When: 2nd Sunday of every February

Starts from: Auroville. The route map will be uploaded on the official website two weeks before the event.

Details at https://www.marathon.auroville.com

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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Five Tips to Run on a Vacation

Should you really run on a vacation? Well, yes! says Radhika Meganathan 

Running in a new place is highly recommended because one, the new scenery and running conditions give you a fresh change of scenery and challenge. Two, you want to keep breaks and time-offs from your running routine for unavoidable emergencies where it is genuinely difficult to run, and folks, a vacation is NOT an emergency. They are almost always running friendly, if you just prepare yourself a bit.

So pack your favourite running shoes, your all-weather track suit (or a spare T-shirt and shorts!) and get ready to stretch your legs in a new, exciting location. I caugh up with Srimathy Vardhan, who works at Deustche Bank, Wall Street, New York to share a few tips on how she manages to squeeze a run into her travel:

  1. Choose a hotel with a gym: A tread-mill work out is better than no work out (especially if the weather outside is in the extremes), so if it falls within your budget, opt for accommodation with a fitness center. “I am doubly excited when the hotel has a gym,” says Srimathy Vardhan. “I usually look for it when I book my trips. If there is no gym, then I will run outdoors but weather is not a deterrent for a runner unless there is a calamity.”
  2. Research ahead: Google or call your accommodation provider to get details of the trails and parks near your place of stay, so that you can plan your daily running. This step is also a good chance to identify and avoid potentially unsafe places. Minimise your chances of getting lost by downloading map of the area on your phone. Always, before running, check if your GPS is functioning.
  3. Get up early: Yes, this is a bummer, but if you don’t want your sightseeing or family time to get disturbed, you need to plan your running schedule. “Being a working mom of two young kids, I find running to be the best way to fine tune my thoughts and relax my mind. I am currently training for my marathon in October. Last week I was on holiday and I woke up early at 4:30am to run, because doing so boosts my confidence and helps me to stay focused on my training plan,” says Srimathy.
  4. Eat mindfully: While food is an exciting part of any vacation, too much of it can interfere with your goal-oriented running regimen such as for a marathon or weight loss. Consuming excess carbs, sugary treats or alcohol food also makes you sluggish, so try not to go overboard. Most hotel buffet/dinners offer huge spreads, so opt for a light lunch, such as soup or fruit. Stick to drinking a minimum of 3L of water a day, especially if you are vacationing in a hot and humid place.
  5. Consider cross training: If you know beforehand that running every day is going to be difficult in an upcoming holiday, pack a travel-size foam roller and use it for core strengthening exercises, and proceed ahead to cross train on the days when you definitely cannot run. Choose whatever is available, swimming or canoeing or biking. Just stay on the fitness wagon, instead of completely falling off it!

But what if there is no gym, the roads are slippery and it rains heavily? What if you are walking all day exploring a city or a national park, and the last thing you want to do is run?

The solution is very simple. Plan a longer or more challenging running schedule for a few weeks before your intended vacation time. Then you can consider your vacation as the required recovery time to give your body some rest, and spend your holiday truly relaxing and bonding with your near and dear. Bon voyage!

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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