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Run and bare it

Capt Seshadri looks at Barefoot world champion athletes who have made barefoot running a trend that has made a powerful comeback.

When it comes to a choice between shoes and no shoes, barefoot runners over the years have given their shod competitors a run for their money. In Rome, in 1960, a long distance runner, finding that the official footwear supplier had run out of shoes of his size and that those supplied to him were too tight for comfort, decided to run the marathon without them. And hit pay dirt. Four years later, in Tokyo, Abebe Bikila, the legendary Ethiopian athlete, successfully defended his title, this time running in shoes, and in the process, set a new world record.

Barely four months ago, on April 28, 2018, the world bid adieu to another barefoot running legend, Michael ‘Bruce’ Tulloh. In the early ‘60s, Bruce was a sensation, regularly winning European and international cross-country championships. Two decades later, his twin teenaged daughters set age records for running. Naturally, they also ran barefoot. Tulloh, who turned later in life to teaching biology, ran a grueling 4,600 km across North America, from LA to NY, in just 64 days. He appeared to have counted his paces since this arduous run was captured in his book titled ‘Four Million Footsteps’.

Bihar, in India, produces sportspersons from as varied disciplines as athletics, hockey and archery, but there is one great long-distance runner who represented the country in the ’76 Montreal Olympics, running the marathon barefoot in a surprising time of 2:15:58. His best marathon effort though was in 1978 in Jalandhar, where he timed 2:12:00, a national record unbroken to this day. In the 42.2 at Montreal, Shivnath Singh was in the van for 32 km, ahead of legends like Bill Rodgers and Lasse Viren. Finally, his finish at # 11 out of 72 participants, was an extremely credible performance at the time for an Indian athlete.

Barefoot running is not the exclusive preserve of the male. As a school student at the age of seven, Tegla Loroupe, born in the rift valley area of Kenya, ran 10 km to school and back every day. This early training led to her winning several half and full marathons while garnering gold in the 10,000 metres in the Goodwill Games in 1994 and 1998. Tegla, after retirement, was selected to champion the cause of ‘refugee athletes’ as the organiser of the Refugee Team for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

One of the most famous barefoot women athletes gained notoriety for a different reason, although subsequent investigations absolved her of all fault. Zola Budd, born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, migrated to England to escape the apartheid ban, driven by the fact that her world record of 15:01:83 in the 5,000 metres at age 17 went unrecognised. A year later, representing Great Britain, Zola erased her record with a performance of 14:48:07. Her claim to infamy came with her multiple collisions with Mary Decker, leaving Mary out of the competition and a tearful Zola finishing seventh.

While 27,000 km of running, including 50 + marathons qualifies Rick Roeber as one of the most prominent barefoot runners of this era, the real ‘godfather’ of the unshod foot is Ken Bob Saxton of Seattle, who has a century and more of marathons under his soles. And, running barefoot for charity, Ms. Rae Heim covered over 3,000 km across America to raise funds to provide shoes to needy children under the banner of Soles4Souls.

Ultimately, it’s a long road to run on. Whether for glory or for a cause.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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How does a Senior runner prepare for a Duathlon

Senior runners are experimenting with all forms of endurance sports and the Duathlon is another amazing event to consider, writes Deepthi Velkur.

Swim-Bike-Run races or the Triathlon are challenging and fun, but what happens if you can’t (or don’t enjoy) swimming?

Does that mean you miss out? Definitely not, the answer lies in Duathlon.

Duathlon is often scoffed at for being triathlon’s poor cousin. However, if like me, you’re addicted to running and cycling but dread that swim leg, then the run-bike-run could be the challenge for you.

The classic duathlon challenge involves a 10K run, 44K bike, and 5K run. There is also the Ultra Duathlon that has a 20K run, 77K bike, and 10K run.

While getting through the initial run and bike challenge seem straightforward enough, it is the last run (5K) that kills you and make your legs feel like jelly, though this can be avoided with proper training.

To get the most out of your training please make sure you follow a customized program. Runners who are senior in age need to be cautious and have race-specific training plans. This approach is necessary as over time the wear and tear of the body,  as well as adaption to multiple forms of past training, make the body’s response to new training a lot slower.

As a senior runner, your years of training and racing have helped you understand your body better. Use this knowledge to make amendments and build a good training plan.

Your training plan should include 3 – 4 sessions a week of threshold and muscle training while other days must include strength or cross training. Senior runners should exercise caution when running fast as they are more susceptible to injury due to the loss of muscle and tissue elasticity.

Here are some top training tips when preparing for a duathlon:

Keep it simple: Make sure you have the basics – a bike, water bottle, helmet and a good pair of running shoes. Do make sure they are in good working condition.

Build up your training intensity gradually: Always ensure your training intensity increases gradually because a sudden change can lead to injury. Follow the 80:20 rule – 80% at an easy and conservational pace and 20% at a moderate to high intensity.

Pace yourself: Just like with your training pace yourself through each obstacle – run the first leg at a comfortable place, build intensity with the bike and finish with a flourish in your last run.

Practice transitions: You can lose a lot of time transitioning from your run to a bike to a run again. The key here is repetition. Practice by setting up a mini transition area that is safe and has marked entry and exit lines. Post a warm-up, set a timer each time you run in, change shoes, put on your helmet and run out to mount your bike and again back to the run mode. This helps you to better understand what went well and what changes are needed with respect to your last transition. Aim to get quicker with each session.

Run first, then bike: Incorporate brick sessions as part of the training program – these include a short, sharp run right after your bike ride. This way your legs get used to this transition of getting off a bike and then doing a fast run. Once you’re done with 4-8 weeks of base training, the short bursts off the bike are excellent for building muscle memory ahead of your race day. Try doing a run before a bike ride instead so you know how exactly it would feel to ride after running on race day.

Whether we like it or not our body never ceases to change through aging. You must factor in these changes as you customize your training approach.

That said, make sure you have fun, stay in the moment and enjoy 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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Gear Comments (0) |

Run Comfortably with Compression Tights

Deepthi Velkur takes a look at Skins Women’s Dnamic Compression Long Tights to see how comfortable they will be for runners.

Running like all other aerobic activities is much more comfortable when you have clothing that keeps you properly ventilated or in damp and wet conditions like we have  – slightly insulated and dry.

Running clothing gear includes pants, tights, shorts, shirts, vests, and jackets. The weather outside determines what combination you need to wear to stay comfortable on your road and trail runs.

The key points we should keep in mind are:

  • For warm days, the gear should help absorb moisture, keep you cool and protect you from the sun’s rays.
  • For cooler and rainy days consider wearing pants or tights as this will keep you insulated and dry.

One such running clothing item that has made a huge splash are compression tights.

Runners across the world have embraced it whole-heartedly as these tights wrap around your body cozily. The snug fit ensures minimal muscle vibration due to the constant pounding while running thereby providing that extra support for a runner to perform better.

While selecting a pair of compression pants for yourself, look for one that uses gradient compression as it provides just the right amount of surface pressure to facilitate circulation and deliver proper oxygen supply to the muscles.

In this review, I would like to focus on the Skins Women Dnamic compression long tights.

From being the first of its kind in compression sportswear, these full-length tights from Skins bring together their gradient compression technology with special seams and panels to cover your most active lower body muscles such as the calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

Product features:

  • Engineered with gradient compression
  • 75% Nylon and 25% Elastane
  • Good moisture and temperature management with UPF 50+
  • Elasticated waistband
  • Seamless feel
  • Amazing design

Compression clothes work wonders for me and I use them quite often during my workouts and on my long runs. They feel extremely light on you, making you feel comfortable, improves performance and making you feel less tired at the end of a hard training day or run. The new look of the Skins compression tights is impressive. The mesh on the sides help improves breathability. I can definitely feel a lot more compression in this model as opposed to their previous models.

These tights are available on www.amazon.in and come in all sizes from XS to XL. The price varies basis the chosen size with S, M, L and XL retailing at INR 5000 (average price). It is noteworthy that the XS size is fairly expensive at INR 11,200. All these prices include import and delivery charges.

There has been a tremendous improvement to how compression tights are built today and the Skins company are constantly upgrading their products to give a more supported compression and snug feel. If you haven’t tried them yet, the time is now.

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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Picking between Nike and Adidas

Deepthi Velkur took to comparing two great running shoes to find out which one works best for you

Finding the best-fitting running shoe among the innumerable choices at our local sports stores isn’t easy at all. To ensure you walk out a happy customer, you need to make sure the shoe fits properly from heel to toe and that it feels comfortable with your regular running stride.

All major sporting goods manufacturers from Nike to Adidas to Puma have spent millions in money and research time perfecting the running shoe and still continue to do so. It took Nike engineers, chemists and designers nearly 2 years before the company could release its Air VaporMax in February 2017. The shoe has an exaggerated bubble on the bottom paired with a sleek Flyknit upper, a combo that Nike claims results in the “most flexible Air Max ever.” How well does the VaporMax deliver on Nike’s promise of the “running on air” sensation from a functional standpoint – we will dive into that a little later in this article.

Adidas on the other hand had introduced its own big innovation in bouncy soles, the Boost cushioning platform and has become one of the company’s signature products – the Ultra Boost line of running shoes features a sock-like knit upper paired with a squishy, springy sole.

The rival shoes are so well-matched that they raise an inevitable conundrum for shoppers: Which one is better?

We set out to answer the question—and created a short checklist that makes a pretty good guide for rating any pair of running sneakers. The criteria include stats that affect performance, such as weight, but also things that matter to the average consumer, like price and the ease of adjusting the laces.

Fit

The Nike VaporMax is extremely lightweight and super flexible that gives you a custom fit feel and does not limit your natural movements. The shoe tends to be a little narrow but run true to size length wise.

The Ultra Boost boasts a Primeknit upper that provides for a customized fit for runners with narrow feet, however there have been concerns that the rigid frame can be a sloppy fit especially during fast paced runs.

Upper Comfort: The Flyknit material used on the VaporMax has more stretch to it which is welcome, given the somewhat constricting shape of the midfoot. This material gives the shoe that extra comfort, making it breathable and light weight. The Adidas primeknit material is flashy and non-abrasive but it is also hot and constricting. Also, the primeknit material gets waterlogged easily.

Stability: Adidas released the Ultra Boost with a staggering 27mm of Boost midsole which is unsupported by any material of a higher durometer. The effect is a slightly sloppy feel and you don’t feel like your feet are completely locked down but overall it does offer a comfortable and softer ride.

Nike on the other hand uses its Flywire system that holds your foot firmly in place and compresses your foot evenly. The traditional midsole is absent and the Flyknit upper sits directly on top of the Air bag.

Traction and Durability: The outsole of the VaporMax uses a durable rubber and also comes with extra rubber around the unit to help support it. The Ultra Boost, on the other hand, comes with a much more conventional sole and can be worn anywhere comfortably. The outsole of the Ultra Boost is made of continental rubber which helps in its durability and traction.

Underfoot Comfort: The VaporMax has a very bouncy ride and it does take some time getting used to. You also get the feeling on walking on stilts given its thick AirMax units. The Ultra Boost on the other hand is smooth and comfortable.

Price: The Ultra Boost is priced at INR 18,999 (https://www.adidas.co.in/) and the VaporMax at INR 18,995 (https://www.nike.com/in/en_gb/). Prices may vary basis the color and the model chosen.

Final thoughts – As much as the VaporMax might win from a style perspective, it probably won’t match up to the performance of the Adidas Ultra Boost. The numerous marathons won by the Boost clearly suggest a more effective performance platform than the Air.

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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Never Miss a Monday

 

Monday mornings might seem the toughest, so why not begin them with a refreshing run, writes Deepthi Velkur.

After spending a lazy weekend, waking up on a Monday morning to kick start your workout might seem like the hardest thing in the world. Think again!

The start of the week is probably the best time to recommit yourself to staying fit. Finding that extra motivation is hard to come by for most of us because we make a million excuses in our heads not to lace up our shoes and sweat it out. However, fitting in a workout into your Monday morning schedule will benefit you in more ways than one.

Here’s why it’s worth your effort:

Building momentum for the rest of the week: Starting a Monday with a quick run sets the pace for the rest of the week. There is something about working out on a Monday that makes you feel like your off to the right start. This keeps your motivation high and creates a rhythm for the week ahead.

Happy and relaxed disposition: For millions of people around the world, the start of a week usually means a heavy head and an overall unhappy disposition.

This is where that early morning workout really makes a difference – researchers and scientists worldwide have proven that any form of physical exercise be it working out at a gym, a morning run or walk releases endorphin that gives you that extra dose of happiness and makes you feel more positive (now, who doesn’t like feeling all positive and happy!).

Assists development of self-control: It needs sheer willpower to get out of bed, put on your training gear and start out on your exercise routine after a lazy weekend. Exercising is an excellent way to harness some sort of discipline into your life. Doing exercise tends to release a neurotransmitter, GABA, that keeps you in control of impulses and can slow down your anxious brain activity.

Ward-off anxious thoughts: Most of us might be apprehensive about heading to work and just the thought of the amount of work piled up might make you anxious. Science shows that any form of aerobic exercise lowers your general anxiety levels. Also, any high-intensity workout reduces anxiety sensitivity.

Boosts brainpower: Any form of physical workout has a great potential to improve levels of BDNF(brain-developed neurotropic factor) which helps build healthier nerve cells. A study has shown that a strenuous workout improves memory power and people are in a position to absorb concepts better.

Better Sleep: As much as exercise is important to your overall health, sleep is equally important. A good strenuous workout tires out the muscles and this, in turn, helps you sleep better. As we all probably know by now, proper sleep gives your body time to recover and start afresh the next day.

The benefits of a morning run clearly outrank the biggest challenge – our laziness, so the next time we hit that snooze button, pause a couple of seconds and think of the world of good things that morning run will bring.

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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Training Comments (0) |

How do you breathe while running?

Breathing the right way while you run can improve your endurance, writes Nandini Reddy.

Breathing right is important for all runners but many runners do not pay much attention to it and end up feeling winded after just a few hundred metres of running. A marathon is an endurance event that asks your body to sustain the routine for a long stretch of time. In an aerobic exercise like running, it becomes important to have the right breathing technique if you want to get the most of your run.

Like you find a certain rhythm in your pace and in your stride you need to also find a rhythm in your breathing. Before you find your rhythm you need to learn the basics of belly breathing.

Diaphragmatic Breathing or Belly Breathing

Working your diaphragm to the fullest potential you need to fill your lungs with air and then exhale by pushing all the air out. The simplest way to ensure that you are breathing from your belly is to ensure that your belly rises when you inhale and collapses totally once you exhale. If you do it slowly in a count of 5 then you will feel that full effect of the deep breathing technique.

If you are breathing from your chest then your diaphragm will not work to its full capacity and you will end up taking shallow breathes. Shallow breathing will tire you out faster. Using your diaphragm and breathing in using your belly will ensure you sustain your energy through the run.

Practicing belly breathing

  • Lie on your back
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach
  • Take a deep breathe and ensure your belly rises
  • Exhale slowly and lower your belly
  • Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth

Rhythmic Breathing

Rhythmic breathing is the next level of belly breathing. It is the best form of breathing to ensure you stay injury free also. It helps coordinate your foot strike with your inhalation. When you inhale your body is tight and this is the perfect way that your foot should strike the road. In a tight state there is less chance of injury. When we exhale the body relaxes and if you strike the ground with your foot at this time you are setting up for body for injury. The stress on your body when you foot hits the road is high so it should be prepared to take that stress and not collapse under it.

Another thing that should be focused on is that you do not exhale and strike your foot down on the same side every time. If one foot is under stress all the time you will increase the risk of injury on that side of your body.

Importance of Rhythmic Breathing

There are several advantages to rhythmic breathing:

  • Helps you centre yourself and gain control of your body
  • Helps gauge the effort for running
  • It allows for precise control
  • It has a calming effect
  • Helps sustain you through long runs
  • Your body is in harmony

It takes time and practice to get the breathing right and runners should spend time on it if they want to run longer and injury free.

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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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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Age no bar. Determination compulsory.

This mom and son running duo will give you serious fitness and parenting goals, writes Capt Seshadri.

While it is quite customary to hear of couples running together, or even families running for fun, it must be quite a rarity to see a centenarian mom and her septuagenarian son in competitive athletics, that too in World Masters competitions across the globe.

If ninety three is a ripe old age to start an athletics career, Mann Kaur epitomises it. Having watched her 71 year old son Gurdev Singh run a race at Patiala, sometime in 2007, Kaur was inspired to start running, ‘just for the heck of it’. If genius were truly 1% inspiration, this nonagenarian genius proved that it is also 99% perspiration, by beginning her training in real earnest. Preparing for the Chandigarh Masters Athletic Meet, she sprinted 50 m five times and each of 100 m and 200 m at least once each, every alternate day. That was to prove more than sufficient for the ‘Miracle Mom from Chandigarh’. In 2007, at the very same meet, she won her first medal. There was no looking back at the track.

Mom Kaur and son Gurdev have participated in several Masters Athletics meets around the world. In 2017, in Auckland, where over 18,000 competitors from over a hundred countries participated in 28 disciplines in these quadrennial games, Mann and Gurdev once again covered themselves in glory. While the ‘younger’ Gurdev won silver in the long jump, bronze in the 100 m and was placed 4th in the 200 m, golden girl Mann Kaur finished first in all her three events – the 100 and 200 m and the shot put, in the process earning her 17th international gold medal.

The dashing duo was well prepared for the World Championships at Rugao, China, but were sorely disappointed at not being granted visas. They were supremely confident of more medals and more glory for India. Sadly however, that was not to be. A consolation of sorts came by with Mann Kaur being featured as one among just six nominees worldwide, for the Laureus World Sports Awards in 2017. This award is an annual feature, often considered the ‘Oscar’ of sports, to honour sporting individuals and teams for consistent achievements throughout the year. Kaur, although unlucky to have lost out to Usain Bolt, can count her name against sporting luminaries like Tiger Woods and Roger Federer.

In Canada, where she is now settled, Mann Kaur is to be bestowed a lifetime achievement award. Her happiness is in getting to travel across the globe at her advanced age.” Kaur attributes her longevity and athletic prowess to her healthy lifestyle of clean living and a diet of boiled vegetables and wheat bread. “If you take junk food, then how can you run? I avoid fried food”, is her mantra. This simple centenarian world beater, who has even run a non-stop 3 km race in Mohali, near her home town of Chandigarh, along with legendary centenarian marathoner Fauja Singh, has this to say: “I will continue to run and take part in competitions as long as I can. It gives me a lot of happiness when I run. I believe that age is no bar to chase and realise your dreams.”

Age is no bar indeed. All you need is a road to run on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

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

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Training Comments (0) |

Keep your Body Happy

While you clock the kms on your running there are few things you need to do to ensure your body stays happy through your training programme, writes Nandini Reddy.

You are doing everything right – strength training, recovery, nutrition and running kms. All these are strengthening your body but yet your body might be breaking down from all the stress. You need to maintain your body so that you can keep running and prevent injury. In order to keep your body in top form, experts believe you nee to follow a few of these tips:

Get a Foam Roller 

Foam rolling reduces tension in your muscles and aids in muscle recovery. The increased blood flow from foam rolling also assists in injury prevention. Ideally foam rolling should be done pre and post a workout. The pre-workout will help get the blood flowing and the post-workout will help release the tension in your muscles. This also aids in muscle recovery.

Start liking Water

Water is your friend. You can slowly work your way up to drinking more water during your training. You can also opt for high water content vegetables as part of your diet to ensure that you meet your daily water demands. These can help with extra hydration through the day.

Sleep is great

You muscles need to repair themselves while you sleep so if you are not getting enough sleep then you are doing your body a disservice. Sleep is the time during which the body repairs and the micro-tears in your muscles heal. It also helps boost your immune system and regulate your metabolism that can improve your endurance. The idea is to get enough rest to ensure that your body heals itself and is better prepared for the next day’s tough run.

Work on Wall Sit-ups

You need to start opting for a few exercises that take the stress off your knees and ankles and yet work out your leg muscles. Wall-sit ups are the best option to ensure that you body gets its best workout without over-stressing your knees and ankles. This is a form of strengthening that will also help you during hill runs.

Stretch your back

You need to take care of your back with strengthening exercises and stretches. Also along with the back – the glutes needs to be worked out as they support the muscles in your legs while you run. If you glutes are weak then you might have injuries such as injured arches that might lead to plantar fasciitis.

The idea is that your body needs respect and love while you train to run your best race so take care and ensure that your body is always happy.

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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