Featured Comments Off on The Latest and Best Marathon Training Method |

The Latest and Best Marathon Training Method

Coach Pramod Despande of Jayanagar Jaguars talks about the various methods that runners can consider while training for a marathon.

We have all heard of the age-old adage “practice makes perfect” and while that holds good to this day, practising and training the right way is the key to being successful. In this read, let’s have a look at some of the best training methods out there and how these can be leveraged to help amateur runners like us run better.

The latest and arguably the most successful marathon training method has to be the one developed by Patrick Sang. The evidence of that is the recently delivered World Record time of 2:01:39 (by Eliud Kipchoge at the 2018 Berlin marathon) and also an
unofficial world record of 2:00:25! Takes your breath away, doesn’t it?

To be fair, this training method isn’t suited for mere mortals like us. For that matter, we can’t sustain any of the elite marathoner’s training methods as they are exhaustive and intense – consider their weekly mileage of 200 – 225 km which is equivalent to 3 – 4 weeks of mileage for normal runners.

That leaves you wondering – what is the most suitable training method for amateur marathoners like us and what are the latest methods of training?

Before I can answer that, let’s first understand the evolution of present-day marathon training methods and the training programs.

The Earlier Methods:

Since 1896, when the first competitive marathon was run, many runners and coaches have developed various training methods for competitive elite athletes. The documented plans, however, started with the pioneering work by Arthur Lydiard of New Zealand in the ‘60s, ‘70s and its impact can be witnessed even today through the terminology coined by him e.g. “base building”, “peaking,” etc.

Lydiard’s basic idea was to develop runner’s stamina first and then work on their speed. He divided the whole year into different periods (periodization) with emphasis on specific aspects with respect to each period. The average mileage for marathon-conditioning phase(base training) is of about 160 km, then moving on to the next phases that include ample use of hill training, intervals, and speed training. He suggested the use of gymnastic exercises for the loosening and stretching of muscles but was not in favour of weight training.

Over the years, many coaches developed their methods by modifying Lydiard’s programs, while keeping in line with basic principles, whereas some successful coaches like, Gabriele Rosa, Renato Canova, etc. developed their methods in contrast to Lydiard’s training principles.

For e.g. Renato Canova’s method focusses on speed and raw power during the early phase and moving on to longer threshold/tempo runs towards race day. Gabriele Rosa, on the other hand, swapped speed work with marathon specific workouts.

That being said, the common aspect amongst the 3 programs mentioned above – all produced world-class performances.

Training Methods for Amateur Runners

After the running boom of the 70’s, a large number of amateur athletes started taking up running thus fuelling the demand for programs to train larger groups of non-elite runners to complete their first marathons and subsequently to increase their performances. This gave rise to a whole new area the “marathon training program.” The difference between this program and the elite training program was:

  • Larger group size (elite runners’ groups are very small)
  • Runners with lesser athletic abilities or experience (than elite athletes)
  • The training programs required to be tailored around the life of a runner (the other way around for elite athletes)

Many coaches, ex-runners, doctors, etc. who possessed good management and business skills started to create these programs and training methods. They combined a scientific perspective along with savvy marketing techniques.

Here is a summary of some of the popular methods:

High Mileage Training: These methods established by coaches like Hal Higdon involve a gradual and consistent increase of mileage with a goal to cover a high weekly mileage across 5 days a week.

Hansons’s method: This variation prefers giving equal importance to all runs and not dedicate one day for a long run. The overall mileage in this method tends to be on the higher side. This program also avoids activities other than running as part of the preparation.

Specific training pace method: The start of this method is mostly credited to Jack Daniels, where there is an emphasis on training at specific paces for each workout and has extensive formulas to arrive at precise paces. This method also uses long runs as an important workout with specific paces and variations.

More Intensity, Less Miles: These methods emphasize lesser overall mileage but high-intensity workouts for each session.

  1. Methods like FIRST (Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training) by Bill Pierce & Scott Murr that advocates “less is more” theory i.e. running lesser distance but with much higher speed.
  2. Also in the similar methods of CFE by Brian Mc Kenzie, gives more importance to HIIT type of high-intensity exercises and weight-bearing exercises.

Heart Rate Running method – LHR or Low-Intensity high mileage: Some methods also advocate running longer distances at lower heart rates to increase running capability at that heart rate, a prominent evangelist of this method is Dr Phil Maffetone.

The Run Walk Method: Popularized mostly by Jeff Galloway, typically for beginners but many experienced runners have achieved quite great results through this method.

All of the above methods have provided excellent results to many runners but interestingly, they all have contrasting principles and so this creates lots of confusion in a runner’s mind.

How can methods with conflicting principles give great results?

Is there a best method?

Not really – you will find that a lot of runners swear by each of these methods and an equal number doubt them. Typically, a method will be effective for a few years and then a runner’s performance will plateau. Hence, you will need to shift to another method or incorporate some aspects of another method to improve performance.

All these methods are built upon some basic principles e.g. Progress Overload principle, Principle of Specificity, Principle of Periodization, Principle of Reversibility, base mileage built up, etc. and understanding these might be a tad technical for the average runner. Also, all these methods assume a specific fitness level and preparedness. So where does the answer lie?

The answer really lies in the runner and not the method.

Each runner has unique abilities – a combination of genetic makeup, body structure, fitness levels, aerobic base, mileage base, mental makeup, etc. These factors decide which method works best for you. For example – with respect to the genetic abilities, some runners excel with slower and longer workouts, while some others respond well to speed workouts. Along with genetic ability, a runner’s development of various aspects like Aerobic Threshold, Lactic Threshold, Anaerobic Threshold, VO2 Max, etc. will decide the suitability of a method.

All of this brings us to the inevitable question of – ‘Which is the best-suited method for me’?. Again, there is no quick and clear answer and it requires you to take into consideration a lot of factors.

Initially, the best option will be to go with a coach, someone who will tailor a specific training plan for you. A coach has his own assessment about, which method(s) will suit a runner and they will use components of multiple methods to tailor a specific training plan for a runner.

But if you are trying to plan your own training please consider the following aspects before you take a decision.

  • Check the base requirement for preparedness for the plan, e.g. the basic mileage, a PB, etc. and unless you meet all the requirements, please do not start the method
  • Check the total time investment required by the method – it should fit within your lifestyle. Any plan will work only if you follow all aspects of it, including the prescribed rest
  • Figure out if you have access to complete the prescribed type of exercises. For example – if the program emphasizes a lot of hill runs and you don’t have any hills nearby, you will need to make an alternate arrangement
  • Most importantly, make sure the target pace or finish time of a program matches your own goal as each of us have our own individual goal for e.g. choosing a method/program for achieving a sub 3 marathon will not suit you if you are looking to achieve a sub 4.
  • If you have tried some other method earlier and searching for a program to switch, please make sure you ‘unlearn’ aspects from the earlier method.

After considering all the requirements, when you select a method, please consider the following:

  • Be patient with the method you’ve chosen to see progress and achieve results. Typically, a method takes around 4 to 6 months to improve the specific physiological pathway or muscles after which the required improvement is visible to you.
  • Do not switch to another method on the basis of the result of just one race, as many factors influence the result of a race.
  • Having said that, if a particular method is causing some serious injuries or health issues, do not hesitate to re-evaluate the method.
  • Monitor your performance under the method you are following to see if you are plateauing. If yes, it is probably time to move to another method.

After due consideration, irrespective of the method you select, please follow all the workouts and rest prescribed by the method diligently and enjoy your running – the results will come through in the end.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

A reputed coach and mentor for the Jayanagar Jaguars and a technology innovation head with a leading MNC who over the past 4 years has trained more than 2500 athletes complete Half-Marathons, Full-Marathons and Ultra-Marathons

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Motivation Comments Off on Conquering Race Day |

Conquering Race Day

Dharambir Kumar talks about his journey into endurance sports with Anupam Das.
Three years ago because of his sedentary activities he weighed 95kg and was worried about my health, he started to train for long-distance running from 2016, and gradually inducted cycling, yoga & weight training to be fit and now he weighs 72kg with his regular training. He has finished two full marathons and many half marathons in these three years. He has also done Brevet 200,300,400 and 600km cycling in a single session and achieved Super Randoneur (SR) title this year. His dream is to finish an Ironman challenge and he is working towards it.
Dharambir talk about his journey, here is the story he narrated to me.
The Run
I was not sure how my second attempt in the full Marathon at “The Run” would go. Just 4 days before the big race my daughter, Shreyashi was born. Finishing my FM at 4:30:48hrs was a dream and I have dedicated that to my little angel. I am a regular Half Marathon runner with my weekly practice runs & mileages enough to support my body for Half marathons, to such an extent that, you ask me to run a Half Marathon now, I would do. But the Full Marathon is a different beast, which I realised during my first attempt at New Delhi Marathon in Feb 2018.

After completing two FMs and many HMs, I have realised that the effort to run the two formats is different and that should be respected. In order to run an HM, a runner needs to run longer practice runs well in the conversational aerobic zone. The distances should be gradually increased from 25km to 28km, followed by 35km, 38km and 42 km before heading to Race day. This sort of practice helps tune your body, especially the core muscles and vital organs to sustain your effort for a longer duration.

Falling off the Training Bandwagon

Ideally, one should dedicate at least 3 to 4months  at end of summers in India, to practice for a long-distance race. End of summers being preferable in India in view of the extreme heat we face in summer though the days are much longer. I did clock in a good timing but my practice schedule preparing for the race was not well-planned. Post the race also I got busy with my Brevet Rides (200/300/400/600km), which I conquered one after the other to achieve ‘Super Randonneur’ title. These long duration of cycling compromised my target of LSD runs to tune my body and mind for the next full marathon.

I thought I will do at least one 30 or 35km run to acclimatize my body a week before the event, but I couldn’t schedule the same. You might ask me, as I was doing endurance cycling prior to the FM, my body would have been trained and tuned the 42km FM. Cycling and Running are two different kinds of sports and involves endurance capacity of many different muscles of our body in each go, so they need to be trained separately. Running is considered a more vigorous effort workout, therefore our body needs special conditioning prior to the race. Anyway, I planned to give my best on Race Day.

The Race Day

Though I was not confident, I had planned to achieve a sub-5-hour completion for the Full Marathon. I started my run with ease at 5:00 am, I felt my legs were moving freely. ‘The Run’ started from the newly built international cricket stadium in Gomti Nagar extension in Lucknow. I started to enjoy the route (which is a new route for Marathons in Lucknow) and I ran comfortably and completed 21km well under 2 hours. The route was scenic too, most part being on the bank of river Gomti, away from the pollution and urban infrastructure of the city, I was completely absorbed in the beauty.

After crossing 21km mark, I started feeling a little discomfort, as if my body is saying “Enough”. Here is where the training would have helped but I had missed that training. But I continued to run, then after 25km, my right knee started giving me trouble, with pain on every step. I sprayed on a generous amount of Volini spray hoping to alleviate the pain. But after a small duration, the pain would be back and I had to stop again to spray my knee again.

After 29th km, the situation became further worse, as I was facing the Sun, and feeling the heat directly on my face, my discomfort grew. This phase of discomfort continued till 35km, but once I crossed it, I regained my rhythm. Now I had only 7km left, and the one thought that kept me going was the fact that I could be back home to spend time with my new born daughter.

I pushed myself harder at this stage and I do not remember when I crossed the finishing line. The route support was awesome, with hydration and energy points in every 3 to 4km and cycling marshals all throughout the route especially for the full marathon runners, which they require most.

There were times when I thought I would not be able to participate in full marathon this time, as this needs full commitment of body and mind for a long duration starting hours before the race starts, till recovery to be able to take care of my family. But unprecedented help from my runner friends families, office colleagues and their families poured in to support us.

Sometimes even the impossible seems conquerable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Anupam Das is a Faculty of a Superspeciality Medical Institute in Lucknow, UP. He started his journey of fitness from 2017 with Long Distance Running, Cycling, Body Weight cross fit & Yoga.

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Training Comments Off on Why is it necessary to have a training plan? |

Why is it necessary to have a training plan?

Coach Pani, the head coach of the Pacemakers running club talks about why its necessary to follow a training plan.

Training for any endurance event takes an incredible amount of time and dedication. For most of us committing to a time needed for training can seem quite daunting at times. Often, the fear of not being able to dedicate that time to training discourages us to embark on that something new.

Morihei Ueshiba, Osensei ‘Great Teacher’ and founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido once said, “The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body and polish the spirit”.

I draw upon this powerful message to remind us all that we have to carve out time to care for ourselves and kindle our own fire.

Whether it’s your first 5K or a full marathon, the first and foremost step would be to build an ideal training plan that carefully takes into account your personal obligations as well as making the most of every moment of your training. Even a slight imbalance in these two elements can cause negative effects on an athlete’s health, personal life and the race season.

It’s never “a one program fits all” routine as it varies per individual and also every season. The key to a successful training plan is to have one that is specifically tailored to you.

Why do you need a training plan?

  • Gives workouts a new meaning
  • Encourages you to do what is good for you
  • Exposes you to different workouts
  • Puts a lot of emphasis on improvement and
  • Helps you avoid Overtraining (or Undertraining in some cases)

What exactly does a training plan offer?

Taking into account your individual strengths and limitations in relation to your goals, you or your coach can devise a customized plan. By doing this you will achieve 2 things – (a) it will help set the right expectations and (b) help determine the best approach to your training.

  • A training plan gives a runner the instructions and directions on how to scientifically improve stamina, endurance, and speed required to run a particular distance. This can be achieved by following a certain type of workouts step by step which trains the different energy systems and meets the physiological demands required for that distance.
  • It ensures that the runner is progressing in the right direction in achieving their objective without overtraining / injuries by following the “Principles of Training”.
  • Makes sure that a runner is peaking at the right time for Race Day.
  • Motivates a runner to perform better each time when they complete all the workouts as mentioned in the plan.

How are training plans built (10K, HM and FM)?

Once you know what events you want to take part in, it is time to draw up a training plan.

A minimum of 16 Weeks and 24 Weeks of training plan is required to run a 10K, Half Marathon (HM) and Full Marathon (FM) respectively. Here is an overall view of the plans.

16 Weeks Training Cycle for running your first 10K:

  • Base Building (6 Weeks): Work on building your aerobic base to meet the physiological demands for the distance you are training.
  • Strength Workouts (4 Weeks): In addition to your aerobic base building, include hill workouts and resistance training to build strength.
  • Speed Workouts (4 Weeks): Without compromising on the base building and strength workouts, add some anaerobic workouts during this phase of training to improve your speed. But, remember not to start with speed workouts without first building the base and strength phase. Once your body is ready to take the load then add speed workouts and avoid injury.
  • Tapering (1 – 2 Weeks): This is a very crucial period where an Athlete tends to fall ill, immune systems getting affected because of the training load just before race day. During this phase, your workouts should be reduced by 30 to 40 %, but the intensity has to be maintained until the race day.

While devising the training plan include one hard workout followed by one easy workout. In this way, easy workouts can be used as a recovery run, cross training (cycling, swimming) etc.

24 Weeks Training Cycle for running your first HM or FM:

While the steps to be followed remain the same across the training plan (as mentioned above), it’s the duration that varies.

  • Base Building (10 Weeks): As above.
  • Strength Workouts (6 Weeks): As above.
  • Speed Workouts (4 – 6 Weeks): As above.
  • Tapering (2 Weeks): as above.

For an amateur athlete who is looking to finish the race, the amount of time spent running is the most important factor in training. The runner’s focus should be on improving their time gradually to stay on their feet without overtraining and avoiding injury.

Whereas a seasoned athlete should concentrate on the physiological demands required for the distance they train and should mimic the race pace in their workouts.

Athletes who are training for an HM or FM should include one or two 10K and HM races in their training plans respectively to gauge their progress.

Following a structured training plan will help an athlete accomplish their peak performance on race day.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST
Kothandapani KC (aka Coach Pani) is the head coach at the PaceMakers running club and a marathoner himself. He believes that his “biggest strength for success lies in the four D’s -Discipline, Dedication, Determination and Devotion”.

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Training Comments Off on When you goof up your form |

When you goof up your form

Common exercises done with incorrect form can cause more damage than you anticipate, cautions Protima Tiwary.

You’ve decided to get into shape, you are all set to hit the gym, you’ve got your workout gear in place, and you’re all charged up to sweat it out. Great job! Take a pause and congratulate yourself, because it takes a lot of willpower and determination to get started too!

Now that you’re here, we’re sure you’ll be expecting results. It takes time, a lot of hard work, a great diet, and most importantly, the right form, to see the strength in your body grow. If your form is wrong, not only will you struggle to see results, but also increase your chances of injury! While you might have trainers and coaches around you to correct your form, there will be times when you might be alone. Luckily for you, there is a way of checking if you’re doing an exercise right.

Here is a list of some of the most common exercises that people get wrong (even after years of training!) Minimise your chances of injury and maximise results with these form checks:

Planks

Mistake – Dipping hips. The dip in your back is what causes your lower back muscles to hurt.

Correction – Lie down horizontally, then lift your body off the mat in a straight line. Squeeze your glutes, and lift your hips so that your head, hips and heels are all in the same line.

Push Ups

Mistake– Flaring elbows too far away from the body (this causes shoulder injury in the long run), not going down fully, bending the hips up and down instead of the body, forehead touching the ground before the chest,

Correction– Plant your feet together, with your palms almost as wide as your shoulder width. When you push yourself up, only your palms and feet should be touching the floor. Make sure you’re coming up straight. Go down slowly, making your chest reach the floor first.

Bent Over Rows

Mistake– rounding your back, curling your wrists as you pull back the weight, moving your hips (excessively)

Correction– Stand with your feet as wide apart as your shoulders, bend at the knees and bend forward from your hips (like a hinge movement done with knees bent) You will now be at an angle of 45° to the ground. The bar should be below your knees, and your back and neck should be straight. Pull the bar into your lower chest, with the elbows moving into your body, pointing upward.

Overhead Press

Mistake–  gripping the bar wide, not contracting the core, doing a fast up and down movement.

Correction–  Maintain a shoulder grip at the bar, contract your core (and glutes) to maintain a neutral spine, and push your chest out a little. Your elbows should be pointing to the ground (not to the back) When you lift the bar up, move your head slight back while maintain the straight upper body form. Once on top of your head, bring it down slowly till your chest with your elbows pointing straight down.

Hanging Leg Raises

Mistake– swinging of the legs, swinging of the body, lifting legs only halfway.

Correction– Hold on to the bar, and make sure your body isn’t moving. After stabilising yourself, lift your legs as high as you can (keep the legs straight) If you are just starting out, bend your legs and try getting your knees as close to your chest as possible. If you have  a strong core and grip and wish to increase the difficulty level, try touching your toes to the bar that you’re holding (without bending your leg of course)

Bicep Curl

Mistake– swinging the upper body while doing the curls, curling the wrists too, not bringing the weight down fully.

Correction– Focus on using only the biceps. Stand (or sit) straight, place our arms at your side and lock the elbows into your body. Now slowly pull the weight up, and lower it without moving your elbow out of it’s position. In order to keep the forearm out of this movement, leave your wrists a little loose. When you lower the weight, make sure your arm is fully extended.

These exercises are the most common ones that almost everyone does while training, and more often than not the correct form is ignored. The injuries might develop after a long time of doing the exercise in an incorrect form, but why wait for an injury when you can prevent it and learn slowly? Progress is slow, you need to be patient, and if you’ve been working hard and using the correct form, the results are bound to show.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An Army kid who wishes to travel the world one wellness vacation at a time, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love and life, she is mildly obsessed about travelling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

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Nutrition Comments Off on Foodies, Fitness & Conscious Consumption |

Foodies, Fitness & Conscious Consumption

Runner and Guest Columnist Anjana talks about food, fitness and the art of conscious eating. 

“So many fit aunties and uncles killing it in the gym these days no ?”, between bites, the conversation continues. Before you know it the plate is empty and you’re hankering for another bite of this or another piece of that. All too often the extra is waiting right in front of you to serve yourself. You add a guilty portion onto your plate and respond, “Exactly, so many more options for fitness now than in our parent’s generation. Such a good thing…”.

Every meal, everything we eat has a psychological satisfaction value. Let us call it the Satisfaction or S-index with 0 being, “didn’t even notice I consumed it” to 10 being, “enjoyed it with every fibre of my being and felt alive as every morsel hit my taste buds”. It is appealing to consider that our every meal could have an S-index of 10.

India is a foodie country and most Indian festivals revolve around food. This means that often the food itself will make us pause our conversations and optimize our S-index. However, India is also a very social culture, which means that food is seldom consumed alone. When there isn’t company, a laptop, reading material, the phone or other distractions accompany the meal. This dichotomy sets us up to consistently consume calories on the low end of the S-index. We often eat unconsciously and don’t make the most of our meals.

Consider how quickly pani-puri goes. If you’re one of two or three or the only one at a golgappa counter, it’s a matter of seconds before a round is over. If you go with friends or don’t pay attention, what you’re left with is the anticipation of having pani-puri, the satisfaction of having had it, but not the actual joy of eating it. The puri bursting inside your mouth and filling it with delicious pani, is exactly the experience that the modern food science of spherification holds as its holy grail. We take it for granted and are so familiar with it that we hardly pay attention.

In order to elevate our S-index of every meal, we must plan to eat alone, and truly alone without distractions. A prayer or meditation before a meal can help us focus on the experience and optimize our enjoyment. We must eat slowly and consciously allowing every texture, temperature and flavour to fill our senses. Unless you have a strong belief against water during a meal, use it to cleanse the palate after every bite, to experience each bite anew. Pay attention to how your body responds to the food. Pay attention to the portion size you need. S for Savor, S for Slow, S for Silence, S for Satisfied. You will eat less, enjoy your food more and refine your palate in the process.

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Anjana started running in the U.S. in 2007 and has helped mentor many from the couch to half marathon. She is passionate about empowering women through running and now runs in Bangalore with Jayanagar Jaguars

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Training Comments (1) |

Want To Run Better? Work On Your Core!

Are you a runner who’s looking to get better at the next race?  The Protima Tiwary has a few fitness tips on how you can work your core.

What if we told you that all the strength in your legs would build up if you concentrated on building a strong core? That is right! A strong core will help you run better and faster because it will improve your posture and speed. The core sets a solid foundation for the strength of your entire body. So if you want to ace that next run, it’s time to start working on the core!

A huge misconception is that doing crunches is the only way to build the core. Before we begin, let understand what “core” stands for.

The “abs” consist of the rectus abdominis, obliques and transverse abdominis.

  • Rectus abdominis : starts at the pelvis and ends at the lower chest.
  • Obliques: these run down the sides of the stomach diagonally.
  • Transverse abdominis is an internal muscle (gets activated when you suck your stomach in)

When you run, all three muscles work together to provide strength to your legs.
Noted below are a few exercises that will work your core, and come highly recommended by trainers and coaches around the world.

1. Plank
Planking builds isometric strength and sculpts your core. It is also one of the most convenient exercises to do! All you need is an empty patch, and be it at work, home or the gym, a 1 minute plank is enough to get those core muscles activated. Include planks in your routine daily. To increase the effectiveness, place your legs on a higher surface (like a bedside stool or the stairs) and then plank on your elbows. Another variation would be to do a side plank.

2. Lying down bicycle
This too could be done at home or at the gym, depending upon your convenience. Lie down on your back, hold your legs 3-4 inches off the ground, and start cycling in the air. Make sure your legs don’t touch the floor. You can use your hand to support your lower back so that your legs stay in the air.
Doing this daily comes highly recommended.

3. Bridge 
Another convenient exercise, this helps build strength in your lower back as well as your core. Lie down with your feet flat on the floor, and lift your hips so that they are in a straight line with your shoulders and knees. Hold this for 10 counts. Make sure your hips don’t dip. Include 5-6 reps of this in your this daily.

4. Lateral leg raises
Lie down on your side, and lift your leg to around 45 degrees. Make sure this is a controlled movement. Do 30-40 reps per side. This exercise not only works on your core, but also the calves, hamstrings and glutes!

5. Modified bird dog
Get down on all fours. Lift your right arm so that it is parallel to the ground. At the same time lift your left leg so that your thigh is now parallel to the ground. Your knees should be at 90 degrees. This will activate your glute muscles too. Hold for 10 counts, then switch sides.

The best part about these exercises is that they can be done anywhere, and not necessarily at the gym. Include these basic exercises to your daily routine, and you will see how your performance improves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An Army kid who wishes to travel the world one wellness vacation at a time, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love and life, she is mildly obsessed about travelling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

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Featured, Motivation Comments Off on Endurance and the Indian runner |

Endurance and the Indian runner

Seasoned runner Ajit Thandur, talks about endurance sports in India and how the love for them has evolved.

Endurance sport in India, especially in the realm of amateurs or recreational runners/bikers/swimmers started out really small in terms of numbers nearly about two decades ago. But this scenario has drastically changed in current times as we have witnessed a surge in the number of people that are taking to endurance sport.

I was amazed looking at the statistics of the first edition of the Mumbai Marathon in 2004 – there were only 17 women and 99 men finishers in the Full Marathon race. 13 years later, in 2017, that number has grown exponentially to 400 women and 4250 men finishers. While the percentage growth itself is quite mind-numbing, what is even more amazing is that the number of amateur or recreational runners has really shot up as well, as people put a lot more focus on good health and fitness.

Activities such as these have over the years continuously influenced more and more people to take on some form of physical activity to improve their overall well-being and good health.

For a beginner, it can get quite daunting at first – this is where a running club or a group helps. By joining one of these clubs, a beginner can get the right level of support, better training, encouraged to push themselves further and to develop their stamina and endurance more efficiently.

It’s only a matter of time before the beginner starts thinking of competing in races – peer pressure plays a large part here. Suddenly, you find yourself losing sight of the actual purpose you started the activity for but instead you now focus on comparing yourself with fellow runners and pushing yourself to improve distance, speed and with it your timing. Now, while improvement itself is good, the urge to be as good or better than someone else especially for an amateur sportsperson is not a healthy trend.

Most of us amateur endurance sports enthusiasts would in most cases have taken to endurance sports to shed a few extra kilos. As a consequence, we would have followed a very commonly touted advice of “eat less, burn more”. It is very essential at this stage for an amateur to understand that each individual is made differently and we all have different physical, metabolic and genetic capabilities.

First, the term “eat less, burn more” is very misleading. While burn more refers to exercise, eat less is a very ambiguous expression. The key here is to figure what to eat less of – I will cover this piece in my next article on nutrition.

Keeping in mind our end goal of “weight-loss” and looking for fast results, a lot of amateurs push themselves to the limit and inevitably fall into the “speed” trap. I have seen enthusiasts push themselves during their practice runs instead of doing so only on race days.

This begs the question – is pushing yourself to the limit wrong? Well, the truth is, for an amateur endurance sports person, it can be very wrong.

I would like to draw attention to Dr. Philip Maffetone’s, 180 Formula. https://philmaffetone.com/180-formula/.

I urge each one of you reading this article to visit the link above and understand the importance of doing all your endurance workouts at a heart rate of 180 – (your age). I shall briefly touch upon the principle and science behind it here.

There are aerobic muscles (called so because these muscles use oxygen and your own body fat for energy) and anaerobic muscles (called so because they don’t use oxygen but only glycogen (sugar) stored in your liver and muscle cells).

Logically thinking about it, we should be using more of our aerobic muscles, right? Because they use your own body fat for energy and that is what you desire.

It is important to understand that aerobic muscles work most efficiently at lower heart rates and is calculated as 180 – (your age). For example, if you are 40 years of age it will be 180 – 40 = 140 Beats per Minute (BPM).

At heart rates beyond this threshold, your aerobic muscles function less efficiently and the anaerobic muscles take over. Therefore, it is important to function at your optimum heart rate level so that you expend the fat in your body and not use the anaerobic muscles. The glycogen stores in the anaerobic muscles last no more than 2 and a half minutes at heart rates higher than the threshold aerobic heart rate.

Another advantage of aerobic training is that over a period of time (this may be anywhere from 3 months to a whole year depending on the individual) your pace, speed and performance efficiency improve at that same threshold aerobic heart rate. This helps your body become fat adapted and it starts to use and rely on your body fat and not sugars to generate energy for that activity. Excess sugars or carbohydrates is what made us fat in the first place and that is exactly what we need to avoid.

Let me reiterate that just one read of what I have written here isn’t enough for you understand the principle behind this thoroughly. I urge you all to read the link I have provided above on the 180 Formula and also listen to this wonderful interview on Heart Rate Training, Nutrition and Recovery (https://youtu.be/_TPrenWWK9U) between Dr. Philip Maffetone and marathoner (Floris Gierman) who completed the Boston Marathon in 2 hours and 44 mins.

Enjoy your sport, stay injury free and achieve your goals, but in the process be mindful of overtraining and burning out.

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Ajit Thandur is an entrepreneur and amateur endurance runner/swimmer based in Mysuru taking a keen interest in injury-free training and nutrition. He also conducts Thonnur Swimathon, Tri Thonnur and a run race Chamundi Hill Challenge in Mysuru.

 

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Featured Comments Off on Training On The Go |

Training On The Go

How do you train for a race if you’re always on the go? Here are some hotel room workouts that do not require any equipment and will keep you on track, by Protima Tiwary.

Fitness isn’t a seasonal hobby, it is not something you can put away when you’re traveling, or taking a vacation or neck deep in work. Fitness is a lifestyle that trains your mind to accept commitment and discipline before laziness and excuses, it shows you the way towards great physical, mental and emotional health. Being fit isn’t only about looking good. It’s about the focus to be committed towards your fitness routine.

So how does one stick to a regime when they’re stressed with deadlines, or traveling, or on vacation? How does one stick to a plan when they realise their makeshift gym has dumbbells that weigh *gulp* not more than 10kgs?

Athletes all over the world are faced with this dilemma, and it’s after years of trying and testing exercises and fitness regimes, the experts have come up with a list of basic exercises that are all that an athlete needs when he is traveling. If a hotel room is all that you’ve got, here is how you make use of it to give you the best possible workout. You don’t need TRX bands or dumbbells- these bodyweight exercises will see you through.

Jumping Jacks

Easy, light and super convenient, 100 of these should be enough to get your heart pumping. This is just the beginning. Don’t forget to turn off the fan, you might hit your head if you jump up too high!

Burpees

If you’re an athlete, at some point in your training career you might have done these as a punishment. Yes, burpees are those dreaded exercises that have the best of us huffing and puffing by the end of round 1. Guess what? It is now time to embrace them with open arms because burpees are one of the best ways to kickstart your body and get yourselves warmed up!

Squats                 

Once your body is warmed up, nothing better to get your core and glutes activated than with some squats. Open up your leg muscles and get the blood flowing to your quads and inner thighs with different variations of squats – regular squats, wide legged squats and sumo squats.

If you have weights in the room, nothing like it. Maybe hold your traveling bag and do some front squats?

Bulgarian Split Squats

Are you missing leg day at the gym? No need to fret, because you can get in a leg workout in a hotel room, without using any machines! Place one foot on the chair, and go down in a squat. Hold a bag or a lightweight to increase resistance. You will feel the burn on your quads soon, and end up having a killer indoor leg workout!

Push Up

Get your upper body ready with some basic push-ups. Best part? You can always try variations to improve your upper body strength, even on normal training days! Got the hang of the regular push up? How about trying the diamond push up next? Or how about adding a bag on your back and then going in for a quick set? Have you tried the decline push ups yet? Keep your legs on the chair and try your luck!

Tricep Dips

Get creative with furniture! You might not always get a cable or dumbbells to do any tricep curls or overhead extensions, but you can always use that chair at the study table or kitchenette to do those Tricep dips and get your tricep muscles popping.

Plank

Easiest exercise to do practically anywhere and one of the most effective exercises that get major muscle groups activated and working. Your core is of utmost importance no matter what sport you play. Nothing better to train your core than to get a few minutes of planks daily, isn’t it?

De-stress with hotel room yoga

Cool down after a rough day and killer workout with some of your favorite stretches, right in your hotel room! Legs up the wall pose, hip flexor stretch, downward dog, cat-cow pose, spinal twists are all stretches that will help you relax at the end of the workout.

 How many reps should I be doing?

The answer to this depends on your fitness levels. If you want a good strength training and cardio workout, experts recommend going in for a large number of repetitions. If you’re just about starting your fitness routine and do not wish to miss a workout, you can go easy on the reps.

Full body workouts are usually possible without any equipment, even on days when you’re traveling. Don’t let that worry you- ask your trainer to design specific routines based on these simple exercises, and you’ll see how you can enjoy a workout as good as one in the gym.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

An Army kid who wishes to travel the world one wellness vacation at a time, Protima Tiwary is a freelance content writer by day and Dumbbells and Drama, a fitness blogger by night. High on love and life, she is mildly obsessed about traveling and to-do lists and loves her long gym sessions like a fat kid loves cake.

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Motivation Comments Off on Run to Finish |

Run to Finish

The right mental boost can get you across every finish line, writes Nandini Reddy.

Being in a corral full of enthusiastic runners with the announcer calling time and music blaring and flags swinging, it’s only natural that you get pumped up and rush right out at a faster pace than you planned earlier. The swift start can hold for a while but you will tire out and eventually miss your goal time or even give up before the finish line. So is there a more efficient way to run?

Yes, there is. Instead of bursting out of the gates you should run conservatively. Save your energy for the end and the last few miles will not seem as impossible as they do. So here is what you need to do in order to finish strong.

Set the Pace

The idea is to start at an easy pace and then speed up. As a rough guideline start at a pace that is 30 seconds slower than usual and then build up to your goal time. The longer the distance the more time you can reduce from your initial distance. As you slowly increase the speed your confidence builds. Going out too fast may cause you will hit fatigue fast as well.

Turn it Up

Break the distance into parts. Set a particular pace target for each part. The idea is the run the last few km at an even pace. Splitting the running distance is a great way to approach the course and finishing each section will boost your confidence level and take you across the final finish line with ease.

Push the Boundaries

Practice the splits during your training runs. You can always make up the lost seconds in the first few split parts towards the end. Gaining a couple of seconds in the last few km will put you back on track to finish in your goal timing. For example, if you are 25 seconds off during the first km then you need to make up by 2 seconds for every mile after to compensate.

Run Better

You should ideally be able to talk comfortably when you are running. That is the right pace you need to be running at. If you are running out of breath or unable to talk comfortably then your pace is all wrong.

Gradually build your confidence during the training runs and be more prudent about how you use your energy.

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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