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Too Much Too Soon

Our Guest Columnist, Tarun Walecha, shares his thoughts on staying injury free.

Running is the new golf as they say, and it certainly is as it has reached the corridors of corporate power today. But not before having made its impact on society, in general. The reason to this is simple, running isn’t all about power, or networking. It is far more than that, it touches you in many ways, be that your lifestyle, your ability to analyse and understand day to day situation, self-discipline, strong will and much more…so much more. One of the prime benefits which we start it all with, our fitness, that later becomes just a collateral. I’m carefully using the word collateral which by no measure means insignificant. There’s still more that running brings into ones life, new friends for one (and hoard of them, actually), lot’s running gear(mostly free 😊), a bit of travel for the events, not to miss the adulation (PBs et al) and the least preferred of them all….Injuries.

Is it all too much too soon?

Well, there can be a write up on each one of the issues, but we shall focus on injuries this time. Most of us who start running do not have a great history of sports. Well I said most, cause most often those with some sports background also fall in this category as they restart this regime after a fair amount of downtime. Those who restart this journey after a gap in the sporting activities, and for someone to start altogether fresh, running does expose us to certain amount of risk of injuries. Having said that, I can very confidently say that it’s not running that is the cause of the injuries though it does become the medium. It is like blaming a car for an accident and absolving or ignoring the role of the one who drives it. Let us understand what’s the reason for the injuries….and let’s understand when is it too much, too soon.

Roadblocks we encounter

One starts running with an aim of staying fit, and the limited available knowledge is a natural course of things to unfold. As we chart this journey, we encounter various roadblocks, inability to improve the speed, or cover longer distance, lack of disciplined routine and of course, a schedule to follow. While we seek these answers through various friends, runners, running coaches, online portals etc what we also start learning about is PBs, Podium finishes, and everything else that comes with it.  This is exactly where the “Too much Too soon” syndrome sets in. What started as a hobby, breaks through the realm of passion and before we realise it becomes an obsession. Suddenly learning takes a back seat, improving becomes the main criteria! Running for fitness seems basic, and getting a podium finish becomes the main driver. It’s this shift of focus that makes us ignore our limitations and push beyond the boundaries. Having said that what is life within the confines of limitations, and who would get better if one does not push the boundaries. But there’s a thin line there, a very thin line which only we can define for ourselves.

Misjudging your boundaries

There will always be a friend egging you to run faster, or a coach pushing you for a stiff target, and at times even a runner who silently is clocking better time than you but becomes the cynosure of your eyes and all you wanna do is get ahead of him/her. In a situation like this, more often than not, we misjudge ourselves, our training, our strength and our weakness. And even when we maintain our sanity, running as a regime does have its own wear and tear on our body. Our muscles are going to tire, our mind and body is going to get fatigued. But let’s not forget, no two individuals can be alike and this is a scientific fact. What we deal with is something similar, but beyond the biological or physical sphere. With a given physical and biological background, an individual still have too many variables to deal with, such as, a day job, daily routine, personal stress, amount of rest, one’s own willingness, mental strength and the list goes on. What we need to understand is that each one of these variables has a role to play for the way we perform. So, before we begin to compete with someone, we need to look within and know what’s good for us. It is this ignorance which leads to pushing the boundaries beyond the realm of reality and becomes the main reason for injuries.

Lessons Learnt

I started running about 8 years back with hardly any friends in running and bare minimum social media exposure. I consider this a blessing in disguise, cause the learning came in slow, but that slow did good to me. I won’t say I didn’t have my tryst with injuries, it’s a given as all the pounding is bound to show up some way or the other. Fortunately for me it has just been stress accumulation, incorrect or over training which lead to what one may define as pre-injury state. Each time it left a lesson behind, a sign to know if it was too much for me.

What we all need to understand is how to deal with it, but before that we must know, when to push further and when to back out. Only when you dive into a deep sea you will get pearls but where to dive and how to dive is the key. Of course, there’s a recourse through medical intervention, physiotherapy, proper guidance, etc. if one does fall into the trap or gets injured, but those we can deal in another article at another time. For now if I was to sum up my intent for this blog, I would say the following.

  1. Know your limits, make incremental changes and remember how Rome was built…😊.
  2. Understand your strength, and seek guidance when needed.
  3. Push your boundaries, but don’t be over ambitious.
  4. It’s important to understand your muscular anatomy and what it takes to run.
  5. Learn it the right way, correct form is the key to injury free and efficient running.
  6. Last but not the least, You are your own competitor, no one else.

Don’t let someone else becomes your bench mark… an inspiration, yes… a competitor, no. Learn to do this for yourself and not for others, let’s not fall in the trap and succumb to “Too Much Too Soon”.

GUEST COLUMNIST 

An architect by profession, Tarun Walecha enjoys amateur photography, travelling and is a sports enthusiast. He has been a sportsperson all his life and discovered running at the age of 40 and has since become his fitness mantra. In his 7 year running career he has completed 30 Half Marathons, 4 Full Marathon, and 5 Trail/Ultra Runs. He is also a Pinkathon ambassador and has founded the running group, RunXtreme.

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Dealing with Blisters & Bruises on Toes

You know you are a runner when your toes look like they have been through a stampede, says Nandini Reddy

Runners toe-nails always bear the brunt of all the intensive training. As a runner you might have lost a nail, noticed blood clots on your toes, discolored nails or even had bruises in the toe area.

When you run, you hyper-extend your toes and when your foot lands on the ground, the toe hits the toe box of the shoes. Even though the shoes are soft, there is an impact on your toes. So imagine this being constantly repeated on your toes for a distance of 10km, 21km or 42km. The trauma on your toes is a form of micro-trauma that accumulates as the distance increases and results in most of the injuries on the toes.

So because your toes put up with so much stress, how can you protect them better?

Focus on the fit

A proper shoe is vital to ensure that your toes and feet stay healthy. A bad shoe can cause blisters and even numbness of your toes. Ensure your toes have enough wiggle room when you purchase them. Ensure that the toe box is wide enough so that you can avoid problems like blisters, corns, calluses and bunions. Runners need special shoes that support their arches and allow for the feet to swell while running. If the front of your foot is wider then avoid generic shoes and go for the ones you will get in specialty stores where you are likely to find a better fit.

Maintain your shoes

Once you have found the perfect shoe it is important to maintain them. Most good running shoes last anywhere between 500-800 kms. But the deterioration of shoes starts at about 200 kms. If you are running in cold and wet weather, you shoes will last for lesser periods of time because on drying up the shoes might end up shrinking. If you run everyday then it is a good idea to replace your shoes more often or at least have multiple pairs that you use. If you find that your arch support has hardened then you need to replace your shoe immediately. Soles wear out depending on the type of surface your run on. Trail runners need to replace shoes more often than runners who use roads.

Invest in good non-running footwear

In order to protect your toes, it is important that you also invest into good non-running footwear. If you wear daily shoes that are tight on your toes then you will end up damaging your toes further. Dress shoes are generally narrow in fit at the toes, so its important that you buy them in the evening when your feet are already swollen. If you wear heels then you need to understand that your toes will get damaged from the constant arch your foot will maintain.

Socks can be of assistance

Fit is important for socks as it is for shoes. Wet socks and cotton socks are the worst choice to make for running. Acrylic socks are designed for runners and are form fitting so that your toes are better protected against blisters. Invest in multiple pairs of socks and try out various brands before deciding what works for you. Different weather conditions demand different types of socks so if you like to travel and run then ensure that you are carrying the right kind of socks.

Moisturize your feet

Remember to moisturize your feet everyday. Especially before a race and after a race. When you moisturize your feet before a run, its works as a lubricant and minimizes the friction and prevents blisters and scraps. Find one that suits your skin type. There is no generic rule that you need use petroleum or non-petroleum based products. If you have dry feet, moisturizing will prevent a lot of after run aches and pains. Ensure you use the right amount of moisturizer otherwise you will end up with sticky feet which can be very irritating when you are running.

Prevent athletes foot

Athletes foot is a fungal infection that causes itchy scaling, redness and blistering on your toes and feet. In order to prevent this ensure that your feet are dry, you use antiperspirants and wear open shoes when you are not running. See a doctor for anti-fungal medicine and ensure you keep you keep your foot dry and clean at all times.

Cool down after a run

Toes and feet swell after a run, so it would be good idea to soak your feet after a run to ensure that your feet feel better. You can use Epsom salts in cold water to reduce the swelling further. If your feet are still swollen the you need to lay down and put your feet up so that you prevent blood from pooling in your toes and feet. You can also use ice to bring down the swelling but don’t use ice for more than 15 minutes to prevent any damage caused by the ice.

You can also exercise your toes on non-running days with toe raises and toe grabs to help strengthen them. Enjoying your run comes with a lot of homework for your feet. Ensure that you do all these to ensure that your feet stay healthy for every run.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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