Motivation Comments Off on Can you run if you are overweight? |

Can you run if you are overweight?

Aerobic exercises like running a great way to lose weight, Radhika Meganathan explores how overweight people can run. 

A high intensity exercise like running burns calories fast and is often touted as a good way to lose those excess inches you want to get rid of desperately. Or maybe you just want to run for the experience of it. But what about the practicality of running when you are overweight? Can you start a running schedule if you are so out of form that you feel breathless just by walking faster?

“The answer to the question is yes, but you cannot start right away,” says Dr Archana Samson, who works as clinical physiotherapist at NHS Wycombe, UK. “You have to first prepare your body for running, to prevent any harm to your joints, or even the heart, if you begin too fast. Preparing is really important, as are discipline, lifestyle change, and your medical history.”

That makes sense, doesn’t it? If you are overweight, chances are that you have not exercised for a while and your joints would be stiff. Here are some steps that you can take, if you want to begin a running regimen from start:

Begin with the right motivation

A lot of overweight people feel that it is too late for them to start running, because it is just too hard. Well, if you want to run a mile right away, then yes, that will be too hard with the current equipment you have in hand – your out-of-form body! Fitness is a skill, just like any other skill like cooking or swimming, and it is unfortunate that most of us feel bad when we cannot instantly become great at something that we see others do easily. Just like how a beginner cannot expect to make an intricate dish on Day 2, it is unreasonable to expect your body to master running at the first attempt itself. Give it the time it needs. Progress, nor perfection must be your beginners’ mantra.

Consultation first, the gear next

“A medical check up along with your physician’s approval is extremely important before starting any fitness regime. The analysis will locate any danger points or bottlenecks you may need to be aware of,” advises Dr Archana. If you are overweight and eager to start running, your doctor will also tell you how to monitor your heart rate and start slowly. Once you get cleared for the sport of running, get a gait analysis done and buy the idea pair of shoes for your body. Invest in compression shirts if your upper body is heavy. For women, a fitness bra is a must-do investment, to avoid stretching and sagging. For added advantage, spend some time on live and research about running basics so that you are familiar with the jargon and practice before you hit the ground (literally).

Start with walking

Start slowly, gently. Walk out of your door and stroll for 10 minutes at any direction. Then walk back. Do this morning and night, every day, preferably on waking up and before going to bed. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so in this way, you also build discipline. On the fourth week, begin the walk-jog method at your own pace. Start with 15 second increments every day. Walk a minute, jog for 15 seconds, walk a minute. Rest a minute. Continue until you feel pleasantly tired. Once you can walk without breathing issues or any pain, you can start trying out a program like Couch2k. If you are looking for a self designed regimen, there are several that are available online for free.

What if you have additional health issues?

A structured, supervised program may be the answer if you have obesity-related issues. Low intensity physiotherapy exercises and gradual progression into a healthy diet are part of initial management when you enlist medical help to tackle associated conditions. “Arthritis, back pain, musculoskeletal and chronic conditions such as heart diseases are often common in overweight persons. In this case, I recommend a drafted program which would include regular supervision, prescription of appropriate physical activity to increase muscle strength, flexibility, endurance, and steps to maintain weight loss under safe and controlled conditions,” says Dr Archana.

What’s your end goal?

If your main objective is to lose weight by running, you must be extra careful. It is shockingly easy for some to put on more weight because aerobic exercises like running and swimming make you hungrier, and they end up eating more, while thinking “Oh but I have done my exercise for the day so it’s okay to eat!”. Weight loss is a science and it is about burning more calories than what you put in, so talk to a nutritionist about calorie counting and the right diet for your running schedule.

“Regardless of why you run, do not let anybody shame or heckle you, and never feel ashamed of your body at any point. You are now running and making a positive lifestyle change, which means you are way ahead of all those who have not taken this step yet,” affirms Dr Archana. So runners, put on some awesome music on your headphones, don your pair of shoes, go at it every day and you will see results very soon. And remember, without proper rest and recovery periods, you can end up in real pain, so make sure you don’t push yourself too hard and do it all too quick.



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.

Read more

Featured Comments Off on Strength Training for Runners |

Strength Training for Runners

Radhika Meganathan talks to the assistant secretary of Chennai District Powerlifting Association JYOTSNA JOHN about the importance of strength training for serious runners.

Meet the NSCA certified personal trainer and Olympic weightlifting instructor – Jyotsna John, who founded The Unit in Kotturpuram, in 2012. Since then, she and her team have helped train over 900 people into a better lifestyle through exercise and nutrition counseling. In this exclusive interview, she shares her strength training tips for the avid runner.

How did you get started in strength training?

I have played competitive basketball for 16 years. I started strength training during my high school, as part of fitness regime for the sport. I loved how strong I got and how much better my jumps were when I trained and I haven’t looked back since.

How important is strength training for runners?

Extremely! Running places a lot of stress on the knee joint and the muscles around it. If you don’t have the strength to carry your body over the many miles you have to run both for the long training period and on race day, you will definitely get injured at some point. Strength training will help you avoid this pitfall.

What kinds of strength training programs are available for runners?

With runners, the focus is not on building big muscles or lifting big weights. It’s on building stability through the knees, hips and ankles and increasing their tolerance to distance running. At The Unit, we usually recommend light weights and lots of reps along with plenty of core training to help our runners stay injury free.

How should marathon runners set goals for strength training?

Do shorter runs at faster paces once in a while. It’s a good measure of how strong you’re getting without creating too much stress on your joints.

How does strength training help in recovery after a marathon?

Benefits of strength training are largely indirect. If you’re stronger and more capable of handling the impact of tens of thousands of steps on a hard surface (like the road) at high velocity, then you are likely to need less recovery time.

Are there different ways of strength training for men and women Marathon runners?

Women can tolerate more volume than men. Hence, the only (tiny) difference is, strength training for women usually involves more sets and reps than for men. Otherwise, the exercises and the training itself is the same for both gender. Same group of muscles, same demand on both muscles and joints, why should the training be any different!

Your strength training tips for first time marathon runners?

Balance the amount of time you put into running, with the amount of time you spend strengthening your muscles for the run. Lower your mileage, if needed, till you’re strong enough to do them well. 

What do you most worry about training runners?

Runners are by far the most obsessive, neurotic bunch of people I train. Even in the middle of an injury you can’t tell them to take a break because if you do, they react as if you’re trying to steal their inheritance!

For the runners I have so far trained, their weekly mileage is usually more important to them than their joints and they are for all these reasons more prone to injury than the average person. I’ve always found this amusing, because if you ask any runner why they started running, they’ll tell you it was to get fitter. But the longer they’ve been running, the less they care about health and the more they care about random numbers like mileage, tempo and other such things that look good on paper.

So is this what you’d like to caution long distance runners against strength training?

Yes. Don’t over-train. Somehow runners seem to be particularly susceptible to overtraining. The need to clock miles or put in the time for lifting weights should not outweigh your need to be healthy. Listen to your body and if needed, take days off from training. Rest before you need it and eat enough carbs to keep your muscles fuelled.

Is it better to do the strength training at home or with a trainer?

If you can’t afford professional training, at least do a few sessions with a good trainer and learn the right way to perform your movements. Bad movement patterns can cause injury and wear out the joints. But if you are a serious runner, investing in a good trainer will help you understand exercise technique and prevent injuries.

For training queries, Jyotsna can be contacted at or at The Unit (



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

Read more

Training Comments Off on Understanding the Ultra-marathon |

Understanding the Ultra-marathon

So now since you have run the full marathon a few times, are you looking to ramp up to the next level of long distance running and are you prepared for it, asks Nandini Reddy

The classic marathon is running a distance of 26.2 miles. But the next level after you have done the marathon a few times is the Ultra-marathon. Each ultra marathon distance varies between 30 – 50 miles. There is really not set rule that it should be a particular distance only. So what is it like to run an ultra marathon?

So if you have decided to give it a go then there are a few things that you need to understand about an ultra-marathon which are different from a marathon.

Trails rather than city runs: Ultra-marathons are more scenic. There are several races organised along trekking trails. The varied terrain gives a full body workout so its necessary that pre-race you work on strengthening your muscles.

Food is a huge factor: Ultra Marathons have breaks where you have to recharge your body with food and energy drinks. Certain events even put out a lavish spread for runners. You need to understand that ultra marathons might last upwards of six hours so fueling your body is a huge portion of the race.

Run slowly: Keeping in mind the distance that needs to be covered. It is recommended that you run slower than normal. It is generally opined that Ultra-marathons are more fun than full marathons because of the pace. The key is to finish the race without collapsing at the end of it. There are no real set standards of time to complete and ultra-marathon so don’t try to race against the clock.

You will find walkers: It is likely that for a few stretches you will find folk walking. During the uphills people are encouraged to walk to conserve their energy to run on the flatter terrains.  You might even come across people using trekking poles on uphill terrain. If you are walking you might make some friends along the way as well.

Training varies: Most ultra runners train much as they would for a marathon, but make the long run a little longer, or run some back-to-backs. Training runs can be shorter for 30 – 35 miles and then you can ramp up with slower paced runs for 40-45 mile runs.

Ultra marathoners are a massive welcoming group of runners so it would be a good deal to try one sometime soon.




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.

Read more