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Do more…. Start Running

Race Director V P Senthil speaks to Radhika Meganathan about the origin, progress and of the pioneering running club of its kind, Chennai Runners

The Chennai Runners, or “CR” as they call themselves, can be called as pioneers in starting and maintaining the only volunteer-led running organisation in the country, along with an annual marathon that raises money for charities and sees thousands of runners participating. Some of the chapters even go beyond running, by incorporate varied disciplines such as strength training, cycling, swimming and even yoga in their schedules. Over to VP Senthil as he gives us the inside scoop on what makes Chennai Runners a great club to be a part of:

The genesis… Chennai Runners started when Harishankar, Ram Vishwanathan and Vidyut, three friends passionate about running, decided to wake up early and run together! This was during the time when there was no social media or fancy apps, so they literally called each other, met up at a place and just ran together. From that beginning, now Chennai Runners has thousands of members and is the only club of its kind, run entirely by volunteers, for runners and by runners.

Where do you run?…. We first started running in the roads of Alwarpet and then Besant Nagar, a small group of people making use of early mornings to run. On Sundays, we ran in Anna university campus and pretty soon we branched out to all other parts of the city. Right now we are 18 national chapters, with 9 more in waiting list, and we are expanding so quickly that we have to put a cap on people taking part in our annual marathon! I think it is due to our core values and personal commitment that Chennai Runners has so far achieved all its goals without compromising anything.

How does Chennai Runners function?…. If you want to join us, you can just go to the nearest chapter of CRA, give their contact details and join the next scheduled run. Each chapter has its own calendar. Each chapter also has its own moderators and Whatsapp groups, through which members can keep in touch. Local heads and moderators are nominated and organically selected based on their dependability and participation level in running events. They make sure that newbies get oriented properly, and all safety precautions are being communicated and followed thoroughly.

Is it all free?… Yes! Chennai Runners is completely free to join and participate. Browse our website and select your neighbourhood, and it’s as easy as showing up at the venue. Of course you are welcome to contribute during fund raising sprints and marathons, but by and large, CRA exists because of its members – who range from all walks of life – selflessly donate and volunteer their time. My role as Race Director, which to plan, check and arrange for routes for all runs, is also voluntary. My IT business may be my bread and butter, but my passion is Chennai Runners.

Wipro Chennai Marathon…  We have successfully organised the mammoth Chennai Marathon every year since 2012. Wipro has been our title sponsor from the first year of establishing (2012), with Kotak lending strong support. Last year MRF joined our family. In general our sponsors have all been value-based rather than commercial based. Every year we raise funds for various charities, and this year we are targeting 2 crores. Though everyone volunteers their time, Chennai Runners is a registered organisation with many national chapters. We fraternise with the other chapters, such as Mumbai runners and Bangalore runners, and meet up annually to discuss scope of improvement.

Roadblocks/challenges… Of course we face many, in fact we have come to be prepared to anticipate them in any given year. Just on the day of a run, some unfortunate incident may happen, in which case it is my responsibility to make sure the right decision is taken.

One time, we came to know that public service exam centers for that year were all located in our designated route! Yet another year we had to postpone our runs due to our former CM’s death and the floods. Apart from these unexpected incidents, a general concern is that every year runners are increasing but the roads remain the same! Legal permissions need to be sorted out during every run, giving top priority not to disrupt public life and sentiment. But to be fair, these kinds of logistical issues will happen in a huge scale event like ours so we make allowances for them. Our motto is there are no problems, only solutions.

Most interesting incident… I have to say it happened a couple of years back, at TVK Bridge near Malar hospital. The run is scheduled at 5am, and I am doing a check at 3am when we find that the bridge route is barricaded with buffaloes! They were huge and menacing, and there was no way we could shoo them with a stick. There was an old man lying in a cot nearby and we sought his advice, and he replied weakly: “I am lying here because I am unable to move after being attacked by the buffaloes. My family went to get help and are not back yet!”

Amazed, we arranged for medical help for him and then somehow we found a box of crackers, and scared away the buffaloes. That was one weird night!”

Upcoming events…

  • The Annual running festival is happening in Nehru stadium in Chennai, with sprints, 12 hour runs, live bands and many other features. It’s usually held during the first week of July every year, but this year, it’s happening in June.
  • MMM or May Midday Madness is a run that’s schedule during noon on the last Sunday of May. Since it happens in midday heat, it is only open to experienced runners by invite.
  • There is also a plan of having a midnight run this September in Chennai. For more details, please visit http://www.chennairunners.com/calender

To become a member of Chennai Runners, register at http://www.chennairunners.com/membership/registration.php

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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Running during pregnancy

Is it advisable to run when you are carrying? Radhika Meganathan looks for the right answer to this important question.

Runners , especially passionate runners, do not like to be restricted from practising their favourite sport, but there comes a time when it may become necessary to at least tone down a bit, if not give it up temporarily. Injury is one reason for doing so. Another happier reason would be pregnancy.

When you are expecting, your body undergoes a lot of physical and hormonal changes, which may require you to alter your running schedule. But first of all, can you run at this time? Is it safe?

The answer is not black and white. It all depends on your body condition, your pregnancy scans and your doctor’s approval.

– If tests and scans reveal any issues with your pregnancy, you cannot run or do any kind of exercise during this time
– If you are healthy but not a runner, then it is generally not recommended to start running at this time. However, if you are keen to, you can do so under supervision.
– If you are healthy and already an experienced runner, then you can run
Dr Parimalam Ramanathan, Gynecologist at London Harley Street Women and Fertility Centre, Perungudi (www.lhschennai.com) says: “If the pregnant woman is already an experienced runner, then she can keep running, provided she follows some extra caution. Pregnant women are recommended at least 20-30 minutes of daily exercise. However, I wouldn’t recommend running as a daily activity for women in their last trimester, simply because it might give them more discomfort. Gait and balance becomes more difficult as girth increases, and the spine takes the weight of the growing baby, so it is best not to run when you are in the third trimester of your pregnancy.”

She explains further: “Sometimes, even in the first three months of pregnancy it may be a risk to do intense cardio; if the runner slips or falls, it might pose unnecessary stress on both the baby and the mother to be. Best to wait until and after delivery to start a new sport or fitness regime! Walking is gentler and safer during these months, especially if you have high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.”

Dr Parimalam encourages women who are actively trying to get pregnant, either naturally or through methods like IVF, to keep running. “In fact, a body made fit and supple through exercise is more prepared for the experience of pregnancy and delivery, so women who are trying to conceive can benefit from running as a cardio exercise,” she added.
Pregnant and want to run? Follow these steps:

1. If you are new to running, start gently. Warm up by stretching for 10 min, walk for 5 minutes, then jog slowly for 5 minutes, and cool down by walking for 5-10 minutes.
2. Even if you are an experienced runner, at this time, do not run in a new route. Stick to your familiar routes. If you are vacationing, it is okay to run in a new route as long as it is safe.
3. Avoid hilly terrains or routes with swift bends and turns. Parks are best during your pregnancy, as they have even ground and are crowded.
4. Avoid running in isolated areas. Run with a partner, as much as possible. Always carry a fully charged mobile with you.
5. Pregnant women overheat easily, so avoid running in hot or humid weather. Do not forget to take a water bottle with you. Keep sipping before, during and after your run.
6. Dress appropriately in loose, comfortable clothes. Pregnancy often results in swollen feet, so wear the right size shoes. Opt for adjustable sports bra that can accommodate your increasing breasts.
7. If you experience dizziness, pain or bleeding, stop immediately and seek help.

Running is a wonderful fitness activity and great to control stress, so enjoy your runs as along as you are comfortable.

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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Miles, mountains and memories

A look at Ultra runners who attempted the 870 mile Himalaya run, by Capt Seshadri.

This is one of the ultimate trials of endurance and an outstanding example of mind over muscle. It is also a journey through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. And breathtaking, not just to the eye, but to the lungs as well.

The Great Himalaya Trail or the GHT, is an extremely physically taxing and psychologically draining, but rewarding ultra run, with a ‘high’ that transcends all altitudes. 870 miles or 1400 km of grueling track, at times reaching an altitude of 20,000 feet in extreme and often fluctuating weather conditions, icy cold wind, driving snow and a harsh sun that glows with an unearthly light over the mountains. Moreover, rather than a well traversed, official route, the GHT is a set of interconnected smaller, unofficial trails.

A record for this, popularly known as the Fastest Known Time, or FKT, was set by South African Andrew Porter in an astounding time of 28 days, 13 hours and 56 minutes. In an attempt to surpass this zenith of human endurance, 36 year old Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel, 38, set forth on February 28, 2018 from Hilsa in Nepal, with the object of reaching Pashupatinagar on the Indo-Nepal border, in the fastest possible time. The duo followed the same path as Porter, with the same checkpoints, naturally keeping the record in mind.

This 870 mile route includes 230,000 feet of climbing both up and down in the mountains, combining upper and middle level routes often referred to as the Great Himalayan Trail, its high and its cultural routes. The world’s tallest mountains were on view as they toiled on, while passing the base camp of Kanchenjunga, the third tallest mountain in the world. Along the route were several designated checkpoints, starting with Simikot at an early 77 km, through Chharka Bhot at roughly 380 km and the closer to the finish point Tumlingtar, at roughly 1,075 km, with 300 plus km still to go.

The runners had to navigate their paths on their own. No porters, no mules, but with 20 litre Salomon backpacks filled with energy bars, dietary supplements and equipment critical to each of the segments they had to traverse. Six pre-determined resupply points en route would provide short eats and nutritious snacks to keep their energy levels at their peak. For regular relief, basic food and water, they would depend on villages along the route and rest and recuperate in the tea huts that dot the paths. Villagers’ homes and monasteries were their lodgings and Sandes and Griesel heaped praise on the hospitality and warmth of their temporary hosts. Says Ryan: “One of the villages, a spot where we had hoped to get accommodation, was completely deserted. I honestly believe that if we hadn’t come across a monk and monastery that night, we would have frozen to death.”

If it wasn’t the altitude and the shortage of oxygen, it was the chilling danger of frostbite. In spite of adequate clothing and accessories, Ryan and Ryno were exposed to painful chillblains, especially on their fingers, as they had to constantly remove their gloves to read the maps. Finally, after almost a month of body and mind sapping endurance and pressure, a new speed record was set. On March 26, 2018, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel completed the 870 mile GHT in an unbelievable time of 25 days, 3 hours, and 24 minutes, a good three days ahead of the old time set by Andrew Porter.

Every year, several women and men rise above odds and conquer mountains. This conquest however, was of a different nature. It was a conquest by the mind, of its superiority over the body, dictating its terms and winning.

Some more fabulous feats by these wonder athletes

Andrew Porter holds the solo male record for the Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT). He did a North-to-South run in December 2009 and set the record at 61 hours 24 minutes 11 seconds. Not satisfied with this effort, he returned to the venue in end May 2015 and did a solo South-to-North DGT in 45 hours 8 minutes.

Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel hold the men’s group record for the DGT, of 41 hours, 49 minutes, set in March 2014. Ryno held the previous men’s group record of 60 hours 29 minutes set in April 2010, along with teammate Cobus van Zyl.

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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The runner with the strong wrist – Part 1

Meb Keflezighi, a distance runner who has gained fame for his extraordinary spirit on the course. In this two part series Capt Seshadri profiles this prolific runner

In his long career as a distance runner, this athlete has run 28 international marathons and is believed to have signed more than 30,000 autographs!

In a tiny war-torn country in East Africa, once called Eritrea, which fought a cruel war for over 30 years for liberation from Ethiopia, Mebrahtom ‘Meb’ Keflezighi, was one of 10 children whose early childhood memories were more associated with fatal encounters and dismemberment of his friends and neighbours from warring factions. His first brush with distance running probably occurred at age 10 when he saw his first car and took rapidly to his heels, thinking it was a ‘death machine’. He was later to grin and tell the New York Times: “that was one of the races I lost”. In 1989, at age 14, with his parents having migrated to Italy, Meb watched television for the first time and was left wondering how such big people could get into such a small box.

This was the kid who would ultimately transit from such ignorant beginnings in his home country to becoming a much sought after motivational speaker and brand ambassador to some of the world’s best-known corporates. This is the story that should go down in the annals of sporting history as the marathon of life!

Meb’s family moved to San Diego in 1987 where he began running in earnest. From 5 km and 10 km runs in San Diego High School and UCLA, he graduated both in academics and athletics, winning several medals in championships at the State and then the National levels. With the 2004 marathon silver medal under his belt, he ran on to win the 2009 New York Marathon and then the Boston Marathon in 2014, in the process, bringing gold medal glory to America for the first time after 1982. With this Herculean effort, at an age when most runners are reading about marathons than running them, Meb became the sole marathoner in history to win the New York and Boston Marathons as well as an Olympic medal. He was to continue competitive running at the highest level even at age 41, qualifying for the Rio Olympics 2016.

Setbacks never bothered him as, during the 2008 US Olympic marathon trials, he broke his hip and could not qualify despite finishing eighth, with the debilitating injury.  During the same race, his misery was compounded by the death of his close friend and running mate, Ryan Shay, who died of coronary failure. He rebounded the very next year, winning the 2009 New York Marathon in a personal best time of 2:09:15. In 2010, his achievements were etched in UCLA memory, with his induction into its Hall of Fame.

Runner, writer, trainer, motivational speaker and more. His autobiography titled “Run to overcome” deals with issues of his early life, his milestones and his achievements. MEB Foundation, an acronym of his name that reads ‘Maintaining Excellent Balance’ promotes the values of healthy living and provides a motivational and inspirational platform for school-going youth. In 2014, Meb Keflezighi’s achievements were aptly recognized with the Jesse Owens Award as the USATF Athlete of the Year.

Forty years and running, when even vehicles made of steel are considered vintage.

Read Nine Days a week for the conclusion of this story

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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Dealing with ‘Mom Guilt’

The real issue preventing mom’s from running isn’t fitness or time, its Mother’s Guilt, says Nandini Reddy

Mothers tend to plan their days around their children. It doesn’t matter if you are a working mother or a stay-at-home mother, you will be burdened with mom-guilt every time you take time out to yourself. If you were to poll a 100 mothers who were runners and have stopped or slowed down now, most of them would tell you they stopped because they felt guilty about taking time off for themselves.

So what prevents you from taking the time?

If you really want to find alone time to run then early mornings are the best. The family is asleep and you have enough time to train. But there is also the issue of safety and getting enough hours of sleep. While the struggle is real there are options. If you want to start running, try running in your apartment building. Running in circles may be better than not running at all. After you gain confidence then you can hit the road if you live in a safe neighbourhood or alternatively drive to a location that has a good population of runners. You can also consider running on a treadmill on days that you cannot get outside to run. But its important to ensure that your guilt doesn’t become your excuse to stop running.

Plan ahead with your partner

If you are serious about using running as your fitness regime then you need to get your family involved. Lay out a schedule and ensure that your partner is aware of it so that he can step in when you need the time to run. New moms can use the babies sleep timing to sneak in a run. Ensure that you family or partner are around to watch the baby for an hour and prep whatever they need to handle the situation while you run to your happy place.

Use the weekends

Weekends can be used for evening runs. You can also involve your kids in an interval style so that you can get enough exercise and your children will enjoy it as well. You can also train for longer hours and let you children sleep in. The idea here is to enjoy yourself and not keep thinking that your house is burning down without you.

Embrace your runner persona

I heard someone say that you become a better runner when you become a mother and a better mother when you become a runner. It is important that you embrace different aspects of your personality. You need to accept that you are a mother and a runner and neither roles needs to be compromised. You will be happier and more prepared to take on challenges when you embrace the different parts of your life instead of ignoring one for the other.

Taking time to run is not selfish. All moms deserve to have time to dedicate to their fitness.

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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Fuel for Senior Runners

As we grow older, we gain a new appreciation for our nutrition and our bodies and senior runners need to pay special attention to their diet, says Nandini Reddy

Beyond the age-related health concerns, senior competitive athletes need to be cautious about their nutrition. The competitive drive can be kept alive not by just training but also a diet that is suitable to the body at that particular age. There are few aspects that need to be understood in terms of energy requirements, slower recovery, adequate protein and hydration considerations.

Recovery Nutrition

Post run nutrition becomes very important as you get older. It aids in recovery and recovery is slower as you age so giving it a boost with post-workout nutrition is your best bet. Eating a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein within an hour of your workout is a great idea. Recovery is also enhanced if micro-nutrients are given prominence in your diet. Zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Folate, Calcium and Vitamin E are the primary ones that you can include. You can get these from curd, milk, fish, legumes, whole grains and cheese.

Watch your fluids

Kidneys efficiency is reduced as you grow older. Their ability to decrease total body water, regulate salts and sense thirst will be reduced. Sweating also reduces as you grow older. In tropical climates like India, being aware of water intake is important. As a test during training, drinking 150ml of water every 30 mins will indicate how much water you really need on training days. If it is too hot and humid to run outside, training runs indoors might be more beneficial. If you can’t then just take the day off or run before sunrise, because putting pressure on your kidneys would not be the most productive idea.

Know your energy requirements 

When you hit your 60s everything changes in terms of energy requirements and metabolism. For most people activity will decrease with age hence their energy requirements might reduce. But if you are a runner the the amount of calories you require will be different from your younger self. You need to include fibre and fats into your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are the primary need. Fibre rich nutrition sources will also help avoid gut problems. The focus should be on including foods that improve performance. Any good nutritionist will be able to advice you on which performance promoting nutrition is good for you.

Medical Considerations

Older runners need to manage chronic conditions such as cholesterol, sugar levels and blood pressure. While many may be on regular medications, it is also important to ensure that the micro-nutrients are not compromised as a fallout due to the medication. Your doctor will be able to tell give you additions to your diet to ensure that you do not lose key nutrients such as sodium and potassium.

Adapting to training over the years will continuously feed your competitive spirit, so regardless of your age , if you get your nutrition right you will be running strong.

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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Common Mistakes New Marathoners Make

New marathoners (and sometimes even experienced ones) make these common mistakes while training for the big race, writes Nandini Reddy

Training for the big race requires dedication and consistency. Training hard and keeping the checklist on target is the way most new marathoners approach race day. But sometimes small mistakes can tumble plans for reaching goal timing or even the finish line. Check if you are making these errors that might be hampering your running.

Understand running intensity

You need to work in easy days and hard days into your training schedule. The easy days are supposed to be easy runs with slow pace and comfortable timing. You do not have to push your body on all days to achieve goal times. Consider this – on an easy day you can run a 5km training run in 45 mins as opposed to a harder training day where you run a 5km training run in 30 mins. This sort of training will help your body more than pushing unnecessary limits.

Assess your Race pace

You need to be aware of your pace before your race day. Following a race pace is very important and that is what will help you through your course. Race day excitement tends to make runners run a faster pace than they are used to and if you are unaware of what pace is right for you then you will end up tiring yourself out mid race or even cramping.

Don’t wear anything new

Every new race today gives you a T-shirt. It is a great souvenir to have to remember the race by but isn’t the best clothing to wear for race day. Using a well-worn T-shirt is more comfortable than experiencing burns because of rubbing from the new T-shirt. The same goes for shoes and socks. Shoes should never be new for a race and socks also should be ones you have run in paired with the same shoes you are running in for training.

Don’t start fast

With the loud excitement at the starting corral and announcers screaming out instructions, it is natural to have your adrenaline pumping before the start of the race. Letting this excitement create a situation where you race ahead the moment the flag drops might result in disaster. First clear away from the crowds and find  your pace. It is okay to let runners pass you in the first few minutes because you are not going to win the battle of the marathon by racing the first few kilometres.

No plan for race day

You need a pre-race plan. Most half marathoners fail their course because they don’t have a pre-race plan. They do not plan their ride to and from the course or don’t check ahead for parking zones. It is important that you arrive early enough to find a parking space and have time to find your corral. Setting up the race clothing and equipment the night before is a good idea. Use the bathroom, hydrate and get in-line early so that you are not rushing and stressing yourself out.

If these details can be ironed out then you do not have to worry about completing the race. In fact you will be all set to finish the race in goal time.

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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Foods to avoid as Runner

Runners need specific kind of nutrition to fuel their bodies, so certain foods need to be avoided to avoid discomfort, writes Nandini Reddy

Nutritional missteps can cause complete havoc in your running. Runners have admitted that a clean and less processed diet has helped them fuel better over time. We may be adding high sodium, high sugar and preservatives to our diet without even realizing. Certain foods may also be causing headaches and fatigue but we would still be eating them assuming that they are good for us.

So what you put into your shopping cart on your next trip to the supermarket will make a big difference to your running. Here are a few foods that you can avoid.

Enriched White foods

Most of us have come across foods labelled enriched with vitamins and minerals. Any refined food that is enriched is not a good choice. Enriched means someone sprayed a whole load of artificial nutrients on to the foods. So try leaving out the white rice, maids and other refined oils and grains. If white is not recommended that doesn’t mean you jump onto the enriched ‘brown’ foods wagon. You should be looking for the word ‘whole’ instead. The nutrition from whole grain will keep you full longer and will also reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume everyday without compromising on nutrition.

Beware of packaged foods

Seeing the words – ‘fat free’ or ‘sugar free’ or ‘healthy’ on a package doesn’t mean its right for you. Most packaged food are high in sodium. Even your soups have an amount of ‘added sugar’. If you must eat something sweet then try choosing something that is natural sugars and not added sugars. If you want something more natural then pick a sweet seasonal fruit or go for dried figs or dates.

Food substitutes

You have already been told to substitute your sugar with artificial sweeteners and when people did that they found that they upped their risk of diabetes in many cases. There are substitutes for lactose and you have encountered alternatives for butter on every supermarket shelf. If you have to buy one then check for the amount of trans-fat you might be consuming because in the end you might be better off eating butter than the substitute. Instead of substituting your foods with artificially enhanced ones just try and practice portion control.

Chinese food

Yes we do love our noodles and soups but Chinese food has the highest sodium content. Also most Chinese food uses MSG (Mono-sodium glutamate), an additive that is known to worsen migraines. MSG can also elevate blood pressure and give nasty headaches, especially when you are a runner.

Diet Foods

Everyone is on a fad diet nowadays. Unfortunately most of the people who follow the fads, cheat using worse foods like diet sodas or reduced calorie snacks. These items can have artificial flavours and additives that might cause health issues for runners such as high blood pressure, headaches and even dehydration. If you are craving a chocolate then please have a small piece of dark chocolate instead of a carton of diet soda which won’t take care of your craving.

Frozen Foods

They are convenient and we are busy. But most are high fat, high sodium and low on nutrients. If you must pick frozen foods check the labels at least to see if you are getting something that has some amount of nutrition. Frozen unprocessed meats are good but processed meat that is cured in salt or brine is not a good choice. Look for uncomplicated recipes that opt for the one pot one shot philosophy of cooking if you truly don’t have the time instead of going for frozen meals.

These foods will hinder your performance as a runner because they cause spikes in blood pressure, headaches, mood swings and even fatigue. Its important to avoid foods that might affect your performance so remember to be a smart shopper the next time you are in a supermarket.

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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Potential of the Running Watch

After spending a pretty penny on getting the best in class running watch, are you really using it to its full potential, asks Nandini Reddy

GPS enabled running or fitness watches are a rage now. Runners have said that they have become better runners after they have started using the latest wearable technology. But after paying the big bucks, do we really use them to their full potential? The truth is that most of us don’t. If you use it right, you have a digital running coach right on your wrist and a quick reference to all the statistics you need to reach your goals.

So here are a few ways in which you can maximize the potential of your running watch.

Know your beats per minute

When you first get your watch. Wear it and lie down and relax. You need to record your resting heart rate. Repeat this process for a week, every alternate day so that you have a good average rate as reference. If you are recording 10 beats higher than your resting average beats per minutes on any given day, after your workout then you are over training and its time to slow down. You need to check you resting heart rate every three months to check if there are any changes in your average. Erratic resting heart rate could indicate deeper problems that might need your physicians advice before continuing on a course of exercise.

Mark your MHR

Most training apps will recommend a specific heart rate zone in which you need to train. But before you get there find your maximum heart rate (MHR). Clock in your maximum heart rate and your watch will automatically find your zones for you. It will mark you up for endurance training, recovery training, aerobic training, etc based on your MHR. For example, your endurance training will be about 65-75% of your MHR and your aerobic training will be 90 – 95% of  your MHR. Remember that before you find your MHR, you need to warm up and run up an incline for at least 2 mins. Then you need to run at your maximum speed on a decline. This gives your watch enough information to plan your zones.

Find your zone

You need to use the watch for the purpose you want to achieve with your running. Once you decide whether you want to burn fat, build endurance or work on your anaerobic threshold; you can find the right heart rate training zone. This will help you match up your training sessions accordingly. Once you have picked your zone, set a beeping alert to indicate to you if you are over training.

Record your training

Most of the running apps data can be further used in other apps to get a better idea of how your training in panning out. Find one which can maintain a diary of your activities and important statistics such as resting heart rate, the days workout, MHR, calories burnt and time spent, among others. This will help you change and improve your training plans as you progress. These records will prove useful when you need to share them with a coach or coordinate with a running partner.

Use the Interval Training feature

Use your watch’s interval training feature to build pace and endurance. This will help if you are training alone. Combine high pace with elevated heart rate training and mix up time duration as you go along. You can also check if your watch allows you to create a bespoke interval training plan.

Watch your steps

Did you know that your watch measures the frequency in which your feet strike the ground? It does that because its a way to measure how efficiently you are running. This is measured as metric known as Strike per Minute (SPM). So if you were Mo Farah you would have an SPM upwards of 180 but if you are like everyone else you would be lower than 150. A good runner will always find a good SPM and will stick to it if he hopes to get maximum performance out of his runs.

Benchmark your performance

Run your route, mark your time and catalogue it. A month later run the same route and compare. Benchmark against yourself and you will see how you are performing. Over a period of time you pace will get better and your SPM will improve as well.

BPM is not the only thing you need to watch on your running watch. Use it the right way and it will become your best buddy.

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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