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When to replace your Running Shoes

A good pair of shoes can make all the difference to your run, writes Deepthi Velkur

Running is a simple sport – irrespective of the distance being run all you need are the right clothes and a good pair of running shoes. But how long do running shoes last? It’s an age-old question and unfortunately, no universal answer exists apart from the standard of 480 – 800 kms which for someone running 24 kms per week means changing your shoes every 5-6 months.

So how do you know if your running shoes need replacing? Start with looking for obvious signs of wear and tear but most importantly listen to your body.

Treads appear worse for wear and the shock absorption is shot

Start by looking at the out-sole – over time you will notice that the tread starts giving way. This is your first clue. Moving on to your mid-sole, look for signs of scrunching. If you press the center of the shoe and you find it is not “springy”, it is a clear indicator that the cushioning is done for. A washed-out running shoe like this can cause foot instability leading to ankle and knee issues.

Watch out for those niggling aches and pains

A quality pair of running shoes should leave you feeling as good as when you started with no lasting pain. If you start to experience soreness or pain in your feet, lower back and joints especially the knees, it is a sign that your running shoes are wearing out. A little twinge at the bottom of a foot could be your body’s way of telling you that your shoe is past its prime.

The mileage keeps adding up

A running shoes longevity varies between people depending on several individual factors. Seasoned runners need to replace their running shoes more often than a causal runner as the mileage covered is much higher.

Running shoes take quite a beating as we put four times our body weight and strike the ground nearly 1500 times in 10 minutes running. It is a good idea to keep a tab on the kms being run and this will give you a fair idea of when to replace your running shoes.

The terrain makes a difference

One of the biggest factors that determine if your running shoes need a replacement is a terrain you run on. If you run in tough trail conditions for example then clearly you will need to replace them faster than for someone running on a treadmill.

Looking out for these warning signs and replacing your running shoes regularly will keep you comfortable, healthy and extend your running life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Five Tips to Run on a Vacation

Should you really run on a vacation? Well, yes! says Radhika Meganathan 

Running in a new place is highly recommended because one, the new scenery and running conditions give you a fresh change of scenery and challenge. Two, you want to keep breaks and time-offs from your running routine for unavoidable emergencies where it is genuinely difficult to run, and folks, a vacation is NOT an emergency. They are almost always running friendly, if you just prepare yourself a bit.

So pack your favourite running shoes, your all-weather track suit (or a spare T-shirt and shorts!) and get ready to stretch your legs in a new, exciting location. I caugh up with Srimathy Vardhan, who works at Deustche Bank, Wall Street, New York to share a few tips on how she manages to squeeze a run into her travel:

  1. Choose a hotel with a gym: A tread-mill work out is better than no work out (especially if the weather outside is in the extremes), so if it falls within your budget, opt for accommodation with a fitness center. “I am doubly excited when the hotel has a gym,” says Srimathy Vardhan. “I usually look for it when I book my trips. If there is no gym, then I will run outdoors but weather is not a deterrent for a runner unless there is a calamity.”
  2. Research ahead: Google or call your accommodation provider to get details of the trails and parks near your place of stay, so that you can plan your daily running. This step is also a good chance to identify and avoid potentially unsafe places. Minimise your chances of getting lost by downloading map of the area on your phone. Always, before running, check if your GPS is functioning.
  3. Get up early: Yes, this is a bummer, but if you don’t want your sightseeing or family time to get disturbed, you need to plan your running schedule. “Being a working mom of two young kids, I find running to be the best way to fine tune my thoughts and relax my mind. I am currently training for my marathon in October. Last week I was on holiday and I woke up early at 4:30am to run, because doing so boosts my confidence and helps me to stay focused on my training plan,” says Srimathy.
  4. Eat mindfully: While food is an exciting part of any vacation, too much of it can interfere with your goal-oriented running regimen such as for a marathon or weight loss. Consuming excess carbs, sugary treats or alcohol food also makes you sluggish, so try not to go overboard. Most hotel buffet/dinners offer huge spreads, so opt for a light lunch, such as soup or fruit. Stick to drinking a minimum of 3L of water a day, especially if you are vacationing in a hot and humid place.
  5. Consider cross training: If you know beforehand that running every day is going to be difficult in an upcoming holiday, pack a travel-size foam roller and use it for core strengthening exercises, and proceed ahead to cross train on the days when you definitely cannot run. Choose whatever is available, swimming or canoeing or biking. Just stay on the fitness wagon, instead of completely falling off it!

But what if there is no gym, the roads are slippery and it rains heavily? What if you are walking all day exploring a city or a national park, and the last thing you want to do is run?

The solution is very simple. Plan a longer or more challenging running schedule for a few weeks before your intended vacation time. Then you can consider your vacation as the required recovery time to give your body some rest, and spend your holiday truly relaxing and bonding with your near and dear. Bon voyage!

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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Testing Endurance Limits

In conversation with Jobi Vijay who is pushing her limits of endurance in cycling, with Nandini Reddy

Cycling is a fun activity for all of us as kids but today it is one of the most sort after endurance sports that many people are pursuing. The challenges have grown and distances like 100k are becoming the new normal. Jobi Vijay, a fitness enthusiast is on a new leg of fitness by challenging herself for 200k cycling challenges and she shares her story here.

When did the cycling bug bite?

I used to cycle to school during my school days. After birth of 2 kids realized wanted to get back to shape and be fit. During 2014 joined a running chapter called Tower Twisters a CR chapter in Anna Nagar. They had cycling for cross fit in their schedule every Friday. That is where I fell in love with cycling again. Got cycle as my birthday gift and I haven’t stopped cycling since.

How do you train for your cycling?

I don’t do any specific training schedule for cycling. I try to cycle whenever possible and don’t follow any strict schedule. My strength and endurance improved automatically after I started to train with ‘The Quad’. I have to thank all my coaches at Quad it’s because of them I am stronger and could perform better now during my long distance cycling challenges.

You just completed two 200 km night cycling challenges, can you describe the experience?

Riding 100 km was an initial challenge to me. I have ridden only a maximum 60 km per day. I always wanted to try BRM since 2016. When I completed my 100 km as a test for my muscle endurance I gained confidence that I could attempt the 200 km ride.

My first 200 km was WCCG 200km night ride. The first challenge was riding in the traffic of GST road along with other buses, lorry and two wheeler who were speeding. It was really very scary when big buses sped past you narrowly. While most of them gave way for the cyclist there were people who show their attitude by not giving way or not slowing down for the cyclist. The next challenge is that we had to plan our pit stop to refresh ourselves and fill our water bottles with water. There were places where we didn’t have any shops for nearly 50 km.  The advantage of the night ride is riding in the good climate since the day time is too hot to ride during the summer months.

My 2nd 200 km ride was my first BRM ride. It was a village ride. Initial 45 km on the OMR was a killer with head winds. I could only average 12-15km her hour. I lost my energy and got severe cramps. I wanted to quit but managed to push myself and completed my ride. Riding inside village near Thirukazhukundram was an awesome experience with less traffic. Though it’s painful, challenging, tiring to ride long distance after the completion of our ride what we have is wonderful experience joy and satisfaction.

What is your take on safety of cyclists?

Safety is an important issue in the Indian Scenario. I always made sure that I ride with in groups so that we could support and help each other. I was shattered knowing the death of a fellow rider due to hit and run accident. Though it pulled down my confidence, the quote that kept me going is ‘Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and start being excited about what could go right’. The funniest part is the people who question us asking why we are riding. At pitstops we get asked a barrage of questions about why we cycle such long distances.

What motivates you to keep challenging yourself as a cyclist?

Riding cycling is a low impact endurance workout. It’s really awesome to ride early morning in fresh air along the beach looking at the sun rise, admiring the nature.  Long distances are challenging which helps us to push more and more and help us to perform better. It takes care of my health too.

What sort of nutrition schedule do you follow pre and post a big event?

I usually follow a balanced meal plan with complex starch, veggies and proteins for every meal. Pre event I make sure that I hydrate well with tender coconut water, electoral and more water. I eat more carbs for energy before and after my ride like curd rice and idli. I eat chocolates for instant energy during my ride.

How does you family react to your cycling endeavours?

Initially my family was bit hesitant in me cycling long distances. After my 200 km ride they are bit confident and also encourages me to ride and practice regularly before I ride any BRM events.

Is there are target you are trying to achieve this year?

I have planned to complete my 300km, 400km and 600km during this year and become a Super Randonneur.

What other endurance events have you participated in?

I have not participated in any endurance event other than cycling. But I intend to do more challenging cycling rides. I also wanted to train for Frisbee. I have run more than twenty 10 km marathons and a couple of half marathons.

What life lessons have you learnt from cycling?

Never Quit. You can do it. Overcome little challenges to achieve success. Set up small goals and achieve big things. These are the quotes which I encounter during cycling

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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Stay in shape with Running

Running is an excellent way to stay healthy and be in shape for any age, writes Deepthi Velkur.

The benefits of running outweigh the risks and helps in reducing the many impacts of aging to a great extent. Seasoned runners tend to have better mobility, weight control, muscle strength, bone density and an overall sense of well-being. According to a recent Stanford university study, frequent runners tend to experience ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, neurological ailments, high blood pressure on an average 16 years later than non-runners. This makes it a great sport to take up at any age and especially for seniors its a great way to stay fit.

Here are some simple pointers to keep in mind if you want to start of your running career in your golden years:

Set realistic goals- Keep your goals small and attainable. There is a loss of muscle strength, aerobic capacity, higher recovery time and rest required as you get older; as a result, you cannot train and race at the same intensity. However, endurance runners who continue running into their older years have a much-reduced muscle loss when compared to inactive people of the same age. Adjust your expectations, pick realistic goals and continue to be active and committed to running.

Check with a professional-If your new to running or taken to running after a long break from being physically fit, checking with a doctor or a healthcare professional is a good idea and helps you build a customized training plan. Senior runners should always take the advice of a physician and the guidance of the coach before endeavoring into running.

Proper running gear- Choosing the right running gear is more important than just your comfort. With the body loosening up as you age, selecting the right type and size of clothing as well ensuring proper running shoes with adequate cushioning is imperative. You will find specialized running shoes in the market so get out and do some shopping.

Strength Training- Regular strength training helps in a slower decline of the muscle mass and this becomes very important when you are taking up an aerobic sport like running. Improved muscle mass helps the muscles to absorb more impact caused due to running and less stress on the joints. A mixed workout which includes swimming, cycling, yoga, simple leg and core exercises such as squats, planks, push-ups, and lunges help in your running performance and improves injury resistance when you are a senior runner.

Balance and flexibility- You can work on improving your balance by standing on one leg for 30 seconds or some yoga exercises like the tree and eagle pose. Legs, back, hips, and shoulders feel stiffer since they lose elasticity with time. Regular stretching and yoga especially post running improve flexibility.

Injury Prevention and proper recovery time-Slight change in body signals should not be ignored especially for senior runners and must be given immediate attention. Ensure your fitness plan includes adequate rest as it gives the body time to strengthen itself. Stretching before and after runs is equally important. Regular massages and foam rolling is also beneficial.

Follow these simple tips and you can hit the road with a calmer and focused mind as a senior runner. Running goes a long way in helping you achieve a balanced state of physical and mental well-being, so what are you waiting for – lace up those shoes and run free.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Best Running Apps

A running app can boost you from the Couch to your first 5k, here is a list of the best apps by Deepthi Velkur

A little extra motivation is required sometimes to get up and start running. It turns out that a little technology is all it takes to boost your fitness drives. These running apps not only track your runs but also motivate and coach you. Whether you’re just starting out as a runner or a seasoned athlete, this list of running apps will assist you with the tools you require to get the most out of your miles.

Human

This running app is best to provide motivation to run and make you more active. This app helps in tracking the time spent in you being active like running, walking, and cycling and also pushes you to reach your “Daily 30,” or 30 minutes of exercise per day. Human compares your data with other nearby users which gives the runner an insight into who’s exercising nearby, so one can see how they rank against their neighbors.

Strava

If you enjoy running in a group, then Strava is the best running app for you. This app is widely popular amongst runners and cyclists. It suits both a causal and a seasoned runner. It comes with an in-depth GPS tracking, works with a variety of GPS devices, and tracks all kinds of metrics and shows your data against other runners in the same route.

MapMyRun

If your unsure of which route to take, this running app gives you innumerable running routes to choose from and there is a comprehensive tracker which records distance, pace, elevation, calories burned, and more for each run. This data integrates with a variety of wearable trackers and the My Fitness Pal app, hence throwing a clear insight into your diet and exercise regime.

Nike + running

This running app was specifically designed for runners to track their runs, photo sharing, and audio coaching. This app goes beyond basic tracking by providing features that assist in motivation and coaching such as cheers from top athletes at the end of a race, built-in photo sharing that overlaps your run stats with a photo from your current route, and top Nike coaches guiding you via audio-based workouts along the way.

Runtastic

This running app keeps your mind occupied while running through the story running feature. You can listen to pod-cast style tracks while running wherein each story is 35-40mins long approximately the time taken for your daily workouts.

Fuel My Run

If you’re a person who runs the half or full marathons, you would require assistance to learn when to start fueling on the run which means ingesting those foil packets of gel. This running app enables you if you’re unsure of when to start taking down your energy chews or gels when to eat, swallow and repeat.

My Run Plan

This app is built for designing a training plan that best suits you. Once you’ve set your running goal and have fed this information, the algorithm will give you a complete guide on how you should train. You can reach out to certified coaches using this app for help with injuries, nutrition and more.

So what’s your favourite running app?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Barefoot running – a more natural way to run

Barefoot seems like a great way to run but you need to work your way to it, writes Deepthi Velkur.

Barefoot and minimalist shoe running is slowly but surely gaining popularity despite substantial advances in shoe technology alongside enhanced shoe features like better cushioning, motion control, and even the arrival of special fitness shoes. Running barefoot strengthens your feet, helps you feel more connected to the ground and is definitely more fun.

Barefoot running can be quite a dreadful experience at first as your feet will be weak, so taking it slow is the way to go. When your feet touch the ground, make sure you land on your mid-foot or the ball of your feet followed by the toes and then the heel touching the ground. It easily takes anywhere between several weeks to months to build up the strength necessary for faster or longer running.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind while you start out running barefoot –

  • Take baby steps– Muscles in your body take about 6 – 8 weeks to adapt to something new. For the first 4 weeks, do walk barefoot for 20 – 30 mins a day. The next 4 weeks focus on running short distances on smooth surfaces like a few laps around a park or an easy jog around a soft indoor track. Once you are more comfortable, gradually increase the distance every week and move on to running on hard surfaces. Keep a close check on how your feet are adapting to the new surface to avoid injury.
  • Maintaining a good form– When you start running barefoot, you also need to focus on training your body on how to run with a good form. Skipping, toe-up drill or the lean drill are a few exercises you could try in training. Doing these drills ensures your running efficiency, help in striking the ground properly and staying injury-free.
  • Feel the ground– By wearing protective shoes all along, your feet find it difficult in sensing the ground. Try and include ‘feel the ground activities’ such as standing on one leg while brushing your teeth, using a balance disc / pillow at the gym or bouncing on one leg on a mini trampoline a few times a week.
  • Be Flexible– You  might feel some tightness or pain in the Achilles tendon. Making the back of your leg flexible with calf stretches or foam rolling helps during the transition to barefoot running.
  • Strong Feet– By doing a lot of balancing exercises, you can strengthen your feet. This can be achieved by standing on one leg, rolling your entire body weight from the outside to the inside of the foot and back.
  • Plyometrics– Since your feet have been cushioned with shoes, feeling the impact of the ground with barefoot running becomes a challenge. Plyometrics are exercises which include hop or skip with one or two legs, side to side hops or single leg box jump are good for preparing you for barefoot running.

Using the above tips will help in a smooth transition to barefoot running by reducing the tiredness in your knees and hips after a run or workout, helps in feeling the ground during a run and increasing the joy of running barefoot.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Moving from 10k to a Half Marathon

Our guest columnist, seasoned runner, Anjana Mohan talks about how to transition from 10k to a half marathon

Doubling the distance you run poses similar challenges regardless of whether you’re a first time runner, a regular fitness runner, or an ultra-runner returning after a break. The biggest difference between those who have done 21.2km before and those who haven’t is simply the conviction that they can. Structure your training to slowly increase your endurance from 60-100 mins to 120-200 mins of higher heart rate activity. Those with prior experience in any continuous activity for 2-3 hours will find this jump easier than those who have to train for this in slow increments.

There are 5 major components of incremental training:
1. Learning to run longer
2. Training upper body and core muscles to support the longer runs
3. Understanding & serving your nutritional needs
4. Rest, recovery & life balance
5. Building mental toughness and practicing commitment

Many can and do get away with just the first component, allowing the other 4 to play out haphazardly through their preparation. While the first is a minimum, and with 10k training you may have gotten away with considering nothing else, a half marathon necessitates conscious attention to the other four. Training programs typically address the technical fitness components (muscle fitness, endurance), but the runner must self- address the logistical and mental aspects (Scheduling, prioritization and commitment). Nutrition, rest and recovery may or may not be addressed by technical training and require your maturity and body-attentiveness.

Training to run long distances
Training for longer distances can be achieved by running 3 days a week including a weekend long run (10% distance increments per week). While possible to substitute a cardio workout for 1 of 3 weekly runs for the same duration, it is more beneficial to add 45mins of cross training per week like cycling or swimming. Adding 1 to 2 gym sessions for lower body bulk muscles as well as upper body can yield amazing benefits of strength for any athlete and is highly recommended. And finally building and strengthening core muscles is a basic necessity to maintain positive form & avoid injury. Add 10-15 minutes minimum ab-work to runs or gym days as many times per week as possible. Rest is the most overlooked component of training. Plan this mental and physical recovery and muscle building necessity into your life. With anything less than 7-9hrs of unbroken sleep, you will perform sub-par, feel fatigue and be more prone to injury.

Mindfulness running

Runs longer than an hour need re-fueling en-route, and greater attention to protein and carb intake during the week. You should try, practice and experiment with these during each incrementally longer run and incorporate them into your training. Similarly, practicing positive thinking, and actively training your brain to believe that you can complete your distance and working to do so without quitting for each workout are the reps your brain muscle needs to learn to become familiar with that flex.

Runner’s mind- Understanding the end goal

Most runners find that signing up for an event keeps them focused to train towards that target. However, you may enjoy the longer runs and find yourself training towards a sustained higher base mileage that goes long beyond a single race. A structured program will typically have you peak and taper towards the event but as you get about three quarters of the way into your distance, you should consider what you want your post-race running to look like.

Understanding why you run and what you get from running will help you develop your running maturity and balance it with your life priorities. Seek to develop a sense of conviction for your own reason to run – be it for health and fitness, sense of achievement, recognition, competition or just the endorphin joy of each run.

Moving from ten kilometers to a half marathon isn’t about distance, it is about a new threshold of fitness in your life, learning how you want to sustain and fold that into your new normal, and believing in yourself.

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

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

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Why do my Knees hurt when I Run?

The stress of running can cause irritation in the kneecaps and escalate to knee pain, so how can you counter that ask Nandini Reddy.

Running is a stressful activity for your legs. Ankles, knees and soles are the worst hit in terms of stress related injuries. Knees are the weight bearing joints of the body and help us keep our balance. Knee pain is very common for runners and generally a bit of rest can alleviate knee pain. But if a simple remedy doesn’t help then you need to get into the depths of why your knee hurts and possible causes and remedies that may need longer rest.

Understanding Knee Pain

Running is a high impact sport where knees are concerned. Soreness, inflammation and strains are common for all runners. Nearly 50% of runners face knee injuries in some form or the other. The knee is a difficult spot that is held together by four ligaments. If you do not have adequate strength then the pressure of your run falls mostly on your knees. The most important areas to strengthen to avoid knee pain are your core, glutes and hips.

If your knee wobbles when you run or if you get prolonged pain after your run then it means that your hips, core and glute muscles are not strong enough. A strong pelvis will ensure proper heel strike and will help you maintain proper form. Wrong stride strikes will result from weak hips that will not maintain form and thus finally hitting the knee with twice the impact causing high stress on the ligaments.

For the period of recover opt for low impact exercises like swimming and yoga. Squats or partial squats are a way to strengthen your knees. You can start slow and build up to a regular schedule of squats. In addition watch your stride length and pace and ensure that you are careful about getting it right until your knee doesn’t feel stressed.

How to treat it?

Ice it – If you knee is swollen after a run, ice it for 20-30 mins every 4 hours over the next 2-3 days or until the swelling completely comes down and the pain has disappeared

Bandage it – Elastic wrap bands are a great way to support the knee and prevent it from bending the wrong way. The extra support will help reduce over-usage of the knee and bring down the pain.

Elevate it – Raise your leg up using a pillow. The elevation will help drain the lactic acid accumulated and allow for fresh oxygenated blood flow to the knee, thus reducing the pain.

Strengthen it – Check with a physiotherapist about strengthening movements and stretches that you can do to relieve the pain.

If these techniques do not work then you need to consult a doctor to explore what the extent of injury and see how this needs to be resolved using medical treatment under the supervision of a doctor.

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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Quick Fixes to improve your Running

If you want to keep advancing as a marathoner then it is important to become an efficient runner, writes Nandini Reddy.

Runners are always looking to improve timing, speed and technique. The more efficient they become – the faster they progress as runners. In the recent times there have been several new innovative running techniques that have evolved and been adopted by runners across the world. But aside from extensive training schedule changes you can also look to improve your running efficiency sneaking in a few quick fixes.

Learn to Sprint

Sprinting can become a part of your training schedule with ease. You will need to add sprinting at maximum intensity to your training schedule at least 3 times a week. Why does this help? Essentially because sprinting pushes you to your limits of capacity and your energy is purely converted to speed. In the process your stride improves and thus boosts your running technique. Start with doing 5-10 sprints in 10-15 second bursts. This you can alter or vary according to your running level.

Train Barefoot

Most running shoes come with extra cushioning and are fixed with more technology than your laptops. But this extra compensation from the shoe means you don’t pay attention to your strides because your shoes compensates when you over-stride. While this might not be noticeable in the short run, you will notice that you are tiring out faster in the long run. Getting the right stride length is crucial to becoming a more efficient runner. It also reduces the risk of injury and conserves your energy. If you find barefoot too uncomfortable then opt for shoes that have less cushioning so that you can run comfortably in the right stride length.

Get Flexible

Our jobs today do not let us move around much. Most of us are sitting 90% of the time at office. This can stiffen your hip flexors and that can ruin your running efficiency. When the hip flexors are tight, it makes it hard to push off and your stride get affected and you will also consequently use more energy to generate the same thrust. So remember to stretch and work out your hips so that there is improved flexibility.

Squat it

Squats can strengthen muscle groups that are important for running. Work in at least 3 days of strength training and ensure you do squats. Strengthening the muscles means that you can run faster and remain injury free. Watch your squatting technique so that you can get the maximum effect.

Lean it

Leaning slightly forward can make a world of difference. The slight forward lean is a technique that skiers use to engage their whole body. This allows for better form and makes running slightly less tiresome. This also prevents you from sinking into your hips. The idea is the maintain a straight back and then following the skier slight forward lean is a good running form.

Simple changes can help you run faster and longer and make your runs more enjoyable.

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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