Training Comments Off on The importance of strength training for runners |

The importance of strength training for runners

Guest Columnist Pallavi Aga demonstrates the importance of strength training for runners especially women. 

The world seems to have woken up to the benefits of staying fit and this is quite evident when you look at the increased number of people who have taken to running. There has been a sudden outburst of running events that happen every weekend across the country and we have seen a lot of fitness enthusiasts who have taken to running in a big way.

Unfortunately, as is the case with all sporting activities, there is a dark side to it – sports injuries. This is more common than you think and the best way to minimize the risk is strength training.

Strength training is of paramount importance, especially for people who lead a sedentary lifestyle. Such a lifestyle leads to under-development of the muscles and they may not be firing at an optimal level. With an increase in mileage and overload of training, they begin to experience muscle weakness and instability which ultimately causes muscle strains and sometimes a muscle tear as well. This is because runners neglect one very basic requirement that is muscle strength which can only be built through strength training. Research has shown an 8% increase in running efficiency in people who do regular strength training.

Strength training and women

Strength training is extremely important for women to prevent them from getting osteoporosis because usually after the age of 40 is when the pre-menopause period starts and during this time the bones tend to start weakening. Sarcopenia, i.e. muscle loss also sets in causing various postural imbalances. In fact, there is a myth that strength training should not be done by older women but the benefits you reap with strength training exercises are immense.

Common myths about strength training

  • It makes you bulky
    Strength training helps in reducing body fat and builds lean muscle. Bodybuilders focus on a carbohydrate-rich diet which primarily contributes to the bulky look. If the nutrition is clean and focus is on adequate complex carbs and lean protein with some calorie deficit, then it helps to tone up the physique, giving the lean look.
  • Strength training means lifting heavy-weights
    For people looking at building endurance, the focus should be on doing multiple reps and lifting lighter weights. Compound and complex bodyweight exercises can also be done. This kind of strength training is important during the marathon season for runners.
    However, for muscles to get really strong you need to lift heavy weights with fewer repetitions. The time between reps should be kept lower so as to build leaner and stronger muscles. Use the off-season to train using heavy weights to build the muscles well for the next season.
  • Spot reduction
    This is a complete myth and no amount of crunches, twists or squats will help in spot reduction. If there is a lot of fat, the muscle definition will not show up. The only thing which works is eating clean and staying on a calorie deficit diet. It is the correct amount of carbohydrates, proteins as well as the eating window (how much and which type of macronutrients are consumed before and after a workout) which leads to the reduction of fat.

 Benefits of strength training

  • Helps the muscles become strong and hence less prone to injuries
  • Builds muscle coordination and balance
  • Builds bone strength
  • Body weight strength training helps in building endurance and form.
  • Builds neuromuscular coordination and power
  • Increases running efficiency
  • Prevents muscle loss and osteoporosis
  • Posterior and kinetic chain development

Runners usually put in a lot of mileage and hence cannot have large muscle gains. Runners during the running season should focus on compound movements targeting major muscle groups in a complex manner. They can also look into gaining heavy muscle with strength training during the off – season which helps the running muscles become stronger further helping in building a toned, leaner physique.

Some of my favourite strength training workouts
Below are a few of my favourite weight training exercises that have proved beneficial. To build your own workout, you can focus on one area or multiple areas (upper body, lower body, or core) and create a tailor made circuit. As running itself adds a lot of cardio in the fitness regimen , we do not need a lot of added cardio during the strength training sessions. I would suggest to keep the rest period between the sets less to increase the fat burn and to keep a tempo pace. Rest in between the sets can be utilized to do abs or push-ups to promote the maximum effort.

  • Push-Ups : inclined, declined, hindu push ups, close grip and even using Bosu ball
    Works : chest and core muscles
  • Bent Over Row
    Works: back and core muscles

  • Lat pulldown
    Works: mid-back, posterior shoulder, and rhomboid muscles
  • Planks : all the variations
    Works: core muscles

  • Bulgarian split squat, Single- leg dead lifts, Straight leg Deadlift
    All of these work : hamstrings, glutes, back, and core muscles

  • Lunges
    Works : leg, quads, and glute muscles

  • Squats and sumo squats
    Works: hip, adductors, quads  and glute muscles

  • Shoulder overhead push press
    Works : hamstrings, lower back, core, trapezius, shoulders and arms

Compound movements are the best. Hence always include squats, deadlifts and shoulder overhead push press to your exercise schedule.

Running, as a sport, has to be respected and focus should be on overall fitness and running injury-free. Strength training, yoga and Pilates plays an integral part in running. Foam rolling is a must after a strength training session.

For me, the Mantra to life is – stay fit and enjoy life and hence I want to run injury-free and focus on both strength training as well as yoga.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Pallavi Aga is a doctor by profession and an avid follower of eating clean and green with a holistic approach to health and diet. She is actively helping the society towards walking down the path of health through Facebook live events and also with media groups like India Today, Dainik Jagran and Pinkathon.

 

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Training, Uncategorized Comments Off on A 5 Minute Warm Up To Improve Running Performance |

A 5 Minute Warm Up To Improve Running Performance

Protima Tiwary takes you through a simple warm-up routine before you start running.

Getting out of bed early in the morning for a run seems like a huge task in itself, and adding a 20-minute warm-up routine before your run makes you want to crawl right back in. Yes, we understand how that feels, and while we know it is tempting to miss out on a warm-up, it can prove to be harmful, even dangerous in the long run. Warm-ups and stretches reduce the chances of injury and also improve performance during the run. They also help combat muscle soreness.

Here’s the good news- you don’t need to spend 20 minutes for a warm-up routine. We are here to show you a warm-up that will take you only 5 minutes and absolutely no equipment. Get out your pen and paper and take notes!

Jumping Jacks

This will help you warm up and get your heart pumping. Do 40 jumping jacks to kickstart your warm-up routine. If you want, you can also time yourself and see how many can you do in a minute.

  1. Stand with your feet wide apart.
  2. Open up your arms and have them extended to your sides
  3. Jump up and bring your feet together. Your arms move together in a “clap” over your head
  4. When you touch the group again, your arms and legs are in the extended position.

High Knees and butt kicks

This movement mimics those in running and will help open up the abdominal, leg and hip muscles. Do 25 each of these.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with arms at your sides.
  2. Now start running in place, but with your knees reaching up to your chest.
  3. After 25 high knees, take a break of 20 seconds
  4. Now start running in place again, but this time with your feet trying to touch your glutes.

Arm circles

This will help activate your chest muscles, deltoids and upper back. Do 10 for each hand.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  2. Lift your arms to shoulder height, with the palms down
  3. Make small circles with your arms, making sure not to bend the elbow

Side stretch

This helps stretch your torso before your run and will help you combat side stitches during your run too.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  2. Bring your arms over your head, and keeping your abdominal muscles tight, lean to the right. Hold for 10 counts.
  3. Now do the same for the left side.
  4. Make sure only the torso is leaning, with your feet grounded firmly.

Hip Rotation

This helps stretch the glutes and lower back. Do these 10 times each in a clockwise and anti-clockwise rotation.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  2. Make a circular motion with your hips. Make sure your feet stay grounded.

Spider Crawl stretch

This will help stretch the hips and leg muscles. Hold this position for 10 counts on each leg.

  1. Lie down in a forward plank pose
  2. Your legs should be shoulder width apart
  3. From the outside, bring your right foot next to your right hand (or till wherever your flexibility allows you to)
  4. Repeat with left leg after holding this for 10 seconds

Inch-walks

This one is for your core, hamstrings and deltoids. Do this 10 times.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
  2. Bend down to touch your toes
  3. Now walk your hands out to reach a plank position
  4. Hold for 5 seconds, then walk back with your hands to touch your toes.
  5. Stand up straight

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

 

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Training Comments Off on Understanding Zone Training |

Understanding Zone Training

Deepthi Velkur discusses the popular training method, Zone training for marathoners.

Have you ever heard about the “zone”? That term has been thrown around fairly causally nowadays but let’s try and understand what it is.

The “zone” is a state of absolute focus that assists athletes across sports to perform at their peak potential. It’s the point when your mind fully processes only the thoughts and visuals needed to help you achieve your goal.

As an athlete, we often have one recurring question – “what’s the optimum training intensity level I need to be at?”.

Let’s try and break that down to understand it better. In training, there are pre-dominantly 3 key variables – Frequency, Duration, and Intensity.

To be able to achieve your best, you need a good training plan and a good training plan needs to have an amalgamation of different workout routines – some with shorter durations but higher intensity, some with longer times but a more relaxed intensity and so on. A mixed bag really and this variation brings about greater performance improvement.

Just so you know, high-intensity workouts are designed to help you improve speed and stamina while lower intensity workouts help achieve better endurance levels and overall toughness.

All of this leads to the next question – “how do I measure the intensity of my training”?

To answer that question,  you first need to know what are training areas or intensity zones.

Intensity zones are the best indicators to show how hard your body is training during a workout.

For each of us, we have a personal resting heart rate, a minimum heart rate, and a maximum heart rate – between these values lie the different heart rate zones that correspond to the intensity of training and the benefits you reap from that training.

These heart rate zones are linked to your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds and the idea behind this type of training is to prepare your aerobic system without having to overstrain your muscular and skeleton systems.

There are different ways to identify your heart rate zones and the simplest one is to define them as percentages of your maximum heart rate.

So, how do you arrive at that magical heart rate zone?

There are various formulas to calculate your maximum heart rate(MHR). The MAF method promotes the 180 – formula in which you subtract your age from 180. You could further add or subtract 5 – 10 based on varying factors such as pregnancy, returning from injury or training competitively (subtracting for the former, adding for the latter).

The different heart-rate zones

There are 5 different heart-rate zones and every training plan can include workouts that cover each of these zones.

Here is a breakdown of what each zone means in terms of your heart rate and the benefits of training in each zone.

Zone 1: <70% of MHR:  This is the low-intensity zone. Training in this zone helps in fast recovery and gets you prepared for training in the higher heart rate zones.

Zone 2: 65 -75% of MHR: This is a light zone primarily aimed at the aerobic base building. It is used for long easy runs and you can hold a conversation with your training partner.  This zone helps in stabilizing your performance levels, improving basic endurance levels, training of fat metabolism and technique optimization. This zone is essential for every runner’s program.

Zone 3: 75-85% of MHR: This is a moderate zone that still keeps you in the aerobic range. It is effective for improving the efficiency of blood circulation in the skeletal muscles and the heart. Training in this zone is also used to stabilize your performance levels as well as training of glycogen metabolism and prepares you for higher intensity workouts.

Zone 4: 85-95% of MHR: This is the zone where the going gets tough, breathing will be difficult and your running in the anaerobic zone. Training at this intensity improves your speed endurance and the body uses carbohydrates as an energy source and you can withstand high levels of lactic acid in your blood for a longer duration.

Zone 5: 95-100% of MHR: In this zone, your heart and respiratory system will be working at their maximum capacity. The lactic acid builds up in the blood at this stage and after a few minutes, you are unable to continue at this intensity.

Each zone serves a purpose, and how much time you spend in each zone depends on your training goals. Intensity zones are used in sports because training at different intensities stresses your body in different ways, leading to different physiological adaptations and resulting in different benefits.  If you’re just starting out or have only been training for some time or returning from injury, you probably shouldn’t train at a high intensity. If you’re a professional athlete, look into incorporating interval training into your training plan for peak performance.

Reaping the benefits of zone training

The biggest hurdle with heart rate training especially for advanced runners is holding back. People often feel they are doing something wrong if they are running at a slow pace – this often leads to frustration. The benefits of this training is to stay consistent, be patient and your pace will automatically improve.

Try and mix different workouts as variety is good, vary the intensity and duration of your training sessions and don’t be stuck running the same distance every time.

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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Training Comments Off on Here’s How You Prepare Yourself For An Obstacle Race |

Here’s How You Prepare Yourself For An Obstacle Race

Protima Tiwary explores how you need to train if you ever want to tackle an obstacle race.

You have been running marathons this season, and in the excitement of the runner’s high you’ve signed up for an obstacle race. Great going! Now it’s time to train to give this your best shot. It goes without saying- an obstacle race is not the same as a marathon, so if you feel you can make your way to the finish line without training, you’d be mistaken.

Sprinting, climbing ropes, crossing over bars, jumping over pits – obstacle races are all about adventure and adrenaline. Training for them requires mental, emotional and physical training. Once you set your mind to train for this race, here’s what you need to do –

Running

Continue running, but this time change your training and incorporate speed runs, hill climbs, sprints and tempo runs in your routine. An obstacle race is all about the running experience and isn’t about how fast you run.

Cross-fit

Incorporate cross-fit moves into your training regime that will help you conquer the obstacles. Exercises like push ups pull ups, rows and bar hangs are recommended. This basically works on your upper body strength, often a weak spot for runners.

Plyometric training

This will help increase fast-twitch muscle development which will help you with jumps and lateral stops- starts. Exercises like springing with added weights pulling you back, box jumps and butt kicks are recommended.

Mobility Training

Concentrate on flexibility and mobility training that will give you a wider range of movement during the race. These exercises help open up all the joints and muscles that are stiff, thereby improving posture and circulation. Yoga is a fine example of flexibility training.

Strength training

This will help improve the strength in your body that will help you with posture and form, as well as help build power that is required to clear the obstacles. Exercises like bicep curls, shoulder press, chest press, farmers walks, squats and lunges are the basic exercise that can be done to increase strength.

Here is a 6-week schedule that will help you train adequately. Consult a coach or a trainer for specific exercise under this schedule.

Week 1 – Build Stamina

Practice different variations in running, climb stairs, go on brisk walks. Build stamina that will be needed on the race day. The fatigue can get overwhelming on the day of the race, so it is better to go well prepared. You don’t want to be out of breath on the first lap!

Also, start practising yoga.

Week 2- Build Strength

Improve your form and build strength that will be needed to clear the obstacles. Incorporate box jumps, climbing, jump squats, pull ups and push ups in your regime. Ideally, perform high repetitions of bodyweight exercises like pull ups, push ups, squats. This will help build muscular endurance and explosive power.

Week 3- Build Upper Body Strength

Focus on building upper body strength as this will be needed for all those rope climbs and bar crossing that need to be done. Incorporate exercises that focus on your upper body muscles- shoulder press, bench press, bicep curls, tricep dips, lat pull-downs are some primary examples.

Week 4 and 5- Practice

Your training towards the end of this plan will include all the exercise in a rotation. This is the period when you need to better your skill. Functional circuits are the best way to train. Set your pace. Set your goals. Prepare yourself mentally.

Week 6- Go slow

Build on strength, but make sure you do not over-do it! Ease up on the training in the last one week. Give your body a little rest by reducing the intensity of the workout. Eat well, sleep well.  Continue yoga.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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Training Comments Off on Understand the Maffetone Method |

Understand the Maffetone Method

Deepthi Velkur looks into a popular method that runners around the world are adopting to get leaner and fitter.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit” – Aristotle.

I want to get better. I want to be fitter and leaner. I want to train right without feeling drained out or being injured. I’m sure we have all had these thoughts and questions in our head. Is there a way we can actually achieve this?

The answer is – Yes, we can! The reason for you not seeing any improvements, feeling burnt out or prone to injuries is not only a problem with your training, diet or your shoes. It could be your aerobic base or the lack of it. For an athlete to perform well and overall have good health it is important to have a solid aerobic base. This can be achieved by following the Low-Heart rate training also popularly known as the Maffetone Method.

So what is the Maffetone method?

The MAF Method is a philosophy developed over the course of 40 years by Dr Phil Maffetone which helps individuals take charge of their health and reach their performance potential.

The premise of the method says that by developing your Maximum Aerobic Function(MAF) where you improve your aerobic base, become fat adapted, improving your energy levels, losing body fat, improving athletic performance, minimizing injuries and ramp up your performance potential.

It is a style of training where one focusses mainly on their aerobic running using a heart rate formula of 180- your age. “Most people do not develop good aerobic conditioning as it takes time and one needs to be consistent. Such people end up with poor metabolism and aerobic physiology. In order to build your aerobic fitness, you need to make sure the heart rate does not exceed this threshold and by doing that you’re expending the fat for fuel and not sugar. When you run aerobically you tend to feel energized and don’t have the need to nap or require an energy gel to replenish your carb stores.

Most runners tend to use this method during their base training phase by not allowing their heart rate to spike more than this “aerobic maximum”. You can measure this using a heart rate monitor each time you run so that you don’t exceed the limit and stay 0-10 beats below it. Once the heart rate goes beyond this threshold, the aerobic muscles start to function less efficiently and the anaerobic muscles take over. It’s good to note that Aerobic muscles use body fat and oxygen for energy consumption whereas anaerobic muscles use the glycogen stores within the anaerobic muscle cells which do not last more than 2.5 or 3 mins.

Benefits of using the 180 formula

You have to train at a low heart rate in order to build your aerobic base, a relaxed pace where you are able to make easy conversation. Finding the right heart rate is an individual process. After several evaluations of many athletes, Dr Maffetone came up with this formula to determine an optimal heart rate training zone.

The main benefits of using the 180 formula are that your body is trained to burn more of the stored fat for energy consumption. It also enables you to run, cycle or do other activities much faster over a period of time without overtraining. This happens with sustained practice where your body becomes efficient over time to perform faster with better stamina while maintaining the same training heart rate.

Using the Maffetone Method to build endurance

  • Determine your Maximum Aerobic Threshold: Using the 180 formula, figure out your threshold heart rate
  • Keep a heart rate monitor handy: Get yourself a good heart rate monitor which beeps or vibrates indicating your heart rate has spiked above your aerobic threshold.
  • Train right: Phil Maffetone recommends you to run at your threshold aerobic heart rate. By doing that one trains the aerobic muscles to function at its maximum making you run more efficiently and burning the fat to fuel energy instead of having to rely on the anaerobic muscles. Over time your pace increases while keeping your heart rate below the specified threshold. The training plan should be individualized based on the years of experience as a runner. Do not train in groups as each person’s capabilities are different and vary from one person to another.
  • MAF test: It is necessary to track your progress and course correct along the way. This provides you with the required motivation to push and also to make changes were needed. Always start with a warm-up and run a distance of 5 Km at your maximum aerobic heart rate and record it. Repeat this test at the same time and route every month from now to check how you’ve progressed. You should notice a marked improvement in the MAF timings and subsequently in the race timings as well.
  • A warm-up is must: This is a definite deal breaker with respect to this method of doing a 15min warm-up. We tend to slip warm-ups but by doing that you are spiking up your heart rate and it becomes difficult to bring it down. Hence a gentle warm-up will gradually increase your heart rate and you can see good results.
  • Controlled breathing: By breathing through your nose, you can keep your pace and heart rate under control. You might find it a bit hard at the beginning, but it takes time for the results to show and over time becomes easy to run at slower paces.
  • Maintaining running form and cadence: Running at a slow pace tends to affect your posture and cadence and incorporate one or two workouts after the initial 3 months to work on this.

Challenges and pay-offs

While there are huge followers of this method, there are people who disagree with the method of training. The pace you follow in this method is excruciatingly slow leading to boredom and results take time.

Conclusion: The MAF method covers a lifestyle concept encompassing diet, nutrition, exercise and stress management. Results take about 3-4 months to show. Joining a Maffetone facebook group or a running buddy can help immensely and keeps you motivated to push on.

Be patient, repeat it and the results will follow.

You can read about Ajit Thandur‘s and Pallavi Aga‘s experience with the Maffetone Method.

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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Featured, Training Comments Off on My experiences with the Maffetone method |

My experiences with the Maffetone method

Pallavi Aga is a Doctor, a Nutritionist and a Lifestyle Management Consultant and the Founder of Mind-Body Wellness Clinic, discussing her experience with the MAF method.

At present, I am pursuing preventive health in the form of nutritional counselling for sports as well as lifestyle diseases. I strongly believe that we should focus on the right nutrition as opposed to dieting fads.

I always considered myself a tad invincible (given that I am a doctor and all) but ever since I crossed 40, I have had a few health scares.

Initially, it was weight issues that bogged me down and then I became borderline diabetic and hypertensive. I obviously did not want to live a life dependent on medications so I took up running in 2015 to get healthy and stay fit.

As time went on, running no longer was just a means to stay fit but it became a passion and started participating in a lot of races. Though my pace had improved, I had low energy levels, injuries started creeping up on me and my weight-loss plan reached a plateau.

Combining my training with medical knowledge

I started reading a lot of research articles in order to see where I went wrong and that was when I came across the Maffetone method. Dr Phil Maffetone recommended a unique method of training in which the aerobic base has to be increased using the formula “180-age”. The more I read about it, the more I was convinced about the integrity of the method. I decided to give it a shot and see if it helped me reach my goal.

The MAF method documents that the major part of your running should be in the MAF heart rate zone and as the body gets adapted, the pace will go up at the same heart rate. As running at this zone utilizes fats as fuel hence the need for carbohydrates will reduce and the muscles will work more efficiently.  This method requires a lot of patience as results take time but I used the slowing of the pace to lay the emphasis on posture and cadence.

Implementing the MAF method

I decided to go with this method 2 years ago and assumed it to be easy. I was so wrong. I realized that my heart rate was reaching levels of 160 and above as opposed to 135 (my recommended Maffetone Heart Rate).

I had to make a few changes like incorporating walk breaks into my run, training on fasting, reduction in my intake of carbohydrates, grains, dairy products and adding good fats in the form of seeds and nuts to my nutrition plan.

The journey

It wasn’t easy getting used to this method. I had to run alone with no music so that I could focus on my cadence and correct my stance into a mid-foot strike. My earlier heel strike led to disturbed posterior chain kinetics which had resulted in a bad hamstring sprain.

Despite not many people believing in this strategy and asking me to run faster and add the pre-run carbs back, I never gave in and carried on with the plan. My biggest challenge was ‘fasted running’ as it made me very giddy and nauseous. During the summer, I worked on this area and trained harder keeping my electrolyte balance and hydration in check.

The effects of the MAF method

This method really worked well for me and I saw an increase in my energy levels. My weight dropped and I felt fitter and full of life. The feeling of totally being drained out went away and I started really enjoying my runs. It was exhilarating to feel free and one with nature. Gradually my pace picked up and I was back to my previous pace with the heart rate under control. My MAF pace is 6:15 now. I hope to improve it further with more dedication.

My experiments

A couple of months before my ADHM event, I wanted to increase my pace. So, I did an experiment of training at a higher pace and adding pre-run carbs before interval, tempo and long runs.

I realized that in less than a month, my immunity levels dropped, I felt bloated and I was tired all the time. My pace went up temporarily but I started falling sick, took me longer to recover and my old hamstring injury started acting up again. Ultimately, I suffered a total set back in my running and lost out on the fun of my runs.

I decided to change back to the MAF method and all was good again. I completed the ADHM with a time of 1hr52mins which was 3mins shy of my PB (1hr49mins) last year. I was able to manage this because I moved back to my low heart rate training 15 days prior. I did a day of pre-marathon carb loading and managed to finish the race comfortably despite my health issues.

The current status

Currently, I do all my training runs at a MAF pace and always keep my heart rate in check. Also, I do all my runs including the long runs (2+ hours) while fasting and I don’t really feel the need to eat immediately. I ensure I stock up on complex carbs and most of my calories come from protein and fat. With my energy levels up, I feel like it’s reversed my ageing.

I don’t participate in a lot of events because for me running is my meditation and I like to do only a few events as the competitive nature stresses me out.

In conclusion, I feel the Maffetone method has been a blessing in my life and has helped me reclaim my health. With the knowledge, I have of this method I am confident that I will run injury free for a long time.

My mantra to life was always “Say No to Medicines”!!

Learn more about the Maffetone Method here.

ABOUT THE GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Pallavi Aga is a doctor by profession and an avid follower of eating clean and green with a holistic approach to health and diet. She is actively helping the society towards walking down the path of health through Facebook live events and also with media groups like India Today, Dainik Jagran and Pinkathon.

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

Why is it necessary to have a training plan?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do you need a training plan?

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

What exactly does a training plan offer?

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

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

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

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

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

16 Weeks Training Cycle for running your first 10K:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Training Comments Off on When you goof up your form |

When you goof up your form

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

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

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

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

Planks

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

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

Push Ups

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

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

Bent Over Rows

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

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

Overhead Press

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

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

Hanging Leg Raises

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

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

Bicep Curl

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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Training Comments (1) |

Want To Run Better? Work On Your Core!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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

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