Adidas Runners Delhi Coach, Nivedita Samanta talks about how you can ace your running and fitness routine.
Did you know that 5 to 10 minutes of running per day can reduce cardiovascular risks by 45% and increase life expectancy by 3 years?
Have you decided to start running or complete your first race this year?
Are you someone who has been running but struggles with achieving milestones?
Running well can be daunting, especially if you spend time scouring through the information available on the internet.
Worry not, here’s my list of top 7 things you should help you, ace your running & fitness routine!
Believe in your goals – be S.M.A.R.T and patient about them.
Set small, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely goals. The easiest way to do this is to have one big long term goal – think for a year. Examples, racing your first 5 km/10km/ half marathon/marathon.
Then, you define several short-term milestones – 4 to 6 six weeks long – that will lead you to your big end goal. Short-term goals can be to first make running a habit. Then, you move on to running at different intensities.
- If you are completely new to running- Devote a few minutes per day, 2-3 times/week and work up to running 3 kilometres by the end of the month as your goal.If you’re someone who has been regularly walking or working out, set your goal to be running 5 kilometres in a month.
- If running your first marathon or breaking a certain time for a particular distance is your goal – your smaller steps will involve running more, at different intensities to succeed.
Finally, be patient! Slow and steady is the way to go. Some days will be hard, some days not. Over a consistent training time period, your body will build cardiovascular and muscular strength. You will get less breathless, and your body – all the muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints and your lungs – will get stronger.
Your training plan is key – there’s no replacement for hard work and consistency.
No matter, at what stage of fitness you are in, your training plan needs to be targeted towards achieving your goal.
- For instance, if you would like to give that 10k/half marathon/marathon a shot, you’ll need to follow a 12-week or 16-week plan, depending on the race distance.
- If your goal is to get faster in your racing distance, then your training plan will feature key workouts to help you prepare for exactly that.
For beginners, a plan will involve running at least 3 days per week. Start with jogging for a few minutes at a go and take walking breaks in between. Once you find a ratio that works best for you, gradually increase your running intervals and decrease your walking intervals.
- Dedicate 2 days for shorter runs (at least 20 minutes long) during the week and 1 day on a Saturday/Sunday for a longer run (40 minutes or longer).
Seasoned runners should break their week into 4-6 key training days.
- Easy Runs (2 days/week) that are done at a comfortable, conversational pace for muscle recovery. If you find yourself huffing and puffing, slow down.
- Speed Runs (at least 1day/week) to build your confidence and improve your speed.
- Make sure, to begin with, a warm-up and cool-down runs of 2-3 km of easy running before and after your speed workouts.
- For people training for a 5k, 100m or 200m speed intervals are good.
- For 10k runners, 200-400m speed intervals are recommended.
- For half and full marathoners, 800m- 1600mintervals are common.
- Long runs (1day/week) improve fitness and build endurance. Go for distance rather than time – slow it down, be patient, and don’t worry about your pace. Build gradually, adding no more than 3 km at a time. Adding too much, too quickly can lead to burnout and injury.
- Cross-training should be incorporated AT LEAST two days in a week. More in the next point.
Most importantly, a good warm-up and cool-down are essential for success.
Finally, you can get a training plan free of cost on the internet (Hal Higdon’s plans are popular. I followed it for my first half marathon back in 2010) or hire a certified running coach in your city or online.
Cross Train- don’t forget your other muscles!
Running is a repetitive form of exercise involving certain key muscles in your body. It can lead to injuries if you don’t pay enough attention to build optimum strength, increase endurance and above all, to stay injury-free through alternate activities.
Cross-training activities such a weight training, yoga, pilates, or functional training such as TRX and even swimming ensure they work on all supplementary muscle groups of your body, keeping you mobile and improving muscle power.
Some of my tips:
- Weight train 2-3 times a week. Remember to use lighter weights, do more reps per set and focus on key body areas.
- Consider finding a 4 to 6-week strengthening plan that focusses on your key muscle groups- core, glutes & hamstrings, shoulders, back & arms. You can switch up your routine.
- I recommend doing 20 minutes of the lower body and core strengthening exercises (pushups, squats, lunges, deadlifts, planks, etc.)
Gear up – trustworthy shoes & apparel!
Wearing the right gear – apparel and shoes are important to stay focused, motivated and to keep injuries of any kind at bay. Specifically, you need to wear the right type of shoes – a bit of an overwhelming decision because there are numerous options and varied technology. Remember, the best running shoe is the one that fits and feels most comfortable on your foot.
Firstly, you should know your feet landing style.
- You will need neutral running shoes if your feet land on the heel and move to the ball of the foot evenly. 80% of us are neutral runners. Shoes like the Pulseboost HD from Adidas are great options!
- Overpronators supinators need stability running shoes – If you roll too much inside of your foot, you are an overpronator (have a low arch or flat foot). If your foot rolls too much on the outside, you are a supinator. Try the Ultraboost Stability shoes in this case.
Secondly, remember the basics of your feet and shoe fits. The shoe should be tight enough but it should also be roomy enough.
- Feet tend to swell up through the day – so head out for shoe trials and purchase in the afternoon or evening for a more accurate fit.
- Keep roughly one thumb width between the end of your foot and the end of the shoe to account for feet spreading.
- The shoe should wrap comfortably around your foot, hold it without slipping from the heel. Your feet should be in the centre of the shoe and not pinch from anywhere.
Finally, do a few jumps, running around in the store to make sure it does feel right!
Nutrition & Hydration!
What runners should eat and drink is the subject of many ill-informed discussions. You need to remember that carbohydrates and fat are primary energy sources for endurance exercise such as running. Protein plays a very important role in helping you recover as does eating enough vitamins and minerals. Consult a nutritionist for more information on a balanced diet.
Finally, staying well hydrated is VERY important to prevent dehydration and to avoid any negative effects on your running performance. Remember, your blood and other fluids help remove waste products and bring nutrients to tissues for repair. So, replacing lost fluids as quickly as possible after running, will speed your recovery.
- Your daily fluid intake should be at least 2 litres per day. Depending on your training intensity and weather conditions, you need to drink up one and a half times the amount of weight you lost. Simply, weigh yourself before your run and after. For example, if you lost 1.4 kg during your run, you need to drink about 2.1 litres to successfully rehydrate. This would mean that your total fluid requirement is 4 litres for the day.
- What to drink- water and carbohydrate replacement drinks containing sodium, potassium, magnesium with are excellent options.
- What to eat – Consume a minimum of 100 calories for every 60 minutes of activity. Anything that provides quick energy + has a high glycemic index is ideal – energy gels, chews, fruit bar, any carbohydrate drink, etc.
Rest Up- your body will love you for it!
It is a proven fact that sleep is an extremely important part of the training. Your body needs to recuperate and will thank you for it by being injury-free in the long run.
- Dedicate one day per week for total and complete rest. If you decide to run long on Saturdays, make Sundays your rest days or Mondays if you run long on Sundays.
- Consider investing in a foam roller. Foam rolling helps minimise your body’s aches and pains by addressing the layers of connective tissues, called fascia, that surround all the muscles in our body. This helps increase your range of motion, lower risks to injury and improves recovery time. I carry mine everywhere I go, even while travelling.
- Remember to eat a balanced diet consisting of healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats to help your body rebuild muscles. Finally, stay hydrated!
- Finally, treat yourself to frequent massages. I connect this to my goals. When I achieve my monthly milestones, I go for a deep-tissue massage.
To stay motivated, you can also consider joining a running group in your city.
Humans a very social breed and we’ve evolved to be people who excel in a community setting. Therefore, running with a group empowers you with an incredible support group.
You get a sense of belonging – outside of family & work- with like-minded individuals committed to improving as runners, as athletes and as human beings. You’ll get to learn about new training, nutrition or recovery methods, routes, races, events, gear, and more.
It is fairly easy to find one. I, personally, love the Adidas Runners- a global running community present across 63 cities in the world. It’s free, it’s fun and it’s wonderfully empowering. Check out the Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai communities on the Runtastic app.
Most importantly, remember that it’s your personal journey to become a better you. You are your own competition. So, you must enjoy the process. Believe in it, believe in yourself!