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Race Day Hydration

Brijesh Gajera talks about how he handles race day hydration, one of the most important aspects of running the healthy way.

 

Water, water, everywhere,
Not a drop to drink;
Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink.

– The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Have you ever felt your body and mind losing energy during the course of a marathon? Ever felt yourself melting drop by drop in your own sweat as you continue to push every step of the way or the water being sucked out of your body? Ask any seasoned runner and they will tell you that over-hydration or lack of it can make or break your marathon performance.

I have had first-hand experience with one of my trainees. He was participating in a 10K race and the weather was unusually hot that day. He was a newbie to running and was not used to hydration while running. To top that, he started the race with a rather aggressive target. A little after the 6K mark, he started feeling disoriented which ideally should have set off a warning sign for him, instead, he chose to ignore the signs and with the intent of achieving his target, he pushed on. A couple of kilometers down the road, he started wobbling. A fellow runner noticed this and saved him from falling to the ground. I happened to be there cheering runners and recognizing him for a distance, I noticed his discomfort and ran towards him. By the time I got there, he was almost unconscious – we instantly took him to the mobile ambulance on site and once he was administered IV drips, he felt a lot better. The doctor confirmed that it was a case of dehydration and that he was lucky to get timely intervention.

Imagine if we could store water somewhere in our bodies and not worry about it as we knock off mile after mile, right? Unfortunately, that is not possible but instead, we have the ability to continue performing in a moderately dehydrated state before the need to hydrate arises.

So how exactly should you hydrate in a long-distance race? In general, I am quite wary of giving a definite number or quantity as everyone’s bodily demands and reactions are somewhat unique. So, I would rather use Coleridge’s epic poem to help you decide for yourself.

Imagine you are surrounded by a limitless expanse of water. Unlike Coleridge’s mariner which was treading the salty waters of an ocean, here you have access to fresh sweet water. How will you drink water then? It is a no-brainer! You will drink it when you feel mildly thirsty or drink regularly like you would on a normal day. You will not wait for the moment when you are dying of thirst or drink too much water and feel bloated. It is almost the same while running a marathon. You do not have water everywhere around you but you know upfront where exactly the water points are located. All it takes is to look at this detail and plan your run around it. Instead of running as far as possible without water, just keep sipping water at every aid-station or at an alternate aid-station.

And for the record, there is something also known as over-hydration! Excessive water can lead to hyponatremia (the low concentration of sodium in the blood due to drinking too much water). It can lead to nausea, headache, weakness, and other problems. As much as you do not want dehydration, you also want to avoid over-hydration. Drinking an energy drink and water alternatively is also a good strategy to avoid both extremes. If you are taking gels, many of them also contain electrolytes so drinking water regularly along with it should help.

Here is how I take care of my hydration:

I typically carry a small bottle of water in all my training runs. If not, I do my training runs in loops of 3-5km so that I get back to the point where I keep my water bottle. For the very long runs, I keep the plain water as well as electrolyte drinks and alternate between them. For the races I participate in, the first thing I look at is the placement of aid-stations on the route and drinks available in them. I still prefer to carry a small bottle of water for my races not because it gives me the freedom to have water whenever I need it but also to reduce the usage of paper cups or plastic bottles. I would rather refill my bottle than use a disposable cup or bottle.

The real place to try all these is on your training ground. Do not think of your training just as a way to increase mileage. Think of it as a way to fine-tune your hydration, nutrition and race day strategy. In fact, that is the place where you can afford to fail and find ways to succeed.

So why not try your hydration during the training and make sure your boat sails smoothly on the race day?

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Brijesh Gajera is an avid marathoner, aspiring ultra-marathoner and coach at Ashva Running Club.

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Foods Runners should Avoid

If you want to improve your running performance there are certain foods that you need to exclude from your diet, writes Nandini Reddy.

Food is the fuel that helps us achieve our running goals. Then we need to have only high quality fuel in order to get the best performance. The right food promotes better recovery and provides the right kind of energy to improve running performance.

There are certain foods that we eat without considering the effect they might have on our body. The wrong food means inadequate repair and longer recovery periods. It could also mean that you would get certain muscle related injuries. If you are looking to achieve the best performance while you run then here are certain foods that you should keep out of your diet.

High Sugar Foods

High sugar foods are never healthy. You may feel that it is necessary to boost your energy but you can avoid the cakes and cookies. Energy need not come directly from eating high sugar foods. You can get energy even from complex carbohydrates like whole grains.

Oily & Fried Foods

Fried food is a definite no-no when it comes to a good diet. Another thing to remember is many of us consume too much oil without realising that our regular food. If oil can be seen in the food you cooked even at home, it means its not healthy for you. Use oil prudently and you will be able to enjoy your food always. Fried foods and oily foods also take longer to digest and can create gastrointestinal distress.

Sugary Sodas

Caramel coloured bubbly sodas may be momentarily satisfying but can also lead to dehydration and increased sugar cravings. They do not really satisfy your thirst. These can be hard on your stomach and can derail your training energy. So for these drinks instead of moderation, you can just clean avoid them.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose need to be strictly avoided. They can lead to dehydration and increase sugar cravings. These sweeteners are also known to cause weight gain. These sweeteners also tend to confuse the body signals about insulin and it is never a good idea to do that.

Full fat Diary

Full fat diary is a good consideration if you want to grain weight. If you want to lose weight and feel lighter then its not a great option to include in your diet. If you like your glass of milk then look for those that are 3% fat or less. You can also choose alternatives like rice milk and nut milk.

Alcohol

With alcohol its not about elimination but moderation. Having too much can cause slowed reaction times and dehydration and thus leading to decrease in performance. But before the race you need to definitely avoid alcohol of any sort including beer. You can consider beer for a celebratory drink after your finish the big race.

White grains

White grains are not high in fibre. If you consume whole grains along with the carbohydrates you will also receive adequate fibre. A healthy gut is important to ensure that you are a good runner. White grains also tend to raise your insulin levels and that can cause your energy to plummet. Whole grains give you more lasting energy.

Processed Meat

Processed meat is high in nitrates. Increasing their intake also carried other health risks such as colon cancer but most importantly it doesn’t do anything for improving your running performance. It might seem easier to reach for a cold cut of meat instead of cooking fresh but by doing so you are severely jeopardizing you nutrition.

The key to a healthy running career is a healthy diet, so limiting or avoiding these foods will do you a whole lot of good.

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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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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Running and your respiratory health

 Can you run if you have breathing problems asks Radhika Meghanathan. 
Here’s the truth – you can develop breathing problem at any age, even if you are a seasoned runner. When you run, your muscles need more oxygen than usual, and thus your respiratory system needs to work quickly and more efficiently to deliver this oxygen. If there’s any problem in the airways or the lungs, this delivery will not happen seamlessly and that’s when you find it difficult to breathe. The reasons such problems may be caused, are as follows, from the least serious to most:
  1. Seasonal allergies:

A common symptom of an allergy is the closing up of airways and breathing problems. This is a relatively minor block, since all you need to do is to take care of your allergies. “For those who are allergic to dust or pollen, the solution is very easy. Avoid running outdoors in spring or dusty paths; instead, choose a clean, preferably air-conditioned environment,” advices Dr Thilagavathy, consultant pulmonologist and somnologist at Vijaya Hospital, Chennai.

  1. Exercise-induced breathing issues:

Do you struggle to breathe while you are exercising, but feel fine during other times? In this case, you may have breathing related issues. Unfortunately, there is no instant cure for this, since the causes of this can be three-fold:

  • Being overweight: When you carry extra kilos, it not only puts pressure on your knees and limbs but also on your heart and lungs. The obvious solution to this is to consult your GP and a good nutritionist, to adapt a healthy and sustainable diet that will encourage weight loss. Once your body loses some of its excess fat, you will it easier to run without any breathing issues.
  • Exercise induced Asthma: If you experience shortness of breath and wheezing only while running, then you me suffering from exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Symptoms may also include coughing, fatigue and chest pain. “If you have this condition, it’s not advisable to run,” says Dr Thilagavathy. But those who have normal asthma need not despair. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine has published a study that revealed that asthma sufferers can vastly improve their respiratory health by doing 30 minutes of aerobic activity like running, at least thrice a week.
  • Having cardiovascular issues: If you do not have enough oxygen in your blood due to heart disease, there is a high chance that you will experience breathing issues. If it persists, you may have to temporarily halt running and consult your doctor, who may recommend you for pulmonary rehabilitation, which will help you to exercise with less shortness of breath.

    3. Lung Disorders:

What if you are an avid runner but develop some lung or heart issues? “Even if you suffer from chronic lung disorders, if you take the right medication and have it under control, you can even compete at the Olympics!” assures Dr Thilagavathy. “The key is to have a regular exercise schedule. Running will strengthen the breathing muscles if the runner selects the right amount and intensity of the sport. People with lung disease should exercise as much as they can, as long as they clear their fitness routine with their primary care physicians.”

If you want to take care of your lungs, Dr Thilagavathy advises some form of pulmonary care on a regular base. “Do not be scared by the term ‘Pulmonary rehabilitation’, even pranayama comes under it. Anybody can benefit from pulmonary exercises; your physiotherapist can give you the best tips on how to improve your lung capacity, whether you are a runner or not,” she says.

 

 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 for Good health

We explore how running can improve your health and also let you indulge in your passion for the outdoors, writes Nandini Reddy. 

Gyms are a great place for those looking to get in shape but they also come with a limitation of being indoors. Many people dislike being indoors and avoid going to gyms altogether. But if you still want to get healthy outdoors then running is the best option.

We have decided to explore 15 reasons that would motivate you to pick running as your go to way to stay healthy:

  1. Running burns 700-800 calories in an hour as per a study.
  2. Runners live longer than non-runners. This isn’t just an empty claim, there is a whole lot of research behind this. Apparently runners out live non-runners by 20%.
  3. If you live in the big city then running is one thing that you will not need to commute for. That is a big plus for those of you who hate commuting to the gym.
  4. Running releases happy hormones and gives you a high that is equivalent to cannabis as per a study published by Experimental Technology
  5. You get a lot of sun when you run. So you will never run of out of Vitamin D.
  6. You need minimal equipment to run – the most basic being a pair of shoes, shorts and a T-shirt.
  7. There is no restriction on timing, so you can choose to run whenever you want
  8. You can stick to your exercise routine even when you travel because running is an easy exercise to follow anywhere
  9. It gives your heart and lungs a good workout
  10. Its a high impact exercise that has amazing benefits on your bones
  11. You are less likely to fall sick with colds and coughs when you are a runner
  12. It is a very meditative form of exercise that gives you alone time to introspect. Don’t like being alone then its also a great way to socialize with other runners.
  13. Running always lifts your moods. If you are feeling dull or low then a run can always lift your mood.
  14. You have a variety of terrains to run – roads, trains, hills, forests, etc. It never gets boring.
  15. It doesn’t matter if you are an athlete or a newbie, you can always take up running

Whatever you reason just get out and run.

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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Cool It Down

A cool down is as essential as a warm-up for any athletic exercise, says Deepthi Velkur.

The warm-up and cool down before and after a workout are just as important as the workout itself.  While the key purpose of warming up is to prepare the body and mind for intense activity, cooling down plays a very different role. A complete cool-down of the body helps in a smooth shift from exercise back to a state of relaxation. Many individuals dismiss cool down as time-consuming or simply trivial, not realizing that it is essential to prevent injury.

To dive deeper into this phenomenon, let us be aware of some of the notable stresses that occur during and after each workout

DOMS

During an intense workout, we put our body through a lot of stress. Tendons, Muscle fibers, ligaments get stressed and waste products fill up within the body. A good cool down aids in an easy repair process by relieving the effects caused due to a delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS (sometimes referred to as post-exercise muscle soreness).This soreness is usually experienced the day after a tough workout due to people having a lay-off from exercise or at the start of a new exercise regime.

Muscle Tears

During a workout, tiny tears named micro tears develop within the muscle fibers causing swelling of the muscle tissues which in turn apply pressure on the nerve endings resulting in pain.

Blood Pooling

The heart pumps large quantities of blood to the working muscles that carries both oxygen and nutrients required for the repair process of all the muscles that were worked during the exercise. When we abruptly stop exercising, the muscles no longer contracts and pushes the blood back to the heart along with waste products like lactic acid which remain in the muscles, causing swelling and pain. This process is termed as “blood pooling.”

What cooling down does for you:

  • Steadily lowers heart rate.
  • Circulate blood and oxygen to muscles thereby restoring them to their normal state before the workout.
  • Reduce the risk of blood pooling
  • Removes waste products such as lactic acid from the muscles that builds up during exercise.
  • Lessens muscle soreness.

How to go about cooling down:

Primarily, a cool down can last for 3-10 minutes and includes a gentle jog, decreasing speed gradually to a walk followed by light static stretching and refueling. It is very essential that all muscle groups are stretched at the end of a workout. To cool down after jogging, a brisk walk for 2-3 minutes followed by gradually tapering the pace to a stroll is good. At this point, standing stretches facilitate in increasing the range of motion in the leg muscles. Seated stretches improve flexibility through the whole body and promote relaxation.

A workout comprising of strength training requires a total body stretching to increase the range of motion in the joints that were worked during the exercise. One needs to be particularly careful to stretch the joints as well. Stretches must be focused on the particular muscle group that you have worked out. Mild movements and stretching will benefit your cool down process and keep the body healthy.

So do your body a favor.  Take time to warm up, progress gradually into the workout and cool down when you’re done being physically active.

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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HIIT – Is it right for you?

The newest darling of fitness enthusiasts, HIIT, is it beneficial or not for your fitness regime, asks Deepthi Velkur

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) a term that has been thrown around by fitness enthusiasts over the past few years. Essentially, it involves repetitions of short bursts of intense, ‘maximum effort’ exercise, like sprinting. The periods of burst activity last from anywhere between 20 to 40 seconds.

Why you should try HIIT?

As fit individuals, we all strive to be healthier and be fitter. When it comes to getting fitter, factors like cardiovascular ability, core strength and fat loss are crucial elements.

  • Cardiovascular ability refers to strength of your heart. It is very important for reaching and maximizing your fitness potential.
  • Core strength helps in having better balance, keeps the body aligned and helps to recover from injury faster.
  • Low body fat means you have peak performance in running, flexibility and agility.

Just doing cardio helps to achieve cardiovascular strengthening, fat loss as well as better core strength. But doing only cardio can lead to muscle loss. For those of you who have done cardio, it only gets repetitive and boring over time. The alternative to this is HIIT. It aids in bettering cardiovascular strengthening, assist in fat loss and bolster core strength without compromising muscle mass, and not taking up a lot of your time. For runners, cyclists, triathletes and other endurance athletes it is important to maintain muscle strength and mass as it supports them during long distance events.

How does HIIT build endurance?

If you want to build endurance in a short period of time, then you need to consider the following:

1) Heart rate (how many times your heart beats per minute)

2) Stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped per heartbeat)

3) Heart contractility (the forcefulness of each actual contraction of your heart muscle)

While the terms might sound a bit technical, these are the ones that determines your overall endurance. As each of these variables increase, your blood gets more oxygenated and your muscles also receive more oxygen. So, the heart is the primary component for building endurance through HIIT.

Sculpting your physique and increasing metabolic rate is a fabulous effect of internal training. By working out at your top level of exertion, you burn more calories in a short space of time than other workouts. Sound’s simple? Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as it sounds!

If you are an absolute beginner to exercising, then this high intensity method might not be suitable. You need to put in at least 3 weeks of proper training before graduating to interval training to avoid injury.

The Benefits

  • Increased Metabolism and Stamina
  • Time saver sessions – 3 sessions/week of 15-20 mins is sufficient.
  • Anywhere – HIIT sessions use your own body weight and hence can be done at any convenient place.
  • Preserves muscle mass and leads to an increase in cardiovascular efficiency as well as increased tolerance to the build-up of lactic acid.
  • Improved performance and endurance.

HIIT Routines

Designing the right interval training routine can be sophisticated or casual. Elite athletes can choose to visit sports performance labs to have blood lactate and exercise metabolism tests done to determine the best interval training routine. Remember that interval training is extremely demanding on the heart, lungs and muscles, and it’s important to have an OK from your physician before you start. It is recommended that you consult an athletic trainer, coach or personal trainer to get a HIIT program designed to meet your fitness goals.

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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Man of iron, will of steel

Petty Officer Praveen Teotia, Shaurya Chakra, Naval Commando impresses Capt Seshadri with his sheer grit and determination to not let his disabilities interfere with this athleticism.

“I am a mean, keen, fighting machine’! The motto of the Commando. The words that motivate the man beyond anything else. “Commando”! The war cry that instils terror and sends shivers down the spine of the enemy.

That fateful day, the 26th of November 2008, when some of the most hardcore terrorists in the world took siege of the Taj Mumbai, Marine Commando Praveen Teotia was to enact those very words. Breaking into the stronghold of the insurgents, he took on the enemy in close quarter battle, and in the process took four bullets in the chest and ear, damaging his lungs and causing partial hearing impairment. For this act of extreme bravery against all odds in the face of the enemy, he was awarded the Shaurya Chakra, the third highest peacetime gallantry award.

As a permanently disabled sailor, having become unfit for normal battlefield duties, but being honourably decorated, he was promoted to the rank of Petty Officer and assigned desk duties. However, this commando, hailing from Bhatola village in Bulandshahr, remained a fighter at heart. Despite his dire medical condition, he applied for a mountaineering expedition, but was refused on medical grounds; but nothing could deter him from his fixed idea. He just had to prove his fitness. Through a few Taj Hotel staff who he had befriended during the action, he connected with marathon runner and trainer Pervin Batliwala. In 2014, under his guidance and encouragement, Teotia began training to run marathons.

Afraid of how the Navy would react to a possible failed bid to participate under their banner, he ran incognito in the 2015 Mumbai Half Marathon. The next year, he gutsily participated in the Indian Navy Half Marathon. His successes automatically led him to aspire for greater triumphs. He moved up to the Half Iron Man Triathlon in Jaipur, which entailed a 1.9 km swim, 90 km of cycling and a 21 km run. Despite these stupendous feats, Praveen was unsure and a bit nervous about how the Navy would react to the long leaves required for training and participation. So, with a point to prove that this was the same commando who had been severely injured while fighting extremists in the Taj, he opted for voluntary retirement from the Navy. Says Petty Officer Teotia: “After I was shot, doctors had given up on me. But I hung on for five months in the hospital and recovered, although my hearing was impaired.” He simply couldn’t give up at this stage.

Khardung La, in Ladakh, at over 18,000 feet, is the highest motorable pass in the world. Even the sturdiest and most powerful of motor vehicles struggle to battle the steep inclines. The rarified atmosphere tests even the fittest of persons with its low oxygen levels. However, this human machine seemed to have no such problems. On September 9, 2017, Praveen Teotia not only completed the 72 km Khardung La Marathon, but did so in 12.5 hours, well within the stipulated time of 15 hours. Coach Batliwala was amazed. “I have met very few with such willpower. Finishing Khardung La is no child’s play. I did it last year. The oxygen levels are low and it is doubly difficult for someone with a damaged lung. To do so well is a stupendous achievement.”

Praveen proved his coach wrong by actually making it child’s play, with yet another unbelievable achievement. It takes the most courageous and committed athlete from among the fittest of the fit to complete an Ironman, the gruelling event in South Africa, considered one of the most challenging courses in the world. This former commando set his sights and his heart on it. Kaustubh Radkar, one of the most successful Ironman finishers and a certified coach, took Praveen under his tutelage. Earlier this year, Praveen cycled 180.2 km, ran 42.2 km and swam 3.86 km to achieve that ultimate, endurance defying event, the Ironman Triathlon. A little past the three-quarter mark, the derailleur of his cycle gave way. The remaining portion of the sector was mostly uphill, but Teotia completed it despite an injured knee and ankle adding to his already damaged lung. With a bleeding leg, this incredible athlete ran the marathon and then swam his way to complete, in the process being the first disabled Indian Ironman.

Let’s face it. A true commando never fades away. He does or he dies.

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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Too Much Too Soon

Our Guest Columnist, Tarun Walecha, shares his thoughts on staying injury free.

Running is the new golf as they say, and it certainly is as it has reached the corridors of corporate power today. But not before having made its impact on society, in general. The reason to this is simple, running isn’t all about power, or networking. It is far more than that, it touches you in many ways, be that your lifestyle, your ability to analyse and understand day to day situation, self-discipline, strong will and much more…so much more. One of the prime benefits which we start it all with, our fitness, that later becomes just a collateral. I’m carefully using the word collateral which by no measure means insignificant. There’s still more that running brings into ones life, new friends for one (and hoard of them, actually), lot’s running gear(mostly free 😊), a bit of travel for the events, not to miss the adulation (PBs et al) and the least preferred of them all….Injuries.

Is it all too much too soon?

Well, there can be a write up on each one of the issues, but we shall focus on injuries this time. Most of us who start running do not have a great history of sports. Well I said most, cause most often those with some sports background also fall in this category as they restart this regime after a fair amount of downtime. Those who restart this journey after a gap in the sporting activities, and for someone to start altogether fresh, running does expose us to certain amount of risk of injuries. Having said that, I can very confidently say that it’s not running that is the cause of the injuries though it does become the medium. It is like blaming a car for an accident and absolving or ignoring the role of the one who drives it. Let us understand what’s the reason for the injuries….and let’s understand when is it too much, too soon.

Roadblocks we encounter

One starts running with an aim of staying fit, and the limited available knowledge is a natural course of things to unfold. As we chart this journey, we encounter various roadblocks, inability to improve the speed, or cover longer distance, lack of disciplined routine and of course, a schedule to follow. While we seek these answers through various friends, runners, running coaches, online portals etc what we also start learning about is PBs, Podium finishes, and everything else that comes with it.  This is exactly where the “Too much Too soon” syndrome sets in. What started as a hobby, breaks through the realm of passion and before we realise it becomes an obsession. Suddenly learning takes a back seat, improving becomes the main criteria! Running for fitness seems basic, and getting a podium finish becomes the main driver. It’s this shift of focus that makes us ignore our limitations and push beyond the boundaries. Having said that what is life within the confines of limitations, and who would get better if one does not push the boundaries. But there’s a thin line there, a very thin line which only we can define for ourselves.

Misjudging your boundaries

There will always be a friend egging you to run faster, or a coach pushing you for a stiff target, and at times even a runner who silently is clocking better time than you but becomes the cynosure of your eyes and all you wanna do is get ahead of him/her. In a situation like this, more often than not, we misjudge ourselves, our training, our strength and our weakness. And even when we maintain our sanity, running as a regime does have its own wear and tear on our body. Our muscles are going to tire, our mind and body is going to get fatigued. But let’s not forget, no two individuals can be alike and this is a scientific fact. What we deal with is something similar, but beyond the biological or physical sphere. With a given physical and biological background, an individual still have too many variables to deal with, such as, a day job, daily routine, personal stress, amount of rest, one’s own willingness, mental strength and the list goes on. What we need to understand is that each one of these variables has a role to play for the way we perform. So, before we begin to compete with someone, we need to look within and know what’s good for us. It is this ignorance which leads to pushing the boundaries beyond the realm of reality and becomes the main reason for injuries.

Lessons Learnt

I started running about 8 years back with hardly any friends in running and bare minimum social media exposure. I consider this a blessing in disguise, cause the learning came in slow, but that slow did good to me. I won’t say I didn’t have my tryst with injuries, it’s a given as all the pounding is bound to show up some way or the other. Fortunately for me it has just been stress accumulation, incorrect or over training which lead to what one may define as pre-injury state. Each time it left a lesson behind, a sign to know if it was too much for me.

What we all need to understand is how to deal with it, but before that we must know, when to push further and when to back out. Only when you dive into a deep sea you will get pearls but where to dive and how to dive is the key. Of course, there’s a recourse through medical intervention, physiotherapy, proper guidance, etc. if one does fall into the trap or gets injured, but those we can deal in another article at another time. For now if I was to sum up my intent for this blog, I would say the following.

  1. Know your limits, make incremental changes and remember how Rome was built…😊.
  2. Understand your strength, and seek guidance when needed.
  3. Push your boundaries, but don’t be over ambitious.
  4. It’s important to understand your muscular anatomy and what it takes to run.
  5. Learn it the right way, correct form is the key to injury free and efficient running.
  6. Last but not the least, You are your own competitor, no one else.

Don’t let someone else becomes your bench mark… an inspiration, yes… a competitor, no. Learn to do this for yourself and not for others, let’s not fall in the trap and succumb to “Too Much Too Soon”.

GUEST COLUMNIST 

An architect by profession, Tarun Walecha enjoys amateur photography, travelling and is a sports enthusiast. He has been a sportsperson all his life and discovered running at the age of 40 and has since become his fitness mantra. In his 7 year running career he has completed 30 Half Marathons, 4 Full Marathon, and 5 Trail/Ultra Runs. He is also a Pinkathon ambassador and has founded the running group, RunXtreme.

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