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Running your first 10k – Part 1

Are you considering endurance running as a serious fitness activity? If yes, great decision!, writes Coach Pramod Deshpande. In this two part article learn how you can achieve this dream.

As someone who enjoys running himself, I have to say that endurance running will bring about an extremely positive change in your life while making it an enjoyable and fulfilling journey.

No matter the reason – an influential social media post, well thought out decision to correct some fitness parameters or just the curiosity to try something new, this is an activity for everyone and learning a few aspects of it will help a long way in preparing for it.

Let us start with some basics – the 3 fundamental truths of Endurance running:

  • Current fitness level – Fitness is not like a positive bank balance that you can draw upon at any time. You have to start from the baseline of your current fitness level. All your glory day medals and trophies are of little use if you have not been active in the recent past. We all have that friend who cannot stop talking about his sporting achievements in school and college and we often wonder – if he/she is healthier than I am? Fear, not my dear friends, if he/she has been as inactive as you in the recent past, he/she has very little advantage over you when this journey begins.
  • Patience is name of the game – “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time” – Leo Tolstoy.
    You may be in hurry to post a pic on social media of you taking a bite of the finisher medal of your next big race but your body is going to take its time to prepare itself to cover that distance. So please give enough time for preparation.
  • Perseverance and discipline – You might run fast for the first couple of weeks but that is short lived as your body will start complaining as weeks go by. Do not focus on speed at this juncture but your emphasis should be more on getting out and putting in the mileage day after day as per your training schedule.

Preparation before the start of your journey

Before you get down to training, there are a few things to sort out:

  • Clear your calendar – This is going to be a dedicated preparation and will require changes to your daily routine. Keep aside 90 minutes of your dedicated time (preferably in the mornings) for training minimum thrice a week for the next 10 weeks from the start of this journey.
  • Make a commitment to yourself – You can always find ample reasons to miss that training – but if you stay committed, you can always spare those 90 minutes no matter what the situation might be.
  • Prepare for lifestyle changes: You will see a lot of positive changes in your nutritional discipline, proper sleep and rest patterns – open your arms and embrace it, you’re becoming a healthier version of you!
  • Select a target event – It becomes easier to achieve your goal if you have in mind an event to participate in such as a 10k, to begin with. To give yourself enough time for preparation, choose an event 10 weeks away and always choose a reputed event as the support on the course and other facilities are better.
  • Guidance for preparation – Running is natural to all of us, however, serious preparation for such an event requires proper guidance and monitoring. One of the options where you could receive this guidance would be to join a running club as they have well-designed training modules, the services of an experienced coach and group running is fun. While the other option you have is to select an online program but these programs typically lack personalization, monitoring, and most importantly encouragement when you’re feeling low. A note of caution here, an advice from some runner friend, knowledge nuggets from ‘Google University’ are not really effective ways to prepare and can have serious drawbacks. Be wise in your selection.
  • Running gear – Having the right gear is motivation in itself – always have a dry fit t-shirt, comfortable, light and flexible running shoes, water bottle and exercise mat before you start.
  • Health Checkup – It is always recommended to get a health checkup and get your doctor’s opinion before you start this journey.

Nutrition Discipline

Nutrition planning is more an individual aspect and therefore instead of getting into specific food aspects, let’s talk about ‘Nutrition discipline’, which is essential for endurance running. Doing a lot of trial and error during this training phase will help you find out what suits you best. Here are a few pointers:

Regularity in food intake: Endurance running is a long duration activity and gastric distress (running on an empty stomach) is an important aspect especially during early morning runs. Regular food intake and the right quantity play a major role in setting your body clock for this long duration activity.

  • Fixed time for food intake: Set a timetable for food intake based on your daily routine and stick to it. Have an early dinner so that you digest your food properly and are ready for the morning run.
  • Smaller quantities: Train your body to eat meals every 3 hours as this helps to reduce the quantity of each meal without compromising on nutrition and absorption.

Before the Run: Typically, the training begins in the morning and with an 8-hour gap from your last meal, it is important to eat a snack rich in carbohydrates like a banana or slice of bread with peanut butter as the body will need the energy to run.

During the Run: For workouts that last more than an hour, carry small qualities of some carb-rich snack e.g. couple of groundnut bars, glucose biscuits, dates, jaggery, energy gels etc. It is important to get used to eating during the run.

After the Run: Eating a protein and carb snack within 20 minutes of your exercise gives you the maximum benefit. Carrying your post-run snack with you is best as eating after you get home or after 45 mins is not ideal. You can carry boiled eggs, protein shake, protein bar, an idly with lots of sambar etc.

Hydration: Your general hydration requirement will increase as you will be sweating a lot. Keep a water bottle handy. You can also get hydration from buttermilk, fruit juices, fruits, coconut water etc.

  • Before your run ensure you have water at least half an hour prior to the run.
  • During the run drink whenever you feel thirsty. It is all a matter of practice and you should not worry about the loss of pace due to water stops as dehydration at a later stage will slow you down even more. Adding carbs & salt supplements to the water e.g. Fast & Up, Enerzal, Gatorade or a homemade mix of sugar, salt & lime is a good option.
  • After your run, remember to drink water or water plus supplements immediately after the run. However, you need to continuously hydrate yourself in the first hour of completing the run.

In the next part we have a training plan and much more. Keep reading!

GUEST COLUMNIST

A reputed coach and mentor for the Jayanagar Jaguars and a technology innovation head with a leading MNC who over the past 4 years has trained more than 2500 athletes complete Half-Marathons, Full-Marathons and Ultra-Marathons

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Learning from Coach Pramod Deshpande

What can the chief coach and mentor of the largest running group in Bengaluru teach you about how to train and prepare for your next marathon? The short answer—absolutely everything! discovers Deepthi Velkur. 

In this interview, we’re going to pick the brain of Mr. Pramod Deshpande, a reputed coach and mentor for the Jayanagar Jaguars and a technology innovation head with a leading MNC who over the past 4 years has trained more than 2500 athletes complete Half-Marathons, Full-Marathons and Ultra-Marathons.

Apart from coaching, he has also managed multiple running events as Race Director notably the Oracle run and in his spare time addresses corporate forums in the city on motivation and staying competitive.

Pramod shares with us his running story and transition from sprinting into a marathon, and how a coach could help achieve your running goal.

To get us started, can you please share with us a little about your personal running background?

My early running life was that of a sprinter and not a long distance runner. I took to running in my school and college days back in Pune. I was a competitive athlete specializing in the 100m sprint in the 80’s all the way through to 1990. Post that until 1994-95, I did a fair share of coaching people for track and field events.

Later on, life happened and I went on to build the professional career that kept me away from competitive sport and coaching. It was in 2010 that I finally got back to running with Jayanagar Jaguars but this time moved on from sprint to covering longer distances – half, full and ultra-marathons.

When I started with Jayanagar Jaguars, it was more of a social running group of 8-10 people with no structured training in place. Fast forward 8 years and today we are a group of 700 runners located across 10 centres in the city all following a standard training program.

Sprinting to marathons – those are the extreme ends of the running spectrum. How did you make that transition?

I’m not a marathon runner per se. Even though my passion lay in sprinting, I had to make a call at some point. As you grow older, sprinting is not a sport you want to associate yourself with as your pace slows down drastically and it takes a significant toll on your mental and physical health. Also, there is only one sprinting event a year for veterans so continuity is a challenge.

In long-distance running, you can still maintain and manage your pace. Given the numerous races across a year, it helps you participate more and therefore be more consistent. From 2010 – 2014, I took part in several marathons being a podium finisher in 3 runs and also won the best debutant award in the city. Having won my fair share of accolades, I moved into full-time coaching in 2014.

When did you first decide to begin coaching?

I started coaching with Jayanagar Jaguars in the year 2014 on my own accord. When I started, we were only around 20-25 people. I was responsible for restructuring the club and putting in place a more formal and structured training program and the results are there for all to see. Today, we see more and more runners wanting to be a part of this club.

Our standardized model is now in place and followed across all our 10 locations in the city. Every individual is given an overall brief about the training program and the training schedule is shared with them right before they kick-start their workout. Additionally, we use our mobile app to handle all our communication around workout and training schedules.

What’s the hardest part about being a running coach?

Honestly, I do not find anything hard being a coach. I like what I do and enjoy the challenges that the job brings.

Your running club has people from a varied age group, different individual goals and varied levels of strength? How is your training plan built to cater to this?

The overall program is obviously customized keeping in mind certain parameters such as strength levels, amateur or seasoned runner as well as individual goals. We typically break down the runners into 7-8 categories (count could vary based on the program need) and we then allocate captains who have been directly trained under my guidance in the ratio of 30:1.

A senior group would typically have 30 members while slower groups are much larger (100 – 150 runners). Each category of runners will have a customized training schedule built for them. I am responsible for training the group captains who in turn will train their respective groups. I create a training schedule and communicate this to the group captains who implement the plan and follow the schedule.

Given the 2 styles of running are different – what elements from your sprinting days have you brought into the world of marathon running?

While sprinting and long distance running are two completely different styles of running, the one constant is how an athlete trains. Parameters such as off-season, on-season and types of workout changes but the overall structure remain the same for both.

The type of workout performed by a sprinter will, of course, vary to that of a marathon runner. A sprinter does not run more than a 5k and requires a little more strength training while a long distance runner is focused on distance and endurance.

Everyone talks about the importance of strength and weight training. What specific workouts do you think help improve marathon running?

There are a few elite runners who do not need strength training but this is few and far between. Majority of us are leisure runners and definitely need to go to a gym to do some strength training. Looking at off or on season as well as which part of the training schedule the runners are in, they will undergo 1-2 days of strength training at the gym.

Apart from the gym-based training, we conduct a twice a year on-ground strength training for runners program that lasts for 2 months. A typical training period will be 90 mins at the most considering time constraints that the most of the runners face. The training day routine will involve running exercises, strength training exercises such as Plyometrics as well as flexibility exercises.

Do you think it is important for a serious runner to have a coach? If yes, what are the benefits of having a coach?

The outside perspective is very important to your running life. Everybody needs a coach to take care of your workout and to build discipline. Look at leading sportsmen around the world, Roger Federer for instance – we all need a coach!

What’s your coaching philosophy?

Trying to get the best out of a person’s ability is what a coach must do. Apart from coaching someone to be the best runner there is, I also try to imbibe the spirit of being a good and responsible citizen.

I would like to take this opportunity to put to rest a misconception that the coach is everything – NO, a coach cannot be a nutritionist, a physiotherapist or a doctor. These are three distinct roles and every athlete needs to have access to them as well.

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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