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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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What to eat when training for a marathon

Wondering what to eat during your marathon training cycle? Getting your training diet spot on will help you go that extra mile says our Guest Columnist, Shailja Sridhar.

The commitment needed to train for a marathon usually means that you will be running a lot more regularly and the mileage increasing with each run. It also means that you need extra rest and nutrition to recover from all that training you undergo.

Achieving your Ideal Race weight

Most often, you are not at an ideal racing weight and it becomes all the more important to watch what you eat and how much you consume during the training cycle so you get that optimum balance and do not gain weight.

Losing too much weight has an adverse effect on your ability to manage your training runs. It is good to have a fair idea of the weight you want to lose and build a training plan and the nutrition required to achieve your goal. At first, check your current weight and calculate the ideal racing weight you want to be at. This helps in tracking how many calories you burn during your workouts to get a daily minimum calorie count. One should realize that creating too much of a calorie deficit can harm the performance and recovery.

Fulfilling your nutrition needs during training

There are some general guidelines you need to keep in mind during the training cycle to ensure you fulfill your nutrition needs and also feel energized for the training sessions. Now is the best time to try out different foods and other supplements to understand how your body adapts to new foods and plan accordingly for the race day.

A high protein breakfast with some carbs on the days of training would be a good start. That third slice of toast might be good on the long run days but should be avoided as part of your regular diet as carbohydrates tend to get stored as fat in our body if not utilized properly.

There are various sources of protein which could be a part of your diet. Eggs, amaranth, peanuts and oats are all good sources of protein. Adding a handful of nuts and seeds (like chia, hemp, sunflower or flax) to the bowl of oats or amaranth porridge is a good way to increase the protein intake. The best way is to closely watch your diet and plan the meals right from the start of your training cycle so it becomes a becomes a habit eventually.

 

It can be very tempting to indulge in junk food cravings especially after a run but one should realize that it is not really a good idea to do that very often. You don’t really burn that many calories while running because your body gets efficient over time.

An average runner burns about 100 calories per mile of running and it does not depend on the speed of the run. It can vary a little depending on the current weight but not too much. The empty calories in junk food will neither help in recovery nor will they be good for you in the long run.

Timing your food intake

Another essential part of training is to time your food intake and most people tend to ignore it. There is a 30-minute window after a workout when your body is very receptive to replenishment of its glycogen reserves and consuming some simple carbs and proteins will aid recovery for your next workout. The electrolytes we lose during the workout also need to be replaced else you end up getting a headache or experience excessive fatigue. I have often suffered dehydration headaches as I failed to replenish my body with lost electrolytes post my workout session. You experience this more in cooler climates where you don’t feel the exhaustion after a run or aware of the extent of the loss.

A healthy diet with lots of green vegetables and fruits is necessary for our long-term goals. We need good fats and enough protein to aid muscle recovery and carbs to fuel our long runs.

The use of commercial products is not necessary but certainly more convenient to manage the post workout nutrition and recovery. There are various options available with varying levels of protein and carbs but choosing one that suits your needs is important. It is always good to be picky when choosing supplements. We should always be picky about things we are putting in our bodies. Eating high-quality real food is essential and do not only rely on sports nutrition supplements to fulfill your dietary requirements. Nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, and veggies are better for us as they are a part of a complete wholesome meal plan which keeps us feeling full for longer and reduces hunger pangs and food cravings.

My personal diet plan

Fruits with seeds and strawberry yogurt

Mixed Greens tossed with apples, nuts, olives with lemon honey dressing

 

Chicken, veggies, greens and millets.

 

 

 

My food habits are not the best but I try to eat clean most of the time. My breakfast is usually two or three egg omelette with some peanut butter toast or a ragi dosa with chutney and fruits. Oats/lentils savoury pancakes is another regular favourite breakfast item. Sometimes I like a nice hot oats porridge with nuts, berries and pomegranate seeds to sweeten it. I eat a huge bowl of seasonal fruits with my breakfast without fail. Hot cooked breakfast is usually a given for me.

I have a few different recipes of salads that I make regularly for my between the meals snack and they contain a good mixture of soaked, occasionally sprouted and boiled lentils, and lots of fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds to add taste. I am constantly hungry and it is important to fill myself with something that I like which satisfies my hunger cravings and provides the nutrition I need. Carrot and cucumber sticks are another regular snack with some dip or hummus or cream cheese if want to indulgence a little.

Half my plate is usually veggies or salad during mealtimes and it wasn’t easy when I started but it has become a habit with time. Veggies, salads, lentils, soup and some meat occasionally are my main meals while training for a marathon.

Few pointers to keep in mind while training for a marathon:

  • Make a plan for nutrition along with the training plan and stick to it. Please remember that good nutritious meals are an essential part of training.
  • Check your weight regularly and keep track of the changes. Get a blood test done to ensure that there are no deficiencies.
  • Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, lentils, and grains usually have everything we need to fulfill our body’s requirements.
  • Use sports nutrition during the training to get the body used to it for the race day. Good idea to experiment in the training stages so that there are no nasty surprises later.
  • Protein and carbs are essential for recovery and the ratio depends on the weight and the goals of training. High protein diet is good for muscle recovery but a good store for carbohydrates is necessary for the endurance runs.
  • Junk food has to be strictly controlled and monitored. An occasional treat is acceptable but as long as the calories are taken into account when planning your meals.
  • Use sports drinks and electrolyte-rich drinks after a workout to recover quickly for the next day. There are lots of options available in the market and it is good to check the nutritional information on the label in detail before consuming them.

Fuelling options a day before and on race day

I usually have a very sensitive stomach so I keep it very simple before the marathon. I try to stay extra hydrated for a few days before the run. Heavy breakfast on the day before the race, a carb-rich lunch (usually bland pasta) and a light dinner consisting of soup and a light salad or just a dinner roll work best for me. Not everyone is the same and I have runner friends who eat a proper carb-rich meal for dinner too and manage pretty well. Marathon day breakfast is a bagel or toast with some peanut butter and some black coffee. I carry a banana to the start line to eat about half an hour before the run starts.

Wholesome natural meals are always a good idea and mindfulness helps in several ways. The rules of good nutrition remain the same for everyone and it makes a big difference in the way your body responds to the increased training load. Having a constant check on your weight and paying attention to your meals helps us see those changes you want to see in your body.

It is always good to start slow and make gradual changes to move towards the kind of diet you need and soon eating healthier meals becomes a habit. Try not to compare with others because each person is different and there is no single ideal diet you could follow. It might seem difficult to keep track of so many things at first and follow the training plan but it gets a lot easier with practice.

GUEST COLUMNIST

 

Shailja is a mother of 2 kids and a part time model for a sustainable brand close to her heart called www.kinche.com. She’s either running after the kids or running to stay sane.

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The Right Running Support

Deepthi tries the Under Armour Eclipse Non-Wired Sports Bra to understand if it makes for comfortable running gear.

When it comes to running for women, there are two must-have pieces of gear that every woman must invest in – good running shoes and a sports bra. Now, I have covered running shoes in several of my previous articles, in this edition I would like to talk about sports bras.

So, is wearing a sports bra while running really important? The short answer, YES! Any form of physical activity makes your breasts bounce but a repetitive and continuous activity can result in pain, soreness and make your breasts sag. The breasts are supported by two weak structures – Cooper’s ligaments and the skin itself. They have no muscles and are not connected to any other part and move independently of the rest of the body.

It is important that every woman, no matter what size she is, should wear a sports bra while running. Sports Bras are designed to give you the added support, limit movement when exercising especially running and also to prevent breast pain.

Finding a right sports bra that provides plenty of support during a run isn’t only about comfort, but it can make or break your workout routine. A sports bra that has poor fitting leads to painful chafing and will not provide you with the high-level support you need while kicking it hard at the gym or on the road. Because sizing systems vary and everybody is different, finding a supportive and comfortable sports bra that fits requires some trial and error.

You need to choose a bra that works just as hard as you but at the same time looks good too. You also need to keep in mind the type of activity and your chest size before going ahead and buying a bra. This is where the Under Armour eclipse non-wired sports bra comes in to do the job beautifully.

This bra uses the compression technology that gives you a close, second-skin fit and medium-impact support that lets you focus on your running and not worry about hurting yourself.

Product Features

  • Fabric is made of Nylon and Elastane
  • The bra has pockets for removable padding that add modesty and shape
  • Super-breathable SpeedForm power mesh lining
  • Unique open back with criss-cross straps
  • Studio Lux fabric provides unyielding support with a super soft luxurious feel
  • Clean, bandeau-inspired front with soft, breathable cups for extra structure and coverage
  • The material used helps in wicking away sweat leaving you feeling dry and light
  • 100% Imported, 90 days product warranty against manufacturing defects
  • Available exclusively on Amazon

Price

This product is available in different sizes and colours and is priced anywhere between INR 2299 – INR 5386 depending on the size chosen.

It is definitely worth every penny and a must try for all women. It is of excellent quality, provides great support for high impact workouts, sweat resistant and breathable making you feel strong from the inside. The adjustable straps ensure that my shoulders don’t get dug in and ache on longer runs.

If you run without a bra, or just use a standard t-shirt bra you are more at risk of developing back and breast pain as a result of this. Sports bras are specially designed to support your breasts ALL the way around, making sure they are secure and allowing the skin to breathe.

No matter what type of exercise you do, buying a good quality sports bra is the same as buying good quality sneakers, it will support your body and enhance your workout routine!

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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