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Calm your pre-race nerves

Being nervous ahead of a big race is perfectly normal, here are a few tips from Nandini Reddy to breath easy. 

You will be anxious before the big race. You want to give it your best and you want meet your performance goals. It is perfect fine to feel a bit queasy before the race. But don’t let the anxiety affect your performance. Here are a few things you can do to calm your nerves and run your best race.-

Follow a pre-race routine

Every runner like you is anxious to get to the starting line and race forward the moment the flag drops, but this can be a bit disconcerting to most people. So don’t get into the starting line frenzy if its not your scene. Do your stretches and warm yourself up for the race. Do not get into a panic by watching other runners, instead try to feed off the positive energy from runners around you.

Breathe

When you are stressed deep breathing can calm you down. If you are getting jittery then step back to an area that is less crowded, close your eyes and take in deep breaths. You can also follow the yoga technique of alternating your breathing between your nostrils. This will make your gut feel better.This will get your primed to focus on your race.

Plug those Ears

Sometimes its always better to cut out the white noise around you during a race. Plug in your favourite music and sink into your own space of calmness. A lot of runners dislike listening to music but for many it has a calming effect and helps them focus better. Music can also lift your mood and make the run more fun.

Visualize your goal

Fear of failure is what causes most of the anxiety. You need to visualise that you will reach the finish line and in the goal performance times you have set for yourself.  A good attitude will build confidence and you are more likely to finish the race.

You can’t control everything

There are factors you cannot control like the weather for example. If it rains on race day then it rains. There is nothing you can do about it so why should you stress. Other runners, weather patterns and even the course difficulty are not points that you can control so let it go and enjoy the race for what its worth. You certainly will feel more rewarded.

Remember that you trained to finish the race and not psych yourself out. Always remember that you can better your performance with every race.

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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Natural Ways to Boost Energy

When you are feeling sluggish, its hard to find the motivation to be healthy, so Nandini Reddy has a few suggestions to boost your energy naturally

Microwave meals and binge watching TV seem to be the perfect thing to do when you are feeling sluggish. Honestly that is just going to prolong the feeling rather than help you energize. It happens to all of us where we feel like we are running on empty and there seems to be no end to our to-do list. But there are some amazing ways in which you can recharge your batteries and be back to your energizer bunny personality.

Go to Sleep

Keep your phones and electronics devices outside your room, switch off your Wi-Fi and go to sleep. Melatonin production is important to get a good nights rest and electronic blue screens tend to hinder melatonin production. Get uninterrupted 8 hours of rest and your body will repair itself naturally and leave you feeling fresh in the morning.

Go Green

Have a fresh green salad or a green smoothie or any leafy green vegetables of your choice as a soup. The nutrients from the greens will recharge your body. You can also add a Super Food like Spirulina into your diet. You will notice a marked difference in your energy levels

Get some sun

Sunlight can naturally recharge your body. Sunshine helps in Seratonin production – which happens to be the bodies happy hormones. If you have a job that keeps you inside an air-conditioned office then try and take small breaks every two hours and walk out on to the balcony or the parking lot and it will help stretch out your muscles and get some Vitamin D as well. If you can wake up early and take a slow paced walk to absorb the early morning rays of the sun.

Eat well

One of the biggest reasons you might find yourself sluggish could be because of the lack of nutrients like Vitamin B and enough fibre and complex carbohydrates. You need to add eggs, oats, brown rice and sweet potato to your diet to ensure that you never run low on energy because of the wrong kind of food.

Snack a little

Use the mid-morning and late afternoon to grab an energizing snack. It could be a cup of chickpeas, millet based granola bars or fresh berries. The idea is to ensure that you energy meter doesn’t dip low and drive you into a lethargic pace. These small snack refuels will certainly help keep you energized.

The timing, combination and consistency of doing these things will keep your energy levels up. So remember to work the into your daily routine and diet.

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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Dealing with ‘Mom Guilt’

The real issue preventing mom’s from running isn’t fitness or time, its Mother’s Guilt, says Nandini Reddy

Mothers tend to plan their days around their children. It doesn’t matter if you are a working mother or a stay-at-home mother, you will be burdened with mom-guilt every time you take time out to yourself. If you were to poll a 100 mothers who were runners and have stopped or slowed down now, most of them would tell you they stopped because they felt guilty about taking time off for themselves.

So what prevents you from taking the time?

If you really want to find alone time to run then early mornings are the best. The family is asleep and you have enough time to train. But there is also the issue of safety and getting enough hours of sleep. While the struggle is real there are options. If you want to start running, try running in your apartment building. Running in circles may be better than not running at all. After you gain confidence then you can hit the road if you live in a safe neighbourhood or alternatively drive to a location that has a good population of runners. You can also consider running on a treadmill on days that you cannot get outside to run. But its important to ensure that your guilt doesn’t become your excuse to stop running.

Plan ahead with your partner

If you are serious about using running as your fitness regime then you need to get your family involved. Lay out a schedule and ensure that your partner is aware of it so that he can step in when you need the time to run. New moms can use the babies sleep timing to sneak in a run. Ensure that you family or partner are around to watch the baby for an hour and prep whatever they need to handle the situation while you run to your happy place.

Use the weekends

Weekends can be used for evening runs. You can also involve your kids in an interval style so that you can get enough exercise and your children will enjoy it as well. You can also train for longer hours and let you children sleep in. The idea here is to enjoy yourself and not keep thinking that your house is burning down without you.

Embrace your runner persona

I heard someone say that you become a better runner when you become a mother and a better mother when you become a runner. It is important that you embrace different aspects of your personality. You need to accept that you are a mother and a runner and neither roles needs to be compromised. You will be happier and more prepared to take on challenges when you embrace the different parts of your life instead of ignoring one for the other.

Taking time to run is not selfish. All moms deserve to have time to dedicate to their fitness.

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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Boost your Running Confidence

Having more confidence will change the way you train and run, says Nandini Reddy

Running is a mental game. Not just when you are in a big race but also when you are in training. Countless studies have shown that how you feel will affect your running performance. So if you can train yourself with confidence mantras will you become a better runner? Psychologists seem to believe that you can become a better runner if you can just change the way you think about your training and big race.

Here are a few ways in which you can boost your running confidence

Talk to yourself

Your brain responds to confidence talks. Motivational speakers use this method to inspire audiences and you can do it to yourself as well. If you are feeling a bit low midway during your run then try telling yourself that you will try for another km and then decide if you want to stop and you can keep tricking your brain to sustain you for longer distances that way. Even when you hit the proverbial wall at the last mile of your marathon, self talk is the best way to push yourself to think beyond the pain and exhaustion to cross the finish line.

Stay Confident

It is important to believe that you will achieve your running and training goals. If you start with a defeated attitude then you are less likely to finish you race. Training days are when you need the biggest mental push to get out of bed and do those runs. Being confident that you will clock in those 50kms this week or run 10kms in less that an hour is what will drive you to push your limits. That being said, it is also important not to be over confident. Talk about skills and abilities to reach your best performance instead of bragging about your races. This will help you connect with the right people who will motivate you to do better. Bragging just drives away people.

Visualize your Goal

If you need to make that timing mark to qualify for a big race then visualize yourself achieving that timing goal. For newbie runners visualization of crossing the finish line is a big motivator. Many runners set goals of completing a certain number of kms in a year. Constantly visualizing that goal will help you get out of bed and run everyday and thus improve your running performance.

Believe that you Can

Most new runners or runners who have come back after a long break are unsure of their abilities. The idea is that you need to believe that you have the skills and abilities to become a better runner. Even for a seasoned runner a new track or location can prove challenging. But if you believe that you can reach the finish line then you will easily surmount chaffed skin, screaming knees and dry throats to whiz past the finish line.

Trust your training

You have trained well and the final day is here. Race day brings on a whole new set of insecurities but remember that you need to trust yourself and your training. You have made all the right moves so there really is nothing to fear. You will also be able to navigate the surprises such as a change in weather or change in pace better when you trust yourself.

During every training and race just stay positive because as your race progress and your body starts to feels tired, its your mind that will keep you going.

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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Mind your Running Manners

Have you ever been baffled by the behaviour of a few runners at a marathon, so what qualifies as runners etiquette, asks Nandini Reddy

Many runners are simply unaware of proper etiquette when it comes to running in a large crowd on race day. Irrespective of the size of the marathon, following a code of conduct would help make the run more enjoyable to you and fellow runners. It is also important for your personal safety and the safety of other runners as well.

Here is a simple set of rules that you should consider following at your next race.

Pre- Race

Stand in the right corral – Corrals are assigned based on your pace and race managers assign this based on the details of you have submitted about your previous race. Trying to push you way forward and stand ahead of the line doesn’t help you or the other racers. Your bib will carry the corral number you are assigned to so making a change will cause a confusion before the race starts.

Leave your valuable behind – There are places to drop off your baggage at most big events. But carrying valuables and then troubling race officials is just not done. Tag your bags if you are leaving it in the assigned baggage area. Follow instructions to collect the same to avoid any issues at the finish of the race.

Warm-up – Find a place that is less crowded to do your stretches before the race. Be aware of the people around you  before you stretch and injure someone.

During the Race

Pass on the left – If your race day pace is at its peak and you need to pass runners then ensure you cross runners on their left. The first couple of kilometers on race day will be crowded so be prepared for a slower pace and once the crowd thins you can pick up pace and when you need to pass runners, cross from the left side.

Mid-Race photos – Documenting your big race is a great idea but suddenly stopping dead in your tracks to snap a selfie isn’t. Be aware that there are runners moving at a particular pace behind you and your sudden stop might cause an accident to them. Instead of your coveted photo you might end up with a runner plowing into you and crashing your phone on the road.

Mind the Water stops – If you want to stop for water then move towards the side and slow your pace. If you want to skip the water station then stay towards the middle of the race so that you avoid running into the racers who are slowing down for a drink of water.

Do not litter – Ensure you dispose the water cups, electrolyte bottles and other waste in the assigned disposal areas. Be an environmentally conscious runner and carry your own bottle. If you have to still grab some water at the stations then ensure you dump the cups in the bins and not along the race route.

Be course familiar – All races release the race routes ahead of the big day. Try and get familiar with the start and finish points, turns in the race and a few landmarks that might help you track your progress. Many runners have missed crucial race markers and timing mats at key races and eventually lost making the cut because of this oversight.

Conscious Groups – Many runners are part of running clubs and most of them tend to run together even during a big race. Groups need to remember that they occupy the least amount of space along the course. There are other runners trying to get past who have a better pace and blocking their path isn’t good race day behaviour.

After the race

Cross the finish line – Don’t stop at the finish line to catch you breath. Remember that there are runner behind you equally eager to cross the finish line. You might end up tripping a runner or getting plowed down to the ground by incoming runners. Cross the finish line and slow your pace and stop on the side at a safe distance.

Be orderly – Everyone is exhausted at the end of a big race. Remember to collect your medals. Do not cut the queues for using the bathrooms or collecting your snack/meal.

Always listen to the race marshals. They have more information about the course than you do and if there is a change or emergency they are the people who have the right information to assist you. Enjoy your race day by being aware of your own running space and that of others.

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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Rules for losing weight for Runners

Stress, eating on the go, pregnancy and age-related metabolic slowdown can gradually pile on extra pounds, so as a runner how can you lose this weight, asks Nandini Reddy.

Many of us take up running as exercise format to lose weight. But is it really that simple that you run everyday and the pounds just melt away? Maybe not. It takes a bit more that just regular running to regain a body that you once had or a body that you always desired.

Running is a fabulous form of exercise to lose weight, if it’s done right! You might have heard of people losing 20 kgs from running for a year and if you want similar results then here are a few simple strategies that you can adopt.

Understand Calories

While you are trying to lose weight, remember that you also need enough calories to fuel your run. To lose weight you must reduce calories but not so much that you feel starved and fatigued. If you cannot do it on your own then get help from a professional to calculate how many calories you would need everyday. The idea is to burn fat and keep it off. If you lose weight too quickly by reducing calories below a reasonable amount then you will gain it all back very quickly. For women, you might experience menstrual irregularities and poor bone health if you do not have a nutrition rich diet that has the right calorific value.

Be Realistic

Understand your body type as it is crucial for deciding how much weight you really need to lose. For example, a standard chart might indicate that you need to weight 60kgs but owing to your bone structure and body frame size the ideal weight for you might be 70kgs and below that might mean damage to your bones. You have to judge if you are large, medium or small in terms of your frame before you set your goal weight. Get an expert to help you instead of just using generalized online calculators to determine the same. Your age also plays a major role. You cannot lose 10kgs when your are 40 years old in the same manner that you lost them when you were in your 20s.

Fuel Right

A balanced diet that fills your energy stores with the right amount of carbohydrates, fat and protein is important. Check for nutrient deficiencies that might be inhibiting your weight loss. Stay away from processed and refined foods. Remember to make breakfast your highest calorie meal and eat a light dinner and hydrate with plenty of water and not energy drinks. Protein bars and health drinks have a certain amount of sugar. Remember to read the labels before blindly assuming that they would be great meal replacements.

Lift Weights

Resistance training or body weight training will help you lose weight faster. Remember that your metabolism increases if your muscle mass increases. Your bones will also get stronger so overall as a runner you will benefit from adding weights to your weekly routine.

Run Further

Its rather simple, actually – the more you run, the more you burn! If you are running 5kms every morning increase it gradually every week. A study conducted on 120,000 runners showed that those who ran more kms in a week lost more weight, considering all other factors remained the same.

Find a Buddy

You need the motivation sometimes to get out of bed. On all those days that you want to stay in bed, your buddy will pull you out to finish your planned exercise. Remember to choose a person who is leaner and a better runner than you because they are less likely to give up on you.

The bigger goal

If its just weight loss you might give up eventually when you see a few kilos have been knocked off. Pick a race you want to qualify for or a time that you want to beat or even a number of kms you want to clock in a year. The goal will constantly inspire you to keep moving and clocking those kilometres.

If you can follow these rules then you should be leaner and faster before the end of the year.

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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How to Run with your Dog

Looking for a fun, all-weather running buddy? Your dog can be your enthusiastic training partner, writes Radhika Meganathan

You need the practice every day, your dog needs the exercise regularly…. Running with your dog is, however you look at it, a win-win solution! Still, there are some things that need to be considered before you start running with your pooch. One such factor is that not all dogs are cut out for running long distance. That said, most dogs can be taught to be great training partners. Here are some tips for you if you have decided to run with your dog:

  1. First, check your dog. Though all dogs love to run, you must check if your beloved canine is suitable for you to run long distance. How’s your dog’s heath and build? Older dogs may have joint issues while dogs with short legs may not be able to keep up with your pace. Running is an high impact exercise, and your vet MUST approve your dog for running.
  2. Consider your dog’s breed and temperament. Dogs with squishy faces may get breathing trouble if made to run long distance, while dogs with long legs may end up with arthritis. Sporting and herding breeds are the most likely to run the longest distances, but surprisingly, small dogs can be extremely good runners, as they weigh less and feel less stress on their joints.
  3. Check your training: Teach your dog essential commands like ‘Sit’ or ‘Leave it’. A long leash is a must, since it gives you the control over your dog and avoid dangers like your dog running into traffic or chasing a wayward squirrel. Ideally, their nose should be in level with your knee when you both walk and run. If you don’t have the time or bandwidth to train your dog, an obedience class or dog trainer is a great investment.
  4. Figure out a place: If You have a park near your home, that’s a good place to run – just make sure your dog is disciplined enough to not run into other people! Not all parks allow dogs, so it is good idea to find a place where you and your pooch can run. In fact, trail running is best for a dog’s joints, not to mention yours and there is plenty of natural scenery and smells around to keep both of you interested.
  5. Work out a routine: A dog is said to be man’s best friend because they are a lot similar too! Just like how a human cannot go from sedentary to 5k in a jiffy, a dog cannot start running from Day 1. So, you have to find a basic training plan that is beginner-friendly and then build it up from there. And just like how heat affects humans, it affects dogs more, as they have fur coats and do not sweat. Take frequent water breaks and run in the shade. Avoid hot blacktop, asphalt, or sand, which can burn dogs’ paws.
  6. Monitor and maintain. Once you start running with your dog, there are some things to keep in mind. Stay vigilant for signs of unease, weakness, drooling, vomiting or exertion in your dog, during and after your run. Should your dog stop in the middle of a run and wants to rest, let him. If there is any adverse sign – for example, he looks worried or avoids you as you approach him with his running leash, leave him home and restart after a break.

Though it may take some extra work, it’s worth running with your dog because of the obvious pros. End of the day, a dog can be your running partner without having to worry about safety and reliability, and work towards not just training but also all-around fitness and fun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

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How to be a Guide or a Guided Runner

For those who are wondering how a visually challenged person can run a marathon, here is the answer: they do so by having a guide runner, explains Radhika Meganathan

In April 2017, Bangalore-based businessman Sagar Baheti completed the 121st Boston Marathon race and became the first visually impaired Indian to do so.

Supported by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, the 31-year-old Baheti was already an accomplished sportsman in India when he travelled to USA to specifically participate in what’s known as one of toughest marathons in the world. As he crossed the finish line, onlookers cheered equally for his old college friend and Boston resident Devika Narain Aerts, who ran beside him.

But she was not a fellow competitor. She was his guide runner, someone who donates their time, talent and running spirit so that a visually impaired person can also participate in a race.

If you are vision impaired and want to run:

  • Welcome to the world of running! A new and invigorating experience awaits you, especially if you have already found a guide runner. Your guide runner will help you get trained in different routes, terrains and techniques, starting from basic to advanced, as per your learning curve.
  • There has to be absolute trust between you and your guide runner and that’s possible only with a lot of open communication, patience and perseverance.If you feel unwell or feel the run is too fast or tiring, immediately notify your runner.
  • If you have complete vision loss, initially the training may make you nauseous or disoriented. This will completely go away as your limbs and mind gets accustomed to running.
  • If it’s the first time for your guide runner, let them know very clearly about your preferred pace, needs and expectations. You both are a team now and will need to educate each other in order to function as a single entity runner!
  • Looking for a guide runner? Ask your friends and family first; someone might be very invested in training with you. Other places to look for are: local gyms and running programs, along with ads and posts on social media in relevant forums. Resources such as http://www.unitedinstride.com and http://runningblind.org will help you get more information regarding guide runners.

If you’d like to become a guide runner:

  • Are you having doubts whether you can really do this? Don’t worry, this fear is normal! Everyone starts as a beginner and it’s good to be cautious than sorry. As a preparatory step before doing it for real, consider shadowing an experienced guide and learning from them.
  • Any successful partnership requires open communication, and this one, in particular, needs truckloads of it. Communicate your concerns and doubts honestly with your visually impaired partner, so that you can work together in drafting the best running schedule for both of you.
  • If this is your first time as a guide runner, go easy with the pacing, distance and time-measured goals. As you get to know your partner better, you both will work out a good rhythm.
  • During training and even during the race, if you feel the other person is getting distracted or demotivated, keep talking with them. Your positive energy and support will be invaluable to your visually impaired partner.
  • Finally, kudos for doing this wonderful thing and helping a runner who might not be able to run otherwise. For a through tutorial on how to perform your best as a guide runner, visit http://www.unitedinstride.com/get-started/become-a-guide

Just remember this – in a race, the visually impaired runner must cross the finishing line. If the guide runner crosses the line first, both runners will be disqualified!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

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Ignore the Snooze button

Becoming a morning runner isn’t for everyone, so how do you avoid the snooze button, asks Nandini Reddy

The early morning opportunity to run is considered to be the best time to run by most runners. But are you one of those people who just cannot seem to drag yourself out of bed even after setting 5 blaring alarms. Wondering if you would ever be able to shake the night owl reputation?

If you want to do it, then try here are a few ways in which you can beat back your natural inclination to hit the snooze button.

Take it slow

It won’t happen overnight. You cannot become a morning runner just in a day. If your final goal is to run during the pre-dawn period then first start by getting up at least an hour earlier than normal. Once you are comfortable with this you can progress towards the pre-dawn goal.

Sleep Sleep Sleep

If you want to get up in the morning then you need to get enough sleep. Trying to become a morning runner by getting only 4 hours of shut eye won’t help you one bit. If you get at least 6-7 hours of sleep then you are less likely to hit that snooze button and you won’t be groggy and will be more energetic when you get up early in the morning.

Prep the night before

This will quicken your morning process. Layout your clothes and gear. You can even set you running playlist to go. Fumbling in the dark to gather you things in the morning will end up irritating your partner and giving you a few stumbed toes. This also saves you time in the morning.

Warm Up

When you get up, your body is cold and your muscles will be stiff. So it is very important to warm-up and ensure your muscles are all ready to support your run. Running without a warm-up increases the risk of injury.

Partner Up

If you think you are likely to skip you morning runs because the temptation to hit the snooze button is too heavy then for the first few weeks till your system finds its flow – find a friend who can run with you. If not for yourself, at least you would be up out of fear of disappointing your friend.

Know the weather

It is important to stay warm during pre-dawn runs. Dawn can be chilly as it would have the lowest temperatures of the day. Try and wear clothing that will suitably protect you from the chill and morning dew.

Nutrition

Try and avoid sugary morning meals. Go for a savory  breakfast instead. Even if you need to grab a snack before your morning run, try and pre-prep a small salad of vegetables. The sugary snack will cause an imbalance in your hormones making you more lethargic.

Remember your goals and motivate yourself to ensure that you wake up and create a new habit. Wake up and feel alive.

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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