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Summer Running

As the temperature rises, its important for runners to learn to stay cool so that they can keep running during the hot summer months, writes Nandini Reddy.

Summer is a great time to run but it can also be a huge challenge. Sweating and hydration are the key factors most runners need to watch out for. Dehydration is a danger that runners in tropical climates need to watch out for. Walking in the sun might seem like a challenge if you live in coastal cities because the humidity spikes during the summer months. But if you do want to keep running and not loose your running grove then here are a few tips to help you run during summer.

Water, Water and more Water

You have to up your fluid intake during the summer months. You need to hydrate before you run, carry a bottle while you run and then hydrate again after you finish your run. The sweating might need you to replenish your body with electrolytes post the run. If you don’t like carrying water bottles then you can chart a circuitous route and keep a couple of bottles at different points.

Early mornings are best

This is the coolest time during summer. Even the evenings can be stuffy so the morning is the best time to run. Since the sun rises early, becoming a morning runner will not interfere with the rest of your day. You can also enjoy the outdoors without having to fight off the ill effects of heat.

Run in the shade

If you can find a path that is shaded with trees or near a water source, it would make for a great running course as a trail will be less hotter. If you can avoid running on a road you should because asphalt heats up fast. Find a park or a trail, or if you live near a beach then its the best place to run.

Wear thinner clothes

Cotton might seem better for the summer, but it won’t help while you run. Breathable synthetic athletic wear is a better choice to keep you cool while you run. Choose light colours and not dark ones that will absorb more heat. Reflective colours are the best as they will keep you cooler.

Cool Down well

After you finish you run, try to cool down with water and ice. You can also consider cooling your body before you start the run because it will help you improve your running performance. If you cool down before you run during summer, it takes longer for your core temperature to rise and thus helps in improving your running performance.

Sunscreen & Hats

Remember to wear hats and put on the sunscreen because it won’t make much sense to enjoy a run and not worry about sun damage. You can burnt if you are not careful and if you cover your head, you will feel less fatigued. Use visor hats that are made from breathable mesh rather than skull caps that will make you feel hotter.

You do not have to stay indoors just because its summer. If you choose the right time, right gear and drink water, summer can be a very enjoyable month for running.

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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Runners need Strong Arms

A strong upper body is as important as a powerful pair of legs for runners, says Nandini Reddy

When you think of running you do not worry about the strength of your upper body. You are more focused on your legs, knees, ankles and hips. Very rarely do you hear runners talking about their arms and shoulder strength. But in reality can you imagine running without using your arms? Have you tried running by sticking you arms to your sides and not moving them at all? It would be weird and uncomfortable. It is also a highly inefficient way to run. So if your arms are so important then shouldn’t you be taking care of them.

Deadlift for your upper body

Building a super strong upper body has to be a crucial part of your training as a runner. Have you noticed that when you legs get tired you tend to pump you arms more to finish that critical last mile. So its important that you develop you lateral muscles, pecs, shoulder and arms. You can include deadlift, push-ups, overhead presses and lateral rows in your weekly training sessions to strengthen your upper body. Remember that endurance runs tend to put pressure on your muscles and having strong muscles can help you immensely.

Improve your posture

An upright posture give you good running form. A stable and upright posture will improve your running performance as it has a direct positive impact on your endurance. Shoulders and lateral muscles play a big role in ensuring good posture.

Up your lung capacity

As you work your muscles better your lung capacity increases. Also during a hard run a strong upper body will not need as much oxygen to hold a good running form. When you have a stronger upper body your oxygen requirement reduces and that means you can run with more energy and possibly faster.

Improve Endurance

Building muscle endurance is the key to becoming a better runner. Getting the right stride length and number of strides is important. Often when runners are not strong on their upper body their form starts to flag mid run causing stress injuries and more pressure on the body to complete the run.

Strength training your upper body is as important and ensuring that you legs are in good running form. Don’t ignore it because it can be the one thing that determines how you progress as a runner.

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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Hip health for Runners

Pain-free and healthy hips are a requirement for a smooth running experience, says Nandini Reddy.

When you love to run you will also have to deal with injuries. While avoiding an injury might seem ideal, we sometimes need to deal with the fact that certain injuries need more attention. Any injury, even if its a minor pain should be dealt with immediately more so if it is related to the hip.

Most runners have dealt with ankle and knee injuries, ligament pulls and tears and muscle strains but unlike most of these injuries the hip is critical. So if you feel pain in your hip during or after a run, you need to seek medical advice. This is one pain that should never be ignored and certainly don’t self medicate.

Understanding the Pain

There are a variety of causes why your hip can get hurt. First identify the point of pain and what the pain feels like (sharp, dull, deep, etc). This will determine the cause of the pain as well and you can also avoid hurting yourself again. A doctor will eliminate the guesswork so it is always better to consult one if you find yourself in pain.

Remember that stretching and running with a warmed-up body is one of the most basic ways to avoid injuries. Minor hip injuries can be treated with rest but if you ignore the initial pain and continue to run then you risk complicating the damage from the injury. The most common hip pain comes from overuse – that means you run too much. The overuse of your muscles can cause a burning or rubbing sensation on the outside of your hips. This is the first sign for you to take a break. The inflammation will come down in about a week and if you use a cold compress on your hips and rest, you should be good to go.

Complex Hips Injuries

Now all injuries cannot be resolved with ice packs and rest periods. Another major injury is strength imbalance. This occurs because almost everyone has one leg slightly longer than the other. This makes one leg stronger than the other. While that is totally normal and probably how nature intended it, it doesn’t help when you run long distances. Weird running conditions on trail runs and old injuries can aggravate this condition. So avoid hill runs or running on slopes sideways if you have this issue. es. It can also be the result of an old injury or weird running conditions. Try not to run sideways across hills. That’s a bit strange in general, but it’s also hard on your hips. If you suspect strength imbalance get a professional to evaluate you. You might need to change your exercise differently to ensure that both legs are equally strong.

If you hear a clicking sound or feel a catch in your hips when you run, then you most likely have torn a cartilage.This is a serious injury that needs a professional opinion and adequate rest. If left unattended then it might even require surgery.

If you notice a pain inside your hip then its mostly likely due to a stress fracture. Running on roads and hard surfaces is a major cause for stress fractures. If you don’t get it looked at it can lead to limping because the pain can be intense. It needs the same attention any fracture is given that means 6-8 weeks of rest. Don’t attempt other forms of exercise unless recommended by your doctor and even then try and do them under supervision of a coach or physical therapist.

What can you do to ease the pain?

Never walk it off. That is ill advice for hip injuries and should never be followed. Good posture is an important aspect of running. Try and keep you shoulders square and your chin up and maintain a proper and comfortable stride. This will eliminate a host of reasons why you could get injured.

While you are in recovery you can consider swimming. It is an amazing exercise to prevent stress injuries and also helps strengthen your muscles without putting pressure on your bones. If you are injured then you must see a professional. This is the fastest way to get fit again.

Taking a few days off won’t make you a bad runner. But having to give up running because of an ignored injury is an unpleasant situation to put yourself in. Hips are vital for your running and you need to give them the respect they deserve.

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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Recovery for Senior Runners

Senior runners often battle fatigue more often than their younger counterparts, so what kind of recovery can help, asks Nandini Reddy.

For any runner if the body is allowed ample rest and nutrition then it recovers more effectively. Older runners will experience greater damage to their muscles when they have finished a half or full marathon. The extended recovery time should be accounted for in the training itself.

The Rest Period

The rule of thumb for senior runners is 1 week of recovery for every 10k run. For a full marathon it is important to get a full 4 weeks of recovery with little or no strain on the body. The light recovery exercises can include stretches, body weight training and walking. If you have run a full or half marathon, try not to do any sort of exercise for the first week. After that you can start working on light exercises that utilize your body weight and are low intensity. After the recovery period is finished you can also consider adding weight training to ensure that your muscles are strengthened.

The Nutrition Factor

There can be no recovery without nutrition. In the early recovery phase, pay more attention to carbohydrates and proteins. These will help you recover faster as the glycogen is required for your muscles to rebuild and repair damage.

Sleep Factor

Sleep is an important recovery component and getting at least 6 hours of sleep is mandatory if you are in the recovery period. Your muscles have the maximum recovery while you sleep and your body recovery tends to slow down if you do not sleep well. So remember getting that shut eye might just be the one factor that you are missing in your recovery routine.

Use a Coach

Sometimes our ambition might get ahead of us so it is important to have a coach who can monitor progress and give suggestions of exercises and running schedules that are suitable for your age and body condition. Even if you have run world famous marathons, the idea is to re-adapt your training to your current body and age. So its important to have a coach or at least be part of group so that you get tips on recovery and training runs.

While these are broad guidelines to recovery for senior runners, you need to remember that you should always listen to your body. If you need more time than your running partner then take it. There is no wisdom in causing further damage because of inadequate recovery.

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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Running during pregnancy

Is it advisable to run when you are carrying? Radhika Meganathan looks for the right answer to this important question.

Runners , especially passionate runners, do not like to be restricted from practising their favourite sport, but there comes a time when it may become necessary to at least tone down a bit, if not give it up temporarily. Injury is one reason for doing so. Another happier reason would be pregnancy.

When you are expecting, your body undergoes a lot of physical and hormonal changes, which may require you to alter your running schedule. But first of all, can you run at this time? Is it safe?

The answer is not black and white. It all depends on your body condition, your pregnancy scans and your doctor’s approval.

– If tests and scans reveal any issues with your pregnancy, you cannot run or do any kind of exercise during this time
– If you are healthy but not a runner, then it is generally not recommended to start running at this time. However, if you are keen to, you can do so under supervision.
– If you are healthy and already an experienced runner, then you can run
Dr Parimalam Ramanathan, Gynecologist at London Harley Street Women and Fertility Centre, Perungudi (www.lhschennai.com) says: “If the pregnant woman is already an experienced runner, then she can keep running, provided she follows some extra caution. Pregnant women are recommended at least 20-30 minutes of daily exercise. However, I wouldn’t recommend running as a daily activity for women in their last trimester, simply because it might give them more discomfort. Gait and balance becomes more difficult as girth increases, and the spine takes the weight of the growing baby, so it is best not to run when you are in the third trimester of your pregnancy.”

She explains further: “Sometimes, even in the first three months of pregnancy it may be a risk to do intense cardio; if the runner slips or falls, it might pose unnecessary stress on both the baby and the mother to be. Best to wait until and after delivery to start a new sport or fitness regime! Walking is gentler and safer during these months, especially if you have high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.”

Dr Parimalam encourages women who are actively trying to get pregnant, either naturally or through methods like IVF, to keep running. “In fact, a body made fit and supple through exercise is more prepared for the experience of pregnancy and delivery, so women who are trying to conceive can benefit from running as a cardio exercise,” she added.
Pregnant and want to run? Follow these steps:

1. If you are new to running, start gently. Warm up by stretching for 10 min, walk for 5 minutes, then jog slowly for 5 minutes, and cool down by walking for 5-10 minutes.
2. Even if you are an experienced runner, at this time, do not run in a new route. Stick to your familiar routes. If you are vacationing, it is okay to run in a new route as long as it is safe.
3. Avoid hilly terrains or routes with swift bends and turns. Parks are best during your pregnancy, as they have even ground and are crowded.
4. Avoid running in isolated areas. Run with a partner, as much as possible. Always carry a fully charged mobile with you.
5. Pregnant women overheat easily, so avoid running in hot or humid weather. Do not forget to take a water bottle with you. Keep sipping before, during and after your run.
6. Dress appropriately in loose, comfortable clothes. Pregnancy often results in swollen feet, so wear the right size shoes. Opt for adjustable sports bra that can accommodate your increasing breasts.
7. If you experience dizziness, pain or bleeding, stop immediately and seek help.

Running is a wonderful fitness activity and great to control stress, so enjoy your runs as along as you are comfortable.

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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When Does Running get Easier?

Running is an easy sport to get into but is incredibly demanding, so when will you fall in love with running, asks Nandini Reddy

Running is a rewarding cardiovascular activity that is easy to take up. That is a the reason that so many people give running a shot at least once in their lives. There are marathons scheduled, practically every weekend and each of them sees nearly 50% of new runners registering just so that they can also experience what their runner friends have been talking about. But many beginners become disenchanted very quickly because they feel running is a lot harder to do than they anticipated. We need to remember that like all physical activity, running is demanding and requires consistency. You are more likely to feel miserable in the first few weeks of running than experiencing running highs. What new runners also need to consider is that running highs do not happen all the time even for experienced runners, even they are likely to feel miserable after a run.

So how long does it really take before you feel good about running?

Each runner is unique and when running starts to feel good for you depends on the point your started. Here are a few question you need to answer first

  • Are you overweight and did you start running to lose weight?
  • How fit were you when you started running?
  • Did you have your doctor’s approval before you started running?
  • At what age did you start running?
  • How consistent have you been while running?

A relatively active person should be able to adapt to the rigor of running fairly quickly. A sedentary runner shouldn’t expect to become Mo Farah after 10 runs. If you are in your 20s or 30s and at a healthy weight then within 3 weeks you will find your running high based on the fact that you are consistent. If you are starting after your 40s you will take longer to adapt and you need more time to orient your body to the stress of running. Overweight runners will also need more time because there is more to lift and each strike puts more pressure on your knees and ankles.

So if you want to stick to running and get good at it, then you need to follow a few rules,

Be Realistic – Remember that you are starting a high impact exercise and your body needs time to adapt. As you train it will get easier. You also need time to run faster and cover more distance so give yourself the time you need to increase your strength and stamina.

Start Slow – Try and get a coach to give you a training plan. Digital coaches will also work, so you can start by following app based training programs. Try and include cross training into your routine so that your muscles will be better prepared to handle the strain of running. Try interval training methods like a run-walk routine to begin with.

Always Warm-up – Never run cold. You should always warm up before you start you run. This helps prevent injury and will also make it easier to run. Once your heart rate is elevated and your muscles are warmed up, you will feel more comfortable during your run.

Remember to Cool Down – Make it a habit to cool down. Stretch or walk to ensure that you muscles relax and the lactic acid that has built up, dissipates. It is also good for recovery and new runners should make it a habit to cool down irrespective of the the distance they have run.

Find an experienced partner – Tagging along with an experienced runner with give you motivation and incentive to stick to your training programme. You may not run as fast or as long as they can but you will get some very useful tips on pacing that will help you run more comfortably.

The idea is to be consistent and motivate to stick it out for the first few weeks that it takes to cross the threshold to become comfortable as a runner.

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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Common Mistakes New Marathoners Make

New marathoners (and sometimes even experienced ones) make these common mistakes while training for the big race, writes Nandini Reddy

Training for the big race requires dedication and consistency. Training hard and keeping the checklist on target is the way most new marathoners approach race day. But sometimes small mistakes can tumble plans for reaching goal timing or even the finish line. Check if you are making these errors that might be hampering your running.

Understand running intensity

You need to work in easy days and hard days into your training schedule. The easy days are supposed to be easy runs with slow pace and comfortable timing. You do not have to push your body on all days to achieve goal times. Consider this – on an easy day you can run a 5km training run in 45 mins as opposed to a harder training day where you run a 5km training run in 30 mins. This sort of training will help your body more than pushing unnecessary limits.

Assess your Race pace

You need to be aware of your pace before your race day. Following a race pace is very important and that is what will help you through your course. Race day excitement tends to make runners run a faster pace than they are used to and if you are unaware of what pace is right for you then you will end up tiring yourself out mid race or even cramping.

Don’t wear anything new

Every new race today gives you a T-shirt. It is a great souvenir to have to remember the race by but isn’t the best clothing to wear for race day. Using a well-worn T-shirt is more comfortable than experiencing burns because of rubbing from the new T-shirt. The same goes for shoes and socks. Shoes should never be new for a race and socks also should be ones you have run in paired with the same shoes you are running in for training.

Don’t start fast

With the loud excitement at the starting corral and announcers screaming out instructions, it is natural to have your adrenaline pumping before the start of the race. Letting this excitement create a situation where you race ahead the moment the flag drops might result in disaster. First clear away from the crowds and find  your pace. It is okay to let runners pass you in the first few minutes because you are not going to win the battle of the marathon by racing the first few kilometres.

No plan for race day

You need a pre-race plan. Most half marathoners fail their course because they don’t have a pre-race plan. They do not plan their ride to and from the course or don’t check ahead for parking zones. It is important that you arrive early enough to find a parking space and have time to find your corral. Setting up the race clothing and equipment the night before is a good idea. Use the bathroom, hydrate and get in-line early so that you are not rushing and stressing yourself out.

If these details can be ironed out then you do not have to worry about completing the race. In fact you will be all set to finish the race in goal time.

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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Off Season Training

The biggest marathon season now is done but the off-season might just be the key to better performance writes Nandini Reddy.

So you have spent the last few months running your favourite marathons across the country. In a few you have achieved goal timing and in a few others you raced for the first time. Whether you ran 10k, 21k or a full marathon, you most likely had trained intensely for 4-8 weeks to achieve your goal. So now that the major marathon’s are over, how do you prepare for the next season?

The off season is one of the most critical periods for a marathoner. Here is a step wise method that you can use to be a better marathoner when the next season comes around.

Resist the urge to Run

There will be marathons throughout the year but try and resist running for a few weeks after your big race. If you want to run races then do it closer to the season for the longer distances and run short distances like 5k more often. The urge to run can be heavy but resisting it for a while will do you more good.

Take a break

All marathoners need at least 4-6 weeks of recovery time and rest in order to bring their mind and body back to its healthy state after putting them under stress for the past few months whole racing and prepping for marathons. This time will help heal injuries and also prevent mental and physical burnout. You will also have the time to analyze your previous runs and identify areas of improvement.

Set Fresh goals

Chalk up a new training plan. Your stamina and your body have changed owing to the past training sessions. You have a new level of fitness to achieve now and your timings and training modules need to change accordingly. Bring in a coach on board if you can to make your sessions more useful. Pick a specific set of big races that you want to run in the year and work your training plan leading up to those goals.

Keep Moving

This essentially means that you do not run but you keep moving by picking up another form of exercise. Pick a cross-training or strength training routine. If you need the high of exhaustion then pick a high intensity workout like zumba or pilates.

Rework your nutrition

The off-season is a good time to try a new nutrition plan. You can experiment with the help of a dietitian and see if you can find food combinations that increase your energy levels. You can also try out new recipes and find a whole new nutrition plan that will fuel your training sessions and make you a fitter runner.

Smart athletes have a training plan that will always have a built-in recovery plan. Use the beginning of the off-season to set all this in place so that when you train again you come back stronger and fitter.

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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Aging Gracefully with Running

Runners can keep going by adapting their techniques at each age milestone, says Radhika Meganathan

Age is just a number, as they all say. However, when it comes to running, the biology of aging cannot be denied, or ignored. As one ages, muscle mass decreases. Bone wear and tear over a period of years slow you down and makes you less flexible. Healing takes longer and stamina takes a hit. These are perfectly valid reasons to be vigilant and adjust one’s training and expectations from the sport.
The good news is, you can run the if you are prepared enough. At the Twin Cities Marathon in 2014, 59-year-old Christine Kennedy of triumphed with the astounding stat of 2:59:39.

Should you run when you are older?
Of course! As long as you don’t have any serious conditions that may hamper your running and you take proper care to run, running is good for all ages. Consider these pluses of running, especially if you are a senior:
1. Running can help you with a longer and healthier life.
2. Runners have less chance of suffering from clinical depression
3. Running improves blood circulation, and the brain benefits from improved circulation.
4. Running, and in general being physically active, can prevent you from cognitive decline.
5. Running reduces the chances of you getting colon or breast cancer.
6. Runners sleep better!
With all the above benefits, you are better off running!

But what about the ‘fall’ scare?

It’s a myth that you will fall and injure yourself if you run after a certain age. Injury happens to anyone who is careless or doesn’t take the necessary precautions. Age has nothing to do with it! In fact, most senior citizens experience falls in all walks of their life due to poor balance. Regular running makes muscles and bones stronger, and improves balance, which means – less chances of having a fall during running.

What if you are a senior and new to running?

Start with walking. Your neighbourhood park is the best bet, but you can walk in a quiet road too. Walk 10 minutes, and slowly jog for a couple of minutes. Alternate this until you feel slightly out of breath, and then stop. Repeat this consistently every day or every other day, progressively increasing the time to 15 and 20 minutes. Slowly venture into brisk walking, and eventually, sprinting. Set reasonable goals, look how your body’s responding and adjust your schedule accordingly. Take a companion if you are unsure attempting this alone. If you cannot run every day, aim for at least three times a week. Remember, the more you do it, the easier it will get.

What if I have a pre-existing condition?

Any sport requires a certain degree of caution when you attempt it with a pre-existing condition, and running is no different. As a starter, get your physician’s opinion. Get the right running attire, shoes and safety gear. Always have a mobile or a medical device alert with you, in case of emergencies. You can also hire a personal trainer who can help you get started with running. The advantage of professional help is that you will be under a monitored environment where you will be taught to gradually increase the level of activity.

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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