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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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Take the Stairs

You can elevate your running performance if you start using stairs, says Nandini Reddy

If you are movie buff then you need to borrow one piece of training advice from Rocky – make climbing stairs as part of training. If you have a shorter training window before  marathon then training on stairs is a good way addition to your training plan. As you power your way up the stairs, you legs become stronger and your heart and lungs are taxed more from the movement thus improving your overall stamina and strength.

So how do stairs help so much?

  • When you are climbing stairs you are moving against gravity and this helps build power and strength in a runner.
  • If you are trying to reach a goal time in a marathon you will need both.
  • Stair climbing also helps you stabilize your form as you work to stay on balance.
  • Stair climbing training also reduces the risk of injury
  • Climbing stairs makes your hearth pump faster and improves your blood oxygen

How they help your legs?

Strength training is a key part of runners training schedule. Body weight training routines recommend lunges and squats to train the legs and glutes. If you do stair training then you will get the benefit of both these exercises in a single move. With your heart pumping your muscles are also more oxygenated. Both your legs get equal amount of workout during stair training.

The oxygenation advantage

During an intense exercise your heart is continuously pumping oxygen to your muscles at a grueling pace. As the intensity of the exercise increase the VO2 levels rise. Stair climbing helps improve your Vo2 max levels and the greater the VO2 level the harder you can run. A British journal published that stair climbing was known to improve the VO2 max level by nearly 17% in women.

What if I choose a natural uphill terrain?

You can choose a natural uphill terrain also to train with but stairs come with a built in difficulty that most natural terrains do not have. Stairs are built at an angle of 65 degrees, while most hills will only have about 5-10% of this gradation.

How do you start?

If you are looking to get started on the stair training routine then like any other exercise ease into it. You can tired very quickly on stairs so do not equate your running capacities to your stair climbing abilities. Start by walking up 10 floors first. If your body is taking the strain then start jogging up 10 floors. If you are able to breath comfortably then move to running. If you need a bit of a challenge, try taking two stairs at a time. You can also use the handrail to pull your body up and get a complete workout.

A Sample Training Plan

Here is a sample training plan if you are ever considering using the stair climbing work out as away to train faster for a marathon

Warm-up – Jog for 10 minutes on a flat terrain

Main Workout – 10 floors x 20 times with a recover time of 30 secs between each set. Use the elevator to come back to a start point if you are able or run down briskly while using the handrail for support.

Cool-Down – Walk down  the stairs at a slow pace and then stretch out all the muscles that you worked.

There are a few stair climbing races around the world if you ever want to consider participating in one but until then use it as the perfect routine to get your strength up for running your best 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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How running affects your muscles

Radhika Meganathan demystifies the relationship between running and muscle building

Runners are often associated with trim, wiry frames. Well, all that running stimulates your body to burn through your diet and the reserve fat in your body, so no wonder a typical runner burns way more calories. Most body builders, though, avoid running like the plague, accusing running to be a muscle destroyer. This claim is not entirely untrue, because running does have a huge impact on your muscles. But what if you want to build muscle yet still run?

What happens to muscles during running? During an intense cardio activity like running, the body constantly burns calories, even after you have stopped running. It not only burns the calories from your regular diet, it also burns through your reserve fat in the body. But when you run too hard or too long, your muscle will become the food if your body does not have many calorie stores of food and fat left.

Thus, if you want to build muscle mass while continuing with your running routine, you have to concentrate on two things: your calorie burning metabolism, and your running distance.

Adjust your diet

You now know why runners are advised to eat hearty! If you do not adapt your diet to your distances, it may lead to constant calorie deficit and your body will not be able to grow muscles from the limited nutrients from your diet. It’s like a vehicle trying to run on an empty tank! That’s why you must closely monitor your diet if you want to run and retain your muscles.

If your goal is to grow muscles, do not run or weight train on an empty stomach. Be especially wary of long training run, since they can deplete your energy reserves and reduce your muscle mass. After a long run, plan for additional carbs and protein. Make sure you eat a regular, balanced diet, one that has equal portions of protein (lean meat, seafood, eggs), complex carbohydrates (brown rice, bananas, sweet potatoes) and vegetables.

Adjust the distances you run

In addition to nutrition, you should pay attention to the amount of distance you cover each week. The right distance is different for everyone, but you definitely should keep in mind that longer distances (also, a more intense running schedule) will burn more calories and will ultimately start utilizing calories from muscle. But what if you love running and do not want to sacrifice either?

Do not despair! The solution is simple. In order to save your muscles, follow a training plan that gives equal importance to endurance and strength training, and also gives you adequate time for recovery.

  • Talk with an expert trainer/runner and arrive at a schedule with a safe number of training sessions per week.
  • Running shorter distances and following a moderate weight-training schedule will help you retain your muscles without sacrificing them to an intense running regime.
  • Reduce your weekly runs’ mileage.
  • Short runs and sprints are the best way forward if you are looking to build muscles.

With the right training, running can work on developing lean muscle. So get started with the right training and nutrition.

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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The relationship between sleep and running

Sleeping well and for the right amount of time can increase your running stamina, writes Nandini Reddy

We live in a hyper active culture that has us on our toes constantly. We have over committed our time an energy to a a ton of obligations. But the most important factor that needs to remain unchanged irrespective of our lifestyle is the number of hours we sleep. You have probably read that you need 8 hours of sleep but it is highly likely that you are clocking in less than 5 hours a night. As a runner, sleep is as important as nutrition and exercise.

Maybe if we understood why we need to sleep then we can be more convinced to actually give it the attention it needs.

Weight Loss

A regular sleep schedule can do wonders for your weight loss efforts. When you get less sleep your hunger hormones run haywire making you carve food at the wrong times or feeling less sated after a meal. All marathoners tend to carb load before a race but if you don’t get enough sleep then the glycogen energy reserves that you need for the race will not build up properly and you will hit the fatigue wall sooner than you expect.

Body Repairs

Distance runners need sleep to ensure that their muscles recover from their training. It was observed in a research that athletes who got enough sleep showed a marked improvement in their running performance. While you sleep, the growth hormone is released when you are in deep sleep which helps recover your body. This hormone is essential to help the body rebuild from the affects of workouts. The growth hormone also helps in converting fat to fuel and keeping your bones strong. Too little sleep means you will feel more stressed and your recovery time will also increase.

Water Re-absorption

While you sleep, the kidneys help in establishing the water balance in your body. When you run in summer and sweat a lot, there is a high risk of dehydration. Just drinking more water is not the solution to ensure your body stays hydrated. It is also important to let the kidneys do their work to balance the sodium, electrolytes and water in your body. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and muscle pain. So a good night’s sleep can do wonders to ensure that you are not dehydrated and your body electrolytes are in balance every morning.

Mental toughness

Sleep helps clear your mind and improves your concentration and helps you run with a clear mind. Sleeping better also improves your ability to analyze training plans and race day performance. A mentally tough runner can overcome every hurdle that he might encounter during tough races.

Maintaining a Schedule 

You need to set a sleep schedule. It will take you up to four weeks to get habituated to it but if you can set up a schedule then you will see that all other things will also fall into place. You will start to eat and train at a scheduled time. Sleep also helps you combat pre-race anxiety, improve your memory and decision making ability.

You might be able to get by with a few nights of bad sleep in a month but on the whole you need to have a sleep schedule that you stick to if you want to improve your running performance.

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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Sea Link, Road Run

The just concluded 15th edition of the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2018, a review by Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan. 

The pre-event

A mildly warm and humid Amchi Mumbai greeted us as we landed in the city for the 15th edition of the Mumbai Marathon, this year, the Tata Sons sponsored Tata Mumbai Marathon, or the TMM. Late morning of the eve of the run, our entry into the pre-event expo at the Bandra Kurla Centre was met with a massive crowd, many of them sporting T shirts with the slogan ‘I Move Mumbai’.

And Mumbai moved that morning, but rather slowly. A sea of humanity that would have put the holiday crowd at Chowpatty to shame, crammed into the narrow corridors between the seemingly unending rows of stalls, displaying and marketing literally everything from running gear and protein supplements, which one would rather expect, to insurance and customized software. Every stall was packed with eager runners and their families, the experienced ones networking and hobnobbing and the first timers eagerly seeking information and advice and investing in what was being propagated as the ideal running apparel and accessories. And as the marathoners of the next day collected their bibs and goody bags, they were treated to fun and games at the adjacent food court, serving delicious, freshly conjured up varieties of pasta.

And moving in the midst of all this was a figure who strode tall, who stood out with an unmistakable aura of greatness, the brand ambassador of TMM 2018, world champion pole vaulting legend Sergey Bubka.

The event

From as early as 4.00 in the morning, the suburban trains were packed with runners, mostly in groups, chattering away animatedly amidst much grinning and back slapping. The spirit of Mumbai was very much in evidence as those inside made space and welcomed the entrants at every station, till the trains pulled into the common destination of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. The Azad Maidan, which was the marshalling point for the event, had anything but an ‘azadi’ look about it as the crowds swelled in number every minute, selecting their respective entry points for the four events: the full and half marathons and the newly introduced 10k charity run and the senior citizen 6 km dream run.

The gates opened to much cheering and charged up adrenaline as the athletes assembled in their ‘buses’ with pacers sporting banners displaying the timing in which the group in the ‘bus’ hoped to complete the marathon, right between 2:45 and 6:00 hour durations. The Mumbaikers were everywhere. All along the route, from as early as 6.00 am, spectators in as varying age groups as a sprightly 75 to an excited 4 years lined up to cheer the participants. It did not matter that they knew them or not; every participant was encouraged with unflagging enthusiasm.

There were runners from all over the country and from abroad. The ‘elite’ runners, or the professionals in both the men’s and women’s categories, who were competing for medals and honours, were led as has become the norm, by the Ethiopians and Kenyans, with the top Indian runners hot on their heels. 45,000 runners in the four categories were backed all along the route with water, electrolytes and refreshments, with medical teams and ambulances on stand-by at designated points to cater to any emergency.

With the advent of dawn, the athletes were presented a panoramic view as they crossed the sea link, with the blue of the sky and the azure ocean melting in the distance. But as the early morning mist cleared and the warm sun rose in the skies, the increasing temperature and humidity began making it tougher for the runners, especially in the latter part of the race. Nothing deterred them however, as they literally put heart and soul into their legs all the way to the finish where they were received with thunderous applause from the spectators and fellow athletes alike. Fatigue and pain were forgotten for the moment as they sprinted across the finish line to receive their well-earned medals and refreshments. Celebrations were certainly on the cards as the finishers thronged the nearby pubs to quench their thirst with that most popular chilled beverage called beer!

Promises filled the air… promises to return the next year and once more be a part of this wonderful event called the Mumbai Marathon, a heady but healthy drug, an addiction and a magnet that will never stop attracting participants again and again and again.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Become an Eco-friendly Runner

If you love living a sustainable lifestyle then you should probably include it as a practice in your running too, says Nandini Reddy

It always feels wonderful to give back to environment and if you can get fit while doing what you love, then that’s a double advantage. Running can be made sustainable by just following a few simple practices.

Running Clothes

The material of your running wear makes all the difference. Look for a brand that uses sustainable materials and practices to produce their clothing. Organic cotton and hemp are great materials to choose for running wear. There are a few firms that are recycling plastic info fibre to make clothes that are suitable for running. All these clothes are easy to wash and also air dry quickly.

Clean Trails

Whenever you participate in a big race ensure that if you are disposing trash you use a bin and not litter. If you feel that the organiser may not have adequate bins then carry a convenient trash pouch so that you do not litter along the way. You can also volunteer to clean-up the trail post run. If the race venue is far away then try and use public transport systems , car pool or ride a bike. Riding a bike has the added advantage that you can warm-up before your race.

Reusable Equipment

Use reusable bags, bottles and packets while packing your snacks for the run. If you buy packaged energy drinks then ensure you buy from companies that pack in recyclable bottles. If you can use homemade energy bars or granola bars you can reduce the wrapper waste. If you aren’t too keen on making your own energy bars or drinks then look for companies that use sustainable practices to produce and package their products. Carry your own water bottle so that you can avoid using one time use bottles and cups during the race.

Green Training

If you live in a city with a flat terrain and plan to run and out of city marathon that has steep terrains then consider changing your training plan in the same place rather than travel to train. You can use stairways and also find challenging running routes that you can repeatedly use for training. If you need to drive to reach a training location then consider riding a bike instead.

Follow the 3 Rs

Reduce your energy expenditures and material consumption wherever you can. Reuse things as much as possible. Recycle your old gear. Most runs offer their own signature T-shirts and if you have run enough marathons it is likely that your cupboard will be overflowing with the souvenir T-shirts. If you have the option of avoiding the T-shirt then please consider it, you will always have the finisher medal as a souvenir. If you can find a local retailer who will accept and recycle your old clothes and shoes then it is best to give it away to him rather than dump the lot as they are not easily degradable.

Outdoor running has the lowest environmental impact, so if you can make tweaks to the way you run – then you can easily become a sustainable 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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The Mesmerizing AU Bank Jaipur Marathon

This February, run through the vibrant city of Jaipur, is a must on every travelling marathoners list, says Nandini Reddy

The mesmerizing pink city of Jaipur invites runners for the 9th edition of the AU Bank Jaipur marathon on February 4th,2018. One of the most spectacular marathon’s in India, whose flat course tracks through the most scenic routes through Rajasthan’s vibrant capital city.

Run the Spectacular Marathon

The race offers a whole host of options for both elite and amateur runners. The full marathon and half marathon have separate categories for elite runners and amateur runners. The other timed running category is the 10k run. If runners wish to participate in the elite category then they would need to submit valid timing certificates at the time of registration. For participating in the open category, no timing certificates are required. The marathon will start from 3:50am with the Elite Full Marathon category and the final category of the fun runs will begin at 7:30am.

Apart from that for those who want to enjoy the scenic running route and the joyful celebration on race day there are plenty of fun categories such as Joy Run, Dream Run and Youth Run – all covering distances of 6kms.

Trying to set a social message, a different category called ‘Beti Bojh Nahi Hai Run’ for 2 kms has been included. The Senior Citizens Run for 3kms and Wheel Chair Run for 6km finish the categories offered during this year’s Jaipur Marathon.

The runners can enjoy the culture and traditions of Rajasthan as they are showcased along the race route.

Enjoying the Pink City

The Jaipur marathon offers tour packages for registered participants who want to spend time before and after the marathon exploring the delights of the city of Jaipur and the many wonders of Rajasthan. The packages include stays ranging from 2 days to 4 days. They include city tours and special shows that will give you a glimpse of the best of the city and culture.

The Cause

The run is organised by Sanskriti a well-know social organisation that has undertaken several social welfare projects that have created awareness about culture and traditions to the youth. This year the World Trade Park is a partner who is showcasing their world-class property that offers excellent services to business sectors.

Remember to tag yourself on social media with the hashtag #AUBJMRUNNINGHEROES if you are running, volunteering, donating or just cheering the marathon. A run that showcases both the modern and traditional spirit of the city is one you should not miss.

Register Now for AU Bank Jaipur Marathon==>>https://goo.gl/57UHYV

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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Run to make a Difference at the Ridley Run (Chennai)

If you are a conservationist then this is the marathon you should be signing up for recommends Nandini Reddy.

Coastal degradation and changing fishing habits have contributed to the reduction of the Olive Ridley Turtles over the years. Every year between December and April the turtles head to the Chennai shores in large numbers to nest. Conservation efforts have been underway to help save these brilliant animals. The efforts extend to cleaning up beaches, ensuring safe havens for the turtles for nesting and involving the local fishing folk in conservation matters.

Run for the Ridley 

The run categories include distances of 1km, 3km and 5km along the Palavakkam beach. The run is on the morning of February 4th and there are several other events planned leading up to the event. Being along the beach you can enjoy a refreshing sunrise There are turtle walks every evening for sending the babies back to the sea. The conservation group Save the Turtle, is organizing environmental talks in schools and offices to get more people involved in the conservation efforts. There is also an exciting sand-sculpting event on the theme of conservation. The entire run aims to create awareness about the importance of saving the turtle and its importance in the eco-system.

All finishers will receive a certificate, medal and refreshments. You an also book a special t-shirt for an additional charge if you register at the earliest. On registration participants are also entitled to receive vouchers valued at Rs 3000.

Saving the Olive Ridley

The Olive Ridley’s swim nearly 34,000 kms to reach the shores of the Bay of Bengal to nest. The population of the Olive Ridley’s has reduced by nearly 50% over the past few years. The turtles nest between the periods of December to April, laying thousands of eggs. The eggs incubate for a 45 day period before the hatch-lings move out of the shells and into the sea to start their new life. But with growing human interference in their nesting grounds, the turtle population is dwindling at an alarming rate. Fishing communities have come together to support the initiative and now conservation groups and volunteers are ensuring that more hatch-lings make their journey back to the sea.

The proceeds from the run will be utilized for conservation efforts that will help protect thousands of hatch-lings and also prepare nesting areas for turtles with the assistance of local communities.

Click here to register for Ridley Run (Feb 4, Chennai)==>>https://buff.ly/2Eiz9rs

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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The Dilemma of Runner Toes

You know you are a runner when your toes look like they have been through a stampede, says Nandini Reddy

Runners toe-nails always bear the brunt of all the intensive training. As a runner you might have lost a nail, noticed blood clots on your toes, discolored nails or even had bruises in the toe area.

When you run, you hyper-extend your toes and when your foot lands on the ground, the toe hits the toe box of the shoes. Even though the shoes are soft, there is an impact on your toes. So imagine this being constantly repeated on your toes for a distance of 10km, 21km or 42km. The trauma on your toes is a form of micro-trauma that accumulates as the distance increases and results in most of the injuries on the toes.

So because your toes put up with so much stress, how can you protect them better?

Focus on the fit

A proper shoe is vital to ensure that your toes and feet stay healthy. A bad shoe can cause blisters and even numbness of your toes. Ensure your toes have enough wiggle room when you purchase them. Ensure that the toe box is wide enough so that you can avoid problems like blisters, corns, calluses and bunions. Runners need special shoes that support their arches and allow for the feet to swell while running. If the front of your foot is wider then avoid generic shoes and go for the ones you will get in specialty stores where you are likely to find a better fit.

Maintain your shoes

Once you have found the perfect shoe it is important to maintain them. Most good running shoes last anywhere between 500-800 kms. But the deterioration of shoes starts at about 200 kms. If you are running in cold and wet weather, you shoes will last for lesser periods of time because on drying up the shoes might end up shrinking. If you run everyday then it is a good idea to replace your shoes more often or at least have multiple pairs that you use. If you find that your arch support has hardened then you need to replace your shoe immediately. Soles wear out depending on the type of surface your run on. Trail runners need to replace shoes more often than runners who use roads.

Invest in good non-running footwear

In order to protect your toes, it is important that you also invest into good non-running footwear. If you wear daily shoes that are tight on your toes then you will end up damaging your toes further. Dress shoes are generally narrow in fit at the toes, so its important that you buy them in the evening when your feet are already swollen. If you wear heels then you need to understand that your toes will get damaged from the constant arch your foot will maintain.

Socks can be of assistance

Fit is important for socks as it is for shoes. Wet socks and cotton socks are the worst choice to make for running. Acrylic socks are designed for runners and are form fitting so that your toes are better protected against blisters. Invest in multiple pairs of socks and try out various brands before deciding what works for you. Different weather conditions demand different types of socks so if you like to travel and run then ensure that you are carrying the right kind of socks.

Moisturize your feet

Remember to moisturize your feet everyday. Especially before a race and after a race. When you moisturize your feet before a run, its works as a lubricant and minimizes the friction and prevents blisters and scraps. Find one that suits your skin type. There is no generic rule that you need use petroleum or non-petroleum based products. If you have dry feet, moisturizing will prevent a lot of after run aches and pains. Ensure you use the right amount of moisturizer otherwise you will end up with sticky feet which can be very irritating when you are running.

Prevent athletes foot

Athletes foot is a fungal infection that causes itchy scaling, redness and blistering on your toes and feet. In order to prevent this ensure that your feet are dry, you use antiperspirants and wear open shoes when you are not running. See a doctor for anti-fungal medicine and ensure you keep you keep your foot dry and clean at all times.

Cool down after a run

Toes and feet swell after a run, so it would be good idea to soak your feet after a run to ensure that your feet feel better. You can use Epsom salts in cold water to reduce the swelling further. If your feet are still swollen the you need to lay down and put your feet up so that you prevent blood from pooling in your toes and feet. You can also use ice to bring down the swelling but don’t use ice for more than 15 minutes to prevent any damage caused by the ice.

You can also exercise your toes on non-running days with toe raises and toe grabs to help strengthen them. Enjoying your run comes with a lot of homework for your feet. Ensure that you do all these to ensure that your feet stay healthy for every run.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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