Nutrition Comments (0) |

Power of Plant Protein

Your meals need protein and if you are a vegetarian then you need to boost your meals with these essential foods, says Nandini Reddy

If you are looking to gain muscle, you are most likely told that you need to eat lean or white meats at least in order to meet your daily protein goals. Protein is the essential macronutrient that will help you gain muscle and also helps regulate hormones and keep bones in good health. But when you don’t eat meat, there are heart healthy legumes, grains, millet and pusles that are a good choice.

Soybeans – You can consume soybeans directly as a beans in a salad or as tofu. It is a great source of complete fibre and protein. You can also choose to replace panneer or cottage cheese with tofu.

Protein: 36gms/100gms

Black Beans (Rajma) – These beans are a great combination with Indian food. They are good accompaniments for rice and are flavourful enough to relish your meal.

Protein: 21/100gms

Chickpeas (Channa) – These are the most filing meat substitute and can be used in salads, curries or even be eaten as the Mediterranean favourite Hummus. They are also filled with heart healthy potassium.

Protein: 19/100gms

Lentils (Dhal) – Lentils are a solid source of protein. A daily dose of lentils will help you meet your protein requirement and also you fibre needs. There are a variety of lentils you can choose from and include at aleast a cup of them in your daily diet.

Protein: 22gms/100gms

Dried peas – Peas is a great source of protein. This starchy hardy legume is great for winter meals of soups or as a dhal for eating with rotis. They are great for the heart and stabilizing blood sugar.

Protein: 25gm/100gms

Sorghum (Jowar) – Jowar is a favourite to make rotis and is a powerhouse of iron and protein. Many regions across India eat jowar on a regular basis and its a great alternative for those who want to avoid gluten.

Protein: 10gm/ 100gms 

Finger millet (Ragi) – This is a great replacement for rice. It is also a fabulous source of calcium and amino acids aside from protein. It is also a very versatile millet that can be used to make breakfast food (idli or dosa), a cooling drink for summers (ragi malt mixed with buttermilk) and a filling meal (ragi as replacement for rice).

Protein: 7gms/100gms

All these foods need to be eaten in combination and not isolation in order to meet the full protein requirement that is needed for the day. So if you dislike diary and meat you can still balance your diet and get the band of protein with these options.

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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Slow down to speed up

Runners tend to train too hard and too often and that may not lead to the results you want, writes Nandini Reddy.

If you have ever seen elite athletes training the first thing you might notice is that they don’t run fast. In fact if you did accompany them on their training days you might even be able to keep up. If you think it isn’t possible then you haven’t been introduced to the benefits of low intensity training for marathons.

Why do runners need to train slow?

The answer is rather simple really. Runners run a whole lot more and when its training season before marathon season then they run nearly everyday. So imagine running at your full pace capability every day – what do you think would happen? You are more likely to burnout than get a better race timing. Increasing your average weekly mileage is more important than running faster. You are also less likely to burnout or be injured if you focus on number of kilometres run rather than how fast you run.

How do you distribute the intensity of your runs?

In an ideal situation, you need to run 3 moderate paced runs, one medium intensity run and 1 high intensity run in a week. The moderate paced runs should focus on distance and you need to ensure you make most of your weekly target kms in those runs. The high intensity run is about pacing and timing. Even if you run a short distance focus on on consistent pace.

If you were to measure the intensity of a standard runner, you will see that they never do low intensity runs. Most of their runs are distributed between medium to high intensity which means you are driving yourself to fatigue rather quickly. Elite runners run at low intensity nearly 80% of their training time and only run in high intensity for 10% of their training time.

So how can you control your run intensity?

Whether you are running in a group or alone there are ample wearable devices that you can use to monitor your runs.

Find a Coach

If you are serious about becoming a strong runner then signing up with a coach till you find your flow is a good idea. They will bring in a discipline into your training plans and will hold your accountable. Technically the coach doesn’t have to run with you. You can also have a virtual relationship where you get guidelines and report back on progress with statistics.

Heart Rate based plans

Try to plan your runs according to the heart rate training zones. Any good running coach can give you the basics of how this plan works and with your wearable devices (most of which monitor heart rate to a decent degree of accuracy) you can track your training intensity.

Monitor your work

Using the wearable devices and running apps, monitor your work. You can compare your before and after using these tools effectively. Most running apps store your runs indefinitely until you choose to delete them so they make for a great way to reference you performance as you train.

So if you have been pushing yourself to achieve your goal times everyday then you need to stop and re-evaluate your training program and also rest your over-stressed muscles.

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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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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Reasons to join a Running Group

There are running groups on every street today and irrespective of your running goals, here’s why you need to consider joining a running group, writes Nandini Reddy. 

There are running groups for every type of runner today. There are the ones are specific to your place of residence and there are the ones that are specific to type of training you want to do. There are even groups of runners who train together for the purpose of achieving goal times in particular races. So whatever running goals you might have, there will be a running group out there for you.

Solo running may seem convenient. You plan your runs around your schedule, commitments and moods while running groups have their own schedules. While it might seem difficult to follow, it will the most disciplined manner in which you can improve your running form, timing and pace. Running groups combine running and hanging out with friends. So while flying solo might have been the way you started, it just maybe time to join a running group this year.

Here a few compelling reasons why you should consider signing up with a running group

Explore a New World

When you run solo you follow known routes and run at a pace that you are comfortable with and you might even that special playlist lined up. Group running gives you partners with whom you can converse about a variety of topics. Also you are more likely to explore new routes thus making your runs more interesting.

Get Faster

Running with others automatically helps you work on your pace. You might just be getting faster and not even realizing it. There is plenty of research that suggests that runners who train with groups tend to be faster than runners who train solo. Group influence always tends to spur you try a bit harder, move faster and even get over roadblocks that you might have faced as a solo runner.

No excuses 

If you are planning to just turn off the alarm and go back to bed, its easy to do as a solo runner but when you are in a group and you know they are waiting for you – then you are most likely to not miss training days. When you train as group, you are more likely to actually follow a training plan.

Perfect for newbies

Most running groups offer coaching for newbie runners. You will get to meet experienced runners who can correct and coach you as you run along with them. You will get tips on nutrition and even strength training because most serious runners always follow a strict fitness regime.

Help you reach a goal

If you are hoping to reach a goal timing, pace or complete a difficult trail run course then a running group can help you achieve that. Having a group to train with will ensure you stay motivated for the training period and that you also stick you a training plan.

The idea of joining a running club can be intimidating. There will be a lot of questions running through your mind but you should know that running groups always welcome new runners with high enthusiasm. So don’t let fear get in the way of you starting a new experience.

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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When you stop running

Nandini Reddy explores what happens to your fitness and body when you stop running. 

There are many reasons as to why you had to take a break from your running. It could be because of an injury, family commitment, work schedules or just mental fatigue after you have finished your goal marathon. This is perfectly normal for even the most committed runner, a niggling question that stays in your head is about how long you can take this break.

So there are a lot of researchers who decided to study about how long does fitness last once you stop training. The short answer is within a few weeks your lungs and heart show the affects of not training.

What happens to your body

So once you stop cold turkey after being an avid runner then the first two weeks are bliss. Your muscles recover, you feel more relaxes and you still have all the benefits of the training. Once you hit the four week mark the blood volume drops significantly which means your heart is working less harder now. Runners heart are generally working overtime to continuously supply oxygen to those muscles that are constantly under stress. In another four weeks, muscles are all recovered and any minor tissue stress is also rectified. The lungs and heart are working lesser and if you were to even run on a treadmill now you will notice a change in the time it takes for you to be exhausted. Sustaining a hard pace will be a bit difficult and an easy pace will be what you can achieve. Researchers estimated that endurance performance decreases by nearly 25% after four weeks of no exercise.

What happens to your mind

The first two weeks are good for your mental health because you get to recoup from the punishing training schedules and your body also starts to feel more energetic. The niggling aches and pains will disappear over a four week period. But what happens to your mind after that? Running helps in keeping you happy. In fact any form of exercise has the power to increase positivism. When there is a break the first few weeks seem alright but slowly the anxiety starts to set in. Many runners who took long breaks have described as having signs of depression even. A few weeks off running has a positive effect but a prolonged break seems to have only negative effects on the mind.

So can you restart?

The first thing to remember is that you cannot pick up where you left off. Your body has changed and this has to be taken into consideration while drawing up your training plans. If you try to hit the same statistics with a vengeance you run the risk of injury. The first step is to adjust your mind and ease back into a schedule that is low stress. For the first week keep it easy. Do short runs in terms of distance and time. If all is well then go ahead and plan longer runs in the next week. Build up your pace and distance endurance over the next four weeks.

You can stop running. Sometimes you just need a break but remember that when you restart again, it is important that you respect the fact that you took a break and are now ready to begin anew.

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 your periods

Have you ever wondered how that time of the month affects your (or your loved one’s) running? Radhika Meganathan talks about running and the menstrual cycle.

The discomfort, the mood swings… yes, periods can be a pain, but here’s the more important question: does it have a negative effect on your running performance?

Menstrual cycle, explained

Most women have a 28-day menstrual cycle which is split into two halves. The first half is known as the follicular phase, characterized by increasing levels of Estrogen. Day 1 is when your period starts. Ovulation, or the release of a fertile egg, happens around day 14, give or take a couple of days.

The second half of a typical menstrual cycle is the luteal phase, when the lining of the womb (endometrium) thickens, to prepare the body for pregnancy. Progesterone levels and body temperature increase during this second phase.

If the egg is not fertilized on time, then all the hormones levels fall over the next few days, triggering your next menstrual cycle. Rinse and repeat until pregnancy or menopause occurs; sometimes, severe physical and/or mental trauma can also delay your periods and throw you off your regular cycle.

Timing your training

Often, the best time for any kind of physical training is during the follicular phase. This is when your body temperature is lower, and all stored energy and regular fuel are broken down rapidly without the interference of hormones; thus, this is the best time for short, high-intensity workouts.

After Day 14, when your body temperature increases, it may not be an ideal time for intense workouts. But this time if perfect for endurance training, as many runners have found out.

Now we come to the dreaded week before Day 1; technically, the last week of your menstrual cycle. This is when most woman feel bloated, lethargic and restless. The scientific explanation is this is when your body realizes your egg is not fertilized that month and progesterone and oestrogen levels fall sharply. Your best running performance may not happen during these few days, but the good news is you can still do gentle runs on Week 4.

Running during your period

Some women hardly feel their periods, but some are so adversely affected that they take time off from their work. One size does not fit all when it comes to menstrual symptoms, so you are the best judge on how you want to draft your running schedule around your periods.

If you have heavy periods with painful cramps, you may be tired and anemic. You may also be feeling dizzy (some women report fainting) and have concerns about leakage. At this time, we advise gentle runs, good hydration and a sensible approach to training and diet. After the first two days, everything is good, and you can resume your normal running schedule during this awesome follicular phase.

Finding your best running days

Keep a menstrual cycle diary for a few months. Jot down the quality of your run during certain days, and note your energy and mood level. This will help you to identify your best days and schedule your training. Use the ‘bad days’ to concentrate on core work, cross training.

But what is you get your periods during a race? What if D-day falls on the first two days? Well, Uta Pippig, winner of Boston marathon in 1996, crossed the finish line with red-streaked knees and shanks. Clearly, her periods didn’t stop her from her win, so don’t be stressed about it. Just make your body work for you!

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 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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Improving your running form

Running can be easier and with less effort, if you strengthen you body and improve your flexibility, says Nandini Reddy

You become a great runner by taking to the trails and roads regularly but a few simple exercises before and after your run can do wonders for your running form. Smooth and efficient running is dependent on the strength and flexibility of your body. Here are a few basic pointers to remember to get the right form.

  • Take quick and short strides to avoid injury
  • Keep your knees in line with your foot when it strikes the ground
  • Keep you elbow bent at 90 degrees
  • Don’t keep your hands stiff. Relax those muscles
  • Run by pushing off from the ground and not flat thumps

There are three muscle areas that are the most important to have great form – the glutes, hips and arms. All these muscles need to be worked on before and after a run. Dynamic stretches before a run to heat up these muscles and cool down stretches after a run to ensure that these muscles are relaxed.

If you follow particular training principles you can be a better runner. During training runs try and introduce something different.

  • Gradually increase your mileage or time spent running. If you are working on interval training then reduce the walk timing and increase the run timing.
  • Give yourself enough of a break before you increase your speed or distance. Your body needs to adapt and its important not to push it beyond its limits.
  • If you are trying new strength training exercises then remember that you will have sore muscles for a few days and might not be able to run at your regular pace. Its okay to do that and it doesn’t mean that the exercise is the enemy to your running.
  • Try and get a plan that increases gradually. If you are running 5km is a good timing this week then try completing 6km in the same timing next week. Training should make you feel happy to achieve your goals and not stressed.
  • There are no single methods for running that will work for you always. Every trail and every run might offer different challenges, so remember to prepare for it.

Easy and effortless running comes with practice and dedication. Use the strengthening moves to make running more of a pleasure than a chore everyday.

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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Challenge of Running Alone

Things to keep in mind when you run solo, by Radhika Meganathan

Runners run alone for several reasons. Perhaps your life schedule requires you to run at weird, ungodly hours. You may not have runner friends, or your town may not have a running club to socialize. Or, plainly speaking, you may not want another person to disrupt your running zen state of mind.

Whatever it is, you have decided to run solo and you may be wondering whether you will run into any roadblocks in the process. That’s why we have tabulated the four key factors you have to consider while running alone.

Safety

Every runner is responsible for their own safety, and for good reason: it is best to be safe than sorry. Your running attire must consist of a bright element in it that can be easily seen from a distance. Take enough water so that you do not end up dehydrated. Always carry an id, some money and have your mobile fully-charged. install an app like BSafe which, on the command of a single button, will broadcast an SOS call with your location details to your contacts.

In case you have a set running routine and do not want to carry your mobile with you, check out Bugle, where you log in your route and how long you will be gone: if you are not back on time, it sends out an alarm to your contacts.

If you are exploring a new route, get a map; if no map is available, practice common sense and carry a portable safety kit with you that includes a torch, match sticks, a small knife or a pepper spray. And if you plan to run regularly in new places, it is a good idea to invest in self defense classes – it’s a skill that will help you not just during running but throughout your life.

Accountability and efficacy

Ah, discipline.  If you have discipline issues, running solo may prove to be your nemesis. To avoid missing runs, have a to do list where you can tick off the days you train. Having a visual list like this that you can hold in your hand, helps you to be accountable for your goals. Set a reward system for yourself, with short term consequences if you do not honour your own commitment. Slacked off on the pacing today? No dessert. Ran an extra sprint? Buy yourself a nice cuppa.

When going solo, runners usually run at a constant pace. Hence, interval training can be quickly forgotten in a solo run unless you make a conscious decision to incorporate it into your routine. Use your watch timer to run a certain distance within a specific time period.

Boredom

Whether you love to run alone or with company, you should train in the way that you are most comfortable with. Even if you love your own company, running solo can get a little boring. Which is why ear phones are the best companion for solo runners!

Get a good mp3 player and load it with your fav songs and podcasts. Do not use your mobile as a ipod, it drains precious power which you may need later if you end up in a tight situation. You can even listen to the audio version of your favorite books and catch up on your reading during your run! If you can manage it, call a friend/family member and chat away to glory, it’s three birds in one stone, you get to run, be fit and keep in touch with your loved ones.

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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