Running advice for beginners from the experts

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I attended a session of School of Running organized by Coach Ravinder and the guys at Jogo app today at Leisure Valley. Two long distance runners- Paramvir Singh and Rashmi Mohanty shared tips and answered questions about running. The event was mostly for beginners but nonetheless, it validated some of the things I have learned since I started running.

Sharing their tips with some gyaan from my end:

  • Take it slow

Many runners want to jump from their couch to a 10 km with a snap of their fingers. The numerous running events around us lead to an impatience to go faster and longer in very short periods of time. It is very important to know WHY you are running. If the objective is to run a half marathon, be sure that you will not take it up on a long term basis. Also, running can get boring which is why people keep participating in events to keep it interesting.

Start slow. Take your time. Take a year to build up to that half marathon. People had advised me to train for 3-4 months only before running the 21 km but I took my time. The more you run, the more you will learn about your body and the better you will become.

  • Aerobic capacity builds up over time

Basically, the more you run, the better you become at it.

  • Run on soft surfaces

I run on the road and am going to plan a few runs on tracks in the future.

  • Find the cause of the injury and rectify that

Injuries are a part of a runner’s life and it is very important to find the root cause of the injury instead of just treating it whenever the pain flares up. Sometimes, it takes years to flare up and has long term effects.

  • Surya namaskar is a good after run stretch

There are international runners who do the surya namaskar after a run to stretch. Surya namaskar is awesome and quite a pain. I dread this aasan in my yoga class.

  • Yoga is good for running

Yoga is a must do for a runner. And even otherwise.

  • Run 3-4 times a week

Run 3 times a week and more, if you are training for an event. Less than 3 days is too less.

  • Pronation etc are marketing terms

I went looking for a new pair of shoes last week because my shoes have started wearing off and I am bored. I got the pronation test done at ASICS store where they said am an overpronator. I know my foot does not land neutrally on the ground while running. But I wondered if shoes really make that big a difference, specially with so many runners turning to barefoot running. Should I buy “special” shoes or minimalist ones and train myself to run as close to barefoot as possible? Thankfully, after seeing the options I decided to continue with the ones I have. I am dreading buying new shoes in the future because it is very confusing.

  • Glutes need to be strong

I have been told this many times and it is correct.

  • Strength training may not be required to become a strong runner

I don’t agree with this but that is the view of experienced runners

  • Increase distances gradually

Very important. Don’t go to a 10km from a 5km. When I started training for a half marathon, I increased the distance by 1 km every month. The increase shouldn’t be more than 10% at a time.

  • Take a break for 2-3 months in a year

Everytime I take a break for a few weeks, I come back with renewed energy. It makes sense to take a break for a few months every year… maybe during summers… maybe switch to swimming and then come back to running. I am going to try it next year.

  • Strengthen the core

Glutes and core should be the focus point whether you do anything else or not.

  • Big difference between road running and treadmill running

I don’t consider treadmill as running. It is cardio, according to me. There is a big difference in the kind of pace, time and enjoyment that you get from road running vs a treadmill. Both cannot even be compared. Get off that treadmill and experience the outdoors. You will not step on it ever again.

  • Speed runs can be done on the treadmill

Treadmill is a good equipment for speed workouts like interval runs.

  • Hill repeats are very, very important. It can be done on the treadmill.

Hill repeats are the most important kind of runs. Incase, there is no hill around you, use the incline on a treadmill.

  • Women should take Calcium and iron supplements
  • Nutrition is very, very important. It can improve your running.
  • Good sources of proteins from vegetarian food- almonds, tofu, paneer, soya, lentils, channa
  • Get a health check up done for Vitamin D, B12, calcium and iron
  • You don’t need to eat anything before a short run since our body has enough glycogen
  • Eat something before a long run- whatever you are comfortable with
  • Join a running group

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