When I was growing up in Delhi, I’d watch my father and brother don their running shoes and set off each evening for a run. They’d usually return in 45 minutes, but on some days they’d show up after more than an hour. When asked where they went, they’d casually describe a 20 km route that cut through Central Delhi! Both of them went on to compete in half and full marathons in the early 90s. I thought it was utter madness. How could running in Delhi’s heat and dust be enjoyable! And who runs for fun?
Karen not only runs, she is a baker and editor at a national media company
Fast forward to 2017. My husband, who runs half marathons and triathlons “for fun”, asked if I’d be interested in a 5km trail run near Corbett National Park in April. I have no clue why I agreed. It was the end of February, which meant I had 5 weeks to prepare. Thrilled and surprised that I said yes, he promised to train me. We ran every other day, starting with a 2km run-walk (1km run + 1min walk), and slowly building up to 5km in time for the race
Come race day, not only did I finish comfortably, but I actually came in second! My next goal is a 10km race in Gurgaon in July.
So here are my tips for how to start running:
- Always check with a doctor if running is for you. Old injuries could get aggravated, and new ones can crop up if you’re not careful.
- A good pair of shoes is all you need to get started. Ignore the marketing hype. You don’t need zig-zag soles and the like. Find a pair that’s light and cradles your foot, while also cushioning it.
- Drink some warm water when you wake up to kickstart your system. Eat a banana or energy bar 15 mins before you begin for some quick energy. ‘Slow carbs’ like whole wheat pasta the night before are also useful.
- Warm up with stretches and light, on-the-spot jogging. After a run, cool down with more stretches, or you run the risk of injury.
- Start slow, and build speed gradually over the run. You’re not looking to set the land speed record.
- Your head should be up, back erect, shoulders loose, elbows at 90 degrees and swinging by your sides, not across your chest. Your knees should be slightly bent.
- Lean forward off your toes and take off and keep that angle throughout the run – it adds momentum, saving you energy.
- Focus on keeping your breathing easy and rhythymic. If you feel breathless, slow down and take deep breaths – in through your nose and out from your mouth.
- Stay hydrated! Carry water with you or stash it somewhere you’ll cross every 15 minutes on your route. A simple ORS solution is a great pick-me-up.
- Incorporate some strength and flexibility training such as body weight exercises or yoga in to your regimen. The surya namaskar series and warrior poses are especially helpful.
Lastly, remember it’s not about winning. It’s about enjoying the challenge you set for your body.