Increasing interest with running marathons, whether full, half 5k or 3k has opened a serious of discussions on technique, training, shoes, injuries etc. There are so many doubts in an avid runner on how to go about it. Most runners are recreational runners / joggers whose objective is to keep fit, healthy and stress free.
Health Fitness & Medical Screening:
This should be the first step any novice runner should embark on before starting the physical activity. If you are a male and above 40 and not used to vigorous form of exercise or activity, it’s
a wise option to undergo the medical screen & clearance with a physician’s consultation.The next step is to meet a Health & Fitness Specialist or a Sports Physiotherapist and get
evaluated on your Cardio vascular fitness, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility and body composition. A good posture evaluation to find out if you have any bio mechanical faults (like,
flat foot, knock knees, etc) soft tissue tightness, preexisting injuries, if any and based on the findings she/he may advice you on a corrective exercise program, which can help you to enhance
performance and prevent injuries. Get your running mechanics evaluated.
Shoes & Terrain:
Investing on a good pair of shoes is of paramount importance. Shoes with good cushioning, toe room and arch support are things to look for in a shoe. It’s also important to pick up the shoe in
the evening when the toes are little expanded. Remember to change your shoes roughly after every 500kms of use.
Hard surfaces give you a push or bounce to run, with more impact, softer surfaces like the lawns, beach sand might offer less impact, but increases the muscle force or activity. So choose
a firm running surface like the running tracks, level grounds or good treadmills to train. Running up hill and downhill , cross country will enhance your fitness, but also will cause
injuries. If you are running out doors, be aware of the environment.
The FIT principle of training:
How often, how long and how intense should you train? It is the frequency, Intensity and the duration principle. If you are doing a less duration (less than 60mins) and low intensity (walk-
jog speed) you need lesser recover time and hence can train 5-6 days a week. If you are training at a high intensity (say running or sprinting) or longer duration (70 minutes
or more) you need longer recovery time and hence 2-3 times a week, not on subsequent days is advisable. You can however cross train those days with swimming, cycling or yoga.
Always start slowly and build gradually, giving time for the tissues to adapt. When you can walk or jog without going out of breath, you can progress to running!
Always warm up before the training, if you are planning to jog, a brisk walk for 5-10minutes would be a good option, followed by stretches of the muscle groups that are going to be in
action, obviously your calf, thighs back and shoulders. Do the same for a cool down.
Types of Training:
There are different types of training, the common ones are continuous training (steady speed through out), interval training ( 3 minutes run and 2 minute walk ), cross country (different
terrains) and fartlek training, which blends the continuous and interval training. If you are someone beginning to jog use the interval training and progress to continuous mode after
gradually increasing your percentage of jog.
Strength & Flexibility:
A 2 to 3 days a week of strength training on non-subsequent days to strengthen the core amd legs with moderate intensity with 8 to 12 repetitions, 2 sets for each major muscle groups
will be ideal.
Flexibility exercises like yoga or sports stretches can be done for 20-30minutes for the major muscle groups with 15 seconds hold for each, without breath holding, 2 sets each will be good.
Add to that the foam roller for glutes, hamstrings, IT band and calf muscles and foot.
Running Injuries & How to handle them!
Injuries happen, if you try and progress too quickly, if your frequency, intensity and duration are high, if you have poor strength and flexibility, improper foot wear, poor running mechanics
and bio mechanics, and other external factors, like fall etc.
Remember RICE; Rest from activities that cause pain, Ice for 15-20mins 3-4 times a day (if not more often), Compression in case of swelling with elastic bandage and elevation above heart
level, in case of swelling.
The common running injuries are mostly because of overuse. Stress fractures of the metatarsals, plantar fasciitis, runners knee, muscle strain,, Achilles tendinitis, groin pulls, low
back ache etc.,
Hydration & Nutrition:
Remember to hydrate well, with water or isotonic solution. There are various ORS drinks available in the market, to prevent cramps and to fuel. Carbs are the fuel for any endurance
activity, so make sure your carbs are not depleted, by vigorous training the previous days. On the day of the run have enough carbs and depending on the distance have a moderate or
low glycemic index fruit or snack 30 minute before the run.