Monthly Archives for June 2017

Off to the races

Fitness, Fitness related, Marathons - Anupriya kapur - June 15, 2017

This article was first published in The Hindu on June 12th, 2017.

I started recreational running when I lived in the Philippines. I explored the sport there for two years before moving back to India. I was still fairly new at it and running here wasn’t very big, so it was a weekly activity and a bunch of runners would get together, decide a route and just run.

But slowly, the scene started evolving. As did I, as a runner. From the running events that excited me in the Philippines, to the ones that made me dash out to register when I had just moved to India, to the ones that get me going now, are all very different. It really depends on the stage of life you are in, how long you have been running, and your personal goals, among other things. However, with a run almost every fortnight, especially in our bigger cities, choosing the one which is right for you can still be a tough decision. If you are new to running or new to participating in organised events, here are some tips to help you pick the best ones to start.

Personal goals

“Figuring out your end goal is most important,” says ACE-certified running coach Shshank Pundir. What do you want to accomplish? Are you running for fun, for charity, to experience the camaraderie, or to test your ability to run a certain distance? Do you want to use the event to train for a longer distance?

Read about the race and then check out the social media pages—you will be able to understand the thought behind the run.

How much time you can commit

I love doing full marathons. However, I scaled down to half marathons due to time constraints. Longer distances demand longer training hours. Going through various training plans will give you a sense of the time you need to dedicate to training. A crazy work schedule might mean that it’s not time to train for a full marathon yet. Perhaps, a half marathon, or even a 10k may be a better idea. Sometimes, it is easier to challenge yourself to simply improve the timing on a distance you are used to doing.

Size of the event

Some people like the electric atmosphere of a big event: the music, the vibe, the crowd. Some thrive on homely, no-frills, local runs, where you gradually get to know the organisers and fellow runners.

The race kit pick-up for bigger events is usually hectic. If you are a new runner, you might want to first participate in a small-scale local event, as getting lost in a large crowd can be intimidating. However, it’s really a matter of preference.

Your level

Dr Deepak Chaudhary, Director, Sports Injury Centre, Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, and a marathon runner himself, recommends that even if your ultimate aim is to participate in a half marathon, get an exposure to what a race looks like by registering for a 5 or 10km for your first few events, and then scaling up to running a half or full marathon, irrespective of the size of the event.

Budget

Meenal Kotal, an ultra marathon runner, who has run around the world, including Antarctica, says that it’s important to look at the entry fee. With runs ranging from Rs. 500 to Rs. 50,000 within India itself, you will need to take a call on what you want to invest in. Out-of-town runs have the travel and stay to take care of. Travel expenses will depend not only on the city you are travelling to, but also on the popularity of the race. She recommends that if you’re really set on doing a particular race, plan in advance and save by doing more local, community runs to train for the bigger event you have set your heart on.

Terrain/Race course

Having run various ultra-marathons on tricky yet scenic terrain, Pundir says that you may not want to choose a race with elevation or twists and turns, if your goal is to achieve your personal best. Also, the training for hills is very different from running on flat courses. Or you may just choose a race because of the scenic beauty it offers. In any case, being aware of the elevation gain, terrain, weather, will help you determine whether you are ready or can prepare yourself for the event.

Time of the year

Running and training in warmer weather and participating in events in winter, and vice versa, can make a huge difference to the racing experience. Choosing running events which match your training conditions is always a good idea.

 

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Why Strength training is important specially for girls

Fitness, Fitness related, For the soul - Anupriya kapur - June 8, 2017

I remember the time when Maine Pyaar Kiya was such a rage and all the boys I knew then, including my brothers, wanted to do push ups, one hand push ups and weighted push ups. I somehow don’t remember a single girl or I wanting to do the same. As if push ups were only a thing for boys. And it got me thinking how we never expected our girls to be strong. While calluses and bruises would be a mark of pride for boys, the same are frowned up for girls.

I lived almost 30 years of my life being under-confident and hating myself. I used to be a hyper, playful and adventurous girl till about 5th grade, post which something changed. I spent the rest of my growing years trying to please others and ensuring that I look pretty. And while there is absolutely no harm in looking pretty, but I was trying to look pretty for others and live by their standards of pretty. And when I look back and realise what has changed over the last few years that I feel better and confident in my own skin, then it has a lot to do with how strong I feel physically. It started with running, being outdoors and now CrossFit. The stronger I grow physically, the less I feel the need to look pretty. I don’t have to pretend to be confident anymore and saying “no” when required comes more easily. And I have listed down some reasons why I think every girl and woman should strength train, actually everyone should.

Boosts confidence – You don’t know what you are made of till you start strength training. I think most of us don’t have an inkling of our dormant strength. The moment you get into a routine and realise what you are capable of, it has a profound effect on you. I never thought as a woman I will be able to do pull ups, what the heck I never even thought I could lift my 9-year-old son and do squats. Now I have set a target for myself and I’m elated every time I make progress and get closer to my goal. It makes me venture out of my comfort zone (in any activity) so easily as I know I’m capable of tackling a lot more than I thought I was.

Body positivity – It’s only when I started strength training, I truly started loving my body as is. Strength comes in all shapes, sizes and body types. And you start appreciating yourself and others more for the effort. Commitment makes a person radiant. The stronger you feel, the lesser the stretch marks and cellulite, bothers you. It makes you feel badass and the way the world is, the feeling of being a badass is great. I just wish I knew this when I was an 18-year-old.

Falling sick less often – I don’t how this works but I don’t fall sick very often since the time I started running and now even lesser with strength training. It probably also has to do with the fact that it helps me fight stress better. Oh! my periods are more regular and less painful.

Strengthens the bone – Having gone through severe vitamin D deficiency and osteomalacia, as a result of that, I know how severe and crippling the pain can be. For those few months, I cried with every movement and was on painkillers and a fake smile all the time. Strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. As per Livestrong.com “As you age, you naturally lose muscle and bone mass. This is of special concern for women, whose bones are smaller to begin with and can become dangerously weakened by age.” Yes, we need to prepare for old age not only financially.

Nutrition – I still love waffles and give in to gulab jamuns. However, I’m so much more conscious of eating better now. I know strength training needs to be supported by a good balanced diet specially for recovery. I have started searching for more natural sources of protein. Seeds, eggs, nuts, fruits have become an everyday thing for me. And,  I actually eat more and more often now to get right amount of calories and nutrition.

I know there are many more health benefits of strength training but what I really wanted to reiterate with this article is that it’s very important for girls to start strength training early on. It’s not going to make them bulky unless they want to be bulky (and that takes much effort and discipline). It just helps them accept and love themselves for who they are rather than constantly trying to be someone else and that’s such a waste of time.

 

 

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