The best part about running as a recreational sport is that it is inclusive. That probably explains its popularity the world over. Anybody can run, it’s that simple. And the more runners I meet, I realise how therapeutic it is and how it forces you to take note of yourself. For me, it was as if I connected with myself for the first time when I started running. Even pregnancy had failed to do that for me. However, nowadays it also comes with a lot of noise and commotion. There is pressure of what races are you signing up for, your finish time, how much you are running in a week etc. It feels good initially as a new runner but slowly the pressure builds up. Of course, it’s great if you want to improve continuously and important to strength train to remain injury free but it’s not ok to constantly compare yourself with others. Continue Reading
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. Continue Reading
This article has ben written by me and first published on The Hindu on 15th May 2017.
What to avoid, how to pace yourself and when to simply push on
When you first start running it’s quite like falling in love. With yourself. You discover a little more about yourself on each run: “I can’t believe I ran five kilometres without a single break!”, “I never thought I could be so strong!” You might discover that you enjoy running on your own, either just being with yourself or the state of zero that you go into when the rhythm of the run takes over. There are many reasons to get addicted to running. And enough studies have proven that running can be one of the most addictive sports. Continue Reading
“Happiness can exist only in acceptance.” George Orwell
It’s been over three months since I joined CrossFit and I attend the sessions three times a week. I haven’t let any other commitment come in way of my sessions till now. I’m truly hooked. I used to love working out on my own but something has changed. And that forced me to think and write about what about CrossFit is working so well for me.
1) I’m gaining upper body strength. And that’s something which is completely out of my comfort zone. In fact, I don’t think most women in India end up concentrating on upper body strength. Pull ups, push up, rope climbs – who would have thought?
2) At this stage of my life, I’m unable to commit long hours to running. And as of now, I feel 3 sessions of per hour in a week, with couple of half an hour of walks here and there, is enough to stay strong and healthy. I don’t have to worry about anything. It’s like I have to just show up and push myself to my capacity. I don’t have to think. And that’s one stress less for me.
3) Unlike gyms, CrossFit doesn’t concentrate on certain body parts. It’s about overall movement and strength. A toned body is just the “side effect” of being dedicated to your workouts and good food. While it feels great to look good, the feeling of getting stronger is unmatched.
4) The workouts never get boring. It’s been more than 3 months now and so far never have I repeated the same routine. Sure, there are certain exercises we do regularly but every routine is a surprise. Sometimes it’s a circuit and you are timed, sometimes it’s a set time and you see how many maximum rounds you can do. Sometimes you’re running, sometimes you’re rowing, sometimes your are skipping. Sometimes you lift heavy, sometimes you go for reps.
5) It’s competitive in a very healthy way. How much I’m able to lift or push myself for a certain workout is completely on me. My instructor understands me and I just need to concentrate on my improvement. Surely, I’m awed by all that’s happening around but the environment is such that it never comes in way of my workout.
I’m still not sure if I will combine running with CrossFit. Or I will strength train enough before I give CrossFit a break and start training for a half marathon. As of now, I can run 5-10km at an easy pace whenever I want to so that’s keeping me happy 🙂
So this is the final post of this ‘yoga for runners’ series. However, I will keep writing and sharing as I learn more. As of now, I’m making a serious effort to include yoga, as I just started running a little post a break of 3 months because of a twisted ankle. I don’t know how I’m keeping sane without much running, actually I’m not. As far as, Radhika is concerned, she has started running a bit as well and I will ensure she does a 5km in Pinkathon Delhi this September.
- Tree Pose
Last Sunday I had the honor of meeting Nitendra Rawat, who has created a course record (by an Indian) at SCMM this year with a timing of 2:15:48. And after reading quite a few articles on him, I went with an expectation of meeting someone a bit cocky and smug. But I was so wrong. At the shoe store where I accompanied him, the store assistant started showing off his knowledge about heel drop and mid foot landing, unaware of the fact that he was talking to the best Indian elite runner. Nitin didn’t utter a word or get worked up, just tried his shoes and moved on to buy them. His shoes usually last up to two weeks due to the intensity of training, about 270km of running per week. That’s him confident, emphatic yet humble. He answered all my questions without any hint of superiority.
While most articles I read mentioned how he has broken the course record, qualified for Olympics, his Oakleys and ponytail, not much was said about the lack of facilities at the National Camp. Case in point, the three Olympic qualifiers don’t even have a dedicated physiotherapist! Even though the ASI, Pune is a state of the art institute with all facilities, these athletes have to train at the National Camp for most part of the year.
There has also not been a word about his nutrition needs either. If only this one aspect is taken care of, it alone can shave off a couple of minutes from the overall marathon time – as per a renowned sports doctor. Imagine then, what he could do if all the international standard facilities, training and nutrition were available to him. Imagine if the media had concentrated on this, how much more attention these causes would have received – Just like his adidas sponsorship. When the media reported that Nitin had to pay for shoes out of his own pocket, adidas picked it up and offered him a sponsorship.I asked him what about adidas excites you and he said “with proper sponsorship, I will get the exposure of running in other countries, which also means I can choose more favorable marathons. And right now my target is to break the national record of 2:12 which hasn’t been broken since 1978.”
But we can’t blame the media alone, can we? This is the kind of information we want to consume.
Also, I feel as a part of the running community we need to give much deserved attention and love to our athletes.
You can like his FB page at https://www.facebook.com/nitinrawat2012/?pnref=story
Read further if you are interested in a bit of trivia, his diet and training regimen.
A bit of trivia
Nitin came to know that he could run well when he joined the army when at the age of 19 and started representing his regiment in various cross country events. But he didn’t take his talent too seriously till he got posted to LoC in 2006 and didn’t like being there one bit. That’s when he began training a bit seriously for mid distances and cross country at the Army Sports Institute, Pune. The turning point for him was when he won the national medal for cross country in 2011. But he knew he wasn’t fast enough, so he decided to give longer distances a shot, SCMM being only his second full marathon at the age of 29!
He runs 6 days a week at the National Camp with about 5-6 hours of training (split into two) every day. Wednesdays are meant for circuit training and he does strength training 2 days a week. He doesn’t do weight training at all. A lot of his strength training involves the exercises he learned when he went to run a marathon at South Korea.
Pre run – 3 slices bread, 1 banana and green tea
Breakfast – Daliya, bread and 2 egg whites
Lunch – A bowl of dal, a bowl of sabzi, I roti and 2 spoons of rice, lots of salad and green tea
Before training (evening) – lots of fruits
Dinner – A bowl boiled chicken (no salt), 1 bowl dal, 1 roti and lot of green salad.
*No butter/ghee and sugar
I think over the last few years I have made all sort of mistakes – over-training, not training enough, wrong shoes, not enough strength training, no foam rolling. And I have been injured time and again except last year (when I behaved). No matter how many times I get injured, it always seems to follow the same cycle, just the time spent on different stages varies. So, it goes like this (inspired from the Kubler-Ross model) –
Denial – Nah, it’s just a niggle .Oh! this pain is temporary, it will go. My head is making up this pain as it wants my body to stop. Yes, I’m living in denial.
Anger – Is it really happening to me? – It’s been a few days and let me press where it’s hurting and see. Damn, the pain is for real. And it’s here to stay. Why me? I have a run coming up?
Bargaining – Let me just do short runs. No harm really. This is the worst stage where I’m trying to fool myself in to believing that short runs won’t worsen the injury. But they actually do. Let me try, ice and foam roll, which I should have done after stage one!
Depression – Too late, shit has happened. Now what! Physio asks me to take a couple of weeks off. With too much time in my hand, I don’t know what to do. I’m already perceived as anti-social, how will I explain myself? I will put on weight. Worse still, I will forget how to run! Damn, it’s the end of the world.
Acceptance – It is what it is. After a few days of sulking, loitering around without any sense of purpose, I get into the yoga and do-any-exercise-to-stay-active mode. Only once I accept it’s going to take time, do I relax before getting restless again.
What is it like for you?
I have been running for a few years now. When I look back, it’s tough to believe how clueless I was about everything running. I used to run in “lifestyle” shoes, wear regular cotton shorts, a regular bra and called my first 5km a “marathon”. (don’t believe me? check my FB post!)
Here are some things I thought can help you if you are new to running –
1) You can start running whenever you want to, it doesn’t require any skill or technique, at least not in the beginning and if you are only doing it to maintain basic fitness levels.
2) Find running buddies – Running in groups or with friends makes it easier and definitely more fun. But do run alone at times (only if you are running in a safe place), it’s meditative.
3) Running gear – Buy some bright and good fitting running gear. It always peps you up.
4) Invest in the right stuff – Invest in a good sports bra and the right pair of running shoes. Trust me it’s an investment.
5) Run-Walk-Run is perfectly normal and at times desirable. It’s not something to be ashamed of.
6) Register for a 5km/10km, 3-4 months in advance as it will motivate you to keep at it.
7) One doesn’t necessarily have to graduate to a half marathon. Don’t feel the pressure of doing one. There are enough and more exciting 5km and 10km events. And that’s enough to maintain basic fitness levels.
8) Remember no one looks like a “runner”. One doesn’t have to look like one to run. Shed your inhibitions. Stop thinking about how you look while running. Trust me all non-runners will be in awe of the fact that you had the courage to get started.
9) Be shameless in flaunting that you ran a certain distance. How many people can say they ran a 5/10/15/21km? Remember you earned your bragging rights.
10) Create an awesome playlist of your favourite songs to carry along with you on the run. But at times listen to the sound of your foot pounding the ground, it’s beautiful. (But get rid of the head phones if you are running in a secluded place or where there is too much traffic. You need to be alert).
11) There is nothing called a “fast” runner. You will always be faster than someone and slower than someone.
12) One doesn’t need to run everyday. I run only 3 times a week even when training for a half/full marathon. But I do yoga and bit of strength training whenever time permits.
13) Eat a banana/dates 45 minutes before a run. Drink electral/ORS on hot days.
14) There are days when you will be super charged and there will be days when you feel completely sluggish. Run anyways.
15) Respect your body. If pain persists for more than 2 days, it needs your attention.
As you begin your journey, you will learn a lot about yourself and your body on the run. It will make you curious and you will wonder why you were not doing it all this while but it’s never too late. Attaching a video of a nun who started running at the age of 48 and is the oldest person to have completed a Ironman (run/bike/swim) within 16 hours.
You might also like https://momontherun.in/thisgirlcan-so-can-we/