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
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
I started running in the night for various reasons but the biggest being my inability to wake up early mornings. I’m not a morning person and accepting that and adjusting my life accordingly has saved me from a lot of grief. And I can now safely write about what and how I feel about it since it’s been quite a while for me (except my weekend long runs). What helps is that I stay in a safe gated community but if you aren’t then women shouldn’t even think of venturing out alone after dark or for that matter in a group specially in Gurgaon/Delhi.
1) At night there aren’t many distractions unless you choose to listen to music. It leads to more mindful running. You feel the ground more every time you pound your feet. It somehow gives heightened sensation of the body.
2) I’m usually more stressed during morning runs with a to-do-list constantly running on my mind. I now prefer to de-stress with the run and end the day on a good note.
3) I used to snack in the evenings quite a bit. Pakodas/Sandwiches/Mathi etc used to be my accompaniments with tea. I eat healthier snacks now as I know I can’t run with a heavy stomach (at least 2 days in a week).
4) In the mornings I usually find my body very stiff and warm up takes a lot of time which is not at all the case in the evenings as I’m already up and about.
5) Since I’m a bit of an insomniac, I tend to sleep better on days I run in the evenings.
6) It’s just me, the road and my thoughts.
7) It makes summer running more bearable for me.
TIPS FOR RUNNING AFTER DARK
1) Safety comes first. I wouldn’t even recommend men running outside gated communities in India.
2) Run against the traffic.
3) Preferably run without music so that you are more alert.
4) Wear reflective clothing or shoes. It could be a reflective arm band, head band, tee or shoes or buy reflective tape to stick on your gear.
5) Always carry your phone. I usually carry it in my hand for a 5km or wear my running belt.
6) The biggest challenge with night running is dogs. Read here for tips to avoid/handle dogs while on a run. The only thing I haven’t mentioned but someone has suggested in the comments is to carry a small bottle of pepper spray. I know it might sound cruel but I feel one should carry it just in case.
BEFORE YOU GO RUNNING
1) Never make the mistake of eating a big meal. If you do be prepared to abandon the run.
2) Don’t go on empty stomach either. A banana/dates 45 minutes before your run should do the trick.
AFTER YOU RUN
1) Eat something healthy within 30 minutes of finishing your workout – Almonds, walnuts, raisins, egg or another banana.
2) Don’t make the mistake of going overboard with dinner thinking you just worked out so “I deserve it”. Honestly, after working out I tend to make better choices in any case.
The only challenge is one can’t do very long runs at night but my body clock doesn’t seem to have a problem adjusting to once a week early morning run. Whether you would rather run in the morning or at night, as long as you run, and run like you mean it, you will end up a healthier person.
It’s been more than a month now that I have been facing a runner’s block. I’m scared that I can’t run long distances any more. I haven’t done any long run this year except the one 10km in Feb. All I’m able to manage is a 5 km two times a week. At the same time, I have started baking a lot which means I’m also a eating a lot. Instead of constantly beating myself over it, I had to find something apart from running in order to keep my sanity. So for the past one month, I have added skipping (jump rope) once a week to my routine. I started with 200-300 and have moved up to 500-700 with a minute’s break after every 100 skips. I started it as a fun activity as I used to love it when I was a young girl. But then I got talking to some instructors and got to know that it is one of the best activities for –
- overall body strengthening – calves, upper back, shoulders.
- good for the heart
- An alternate, more engaging way to burn calories
- improves core strength
- Improves agility coordination
- Body toning
Like any other workout, warm up and cool down is essential and once again I learned it the hard way when I felt cramps in my calf. Also, replenishing salts post workout is essential, so I do consume electral or Fast & Up. I don’t do it too fast or too much (at least as of now), and love the way my body is toning up and things it’s doing to my upper back. I use a basic jump rope and instead of doing it on a concrete surface, I do it in the park on a less grassy patch.
I have been given a challenge to learn Double Unders (some intense form of jump rope) in 15 minutes by a Crossfit crazy friend. I will be sharing the video soon. And whether this will help me as a runner or not, I will only get to know once I start running. Sigh.
Note – Before trying out intense workout, do get your annual check up done and get a go ahead from you doctor.
‘Fast’ is a relative word when it comes to amateur long distance running or probably everything else in life. I did my first half marathon in 2010 in 2:55! And the next one in 2:28, before I had to take a break for 2 years. But I came back stronger; my timings have only been improving in the last two years, from 2:09 at ADHM in 2013, 2:03 in 2014 to 1:50 in 2015. I have been getting better even though I’m running lesser, way lesser than I used to. I was thinking of certain things that I did differently (accidentally) to improve and it’s only fair that I share it on my blog –
1) I have accepted that with the kind of erratic work schedule, I probably can’t follow a routine. Earlier I would miss out on my workout if I missed out on a certain fixed time I had decided for it. Now I fit in a work out whenever I get time through the day. It could mean doing the planks in the morning post dropping my son to school and doing the calf raises in the afternoon when taking a 10 minute break from work.
2) For the last six months, I have been doing (or try) 3 reps of planks (45 seconds each) 4 days a week.
3) I spend 10 minutes on doing basic weight training for upper body 3 times a week.
4) I have been doing calf strengthening and sitting squats whenever I can (3 times a week). Click here to see the videos. I will be adding more.
5) Once a week I run 5 kms as fast as I can. I never time myself as I don’t want it to stress me out.
6) I concentrated on improving my timing for 10 kms rather than for long runs.
7) I get massage done for my legs once a week. But I don’t do the fancy ones as I find them too expensive. A simple massage by a girl who comes home and does it, works for me.
8) I consume one gel before the start and one during the half marathon.
9) I was lucky to have figured the shoes which suit me the best. Boston Boost it is for now.
10) During warm days drinking electrals/ORS during the runs instead of any other drink has made a huge difference in recovery. Recently, I tried Recover (post my runs) by FastandUp which worked wonders as well.
11) Post run stretching by way of basic yoga poses – Warrior pose, Downward Doggie, Dhanurasna, boat pose, reverse boat pose and Viparita Karani.
I hope this helps. Do share what works and what doesn’t work for you.