If you have a body, you are an athlete. ~Bill Bowerman

Have you ever felt lost or confused about what is the whole fuss about running or how to begin your own training journey? Running is one of the simplest forms of sports out there, however it can get a little tricky to get started effectively. I began running four years ago in order to combat my PCOS and Thyroid diagnosis, and I have not looked back ever since. For anyone wanting to experiment with this form of cardio, here are my tips that I have learned from my personal journey.

Why are you running?

To be able to execute any activity, we need a purpose or a goal. Before you begin your running journey, find out your reason- why do you want to begin running? What situations coaxed you to consider including running as a part of your routine? This is an important step because without knowing your ‘why’, you will not be aware of your motivation to follow through with your training runs. Moreover, knowing your ‘why’ will also help you to formulate a more effective training schedule that will help you achieve your running / health goals.

Start slow to finish faster

As an amateur, I would get really excited about smashing my personal best. With the temptation of finishing a run faster than my last one, I would begin with 10/10 effort, only to slow down in the second half of my run due to exhaustion. Starting slow will help you finish faster. If you have never run before, assimilate your body to continuous movement by going on brisk walks for at least a week, before you begin training. This will help your body to slowly adjust to the exhaustion and will help your body accommodate better to your running program.

Coming down to your runs- always begin your runs at minimum to medium efforts. This not only helps your body to start accommodating to its increased need for oxygen, but it also helps you to build the strength to increase your pace over the course of your run and finish strong. You should ideally aim for a 5/10 effort when you begin and gradually increase it. Make sure to listen to your body- take walking frequent breaks if you have to. The goal is to complete the run right, not fast.

How to plan your runs?

As a beginner, you’d be super ambitious and perhaps make a running schedule of logging in runs 5-6x a day. As tempting as it sounds, this is not sustainable. Running is just not about running. Running is more than just wearing your sports shoes and logging in your miles. Running requires a strong body and a stronger mind. As a rookie, aim to complete 3 runs in a week. For your first run, you can wing it- figure out how much it is that you can run. From thereon, gradually increase your distance or time for your next runs- say by 250m or perhaps 5 mins? It’s completely your choice. But the idea is not to overdo it and wear out your body way too much that you cannot follow through your training program. That being said- do prioritise rest days where you nourish your body heartily and allow it to recover. We tend to ignore the importance of rest days, however the rest days are what makes our bodies stronger, agile and help us get back to training better.

Can you eat carbs?

As a runner / athlete, you cannot shy away from carbs. Carbohydrates not only help you with keeping your energy levels high during your runs but will also help from your blood sugar dropping too low and help with your daily recovery. 60-90 mins before your scheduled run, try getting in a snack full of complex carbs- a slice of multigrain bread with peanut butter, a fruit paired with a few nuts. It’s completely your choice, you can get as creative as you like. Fueling your body with the right kind and right amount of complex carbs will help you finish your runs strong and get faster.

Don’t forget to fuel your body with a balanced meal post runs. Make sure to prioritise protein in these meals as protein will help with building back your muscles which wear out during your runs/workout. You can aim for- 50% carbs, 25% protein, 25% healthy fats. However, feel free to modify this as per your body’s requirements.

Warm ups and cool downs

We can get carried away by the idea of wrapping up our runs quickly in order to get back to work or any other obligations and we end up skipping our warm ups and cool downs. Warm ups and cool downs are as important as your runs. Warming up your body helps to raise your body temperature and improve circulation to the muscles that will be engaged from here on in your run/workout. Cool downs allow your body to gradually recover and bring down your heart-rate and blood pressure to pre-run levels. 

Tips to start running

  • You can download Nike Running Club app which provides you with a vast range of audio guided runs by the best running coaches in the world. And the best part is- it’s free!
  • Make sure you strength train/cross train on your off days. This can include any range of activities that you enjoy!
  • Make sure you are hydrating yourself with at least 3 litres of water a day. (You can increase the quantity according to your geographic location and activity levels)
  • Educate yourself more on the science of running. You can follow the website- Runner’s World which can help you understand anything and everything about running. 

Lastly, run to celebrate and honour your body. Running progress is not linear. But what matters is that you show up for yourself every time, give your 100% and finish stronger and better. See you at the starting line.

About the author

Sanjana Gothivrekar is an Investment Banking professional with an undying love for baking yummy treats and fitness, ironically. She currently co-runs the blog The Big Four which covers various aspects of business, legal, finance and sustainability. 

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