The Wipro Chennai Marathon is scheduled for December 1, 2013. In a five-part fortnightly series, members of the Chennai Runners Club discuss and share information on various aspects of running. The first article addresses some common questions asked by those who are just starting to take to running

Why Run?

The tagline from a famous shoe commercial sums it up — The Road Is Free! And to paraphrase a popular book on this topic — we were Born To Run. It is one of the few effective total body workouts — you engage pretty much all muscle groups in your body and move them both vertically and horizontally. Research has demonstrated that both extremes of this movement (walking and sprinting) and the space in between (jogging) are good for overall fitness of an individual.

Where To Run

You are better off running on a firm and flat surface — a flat road or the sport tracks of an athletic ground. Continuous running on grass or trails is not recommended because of the potential to injure yourself due to the uneven surface.

When To Run

We recommend that you get it done the first thing in the morning. There are many reasons for this — you have the roads all to yourself; the sultry and warm Chennai weather is the coolest then; it is more difficult to find the time to take a break as the day progresses; and you can feel awesome for the rest of the day! But, an evening run is fine as well.

How Often?

You shouldn’t run every day. Irrespective of what your goals are — preparing for a running event or running just to stay fit — you need to schedule enough rest periods between workouts. Research points towards the benefits of mixing strength training, cycling, walking, yoga, etc. along with running.

What To Wear

Whatever you are comfortable in. If you are running short distances and short durations (say 30 minutes), a loose-fitting cotton shirt / kurta and exercise shorts / pants are good enough. If you plan on running long distances, you may be better off spending on a couple of synthetic shirts that have the ability to rapidly wick sweat away. As for shoes, choose whatever makes you feel good — you may need to experiment a little and follow your body’s cues. We have various kinds of runners in our midst — from those who run barefoot and in minimalist shoes to those in canvas and running shoes.

Is It Okay To Walk During A Run?

Absolutely! There is no requirement that you should run continuously. In fact, most runners, irrespective of the race category, invariably take walk breaks. Also, many a time, walking is a great way to begin.

Who Can Run?

Pretty much anyone! Running seems to arouse all sorts of fears in people — Is it bad for my knees? Am I too old / heavy to run? We recommend that you consult a doctor, ease slowly into the activity, practise moderation, and take precautions for specific conditions. But many of these fears are overblown. We have runners across ages, gender, weights, and those with asthma, diabetes, etc. who swear by how much running has helped them. So, there aren’t many excuses for you to not run!

So what are you waiting for?

(Next: Running routes in your neighbourhood)

(The author, an occasional runner, is a member of the Chennai Runners core team and in the organising committee of The Wipro Chennai Marathon. For queries, visit www.chennairunners.com)

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