Five thousand participants are expected to run in The Vodafone Coimbatore Marathon. Frequent runner Jai Rajappan shares a few tips that could help them prep for the event

Interest in running as a sport and as a healthy lifestyle alternative has picked up amongst the Indian city dwellers. The India Marathon calendar has nearly 120 organised runs across India. These runs are seen as a medium to galvanise the city and unite citizens from various walks of life through a common platform. With the first edition of Vodafone Coimbatore Marathon right around the corner, here is a quick list of running tips to help you breeze through the run. The Hindu is the media partner for the event.

Training Plan

The Internet is loaded with tested training plans for beginners and seasoned runners. A good plan starts easy and incrementally builds on the distance to run every week. The rule of thumb is to gradually increase time on feet by 10 per cent every week. You should run four to five time a week, with Sunday dedicated to long distances. It is important to have rest days as that provides the muscles and joints adequate time to recover.

Beginners

Can start with regular walk breaks during the initial days. Marathon is more about time on feet rather than the speed. You can refer sites such as www.runnersworld.com for a training plan that would suit your level of fitness. It is always recommended to consult your physician before you start any strenuous activity.

Nutrition & Hydration

The body runs on stored reserves when you run longer distances. So develop good eating habits in the run up to the marathon. Avoid junk food and eat more whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Take in adequate protein to help your body rebuild muscle fibre and recover from all the hard training. A week before the race, begin eating complex carbohydrates such as potatoes and beans. These will increase the glycaemic index of the body and make it the perfect running machine on the race day. You should also load up on carbohydrates before the race.

Hydration is most important. Improper hydration could make or break your race. Experts say, if you feel thirsty while you are running, you are too late. Develop a habit of sipping water every 20 minutes or so. You should take just enough water to keep yourselves hydrated and your throat wet. Exercise caution on the amount of water you drink. Too much water is bad too.

Training Partner

There is a popular saying amongst runners: “Training plans are great, but training partners are better. This is a good opportunity to spend a good ‘We’ time with your loved ones. You can also join free running groups like the Coimbatore Runners. Its members meet four times every week and train together. One can always benefit from the collective wisdom of the seasoned runners and the general camaraderie.

Motivation

The thought of someone waiting for you to turn up for the run is motivation enough to wake up for many lazy bones (including this author)!

When the going gets tough, remember all the training and sacrifices you have put in to complete the marathon, just hang in there with thoughts of you crossing the finish line. Completing a marathon is a proud moment, Cherish your finish lap and cross that finish line with your hands held up high in the air, hearts racing to acknowledge all the admiration and with a huge smile.

Preparation

Wear loose fitting clothes and comfortable running shoes. Apply Vaseline generously on the parts of the body where you feel the skin might rub and bruise.

Warm up by walking for a minute or two, do some light stretching exercise before you run to reduce muscle tightness and increase range of motion.

Road rules

Always run on the right side road, facing the traffic, at intersections, make sure you establish eye contact with the driver before crossing. It is always recommended to run in well-lit area and avoid wearing jewellery.

Other tips

Sleep eight hours every day in the week leading to the marathon

Clip toe nails few days before

The day before the marathon, rest your feet and do stretches to keep your muscles flexible.

Do not try any new shoes/clothes/food on day of the marathon; go with tried and tested equipment.

THE BIG DAY

Wake up early, drink water and eat a snack (banana is good)

Take a loo break before the run

Pay attention to instructions

Stretch gently

A start of the marathon is electrifying. So, soak it all in

Start at a slow and steady pace and maintain it till the time your breath settles into an easy rhythm. It is tempting to run the first few km fast. But remember you are in it for the long haul

Stop at all the aid stations and have a sip of water or energy drink

When you want to overtake any runner, do not push/elbow them, shout out a warning and overake them on the right

Slow runners, do not block the road for fast /professional runners

If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop immediately and alert the race marshals/aid station volunteers. The medics available are capable of handling all emergencies

Jai Rajappan, an IT consultant, co-founded Coimbatore Runners along with three others in 2011. He has been running marathons since 2007. He has run the Bangalore Ultra (52 km), many editions of the Auroville marathon and The Chennai Marathon