Road runner Fitness

How to ace it

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Beginner, intermediate or pro, enjoy long- and short-distance running

I know a lot of people who have lofty goals of completing marathons. I truly admire and appreciate them. But, some of them tend to misconstrue being able to run long with being fit and some, even with glamour.

Being able to run long distance doesn’t mean you are fit. It means you are able to run for a long time and that is all. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t deny runners their achievements at all. It’s definitely a triumph of spirit and determination to get across 42.195 km of pain and suffering. So it’s no mean achievement.

However, endurance is only one aspect of total fitness. Any fitness coach will tell you that there are basically four kinds of fitness — endurance, speed, strength and flexibility. In their eagerness to run marathons, most beginner runners and several intermediate runners ignore the need to build the other kinds of fitness. 

These runners soon hit a plateau in their fitness. There is no dearth of motivation as there are many ways in which you can enjoy running — from travelling to running, to the various communities to the various fun kinds of running events around the world. However, the most fundamental reason for running — fitness — is ignored and eventually lost.

Here’s how one keeps fit while taking up running.

1. Run a shorter distance — like say the 5k

It’s a distance that can be easily covered in 30 to 45 minutes by an average beginner. There is a good sense of what you are achieving because you are not hampered by time and the need for great scenic routes. You only need to be out for 45 minutes.

2. Run for time

Try to measure your improvement in number of minutes you are able to complete 5k. You cannot reduce time with just running longer and longer every day. You necessarily have to run faster. After a point you have to really get into running work outs as opposed to simply running. Welcome to tempo runs, interval runs, fartlek and all those wonderful running things you’ve heard about.

3. Train with weights

Beginner and intermediate runners respond to weight training with a range of emotions from hostility to complete indifference and ignorance. “I’ll put on weight,” and the classic “I don’t want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger.” Yeah right. You are going to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and you are going to win the Mr. Olympia eight times.

Weight training helps build muscle and bone density. It also helps you identify muscle imbalances, which we all have due to our lifestyle. Working with weights helps you build the infrastructure on which you can actually improve your running form and pace.

4. Run less

From running every day or running five days a week, run only three days a week. On the other days, incorporate workouts to complement your running. Squats, jumps, lunges, back work etc. are all essential in a runner’s arsenal. When will you do these if you are running every day and using every workout minute to run?

Bottomline

Running is an endeavour and like all endeavours it needs a comprehensive plan and approach. Fitness is a very plausible by-product; let it be the best by-product you can get. You will enjoy running as much as you will enjoy the lifestyle that fitness will afford you.

The writer is a fitness enthusiast who believes in sport as a way of life. Running has been at the foundation of whichever sport he has pursued, be it tennis, karate, squash or badminton. From half marathons to 100m sprints he runs for fun and fitness and believes everyone should run. When he is not out running, he runs a start-up in Chennai.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 8:09:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fitness/how-to-ace-it/article6228503.ece

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