Ashish Kasodekar at the finishing line at the 555 km-long La Ultra The High marathon in Ladakh
Running, he tells us, is an activity which doesn’t require you invest a lot of money, unless you want to pursue it professionally. You can run whenever and wherever you want and you certainly don’t need any equipment for it either. “Running lets you spend some time with yourself. Treat it like ‘me time’ where you connect with yourself and introspect. Don’t think that you need expensive shoes or fancy running shorts to run. Just start running, one step at a time and you’ll gradually explore the wonders it does. Remember, running events are the only sporting events where everyone’s participation is appreciated – whether you do a 3km run or a 42km marathon, you return home with a medal,” says Ashish.
Systems software architect Subhojit Roy, who clocked 3:14:33 at the Boston Marathon this April says that the first step is to build fitness. “The idea is to go slow. Begin with shorter races and gradually graduate to longer runs,” advises Subhojit, who says that trying to over exert oneself is a surefire recipe for injury. He wakes up at around 5 am on weekends and runs through Pashan, Savitribai Phule Pune University and Bremen Chowk. “It is wise to run early in the morning because the traffic is minimal,” says Subhojit, stressing that one needs to take up strength training to build their stamina to help them run better.
“There are basically three phases of running: building your pace which involves interval training, warm ups, jogging tempo training; building the strength of your muscles, andthe tapering phase – the practice of reducing exercise in the days just before an important competition,” says Anupam Khanduja, a professional cyclist, runner and Ironman triathlete. He adds that 20 minutes of warm up is essential before you begin to run, while Roy points out that postrun stretching is also a must.
Explaining how new runners can pick up pace, Kavitha Reddy, a podium finisher at several marathons who recently made India proud at the London Marathon by clocking 3:23:01, advises, “Start with 25 to 30 km total, per week, and gradually build to a peak week of 35 to 40km. More experienced runners may start at 45 or more km per week and peak at 50 or more. Once you are comfortable with the half marathon distance (21 kms) and have completed a few races that’s when you can gradually think about a full marathon (42.195 kms).”
LOAD UP ON PROTEINS AND GHAR KA KHANA: Khanduja, who sticks to ‘ghar ka khana’,explains,“It is important to plan your nutrition during your training period which should stimulate your runs. You must keep practicing that diet, so that when you are actually running a race; your body is accustomed to it.”
Insisting that proteins are a must, Khanduja says one can either go for protein supplements or eat soybean, paneer and dal. “For non-vegetarians, chicken is a great source of protein. A runner should focus on clean eating and must include salads, fruits and greens in their diet. Stick to a natural diet as much as possible and avoid packaged or processed food. Fruits will keep you hydrated,” he says. Both runners advise staying hydrated all the time, to avoid dehydration and cramps.
MAINTAIN BALANCE: Chandan and Taru Mateti, who became the first couple from Pune to complete the Comrades Marathon held in South Africa, follow a similar diet plan to fuel and energise themselves. Taru eats every two hours and focuses on eating a balanced diet. “The only thing I have cut off from my diet is refined sugar; I don’t hesitate to have occasional ice creams, chocolates and cakes once in a while. I consciously try to include more proteins in my diet especially after runs for better recovery. My food contains enough carbs so I don’t specifically do carb loading ahead of marathons. For runs more than 30km, I eat sweet potato for two days before the run. I eat a lot of salads, veggies, dals, fruits, nuts and seeds. Instead of wheat roti, I eat bhakri made of ragi, jowar, bajra, and amaranthus (pigweed),” says Taru.
FUEL UP BEFORE LONG RUNS: Although it is advisable to consume proteins from regular food in the form of chicken and eggs, you can have protein shakes if you are going for a run that’s beyond 30km. “You can eat dals, quinoa, sprouts, peas, paneer, chicken, eggs, nuts and seeds for protein. On the morning of a run, a banana and some almonds or pieces of sweet potato are ideal. During long runs, mostly gels, and dates with a hydration mix should be taken. You can eat oranges or watermelons, if these are available at running events. You can also have oats before the run and boiled potatoes during the run,” says Chandan.
“A day before a full marathon, you should have a little more of carbohydrates, electrolytes and glucose to keep yourself energised. One should fulfil the body’s requirement of proteins before and after the race,” suggests Subhojit.
Postrun stretches are a must
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