“How can you run 10 kms if you cannot walk 10kms?!” This incredulous question that had a tinge of anger came from a veteran runner and triathlete of Chennai. He was sad about the demise of his friend and veteran runner who passed away recently. He was visibly upset at the way people were taking up running without thinking about the side effects. Recounting parts of the discussion with him below:
If you are planning to run to become fit, lose weight or any other reason you must first start walking. Start by walking slowly then move to a brisk walk. A thumb rule is to be able to have a regular conversation with others during the brisk walk to understand the ideal desirable pace. If you are gasping too much then you should slow down.
After consistently walking for two weeks at least the next step will be walk run where you walk for 4 minutes then run for 1 minute, gradually the walking will reduce and the running will increase till the ideal balance of running 4 minutes and walking the next minute is achieved after a period of atleast 3 months. Take it slow, there is no pressure to prove to anyone that you can run because you know that you can run and that is enough to motivate yourself. Increasing mileage and speed can cause injuries and / burnout.
You can walk and run with a group but always look out for people of similar abilities and work with them. Avoid increasing the mileage rapidly or planning to run in events immediately. There are enough events organized these days that you will always have one when you are finally ready in body and mind to participate instead of just making up the numbers.
To Group leaders - Have separate plans for beginners; it is very dangerous for beginners to run with the regular experienced runners without any guidance. Pacers must accompany new runners and they should ensure that beginners gradually work their way in.
To beginners joining a group - Do not succumb to peer pressure and do what everyone else is doing or what is popular because it may not always be the right thing for you. You can plan for 3 days of run walking in a week with 1 day of only walking or some other workouts like cycling, swimming, strength exercises or yoga. Ensure that you take adequate rest and never compromise on your sleep. If your sleep is lesser than ideal then it should ideally be deep undisturbed sleep.
Running should be fun not a chore or something that is being done to prove something to someone. In the end be responsible when you start physical activities for the first time. Consult your family physician, take a master health check up with a stress test to assess your physical condition and if you can do it. Do not over exert yourself.
Run responsibly, run with a smile...Run.
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