Part II – 6 Questions Answered for a Beginner Runner

running beginner

Last week we discussed 11 fundamental questions of a non-runner. This week I will address questions at the top of a beginner runner’s mind.

Question 1 – Will running help me reduce weight?

Broad answer is ‘Yes’. Running is an aerobic activity which helps burn fat and improve metabolism which in turn reduces weight.

There are other factors at play like your health parameters and your sleeping pattern.

To my mind, the biggest influencer of body weight is your food intake, that is diet. Diet is a very broad topic and will be covered in later columns.

Question 2 – Can I run as I please or is there a technique or running form?

Human being beings have been running for millions of years. Each one of us has done some kind of running since childhood. A lot less as we became adults, but still.

We assume we know how to run correctly. Well the truth is, we don’t.

Running, basics we all know. But the correct techniques we don’t. And this is important for two reasons – to run efficiently and to avoid injuries.

  • Keep your head steady. Do not raise it too high or lower it. You should be looking straight maybe about 10feet ahead of you.
  • Shoulders relaxed
  • Arms a 90 degrees angle at the elbow.
  • Elbows close the sides or the waist.
  • Fist loose and swinging in a relaxed rhythmic manner
  • Body upright, do not bend forward.
  • Land on your mid-foot. Avoid heel or toe landing

Your run should be smooth and noiseless. If you can hear your foot landing on the ground means something is wrong. The noise is due to hard landing of the foot which in turn can lead to injuries.

Question 3 – Does running cause injuries?

A very popular question indeed. Let me take a shot->

The short answer, it can but you can avoid it. I want you to remember 3 rules right away –

  • Rule # 1 – Don’t start running against your doctor’s advice. Bad idea.
  • Rule # 2 – Start slow at a very low intensity – slow run, short distance.
  • Rule # 3 – Increase your pace and weekly mileage very gradually.

I find most new runners get carried away and violate Rule # 3.

Weekly mileage is the number of kilometres you run in a week. Never bump it up by more than 10% from one week to the next.

The mantra here is ‘Avoid Too Much Too Soon” and you will be fine. There are other aspects that help minimize running injuries. I will discuss them as we go along.

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Question 4 – Why do I get a backache after a run?

The primary reason for backache is a weak gluteal (hip) muscles and weak core muscles.

Your running posture is important too. You should “Run Tall” with an upright body. Just imagine someone pulling you up from the shoulders. I know this is easier said than done. The body will not listen to the ‘Run Tall’ instruction until the hips and core muscles are adequately strong.

Now is the time to add strength training to your routine!

Question 5 – We hear about folks getting heart attacks in marathons, is that true?

Yes, it is true but the probability is very low. We need to respect our body and train well.

As I never tire of saying, consult your doctor before you start running.

Always listen to your body. If you notice abnormal breathing or pain, stop immediately. Celebrity runner Nikhil Shah always says, “As a recreational runner, our aim is not to run today’s run faster but  to run a half marathon at the age of 101. We are cultivating a lifelong hobby.”

Such incidents should not discourage us. A systematic approach will certainly minimize chances of injury or any such eventuality.

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Question 6 – How do I get my spouse and kids into running?

Register in a running event and run with them. The fun quotient at events is amazing and is likely to inspire them to take up running.

Once they run a certain distance, self-belief takes over and they could be hooked.

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What should I eat before or after a run? What is strength training? Which are the biggest running events around?

More questions and answers coming your way in the following weeks. Wait and watch. Until then good bye and keep running.

Links to other articles in the series – Part I, Part III

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Sandeep Kulkarni is a veteran long distance runner from PUNE RUNNING

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