In Part III I take on 6 more questions runners are always itching to ask –
Question 1 – Should I eat before a run?
Certainly YES. Remember one fundamental rule, “never run on an empty stomach”. If you are running in the morning, it is best to have a light snack at least 30 minutes before you start running. Typically a banana or a slice of bread with jam or a fruit should do.
If you are running longer than two hours, you must have a mid-run snack such as energy bars or dates or groundnut chikki. Anything that replenishes your energy.
Question 2 – What are the pre and post run exercises that I should do? Why?
Do a short warm up routine before a run to loosen up the muscles from top to bottom. Follow it up with a few dynamic stretches.
Post the run, a proper cool-down stretch is a must do. Do the stretches from bottom to top (foot to neck). The cool-down stretches should always be static.
As you run, the muscles tend to expand slightly. A cold muscle is stiff and will offer a resistance to this expansion, hence a warm up routine is required. Similarly at the end of run the muscles need to cool-down properly to avoid soreness.
Irrespective of the duration or intensity of run, a cool-down stretch session is a must to minimize chances of injury.
Question 3 – Which is better – running on the treadmill or running on the road?
In my view treadmill can never compare with the experience on the road. Treadmill run is in a controlled environment with a controlled gradient which is genuinely boring. On the other hand, roads offer varied landscapes, natural gradients, different weather conditions.
Icing on the cake is the social interaction.
Question 4 – How should I breathe while running?
You need to breathe through the nose as well as the mouth. Keep the mouth slightly open (not wide open, that would look ridiculous!) while running. This helps the body maximize air intake.
Another important concept is rhythmic breathing. Synchronize the inhalation-exhalation with your footsteps. 3 steps exhale, 2 steps inhale, 3 steps exhale, 2 steps inhale. Repeat.
3-2 is a good ratio for beginners. For a faster run you may move to 2-2.
1-1 can only be sustained for a very brief duration. 1-1 is suitable when you are sprinting towards the finish line.
Question 5 – Do I need to buy expensive shoes to run well?
In my view, No! You should try out different models from different brands and settle into the one that suits you best. Your foot type is an important consideration in shoe selection.
There are runners with minimalist shoes (no cushion) and barefoot runners who run full marathons! To each his/her own.
Question 6 – How do I deal with menacing stray dogs while running?
Haha… Yes. This is a very peculiar issue faced by early morning runners and cyclists too. In my view if you look them in the eye they are provoked and will go after you. Just ignore them and move on.
As a last resort, raise your hands straight up and high so you look much taller than you are. This always works for me.
Part IV will touch upon running speed, non-running activities and a lot more. Watch this space!
Sandeep Kulkarni is a veteran long distance runner from PUNE RUNNING
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