For its health benefits or for weight loss – running is a great way to unwind, exercise and be one with nature. Whether you go down to the park near the house for an evening run, or wake up at the crack of dawn to train seriously for a marathon, at every age and every level of the sport, there are a lot of things a runner needs to take into consideration. We roped in Karan Singh, a former national level athlete who has trained with some of the best athletes, coaches and sports medicine specialists in the world and today owns his own private professional running club, to give us tips on running better, and where one can train in Delhi.

Shoes | Choose a shoe depending on your foot type. The Nike Pegasus is a great shoe – I have worn them throughout my career, and all my athletes wear them. They are available in all Nike stores in town.

Feet on the ground| Running barefoot is great for strengthening and improving natural running form. Running barefoot once a week and then slowly building up to twice a week for short repetition work is great, especially on grass. JNS football grounds are a great place to do some barefoot grass running.

Busting the myth | A lot of runners in Delhi want to try running on their toes because they have heard that this will make them more efficient runners. This is strongly not recommended as it’s unnatural and leads to injuries.

The Warm up “easy” | Warming up before a race should include easy running, some drills, easy stride-outs and short wind sprints, depending upon your distance. If you get yourself tired and warm up at a faster pace than you should, your race is not going to be run efficiently.

Speed Work | One to two sessions a week should be geared towards speed, whatever distance it may be. If you are preparing for a half marathon or marathon, one speed session a week is great to remind your body to run and feel fast! Speed work can be undertaken best on a grassy or synthetic track. Delhi has 5 state of the art synthetic tracks to choose from – there’s Chattrasal Stadium, Tyagraj Stadium, Delhi University, the CWG Village Track and JNS Tracks.

Form | Your running form should always be relaxed. The tighter your upper body becomes when putting in effort while running, the less efficient you become as a runner.

Easy running and “rest” | Runners tend to get excited after doing strong hard workouts and believe that another hard session will make them fitter. But having easy running days after medium to hard sessions is very important. This means running 30 minutes or 60 minutes, whatever your program involves, should be easy on your legs and enable you to recover.

“One day can’t make you, but one day can break you”. Even the best athletes in the world rest once a week to once in ten days. Taking a day off, and even two if your body is tired, is the sensible thing to do to stay away from injuries. Also, make sure you have variety in training to stay fresh and charged up week in-week out

The Workout | Strengthening your core is crucial to any runner. Doing exercises to strengthen your abs, obliques and back twice to three times a week is great! Doing the plank and side plank is very beneficial for runners of all ages.

Nutrition | Whether you are running to lose weight, finish a half marathon or train professionally, the right nutrition is the key to overall success as a runner. As nutrition for individuals differs, athletes must get into the regular habit of eating similar foods before and after their training sessions and races – Carbs before your session/race {Example: 1 glass of milk and a banana, 1 hour 15 mins minutes before} and Protein after your session {Example: Nutrilite Protein Powder is natural and a great post workout food – how many grams depends on recommendation. Yogurt and different kinds of nuts or soy nuts are also great sources of protein}.

Treadmill vs Outdoors | In my view, there is no better feeling than running outdoors, and Delhi has several locations. Running outdoors also gives you an opportunity to run on soft surfaces, grassy grounds, trails or mud tracks. Stay away from concrete; Doing one or two sessions on the road to get better friction off the surface is good, but not more than that. If you are short on time or for other reasons cannot go outdoors, running on a treadmill at a 0.5% to 1% incline is recommended, as it gives some resistance and doesn’t allow you to just keep your legs rolling because of the treadmill revolutions.

Tip for the marathon | The half marathon is coming up and if this is your first, running a negative split is recommended. This means that your second half of the race should be faster than your first half. Take walking breaks when the need arises.

Golden Rule – Run your own raceThis is a key tip to any recreational or professional runner. Do your own thing! All athletes are different and the quicker one understands this, the better. And enjoy it; You’re running because you want to!

“You are blessed”- I say this to my athletes often. You are blessed to have two hands, two feet and the opportunity to go out there and just run and not think about any disabilities. We train at JNS every Saturday morning and there’s another group of athletes that are training on the track at the same time. They are India’s finest disabled runners. They are there every Saturday, rain or storm! They feel they are blessed to have had an opportunity to just run on a synthetic track, let alone having two able arms or legs.

Notes in the runners Little Black Book |

 

About Karan Singh | At 27, Karan is a former national level athlete who ran professionally for two leading track teams in Eugene, Oregon or Track Town USA. He has won several national level track and road racing titles in the United States and India. He is now the head coach of India’s first private professional running club, Indian Track Club, which provides world class coaching to young and aspiring athletes between the ages of 6 and 24 years, who are new to the sport and aspire to represent the country at the world stage. Log onto www.indiantrackclub.com for more information.

{image courtesy: Sudeep Chaudhari}