5 running tips for new runners
As we approach yet another fun 5k in Pune on Sunday, it's time to do a rain check and see if we're well prepared. Here are some pointers to keep in mind before you lace up and head out of the door for a run :
Warm up / cool down
A good old warm up will get your muscles fired up and blood pumping for the run. A few minutes of mild to moderate intensity warm up should be able to elevate your heart rate and increase the frequency of your breathing, making you ready to run. Warm ups make your workout more effective and prevent injuries. Remember, dynamic warm ups before workouts and static stretches after workouts. Stretches keep your body flexible, supple and increase your range of motion. Dynamic warm ups include an aerobic component such as jogging, cycling, skipping and static stretches include stretching your arms, shoulders, quadriceps, hamstrings among others.
Drink enough water always, irrespective of runs and also before, after and during them. Keep in mind that if you suddenly drink a lot more water than you are normally used to before a run, you will also most likely need to use the bathroom mid run. Carry a water bottle preferably and take small sips whenever you feel the need while running. Listen to your body, it always gives you signals. Dehydration is a major concern. One way to check if you are dehydrated is to observe the colour of your urine, if it is not pale and much darker, you definitely need to hydrate. For those running longer, harder and sweating more, replenishing electrolytes is also essential.
While it's an exhilarating feeling to run in the great outdoors, we have got to make sure that there is no immediate physical danger. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings. It's best not to carry any valuables or wear jewelry. I usually just carry my phone discreetly, in case of emergencies. A lot of runners do not even carry phones along on their runs. If you're a music person and need your headphones for the run (Note to my runner father - "okay Dad, I won't wear headphones on runs, I promise!") make sure that you do not wear noise cancelling headphones and keep the volume down. You want to be able to hear oncoming traffic (always face the traffic), people, dogs, whatever. Try to schedule runs in day light hours and in known localities which are frequented by other walkers and runners.
If you are a type 1 diabetic out on a jog - whether you are a regular runner or a newbie and feeling odd/cranky/hungry/more sweaty than usual/just normal? Check your blood sugars! I can't reiterate the importance of checking sugars enough, especially when you are exercising. Goes without saying, always carry your glucometer or ensure you're wearing a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) or FGM (Flash Glucose Monitor) to have access to your blood glucose at all times. Never, ever leave the house without hypo treatment (glucose tabs, sugar, or any fast acting carbohydrate that can bring your sugars back to normal).
Tip : keep an ID card with your caregiver's phone numbers on you or in your glucometer pouch mentioning that you are diabetic and if found dazed or unconscious (due to hypo), you need to be given sugar and taken to a hospital. Your healthcare professional might be able to share such an ID card with you, feel free to ask for it.
Be comfortable and have FUN!
A very important objective of any form of exercise is to feel good! Try not to feel too conscious about who is looking/judging or what people might think about you running on the road. This one time I woke up late, wanted to clock in a run and ran in the afternoon. I'm pretty sure I got more than one strange look. Did it matter? Not at all! No one really cares about your running style, pace or outfit (run even if you are wearing a saree, it does not matter. If you like it and you are comfortable, just go for it!) Everybody's body parts jiggle when they run. Deal with it, no need to feel shy. Wear comfortable, breathable clothes and shoes that are not too tight. Take a friend along if you feel you need company.
Remember, the most important tip to run - whether a jog or a 5k or a marathon or more - is to simply put one foot in front of another and keep going!