For amateur runners who are just planning to enter into running I would advice a few very very basic things specific to running to avoid over-training and prevent injuries. F.E.D.S:
- Follow your nose
- Ensure arms and legs are coordinated
- Do not wait to experience thirst or hunger
FOLLOW YOUR NOSE
Many runners run under the impression that it’s ok to breathe through the mouth while running. I am going to expound on this elaborately. The nose is designed in such a way that while we inhale oxygen the air gets filtered in the nostrils and then gets humidified before it reaches the lung. Only the humidified oxygen can get absorbed in the lung efficiently. Moreover, when we breathe out through the nostrils which are by design a narrow passage, we tend to prolong our exhalation compared to the sudden emptying of the lungs when we breathe out through the mouth. To keep the sport going, continuous flow of oxygen to all the working muscles need to happen at the ease of the body not at the cost of stressing it out by forcing dry air through the mouth.
Secondly, nose-breathing is not all about the oxygen you take in and out. Remember, our heart rate is influenced by our breath rate too. (That’s why granny at home advices to take a deep breath in when she sees her grandson coming home stressed) Since we cannot influence the heart rate directly we can have good control of it through regular nose breathing. A sustained calm breathing keeps the cardiac rhythm smooth. I do admit as an avid runner that it is not that easy to run always by breathing in and out through the nose, but I should also say that it’s not impossible. One needs to build his running ability along with proper nose breathing. The priority should be proper breathing rather than covering those miles. Because whenever you tend to run at the cost of panting through your mouth that is not the zone at which your cardiovascular system is at ease.
ENSURE ARM AND LEG COORDINATION
This is the second essential. When you build your ability to run right, from those few hundred meters, you also need to know how to use your upper body efficiently by swinging your arms in rhythm with your legs. Swinging your arms consistently increases pace and also reduces the amount of impact which passes through the spine, hip, knee & ankle. One could run lighter by just swinging his/her arms while running. This is also the base in Chi-Running.
DO NOT WAIT TO EXPERIENCE THIRST OR HUNGER.
While running or training to run, it is always preferable to be on the smarter side when it comes to the body’s needs. Do not wait for the body to give signals like thirst and hunger. Keep hydrating the body at regular intervals like once in 1km or once in 2km. Instant energy while running can only be derived from fluids or gel sources; not from solid sources of food. But then why consume solid sources? It is to only prevent hunger signals coming from the body so that the blood circulation is constant between the running muscles, lungs and heart and not re-routed to the gut for digestion.
Don’t wait till you feel thirsty or hungry, but keep feeding the body in regular intervals so as to prevent cramps and dehydration before they could take you by surprise and ruin your marathon experience.
Beyond everything….give time for your body to adapt to the new change you are inducing in the form of running. Remember, when you start with a 10k plan, stay there for at least 1 year. In the second year you may mile up to 21k and post the third year of consistent training one might shoot to 42.2k. When we don’t give this time required for our body to adapt we are opening doors to injuries.
Final word : DO NOT PRIORITIZE MILEAGE OVER TECHNIQUE. If you can’t maintain the said technique you better not run any further. Because your run should be a game of quality not quantity.