How to start running

Running

I am sharing this small piece of worthy information in the form of tips, from a
running workshop I recently attended. The presenter was a CEO and co-founder of some XXX company (I am really bad with memorising skills). He has done many long runs and has real good titles in his name including 2nd place in the 24 hours continuous run (65 km).

Running helps not only the lower part of your body as many people assume, but it’s responsible for your complete body workout.

This is all I gathered:

For proper outputs:

  • Upper body training : Do regular push-ups and basic weight training.
  • Core/middle body workouts : Do planks, high planks, side planks to make your middle body strong.
  • Lower body training : Do squats, squat holds.

Breathing pattern and proper body form is equally important:

1. Exhale and inhale through your nose. Use mouth only when extremely necessary. Do some breathing exercises we have in Yoga like Anulom-Vilom, a few minutes of deep breathing when not working out, etc.
2. Keep your body straight all the way. Bend a little forward (about 5-10 deg) while you run. But keep your body straight.
3. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
4. The angle between your arm and your forearm should be maintained at around 90 degrees. Don’t close your fists. Let them be open.
5. Land with your foot below your knee. (Straight line)
6. Keep your chest expanded.
7. Don’t move your upper body left or right while running.

7-healthy-tips-for-proper-running
7 healthy tips for proper running

Food:

If you want to burn 1 pound of fat, you need to burn 3500 calories. If you want to do it in a week’s time, then you have to either burn 500 calories more than what you eat in a day or eat 500 calories less. Simple.

Initially, the body utilises/burns carbs, then it moves towards fats and then finally muscles get burned. You might have seen people, who run long in Marathons, have a slim-trim body. Before running, ensure that you give your food ample time to digest. Else you may feel cramps on the sides of your body while running. This is also called side stitch.

If you start your running early in the morning, you can go empty stomach. In case you feel like you need energy, go for a single banana. That too, about 30 minutes before starting. Not only food, water also needs to get properly digested/assimilated in your system. So don’t drink too much water before running. You can have sips of it in between while you run.

Running improves your muscle strength, joints and your cardiovascular endurance. Ensure that you eat enough carbs, fibre and proteins after workout.

Runner's diet
Runner’s diet

Rest is exercise:

Taking 7-9 hours of sleep is really important if you work out. Your body and mind will not respond properly if you don’t have enough rest.

Stretching is also an important part of relaxation. So before you go for running, do a proper warm up. Also, post running session, do some cool down exercises.

Injuries:

Injuries are part of any exercise. While you run, you may feel pain in your calf muscles. For this, massage your calves and do stretching exercise related to them post running. If the problem is with the shin muscles, it is comparatively grave. Shin muscles can pain in only two conditions:

  • You are running too fast.
  • You are running very much, too early. So keep it slow and steady.

Take it slow. Don’t rush up for a marathon just because other people are going for it. Know yourself. Keep long term goals with short term strategies. You can do this by
starting to go for really easy runs with very less speed to build stamina for a good course of time (may be 3-4 weeks).

Gradually increase your speed after the above goal is achieved. Prepare for a 5K run, then 10K run, etc.

Keep learning continuously. Google the facts or ask someone who is already running. Sharing is caring.

Common-Running-Symptoms
Common Running Symptoms

Additional points:

Keep your mind engaged instead of distracted while you do any exercise. So for example if you are doing squats, your mind should constantly focus on the hamstrings and lower body muscles in order to gain output from that exercise.

Do it regularly even if you can’t run what you could run yesterday. Keep yourself motivated by whatever reason you find. Keep fooling/bribing your mind. Keep yourself fit and fine to make your life more beautiful.

maintaining-healthy-lifestyle
Maintaining healthy lifestyle
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Preparing for high altitude treks

Kang Yatse

And finally, after months of contemplation and efforts, I could manage to do my first high altitude trek. A lot of questions revolved around my mind when I planned to invest nearly all my vacation days in a solitary, outlying place in the depths of Himalayas. I thought of sharing some common concepts here about high altitude treks. Inbox me if you still have any questions.

Idea in mind

The whole idea of a trek erupted after I read a Facebook ad about Stok Kangri by an adventure group emphasizing the statement- ’Highest trekkable peak in India’. Such ads quite excite the target audience like me. I did a real good research on what this peak is, whose name I haven’t ever heard of. Web search dictates this peak as one of the highest trekkable destinations in India with a cloud touching altitude of 6153m. Six thousand meters! The highest I had ever done till that date was 4200m in Himachal and never thought that some normal naive trekker with limited climbing experience can summit a SIX THOUSAND meters peak. It really excited me to dig further about it.

Further reading and a few discussions with diverse adventure groups suggested that Stok Kangri has become a commonplace. People don’t even get proper place to erect their tents at the base camp. And indeed, it is very much crowded. You won’t be able to figure out  if your tent is on a poop. Even people who haven’t got trained enough for the trek attempt the summit. They face the consequences later. Neverthless, the word ‘CROWDED’ itself drained all my interest in this peak and I began my search for similar such peaks in India. As a matter of fact, the peaks in 6000m club are mostly at Ladakh. I found a couple of others, certified as ‘trekkable or require minor mountaineering skills’. These peaks were namely Kang Yatse 2 in Markha valley (6250m. Remember, Kang Yatse 1 at 6400m is very much technical.) and Mentok Kangri (6400m) in Tso Moriri region of Ladakh.

Kang Yatse 2 or any such high altitude peak for that matter, I later learned, is not that straight forward and requires you to build quite a good amount of endurance, strength and stamina. If you are going there without getting trained, you might end up quitting even before you reach the base camp. In many circumstances, one might face AMS as well. So beware to do your homework starting a couple of months before the start of your trek. I did a lot of crossfit sessions and running sessions before I considered myself fit for it.

READ: My adventures during Kang Yatse 2 trek

Reason to train

Okay. I got your question. Why do we need training?

In the Himalayas, it’s not just about going down the trail. After a certain altitude (say 2500m), human body faces the effects of altitude. This is because of the decrease in environmental air pressure as the altitude increases, which results in decrease in the amount of oxygen. If your body doesn’t get the required amount of oxygen, it will not work efficiently. The brain itself, even though it weighs just 5% of the total body weight, uses around 15% of the oxygen the body gets.

Building physical endurance

Now how does training help?

  1. Proper cardio exercises like running, swimming or even cycling can help build the cardiopulmonary systems stronger and also build the required endurance. If your lungs have more capacity to hold oxygen, it will be beneficial where the oxygen is less.
  2. Breathing exercises will help you gain control over your heart beats.
  3. Some high intensity trainings like crossfit and boxing will make your body adapt to less amount of oxygen.
  4. A little strength training can add icing to the cake as you need to carry your own body weight plus the backpack up on the hills while ferrying from one camp to the other.
  5. Apart from this, it’s better if you follow a proper diet (not for reducing weight!!). Increase the intake of protein, iron, antioxidants and vital vitamins in your food. This will help build immunity and increase oxygen-carrying red blood cells in your body.
  6. Plus, a complete no-no to cigarettes and alcohol before a couple of months and during the trek.

Also READ: How to start running

Building mental endurance

Physical training is absolutely necessary but what most of the crowd miss out is a proper mental endurance. Due to high popularity and glamour such kind of expeditions carry, most of the people don’t understand the importance of mental preparation which is required. This is mainly because majority of the crowd is first timer for high altitude treks and have not been exposed to such unforgiving conditions before.

Following are some of the ways to build the same:

  1. Build confidence in yourself that you can do it. Be prepared for adverse weather conditions and the resulting effects on your body and mind.
  2. Visualize the game before starting it. Look for the complete picture, read the blogs by people who have already did the trek, converse with your trek leaders about diverse terrains to be encountered.
  3. Build your passion towards travel and motivate yourself and the team. As your brain might not function normally at higher altitudes leading to depression and negative vibes, it’s your will power and the control over your mind which will define your achievement in the end.
  4. Understand your limits and build tendency to accept failures. Even if you are not able to do it today, you can always come back with better preparation tomorrow. Mountain will always be there. At least, you will get to know your limits and the areas to work on.

Things to carry

For the summit day, you will require crampons/snow boots, gaiters, ice axe and a helmet which are normally provided by the adventure group you would be associated with. You are required to get your own basic trekking and winter gear. For me, the most difficult part was to decide on what to wear during the trek and how much to pack in the bag. It’s a common rule that your backpack should be light.

You should read about a real good explanation on the concept of layering of clothes here.

I carried the things mentioned below for the trek which I have shared on my Insta as well. I got nearly everything from Decathlon.

Backpack stuff
Things to carry for a high altitude trek
  1. 60L backpack
  2. Rain cover for the backpack (40-60L)
  3. 20-35L backpack (useful for the summit day)
  4. 10L daypack (useful in your initial acclimatization days)
  5. Couple of quick dry breathable t-shirts
  6. Couple of pairs of quick dry breathable socks for trek, woolen socks and one pair of woolen gloves (just in case), muffler
  7. Waterproof trekking shoes (>=5000mm. Make sure the midsole of the shoe is not very soft. For me, Forclaz 500 did the job. It costed me around 5000 bucks.)
  8. Flip-flops or sneakers (useful while on the camps)
  9. Biodegradable garbage bags (can be used as laundry dry bags as well)
  10. Toilet kit (sunscreen with >=40 SPF is most important)
  11. Notepad and pen, energy bars, reusable water bottles(2), napkins, head cap
  12. Tiffin box, cup, spoon
  13. Quick dry towel
  14. Down jacket (or a fleece jacket, for the cold)
  15. Waterproof and thus, windproof shell jacket (RET 12. This will not keep you warm. It will just protect you from wind and water.)
  16. UV protective polarized sun glasses (most important), night glasses (optional)
  17. Breathable inners or thermals
  18. Light weight hiking pants (couple of them will do)
  19. Baliclavas
  20. Identity documents (for permit to climb mountain)
  21. Headtorch (you will need it for the summit day and while on the camp), lighter, compass, camphors, insect repellant, playing cards, carabiners, scissors, clips, fevi sticks
  22. Medical kit

It was a mixed feeling of gamble, mystery, excitement and fear.

At an altitude of 6200m, this summit chase was my first ever high altitude trek. Proper training is required to conquer such a height, as already mentioned by me, and Cultfit helped me in my quest.

A lot of time, energy and money was spent for this trip and it is worth all the resources.