January 2019 | 854 words | 3-minute read
Running is easy. We’ve all run at some point in our lives. If not now, we’ve run when we were kids. We’ve run for sport or recreation, or even to get somewhere faster.
But seasoned runners will tell you running is far from easy. Moving up from a casual stroll to an active running regimen requires motivation, a reasonable amount of planning, and consistent effort.
To prepare yourself to run marathons and long-distance races, you need a disciplined approach, an understanding of your capabilities and limitations and consistent planning. In the words of Grete Waitz, one of the most accomplished marathoners the world has seen, “Not everybody can climb Mount Everest or dance on Broadway but most people can complete a marathon.”
Here are some tips to motivate you to get started.
Enrol yourself in a group
Enrolling yourself in a running group or running with a group of like-minded individuals is a good way to help you get started.
Garth Veigas, global insights director, Tata Global Beverages, recalls this advice: “If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run a long distance, run with friends.” Garth should know – one of his accomplishments is completing the Comrades Marathon, a gruelling ultramarathon of 90 kilometers that is run between Durban and Peitermaritzburg in South Africa, and is known for the camaraderie, selflessness and perseverance among its participants.
The Tata group has a tie-up with Striders, which specialises in preparing runners for the marathon scientifically and methodically.
The benefits of running with a group are enormous. Not only does it help you to approach running in a disciplined and focused manner, it also connects you with people in different walks of life. “Running is a great leveler,” says Alka Upadhyay, assistant vice president with the Tata Sustainability Group, who is an avid marathoner. “You’ll come across an eclectic mix of people from diverse backgrounds, across all age groups, who will inspire you.”
I, me, myself
Despite the obvious advantages of running in a group, running is, and remains, a highly individual activity. Especially in distance running, where your competition is mostly yourself.
Haruki Murakami, novelist and author of the memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, says, “In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”
Echoing Murakami is Naomi Gonsalves, assistant manager of catering sales at Taj West End, Bengaluru, “Running for me was never about the distance or the time; it was always about enjoying it. Today I run the half-marathon, but I aspire to run the full marathon. It is only with belief that you can push yourself to achieve the impossible. Don’t aspire to be like someone else; aspire to be better than you were yesterday.”
For Naomi, who has run the Mumbai half-marathon in 2016, 2018 and 2019, running was something she could do despite the challenges of working in the hospitality industry where working hours are often irregular. “It was my me-time, my way of unwinding,” she says.
Garth’s advice for motivating oneself is more direct: “Just get out in the early morning before your brain figures out what you’re doing.”
The great Haile Gebrselassie, two-time marathon world record holder, says, “First, do enough training. Then believe in yourself and say: I can do it. Tomorrow is my day. And then say: the person in front of me, he is just a human being as well; he has two legs, I have two legs, that is all. That is mentally how you prepare.”
For Robin Sharma, head of learning & development and organisational development at Infiniti Retail, who regularly runs the Goa and Mumbai marathons and the 100k Bangalore Ultra, running means discipline and perseverance and is a great stress buster. “Running has helped me explore and re-build myself and convinced me that nothing is impossible. Whatever your mind can conceive, your body will achieve,” he says.
The right tools
Wearing the right pair of running shoes is important. While many of us are tempted to use a pair we have already worn, but an out-worn pair could cause injury. A wrong pair of shoes could adversely affect your running.
Most coaches advise you to get a pair with good cushioning and a good fit if you are starting out. While selecting the shoe, doing a bit of a jog around the store helps you choose the right one.
A good pair of running socks, a timer or an app that can record time and distance will also help you to get started. If you are running alone, a selection of your favorite music playing on your phone or mp3 player would also help.
The other aspect of your preparation is your diet and hydration. “It is important to keep yourself hydrated, even if you are just starting out,” says Robin. A water bottle from which you can take short sips is always good to carry.
In summary, enrol with a running group, prepare yourself physically and mentally, get kitted out with the right running gear and make a dash for the finish line.