Monday, February 20, 2012

{fitness files} running for beginners questions

Last time I shared why I like joining fun runs and a few days later I found out my running time, which was a few minutes more than my time when I joined my first 5k almost a year ago.

at the starting line of my first 5k run

On March 4, I'll be joining the Unilab Run United 1 under the 5k category and I've been preparing for a few days now under the supervision of Coach Chappy Callanta (aka C, the husband) because I want to finish in 40 minutes and shave a minimum of 5 minutes off my time. I'm really not a competitive person but I want to improve on something I've done before.

Although I'm married to one of the finest (and hottest :p) fitness coaches in the Philippines, I'm pretty much a noob when it comes to physical activities. I grew up surrounded with books, food, and quite a number of invisible friends and doing physical stuff was the least of my priorities. Even growing up, I only worked out because my friends joined the gym and I wouldn't want to be left out. Now I've been trying out different kinds of activities and is currently attempting to regularly attend pole classes (to no avail..).

My greatest weakness is doing cardio and I've resolved to get better at it. I asked C a couple of questions and some follow up questions which pretty much exasperated him (to quote him, he said in his last e-mail about the topic: "Oh. My. Gulay." - a statement which he only uses when extremely annoyed at me). Yes, the reason why he's really good at what he does is because he has a whiney wife who asks a thousand questions before doing one exercise =D

I digress.

Anyway, here's our Q&A exchange on beginning running and I hope this helps others who also want to begin running - whether for fun or for health reasons :)

Ze Coach
Chappy: "I'm not a running coach. I am a student of movement however, so I will rely on that to answer your hard-pressing questions along with my biomechanics, physiology and anatomy training. :)"

What preparations do I have to make if I want to start running?

First of all, you have to understand that not everyone "knows" how to run properly. It's so easy to mess running up and with the repetitive motion of running and the impact that your body takes with every single stride, injuries are very easy to come by. Make sure that you have no prior injuries especially on the ankle, knees, hips, and lower back. Then make sure that you learn the proper form or you have someone actually teach you the proper form.

How can I increase my endurance while running?

This one's easy. Just run more. bwahahaha. But seriously, as you run more, or practice whatever skill, you get better at it right? Running is a skill, once you learn and master that skill, you conserve your energy with the movements and you get to run more. Your cardiovascular system also increases it's capacity so your breath, so to speak, increases. Aside from that resistance training increases the local muscular endurance of your muscle groups. It increases the glycogen in the muscles which is one of the fuels for activity.

How can I avoid side stitches?

Side stitches may be simply muscle cramps on your abdominal region. Proper running form will decrease this as well as proper movement preparation and pre-movement preparation like the trigger-point system. Make sure that you don't eat too much sugar and carbohydrates also before a run. Try to have your last full meal an hour before your run.

I'm flat-footed. Any special considerations?
Yes, you should get specially designed in-soles if you plan to take up running regularly, Just go to an ortho or a PT clinic or if you're strapped for cash, some stores like Toby's and Chris Sports have these. Best though if they are custom-fitted for you. Some exercises for the foot are also good like the towel and marble gathers (gather the towel or the marbles with your toes) and spelling the alphabet with your big toe while the heel is on the floor. This will strengthen you arch.

My goal is to join a 5k run in less than a month and I want to finish it in 40 minutes or less. Is that possible?

Yes of course! If you train smart and learn the proper form, you'll break even 30 in no tiime!

Which is better: to train with or without music?

It's a matter of preference although some studies suggest that playing music that you prefer or choose (not necessarily fast-paced) improves running time. So that's something to think about.

How important is it to hydrate while running? Do I have to bring a bottle of water whenever I run/jog?

Hydration is important but hydration before a race is much more crucial. If you are properly hydrated before a race and that includes liquid carbs, then the muscles will have more fuel for the activity. During the race, it will also be an advantage although it is important not to drink too much since this might cause stomach problems.

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