A couple of weeks after I got my bike; I met with Keni, the friend who had introduced the seller of the bike I purchased. We talked about cycling, running, triathlons and how he transited from one end of the spectrum to the other. The whole conversation intrigued me.
I never saw myself running a marathon although I always wished I could. Weight and age were two displaced factors that constantly left me feeling inadequate. I tried getting out of bed early several times before in an attempt to start a running habit, but the subsequent muscle sore was just too overwhelming. I would take days to recover, procrastinate my next run and eventually the idea of running itself faded into the abyss of the forgotten realm and I regressed.
After my first 10 kilometres ride, I realized that my biggest problem was not my age nor my weight. Instead it was my mental stamina. I found myself all poof-out after cycling for 10km but I would have recovered within the hour. Keni talked about his cool Garmin heart rate monitor (HRM) and how it is important to know your heart rate when you are working out. If you are not in the habit of going out and exercising, you would probably find yourself fatigued after barely starting. Unless you have some health condition, it is often simply your mental state of mind that is fatigued. I discovered that my maximum heart rate (HRmax) is 181 beat per minute (b.p.m.) and if I wanted to lose weight I need to hit 60% to 70% of my HRmax and up to 80% in order to have an effective workout. So I started checking my pulse whenever I felt like I have reached my max only to discover that I have barely begun. My body is hyperventilating, my head feels like it is going to explode but my pulse is only about 60% of my HRmax. After that, my mind starts to clear and I am going on another fifteen to thirty minutes.
There is this cool website I stumbled upon. It has loads of information for beginners in running and much of the techniques there can be applied to most forms of exercise. You are totally wrong if you think that all you needed is will power and discipline to go out there and run one, two or even three kilometres. You need to know how to do it right otherwise you will be back on television watch duty in less time than it would take to watch one season of House. I applied that technique on two short runs and within that same week, I found myself running amongst thousands on a 3.7 kilometres route on a small hill. I thought I might suffer a day or so after that, instead I recovered within the same day and the next day I was playing badminton with more stamina than before.
Running should not be stressful. You should enjoy it and if you are lucky enough to live near some nice scenery, take it in as you run. If you just want to keep fit or have an activity other than working and getting drunk, try running. It so simple I have it laid out in 5 steps.
Step 1 – Shoes
Get a decent pair of running shoes; not cross trainers or basketball shoes or hiking boots. Running shoes are designed to take the impact at the right places and propel your feet in a forward motion.
It does not matter what brand or how much it cost. What matters is that you feel comfortable in them; comfortable moving in them, not standing. Drop into several sports stores and try a few brands and models. Even bargain running shoes can be very comfortable. I once purchased a pair of Reebok for RM60 and they were great. I still wear them. If you want a pair that will last you, spend a little more.
The latest model of running shoes from brands like Asic, Brooks or New Balance would set you back about RM500 (US$125). Get the model that came out a year or two ago and the price drops to about RM300. Now these are the top of the range; look lower down the shelves and you will find entry level shoes from the same brands at about RM150.
Step 2 – Clothes
This is actually the easiest and yet some take forever to figure this out. All you need is a pair of shorts and a suitable T-shirt. The T-shirt should be something loose and does not soak up too much sweat. Your clothes do not even have to be colour coordinated; seriously. Colours do not help you run faster or more effectively. Sports jerseys are the best.
Sock is a must. It is not an option. Get a decent pair of sports socks. It will reduce the friction between your skin and your shoes and make running that much more comfortable.
Step 3 – Run
Set a date to run and just go. Don’t think about it. If you go out and get a new pair of running shoes, you automatically set yourself up for a run. You will be thinking, “I bought a pair of running shoes, I ought to run in them at least once.”
Find a nearby running park with lots of people and a proper track to run on. If you have to run on the road, run against traffic. Worst case scenario, run around your residential area. That is normally a good 3 kilometres there.
Step 4 – Pace Yourself
This is a crucial part. When running for the first time after many, many, many years; you need to pace yourself. Don’t go out to get a heart attack. Run at a pace where you can still talk which is why it is good to get a running partner. If you start breathing more heavily along the way, just switch down to a walk and pick it back up once your breath is back to a comfortable pace.
Step 5 – Replenish and Recover
This is the most important part of running. Always replenish your body after a run. Sport drinks is a good way to go. A cold can of isotonic drink will replenish your electrolytes and cool your body down at the same time. Get some food into your body within the next half an hour or so. A proper meal like you would dinner or lunch or a decent sandwich. Don’t go out immediately and reward yourself with a tub of Baskin Robbins.
Once again, running should not be stressful. You should feel good after a run; tired but good still. I know I felt really good after running the Terry Fox 3.7 kilometres. It was a fun run and I had fun running. I hope you do too.
- Sleep. Get ample snooze time before a long run.
- Fuel up. Have a light meal an hour or two before you run. Sandwiches are great fuelling food.
- Warm up. Basic stretching exercises for a minute or two and a slow walk for a good five minutes. A warm up should get you a little sweaty.
- Allow your body time to adjust. Start with a 2 kilometres distance but finish it. If running is too difficult, walk the distance.
- Breathe slow and easy while running. You must be able to talk while you run.
- Running in the morning is so much more refreshing and it really gets your day started.
- Get a running buddy; heck, get a few. Some will drive you to run, others you need to drive.
- Cool down. This is just as important as a warm up and rather similar. It can be as simple as slow walking the last five minutes.
- Rest after a run. Just sit down some place where you can catch your breath and bring your heart rate back to its resting state.
- Drink lots of water. Running dehydrates your body through breathing and sweating. You have to rehydrate your body with lots of water.
- If you have a health condition, check with your doctor before you go out running.
This is a superb website. Their magazine is just as fabulous.
On the website, there is a Beginner’s Training Program that gives you the 101 on running. Runner’s World – Running 101 will provide you with some basics on running. Click here for Running 101
You can also download their Training Guide for more specific information such as training for a five kilometres run or injury prevention. There are seven guides in all and there is information in each that you would find handy. Click here for Runner’s World Training Guides
CALCULATING YOUR HRmax
Men: 220 – age = HRmax
Women: 226 – age = HRmax
Take note that this method of calculating your maximum heart rate is merely a guide. The most accurate way of determining your individual maximum heart rate is to have it clinically tested.