After some motivation from my friend Cajie, who’s an avid runner, a couple of weekends ago I finally decided to graduate from speed walking to running. The most important thing is taking the first step, half of the battle is won if you have the determination, and the other half? well by the time you get into your groove you won’t think of your workout as a battle but more of a challenge . As I write this post my front calves and quadriceps are killing me but it felt really great to actually run.
Although I’ve been walking long distances (10Km approx) for quite a while this was my first combo-run-jog-speedwalk outing and I’ve got some tips for the guys out there if you want to give it a try. No technical and medical stuff here, just my personal tips and opinions. Here’s a previous post of mine about fitness
1. Running playlist: this was one of the things that I goofed up on. I didn’t have a dedicated playslist for running on my mp3 player and so every now and then just as I was in the zone listening to Iron Maiden or Metallica the next track would go to George Michael’s Jesus to a child and mess up the pace completely. Next time I’m gonna select some hardcore tracks just for running.
2. Dress like a runner: I’ve seen too many guys wearing jeans and (ugh) cargo pants while exercising. You need a good pair of shorts or track suits if you want to run properly and the fabric should allow your skin to breathe when you sweat. Also note that the fabric should be flame retardant coz when you gather speed your tighs will be rubbing together so fast you’ll start a ‘bush’ fire if you’re not careful.
3. Time and place: Now that its summer the best time to go out would be around 5 AM or after 5 PM, any time in between and you’ll be burnt to a crisp. Location is pretty important too. If you’re running along the sidewalk in a residential area or in the city you’ll be exposed to exhaust fumes from passing cars and in many places dust and broken glass and garbage. The best place IMO is the pathway from Scientific center all the way to Sharq, you’ll have plenty of fresh air and the sea breeze should hopefully lessen your exposure to vehicle emmisions.
4. Stretching and warmup: I cannot stress this enough, always spend a good 5 or 10 minutes stretching and warming up your leg muscles and body before any physical activity. I injured a tendon in my heel during the NBK walkathon 2010 because I didn’t stretch properly. This injury took more than 6 months to heal and now I’m very careful about stretching.
5. Shoes and socks: Running shoes or cross trainers are a must! no compromises there and its wise to have a pair just for exercising. When it comes to socks be sure to buy the best quality cotton sports socks coz if you’re planning on running/walking for more than an hour your feet will undergoe a lot of rubbing and physical stress along the edges of the shoe, this can cause blisters and bleeding if there’s not enough cushioning for your feet.
6. Hydration: Long distance running requires you keep yourself hydrated and be sure to carry along an ice cold bottle of your favorite energy drink. One of the things I do is dilute my Gatorade with water in a 50:50 ratio since I find that just Gatorade leaves my mouth feeling dry in a few minutes.
7. Pace: If you’re not accustomed to physical activity you can’t expect to run non-stop at a constant pace for any distance. What I used was a cyclic technique where I’d run for 3 minutes the slow down to a jog for 3 minutes and then a speed walk for another 5 or 10 minutes and back to running again. I kept repeating this cycle till I felt my lungs were on fire and my feet were made of lead. I guess you can actually feel the lactic acid rushing through your muscles when you’re doing something like this. Once you’ve grown accustomed to this pace you can go up a notch and run for more time with lesser walks/jogs in between.
Now I’m not an expert runner nor in the best of shape but this is just what I observed and plan to work on in the future and I hope its useful for the couch potatoes reading this now.