On Sunday at the crack of dawn, a large group of runners in Mumbai came together to run the annual marathon. In the run-up to this event, there was a marked increase in the number of people running along the Carter Road promenade and Marine Drive every morning, so they could bring their A-game to the marathon. People from all age groups challenged their fitness levels and started the year off on a high but, if you missed out this year, here's how you can begin training to run long distances.
"Your training determines your race day. And ironically, even though sometimes we have done everything right, the outcome can be slightly different," says fitness instructor Urmi Kothari. So, whether you're a first-timer or an experienced runner, these handy tips from Urmi, who just ran the Powai Marathon, will help you reach the finish line smoothly:
1) Make sure your running plan is designed to make you a better runner. Enough miles and just enough frequency and lactate threshold runs will ensure you peak well before race day.
2) A common mistake people tend to make is that they end up over-training. Monitor your recovery and heart rate diligently - not only during the runs but also on the rest days. "I used Apple Watch Series4 for all the stats relating to my runs from distance, pace to heart rate during the runs and on waking up the next day. It also helps me monitor calories burnt, so I can increase or decrease my intake and I can set reminders for hydration via the iHydrate app," Urmi says.
She is not the only one who's a fan of the watch. Mandira Bedi, who never fails to give us fitness goals, says, "I use the Apple Watch to keep a check on my overall fitness including activity, calories burned and steps taken. It’s of great use to time my runs and features like new pace alarm alert me when I am behind or ahead of my designated target pace, rolling mile pace, etc. This being marathon season, my watch is getting a reasonable amount of miles clocked!"
3) Sometimes, your heart rate will be extremely high in spite of a slow run. Thats when you know your recovery is poor. "I use the Heart app on my Apple Watch so I can track it during different phases of my run as well," Urmi says.
4) To speed up your recovery process, rely on supplements like Ashwagandha, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin C and B Complex.
5) Despite your training, you may end up feeling nervous before the run. At such times, remember that even pros sometimes get the jitters. "Breathe, an in-built native app helps me calm my nerves before important runs," she says.
6) Sleep and stretches post-run or on rest days are the two most underrated recovery tools. "Now, I choose yoga from the Activity app on my watch to read my stats much more accurately," she adds.
The Outdoor Run option in the Activity app also has a "rolling pace" feature — it displays the pace of the previous kilometer covered. "It allows me to set a target pace to ensure I am pushing myself in the right zone in order to achieve my target timing," she says. The Apple Watch is compatible with running apps like NRC or Strava and directly syncs the runs with your phone.
Apple watch series 4
7) Nothing can motivate you more than reviewing and measuring your progress week on week, month on month. "The Activity app really helps me look back at my performance, recovery, frequency and variety of training and relate it to my present state of energy, efficiency and skill," she says.
8) Before a run, do not, we repeat, do not, try anything. Not clothes, not socks and definitely not shoes.
9) Hydrate well with electrolytes for two to three days prior to the race.
10) You are probably not going to get enough sleep on the day of the race. So get a good night's sleep and stay mobile all through the week.
11) Go hard in your fast runs and slow in recovery runs.
12) Make sure you do core, balance and mobility exercises for six to seven minutes before the race to warm up the smaller muscles.
13) If running and music go hand-in-hand for you, Urmi has a recommendation: "I absolutely enjoy runs with my Airpods on. Talk about having the beat at my feet."
Featured photograph: Getty Images